A food-for-thought email from my sister-in-law:
I read the following passage on "New Atheism" on a Christian theology website for women entitled She Worships http://sheworships.com/. It's really an interesting site that has helped me look at things in a new perspective as I walk with the Lord. In any case, I found her most recent post applicable. I was challenged in this very way by a classmate I befriended who did not believe in God. At some point as we got to know one another the topic of my faith (and her lack thereof) did come up. As we talked she asked the very same questions listed below. How would you answer them? Remember, each time you speak about the Lord (or He shows in your character) is like a seed being planted for the harvesting of souls.
In case you aren’t familiar with the “New Atheism” that has risen in popularity in our culture, the term refers to a brand of Atheism that is extremely critical of and sometimes hostile towards religion, and in turn touts science as the antidote. The reason I’m bringing it up on my blog is that it’s an issue about which we as women should not only be concerned, but also well-informed.
What is particularly troubling about the New Atheism is that it has risen to popularity on the coattails of out-dated ideas, a point that Hart makes in his article. And while the lack of originality would seem to be a plus, it actually reveals a startling complacency amidst the church. New Atheism is raising concerns and objections that Christians addressed centuries ago, but so few of us are familiar with these arguments that we are ill-equipped to respond. As a result, we have witnessed the birth of a new generation of Atheists who believe they are genuinely challenging the Christian faith in new and original ways, especially because many Christians can only offer a babbling response.
This predicament aims a particularly searing critique at Christian women. It is not uncommon for Christian women to chuckle about how much their husbands enjoy discussing theology, all the while shrugging off their own lack of interest. “I just don’t understand that stuff” is the common excuse. Ladies, if you are someone who brushes off these important questions because it does not interest you, let me gently challenge you to repent of this mindset. While we are not all called to achieve advanced degrees in this area, the rise of the New Atheism has been made possible by our theological apathy.
Not all Atheists are men. Nor do they all live in ivory towers. They are your neighbor, your co-worker, maybe someone in your family. There are women who squarely reject God on philosophical grounds who will never enter your church to hear your pastor’s defense. That’s why they need to hear it from you.
Of course not all of us are philosophically minded, but that’s no excuse for not having thought through some of the questions that Atheists are asking. Consider the following:
- Some Atheists object to the existence of God because He failed to answer their prayers when they needed Him most. How would you respond to that seeming betrayal?
- Others object to the existence of God because they don’t understand how a good God could allow evil to exist in the world. How would you respond to this problem in a manner that avoids being cliché or pat?
- Some Atheists are so repulsed by corruption within the church that they write off God altogether. How might you respond to this objection, taking seriously the very real mistakes of the church?