Atheists Have No Heroes

The battle continues to rage between secularists and Christians in the controversy over the content of Texas textbooks. The state of Texas purchases the same books for the entire state, unlike most school districts, which make the decision locally, meaning that the Texans have a greater influence on the books that will be produced and used across the U.S. The minds of our little children have become the battleground over which history of the world will prevail.

The American Humanist Association joined in this war, writing a letter to the Texas State Board of Education which urged the social studies curriculum developers to adopt lesson plans from their humanist curriculum, “Different Drummers: Nonconforming Thinkers in History.”

You would think that the humanists would use the curriculum to parade out a line of atheist heroes who rose above the established religions and made great scientific and philosophical strides which blessed humanity and helped to set them free from bondage to abusive religious leaders and doctrines.

And yet, an interesting paradox occurred instead. Most of the heroes highlighted in the materials were RELIGIOUS! In their “Timeline of History,” the first named humanists are the Old Testament prophets Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. They also name Buddha and Confucius as humanists. Next, they list many of the Greek philosophers, mathematicians, and scientists as humanists and laud their attempts to understand the physical world.

But the other interesting thing about this is that the over the next two millennia, the humanist heroes that they list are believers who confront and disprove classical thought–especially in the area of science. For example, Galileo was a Christian who wanted the church to let go of their Ptolemaic, geo-centric worldview. His book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, wasn’t a conflict where the Church and the Scriptures stood on one side and Galileo and Aristotle stood on another, but just the opposite. Galileo stood with the Scriptures against the Church and Aristotle. (Despite the attempts by Draper and White to develop a “conflict theory” between science and religion, the exact opposite is true, Christianity birthed the scientific revolution.)

The list of “independent thinkers” continues with Luther, Locke, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Erasmus, Paine, Voltaire, and Newton. Does anybody notice a pattern here? These men all believed in God! They opposed the corrupt Catholic Church, but they didn’t lose their faith . . . as Voltaire reiterated, “Religion, you say, has produced countless misfortunes; say rather the superstition which reigns on our unhappy globe. This is the cruelest enemy of the pure worship due to the Supreme Being.”

As I asked in a previous article, where are the atheist heroes? I will say it again; the greatest power in the battle against “poisonous” religions such as the paganism that produced cannibalism or even the poisonous religion that became the medieval church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not atheism.

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