Pharyngula

Bring it on, Al

Albert Mohler, that deluded Baptist zealot, has written an analysis of the New Atheism that puts evolution front and center. I actually sort of agree with him — these New/Gnu Atheists are predominantly scientific atheists who consider scientific explanations to be far better and more satisfying and most importantly, more true than religious explanations. Mohler lards his summary with gloppy accusations of “worldview” and “dogma” and other such buzzwords that religious apologists use as insults when applied to atheists but virtues when applied to theologians, but otherwise, it’s a fair cop.

The Dogma of Darwinism is among the first principles of the worldview offered by the New Atheists. Darwin replaces the Bible as the great explainer of the existence of life in all of its forms. The New Atheists are not merely dependent upon science for their worldview; their worldview amounts to scientism — the belief that modern naturalistic science is the great unifying answer to the most basic questions of human life.

As Richard Dawkins has recently argued, they believe that disbelief in evolution should be considered as intellectually disrespectable and reprehensible as denial of the Holocaust. Thus, their strategy is to use the theory of evolution as a central weapon in today’s context of intellectual combat.

The New Atheists would have no coherent worldview without the Dogma of Darwinism. With it, they intend to malign belief in God and to marginalize Christians and Christian arguments. Thus, we can draw a straight line from the emergence of evolutionary theory to the resurgence of atheism in our times. Never underestimate the power of a bad idea.

Mohler just lets it lie there — isn’t it enough to just point at the Other and shriek, “DARWINIST!”? — but I can see where he’s going with it, and it’s the same place creationists go. All they have to do to prove atheism wrong and Christianity true, they think, is to prove that evolution is false. I welcome this tactic. I love watching creationists butt heads against the evidence. They’re so cute when they’re reeling about, blood streaming down their faces, brains getting increasingly addled, as they try to deny reality. I guess it’s a kind of historical tradition in Christianity, this business of tying a blindfold on and throwing themselves to the lions. It used to be you needed a legionnaire or two poking them with a spear to get them to enter the arena, but nowadays they just do it voluntarily.

And I guarantee you, we atheists do not underestimate the power of bad ideas. We witness them in action every Sunday, and every time a public official whines that they need to say a magic chant to their sky-fairy before they get to work.