Greg Koukl on the "New Atheism"


Greg Koukl has a real gift for simplifying complex issues and making them understandable to the average Joe. Here’s another example, this time taking on the so-called “New Atheists”, like Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, and Harris:

Answering the New Atheists


  1. Samuel Skinner on September 30, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Although your intent is admirable, I have found that those who crow the most about how reasonable they are tend to be no more reasonable than everyone else. Reason, like all traits, is demonstrated through action, or, on the net, thought. Lets give this a spin, shall we?

    “The problem of evil is only a problem if evil is real. To say
    something is evil, though, is to make a moral judgment. Moral
    judgments require a moral standard – a moral law – and a moral law requires an author. If the standard is transcendent, then thelaw-giver must be, too.”

    Sadly, this is a flawed argument. Let me put it in its proper form.

    1 Evil exists.
    2 Hence moral laws exist
    3 Moral laws are transendant
    4 Transendant moral laws can only be made by a transendant being.
    5 Hence there is a transendant law maker.

    Now, what is wrong? The answer is 4- that is flawed. He offers no proofs for this assumption, simply asserting it. Without it though, his argument is toothless.

    I’d like to point out that my belief is that morality is based on what sentient things desire and is only transendant in the sense that most sentinence desire the same thing. When you get to people who enjoy pain or others that have radically differant brain chemistry, you have to deal with the differantly.

    The rest of the article harps on this, hoping you will ignore the slight of hand.

    I also like this

    “Do you begin to see the horror of this? If there is no Master
    of the universe, then who’s to say that Hitler did anything
    wrong? If there is no God, then the people that murdered your
    wife and kids did nothing wrong.”

    Given that Plato gave a logical proof showing exactly how wrong that was (see the Euthyphro dilemma) over 2300 years ago, I’d say that has been well and truely rebutted.

    “They might consider Christian philosopher William Lane Craig’s
    response: What is the atheist Bertrand Russell going to say to that dying child? “Too bad”? “Tough luck”? “That’s the way it goes”? No happy ending, no silver lining, nothing but devastating, senseless evil?”

    You know what I would say? You will be the last to die from this. I will see to that. Not another will die as you did. That is the power of science and of government. And, amazingly enough, this HAS happened. PJs that are no longer flammable, kids don’t get sharp toys, morphine is no longer in babies cough syrup, etc.

    A theist sees their God do nothing. An atheist sees that THEY have not done enough. Wheter the atheist acts is dependant on how moral they are.

    “This is why Dinesh D’Souza asks, “Where is atheism when bad
    things happen?” The New Atheists are struck dumb while kneeling at
    the bed of a dying child. They cannot speak of the patience and mercy of God. They cannot mention the future perfection that awaits all who trust in Christ. They cannot offer the comfort that a redemptive God is working to cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. They have no “good news” of hope for a broken world. Their worldview denies them that luxury. Theism can do much better.”

    Be careful for what you wish for- you just might get it. Let this be a lesson to you- a messianic faith is NOT a good thing. Better the truth than lies.

    “The reality of evil in the world does not help the atheist. It hinders him. Rather than being good evidence against God, the presence of evil in the world is one of the best arguments in favor of God.”

    Truly, Khrone blesses this carnage. Of course, if he was talking about a nonbatshit insane diety, he has failed.

    “the claim that religion – even Christian religion – has been
    responsible for more wars, wickedness, and wonton evil than
    anything else in history, what if I simply responded, “You’re
    right. So what?” Even if I agreed with that analysis (I do not),
    what would follow? What would that fact alone tell us anything
    about the legitimacy of religion or the existence of God?”

    Partial strawman- that isn’t the claim. It is that religion is responsible for a large amount of death.

    As it is, this isn’t an argument against the truth value of Christianity- this is an argument for activism. Christians keep on jumping from foot to foot- well, you have no reason to act you… atheistic fundamentalists, you. Then they jump back to the prove God doesn’t exist foot and back again. Like this author is doing right now.

    “But there is a second problem with the “religion kills”
    argument, this time empirical, not logical. The atheist is in
    no position to object to carnage done in the name of God
    because atheistic ideologies in the 20th century have been
    responsible for the greatest blood-letting in all history – to
    the tune of over 100 million bodies for communism alone.”

    And no argument would be complete without Stalin. Of course, this man includes Hitler… who was a Christian, but we will ignore that for now.

    Is Marx’s hands bloody? Oh yeah- he proposed an ideology that is humanly impossible and that leads to a highly concentrated amount of power. Of course, communist ignored large parts of Marx because his ideas were looney, so he isn’t fully responsbible. I just happens that people don’t work the way he thought.

    What does this have to do with atheism? Absolutely nothing. Marx was an atheist and an anti-theist-but communism itself isn’t. The Incans, the Spartans and several other societies were communistic AND theistic.

