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Vibrant Dance: Mobilizing Techie Christians

The last talk of the afternoon was by Dinesh D’Souza, author, political commentator, and President of King’s College, on “Mobilizing Technically Oriented Christ Followers to help the church witness with fearless, culture transforming integrity.” D’Souza is a dynamic speaker, and doesn’t pull any punches.

He launched into a discussion of how atheism has changed, asking, “what’s new about the new atheism?” The old atheism had a narrow agenda of policing the boundaries of church and state. The new atheism is more ambitious, seeking to demolish belief in God and make believers ashamed. They are more suave, debonair and academically distinguished. They have an active agenda and control the methods of influence in the world (science, media, education, politics).

They seek to put the Christians against the wall, being effective in challenging Christianity in secular terms. Belief in God is the very problem. They seek to drive a wedge between the head and the heart. Unfortunately, “Crayon Christianity,” the variety of faith he says is typically found in the U.S.,  is a basic, juvenile, faith that doesn’t work with skeptics.

D’Souza proceeded to list what he felt were the two or three strongest arguments by the new atheists, and then responded to them.

1)      Values:  they tout the virtues of individualism, dignity of women, autonomy of science, abolition of slavery, and compassion. D’Souza responded by asking, “But are these values found in other worldviews besides Christianity? Or are they even unique to the West? And the post-Christian West at that?” In fact, even Aristotle saw pity as a vice. {My notes are silent on anything he might have said on most of these values. That means either he said nothing or that it was stuff I was so familiar with I didn’t bother writing down. I’ll assume the latter.}

{The rights of the individual are an important development, but one developed largely through the effect of the Gospel. The Enlightenment just borrowed and expanded upon them, and, may I argue, took them to an unhealthy extreme, such that proper respect for authority, commitment to community and similar values are now faded and often ridiculed. Christ did more for women’s rights than any other religious leader in history, and the current level of egalitarianism in gender equity was largely bought by the efforts of Christian women 100 years ago. Christians have always taken the lead in abolishing slavery. It was abolished for the first time in the Christian West, and has spread at the insistence of the West.}

D’Souza argued that we need a pro-science apologetic because the new atheism has a rehearsed narrative. It sees history as the progression from ignorant ancient man to an enlightened new man, therefore, “Christianity is a bad explanation—medieval Christians thought the world was flat, center of the universe, and God created each creature individually in its time; science has proved all of these wrong.” We need to disabuse this narrative. Their lie was invented in the 19th century and has not been successfully fought for a while. It turns out modern discoveries post-1859 actually support faith, not the other way around as the atheists would have you believe. (I.e. the universe and time have beginnings, etc.)

2)      Christianity and Morality—They say that belief in God and morality is responsible for death, wars, and evil. So religion is a lie and socially damaging. This has a molecule of truth and that is all. The grain of truth according to D’Souza is that Islamic radicals do do what they do in the name of God, but they are the only ones. So people try to create a specious equation between them and us.

Let’s look at history. The Inquisition lasted 350 years, resulting in about 2000 deaths. The Salem witch trials were a couple of years long and resulted in about 19 deaths. {9/11 resulted in about 3000 deaths in a single day. Pol Pot, Stalin, Castro, Hitler, Mao and so on…well over 10 MILLION in less than 60 years (conservative numbers). If you want to talk body count, be my guest.} In other Christian-Christian wars, folks were not fighting over God, but land, self determination, and so on—still not great, but God isn’t to blame.

What drives the new atheists? They say they are champions of reason, disciples of data and the “data for God just is not there.” Here is the problem—If you don’t believe something for which there is no evidence, the average person ignores it—unicorns, for example. But the new atheists are obsessed with God, angry with God, and have a real Angus beef with Him. They seem to give God more attention than far too many folks warming pews on Sunday morning. That is a lot of effort spent on a fantasy. {Maybe I can write a bunch of books and make a fortune adamantly insisting leprechauns don’t exist.}

What fuels this obsession? If you abolish God, you remove yourself from the shadow of judgment, giving you control over life—the promise of moral freedom. In short, they want to be the moral authority of their lives, and if possible, be the ones to impose their moral view on others. In short, they want to be God. {Sounds like the Tower of Babel all over again….}

What’s our position/response? We have come through 30 years of experiential Jesus evangelism. (“What God has done in my life.”) But now, we need to combine it with evidence, data and knowledge.

We need to send out an “A team” against their A team, not to churches, youth groups, Christian colleges, but to USA Today and the rest of their turf. {We need to go on the offensive, but without being offensive.} Problem:  we don’t have a TEAM—we have individuals. We need to build a team.


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