Last weekend, Melbourne, Australia, hosted the 2010 Global Atheist Convention and a counter-convention, called Countering the Rise in Atheism, a project of Creation Ministries International. These two conventions provided an instructive study in contrasts.
Precise attendance figures for the Global Atheist Convention were not available, beyond a declaration that all tickets were sold out. Creation Ministries International estimated that between 400 and 500 people attended their event.
Far more important than the sizes of the events were their tones, and the substance of their remarks.
The Atheist Convention organizers provided little advance information about their program beyond the names of the presenters and a schedule of their appearances. Andrew Bolt of the Herald-Sun, who calls himself an agnostic, made a particularly bleak summation in a piece called “Speakers’ true love of hatred.”
My near conversion [to a belief in God] occurred because the convention’s speakers managed to confirm my worst fear. No, it’s not that God may actually exist, and be cross that I doubted. It’s that if the Christian God really is dead, then there’s not much to stop people here from being barbarians.
To illustrate that this is more than a common maxim, Bolt roundly criticized several prominent Atheist Convention presenters, including Richard Dawkins, Robyn Williams, Ian Robinson, and Catherine Deveny, for offering up little more than argumentum ad hominem of the most tasteless sort. “Is this what morally superior people do when God has gone? In that case, bring God back,” he concluded in apparent despair.
Bolt need not have gone to the Atheist Convention to learn that his fear of human barbarism in the absence of God was well-founded. As the film actor Maximilian Schell, in his role as the murderous Stanislaus Pilgrin in J. Lee Thompson’s 1965 film Return from the Ashes, famously said:
If there is no God, no heaven, no devil, no hell, and no immortality, then anything is permissible.
Remarkably, Bolt did not mention one particularly infamous name among the Atheist Convention presenters: Peter Singer, who famously has suggested that new mothers should have the option of infanticide during the first thirty days of an infant’s life.
The counter-convention took place actually on one day only, the last day of the Atheist Convention, on Sunday, March 14. The six-hour program included three speakers, all of whom addressed issues, not persons.
Dr. Don Batten, a plant physiologist, began by pointing out that evolution is the key to atheism. While not all evolutionists are atheists, nearly all atheists are evolutionists (or else they must believe in extraterrestrial progeneration of life, as Francis Crick once did). Batten pointed out that evolution, at its root, is all about rendering God unnecessary to the origin and development of life, and that attempts to compromise faith with “science” are worse than futile. (He has a point, if this article from a friendly Atheist Convention attendee is any indicator.)
Dr. Carl Wieland, himself a former atheist, pointed out that the fossil record is actually evidence for creation and a Global Flood, not for gradualistic evolution. For one thing, transitional forms (“missing links”) remain missing, a fact that even peer-reviewed journals must often admit. For another, the formation of the fossil layers is consistent, not with gradual sedimentation over millions of years, but of a catastrophe–or more properly, cataclysm, which was the actual Greek word used to describe the Flood.
Finally, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, a physical chemist, asserted flatly in his presentation that no mechanism has yet been put forward for abiogenesis–the generation of life from non-life, and especially of one single cell from which all other life derived–and that even billions of years (a time span that he does not for one moment concede) would not have sufficed to create that ultimate-ancestral cell.
Belief in a cell that made itself underpins evolution and atheism. But it’s blind faith, and defies the known facts about chemistry—even allowing billions of years of time. And the ‘millions of years’ evaporate under scientific scrutiny, too.
The problem of the first cell is closely related to the problem of the first cause of the universe–and one reason why evolutionists try to avoid the issue by suggesting that no first cell or cause was necessary.
In summary, these two conventions are most remarkable not for the numbers of attendees but for the quality and subject matter of their presentations. That distinction speaks volumes about the overall quality of each position.
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