When I am asked about people who claim to be Christians but live in such a way as to bring shame to the name of Jesus I always take the people who ask this great question to Matthew 7:21-24.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Did you see what Jesus is saying? He is saying there are going to be some people who call Jesus Lord and have done what they consider to be great things for him but that he didn’t know them and that they are evil! Jesus is quite pointedly saying that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian actually is. You may be able to believe in your head something to be true and yet never let it impact your heart and the way you live. For example we all know that exercising is important. Everyone believes that but how many of us actually live that out? For most of us the benefits of exercise are merely an intellectual idea that has no place in our lives. Christianity can be like that too. It may be for some people a set of intellectual ideas that are divorced from the way they live. People may know of Jesus intellectually but never actually know Jesus even if they go to church every Sunday and therefore these people may do things that are in and of themselves evil and yet still call themselves Christians.
The other thing I say to people who inquire about the discrepancy between some Christians and their lives is that the Bible calls sin very deceitful. That is, the Bible says that we are broken and part of our brokenness is that we can see bad things as good and good things as bad. So I may be convinced to do something terrible by a leader whether they be political or a church leader and I may do it all the while thinking that is what God would have me do. Now does this justify my sinful actions? Of course not, but it goes to illustrate that we can all be lead astray at some point and commit sins that we should’ve known were sins. In other words we can be deceived into doing the wrong thing.
So Christianity has got reasons for why people who call themselves Christians but do acts of evil. But do he new atheists give any reasons for the atrocities committed by atheists? The answer is no. The new atheists don’t really admit to the shady things atheists have done. But Richard Dawkins in his book River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life speaks to the pain that we experience as a result of evil:
In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.
So if we push this to it’s logical conclusion Hitler, Pol Pot, the Priest that is a paedophile, the televangelist that extorts money from people, etc. are all just dancing to their DNA!
I have spoken with many people who have been hurt by other people in tragic and profound ways. Imagine if I said “What happened to you wasn’t evil. The person was just dancing to their DNA!”
So in the end the only way Dawkins could justify the evil that is done by atheists is by saying it really isn’t evil! But doesn’t this take the ground out from under the question too? Because if there is no evil and no good how can you then call the atrocities that people who call themselves Christians do evil? You can only do that if you are borrowing terminology from religion because Dawkins’ brand of atheism won’t allow you to call something evil if it is followed through to it’s logical conclusions. Only Christianity faces up to the terrible things that it’s adherents have done and doesn’t seek to side step the accusation.
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 Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life , (New York: Basic Books.1995),133