I Never Thought I'd See the Day!: Culture at the Crossroads
by David Jeremiah
When Atheists Would Be Angry
On May 15, 2007, Jerry Falwell, one of our generations' leading Evangelicals, died. That same day, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper asked the outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens for his reaction:
COOPER: I'm not sure if you believe in heaven, but, if you do, do you think Jerry Falwell is in it?
HITCHENS: No. And I think it's a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to.
COOPER: What is it about him that brings up such vitriol?
HITCHENS: The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called reverend.
COOPER: Whether you agree or not with his reading of the Bible, you don't think he was sincere in what he spoke?
HITCHENS: No. I think he was a conscious charlatan and bully and fraud. And I think, if he read the Bible at all--and I would doubt that he could actually read any long book...that he did so only in the most hucksterish, as we say, Bible-pounding way. (1)
Because Jerry Falwell and his family have been personal friends of mine for more than thirty years, I found Hitchens's words to be cruel and insensitive, and most of all inaccurate. But I am sure Hitchens would argue that he was not singling out Falwell for any special treatment. he and his atheist friends have mounted an aggressive offensive against all Evangelicals. As Christian apologist Dinesh D'Souza has written, "A group of prominent atheists--many of them evolutionary biologist--has launched a public attack on religion in general and Christianity in particular; they have no interest in being nice." (2)
It's hard to find evidence to support D'Souza's assertion. Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion, spews out his anger at God: "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, raciest, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully." (3)
Dawkins is no longer content to argue about God--he's angry at God. A Christianity Today editorial attempts to explain this new level of vitriol:
You can also tell that atheism is in trouble because it is becoming increasingly intolerant. in the past, atheists...were often condescendingly tolerant of their less-enlightened fellow citizens. While they disdained religion, they treated their religious neighbors as good-hearted, if misguided. But now key activists are urging a less civil approach. At a recent forum sponsored by the Science Network at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, the tone of intolerance reached such a peak that anthropologist Melvin J. Konner commented: "The Viewpoints have run the gamut from A to B. Should we bash religion with a crowbar or only with a baseball bat?" (4)
On former atheist, Antony Flew, called this a "look-back-in-anger, take-no-prisoners type of atheism."(5) The irony of the New Atheists' anger is captured in editor/professor Joe Carter's article "When Atheists Are Angry at God":
I've shaken my fist in anger at stalled cars, storm clouds, and incompetent meteorologists. I've even, on one terrible day that included a dead alternator, a blaring tornado-warning siren, and a horribly wrong weather forecast, cursed all three at once.