Friday, 25 September 2009

Atheists Attack Straw-Man Christianity

David Bentley Hart, a professor of theology, discusses the religious views of Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists in his new book.

Joel Kontinen

What do militant atheists remember of Christian history? They will mention the Inquisition, witch hunts, religious wars and the crusades, but will probably forget the rest. They seldom speak about the good that the followers of Jesus Christ have introduced to society, such as leper hospitals, orphanages and schools.

They haven’t even heard about equality and freedom that are the fruit of Christianity. In addition, they have created their own myth of the Galileo affair that has next to nothing to do with reality.

In his book Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (Yale University Press, 2009) David Bentley Hart, a professor of theology, takes on militant atheists. Hart, an American Orthodox theologian and philosopher, shows that militant atheists have created their own version of Christianity that is easy to criticise.

In other words, it has little to do with biblical Christianity.

If we were to compare the fruits of Christianity with the products of the Enlightenment, we might soon notice which of them has brought more benefits for mankind. After all, atheists have Stalin and Pol Pot, so they cannot afford to throw the first stone.

According to professor Hart, the post-Christian world values freedom of choice to the extent that it has become more important than that what we choose. Individuals demand the right to decide on abortion, euthanasia and gene technology, for instance.

Their consequences are not always very encouraging.

Hart says that Christianity ”has been the single most creative cultural, ethical, aesthetic, social, political, or spiritual force in the history of the West.” Unlike atheism, Christianity offers us real hope.

As God says in the Book of Jeremiah, He promises to give ”a future and a hope” to those who trust in Him.

Another excellent book discussing the views of militant atheists is being re-issued. Basic Books is publishing Dr. David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions in paperback.


Kirkpatrick, Kate. 2009. Reframing Human History. Christianity Today (23 September)