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Science, ‘frauds’ trigger a decline in atheism
GURAT, France — Godlessness is in trouble, according to a growing consensus among philosophers, intellectuals and scholars.
“Atheism as a theoretical position is in decline worldwide,” Munich theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg said in an interview.
His Oxford colleague Alister McGrath agrees.
Atheism’s “future seems increasingly to lie in the private beliefs of individuals rather than in the great public domain it once regarded as its habitat,” Mr. McGrath wrote in the U.S. magazine, Christianity Today.
Two developments are plaguing atheism these days. One is that it appears to be losing its scientific underpinnings.
The other is the historical experience of hundreds of millions of people worldwide that atheists are in no position to claim the moral high ground.
British philosopher Anthony Flew, once as hard-nosed a humanist as any, has turned his back on atheism, saying it is impossible for evolution to account for the fact that one single cell can carry more data than all the volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Mr. Flew still does not accept the God of the Bible.
But he has embraced the concept of intelligent design — a stunning desertion of a former intellectual ambassador of secular humanism to the belief in some form of intelligence behind the design of the universe.
A few years ago, European scientists snickered when studies in the United States — for example, at Harvard and Duke universities — showed a correlation between faith, prayer and recovery from illness.
Now 1,200 studies at research centers around the world have come to similar conclusions, according to “Psychologie Heute,” a German journal, citing, for example, the marked improvement of multiple sclerosis patients in Germany’s Ruhr District because of “spiritual resources.”
Atheism’s other Achilles’ heels are the acts on inhumanity and lunacy committed in its name.
“With time, [atheism] turned out to have just as many frauds, psychopaths and careerists as religion does. … With Stalin and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, atheism seems to have ended up mimicking the vices of the Spanish Inquisition and the worst televangelists, respectively,” Mr. McGrath wrote in Christianity Today.
The Rev. Paul M. Zulehner, dean of Vienna University’s divinity school and one of the world’s most distinguished sociologists of religion, said atheists in Europe have become “an infinitesimally small group.”
“There are not enough of them to be used for sociological research,” he said.
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