Is the militant atheism used in some book titles gaining ground in Europe? At Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, a six-metre-tall memorial of Giordano Bruno was recently erected by the same-named atheistic foundation who wanted to present a “symbolic figure for a young and independent Europe”. Despite huge media interest, only about 100 people came to see the unveiling. The sculptor had placed his figure upside down and thus involuntarily helped create a good headline: “Atheism is upside down” titled a German daily asking to what extent the fate of the social revolutionary and ex-Dominican executed 400 years ago has something to do with the present and future of Europe.
What our continent today needs like air to breathe is orientation in the great questions of life. The west lacks non-economic values. And in this crisis an atheism that negates everything that makes up Europe’s identity should be of help? “This kind of liberty leads into the slavery of the flesh,” says Russian thinker Natalija Narotschnitzkaja. “This is especially alarming facing the rush of non-Christian civilization. It is a scandal not to mention the Christian traditions in the European constitution. It is a form of totalitarianism when a Catholic politician like Rocco Buttiglione cannot say that the Bible calls homosexuality a sin. I am no enemy of homosexuals. But I will not defend a Europe of ‘gay-parades’, but the Europe of Mozart, Goethe and Schiller.” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 29.2.2008)
Thomas Lüken had been atheist for many years before deep personal experiences and extensive study led him to the faith. He now teaches religion at a grammar school in Germany. In the following text he analyses the phenomenon of modern atheism in Europe.
For a renewed Europe based on Christian values,
Your Europe for Christ! - Team
PS: Please remember to pray the daily Our Father for Europe.
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Is Atheism gaining ground?
by Thomas Lüken
When browsing through bookshelves one can easily get the impression that atheism is on the increase. Such as Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, in which he portrays in talk shows a violent and intolerant vision of God of the Christian Western World. Whether a Christian could promote a book with the opposite title the same way in atheistic countries such as North Korea is questionable.
In God is Not Great Christopher Hitchens tries to prove how damaging religion could be – of course without mentioning on the other hand the fact that atheistic-communistic dictator Mao executed in 40 minutes as many people as did the Roman inquisition in about 249 years (as Manfred Lütz just recently worked out).
Michel Onfray displays already in the title of his book We Don’t Need God. Why Now is the Time to be Atheist that logic is not his strength. If atheism were true, why should I now become atheist instead of being it all the time anyway?
In Germany atheistic movements (small in numbers but great in media presence) are spreading a “Manifest of evolutionary humanism”. The hope that some hundred atheists agree on wanting to develop humanistic values in the future, will surely be of great hope to those many people who have needs now.
Should this really be the elite of an international atheism – a listing of errors in reasoning, circular arguments and long before disproved arguments of 19th century critique – then Christians won’t have to worry. Especially since the missionary manner of dogmatic atheists begins to irritate even media traditionally far from religion.
This atheism’s increasingly spiteful and seemingly desperate attempts to insist on the meaninglessness of life seem more of last battle strike against its own insignificance rather than a real gaining ground.
That fact that being far from God ends in desolation and grim mood can not only be found in the great treasures of Christian spiritual literature, but also in numerous medical studies and statistics. These give a very good overview on the physical and psychological health status of people of different world views. Persons who agree with “There is no God” are regularly last in ranking. “Believers are physically healthier than non-believers. They are less prone to psychological moods, neuroses and drug dependence. They have healthier eating habits, are more often enjoying nature and keep up social contacts. For more than 30 years this relation between health, ethical behaviour, religion and faith was proved in over 200 studies worldwide.” (source: www.br-online.de/umwelt-gesundheit/sprechstunde/200312/st20031215.shtml)
21st century citizens will lose interest in running after ideologies that know no afterlife and draw a picture of this side of life characterized by meaninglessness and ever more apocalyptic visions of the future. They will rather listen to the voices of those radiating joy and tranquillity, those who can offer a serious hope – who if not we Christians can do that?
Reading suggestion (in German):
Thomas Lüken: Lohnt sich Atheismus? Antworten auf eine so nie gestellte Frage, ISBN: 978-3-8334-8461-2; 8, 90? www.lohnt-sich-atheismus.de