Opinion

Christians Who become Atheists Find It Impossible to Live as Consistent Atheists

The following is from the Christian Post:

Ryan J. Bell, former pastor of the Hollywood Adventist Church in California, launched an experiment to live without God on New Year’s Eve in 2013 after preaching for 20 years. A year later, he concluded that God did not exist. Five years into that decision, he admits that for a while he missed Christianity, but not anymore.

What I would like to see Bell do is live consistently without God for a year! That would be, “nature, red in tooth and claw” every day of the year with no fear of external consequences from anyone saying this or that is moral or immoral. The reason Bell could live in a civilized way as a non-Christian is because he brought his Christian moral worldview with him. An atheistic matter-only worldview cannot account for morality, human rights, or justice of any kind. C.S. Lewis, once an atheist himself, puts a fine point on Bell’s desire for a more righteous way to live:

My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? … Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple.1

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An atheist is an “interloper on God’s territory. Everything he uses to construct his system has been stolen from God’s ‘construction site.’ The unbeliever is like the little girl who must climb on her father’s lap to slap his face…. [T]he unbeliever must use the world as it has been created by God to try to throw God off His throne.”2

It’s shocking to read some of Bell’s comments now that he is a religious atheist. What kind of apologetic was he teaching for 20 years? His interview leaves the impression that he never thought through the implications of Christianity, and it’s evident that now that believes in the religion of atheism that he’s hasn’t thought it through in any consistent way.

Here’s an example of someone living consistent with his atheism. “Nine people “were killed when a teenaged gunman opened fire at a school in southern Finland on November 7, 2007, hours after a video was posted on YouTube predicting a massacre there. The gunman was a pupil at Jokela High School, a teacher who witnessed the attack told Reuters, and had walked through the school firing into classroom after classroom…. The YouTube video, entitled ‘Jokela High School Massacre—11/7/2007,’ was posted by a user called ‘Sturmgeist89.’ ‘I am prepared to fight and die for my cause,’ read a posting by a user of the same name. ‘I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.’ Sturmgeist means storm spirit in German.”3 He describes himself as “a social Darwinist.” I would add the word “consistent.”4

Atheism is a religion. It is a worldview driven by faith in a system of thought supposedly generated by a brain that evolved from a pre-biotic soup of chemicals that randomly emits electrical impulses through its gray matter. But how can the evolved mind be trusted to know anything authoritatively or claim that certain behaviors are morally right or wrong? C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists’ and astronomers’ as well as for anyone else’s [thought processes]. But if their thoughts—i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident would be able to give correct account of all the other accidents.5

You see, atheists have their own bible. It’s filled with passages from noted atheists. Here are some of them:

  • “In the universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won’t find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the 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.”6
  • “Human super niceness is a perversion of Darwinism because, in a wild population, it would be removed by natural selection…. From a rational choice point of view, or from a Darwinian point of view, human super niceness is just plain dumb.7
  •  “God died in the nineteenth century and Nietzsche danced on his grave. The foundation of the external moral law was destroyed and, in its place, was a vacuum, soon gleefully filled by the narcotics of Nazism and Communism. It may not be possible to say that the death of God led directly to the death ovens; but equally, nobody can ignore the fact that the cruelest era in history was also the first to deny the existence of an external moral force.” If this is true, “can we stop the long nightmare of the twentieth century from spilling over into the twenty-first?”8
  • “The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me…. The point is this: pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.”9
  • Jeffrey Dahmer “placed the blame for [his] murders on his atheistic beliefs and the theory of evolution.” Dahmer’s father explained his son’s rationale: “If it all happens naturalistically, what’s the need for a God? Can’t I set my own rules? Who owns me? I own myself.”10
  • “In the beginning, there were no reasons; there were only causes. Nothing had a purpose, nothing has so much as a function; there was no teleology in the world at all.”11
  • “If we are all biological accidents, why shouldn’t the white accidents own and sell the black accidents?”12
  • “The most important thing that science has taught us about our place in the Universe is that we are not special…. While all this was going on, biologists tried and failed to find any evidence for a special ‘life force’ that distinguishes living matter from non-living matter, concluding that life is just a rather complicated form of chemistry…. For human life turned out to be no different from any other kind of life on Earth. As the work of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace established in the nineteenth century, all you need to make human beings out of amoebas is the process of evolution by natural selection, and plenty of time.”13
  • “[Man] stands alone in the universe, a unique product of a long, unconscious, impersonal, material process, with unique understanding and potentialities. These he owes to no one but himself, and it is to himself that he is responsible. He is not a creature of uncontrollable and undeterminable forces, but [is] his own master.”14
  • “Man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal, and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material.”15

Bell is now the national organizing manager at Secular Student Alliance. He traded one religion for another religion; one evangelistic endeavor for another. Here’s how Bell describes his mew evangelistic work:

The Secular Student Alliance supports and resources student leaders across the United States in 300+ chapters on high school, college and university campuses. Our chapters are quite diverse but in general, they are supporting communities for those who are not religious or who are questioning their faith. The goal is to provide a space where students can have open and honest conversations about difficult topics, including issues related to religion. Our chapters also work in areas where Christianity has been especially harmful to people: LGBTQ equality, reproductive justice, climate action, and other science-related topics. Many of our chapters also cultivate strong interfaith relationships on their campus in an effort to increase understanding among different groups, break down stigmas and end discrimination and bullying.

