For a theist there's nothing quite like watching an atheist get an intellectual walloping from a preacher. There's just something apocalyptic about it, and it most easily occurs when the atheist tries to chop up religion to irrelevancy without realizing that he is himself awfully religious.
It happened again recently at the Cambridge Union debating society when former Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams took on the best known name in contemporary atheism, Richard Dawkins. They were debating whether religion has a role in the 21st
Dawkins said it didn't.
Williams said it did.
In the end, Williams was handed a decidedly strong victory
with more than two times as many votes from the audience as the infamous atheist, Dawkins. It was a triumphant day for the faithful and a shameful one for the irreligious.
But actually no one really is irreligious.
This world beats to the rhythm of religion in a thousand ways, and absolutely everyone is religious -- including atheists.
Religion certainly includes an idea of a God under whom man is inherently subservient, but religion also governs the belief system undergirding the way people think about, and live, their lives.
It tells them who their authority is and it informs their values and behavior. It gives them their sense of morality and goodwill, and it guides them in the way they treat themselves and others. Religion does nothing less than construct one's view of the world.
Atheists are, in fact, some of the most religious people.
First, they have a functioning God under whom they are subservient (normally it's science or rationality, but mainly themselves), and that idea of God informs the way they live and interpret their lives. It informs their biases and determines their values, and governs any sense of morality or ethics they adhere too, or ignore.
Once that's all settled all that's left is the preaching.
And they preach all the time.