Another common attribute I notice about the new atheists is their downplay of sin. They have a very superficial idea of the biblical reality of sin, and I see this played out in Hitchens’ rejection of redemption. John Stott addresses this issue (of downplaying sin) and the dangers of it in The Cross of Christ:
The emphasis of Scripture, however, is on the godless self-centeredness of sin. Every sin is a breach of what Jesus called “the first and greatest commandment,” not just by failing to love God with all our being but by actively refusing to acknowledge and obey him as our Creator and Lord. We have rejected the position of dependence that our createdness inevitably involves and made a bid for independence. Worse still, we have dared to proclaim our self-dependence, our autonomy, which is to claim the position occupied by God alone. Sin is not a regrettable lapse from conventional standards; its essence is hostility to God (Rom 8:7), issuing in active rebellion against him. It has been described in terms of “getting rid of the Lord God” in order to put ourselves in his place in a haughty spirit of “God-almightiness.” Emil Brunner sums it up well: “Sin is defiance, arrogance, the desire to be equal with God, . . . the assertion of human independence over God, . . . the constitution of the autonomous reason, morality and culture.” It is appropriate that the book from which this quotation is taken is titled Man in Revolt.
This other quote, taken from Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion in his response to something Hitchens wrote:
When Christopher Hitchens asks how much self-respect “must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one’s own sin,” the only honest answer is that for most of us, self-respect is possible only if the squirming is considerable.
Sin is certainly a deviating reality that constantly gets in the way of our relationship with God. A world that redefines sin as “a blip on the radar” is a dangerous world, indeed. Sin has to be taken seriously. Here is another quote by Stott:
Not all guilt feelings are pathological, however. On the contrary, those who declare themselves sinless and guiltless are suffering from an even worse sickness. For to manipulate, smother and even “cauterize” (1 Tim 4:2) the conscience in order to escape the pain of its accusations renders us impervious to our need of salvation.
He continues on:
To recover the concept of human sin, responsibility, guilt and restoration without simultaneously recovering confidence in the divine work of atonement is tragically lopsided. It is diagnosis without prescription, the futility of self-salvation in place of the salvation of God, and the rousing of hope only to dash it to the ground again.
I completely agree with Stott on this. He says that we can’t just reinstate “sin” into our vocabulary and not include the atonement. That is why the only way to completely understand the cross is to have an understanding of the “gravity of sin,” as Stott puts it. Today’s New Atheists are very content with debunking their own definition of sin while blaming human suffering and pain on the likes of determinism, that we are ultimately slaves to our DNA and there is nothing we can do about it. Free will is an illusion concocted by the conscience and nothing more. Yet they still blame God.
Why do naturalists question God’s intentions when a natural disaster strikes, a product of the very god they support? Why don’t they ask their own natural god why it’s very being causes the greatest of evils in the natural world: death (decomposition and aging in biology)? This I don’t understand. Why does God have to answer for human pain and suffering but genetics (or Richard Dawkins’ "selfish gene) doesn’t? Shouldn’t the question be (for naturalists): why does determinism create so much pain and suffering in this world?
That I’d like an an answer to.