Who’s Got Logical Reasoning? Protestants, Not Atheists
Surprising news articles undercut atheists’ claims to reason, and score points for Protestants.
Why atheists are not as rational as some like to think (The Conversation). Here’s a rare article: a debunking of atheism by an evolutionist! Lois Lee, a Research Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Kent, speaks of evolution as fact when she tries to explain why children do not necessarily follow their parents’ religion:
This is perfectly rational in a sense, but children aren’t processing this on a cognitive level. Throughout our evolutionary history, humans have often lacked the time to scrutinise and weigh up the evidence – needing to make quick assessments. That means that children to some extent just absorb the crucial information, which in this case is that religious belief doesn’t appear to matter in the way that parents are saying it does.
Theists will find plenty to criticize in this quote, but most of the rest of Lee’s article is quite illuminating. For once, someone at The Conversation (a soap box for anti-creationist Darwin dogmatists) pushes atheists off their self-righteous pedestals. Under a banner photo of Richard Dawkins speaking at a microphone, she begins,
Many atheists think that their atheism is the product of rational thinking. They use arguments such as “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science” to explain that evidence and logic, rather than supernatural belief and dogma, underpin their thinking. But just because you believe in evidence-based, scientific research – which is subject to strict checks and procedures – doesn’t mean that your mind works in the same way.
Unlike many scientists, Lois Lee has a career of asking atheists why they became atheists. She finds that theory and practice are two separate things. Some of her points are listed here:
- Religious people make the same point against atheists, that reason leads them to reject atheism.
- The science increasingly shows that atheists are no more rational than theists.
- Atheists are just as susceptible as the next person to “group-think” and other non-rational forms of cognition.
- Religious and nonreligious people alike can end up following charismatic individuals without questioning them.
- Our minds often prefer righteousness over truth.
- Emerging research is demonstrating that atheist parents (and others) pass on their beliefs to their children in a similar way to religious parents – through sharing their culture as much as their arguments.
- Atheists complain that children of religious people usually end up with the same beliefs, but this is true for atheist children, too – even in families that claim that children should be free to choose their own beliefs.
- Religious people (especially Protestants) often embrace science as important for their worldview.
- Some post-modern atheists embrace anti-scientific views of reality and the importance of science.
- Atheism provides a sense of meaning and comfort for them similar to the feelings religious people get from their beliefs.
Christians will not find everything praiseworthy in this article. One thing she makes clear, however, is that atheists can’t claim the high ground on science or reason. In fact, among religious people, Protestants stand out:
But are atheists more likely to embrace science than religious people? Many belief systems can be more or less closely integrated with scientific knowledge. Some belief systems are openly critical of science, and think it has far too much sway over our lives, while other belief systems are hugely concerned to learn about and respond to scientific knowledge.
But this difference doesn’t neatly map onto whether you are religious or not. Some Protestant traditions, for example, see rationality or scientific thinking as central to their religious lives. Meanwhile, a new generation of postmodern atheists highlight the limits of human knowledge, and see scientific knowledge as hugely limited, problematic even, especially when it comes to existential and ethical questions. These atheists might, for example, follow thinkers like Charles Baudelaire in the view that true knowledge is only found in artistic expression.
Lee ends by saying that humans “invented” science but are not “like” science in our choices and behaviors. We all have moments of irrationality. “Importantly, the scientific evidence does not tend to support the view that atheism is about rational thought and theism is about existential fulfilments.”
Protestantism still matters when it comes to education, study shows (Phys.org). The Legacy of Martin Luther who wished to expand public education continues to have beneficial effects around the world, claims Andy Dunne at the University of Bath.
An ‘enduring historical legacy’ of Protestant religion is still having a significant, positive impact on secondary school enrolment rates around the world, according to the results of a new international study from a researcher at the University of Bath (UK).
Despite nearly two centuries of secularization and a dramatic expansion of government-provided secondary education since the mid-20th century in many countries around the world, the research by Dr. Horst Feldmann—just published in the journal Comparative Sociology —finds that in countries with a historical legacy of Protestantism more young people are attending secondary school.
The influence is widespread:
Looking at data from 147 countries—both from developed and developing countries—the paper studies the influence of historical as well as contemporary Protestantism on education in recent years—specifically the period from 1975 to 2010.
How did this come about?
At the start of the Reformation in 1517, initiated by Martin Luther, Protestantism made strenuous efforts to expand schooling. Luther demanded compulsory elementary education for boys and girls from all social classes. Other German Protestants soon developed a comprehensive system of schooling, including a system of secondary education. The German reforms quickly became a blueprint for education across many other countries in western and northern Europe.
Why was this not known before?
“This study is the first to show that the historically positive effect of Protestantism on schooling is still noticeable today.
“It also shows that this is not only the case in a few traditionally Protestant countries. Rather the historically positive effect of Protestantism on schooling is a global phenomenon.“
Unfortunately, Dunne ends that this positive influence is on the decline. Why? Dr Feldmann found that “contemporary Protestantism, in contrast to historical Protestantism, does not affect schooling.” It’s been very clear for the last few decades that the traditional bastions of Protestantism, including the UK and Germany, have not only become secularized (with very few people attending any church at all), but are now being overrun with Muslims who have a very different view of the world, and very different values in education.
Think of the madrassas in Muslim countries teaching children from the very earliest ages that their greatest goal in life is to blow up as many non-Muslims as possible. Think of how they teach children to hate Jews and Americans. Now think of eastern countries that teach children that the greatest good is to abandon reality and meditate on the great nothingness. Now think of the modern western countries saturated in scientific materialism and Darwin’s belief in a universe of blind, pitiless indifference. Do you see problems ahead?
The solution would be to return to the doctrines and values that Martin Luther taught. He did not invent these. He opened the Scriptures, which had been forgotten and locked up by the corrupt church leaders of his day. He saw what God had clearly said to mankind thousands of years ago: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools lack wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). Throughout the Bible, knowledge is praised. God instructed Moses to tell parents to teach their children diligently. Hard work, knowledge and wisdom are valued throughout the Bible. God’s word is the key. To avoid cultural catastrophe, we need a revitalization of the Reformation. Open the Word of life.
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
From Psalm 119