“Why does unbelief appear to be increasing in the world today?”Studies show that unbelief is indeed on the rise these days. We are living in increasingly secular times and, unfortunately, those who do not believe in the truth of Scripture often seem to have the loudest voices in the public domain. Skeptics are becoming bolder and more vocal, and their influence is seen in education, entertainment, court systems, and government. They have made significant progress toward their goal of having God’s name entirely removed from the public realm.Add to this the fact that we are living in what some call the most “biblically illiterate times,” and it’s apparent why unbelief is on the rise and why moral standards continue to deteriorate. Other factors include the pervasiveness of secular humanism; the church’s halfhearted adherence to the hard truths God’s Word; the significant growth of New Age and Eastern religions; the attempts to redefine the family; the postmodern rejection of absolutes; and the aggressive rise of the New Atheists.The bottom line is this – we live in a fallen world and “the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4). As history moves forward, many will move further away from sound biblical doctrine. “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1Timothy 4:1). There are plenty of false teachers to keep the lost blinded and aid them in their flight from God (Matthew 24:10-112 Timothy 4:31 John 4:1). The sad truth is that most people do not see the Bible as the absolute authority anymore. As God’s Word continues to be marginalized, unbelief will continue to increase around the world. The Bible warned against apostasy nearly two thousand years ago: “[People] will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:4). Along these lines, John MacArthur has stated, “Our society has grown steadily darker; and the message the church is now giving to the world is more confused and confusing than perhaps any time since the Dark Ages.” His conclusion: “the church needs to get back to the Word of God.” Indeed, getting back to the Word is the only solution; to do anything less is to hide our light under a bushel (Luke 11:33). If we want people to believe, we must give them something to believe in. The servant of Christ should not lose heart. Despite the increasing unbelief and the growing tide of hostility toward Christianity, there is good news. Jesus told us that, before the end comes, His gospel would be preached in the whole world (Matthew 24:14). Portions of the Bible have now been translated into more than 3,850 languages, covering 98 percent of the world’s population. Christian radio broadcasts are now accessible to nearly 78 percent of the earth’s population. God’s Word is being preached around the world with tremendous success by multitudes of Christians, many of whom risk their lives every day to spread the gospel. “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save” (Isaiah 59:1), even in communist China where it is believed over one hundred million people are following Jesus Christ. World Christian Encyclopedia reports that nearly seventeen million people accept Jesus Christ every year. Scoffers will multiply (Jude 1:18), but Jesus is still Lord of the harvest, it is still His harvest field, and we still pray for Him to send forth His workers (Luke 10:2).
“What is the New Atheism?”The early 21st century has seen secularism and atheism promoted throughout the Western world with an ever-increasing vigor and militancy. This has led to the emergence of the “new atheists,” notable members of which include best-selling authors such as Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens.The contention of the new atheists is, obviously, that there is no God. Adherents to the philosophy of new atheism believe that blind, natural forces are responsible for all of reality which we perceive. The new atheists do not restrict themselves to a passive disbelief. Rather, they are actively engaged in admonishing others to follow suit, to declare their non-belief in God, and to take the necessary steps to rid the world of religious belief and practice. As outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins puts it in The God Delusion, “I do everything in my power to warn people against faith itself.”An ironic feature of the new atheism is its strong faith in the inferiority of having faith. The new atheists erroneously redefine “faith” as an “irrational belief in the absence of evidence.” This misrepresentation of the nature of faith is absurd, for faith is not essentially a strong belief in something, but rather the ground of Christian faith is believing in someone—God. A.W. Tozer said, “Faith rests upon the character of God, not upon the demonstration of laboratory or logic.” When one has faith in the character of a person, e.g. a mother or an aircraft pilot, one no longer needs to be skeptical or require strong evidence in respect to any service that he or she renders.When it comes to things, Christians correctly approach the subject looking for strong evidence, while accepting that some matters may be beyond our current understanding. Indeed, many faith-filled scientists have been at the cutting edge of the scientific enterprise and test the evidence using thorough methods and techniques. The new atheists believe that empirical science is the only path to understanding reality. However, this is erroneous, since the very concept of “scientism” (the view that science is the only way to gain knowledge) is not itself subject to any scientific experiment and ultimately distills to a faith. Faith, far from being an “irrational belief in the absence of evidence,” is a decision to reckon as true something that is not visible. Scientism is a metaphysical concept. Thus, the new atheists require faith of some description, even if not in God. Scientism is self-refuting, and thus should not be believed. Scientism could be summed up as the belief that “empirical science is the only way to be sure about anything.” Of course, we might well then ask, “What was the scientific experiment that established that empirical science is the only way to be sure about anything?”In contrast, theism is aligned with the reality of a transcendent God. Biblical theism is based around a set of sensible concepts, one of which is that there is no such thing as an atheist. Clearly the atheists have faith of a sort, if only in their power to influence others to join their atheistic pursuits. But one wonders why, if they truly believe God does not exist, they spend their lives trying to disprove His existence. Does a man spend a lifetime trying to disprove the existence of unicorns or elves? Of course not, because he knows they don’t exist and wouldn’t bother. Even if he knows others believe in unicorns and elves, he doesn’t dedicate his life to trying to debate them out of that belief. Romans 1:19-20 declares plainly that all men do know God exists because God has clearly revealed that knowledge to them through the evidence of creation. Those that deny God are doing so out of the rebellion of a darkened heart (Romans 1:21). Rather than the intellectual the self-described atheist imagines himself to be, God has pronounced, “The fool says in his heart ‘there is no god’” (Psalm 14:153:1).