The myth of neutrality
Published: 23 June 2012 (GMT+10)
Television presenter Jonathan Miller claims to be a ‘disbeliever’ rather than an ‘atheist’.
Photo credit: MDCarchives, wikipedia.org
Jesus said, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30).
Those seeking to secularise society often claim that their position is the most reasonable because it is the only one that’s neutral—the only one that’s free from influences arising from religious beliefs. Prominent among these is Jonathan Miller, who rejects the label, ‘atheist’, describing himself simply as a ‘disbeliever’.1 This, of course, implies that he has no belief. How ridiculous! As someone who doesn’t believe in a creator, he must believe the alternative—that life arose by only natural processes. As someone who does not believe in God, he must believe that there is nobody to whom we are morally accountable. Presumably, as an ardent Darwinist, he also believes along with Richard Dawkins that we are no more than ‘survival mechanisms—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes.’2
Another myth propagated by secularists is that their position is the most rational because it is fact-based rather than faith-based. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
Many people, including most atheists, fail to realise the implications of accepting such views. Indeed, they appear blind to the threat that such thinking poses to the very foundations upon which our society is built. If we are just survival mechanisms programmed to preserve our genes, then we are not responsible for our actions.3 Can you imagine a society in which people behave as if this is really true? If there is nothing more than the material (matter and energy), what basis is there for a belief in right and wrong? Can you imagine the consequences of raising a generation upon such thinking?
People like Miller and Dawkins, of course, do not baulk at the implications of their doctrines because they flatter themselves with the belief that they, along with the rest of humanity, are basically good. They imagine that we can all get along fine without deferring to a Creator who has determined for us what is right and wrong, and to whom we must all one day give an account of ourselves. In this, however, they are both inconsistent and terribly deceived. Firstly, if they are correct about there being nothing more than matter and energy, then there is no such thing as good and evil. Secondly, the testimony of God’s word and the history of mankind make clear that “the human heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). The reality is that God has only to lift His hand of restraint briefly and millions will die, as was demonstrated in atheist states such as Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China and Pol Pots’ Cambodia.
Another myth propagated by secularists is that their position is the most rational because it is fact-based rather than faith-based. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Even Dawkins admits that scientists cannot point to natural processes that appear remotely capable of assembling the biomolecules needed for life. In fact, the laws of chemistry dictate that these would never form because they would break down much faster than they would build themselves up. Evolutionists, of course, believe that if they continue their research, they will discover natural processes capable of producing life from non-life. However, not only is this faith-based, but it is contrary to the facts of science. How rational is this?
It is difficult to see how evolution by natural selection could produce brilliant mathematicians or concert pianists, as such abilities would contribute little if anything to survival. Needless to say, evolutionists and their secular counterparts have great faith that Darwin’s theory will ultimately provide an answer. The words of the leading philosopher and historian of science Professor Marjorie Grene (1910–2009) are very apt here:
“It is as a religion of science that Darwinism chiefly held and holds men’s minds … Darwinian theory has itself become an orthodoxy, preached by its adherents with religious fervour, and doubted, they feel, only by a few muddlers, imperfect in scientific faith.” 4
Double standards and ignorance
In October last year, a Church in Newark (Nottinghamshire, UK) had their application for funds for a ‘Free School’ rejected by the UK Government. They were told,
“The Secretary of State … was unable to accept that an organisation with creationist beliefs could prevent these views being reflected in the teaching in the school and in its other activities. It is his firm view that the teaching of creationist views … is not acceptable in a 21st century state funded school.”5
Does Michael Gove (UK Secretary of State for Education) not realise that an education system based on secular beliefs would also be unable to prevent secular views being reflected in what is taught to the children? Should he not also hold the view that the teaching of nihilistic, materialistic views should be unacceptable in a 21st century state-funded school?
Gove also appears to be unaware of the great debt that modern science owes to creationist beliefs. According to the eminent historian of science Sir Alfred Whitehead, science arose out of Christian theology, that is, out of faith in the rationality of God and the associated belief that the natural word is orderly and intelligible.6 Not surprisingly, many of the founders of modern science were creationists, including Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Babbage, Mendel, Pasteur, Kelvin and Maxwell.7 In some cases, the writings of these early scientists make clear that much of the motivation for their work came from their creationist beliefs.8,9
Different beliefs lead to a different society
Those that promote secularism are not championing objectivity or impartiality, but a dogmatic belief system that has the potential to alter our society beyond recognition.
