Where Are the New Atheists Leading Us?

By Rick Schenker, President of Ratio Christi

In a letter that General Dwight Eisenhower wrote to General George Marshall on April 15, 1945, he described some of the horrors he saw in Nazi Germany’s Holocaust. He indicated that it was necessary to preserve the evidence so that, “if ever, in the future, there develops the tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.’”

There is much documentation and evidence of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, but there are more “holocausts” that also need to be remembered and documented. These were holocausts perpetrated by militant atheists in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, North Korea, Yugoslavia, Vietnam and more throughout the 20th Century.  A group of scholars and film-makers are currently getting ready to produce a documentary, Martyred in the USSR-Militant Atheism in the Former USSR, on one such holocaust.

In addition to preserving the testimony of still-living eyewitnesses so that no one can say it is just propaganda, this documentary should help to educate a new group of atheists that are leaning in a dangerous direction. I am referring to the “new atheism movement” led by academics like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens, who are currently making their mark on western universities. Their challenge forcing religious believers to give evidence for the veracity of their beliefs is much needed. However, since man is a political animal, the drive toward a utopian culture of "reason" could lead to the same outcome the world experienced with Soviet Russia and Communist China if we are not careful. That is what scares me the most!

To think that that any group today would desire atrocities on a scale with the Holocaust is unthinkable, but maybe it is time to wake up from our slumber and evaluate the disparaging language and personal animosity being propagated by these new atheists and their followers.[1] Their religion is scientism, and their orthodoxy is materialistic naturalism, creating striking similarities to the USSR’s militant atheists.  They are a ‘cult of reason’, but reason is narrowly defined to mean materialistic empiricism. Their main targets for evangelism are students at the universities and uncritical internet followers, and it is with great evangelistic zeal that they try to convince people that God doesn't exist and that atheism alone is reasonable.[2] Since eventually a nation’s philosophy will dictate a nation’s laws and actions, the outcome of their effort is a very serious issue.

In today’s universities, even well-reasoned arguments and the presentation of evidence for the existence of God, the historical reliability of the New Testament, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ are treated with intolerance and contempt. From those who preach tolerance and academic freedom as the highest virtues, the hostility these ‘scholars’ exhibit toward Christianity seems like the epitome of hypocrisy. Hopefully, this film will encourage the new militant atheist movement of today to become less caustic in their rhetoric. 

To some of the militant atheists of today, religion—all religion, but particularly Christianity—is a plague to be stamped out. Listening to Richard Dawkins at the Atheists Reason Rally in Washington, D.C. in 2012, I had to ask myself, what makes the new atheists of today any different from the atheists of the former USSR?  The only difference I could see is that they do not have the political power to enforce their utopian agenda. However, as was made clear in some of the speeches at the rally, their goal is to get that power.[3]  The goal of many atheists is freedom from religion, not freedom of religion.[4]

I hope Christians and skeptics alike will support the making of this new documentary. When it comes out, I hope it encourages everyone to think about the ramifications of an outright attack on religious freedom by the state. There will always a relationship between government authority and the religious or anti-religious beliefs of its people. The end product in western democracy is legislation that constrains every man from deciding for himself what is right or wrong in civil society.  However, the imposition of both sectarian religious and anti-religious dogma on the state will only end by limiting the fundamental rights of all people, including their rights to freedom of thought, conscience, and religious belief. As this documentary will demonstrate, this is a dangerous path to follow.

In an article in the Christian Science Monitor in 2006 called “Atheism, Not Religion is the Real Force Behind the Mass Murders of History,” Dinesh D‘Souza said,

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted.”[5]

The only way to avoid repeating history’s mistakes is by knowing the truth about history. Please support the making and dissemination of this film.

People involved with making this documentary include, Kevin Gonzales (Producer/Director), John Das (Lead Archivist), Christopher Marsh, PhD (Russian Religious Studies, Baylor University), and Rev. Michael Bourdeaux (Keston Institute). Their biographies are available here.

[1] Video Clip of Richard Dawkins at the Reason Rally.  Read transcript of his entire speech. See also http://www.venganza.org/about/

[2] Video of PZ Myers at the Reason Rally.  See particularly the clip [starting at time 9:45] where Myers says, "Will faith save us? No way. Faith is a vice pretending to be a virtue. It's lies and errors and frothy nonsense deluding us and distracting us from action. . . Faith is the enemy of reason. The one thing every single one of us here must be united in despising is faith. It's the barren refuge of the vacuous, the fearful, the frauds, and the obstacles to accomplishment. . . . I have hope. Not faith. . . I see hope right here in this rising tide of secularism. This great crowd of people. All here because you aren't going to stand for irrationality anymore. Because you want reality to rule. I see hope in science and technology because like it or not we are a tool using species and science is how we solve problems. We are committed. We either correct our problems using the tools we have at hand, we change our course, and we come up with new answers, or billions will die. That's my prophecy. "

[3] David Silverman, President of American Atheists, at  the Reason Rally promoting political activism.   
See also Sean Faircloth at the Reason Rally. Faircloth, Director of Strategy & Policy with Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, wrote a book, Attack of the Theocrats, How the Religious Right Harms Us All & What We Can Do About It. He offers at the rally his "ten point vision of a secular America, or as I [Sean] call it, a modest plan to take over the United States." Faircloth continues, "Richard Dawkins asked me. . .  to use my 20 years of experience in politics to organize. . . " Dawkins website says that Fairchild's "book addresses the current religious tenor in politics with a specific plan to achieve a secular society." 

[4] Freedom from Religion Foundation list of "14 Ways to Get Active"  

[5] Christian Science Monitor, November 21, 2006 by Dinesh D'Souza