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Don’t bother me with your religion!

P.H., from Ireland, commented on CMI’s Question Evolution campaign and Dr Don Batten responds.

Hello, I am a little sceptical that you will print this, but we shall see.

I wonder when you go out with your 15 questions, will you stop once you have met anyone who can give you a reasonable answer? Obviously not everyone is going to have the knowledge to answer the specifics, but if you meet a Biologist for instance who can clearly explain the current state of scientific knowledge will you stop? If you don’t stop will you at least inform the next person without knowledge of the evidence you have been presented with?

Personally as an Atheist I would rather you did not go around bothering me on the street or in my home, (I am only here because of a link in a debate about removing Religious indoctrination from schools) I think it would be far better if you realised that your thoughts are private ones and should not be forced on others. You believe in god, I don’t believe in your god or anyone else’s and I have no interest in “learning” about them beyond an interest in cultural variety.

You may quite rightly wonder why I am taking time to post this, It is simply that at the moment we are embroiled in a debate on removing the prayer indoctrination from our child’s school, if just a few of you could recognise the rights of others to a reasonable secular environment, we could all move on and end these sometimes bitter quarrels. You have your views, apply them to your own work and lives and leave others alone.

Thank you

P.S. I would rather not have my name published as it is very rare in my country and I don’t want any more Christians at my door!

CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:

Dear P.,

Thanks for commenting.

A couple of comments in response:

We have already published the best answers so far provided to the 15 questions. See

Part of the price of living in a free society is that you can be bothered by other people sharing their views, just as atheists and others can ‘bother’ me with their views (which they do). I don’t mind, as that is a wonderful thing to live in such a free society where that is possible; something I celebrate. Perhaps you would rather live in a country where the state mandates atheism (such states killed 150 million people last century).

With kind regards,

Don Batten

P. replied:

Just to say that of course I would not want to live in a society that mandates any form of belief or none and I am sure I am not alone amongst people here to have a family tree dotted with those who sacrificed everything to allow us that freedom. My feeling would be that people should be allowed to list their homes in the same way they list their phone numbers to stop cold calling, once on that list Religious organisations would be obliged to leave you alone, I have nothing against people standing on the street advertising their wares, as long as they follow local bylaws and are not obstructive or bothersome. Once we have removed religion from our schools and public institutions then its advocates are free to practice as they like within the constraint of leaving alone those who wish to be left alone.

I am not interested in converting anyone to my thoughts on this, I just don’t want them using the education service to poison my child’s intellectual development and I don’t want statues and crucifixes in my hospital, people can adorn their own hospital bed as they like.

Finally, Atheism is not responsible for those deaths, fundamentalism is, we can argue about the private beliefs of dictators but it is the drive of fundamentalism that causes people to do evil deeds. Being an Atheist is simply having an absence of belief in any deity; it does not cause good people to behave wickedly. True believers of course give up their natural human understanding of common good and empathy and do whatever their God or political master tells them. You would have to be a true believer to fly a plane of terrified humans into a Tower full of other humans as much as you would need to be one to plant a bomb under someone’s car simply for not sharing your faith. Lots of people good bad and indifferent are atheists, it makes no difference to their ability to perform evil, However religion has made many otherwise good people behave appallingly as have twisted ideologies in the hands of people like Hitler and Stalin.

Dear P.,

I’m glad you appreciate your freedom and those who bought it for you. So do I; that we can agree on!

However, it seems that some high profile atheists (the ‘new atheists’) don’t seem to appreciate that one cost of living in a free society is that people have to be free to believe things that they don’t like. Richard Dawkins, for example, has labelled Christians teaching their children about God ‘child abuse’ (see review of God Delusion). Of course child abuse is something that governments should proscribe, isn’t it? That sounds like a form of ‘fundamentalism’ to me; atheistic fundamentalism. Indeed the recent actions of the British Humanist Association (atheists’ club) to get the UK government to proscribe the teaching of any view other than doctrinaire Darwinism (even scientific criticisms of Darwinism) in schools, even faith schools, smacks of the totalitarianism of the USSR, Nazi Germany, Mao’s China or Kim Il Sung’s North Korea.

