Friday, September 15, 2023

Will the tide turn?

From a review of The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God (by Justin Brierley with a foreward by N.T. Wright):
...[T]he implosion of the New Atheism was more than just an ironic farce. It revealed an important fallacy. The movement exalted science as the replacement for religion. But whereas science can tell us about physical reality, it cannot be a guide to moral values, as the atheist schism itself demonstrates.

The New Atheism had unintended consequences. “I thank God for Richard Dawkins,” says Brierley. “New Atheism has revitalized the intellectual tradition of the Christian church in the West.”

The church, he says, had been woefully unprepared for this frontal attack on the faith. “With the four horsemen at their heels, the church was forced to put down its tambourines and guitars and pick up its history and philosophy books again.” As a result, “Arguably, the last two decades have seen the greatest revival of Christian intellectual confidence in living memory as the church has risen to the challenge.” ....

Whereas the New Atheists insisted that religion is the source of everything bad in the world, recent historical research has proved the opposite. Classicist Tom Holland documented the casual and pervasive cruelty of the Greeks and Romans, who considered pity to be a weakness and who most emphatically did not believe in the innate human dignity of all. His book Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World shows that beliefs such as the equal worth of all human beings and our duty to help the vulnerable cannot be found in the ancient world—or anywhere else, really, much less as a result of naturalistic evolution—and are unique to Christianity, which has spread them even to the secularists. This has powerful apologetic implications. When the New Atheists bring up atrocities committed by Christians—at which the ancient Greeks and Romans would not have batted an eye—they are appealing to a distinctly Christian ethic! Those who criticize the ethics of the Bible are presupposing the ethics that the Bible has given them! Similarly, when progressives demand social justice, racial equality, the rights of women, and respect for the marginalized, they are drawing on the Christian heritage they tend to repudiate. .... (more)

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