If the Middle Ages are to stand in history books as the Age of Faith, it could be equally asserted that the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries will no doubt be remembered as the Era of Unbelief. Whereas unbelievers in the Middle Ages were careful in how they expressed their theological doubts for fear of befalling persecution, theists (be they Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox Jew) have today learned selectivity in how they go about expressing challenges to the prevailing lack of belief impacting fundamental cultural institutions such as government, academia, and the scientific establishment. And like the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, the atheistic establishment of today seeks to foster a worldview influencing all aspects of society and binds all individuals whether they wish to be or not. Such an assertion will become more obvious in the following analysis which identifies significant atheistic thinkers, clarifies why some chose to adhere to this particular belief system, and critiques this worldview and contrasts it with Christian monotheism.
As an intellectual tradition, atheism has captured the minds of
some of history’s most formidable thinkers. Creation science apologist
Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis has astutely pointed out that social
issues and public policies rest upon a foundation of thought and belief.
Keeping with this analogy, atheism proceeds from a theoretical base up
through a practical program designed to influence various spheres of
culture such as politics and education with prominent luminaries within
the movement solidifying this mental edifice along the way.
As stated elsewhere within these introductory comments, atheism
did not suddenly appear on the doorstep of the twentieth and
twenty-first century fully formed demanding things like the removal of
school prayer and the enshrinement of evolution as biological dogma.
Rather like a weed strangling the other plants around it, today's
culture of unbelief sprang from the soil in which it was planted.
While atheism can trace its pedigree back throughout much of human
history, a number of modern thinkers have ensured this system a place of
prominence within the cultural consciousness.
One pivotal intellect laying a foundation for atheism was Ludwig
Feuerbach. In "The Essence Of Christianity", Feuerbach set out to
undermine the claims of the supernatural by providing religious belief
with a naturalistic basis postulating that the idea of God is merely a
mental projection of the goodness and nobility residing within man's own
bosom (McGrath, 95). Once mankind realizes that there is no
transcendent deity to rely on, Feuerbach argued, his sense of alienation
could be overcome by reembracing the notions of perfectibility once
reserved for God as an integral component of human nature (Lawhead,
Attempting to solidify these claims regarding man's position atop
a materialistic universe through a veneer of science was Charles
Darwin. According to "The Cambridge Dictionary Of Philosophy", Darwin
was among the first to popularize theories of materialistic gradualism
or evolution with a naturalistic mechanism, namely the process of
natural selection where adaptations are accumulated in surviving
organisms and passed on to succeeding generations (177-179). According
to Darwin in "The Origin Of Species", it is through the accumulation of
these adaptations in response to varying environmental conditions that
biologists find the diverse plethora of organisms that inhabit the earth
today. Alister McGrath points out in "Intellectuals Don’t Need God
& Other Modern Myths" that "The Origin Of Species" and its ensuing
theory of evolution was not accepted as much for its scientific insight
than for its justification of passionately believed ideological
assumptions such as the free trade policies of the English Whig Party,
various strands of socialism, and assorted theories regarding the
perceived hierarchy of human races and ethnic groups (161).
Standing upon thinkers such as Feuerbach and Darwin who provided
atheism with theoretical and allegedly scientific justifications were
other formidable intellects pursuing the implications of a social order
divorced from the influence of God. One such figure drawing upon the
fonts of atheism for such a purpose was Karl Marx.
Marx served as a kind of intellectual middleman between the
theoretically-inclined such as Feuerbach and Darwin and the later
activists such as Lenin and Mao who would adapt Marx's own writings for
the actual political arena. Borrowing from the materialism of
Feuerbach, Marx believed that religion and the notion of God were
devised by bourgeois elites in order to subjugate the proletarian
masses. Borrowing from Darwin's theory of growth through conflict, Marx
believed these religious notions would have to be swept away along side
with most forms of private property in order to make a way for the
pending socialist utopia. Marx's call for action and summary for
analysis were sounded in "The Communist Manifesto"; his beliefs received
further exposition through the massive "Das Kapital", much of which was
compiled by Friedrich Engels after the death of his comrade.