Those that promote secularism are not championing objectivity or impartiality, but a dogmatic belief system that has the potential to alter our society beyond recognition. For example, the present UK Government, smitten by ‘progressive thinking’, appears determined to press ahead with its plans to jettison the biblical concept of the family and even redefine marriage itself; yet legalising ‘homosexual marriage’ would undermine an institution that has been foundational to healthy societies for centuries.10,11 A report by the Free Church of Scotland warned that redefining marriage would be a ‘huge social experiment, in which the guinea pigs are children’.12 Indeed; the evidence that marriage provides the best environment for children rises by the month.13 And what will come next? If it is appropriate for two people to marry simply ‘because they love each other’, then why not three people? As one commenter remarked, “If heterosexuality is no longer legally, morally or socially relevant to marriage, why should monogamy continue to be so important?”14 Some appear also intent on redefining gender itself and have proposed that small boys be allowed to wear skirts to school, in case they wish to be transgender.15
More warnings from history
Christianity logically leads to the understanding that people have value—whether young or old, healthy or sick, able bodied or handicapped; it teaches that we should put others first and love our neighbours as ourselves; and it warns that one day we will all be held accountable for our actions. This is the world-view that has influenced our society for centuries. In contrast, secularism, and its foundational doctrine of evolution, logically lead to the view that people are nothing more than bags of chemicals; that only the fittest have value; that you need to look after ‘number one’; and that you can live as you wish and at the end of your life there will be no consequences. In order for a secular society to avoid such thinking, and all that naturally follows from it, it must constantly (and inconsistently) resist that which the belief system implies.
Michael Ruse, who was Professor of Philosophy and Zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada, remarked,
“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but … the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today… Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.”16
The facts of history, however, make clear that to build a society upon evolutionary ideology is to court unmitigated disaster. For a particularly sobering example, we need go back less than a hundred years, to the ‘race hygiene’ policies of Nazi Germany. Their embracing of ‘social Darwinism’ led to a desire to ‘repent of sins of natural selection’ as the ‘unfit’ had been allowed to thrive in German society. This led to physically and psychiatrically ‘defective’ people being sterilized or even murdered in order to ‘preserve the purity of the Aryan race’.17
By their fruit you will know them
Speaking of false prophets, Jesus said, “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16-23). Jesus was also particularly critical of the Pharisees in their rejection of the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus said to them, “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:32).
This principle, of judging according to fruit, surely also applies to beliefs. The doctrine of evolution confuses people about morality and has led to some of the greatest wars and atrocities in history.18,19,20 It causes people to question the authority of Scripture and the goodness of God, and turns people into atheists.21 In contrast, biblical Christianity led to a belief in human dignity and the sanctity of life,22 abolition of slavery, emancipation of woman,23 education for the under classes,24,25 social compassion and the rise of modern science.
The cry of Jesus, surely, is as apt today as ever: “make a right judgement” (John 7:24).
References and notes
- Miller, J.W., Atheism: A rough history of disbelief, BBC Four, 2004; also broadcast in the USA as A brief history of disbelief, PBS, 2007. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R., The Selfish Gene, 1989, p. 5. Return to text.
- Cashmore, A., The Lucretian swerve: The biological basis of human behavior and the criminal justice system, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107(10):4499-4504, 2010; http://www.pnas.org. Return to text.
- Grene, M., The faith of Darwinism, Encounter 13(5):48-56, 1959. Return to text.
- See http://ecc.churchinsight.com/Groups/133186/Everyday_Champions_Church/Connect_to_Community/Free_School/Free_School.aspx. Return to text.
- Lennox, J.C., God’s Undertaker: Has science buried God? Lion Hudson, Oxford, 2007, p. 20. Return to text.
- For a comprehensive list and linked articles, see creation.com/creation-scientists. Return to text.
