During my son’s swimming lessons at our local YMCA today, I decided to sit out in the lobby to study my flashcards for canon law and enjoy a cup of coffee. My peace was interrupted by a lively bunch of elderly gentlemen engaged in a conversation about all the wars brought on by religious differences. The new atheism poison had reached its tentacles into the souls of these sweet old men and was doing its best to try to squeeze out any remnants of faith before they die. Sad.
About a year and a half ago, I had witnessed this spiritual and intellectual attack on the other range of the age spectrum. My atheist English professor was hell-bent on snuffing out the seeds of what he would define as “childish superstitions” under the ruse of “being open to new ideas.” His constant barrage of emails cited the new stars of atheism, mostly Dawkins and Hitchens. This was an upper-level class of highly-motivated English majors, so we were divided into three major categories...none of which were ambivalent to the agenda he was pushing. The first group was a lost cause, completely soaking up every argument he touted against the “evils of closed-minded Christian dominance”. The second group found his obsession with religion annoying in a class in which English was supposed to be the dominant focus. The third, much smaller, group of only three of us was vocal in our opposition and provided counter-questions to his faulty assumptions.
This new atheism is basically a rehashing of all arguments against faith which have at their foundation a presupposition of the supremacy of empirical science. It is an arrogant assumption, to say the least, that holds the modern scientific method as the standard by which we determine all things to be true. It does not presuppose an openness to the question about God’s existence. Rather, it presupposes a doubt about God’s existence. “I’m not going to believe in God unless his existence can be proven scientifically.”
That’s really ridiculous. How can we, mortal beings, subject an infinite, immortal, spiritual substance to the tests of science which only can measure tangible realities? If only we could see God, experience Him in some sort of a profoundly human way. If only God were to enter time and take on a human nature so that we could somehow record His existence in some sort of a book, and then we could go back and scientifically recover artifacts from the time of his life here on earth, and miracles that defy science could continue to be collected by some sort of an institution that is dedicated to the proclamation of His existence and mission...If only...
We have the answer to this “new atheism” right now. It is Christ and His Church. This is Benedict XVI’s reason for his recent dialogue with the gentiles. His intention in opening dialogue between religious and non-religious is to establish a common ground upon which the good of man can be realized. This is the first step in planting seeds for conversion. Pray for our Holy Father. In the strength of Christ, he is bravely countering the loud, angry voices of atheism with the still, small voice of God’s joyful love.