Even your own words indicate that you are afflicted with some of that same intolerant, totalitarian thinking; you don’t want Christians in the “education service to poison my child’s intellectual development”. But I guess it is OK for atheists to use the education service to influence the intellectual development of the children of Christians away from the faith of their parents? That is what the teaching of Darwinism does, for example. Having just read Origin of the Species, in 1860, one of Darwin’s mentors at Cambridge wrote,

“I have read Darwin’s book. It is clever, and calmly written; and therefore, the more mischievous, if its principles be false; and I believe them utterly false … From first to last it is a dish of rank materialism cleverly cooked and served up … And why is this done? For no other reason, I am sure, except to make us independent of a Creator … ”

—Rev. Adam Sedgwick, letter to Miss Gerard dated January 2, 1860.

I could quote a number of atheists today who admit the same. Dawkins admitted that Darwin enables him to be “an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. Your own defence of Darwinism belies the same point; that Darwinism is part of the atheists’ ‘faith’ (it was actually written into the Humanist Manifesto I).

There is no neutral position in all this. You only think that secularism is the neutral because you are a secularist and it is to your liking.

I find it quite strange that you think that Stalin’s atheism had nothing to do with his murderous actions. He apparently had people murdered without a second thought. No Bible-believing Christian could do that because the Bible says that humans are made in the image of God, making human life sacred (special) and so not to be wantonly taken. Only a materialist (atheist) such as Stalin could do this. See: Evolution and social evil. A Christian murdering someone is acting contrary to his principles, whereas an atheist murdering someone is acting contrary to what? There is no absolute moral principle, only the whim of government decree (or if you are the government?).

A.C. Grayling, prominent British atheist, admitted: “You can see we no longer really believe in God, because of all the CCTV cameras keeping watch on us.” (in an interview with The Guardian’s Decca Aitkenhead, 3 April 2011; www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/03/grayling-good-book-atheism-philosophy).

We can see the results of secularism with such things as the London riots and the breakdown of family life in once-Christian countries. In my country, in the 1950s when the vast majority of the population believed there was a Creator-God to whom they were accountable (I am not saying they were all genuine Christians, but almost all shared a Christian worldview), the property crime rate was 1 reported per 1,000 people per year. This was the rate from the 1920s to the 1950s, including during the Great Depression (according to our secular ‘all-knowing’ sociologists, poverty is the cause of crime, isn’t it?). Then the rate began to rise in the 1960s, when the secularization of education began in earnest. It rose to around 20 per thousand in the late 90s (a 20-fold increase!), in spite of a much-increased police force, security systems, CCTVs, etc. (and such crime is under-reported today because we know that the police are not going to be able to do anything about a theft unless it is really serious). I remember when I was a child that we did not have locks for our family home (no keys) and cars had no keys, and, with those that did the owners left them in the ignition switch; the idea of something being stolen was not on the thought radar. Similar trends can be seen with other measures of social decay, such as male youth suicide, divorce, drug abuse, etc.

It is also of note that Darwinism also gave justification to the murderous dictators of the 20th century: Darwin’s impact the bloodstained legacy of evolution. Indeed Stalin’s atheism came about from reading Darwin.

The famous British poet, T.S. Eliot wrote: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes. Then you must start painfully again, and you cannot put on a new culture ready made … You must pass through many centuries of barbarism.” (T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, Faber and Faber, 1948, p. 122.)

Even an atheist recently wrote about Africa needing Christianity for social and economic progress. See Atheists credit the Gospel.

No, atheism provides no basis for a free, just and prosperous society.

But more than that, atheism is a recipe for your own demise. Whether you like it or not, you will one day be before your Creator to answer for your life. “I did not believe in you” won’t cut it. As the Bible says, there is ample evidence that God exists (Romans 1:18ff). But you need not fear hell; not because it does not exist, but because God himself has provided for a way of escape. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10–11).

I tell you this out of concern for you; I don’t want to see anyone suffer God’s judgment. If you don’t want to receive what I have to say, then so be it. I am not offended; that is your right. There is no coercion where societies are based on biblical principles.

With kind regards,

Don Batten

Published: 5 August 2012