Tim Keller – What is the New Atheist message?

Here are some interesting views by Dr Tim Keller on how best to engage modern atheist. there are many pitfalls but should we be afraid and ignore our calling or dare to something even when the possibility of making few errors is still there. question is what are we called to do? If we are to be called by the Name of Christ should we not also answer his call to go out and be his witnesses. As someone sad to me Church needs to stop preaching to the converted and engage these who need the good news of the salvation that Christ brings.

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2 Responses to Tim Keller – What is the New Atheist message?

  1. tildeb says:

    Wow. What a poor critique.

    What Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens (among many) do is question why religion should be protected from criticism when there is so much evidence that many religious claims are false and even dangerous.

    They do argue – with merit, I must add – that it is from the ranks of the religious where fundamentalists are given a cover of acceptabliity. Atheists simply don’t strap bombs on their bodies or fly planes into buildings to further the aims of atheism. I would have thought this point to be self-evident.

    Harris in particular argues why religious belief and the false certainty that often accompanies it is so dangerous, understanding that he wrote the End of Faith beginning on September 12, 2001. He foresees a time when competing religious claims will bring forth the use of modern weaponry of mass death and that we as a civilized society must uphold the secular values of human rights and dignity over and above the tendency of religious folk to give primacy to their various gods and their supposed desires and directives. The way to accomplish this, Harris and the other three authors mentioned here, is to begin by first challenging religious folk to provide justification for their beliefs whenever these beliefs enter the public domain. How intolerant and disrespectful, eh?

    Tim erroneously suggests that the New Atheists promote intolerance of people because of their religious beliefs. This is a lie. The common argument these atheists put forth is to go after the supernatural aspect of these beliefs themselves and show why they are unjustified in the natural world to be accorded any intellectual respect. What they show is that many truth claims about the natural world in the various holy texts are, in fact, quite wrong… even spectacularly wrong. People like Tim will then alter the text through the twists and turns of metaphor and interpretation to explain a different meaning than, say, why the 57 biblical references to geocentrism actually means something else than the earth as the center of the universe.

    Dawkins is particularly incensed that science in general and biology in particular as a method of honest inquiry into our natural world has been systematically attacked in the US especially by the evangelical branch. Special creationism for humanity is simply wrong in the same sense that all dogs like labradors and poodles and great danes come from the same wolf ancestor and were probably not created by divine intervention. With 40% of the American public so incredibly ignorant of a basic fact of biology, Dawkins goes after those who are so willing to cause such mass ignorance and urge us to afford these religious nonsensical beliefs any respect whatsoever because the beliefs simply don’t deserve them.

    Dennett proposes that religious belief should be studied like any other human behaviour and explains why a false sense of entitlement to private religious beliefs is such a negative influence when introduced into public policy.

    Hitchens offers us an argument why the very nature of religious belief harms honest inquiry by establishing answers first that interfere with discovering answers as they may be rather than work on answers that have to fit a prescribed dogma.

    All of these authors have legitimate concerns about the interference religious belief provides between people respecting other people as people first. Somehow, Tim seems to have missed the central tenets of each and every atheist author he criticizes as intolerant because they criticize religious belief and ends up missing their collective thesis by a country mile. A

    s well, he lies outright when he suggest that none of these books have earned favourable reviews from the biggest book review columnists. If Tim wanted to be honest, he would have explained that his definition of favourable must be all inclusive in glowing terms, something very few honest book reviewers do for ANY book, let us not forget. In addition, Tim should have mentioned that there are very few book reviewers who are not sensitive to appealing to a sizable portion of their readership that is very accommodating to religion in the public domain. Criticism of that very issue by these authors means that each reviewer then has to justify why it is okay for the reviewer to remain sensitive, all the while appearing to the the likes of Tim to be criticizing the books themselves.

    Finally, if Tim honestly thinks he can do a better job criticizing the main themes these atheists raise, then he should do so. Like most atheists, I will gladly read them to see if they are better informed than the arguments against. So far, none have been, so he has his work cut out for him.

