"Fools say in their hearts, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." (Psalm 14:1)
Consider this quotation from Prof Richard Dawkins and ask yourself what is demonstrates: a) about the level of Dawkins understanding of the Bible and b) what it shows about Professor Dawkins respect for the truth, in any of its forms:
"The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniac, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."
Dawkins is in love with his way of seeing things, which is all prejudice. As anyone who has carefully read the Old Testament known, God encouraged the Hebrew tribes not to be driven off the face of the earth by sadistic Egyptian slave drivers and barbarians of a type upon whom we would fervently wish "regime change" today. Under God's encouragement, they drove out ahead of them unholy, cruel and warped people who sacrificed their children to Baal. Under His protection (from them), the Hebrews settled to live a "civilised" life, in which everyone was given basic rights and justice.
God is jealous - but in the righteous, good sense, in the sense of a wronged wife who has rights over a husband, who is deeply loved, but who has run off after prostitutes; The Holy God is judge and jury and has to be tough enough to deliver to wicked people what is their just due for things done to innocents; God is not racist, but at one point in history He did work through a racial, chosen tribe; God is not filicidal as He stopped Abram from killing his own Son (it is the love of the Son for lost Man that lays down its life to meet the holy demands of a holy God); God does hide his ways and in that sense could at times seem "bullying", for only for a greater end which is only revealed to his chosen "sons and daughters". In that sense, He does risk His reputation, for the purpose of training a special people - in that eternally "golden" quality of faith.
So just how does someone intelligent like Professor Dawkins think that the Old Testament God who championed law and order, respect for slaves, protection for children, parents, women with adulterous husbands in the face of the idolatrous and wrecking Philistines and Baal worshippers was evil, yes evil.....?
What does that say about Dawkins, himself and the quality of his reading and insight? The best we can surely surmise is that like many people who want to deride the Old Testament, he has never read it with any understanding (e.g. footnotes, notes, background reading). Yet, if Dawkins has as little academic insight as this, surely one must worry about his other writings and insights.
Here is another quotation from Bill Maher: "I think religion is a neurological disorder."
Here is one from Sam Harris: "It is difficult to imagine a set of beliefs more suggestive of mental illness than those that lie at the heart of many of our religious traditions".
Basically, these are attacks on the Bible, not on people. The fact is that believers only believe what is in the written Word of God. The plain fact is that Christianity has been practised for over 2000 years without ever getting a reputation for turning its adherents mad. Certainly people suggested that Jesus was mad, but He never behaved in a mad fashion either. Madness is not selective: people are not mad in one thing, but not in another. Madness betrays itself in an irrational life, warped thoughts and dangerous actions. Christians are simply not like that.
So what are these "critics" really saying?
I think they are saying that Christianity is something that they are just not attuned to, which they cannot understand and which therefore cannot be "true". It is the same old refusal to accept that others might be different from us or "diverse". It is the same old "fascist" spirit which "diversity" is supposed to eradicate.
My personal observations of life are the opposite of those of Sam Harris and Bill Maher. I see that when people choose to reject God and his Word, they start to lose touch with reality, with their real selves and with life. When people stop believing in truth, they start lying and manipulating. When people cut themselves off from the tree of life, their reason withers. Shakespeare senses this (in a text I do not have to hand) but which in essence say that "evil" is the sound of the cracking of dead boughs breaking away from the living tree.
British families now are riven in two halves: there are atheists encouraged by people like Dawkins to think that they are "superior", without seeing the shameful, base ignorance inherent in post modernity and then there are Christian sympathisers and believers. The battle lines are drawn : they are created by the atheists.
It has happened in my own family. The atheists will not "behave" like families, celebrate Christmas, be trustworthy, be "solid" and predictable, or even kind. They are desperate to hurt Christians, fickle, filled with hatred, aggressive, embittered, inhuman. In some cases, one can only regard this as mental illness.
So the weak points of the case of these extreme atheists is their sheer lack of evidence for mental illness in Christians and the sheer weight of evidence of the mental illness of those who cut themselves off from God. One only has to know the story of the King of Babylon (Daniel 5:21) who went mad due to his vain glory, who grew claws and ate grass until he confessed his sin of egotism and pride before a Holy God who had compassion enough on him to restore him to his senses, in order to humble him.
Madness is as madness does.