- Jaki, S., Science and Creation, Scottish Academic Press, 1986, pp. 268-279. Return to text.
- Stark, R., For the Glory of God: How monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts and the end of slavery, Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 165. Return to text.
- Unwin, J.D., Sex and Culture, Oxford University Press, 1934, pp. 24 and 431. Return to text.
- Johnston, O.R., Who Needs the Family? A survey and Christian assessment, Hodder and Stoughton, 1979, pp. 43–44. Return to text.
- The Christian Institute, Redefining marriage would be ‘huge social experiment’, http://www.christian.org.uk/news/redefining-marriage-would-be-huge-social-experiment. Return to text.
- Wilcox, W.B. et al., Why Marriage Matters: thirty conclusions from the social sciences, 3rd ed., Institute for American Values, 2011. A summary may be found at http://www.virginia.edu/marriageproject/pdfs/WMM_summary.pdf. Return to text.
- Addison, N., Polygamy in Canada: a case of double standards, The Guardian, 30 November 2011; http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/nov/30/heterosexuality-canada-law-monogamy-polygamy. Return to text.
- Sherriff, L., 13 February 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/02/13/let-boys-wear-skirts-to-school-says-adviser_n_1272510.html. Return to text.
- Ruse, M., How evolution became a religion: creationists correct? National Post, pp. B1, B3, B7, 13 May 2000. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., One Human Family, Creation Book Publishers, 2011, pp. 66–71. Return to text.
- Cosner, L., Darwinism and World War One. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., One Human Family, Creation Book Publishers, USA, see ref. 17, pp. 66–71. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Darwinism and the Nazi race Holocaust, Journal of Creation 13(2):101–111, August 1999. Return to text.
- Provine, W.B., ‘No free will.’ In Catching up with the Vision, Rossiter, M.W. (Ed.), Chicago University Press, p. S123, 1999. Return to text.
- D’Souza, D., What’s so Great about Christianity, Regnery Publishing, USA, 2007, ch. 7. Return to text.
- Stowe, H. B, Women in Sacred History: a series of sketches drawn from scriptural, historical and legendary sources, J.B. Ford & Co., New York, 1873, p. 17; http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moa/ajg5269.0001.001. Return to text.
- http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2001/mar30.html. Return to text.
- http://www.banneroftruth.org/pages/articles/article_detail.php?152. Return to text.
"As someone who doesn’t believe in a creator, he must believe the alternative—that life arose by only natural processes. As someone who does not believe in God, he must believe that there is nobody to whom we are morally accountable."
This is one of the most offensive aspects of religious dogma: "you either believe what we do, or you believe this other thing". It's possible to not buy something without selling something else.
People accept naturalistic explanations of things because there are reason TO do so, not simply because they are the "opposite" of supernaturalism. I don't believe a god or gods has said or done anything because I see no evidence of it. Completely independently, I accept some (but not all) evidence-based explanations of things. Note: I don't believe a god created the universe, but I have no belief to the contrary; I just DON'T KNOW.
I toss a coin and cover it with my hand. I ask you "do you believe it's heads?"
You say "no".
I reply "so you MUST believe it's tails, then."
MUST you? Rejecting X isn't the same as accepting not-X.
Incidentally, atheists DO have somebody to whom we're morally accountable: EACH OTHER!
This is a matter of simple logic. Either life on Earth came into being through a supernatural process or it did not. If it did not, then it was the result of a natural process. Your argument amounts to an appeal to the possibility of some other reality that is neither natural nor supernatural. This is typical of the blind faith of atheists. When observations, logic and reason point to their position being untenable, they turn to vague notions that have absolutely no basis in reality, observational science or rational thought.
You say, “Atheists DO have somebody to whom we're morally accountable: EACH OTHER!” History, however, has shown this to be a very ineffective constraint on people’s behaviour.
Amen to the entire article...the lie of evolution being taught our children was formulated behind the scenes by the deceiver of Adam who seeks to kill, steal & destroy...IT IS SPIRITUAL WARFARE & the souls of billions hang in the balance.