  2. [“Wow. What a poor critique.”]

    First let me start with saying we must have listened to two different presentations here. I see that you have agenda that has been pushed for some time now by the “Magic 4” Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchin’s. Interestingly enough most of the prominent aggressive comments always seam to come from this quartet.

    [“What Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and Hitchens (among many) do is question why religion should be protected from criticism when there is so much evidence that many religious claims are false and even dangerous.”]

    This is interesting statement I could make same statement about atheism, and both of us would be right, question is have we learned from our past mistakes? Human idiotic behaviour is not excuse for poor philosophical ideology I think you would agree with that as most Atheists claim that reason is the way forward. Based on that reason is it not right to suggest that ones bad interpretation and use of ideology may not mean that everyone holding to one particular faith is going to react in the same way?

    [“They do argue – with merit, I must add – that it is from the ranks of the religious where fundamentalists are given a cover of acceptability. Atheists simply don’t strap bombs on their bodies or fly planes into buildings to further the aims of atheism. I would have thought this point to be self-evident.”]

    No but in China atheists have persecuted and killed many more religious people that will include both world wars, inquisition and any extremist action recorded in the last 100 years. So lets not pretend, statistics and examples should not be selectively chosen if you are to use logic and reason.

    [“Harris in particular argues why religious belief and the false certainty that often accompanies it is so dangerous, understanding that he wrote the End of Faith beginning on September 12, 2001. He foresees a time when competing religious claims will bring forth the use of modern weaponry of mass death and that we as a civilized society must uphold the secular values of human rights and dignity over and above the tendency of religious folk to give primacy to their various gods and their supposed desires and directives. The way to accomplish this, Harris and the other three authors mentioned here, is to begin by first challenging religious folk to provide justification for their beliefs whenever these beliefs enter the public domain. How intolerant and disrespectful, eh?”]

    Actually you need to look carefully at the evidence and will see that yes there are religious extremists who have hijacked many religious beliefs, but ideas and religion is used as any other tool would be used to further their ideas. Note also that Dr Keller said atheists that are claiming that Religion is not cool are not new; there have been many attacks like that in the past 300 years.

    He emphasised that the issue is that anyone else who dares to respect people with religious view is bad. And that is all the difference in the world that will lead from tolerant liberal society to the oppressive fascist state that stops parent from allowing their children to be “indoctrinated” by the evil religious people. We know that as far as we can see in Iraq people who talk to each other are achieving better results than people that try to shut the other side.

    Communication and respect seams to be the key, in everything that is endorsed by reason. Yes we do need to control any extremism but I think in the same way Atheist like to expose lunatic Christians of which there are many. (I say this as a Christian, we need to moderate this and you will find many Christians are trying to correct extremism). Christians have every right to show intolerance and extremism that is perpetrated by the people who claim they use reason but in fact they promote force over logical discussion.

    [“Tim erroneously suggests that the New Atheists promote intolerance of people because of their religious beliefs. This is a lie. The common argument these atheists put forth is to go after the supernatural aspect of these beliefs themselves and show why they are unjustified in the natural world to be accorded any intellectual respect. What they show is that many truth claims about the natural world in the various holy texts are, in fact, quite wrong… even spectacularly wrong. People like Tim will then alter the text through the twists and turns of metaphor and interpretation to explain a different meaning than, say, why the 57 biblical references to geocentrism actually means something else than the earth as the center of the universe.”]

    Fact that Dr Dawkins says that “You can not be intelligent and Christian” that teaching Intelligent Design and Christianity to children is a form of Child abuse is telling that you will have trouble justifying to any offended Christian. Actually many misinterpretations have been corrected and you will remember that Catholic and Protestant Church had big fallout that lead to separation and biter battles.

    I can tell you as someone who lives in UK, Northern Ireland is good example where tribalism and Religion have been combined to form devastating effects on the local community. But we should not forget that this is used to great affect by local political leaders and often like in Rumania, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and other ex communist countries majority of the people suffer due to actions and manipulations of the skilful manipulative minority. So the lesson is to learn from our past and not perpetually repeating same mistake.

