While I was not present at the 2012 Reason Rally, I heard many interesting stories about the rally, particularly about the main event. The headliner of the event was Mr. New Atheist himself, Dr. Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion). While there were many activities during the rally, many people remember the rally based on the speech (video above) delivered by Dawkins. As far as I can tell, Dawkins’ speech was the most memorable during the rally and embodied the soul of what the event was truly about. It makes sense. He’s the icon of modern atheism. Dawkins assures atheists that they can confidently be the ‘brights’ among a see of intellectual depravity.
My concern about the Reason Rally is simple; is it compatible with reason? Many in the unbelieving community wave the flag of reason and allege to pray at the altar of science but is it reasonable to believe that atheism is sitting on a firm foundation that can withstand the weight of such claims. As Frank Turek brilliantly describes in his new book Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make their Case, that atheists cannot make their case for atheism without stealing qualities about reality that wouldn’t have existed without God. Essentially, they need God to fight against Him. With this premise in mind, how can atheists promote a rally that alleges to celebrate the reasonability of atheism when reason wouldn’t have existed in a universe without the existence of a God?
It’s clear that the atheists fail to understand the philosophical implications of their worldview. They’ve developed their own Ten Commandments for the 21st Century without acknowledging that the very commandments that they’ve development are without ontological foundation (review article here). Atheists belligerently complain about the mean ol’ Old Testament God without realizing that all moral actions of any kind are completely subjective and physically determined (review article here). Is the same thing going on with the Reason Rally? Are they claiming that they’re advocates of reason when they’ve misinterpreted the implications of their own worldview in an attempt to smuggle in reason? Given their philosophical track record, it seems that the only thing they’re consistent at is being inconsistent.
Is Reason Compatible with Atheism?
Since Dawkins was the main event, it is curious to see how Dawkins defined reason, “Reason means basing your life on evidence and on logic, which is how you deduce the consequences of evidence.” I wholeheartedly agree with his definition. However, does this definition align with all of the implications that atheism brings to the table? There are a couple of really good questions that one must ask if this question is going to be answered properly…
Does atheism allow for freewill? The answer is no. How can one be reasonable if he or she cannot choose to be reasonable? According to philosophical materialism, which is the dominant philosophical position of most atheists, everything that exists must have a material cause. Nothing is immaterial. This means that philosophical materialism necessarily entails that everything in the universe is determined by a prior material cause that stems all the way back to the first moment of time. All the molecules in our bodies are merely reacting to previous causes without any the interruption of freewill (freewill assumes a mind and a mind is immaterial). Now, if philosophical materialism is true, would we have the ability to be reasonable? The Reason Rally presupposes that we have the ability to freely choose to be reasonable. With that in mind, Dawkins wrote in River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life,
“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. . . . DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music” (p. 133)
Dawkins’ quote states that we are determined by DNA as we “dance to its music.” I’m not surprised that Dawkins didn’t feel comfortable to share this fact with his audience of adoring fans. If he had, his inspiring go-gettem’ speech wouldn’t have had the same affect. I probably would have ignored that part too. Imagine going to a Reason Rally only to find out that you have no ability to reason if atheism were true. The ability to reason would only be possible if we had the free ability to think and make choices. Given the fact that we don’t question every thought (which would also be impossible under atheism) as being determined by the molecules in our brains reacting together to produce a physical effect, this reality should serve as a helpful commonsense hint that maybe philosophical naturalism is false.
How would we know what reason is under atheism? It’s impossible. For the reasons listed above, everyone would be physically determined by the laws of physics from the very beginning of time. Similar to a long line of dominos, our actions are merely the product of the previous domino. That is why it is a problem with naming an atheistic gathering a ‘Reason Rally’! Atheism lacks all of the philosophical resources that are necessary for freely recognizing reason. The nature of philosophical materialism is the biggest roadblock for the atheist who wants to affirm objective morality, reason, freewill, or logic. Those atheists that valiantly affirm these qualities about life are living contradictory to the worldview they espouse.
Reason is immaterial, so why start a Reason Rally advocating materialism? Based on Dawkins’ definition of reason above, the foundation for reason is ‘logic’ and ‘evidence’. Not surprisingly, Dawkins and the atheistic clan of brights are living inconsistently here too. The laws of logic are immaterial! For a philosophical materialist, it’s awfully curious to deduce from ‘logic’ and ‘evidence’ that philosophical materialism is correct by using the immaterial laws of logic. Why would a materialist use an immaterial process to prove immateriality does not exist? These are pitfalls of the philosophical materialist because the reason and logic they celebrate can’t be justified under their worldview. As Frank Turek says, atheists are “stealing from God to make their case!”
