Popular atheist books

“Atheists’ row” inside AiG’s library.

When you walk into AiG’s research library, you’ll see two shelves along the wall holding recent books promoting the encompassing worldview of atheism. (The photo shows just a few of the best-known texts.) And not surprisingly, these books by atheists devote large sections to presenting the supposed evidence to debunk creation and to uphold atheistic evolution.

Some of the books have become bestsellers. Nowadays during today’s culture wars, it appears that all you have to do in order to become a famous (and well-compensated) author is to write a book promoting atheism and slamming religion (Christianity most of all), and if you can catch on with a well-known publisher with some marketing clout, you can ride to the top of bestseller lists.1

The “new atheists,” as they are now being called, are much more aggressive than their predecessors. They include vehement anti-creationist Dr. Richard Dawkins of Oxford University; the raging contrarian Christopher Hitchens, author of the 2007 bestseller God Is Not Great;2 writer Sam Harris; and philosopher Daniel Dennett. It doesn’t appear that these prominent atheists are mere publicity seekers. They come across as very serious in their mission to convert readers to atheism. (Of course, the potential for financial rewards and recognition probably provide at least some motivation as well.)

In addition, explicitly anti-Christian magazines and other publications have been increasingly pushing atheism as they too ride the same literary wave.3 Atheists (sometimes called “antitheists”), who heretofore have largely remained inside the comfort of their offices, are now becoming more vocal and aggressive on the journalistic front of the war against organized religion. So, with high-profile magazine articles and bestselling books, coupled with frequent media appearances and intensified efforts to see schools teach evolution with even greater fervor, these new atheists are no longer a passive academic bunch. One might have to go back 200-plus years to find such public vehemence against Christianity by intellectuals: the atheists of the French Revolution who sought to stifle Christianity and other “evils” (though violence is not a hallmark of today’s atheists as it was for many in France of the late 1700s).

What caught our eye most recently in the atheist barrage against religion occurred in the context of comments from atheists about the growing creation movement and AiG’s new Creation Museum most of all. The museum was last month’s cover story for the journal American Atheist, where the photo on the cover showed protestors at the opening of the museum. In an editorial and articles (especially “The rally for reason”), the museum was unjustly skewered.

Here were some of the errors or misrepresentations we uncovered in the September issue of American Atheist:

Bloated Attendance Figures

It is common for event organizers to inflate their attendance figures to make their event appear significant. Such happened in the very first line of the “Rally for reason” article, when the author stated that “several hundred” protestors took part in a rally outside the museum’s front gate on May 28. If you look at photos (including wide-angled ones) taken by the rally organizers themselves (some shown in American Atheist), you might see 50 people at one time.4 In fact, an American Atheist magazine writer acknowledged this, but interestingly chose to quote a Cincinnati Post article that (falsely, for reasons we can’t ascertain) claimed there were 400 protestors. Our security team, which repeatedly came out to the front gate to observe the protestors, doubt that there were even 100 total throughout the day. They also note that there were several dozen reporters on hand to cover the museum’s opening that day, and some of them were spotted among the protestors and thus also appeared in some of the rally photos.

<i>American Atheist</i> magazine

In the late afternoon (and many hours before the museum closed with a fireworks celebration at 10 p.m.), the protestors had dwindled to zero, as thousands of people were still on the museum grounds. (There were over 4,000 museum visitors that day.)

American Atheist also greatly exaggerated the importance of the protest when they claimed that so many media came to the museum because they wanted to cover the rally (“an event that was as well covered in the media as the opening itself,” it was stated on p. 4) and that “articles were carried in the major news media” (p. 8). It would seem that the reporters came to cover a museum opening, not a protest (it was only a sidebar for most reporters), and that is reflected in the fact that when the articles appeared, most of them gave slight coverage to the protestors. If you would come to the AiG offices and read the articles for yourself, you would quickly see that what the media covered was a significant event in American Christendom, not a rally against it.

But is such exaggeration surprising? After all, if atheists and other secular humanists do not believe in absolute truth, then “truth” is relative to them, and one can exaggerate to make a claim to attempt to show that a failed demonstration was successful.

Count Again

The article also states, “The $27 million Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, built on 49 acres of lush countryside near Cincinnati, boasts state-of-the-art exhibits including 55 animatronic dinosaurs.”

Actually, there are four animatronic dinosaurs and one animatronic pterodactyl in the museum, plus dinosaur models that do not move.

Noise Equates to Peace?

The article claimed that the protest was “peaceful” (p. 8). While there was no violence, if one calls a loud rock band at the protest area outside the museum gates that was intended to disrupt the event a “peaceful” thing, then we will have to re-write one definition of “peaceful” at least.

Ironically, on page 6 of the American Atheist, an author bemoaned the fact that a Christian was reportedly being loud in sharing his faith at a park in San Francisco.

Geography Lesson Needed

In an editorial about the museum’s opening, the president of American Atheist rejoiced in the fact that so many [sic] people turned out for the protest rally even though the museum is in a “remote location.” One might think you would have to be something of a hardy traveler in order to find your way to the museum site. Well, the museum is right off an interstate and in the greater Cincinnati area (population 2 million), just two exits from the major Cincinnati Airport, and within a day’s drive of almost 190 million Americans (650 miles).

Insults Galore

In yet another article in the American Atheist, a writer attacked AiG president and museum founder Ken Ham with comments like he and his “worshippers” seek to “drag America back into an age darker than the thousand years ... normally identified as the Dark Ages” (p. 21). The analogy of the creation movement to the Dark Ages is flatly hackneyed and ridiculous.

