I don’t know who writes to Billy Graham seeking advice, or why they take him seriously, or what newspapers would run his responses… but his latest column doesn’t make a strong case for reading him.
The letter writer asks why atheism appears to be on the rise and why it’s getting more attention these days.
Graham first explains that it’s really just a handful of successful authors:
They aren’t large in number, but they do tend to be aggressive in promoting their ideas.
You want to talk about aggressive?
Who’s more aggressive: Richard Dawkins, who gives lectures about science? Or Sam Harris, who started a non-profit called “The Reason Project“? Or Christopher Hitchens, who appears on television and writes magazine articles?
Or Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern, who passes a legal proclamation that says our Constitution was made only for moral and religious people, implying that atheists are not true citizens of America?
Graham later answers why the atheists are getting so much attention:
One reason, I believe, is because they know how to use the media very effectively.
Really? The highlight of the year for us has been seeing our ads on buses.
Christians get their own TV stations… as well as their own shows on regular channels on Sunday mornings and later at night the rest of the week.
Christians win the media battle hands down.
They also appeal to people who want to be free from God or any moral restraints.
Free from God? Yes, because we don’t believe in one.
Free from moral restraints? I don’t recall any of the New Atheists telling atheists to run off and fornicate with the next person they meet… or to steal their books from the bookstore. If anything, they explain how atheists can indeed be moral without a god.
Like the philosophers of Paul’s day who were constantly looking for new ideas to debate, many people today eagerly latch on to the latest fad (see Acts 17:21).
Atheism is a fad? Not even close.
Slap bracelets were a fad.
Pet rocks were a fad.
Atheism’s been around for a long time and it’ll be around for a long time. That’s not a fad; that’s a tradition.
The difference now is that we’re tired of being silent about it and we’re finally speaking up and voicing our (non-)belief. To hell with what others think.
Graham manages to get it right in one sentence, though:
In reality, however, modern atheists have very little new to say.
True. There are no new arguments against religion. The same ones still hold true as they always have. But again, in the past, you could’ve been killed for making those arguments. Not anymore. Since conservative Christians have attempted to take over politics in America and fundamentalist Muslims have killed around the world because of their beliefs, people are finally listening to what atheists have to say.
They’re tired of faith being a destructive force, and if religion isn’t going to offer something more positive and less divisive, atheists can fill that niche for more reasonable people.
Graham ends the response with some Christian platitudes, probably copied and pasted from the column he wrote the day before.
We need a syndicated atheist advice columnist. I nominate Richard Wade. Any reader who checks out his comments on this site knows what I’m talking about.