Jeff M. (UK) responds with, "You talk of neutrality but nowhere in your article do you accept that others' views might be just as valid as yours." In cultures where everyone has a right to voice an opinion, a mistaken generalization eventually creeps in; i.e., "One opinion is as good as the next." This cannot be. Stated opinions are de facto assertions about reality.
If two opinions differ on the same aspect of reality, saying both opinions have equal value places reality in opposition to itself. Reality has only one state - that which actually is. Three conditions exist for any two opinions. They are either both incorrect, or one is incorrect while the other is correct or partly so, or they are both correct if accurate on two different, non-mutually exclusive aspects of reality.
I love contemplating possibilities for which no validation or refutation is readily at hand. One night, as I lay in bed thinking about God, I reasoned : He either exists or he doesn't. Then I explored ramifications for believers and disbelievers if either case were true. (1) if he doesn't exist, whether you believe or not is immaterial; (2) if he does exist and you believe, you have a promising future, but if you don't believe - uh oh!
I was so proud of myself for coming up with this truly exhaustive exploration of the topic. My pride was crushed when I learned that someone - Mr. Statham mentioned him here - had "Blaised" this trail centuries earlier; i.e., Blaise Pascal.
Religion deals with assertions about God. Such assertions are therefore theological, and doctrinal, regardless be they pro or con as to God's existence. Defending "disbelief" requires asserting doctrine about God, hence disbelief is a religion.
Frequently, throughout their lives, sensible people engage in risk management, considering possible outcomes from the decisions they make, and choosing a course which promises optimal results and minimal risk. It behooves all of us to do likewise as we prepare for the inevitable. The question, what might happen after death, looms ahead. Both possibilities, whether God exists or not, should be taken seriously. Diligent exploration and comparison of doctrines, including asking God to reveal himself (if, just in case, he does exist) will prove worthwhile.
Reading your article "The Myth of Neutrality," I found myself agreeing with most of it, but there are two points in the reasoning that I am a little uncomfortable with.
The first is that, once again, atheists have been accused of being "inconsistent" with their beliefs by appealing to transcendental values. This is true; however, it must be noted that this accusation implies an "ought," naturally appealing to transcendental values, a "meta-ought," if you will. I just don't think that an atheist "ought" to act consistently with their worldview (assuming that it is true).
Secondly, the Holocaust was brought up once again. Again, I agree that an evolutionary world view was a significant contributing factor to the atrocities committed in Nazi Germany; but the Bible was also used to justify anti-semitism. That is, many Theologians, Church leaders, etc. used this argument: Jesus is and was the Son of God. The Jews killed Him. Therefore, it is acceptable to persecute Jews. I'm just saying that a world view being used to justify an action is not necessarily accurately represented in the consequences of that action.
Thanks for your time,
I certainly don't argue that atheists/Darwinists should act in a way that is consistent with their beliefs. I pray they will not! Generally, of course they don't, which is why we still have some semblance of decency in society. As I pointed out in my article, however, to avoid degenerating into something similar to Nazi Germany, a society that bases its thinking on evolution must consciously resist that which its belief system implies. Realistically, how long can such a society keep this up?
The sad story of church leaders justifying anti-Semitism by arguing that 'the Jews murdered Christ' is a prime example of the dangers of picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to take note of and which to ignore. Those that take on board the whole of the Bible's message will have learnt to say, "There, but for the grace of God, go I." The views and actions of the leaders of Nazi Germany were consistent with their evolutionary belief system. The views of church leaders who promote anti-Semitism are inconsistent with the teaching of Christ and His apostles. The church's mission is to preach repentance and forgivenss of sins to all. Judgement is God's perogative, not ours (Deuteronomy 32:35).
A report in the Daily Mail stated: A Liverpool fan has been found guilty of hurling racist abuse at fans and players during a football match. He was caught on camera performing a racially offensive monkey impression during the FA Cup fourth round clash between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 28. His defence solicitor accused anyone who identified the gesture as racist as being racist themselves. He said: 'if you equate monkeys with black people then you are as racist as the person who is doing it.’