Another prominent twentieth century thinker dedicated to the
cause of atheism was Bertrand Russell. Though best remembered in
academia as a foremost philosopher of mathematics, it could be argued
that Russell's most widespread contribution remains as an influential
proponent of applied atheism.
The core of Russell's objections to Christianity can be found in
his "Why I Am Not A Christian", which seeks to justify his religious
stance as well as highlight the ramifications of such beliefs as
epitomized by Russell's sexual ethics sanctioning arrangements such as
trial marriages and recreational promiscuity. Russell's views regarding
family life were further elaborated upon in "Marriage & Morals", a
publication whose radicalism contributed to costing Russell a
professorship at the City College Of New York.
Russell's primary intellectual motivation was a burning contempt
for God and His divine order for man. This conclusion can be drawn from
Russell's social views, which were an eclectic mixture of totalitarian
and anarchistic impulses.
On the one hand, Russell supported the establishment of a world
government so intrusive it would decree who would be permitted to have
children. Yet Russell participated in acts of outright civil
disobedience in connection with the anti-nuclear movement, thinking that
the modern state had grown too powerful and destructive for mankind's
In most Christian investigations into atheism, it is common to
highlight the affinity between contemporary sociopolitical leftism and
religious atheism. However, the increasing popularity of intellectual
iconoclast Ayn Rand proves that atheism can also serve as a temptation
for those more prone to classify themselves as conservatives and
libertarians as well.
Calling her philosophy Objectivism, Ayn Rand argued for the
primacy of reason and the individual over all other human faculties and
institutions, prompting some to characterize Star Trek's Mr. Spock as
the embodiment of her worldview. However, in her quest to emancipate
humanity from the dangers of totalitarianism, Rand went too far in
elevating reason at the expense of faith and by characterizing the
living God of the universe as just another dogma bent on enslaving the
minds of men not all that unlike Marxist Communism.
Ayn Rand's thoughts find expression in a number of novels and
polemical discourses. "Atlas Shrugged" is remembered as Ayn's signature
work extolling the virtues of nonconformity and radical individualism
in the guise of a novel about an architect bending to no standard but
his own. In the novel "We The Living", Rand warns of the dangers posed
by collectivism to the well-being of the individual. Rand's nonfiction
works include "Philosophy: Who Needs It", "Capitalism: The Unknown
Ideal", and "The Virtue Of Selfishness".
Of Ayn Rand, it says in "Christianity For The Tough Minded",
"her attempt to formulate a philosophy of creative selfishness will make
no great impact (227)." Yet her impact cannot be denied be denied as
her portrait adorns the walls of the Cato Institute and key national
leaders such as former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Alan
Greenspan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas count themselves
among her admirers.
Looking at the matter from a certain perspective, the beauty and
appeal of atheism can be found in its ability to adapt to the needs of
those building systems of thought and seeking to justify individual
behavioral practices. Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky realized that,
if there is no God, anything is possible.
The diminished guilt available through atheism may serve as a
greater incentive to those flocking under its banner than any of the
answers the system might provide to the universal questions asked by
thinking individuals. D. James Kenendy points out in "Character &
Destiny: A Nation In Search Of Its Soul" that Bertrand Russell may have
been an atheist as much to ease his conscience regarding his numerous
affairs and seductions as out of a desire for alleged rational
consistency (173). The idea of God posits the notion that the right to
order the moral structure of reality resides in a power beyond the level
of the finite individual's control.
And control is the one thing the individual atheist is loathe to
relinquish. Though one can't fault her, Ayn Rand was fifty-eight years
old before stepping aboard an airplane for fear of giving up control
over her own destiny to the pilots and mechanics she claimed possessed a
faulty "modern psycho-epistemology" (Branden, "The Passion Of Ayn Rand,
Anarchist Segei Nechayev wrote in "Catechism Of A Revolutionist",
"The revolutionist knows only one science, the science of destruction
which does not stop at lying, robbery, betrayal and torture of friends,
murder of his own family." How much easier it is to topple the tower of
morality once its foundation of concrete theism has been removed.
A classic truism teaches that if wishes were horses beggars would
ride, and another piece of cherished wisdom reveals wishing for
something does not make it so. These same principles apply to the
longing for a deity-free universe as expressed by the thinkers profiled
throughout this exposition. For even though atheists have gone to
considerable lengths to implement their systems, Communists going so far
as to slaughter millions of innocent individuals, atheism fails to
standup to closer scrutiny on a number of grounds.
