Theism, Atheism, and Economic Disaster
It is not without great significance that, as Christian philosophers and theologians wrestle with a recent great assault on faith in America made by a group of so-called New Atheists, economists wrestle with what many are calling the worst financial crisis during the past seventy-five years. In an essay published in The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 2007) David Barash favorably labels such New Atheists, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett along with the late Carl Sagan, as “the four horsemen of the current anti-religious apocalypse,” and Barash subjectively commends what he calls their “rational vision,” “brilliance,” and “wisdom” as he claims that Dawkins “demolishes . . . the hoary [theistic] argument from design.” In his excellent 2008 book, The Delusion of Disbelief, former Times senior correspondent David Aikman includes journalist Christopher Hitchens in the New Atheists’ list as a result of Hitchens’ best seller, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Dawkins has welcomed Hitchens to the “gang of faith slayers” and dubs them “the four musketeers” (Aikman 3).
What does an atheistic movement in America that aims to rid the culture of every vestige of Christian theism have to do with the financial woes of Wall Street and Main Street? Aikman, who for several years served as Time Bureau Chief in Eastern Europe and Beijing, answers this question in a reference to “a commentary that appeared in the Beijing Evening News, a government-controlled newspaper, in February 2007, in which the writer lamented, “in recent years, the lack of faith in core values has brought us pain and suffering: we’ve seen too much corruption, cold-bloodedness and cheating; we can’t trust anyone; we can’t buy a single food item without worry. . . . [I]n sum, nothing can be trusted, everything is risky.” He continued, “. . . [A]s [German political economist and sociologist Max] Weber pointed out . . . ‘[T]he success of worldly economic activity is not in the creation of wealth to be enjoyed and squandered, rather it is to confirm the grace and favor one receives from God—this is the very [mechanism that] . . . constrains immoral behavior’” (170-71).
There is a definite correlation between the increasing secularism and skepticism in America and the social, moral, political, and economic woes characterizing today’s American culture. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer (Romans 1:15-32). It is time for those who claim adherence to the Christian faith to unleash the power of the gospel with a loving, intellectually sound (cf. Acts 26:25), and aggressive presentation that aims to permeate every aspect of society. Will we answer the call?
Aikman, David. The Delusion of Disbelief. Carol Stream: SaltRiver/Tyndale, 2008.