The defence solicitor’s comment caught my attention. I don’t know whether it was a serious comment or whether it was just a ploy to get his client off the hook. But whatever the motive, I believe an important issue was raised; that even good intentions can be racist. I believe that due to evolutionary indoctrination, many people do (consciously or unconsciously) equate black people with a form of human being that is less evolved than a white human being. This could explain why many people are hyper-sensitive with regards to how black people are described in the media. For example, a well-known TV football commentator was severely criticised during a debate on TV regarding racist behaviour towards black footballers. He referred to them as coloured footballers. The backlash was enormous and some people said he should be sacked for using the word ‘coloured’. The irony of it is, he was supporting the footballers and opposing racism!
Perhaps if more people read Darwin’s ‘The Descent of Man’ it would open their eyes to what is behind the offensive behaviour of people like the Liverpool football fan and at the other end of the spectrum, the over-sensitive and over-protective attitude of some others. It’s time people woke up to the fact that humans are not different races at different levels of evolution; we are all one race – Adam’s race.
Unlike your other correspondents I can only say that this is a very poor view of the UK and one that I do not share and I live here too. Your article is no more than a rant against what you perceive as wrong. You talk of neutrality but nowhere in your article do you accept that others' views might be just as valid as yours. In fact Dominic said "Your are either with me or against me". What has a rant against homosexuality got to do with being neutral? You certainly are not neutral - you make it clear you hate it.
Dear everyone not in the UK who reads the article. The UK is not like this. Can we have more stuff by people like Carl Weiland please. At least he knows how to frame an argument.
Yours sincerely and very disapointedly
Thank you for your response. You wrote, "You are certainly not neutral." This is true and we have never claimed to be so. The point of the article is to show that secularism is not neutral either. Btw, it was Christ (not me) who said "He who is not with me is against me", making clear that, in his view, there's no such thing as neutrality.
Arguing for the current definition of marriage is hardly hatred. Moreover, there appear to be many homosexuals who share this view, including Alan Duncan MP and the well-known broadcaster and historian Dr David Starkey. Homosexual columnist Andrew Pierce says that neither he nor any of his homosexual friends want 'gay marriage'. Incidentally, I do not hate homosexuals; I just disagree with their life-style. This is an important distinction.
I'm glad you appreciate Carl Wieland's writings. So do I - and particularly his latest book, 'One Human Family.'
Thank you for a very interesting article. I was particularly struck by Eichmann's justification of his actions. To paraphrase his own words - he was only speeding up the process that God used in Theistic Evolution. It is difficult to deny his logic here! This makes it clearer than ever that those who believe in Theistic Evolution need to repent and turn to a true biblical view of God's creation.
When God’s restraining hand upon society is removed, the values and morals or lack thereof treasured by the society will be revealed. We saw a glimpse of this in UK riots in 2011 where police struggled to contain the criminality of many young people. Starvation and poverty like in poor countries are not the driving factors here.
When values and morals are not instilled in children by their parents, grandparents and schools, we do not see the terrible outcome immediately. But when the children grow up and are in their twenties, the consequence of what is taught or lack thereof will be more pronounced. Police, lawyers, judges and jails will be too late to contain criminality.
'People of neutrality', ie 'disbelievers', and agnostics show self control to protect their image or to get respect from the community. But when their goal for their self control is not achievable or missing, the real values and morals they hold are revealed.
Sadly politicians and lobby groups will not change their ways unless sin becomes exceedingly sinful.
Moreover, the Bible tells us that many will not turn however bad things become.
Superb article -- if only it was read by a few million of your countrymen it might help halt the harrowing downward social trajectory of British society (we can hope and pray!).
As the writer possibly alludes to, it's one thing for a Dawkins or an A. C. Grayling to ponder the wonder of the cosmos from the calm and comfort of an 8000 pound Italian leather chair, but their materialistic philosophy provides very little calm or comfort for Gary Battler of a Liverpool public housing estate. Let's hear from him?
The BBC laps up the contented musings of a few millionaires -- Dawkins, Hitchens and Co -- while millions of poor and disadvantaged have to silently deal with the hopeless wretched nihilistic world view they've been fed. There's very little left for them, it seems; left alone to conjure meaning from a football team or a tattoo -- a pretty bleak existence, and terribly bleak eternity.
What a dreadful legacy Dawkins will leave. He truly is a creature to be pitied.