Much to my surprise, Conrad Black (yes ‘the’ Conrad Black), has written an article entitled “The shabby, shallow world of the militant atheist” within the National Post (a paper he once owned), and there he trots out a litany of rather weird claims in order to assert a god claim. If it had been anybody else, I’d most probably not have bothered, but hey, this is Conrad Black, so let’s leap in and take a look.
Claim 1: John Lennox is just the very best Christian Apologist going and nobody can refute what he says.
He writes …
Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and one of the most rational and persuasive advocates of a Christian theistic view of the world, … Dr. Lennox is one of the world’s most eminent mathematicians and he is on the side of those men of science and reason such as Sir Isaac Newton, whose reaction to discoveries of the intellectual and natural wonders of the universe is to be more convinced than they had been before of the existence of a divine intelligence that had created such an intricate and complex mechanism as the universe
Lennox might indeed be a good mathematician, and also a good debater, but if you take a look at his actual claims, they turn out to be pure unadulterated nonsense. Basically they boil down to “I have no idea how the Universe could have happened naturally, therefore God did it by magic”.
So apart from this being a bit of misguided hero worship (are Christians permitted to do that), it is an appeal to an authority who is not actually an authority on the subject at all, and has exactly zero credible evidence.
Claim 2: “militant atheists”
What the heck is “militant” about not believing claims that don’t have any evidence?
This tends to be a term that the religious use to describe non-religious people who not only don’t believe, but also speak out.
If that is a valid use of the word “Militant” then is Mr Black a “Militant” Christian because he wrote an article?
It is in fact a rather dishonest term designed to slur those whom it is directed against, is not factual in any meaningful way, and is instead a raw unadulterated ad hominem.
Claim 3: Without God you can’t be good
He claims …
neither he, nor his fellow vocal atheistic militants, such as Singer, David Hawking, Jonathan Glover and Richard Rorty, all formidable academics, can dispute that without some notion of a divine intelligence and its influence on the culture of the world through the various religions (though the principal religions are not interchangeably benign or influential) there would be no serious ethical conceptions.
… and there rests even more pure unadulterated nonsense.
The Bible, is a pro-slavery book from cover to clover, and also contains rather a lot of obnoxious stuff that this supposedly moral god directed his chosen people to do, such as genocide on a ‘biblical’ scale. The reason you recognise that it is so, is not because some supernatural entity has imparted some moral compass into you, but rather because the empathy and compassion that humans have evolved with has enabled our culture to come to such a realisation … no god required.
- Evidence that this “divine” intelligence exists – zero.
- Evidence that human ethics have a supernatural origin – zero.
- Evidence that the religious are morally superior than the non religious – zero
Claim 4: atheism is a faith
Time to roll your eyes, and yes this is a truly silly claim.
The religious assert a god claim, and when evidence is called for, none emerges, so the claim is dismissed. The vast majority of atheists operate on that basis, they are not asserting a “No God” claim, but rather they dismiss the god claim due to a lack of a reason for accepting it – or to translate – why they heck would anybody even begin to attempt to disprove something that has never actually been proven … ever.
Try this … “I claim that I’m from Mars, and unless you can produce evidence to disprove that, then my claim is true”
Happy to go with that “logic”?
For the exact same reason, this argument that atheism is a faith falls apart, it is not a belief that there is no god, but rather is the observation that the evidence for the various religious claims is totally non-existent.
Claim 5: unexplained developments that are in fact miraculous sometimes occur
Evidence for this claim – zero (this lack of any evidence is very much a theme here)
There is much that happens that we cannot explain, but when faced with something apparently magic, making the leap to “God did it” is not an explanation, it simply means you don’t understand.
As an example of exactly this, Richard Feynman recalls how the clock sitting on the table beside his wife stopped at the exact moment of her death. This looked supernatural, but all that is happening is that you are missing some information. As she was dying, the nurses rushed to assist, and accidentally knocked the clock off the table, breaking it, and then placed it back.
So Mr Black is a believer … that’s fine.
Is he offering us a credible argument? Nope, instead he is rolling out the same well-worn chestnuts.
So why did any of this attract my attention?
The thing that triggered my motivation to write a response is finding a guy such as Mr Black lecturing non-believers on the supposed moral superiority of belief. By taking this stance he is being grossly hypocritical, because this god fearing good Christian man who basks in the supposed ethical supremacy of his specific religious belief, is the same Mr Black who stole $80 million and went to jail.
What can I say except welcome to the truly shabby, shallow world of the militant Christian, a place of hypocrisy incarnate.