    So is it particularly Marx’s brand? Nope. Marx thought religion would wither away. So why did the Soviets attack the church? The same reason the French revolutionaries did- it backed the king. As such they were enemies of the people. And they had money. Can’t fight a war without cash. After all, the Unions credit rating was in the toilet.

    Ah nice- he goes the stupid route.

    “This is not true of atheism, however. There is a certain
    natural affinity between particular worldviews and behaviors and lifestyles that seem logically to flow from them. Atheism doesn’t require mass murder, but it has few ideological
    resources to resist it. Dawkins is strangely”

    Somehow he ignores switching it around. After all, if you believe that killing someone is just like a video game- that they die and go to another place- there is nothing wrong with killing. It simply becomes an inconvenience to people. Now, theist doesn’t require mass murder, but it provides precious few defenses against such thinking.

    “Let’s imagine six billion people who believe that flesh and blood is all there is…that Hitler and Mother Teresa, for example, both met the same ultimate fate. Common sense suggests that such a world would produce a lot moreHitlers and a lot fewer Teresas, for the same reason that you get a lot more speeders/murderers/rapists/embezzlers when you eliminate laws, police and punishment…. Nothing clears the conscience quite like a belief in eternal nothingness.”

    Uh, no. The world had alot more Hitlers back in the dark ages, wehn belief was much stronger and much less forgiving. Both on the atrocity scale and the sheer number of crimes. Or further back, things weren’t as bad… but still insanely brutal.

    Interestingly, Hitler wouldn’t have commited his crimes if he wasn’t a theist. So, yes, there would be less religiously motivated genocides (Cather Crusades anyone?). Of course, we could still have things like Armenia. But the Turks were believers anyway, so I don’t think fear of God helps alot.

    “I think it is fair to ask why anyone should expect that
    a world without God, Heaven, or Hell would lead inexorably
    to oneness and world peace, Lennon’s “brotherhood of
    man.” If someone thinks divine accountability is an inferior
    means of securing moral order, then anarchy is the answer to
    the world’s ills. I presume, however, that Mr. Dawkins locks
    his latch at night, and not because he has deeply religious

    Well, divine accountability doesn’t work. After all, it requires a God and since we don’t have one, people come to realize they aren’t being punished. You do realize that alot of criminals are believers and STILL commit crimes- the mafia being an extreme example of this?

    Dawkins, if he lived in Canada, would probably not lock his door. Or Japan for that matter. Some societies are safer. Religion is just one of many factors.

    “Theists are banking on God, and history is on our side.
    The record shows that the greatest evil has always resulted from denial of God, not pursuit of Him. Just count the corpses.”

    People have. Even if you count anything bad ever done by communists as atheist atrocities, religious individuals have killed more people by… I think it was a factor of twenty. The Mongols were “fun” people.

    Of course, this entirely misses the point- the number of people who died by religion is huge as is the number who died by communism. The number who died by atheism is zero.

    Think of it this way- alot of people have been killed by racism. No one has been killed by a lack of it. You could count the Soviet Union as lacking racism (not really true, but the same goes for atheism- a third the population were theists) and count there crimes on the opposite side. However, it would be invalid for the same exact reason.

    I’ll stop at sheep and goats. If you wish for me to continue, simply give the word.

  2. Byron on September 30, 2008 at 1:12 pm


    That’s quite a mouthful! I’m going to try to get back to you and answer some of your concerns soon; busy day, but I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for posting!

  3. Byron on September 30, 2008 at 1:23 pm


    I’ll start our friendly sparring this way:

    You said, as a starting point, that “evil exists”. Of course, I agree. You gave a definition of morality, but that is a step too far, as I see it; could you define “evil” for me? And why is evil…evil?


  4. Byron on October 3, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    @Samuel Skinner: Dude…gave the word, waiting on the response! 🙂

  5. Samuel Skinner on October 4, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Sorry for the delay- computer went wonky and I surf up and down the google search.

    Any way, on evil. It is hard to define, but I will give it a shot.

    In many situations you have a variety of options open to you- differant choices you can make. Evil is when you choose the choices towards the bottom.

    The reason it is so hard is because there are alot of complications. For example, intent matters- but only to a degree. Hitler thought he was a good guy after all. There are also cases where there is no good options.

    Sorry if it isn’t the best, but it beats out the web dictionary definition.

  6. Byron on October 4, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    One of my sayings to live by, Samuel, is that I love computers–except when I hate ’em! So I can empathize!

    OK, I’m going to raise, in the next post and when I have more time–maybe later tonight, maybe not–some of the big problems I see in your reasoning, but for now, I must ask: “what’s ‘the bottom’, and where do standards of ‘top’ (I guess) and ‘bottom’ come from?” That, for now. More later…

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