Try as the atheist might to manipulate objective data to fit their
hypothesis with some evolutionists going so far as to invoke the law in
order to suppress perspectives conflicting with their origins account,
the assumptions of atheism fail to square with the facts of nature and
with the revelation of nature's God. At one time earlier in the modern
era, it was quite common for the atheist to portray himself as the true
friend and ally of science. However, as impartial observational science
has probed deeper onto the macroscopic realm of cosmic space as well as
the microscopic world of the subatomic particle, this relationship once
prided by the atheist turned out not to be as solid as originally
The scientific establishment and the philosophical elites once
derided the so-called "theistic proofs" for the existence of God as the
outdated wisdom of a less-enlightened era. It turns out, however, that
these time-honored arguments may be as relevant as the latest academic
The cosmological argument, perhaps the best known, states that
all finite realities and structures have a cause. Therefore, ultimately
there must be an uncaused cause complete in itself in order to get the
proverbial billiard ball rolling; this the theist declared to be God.
Naturalistic cosmologists steeped in atheism such as Carl Sagan
once tried to dance around the issue by saying that the cosmos is all
there was, is, or ever will be. But it seems that the laws of physics
don't exactly have a record of contributing to their local PBS station.
The Laws of Thermodynamics declare that, left to themselves,
systems degrade to the maximum level of entropy; or in laymen's terms,
things wear out. Employing this principle, one is forced to conclude
that, if the universe is an infinitely-old closed system those like
Sagan claim it to be, then the universe would have already wound down in
eons past. Therefore, the universe must have had a beginning. And
since something finite cannot come from nothing, the hypothesis of a
divine creator provides the most plausible alternative.
It has been noted that the theistic proofs do not necessarily
reveal the God of Judeo-Christian adoration but at best point the seeker
in His direction. Likewise, the findings of science point the
individual in the direction of a yet more definitive source of knowledge
standing in opposition to the claims of atheism.
Scripture strikes the decisive blow against those daring to spit
cognitively in the face of God. Psalms 19:1 says, "The heavens declare
the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
Until the scientist can replicate life on his own from nothing
whatsoever, that verse settles the issue of whether the universe sings
the praises of an omnipotent Creator or testifies to the cruel fact of
an arbitrary universe devoid of plan or purpose. Some will no doubt
continue to insist upon their own path of stubbornness despite what the
very molecules they are breathing might be telling them.
Of those failing to be persuaded by the evidence, Psalms 14:1
says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” Webster’s
defines fool as “a person devoid of reason or intelligence.” Either the
educated person assents to the reality of God or his so-called
“education” is not worth the value of the parchment the big-shot degree
is printed upon.
If the skeptic still refuses to abandon atheism in light of the
objective evidence, one is left with no alternative but to drag out the
rotten fruits produced by this faulty system in terms of ruined lived
and fallen nations. For instead of establishing a set of moral values
resting upon a foundation apart from divine revelation as originally
postulated by the adherents of early atheistic modernism, one ends up
with an ethical system based upon the absolutist relativism of
postmodernism where almost anything goes except daring to set forth some
kind of behavioral standard binding upon all.
According to Chuck Colson in "Against The Night: Living In The
New Dark Ages", in the arena where relativism reigns supreme in
opposition to the law of God, there is no legitimate ground in which one
can exclude the arguments and proposals of Nazis, serial killers, and
pedophiles (47). From today's headlines, the nation is coming to
realize in the most brutal of ways that these ideas do not confine
themselves to academic journals or newspaper opinion pages. And in the
case of school shootings such as Columbine High, this radical antipathy
towards God can in fact turn deadly.
If the lawlessness of atheism can wreak havoc upon individual
lives, just imagine its affects magnified across entire societies. The
major dictatorships of the twentieth century testify to this
blood-soaked historical truth. Founded upon assorted atheistic
ideologies, these totalitarian regimes promised secular heavens on earth
but instead dragged their nations down to the very borders of hell.
