Can Atheism Deliver A Better World?
Recently I took on atheist speaker and YouTuber Matt Dillahunty for the Unbelievable programme. We discussed faith and morality under the title ‘Can atheism deliver a better world?’
The Roots and the Fruits
One question that arises from such a debate is this: Can the West maintain its liberal humanist values while rejecting the Christianity from which they’ve sprung? For me the answer is a resounding No and nothing has convinced me of that No more than this 90 minute discussion. Matt Dillahunty rejects basic humanist concepts throughout this conversation and does so explicitly because of his atheism. The fruit of liberal values require the roots of Christian faith. Walk away from Christianity and the fruits will wither — you can see them perishing visibly as the conversation unfolds!
But to give you a sense of all this, I thought I’d share (with permission) an email I received this week. J crystallises so many of my thoughts and impressions and shows us the stakes as we consider these issues:
From the Mailbag
I just wanted to say thank you.
I have known intuitively that Nietzsche’s conclusions about the implications of the removal of god from our worldview (individually and societally) are correct, but your conversation with Matt made it so clear and undeniable that now, a week post-listen, I’m still sorting out the implications.
These conversations about whether people can be moral without god are so abstract, and the atheists involved in the conversation are always undeniably “good” people. But when the conversation turned to elective abortion of babies with Down syndrome my eyes were opened not just to the implications of what happens to the weak over time in a society post-god, but to the fact that Matt, a first generation atheist, had already accepted on principal that the strong decide if the weak are “us”.
I’m not a very emotionally expressive person but I’ve been so deeply moved by the tragedy that will ensue and indeed is occurring simply because Christ is removed from his proper place in our hearts and minds. It’s so clear to me now that Christianity is bigger than personal salvation, and Christ is more than a divine friend to help me in this life.
I’ve never really understood evangelism. I have accepted that’s it’s important but it’s never had any grip outside of what can be accounted for by peer pressure. Now I see and I don’t think I can unsee.
I was at the gym this week with my personal trainer, and a young man with Downs was there working out with his own trainer. And I saw a person, a child of god, my brother, living just as I live, with the same desires and motivations to grow and improve and become more than what he is. And I saw that as a society we might decide that his life does not have value, that he might be undeserving of life, because he is weak. And I am strong, so I get to keep going to the gym and working to become stronger.
I believe this has been a pivotal week in my faith development. Thank you so much for putting yourself in that vulnerable position. I’m sure that what you are doing comes with some great challenges and burdens, but it’s making a difference.
J. (Colorado, USA)
Thank you J!
And if you haven’t already, check out the debate below: