The TOTAL TRUTH Solution for a Fractured America
Big Picture Answers for America's Big Problems -
Rebuilding on America's Original Worldview

by Leonard Ransil

Section 2: Christianity vs. Rival Worldviews
Chapter 17     The Death of Atheism

So far, Section 2 of this book has focused on a detailed comparison between Christianity and its philosophical opposite, Secularistic Materialism. Various chapters have endeavored to show that Atheism is irrational and its fulcrum, the doctrine of Evolution, is scientifically and statistically impossible. All this would be merely academic if the results were not so catastrophic. But is there a reputable and definitive analysis that can explain the underbelly of Atheism, help to get a handle on why it has failed its believers and project its future in a world of competing belief systems? Indeed there is.

Alister McGrath, professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, and President of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics at Wycliffe Hall is well able to objectively compare and evaluate the merits of Atheism with those of Christianity.  He teaches doctrine and apologetics at Wycliffe Hall.  As a former atheist and scientist, his background, credentials and experience have equipped him to be one of Christianity’s foremost scholars.  A distinguished author of numerous books including In the Beginning, The Reenchantment of Nature and The Journey; he is also a consulting editor of Christianity Today and the general editor of The NIV Thematic Study Bible.   In his comprehensive overview titled The Twilight of Atheism,1 McGrath traces Atheism's rise and fall.  He reviews the usual adherents--Marx, Freud and Darwin--and also surveys famous thinkers in literature like George Eliot and Algernon Swinburne; in science like Jacques Monod and Richard Dawkins; and in philosophy like Ludwig Feuerbach and Michel Foucault. 

McGrath understands Atheism's flaws first-hand and he convincingly documents its philosophical inconsistency and moral failures.   These, he contends, have become especially evident wherever atheists have gained political power.  For example, Hitler’s atheistic/evolutionary beliefs justified treating humans like worthless animals because, in his anti-Christian mind, they were. The same can be said for other atheistic tyrants of the twentieth century who murdered more than 135 million humans in peace time alone. They rejected the fact that the person and message of Jesus Christ, when received and faithfully applied, has done more to civilize and free mankind from virtually every slavery known to man than any other religion or belief system.

But professor McGrath is also quick to admit that the true message and life of Jesus was not always properly lived. It was human failure that opened the door for counterfeits like Atheism and enabled them to gain a foothold. It is tragic that the gift God gave for mankind’s good can so easily be prostituted by those it was meant to liberate.  McGrath warns, "Believers need to realize that, strange as it may seem, it is they who will have the greatest impact on atheism's future."2  Being complicit with evil only gives rise to this and other evil systems.

According to McGrath, Atheism is apparently succumbing to the very fate of irrelevance and dissolution that atheists once predicted would overtake traditional religion.  He traces the history of Atheism from its emergence in eighteenth-century Europe as a revolutionary worldview that offered liberation from the rigidity of traditional religion and the oppression of tyrannical monarchs, to its golden age in the first half of the twentieth century.  He also relates part of Atheism’s initial success to some Protestant creeds that falsely divorced the sacred from the secular (described so well by Christian philosopher and theologian Francis Schaeffer) and undermined true biblical faith.  At the same time, influential atheists, duped by the false hopes of Evolution, convinced their followers that social and personal progress would necessarily increase once humanity surrendered its repressive beliefs in a God made obsolete by Evolution. This ruse achieved temporary but remarkable "success" in areas such as politics, psychotherapy and science.  But in the very triumph of Atheism, McGrath sees the very causes of its inevitable collapse.  For once in power, Atheism did not fulfill its promise of the utopia of the Enlightment but rather the barbarism of the Holocaust.

Bryce Christensen of the American Library Association concludes in his review of The Twilight of Atheism, "Politically discredited and imaginatively exhausted, atheism has been forced into an astonishing retreat before advancing Pentecostal preachers and Christian fabulists."3 At bottom, Oxford professor Alister McGrath effectively challenges the widely held assumption that the world is becoming more secular and demonstrates why Atheism cannot provide the moral power and intellectual guidance essential for coping with the complexities of modern life. It is by definition, spiritually bankrupt because it refuses to recognize even the possibility of a supernatural realm. And there is yet another reason for its being cast on the ash heap of history--the resurgence of worldviews that include the non-material. Fittingly enough, the next chapter will analyze the validity of the New Age movement.

1 McGrath, Alister, The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World, New York: Doubleday, 2004.
2 McGrath, The Twilight of Atheism, 278.
3 Christensen, Bryce, Editorial Review,, Retrieved December 5, 2006.

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