A couple days ago I linked to the Matthew Parris article warning Christians not to be too chummy with the defenses of Christianity offered by non-Christian critics. It was a thoughtful piece and since reading it I’ve come across a couple related things that help you to see his point.
First, there’s this video and article at CNN from atheist Alain de Botton advocating what he calls “Atheism 2.0.” de Botton has grown tired of the old strident atheism that chucks out everything having to do with religion. He says that atheism 2.0 should, of course, reject the silly notion of there being a God, but culture needs all the things that religion provides that makes us feel good–Christmas carols and preaching, for example. Let’s keep the feel-good trappings and utilize the effect things like preaching for an atheist cause, but waive our hands at any serious notion of God existing. De Botton writes:
God may be dead, but the urgent issues which impelled us to make him up still stir and demand resolutions which do not go away when we have been nudged to perceive some scientific inaccuracies in the tale of the seven loaves and fishes.The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many sides of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed. Once we cease to feel that we must either prostrate ourselves before them or denigrate them, we are free to discover religions as a repository of occasionally ingenious concepts with which we can try to assuage a few of the most persistent and unattended ills of secular life.
Then, there was this article about BBC’s boss Mark Thompson. Thompson isn’t offering a defense of Christianity, but a justification for why BBC will “Mock Jesus but Not Muhammad.” The article provides this summary of Thompson’s rationale:
He justified the astonishing admission of religious bias by suggesting that mocking Mohammed has the “emotional force” of “grotesque child pornography”.
But Jesus is fair game, he said, because Christianity has broad shoulders and fewer ties to ethnicity.
We live in interesting times! One atheist warns Christians not to trust the “protection” offered by non-religious folks. Another atheist says let’s use the trappings of religion even as we reject any notion of God. And the head of one of the world’s largest media outlets says we would mock it all except some religious folks are too emotional. No doubt a lot of religious folks will react very emotionally at his saying some of us are too emotional.
We should not forget the inspired words, “Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world” (1 Cor. 4:14). And…
Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted, and mistreated–the world was not worthy of them. (Heb. 11:36-38)
The scum of the earth of whom the world is not worthy. That continues to be what a Christian is whether the world defends, adapts, or mocks us. But the Master says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).