I Don’t Believe in Atheists
Recently, I’ve started reading an excellent book by Chris Hedges with the provocative title I Don’t Believe in Atheists. Hedges, no friend of either Christianity or the New Atheism, is systematically picking apart the claims of the New Atheists (such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins). The trick is that he is doing it from a secular perspective–he hates Christianity as much as the New Atheists do, and makes no bones about saying so. In fact, he’s written a book dismantling the position of Christianity called American Fascism, which I plan to read next.
What makes this book interesting is that Hedges hits the nail right on the head when he discusses the real problem with the God debate. The real problem is the failure of each side to acknowledge the problem of sin. Human beings are sinful by nature, argues Hedges, but both the Religious Right and the New Atheists see their position as sinless. Therefore, they try to offer humanity a utopian world but neither can deliver this promise because of their innate sinfulness.
Humanity progresses scientifically, but regresses morally. This is the root cause of our natural resource depletion, and our continued use of technology for warfare rather than the good of humanity. Hedges believes that any proposed solution to the impending economic, political, and environmental crises must consider the human element of sinfulness. It has to be more nuanced than the Religious Right’s solution of letting Jesus rebuild the earth and the New Atheist’s solution of getting rid of religion (which stands in the way of their god of reason).
I agree with Hedges insofar as a solution must be found for these impending crises. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus will return to earth to set up a new Kingdom upon it, but I believe that that Blessed Hope may be yet far off. Therefore, we must preserve what we have now and sustain the earth for our children. Jesus often portrays the relationship between God and man as a landowner to his stewards. The stewards are always held accountable by the landowner to how the owner’s property was treated while he was away. I believe that the same will be true when Jesus returns again: he will hold humankind accountable for the way we treated his property, the earth, while he was away.
I agree with Hedges that the Bible reveals spiritual truths. I agree with the problem of human sinfulness, and I agree that any solution offered to the complex human condition should be more nuanced than what the New Atheists and the Religious Right currently offer.
I disagree with Hedges in that I believe the Bible was written to reveal history, not just spiritual truths. I believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve. Hedges doesn’t believe in that stuff–he thinks that the Bible is only meant to convey spiritual truths through myths. I’m not sure if Hedges believes in a literal Jesus, but obviously I believe in that (having challenged interpretations to the contrary on this blog before).
So far, I’m hooked on this book and I hope that the rest is as good as the first chapter.