But yesterday I broke that tradition and bought Saturday's paper.
I bought it with the intent to check out what's around in the way of employment, but I decided to read it to see whether anything had changed throughout the years.
Unfortunately one such article made my blood boil. It was aptly titled: In God We Distrust.
The article was written by an atheist, Sam Harris, who explores some common myths about the belief system.
Now before I begin an atheist is someone who believes there is no God. This is different to some who is an agnostic who believes that they don't know if there's a God. Most atheists are better off being agnostics as to believe there is no God would require you to know everything - in effect being God yourself.
But let's return to the article, here are some excerpts...
1. Atheists believe that life is meaningless.
On the contrary, atheists tend to be sure that life is precious. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so.
You'll need to note that there is no atheistic bible out there - the stuff atheists come from areas taught in the bible. In a way, atheists have taken aspects of Christianity they have liked and thrown out God as the author of these principles.
2. Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.
Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok.
... because those fields rejected God.
3. Atheism is dogmatic.
Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity's needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient diety. An atheist is a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts once said in debate: "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
Truth is the reason why I believe in the Bible and reject the others. So what untruthful thing do you find in the Bible, Stevie? There are some pretty big claims in the bible, one such statement is found in the book of John (14:6) where Jesus says...
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
That's a pretty big statement, Stevie? Either this Jesus person was either a lunactic, a liar, or could quite possibly have been who he said he was: Lord! So please provide your evidence to Jesus being false, you're an historian Stevie so what have you found?
4. Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.
This notion is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. Although we don't know precisely how the Earth's early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection which exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.
You say that life didn't come about by chance, but that it came about by "chance mutation" which wasn't random?? Huh??
The sad fact of the matter is that NO mutation has ever been proven to be beneficial to form a NEW species. Mutations that we observe in today's world are things like sheep with extra legs, snakes with two heads, or flies without wings... etc etc. None of these can be beneficial for the mutated subject - can you imagine how easy they'd be caught in the wild, or how quick they'd starve to death?
In fact, speaking of flies, an experiment was done on flies in a lab where they zapped them with radiation to see if they would mutate into another species. After many man hours they observed all different types of flies: some had curled wings, others had no wings, some had extra legs, some came out different colour... etc etc, but not one mutation formed a new species, in fact no mutation was beneficial to the fly whatsoever. The scientists then erroneously concluded that the fly had evolved to its furthermost point in its biological condition!?
For a species to evolve into another species new information needs to be added, mutations only scramble existing information.
And don't get me started on the Evolution bandwagon - if you'd like to find out more I highly recommend this site (interestingly today there's a great article on how Darwinism led to Nazism).
5. Atheism has no connection to science.
Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God, there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the US population as an example: most polls show that about 90 per cent of the general public believe in a personal God; yet 93 per cent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not.
Hmm, I wonder why there aren't as many Christian members in the N.A.S.? I wonder if it might have something to do with statements made by the organization such as these:
"Creationism, intelligent design, and other claims of supernatural intervention in the origin of life or of species are not science because they are not testable by the methods of science." (cited from here)
Unfortunately their statement is true. We cannot go into a time machine and see what happened at the onset of time, but just as it is true for creationism it is equally true for evolution's big bang model - both are unscientific (they cannot be observed, and as far as I can tell no big bang of anything has created something new - I know it has destroyed a lot of things).
Therefore, you can either believe that the complexities of life around us were the result of a creation by a designer (God), or the result of "chance mutations and natural selection" beginning with a rock.
6. Atheists are arrogant.
When scientists don't know something - like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed - they admit it. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn't arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.
I'm going to have to elaborate on a point made here.
As with the fly experiment the scientists arrived at an odd conclusion because of their presuppositions on the origin of life. Those scientists may indeed admit that they don't know about what exactly happened at the beginning of the universe, but the interpretations made are in light on natural selection and the evolutionary theory.
It's never the observations, or the facts, that are in question with scientific tests (no creationist in their right mind is against scientific testing) it's the interpretation of these facts that are sometimes wrong - evolutionists will interpret them one way, creationists another.
7. Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.
There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don't tend to do is make claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences.
While I do believe in spiritual experiences (such as prophecy, speaking in tongues) I do not seek them as some other Christians do. And I definitely don't endorse churches allowing congregation members to run around like a headless chook and flail their arms about all the while having a "spritual experience" - my refutation of this activity is that neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor any of the disciples sought to do this activity as evidence of them being "spiritual".
8. Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.
Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious to the atheist that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. From the atheist point of view, the world's religions utterly trivialise the real beauty and immensity of the universe.
If you don't fully understand everything then why are you categorically stating that there is no God? Could the areas that you don't understand possibly reveal God?
9. Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.
In most cases, it seems that religion gives bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?
Sure, the Bible instructs us to give a tenth of our earnings to the needy, and also instructs us on how to give: "...for God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7) and tells us that we may indeed have (earthly or heavenly) reward for doing so (Matt 6:1-4), but surely this is incentive for us TO give. There's no requirement for atheists to give at all, or how much, at least there's some incentive for Christians.
10. Atheism provides no basis for morality.
If a person doesn't already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won't discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran - as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral instituitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.
We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn't make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone slavery - and yet every civilised human being now recognises that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture - like the golden rule - can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.
A school of fish were swimming in a lake. One of them looks up and sees a man sitting on a chair, eating a sandwich and drinking on a can of soda.
"Now that would be really living!" says one of the fish and immediately he jumps out of the water onto the bank.
Trying its best to grab a sandwich and enjoy some soda the fish-out-of-water gasps it last.
An atheist walking past looks at the writhing fish and exclaims, "What kind of a God would create a fish to suffer like that!"
But God never make the fish to "suffer like that". He made it to swim in the water, just as we are to swim in God's eternal love. But just as the fish was not content with how God had made it and thereby decided to do its own thing we too have spat at God and decided to down OUR own thing.
God knew how detrimental sin would be to our health not only physically and emotionally, but also spiritually. Thankfully through God's grace, and knowing the predicament of sin on mankind God sent His Son to be the remission of our sins by dying on the cross.
Christ then conquered death, and by doing so gave us the surety that we could too - but only if we accepted his free gift (John 6:47 "he that believeth on me [Jesus] hath everlasting life").
The only hope provided by atheism is to enjoy happiness when it arrives and to keep perpetuating our evolution as a species ever awaiting for that next "chance mutation" - it could be today or another billion years from now. *sigh*
The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God."
- Psalm 14:1