Unfettered by eternal external standards, those holding the reins
of power in such societies had nothing to hamper the implementation of
their most extreme policy whims, not even the value of innocent human
lives. For example, Mao Zedong of the People's Republic of China
slaughtered five million of his own countrymen in pursuit of his
Cultural Revolution and related kinds of Communist nonsense.While the United States has not yet eliminated that many (at
least among those fortunate enough to escape the womb alive), the
Orwellian day is here when good will be called evil and evil called
good. Former Secretary of Education Bill Bennett aptly noted on an
appearance on "Meet The Press" that, had the Columbine killers greeted
one another with "Hail the King of Kings" rather than their trademark
"Heil Hitler", school officials would have intervened since an
affirmation of theism --- especially of a Christian variety --- is the
one thing an atheistic educational system cannot tolerate. School
officials did not intervene and the rest is history, with organized
unbelief claiming yet a few more in its unrelenting war upon God and
As public rhetoricians are fond of pointing out, mankind stands
at a crossroads. The choice, however, goes to a level deeper than the
choice between Democrats and Republicans that Americans must make on
The decision to be made transcends the limited purposes of
institutionalized politics to embrace fundamental issues of worldview
and belief. The nature of this conflict can be discovered in a
comparison and contrast between atheism and Christianity.
From the fundamental postulate regarding the nonexistence of God,
atheism attempts to formulate a comprehensive framework upon which to
hang its understanding of mankind and the universe. Without God to
account for the cosmos in which they find themselves, atheists argue
that the complexity of nature arose through a process of gradual
evolution governed by the rules of chance.
This process of evolution, to the atheist, serves as the dynamic
against which man strives to find and determine his role upon the earth.
As such, everything is thus in a state of flux and nothing is fixed as
man struggles to figure things out against the backdrop of a cold and
Not even fundamental issues such as individual rights, personal
ethics, or social institutions can afford to remain fixed and stagnant.
And if innocent human lives are ruined or destroyed, that may seem
regrettable at this moment along the long evolutionary chain, but
mankind will ultimately get things worked out and the piles of corpses
littering history’s ditches will not seem so nauseous upon further
Of these ideas, Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which
seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
Any history book objective enough to attest to the horrors of the
twentieth century testifies to this startling truth.
Standing in contrast to the lonely pointlessness of atheism is
Judeo-Christian theism recognizing God as the fundamental proposition of
the universe. Like atheism, the Judeo-Christian tradition builds its
system around its conceptual foundation as well. But since its basis is
drastically different from that of atheism, the conclusions drawn by
Christianity are considerably different.
Christianity holds that, since the universe was created from
nothing through the Word of God, all creation is dependent upon Him at
all times. Colossians 1:17 says, “...by him all things consist.”
Since man is God’s creation, it is therefore God’s right to
determine the standards by which man shall conduct his own affairs. And
since God loves His creation, it follows that His standards are for the
benefit of His children. These standards are communicated to mankind
in a number of ways.
One such way is through individual conscience. Romans 2:14 says,
“For when Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature things
contained in the law, these having not the law, are a law unto
themselves.” While God has written the Law across the heart of man, man
has suppressed this truth through sin.
God has overcome this development by making Himself known in the
person of His Son Jesus Christ and through the direct propositional
revelation of His Word and the Holy Bible of which II Timothy 3:16 says,
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for
doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness.” It is within this framework of Law and Grace that the
balance between the individual and society is found as this system and
the objective standards established by it protect the individual since
it recognizes the worth and fallen character of each. That is why
Psalms 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
Atheism remains one of the most serious intellectual challenges
faced by the contemporary Christian. Despite its obvious scientific and
sociological shortcomings, the powerful adherents of this system
positioned in influential sectors of society such as government and
academia have enshrined this worldview as the official dogma of
civilization nearly as stifling as anything allegedly imposed by the
medieval Catholic Church.
Yet despite considerable efforts to enforce this system as an
orthodoxy that goes so far as to jail students daring to pray around a
flagpole, like its sister system in the former Soviet Union, Western
atheism is a decaying ideology. It is amid this decay often resulting
in social and individual ruin that the Christian is able to proclaim the
superiority of the theistic alternative and the God of its adoration.
by Frederick Meekins