    [“Dawkins is particularly incensed that science in general and biology in particular as a method of honest inquiry into our natural world has been systematically attacked in the US especially by the evangelical branch. Special creationism for humanity is simply wrong in the same sense that all dogs like labradors and poodles and great danes come from the same wolf ancestor and were probably not created by divine intervention. With 40% of the American public so incredibly ignorant of a basic fact of biology, Dawkins goes after those who are so willing to cause such mass ignorance and urge us to afford these religious nonsensical beliefs any respect whatsoever because the beliefs simply don’t deserve them.”]

    I see your problem, in particular the last part of this paragraph, you and I disagree on our world views but that does not mean we should be mean to each other. I don’t mind being called names as long as I can return the favour without then being accused of unacceptable behaviour. Naturally this leads to just louder and more abusive exchanges which is not the answer.

    He refuses to talk to ID people because he claims this would give them platform, but will this lead people to bombing the local store? No I don’t thinks so, these are outlooks on our origins not our political world views.

    [“Dennett proposes that religious belief should be studied like any other human behaviour and explains why a false sense of entitlement to private religious beliefs is such a negative influence when introduced into public policy.”]

    Same could be said about Atheist teachings and influences.

    [“Hitchens offers us an argument why the very nature of religious belief harms honest inquiry by establishing answers first that interfere with discovering answers as they may be rather than work on answers that have to fit a prescribed dogma.”]

    Is this not true for atheists as most of the people I talk to give me same stuff that their favourite atheist are spreading. This is very dogmatic in my opinion just as someone who believes in stupidity of Prosperity Gospel and calls himself Christian. Both of which I believe to be incompatible with logic.

    I love the ending to your paragraph, is this not same as what happened to the theory of Evolution? Just track the progress of that theory in the last 50 years and you will note many changes are incorporated in order to fit prescribed dogma.

    [“All of these authors have legitimate concerns about the interference religious belief provides between people respecting other people as people first. Somehow, Tim seems to have missed the central tenets of each and every atheist author he criticizes as intolerant because they criticize religious belief and ends up missing their collective thesis by a country mile.”]

    Note that you are making big oversimplification and he does not object people criticising belief as Dr Keller does the same and that includes incorrect Christian teachings. Correct teaching being that which was started by its initiator Jesus. I.e. if it is perversion of the original theory then it is not correct.

    Secondly he objects to them saying that people should not be respected based on their faith. And especially when they say that moderate Christians only serve to legitimise extremists. That kind of talk sounds like Communist manifesto to me.

    [“As well, he lies outright when he suggest that none of these books have earned favourable reviews from the biggest book review columnists. If Tim wanted to be honest, he would have explained that his definition of favourable must be all inclusive in glowing terms, something very few honest book reviewers do for ANY book, let us not forget. In addition, Tim should have mentioned that there are very few book reviewers who are not sensitive to appealing to a sizable portion of their readership that is very accommodating to religion in the public domain. Criticism of that very issue by these authors means that each reviewer then has to justify why it is okay for the reviewer to remain sensitive, all the while appearing to the the likes of Tim to be criticizing the books themselves.”]

    I can comment on this, but I am aware that he has expanded on this in his book “Reason for God” you may want to check what he is saying there. I think he was criticising their logic and philosophical understanding of Science and its application in political and cultural environment. When rules are imposed then freedom is at risk and that is one of the main objectives of number of other journalists that I have read from here in the UK.

    [“Finally, if Tim honestly thinks he can do a better job criticizing the main themes these atheists raise, then he should do so. Like most atheists, I will gladly read them to see if they are better informed than the arguments against. So far, none have been, so he has his work cut out for him.”]

    Google his name and you will find few books and many articles published including on my blog role. I have already mentioned “Reason for God” he is also slamming “ignorant” confrontational Christians in this very video which I’m guessing you overlooked.

    Defend the word

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