Is it Reasonable to Ridicule?
Much of what came from the Reason Rally was intolerant towards the religious community despite what the Reason Rally declared on their website in their ‘About’ section,
“Are we just going to use this opportunity to trash religion?
No. This will be a positive experience, focusing on all non-theists have achieved in the past several years (and beyond) and motivating those in attendance to become more active. While speakers have the right to say what they wish, the event is indeed a celebration of secular values”
The question itself underhandedly implies that they will trash religion, but they clarified this by saying they were not gathering just to trash religion – there would be other stuff too. With that disclaimer being disingenuously outlined on their website, Dawkins made the following statement which became one of the highlights of his speech,
“So when I meet somebody who claims to be religious, my first impulse is: “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you until you tell me do you really believe — for example, if they say they are Catholic — do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of Christ? Are you seriously telling me you believe that? Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?” Mock them! Ridicule them! In public! Don’t fall for the convention that we’re all too polite to talk about religion. Religion is not off the table. Religion is not off limits. Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt.”
This is a peek into the heart of a bitter atheist. Thankfully, most atheists are not like this. Dawkins is a angry old man with a vendetta against religion, particularly Christianity. He is definitely in need of prayer from the Christian community because it’s genuinely sad to see someone so angry and bitter. He’s blinded by this anger. He doesn’t see that he accuses the religious community of intolerance while being an icon of intolerance himself. He is the equivalent of a ‘fundamentalist’ in the atheistic community. Regardless of how philosophically inconsistent the atheistic community lives, I seriously doubt they would want to be represented by a man who is embodies an aggressively militant attitude towards the religious community as a whole. If reason were actually possible under atheism, it’s not reasonable to make the statements Dawkins made at the Reason Rally.
Life is meaningless if the atheistic worldview is true. Does that mean atheism is false? Absolutely not, however what can be persuasively shown is that a strong cumulative case for Christian theism does exist. In light of the evidence as a whole, it truly does take more faith to be an atheist than it takes to be a Christian. When those at a Reason Rally say that it’s more reasonable to be a member of the unbelieving community, it’s important to acknowledge the fragile foundation from which they’re making such a claim to intellectual superiority.
I’d be interested to know how many individuals who attended the Reason Rally acknowledge these philosophical implications as realities associated with their worldview. Oddly enough, even if they did acknowledge any of these philosophical realities, they would have been determined by their genes to acknowledge them without any free choice of their own. I seriously doubt that anyone at the Reason Rally would have freely admitted this fact if they were being honest with themselves. We were designed with the ability to freely choose to make choices of our own and be morally accountable to God for all of our actions. Saying that we’re meat machines merely responding to physical stimuli doesn’t pave a pathway to intellectual advancement. The world only makes sense if we see ourselves as unique individuals with the ability to freely contribute to society while being accountable for our own moral actions. We’ve been made in the image of God and this is the only framework that makes sense of our experience of reason, logic, morality, science, and free choice.
One may choose to ignore these facts and willfully deny the implications of their chosen worldview, but avoiding these realities does not allow for genuine and honest advancement. Our image as humans reflects the image of God and that’s why we can make sense of the world around us. We can admire a beautiful sunset because we have the ability to recognize the reality of beauty. We can recognize justice when a convicted criminal is sent to prison for brutally murdering an innocent family. We can deduce from ‘logic’ and ‘evidence’ that we are not meaningless through the special and general revelation of God. These are the realities that can be easily acknowledged without strain by the genuine seeker of truth. I’m convinced that is why atheists are so desperate to borrow these realities that Christians freely accept, even if it means that it going against the grain of their own worldview. Their worldview requires the acceptance of many facts that are much too burdensome to bear. As Christians, it’s important that we point out these facts and ask them that if they are incapable of living the life of an honest atheist, why not live a worldview that makes sense of all of the facts? Jesus Christ provides a worldview that easily provides all of the resources to make sense of reality and gives us the freedom to live a life connected to the One who created it all. Instead of running from the Creator, embrace Him. Christ is our reason to rally!