I keep hearing people telling me this, but at the same time I keep seeing more and more out atheists, and atheism becoming more and more popular. The refrain is sounding more desperate than accurate — but then, among people for whom wishful thinking is tantamount to a mathematical proof, I suppose just wanting atheism to go away is sufficient to mean it must be going away. I was sent an awesomely pathetic article making just this same kind of weak argument.
There seems to be a growing consensus around the globe that godlessness is in trouble.
“Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide,” Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg told United Press International Tuesday.
His Oxford colleague Alister McGrath agrees. Atheism’s “future seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its habitat,” he wrote in the U.S. magazine, Christianity Today.
Quoting a few of the usual suspects does not mean you’ve got a “growing consensus”. I don’t even know what “atheism as a theoretical position” means — it could imply that atheism is so dominant that it is taken for granted. As for McGrath…sorry, vacuous, mealy-mouthed, and boring are not sufficient qualities to make one an authority. Again, though, I have no idea what he is talking about — of course atheism is a private or personal belief, and what the heck does it mean for atheism to have inhabited the public domain without being part of individual beliefs? These guys are just stringing words together and pretending to be authoritative.
Two developments are plaguing atheism these days. One is that it appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings. The other is the historical experience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that atheists are in no position to claim the moral high ground.
One: atheism is retaining its scientific basis. I think the authors comment is a veiled and credulous reference to the common claim by intelligent design creationists that they have scientific evidence of a creator. They do not.
Atheism has never claimed to hold the moral high ground; that’s religion’s schtick. What we have going on right now is growing evidence that religion does not confer morality, either.
This article started stupid, but it just gets worse and worse. Guess who they cite to back up the above claims?
Writes Turkish philosopher Harun Yahya, “Atheism, which people have tried to for hundreds of years as ‘the ways of reason and science,’ is proving to be mere irrationality and ignorance.”
When did Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar get promoted to philosopher? More appropriate descriptors would be convicted con artist and former mental patient.
We also get senile philosophers pontificating on biology.
As British philosopher Anthony Flew, once as hard-nosed a humanist as any, mused when turning his back on his former belief: It is, for example, impossible for evolution to account for the fact than one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica put together.
But we can account for all that data: accumulated variation for a few billion years will do the job. What is so hard to understand about this?
Other tropes in this amazingly dumb article include the imminent demise of atheism. I think Darwinism and atheism must be in a race to be first to collapse, contradicted only by the fact that both seem to be growing stronger day by day.
The stunning desertion of a former intellectual ambassador of secular humanism to the belief in some form of intelligence behind the design of the universe makes Yahya’s prediction sound probable: “The time is fast approaching when many people who are living in ignorance with no knowledge of their Creator will be graced by faith in the impending post-atheist world.”
Oh, and of course we have to have science backing theistic claims, with citations of a science journal.
A few years ago, European scientists sniggered when studies in the United States – for example, at Harvard and Duke universities – showed a correlation between faith, prayer and recovery from illness. Now 1,200 studies at research centers around the world have come to similar conclusions, according to “Psychologie Heute,” a German journal, citing, for example, the marked improvement of multiple sclerosis patients in Germany’s Ruhr District due to “spiritual resources.”
Wait…the studies that showed no statistically significant effect are now being used to endorse prayer? O Topsy Turvy world!
I was amused by the citation to that prestigious medical journal, “Psychologie Heute”. That’s German for Psychology Today, by the way, and the German edition is just like the American one: mass market pop psychology sold at your local supermarket checkout line.
It’s just sad that theists are reduced to this kind of feeble justification for their goofy beliefs.