New Atheists & a Weltanschauung of Illusion

the-circularity-of-naturalismWhen engaging the vast literature put out by the New Atheist movement a distinctive worldview emerges. Atheists ranging from Michael Ruse, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Lawrence Krauss, Sean Carroll, Dan Barker, Sam Harris, Alex Rosenberg, Peter Boghossian, and the late Christopher Hitchens have put forward a definitive view of reality that can be straightforwardly recognized as the atheist Weltanschauung. What ever nuances may be present in the literature, the scientistic, physicalist picture of reality amounts to espousing these various philosophical positions — morality is an illusory by product of our evolutionary history, consciousness is an illusion created by the biochemical reactions and neurological firing taking place in the brain, the individual self and the concept of personhood is also an illusion with the same physicalist source as consciousness, the mind is reduced to material functions and ultimately collapses into the void of scientistic terminology, free will is an illusion because human action is ultimately determined by the laws of nature working underneath the surface of the already illusory concept of consciousness, the conceptual ‘nothing’ kicking off the “Big Bang” is actually a complex ‘something’ so it is possible that ‘nothing’ can come from ‘something’ just as long as you redefine ‘nothing’ to be ‘something,’ and finally, mathematics and logic are nominally devised social constructs susceptible to transformation if our language changes in application regarding these fields. Another important element of the atheistic apparatus is the asserted illusion of design in nature. According to the neo-Darwinian naturalist, evolution is able to explain why we are surrounded by a world that appears to be designed, but in reality is random and chaotic.

In fact, Alex Rosenberg provides a concise summary of the atheist position,

Is there a God? No.

What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.

What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.

What is the meaning of life? Ditto.

Why am I here? Just dumb luck.

Does prayer work? Of course not.

Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding?

Is there free will? Not a chance!

What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.

What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them.

Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral.

Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.

What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it.

Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing.

Does the human past have any lessons for our future? Fewer and fewer, if it ever had any to begin with.”[1]

Rosenberg continues,

“Scientism dictates a thoroughly Darwinian understanding of humans and of our evolution – biological and cultural. But that does not in any way commit us to thinking about human culture as hardwired, or in our genes. It does mean that when it comes to ethics, morality, and value, we have to embrace an unpopular position that will strike many people as immoral and impious…If you are going to be scientistic, you will have to be comfortable with a certain amount of nihilism.”[2]

According to the atheist worldview, everything is physically reduced in procrustean fashion to the fixed, deterministic laws of physics, which are working throughout the arena of a Darwinian formulated structure of the natural world. With this foundation in place – metaphysical naturalism and epistemological scientism – every major facet of human life is announced to be an illusion of nature. There is no meaning, no purpose, no design, no telos, and no morality.

This interpretation of reality should immediately trigger the intellectual red light of the critical thinker.

Let’s focus on the problem of design in the natural order. Francis Crick famously reminded us that when studying nature we are to remember what we are studying is not in any way designed despite appearing to be so ordered. But why do we have to remember this? Why do we have to remind ourselves that the natural order is not designed when we are confronted with this reality? What if nature is designed? What if the “appearance” of design really is design? If we have to continuously remind ourselves that the most important aspects of reality are illusions – morality, consciousness, personhood, design, free will etc. – maybe the worldview postulating such claims has explicitly reduced itself to absurdity.

All of these alleged discoveries suggested by the clamoring evangel of the New Atheist regime, that we are enclosed by an abyss of illusion, are somehow discovered by the objectively real scientific method. One must ask how it is that the scientific method is not also an illusion? Why is it that the scientific method is able to exonerate itself from being another useful apparition examining an empty void of conceptual subjective assertion (which these atheists are able to fully grasp without the slightest recognition of irony)?

Instead of being intimidated by the tactical maneuver of linking absurdity with scientific investigation, we ought to push these atheist views to their logical conclusion. If the surrounding reality is nothing more than a mirage, a subjective hallucination, then not only is the scientific method undermined, but so is the secular reason atheists hold so dear to their hearts. The idolatry of reason and nature, within the context of this New Atheist hubris, are nothing more than phantasms of an unconscious wish fulfillment. Neither reason nor science is able to maintain any truth-value within secular naturalist metaphysics and epistemology. Our cognitive faculties, being products of a survival mechanism in nature rather than a ‘truth’ mechanism, are depressingly incapable of reason, which the scientific method is specifically a product of. Empiricists of the scientistic sort, given the masterful tacticians that they are, conveniently ignore the fact that the methods used to study nature are products of reason and not of nature themselves. That is, science cannot justify itself by using the scientific method, otherwise you are trapped in a tightly wound, and vicious circle. The echo chamber of physicalist assertion can only prove useful for those sharing in the same metaphysical delusion.

The circularity of the atheist position goes something like this; physics explains everything about reality, which we know because anything physics does not explain cannot exist in reality, which we know because whatever exists concerning reality must be explicable by physics, because physics explains everything.[3]

Considering these positions of the New Atheist movement, it is in my best estimation, a fantastically splendid exercise of self-delusion to postulate the absurd while mocking the existence of God with the very tools that were a moment ago depicted as a mirage, while simultaneously denouncing the Christian foundations from which reason and the scientific method sprang from.

To champion this naturalistic atheistic worldview while mocking those who dare to even question it exemplifies the extent fallen man will go to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.


– Lucas G. Westman

[1] The Atheist Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, Pg. 2, 3

[2] The Atheist Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, Pg. 18

[3] This circular explanation of naturalism is borrowed from David Bentley Hart’s book, The Experience of God.

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