Later in the article, the writer derisively called the Creation Museum “The Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World,” which, while containing modern technology, has content which is out of date by over 2,000 years. (The Ninth Wonder, meanwhile, is the museum’s “amazing iron fence,” which protects the museum “from demonic forces that Kenneth Ham imagines haunts the other regions of Kentucky.”)

On page 23 in this same article, the writer claimed that if “Ken Ham had any desire to alleviate human suffering, he could have spent his $27 million [the price tag to build the museum and its exhibits] to buy condoms for all the people of Africa ....” Wow. Putting aside the fact that the author does not know Ken’s heart about what he feels about the suffering of others and what he might be privately doing to alleviate their suffering, and also putting aside the observation that it was tens of thousands of AiG donors who willingly shared their gifts with AiG to build the museum, here is what we will state (again) about philanthropy and a Bible-upholding ministry like AiG that receives donations: as nations ignore or abandon God’s Word as absolute authority and accept evolutionary philosophies, it will adversely affect the ways their people will think and act; many social calamities have been fueled by evolutionary beliefs such as racism, abortion, and some holocausts, whose participants denied biblical authority in these matters—and therefore biblical morality—and society suffered.

Finally, Ed Kagin, who, as head of the ironically named organization Free Inquiry Group, opposed the building of the museum on private property and using private funds, alluded to the museum’s “terrorism of ignorance.” He also wrote that it was committing “child abuse” by teaching bad science! On top of that, he claims that AiG and other creationists want to create a theocracy in America (pp. 10-11). (For a rebuttal of this increasingly stated claim by secular humanists, see: Creationists—American fascists?)

History Lesson Needed

On page 22, an article declared that AiG and all creationists believe that “all the founding fathers [of the United States] were devout Christians.” Well, we do not say that, and, in fact, have recognized that some of the Founders were Deists (see our comment, for example, at Evolution, the election and the “enlightened”).

Misc. Anti-creationist Comments

On page 23, the alleged 98.5% DNA similarity between humans and chimps is made. Besides the observation that we also share about half of our DNA with bananas, read: The differences make the difference—differences in gene expression distinguish humans from other primates.

Later on the same page, the writer claimed that the Bible is wrong about the value of pi being 3.0, when it is about 3.14. For our rebuttal to this getting-very-old assertion, see Does the Bible say pi equals 3.0?

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the American Atheist pieces are not online as we write, so no link can be provided so that you can quickly check them for yourself.

The longer I am involved in creation ministry, the more I see that the creation/evolution issue is at the very heart of today’s culture wars. As Ken Ham has pointed out so often, there’s been a change in the culture of Western nations—occurring at a very foundational level. Generations have been indoctrinated by the secular education system, media, and science museums to build their thinking on human reason, not the Word of God.

Atheists build their worldview’s foundation on evolution, and in their own fundamentalist zeal, some atheists are becoming borderline hysterical in their claims. Harris, for example, said that: “If I could wave a magic wand and get rid of either rape or religion, I would not hesitate to get rid of religion.”5 Dawkins declared that Christians should not have the right to indoctrinate their children in religious “nonsense,” and argued that children who are brought up in Christian homes are being exposed to an “infection.”6

AiG’s mission is to engage the culture and the church to return to the authority of God’s Word. With aggressive atheists increasingly on the march, AiG needs your prayerful support more than ever. In fact, with the opening of the Creation Museum this year, and with more than 220,000 guests in just over four months, the attacks on AiG will probably escalate.

The creation/gospel message is vital for today. God is using it at the frontlines of the foundational battle in the lives of countless souls, as generations of people have been indoctrinated to build their thinking on human reason, not the Bible. And at the base of this is the creation/evolution issue.

Thankfully, some of the sworn enemies of Christianity have eventually understood what truly is at stake and, using their critical thinking skills (plus the prompting of the Holy Spirit), became converts to Christianity over time. We can only pray that this will be the case with Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, the American Atheist writers, and others.

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Footnotes

  1. At one time in 2006, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins was #8 on the New York Times bestseller list and #2 on the Amazon bestseller rankings. At the same time, Sam Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation was #6 on the Times list, and #8 in the Amazon rankings. This year, Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great has been on the New York Times bestseller list for many months. Meanwhile, an increasing number of atheists are attacking the Christian faith in several major newspapers (through op-eds) and websites—often proclaiming their evolutionary beliefs. Back
  2. Ironically, Hitchens calls for a new Enlightenment in the West, yet that term is most often associated with the French thinkers of the 1700s, whose generally anti-Christian beliefs motivated some of the Jacobin revolutionaries to engage in the bloodbath known as the French Revolution. Back
  3. Such as humanist publications like The Skeptical Inquirer, American Atheist, Free Inquiry, etc., plus science magazines like Scientific American, Discover, and others, which regularly feature anti-creationist articles. Back
  4. On the evening before, about 130 anti-museum people gathered at a local hotel to discuss the museum’s opening, so apparently many of them did not show up at the rally the next day. Back
  5. Harris quoted in The Temple Of Reason. Back
  6. Here is an eye-opening quote from Dawkins transcribed from his Channel 4 (UK) TV special The Root of All Evil?: “I think of religion as a dangerous virus. It’s a virus which is transmitted partly through teachers and clergy, but also down the generations from parent to child to grandchild. Children are especially vulnerable to infection by the virus of religion.” Back