Given atheistic assumptions, why is anything “harmful”? Why is it wrong to discriminate against someone? Where in our evolutionary path to homo sapien status was it ever wrong to weed out the misfits, the unproductive, and the weak?

John West of the Discovery Institute had this to say about the real-world implications of Darwinism in a must-read interview with J. C. Derrick in World Magazine:

Where has Darwinian thought had the most influence on society today? The area of faith. Darwin’s theory wasn’t just about change over time—it was that we’re part of an accidental process. So Darwin has been the greatest gift to people who would like to deny that God exists. But it’s gone way beyond that: We’ve seen Darwinism used to devalue human life, because Darwin thought humans are basically animals. At the end of On the Origin of Species he says it’s through death, disease, and starvation that the best things have come about in nature.

It seems like some of these ideas are not always connected to Darwin because people read On the Origin of Species without reading his later book, The Descent of Man. Exactly. I have met scholars who say Darwin has nothing to do with religion or morality—it’s just about science. I ask: “Have you read The Descent of Man?” No. That is where Darwin talks about religion, morality, mind, and social policy, about how he thinks we’re destroying the human race by inoculating people against smallpox and helping the poor.

Let the weak die on their own. Correct. Darwin was a kind and compassionate man [because he was raised within a culture based on a Christian worldview], so he worried about the implications, but that’s what he thought the theory meant. He thought that if we follow reason, we probably shouldn’t be doing things to help the people he thought were defective.

Ryan J. Bell has not fully grasped the long-term consequences of his new religion. He’s a fraud who can’t and won’t live consistently with his atheist religion because it leads to a dark place. He might want to take advice from someone who knows where consistent atheism can lead. Brian Rohrbough, father of Dan Rohrbough, one of the victims in the 1999 Columbine school shooting said the following:

This country is in a moral free-fall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak, without moral consequences and life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong. And I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children. (CBS News)

A consistent atheist would have to throw up his hands and say, “Nature, red in tooth and claw” is our lot in life since the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the 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. Live with it.”

Mitch Stokes writes, “Christians should encourage atheist extremism, and such extremism, I believe, will turn out to be pretty distasteful.” Of course, it’s hard to evangelize when consistent atheism is your message. That’s why Ryan and other atheists envelop the logical extremism of their position in righteous indignation stolen from a worldview they disavow because atheism has no moral capital of its own.

  1. C. S. Lewis, “The Rival Conceptions of God,” Mere Christianity (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1956), 31. []
  2. John A. Fielding III, “The Brute Facts: An Introduction of the Theology and Apologetics of Cornelius Van Til,” The Christian Statesman 146:2 (March-April 2003), 30. []
  3. Nine Die at Finland school after YouTube post,” Reuters (November 7, 2007). []
  4. David Williams, “Eight shot dead including principal in school massacre predicted in YouTube video,” Daily Mail online (November 7, 2007). []
  5. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 52–53. []
  6. Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: HarperCollins/BasicBooks, 1995), 133. []
  7. Richard Dawkins, “Atheists for Jesus” (April 10, 2006). []
  8. Bryan Appleyard, review of Jonathan Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century in The Sunday Times (December 1999). Quoted in Vaughan Roberts, God’s Big Design: Life as he Intends it to Be (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 27. []
  9. Kai Nielsen, “Why Should I be Moral? Revisited,” American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (January 1984), 90. Quoted in Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig, and J. P. Moreland, eds., To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 116. []
  10. Quotations are documented in Jeffrey Dahmer: The Monster Within, A&E Biography (1996). Quoted in Beckwith, Craig, and Moreland, eds., To Everyone an Answer (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 116. []
  11. Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained (1991). []
  12. James Scott Bell, The Darwin Conspiracy (Gresham, OR: Vision House, 1995), 64. []
  13. John Gribbin, The Scientists: A History of Science Told through the Lives of its Greatest Inventors (New York: Random House, [2002] 2006), xvii, ix. []
  14. George Gaylord Simpson, Life of the Past: An Introduction to Paleontology (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953), 155. []
  15. George Gaylord Simpson, The Meaning of Evolution, rev. ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, [1949] 1967), 344–345. []
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