As you know, Sam Harris’ atheistic books criticizing religion are popular, and stirring up a lot of thought. One of my favorite Christian Reconstructionist authors, Gary DeMar, has a short two part response to Sam Harris’ 10 Myths of Atheism, entitled Why All Atheists aren’t Monsters and Why Atheists Should be Monsters. The articles aren’t that great, but they bring up a couple of points worth discussing.
1. Atheism leads to meaninglessness.
Sure, Sam thinks that this is a myth, but DeMar answers with some logic of his own, which boils down to "if we are merely just an assemblage of chemicals interacting, how can we really assign meaning or value to any preferred outcome?" It’s not a great argument, but what I think he is saying is that naturalism can not account for personality, and THAT is what gives humans value, and that is what gives meaning, because mere physical chemicals can not think, live, love, or have meaning.
I am way out of my depth here, but I do believe on an intuitive level that (a) naturalistic, materialistic atheism, if taken to its logical ends, does lead to meaninglessness, and (b) while most atheists don’t feel that way, it is because they are being inconsistent in their atheistic views because, well, that doesn’t really match reality or their experience, so they live with this contradiction – which leads to our next point.
2. If atheism logically lead to such atrocities, why are atheists not monsters?
Believe it or not, the answer to this question applies to all decent people who subscribe to an ideology that might lead to doing evil in one way or another. That answer is:
The reason most atheists aren’t monsters is that they are not consistent with their atheistic assumptions.
In fact, the first time I read this logic was in response to similar accusations against Islam – if Islam really teaches hate and murder, why aren’t more Muslims doing it? The answer?
Here are at least three reasons why the violence is relatively limited.
The third [and most hopeful] factor behind the limited violence in the modern age, however, seems to be the natural law placed in most human hearts that dictates compassion to be of higher moral value than killing. This competes with the Qur’anic command to wage war against unbelievers until they either convert to Islam, are killed, or are forced to submit to dhimmitude (third-class status under Islamic law).
This "natural law" also exists in the hearts of atheists, and constrains them from pursuing atheism to its logical ends, as those like Marx and Stalin did.