Mohler to U of L audience: New Atheism is missions-minded

Communications Staff — November 24, 2009

Dr. Mohler speaks to students at The Campus Church at the University of Louisville.
Dr. Mohler speaks to students at The Campus Church at the University of Louisville.

Is there a link between homosexuality and atheism? Has Darwinian Evolution debunked Intelligent Design? Did Blaise Pascal have a valid point when he defined the Christian life as a “worthy gamble?”

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary answered these and a host of other questions from students at the University of Louisville during a recent appearance there to discuss his 2008 book, “Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheism” (Crossway).

Mohler spoke on Nov. 15 at The Campus Church, a new campus of Highview Baptist Church that meets in the Red Barn facility at the U of L. The Campus Church is pastored by Dan DeWitt, vice president of communications at Southern Seminary.

Mohler began the event with an overview of his book and unpacked the basic arguments of the “Four Horsemen” of the new atheism: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. All four have written major works touting atheism over against deism and all are major evangelists for their cause of Darwinian naturalism, Mohler pointed out.

The new atheists see disbelief in deity as superior to belief and aggressively seek to spread their views and “liberate” the masses from what they see as an oppressive and superstitious deism, Mohler said.

“I think (the new atheists) would explicitly tell us that they find their atheism to be fully satisfying,” Mohler said. “Obviously, if they didn’t think that was superior to theistic belief, they wouldn’t be atheists. They deeply believe that their worldview is not only right, but more satisfying.

“They are frustrated that it’s clear that the majority of human beings do not share their judgment of which worldview is more satisfying. So one of the projects of Western intelligentsia has been an education project in their own terms…The new atheists want to reframe the debate so that religious belief is on the defensive rather than atheism and of course, in many sectors, this is precisely what has happened.”

During an extended question and answer session, Mohler fielded a variety of questions related to atheism and Christianity including one on the relation between a rejection of the existence of God and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual lifestyles. Ironically, a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender student group affiliated with the U of L is headquartered in the Red Barn.

Mohler said a practical rejection of God and His Word is necessary for one to embrace any view of sexuality that Scripture forbids.

“If there is no God, then there is no judge at the end and there is no lawgiver at the beginning, so everything moral is by definition constantly socially negotiable,” he said. “There is the great divergence. If there is no God, not everything is permitted-no sane society or group permits everything-but it is a process of constant, necessary social negotiation.

“If there is a God and He does exist and He has spoken in the Word, we’ve got very little room for negotiation. It’s a very tight understanding of human sexuality to God’s own glory, by His own creative purpose and, as He has the authority to tell us, for our good, our thriving, our happiness as well.”

Another student sought Mohler’s opinion on Pascal’s famous wager in which the 17th century French scientist argued that even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because one living the Christian life has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.

Mohler said he agrees with the new atheists’ assessment of Pascal’s gambit: it is not a moral argument and it utterly avoids the question of God’s existence.

“Frankly, if there is no God, then I’m with (Karl) Marx in terms of understanding human social interactivity-not necessarily with the Marxists in terms of the 20th century-but if there is no God, then Marx is the prophet who understood that humans are left socially engaged without God,” Mohler said.

“I would simply say, from the inside Pascal’s wager looks like it’s kind of clever, but I just have to tell you as a Christian theologian, I don’t want anyone to come to faith in God or profess to have faith I God because he thinks it’s a better deal. That is not a moral argument, which is to say it is an immoral argument.”

Another attendee asked Mohler if evolution has overturned arguments in favor of the intelligent design of the universe. Mohler said most people are not convinced by the arguments for evolution and and reject the case for atheism The vast majority of people find the case for a creator and supreme deity far more plausible.

“It comes back to that (reality) that human beings tend to be driven toward intellectual satisfaction-if they think,” he said. “In other words, we have to create some little happy place where we believe we can live intellectually or otherwise we are with (German atheist Friedrich) Nietzsche or we are in constant therapy.

“So that comfort zone is where we create a place where we think everything makes more sense and the fact is, evolution as a narrative has not been proven to be intellectually satisfying to the majority of people who have heard it.”

To view the video of the entire Atheism Remix presentation and Q&A, please go to   http://vimeo.com/7701979. Audio is available at http://bit.ly/ue3hp.

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