The target of much atheist protest is the god that secures all meaning and makes sense of the world, the religion that serves as a crutch and underwrites the social order, the faith that inures one to truth and reality and gives birth to dulling and enslaving illusion. This is the god in whom they don’t believe. They might be surprised to find that Christians stand alongside them in attacking this deity: we don’t believe in that god either.
Christian thought involves a radical challenge to the way that we naturally view and ‘use’ god. It strikes at the idea of the distant and transcendent absolute being, believing that God was revealed in human flesh, with all that that entails… Christians overturn the deity that underwrites and secures the pyramidical hierarchy, teaching that God himself became a servant for our sakes.
Christian faith teaches that God gave himself to die a criminal’s death at the hand of man and that he was dead for a few days. We believe that God’s character was most fully revealed, not in the beauty and perfection of nature, or the stillness of the human heart, but in a mangled and bloodied body on a Roman cross. It is in this eclipse of all light, and even the knowledge of God’s presence, that God’s face is most powerfully disclosed: God makes himself known in this moment of hell…
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Religious pluralism is a belief system that sounds good, but does disservice to all religions. All religions are exclusive. Even naturalism, which poses as irreligion, is exclusive. Every religion has its starting points and its deductions, and those starting points exclude. For example, Hinduism has two non-negotiable beliefs: karma and reincarnation. No Hindu will trade these away.
In Buddhism, there is the denial of the essential notion of the self. Buddhists believe that the self as we understand it does not exist, and our ceasing to desire will be the cause of the end of all suffering. If we deny these premises, we deny Buddhism.
Naturalism teaches that anything supernatural or metaphysical is outside the realm of evidence and purely an opinion, not a matter of fact. Islam believes that Mohammad is the last and final prophet, and the Quran is the perfect revelation. If we deny those two premises, we have denied Islam.
In the Christian faith, we believe Jesus is the consummate experience of God in the person of His Son, and is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We cannot deny these premises and continue to be Christians.
The question is not whether these are mutually exclusive. The question is which one of these will we deny as being reasonable and consistent? Which one of these will we be able to sustain by argument and by evidence? We can have pluralism in cuisine, clothing styles, accents, and other things. But if pluralism means ideational relativism and the destruction of the law of noncontradiction, it is absolutely unliveable and unthinkable.
. . . [Nietzsche] had the good manners to despise Christianity, in large part, for what it actually was–above all, for its devotion to an ethics of compassion–rather than allow himself the soothing, self-righteous fantasy that Christianity’s history had been nothing but an interminable pageant of violence, tyranny, and sexual neurosis. He may have hated many Christians for their hypocrisy, but he hated Christianity itself principally on account of its enfeebling solicitude for the weak, the outcast, the infirm, and the diseased; and, because he was conscious of the historical contingency of all cultural values, he never deluded himself that humanity could do away with Christian faith while simply retaining Christian morality in some diluted form, such as liberal social conscience or innate human sympathy.
― David Bentley Hart,
Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution
and Its Fashionable Enemies
The well-known social critic Dennis Pager, debating the Oxford atheistic professor Jonathan Glover, raised this thorny question: “If you, Professor Glover, were stranded at the midnight hour in a desolate Los Angeles street and if, as you stepped out of your car with fear and trembling, you were suddenly to hear the weight of pounding footsteps behind you, and you saw ten burly young men who had just stepped out of a dwelling coming toward you, would it or would it not make a difference to you to know that they were coming from a Bible study?”
Amidst hilarious laughter in the auditorium, Glover conceded that it would make a difference.
Can Man Live Without God?