I have read several books on both sides of the current theist/atheist debate today (as well as some older works). Before I even finished reading the book The Godless Delusion: A Catholic Challenge to Modern Atheism
by Patrick Madrid and Ken Hensley, I decided that this would be the first book I would hand to an atheist who is open-minded about hearing the other side of the aisle present its case. While most modern books that take up the debate with modern atheists do so by defending religion or Christianity, The Godless Delusion takes a different approach. The authors make a direct and unrelenting attack on the lack of logic that is behind the modern atheistic movement. It demonstrates that it is not necessarily us that atheist lie to when they present their case, although I have seen many instances where they do lie to try to make their case, it shows how they predominately lie to themselves.
They talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to things such as an absolute standard of moral good. For example, Chrisopher Hitchens has often faulted religion as being wrong because religions teach their doctrine to children and it is wrong to lie to children. However in a materialistic worldview, this is cheating. The reason is that they are borrowing the theistic the concept of right and wrong and assuming it in their naturalistic worldview. In order for something to be objectively wrong such as lying to children, they would first have to demonstrate that an immaterial concept such as wrongness can be derived from a naturalistic world. By naturalistic, I mean a world where everything is based in matter. Just as the atheist asks a Christian to demonstrate God in scientific terms, because they say that something must be measurable by science to have existence, you can take the very same approach within their own argument. Can you put wrongness on a scale? Can you measure it with a ruler? How many atoms of what material need to come together to make wrongness? If wrongness is not spoken of in terms of chemistry, in terms of particles, an atheist has silently conceded defeat, hoping that you will not notice. They have acknowledged the there are things that exist that have no basis in the material world.
This same type of argument can be applied towards all types of intangible nouns: thought, idea, love, emotion, personality, etc. The Godless Delusion constructs the same type of arguments that I like to use when talking to atheists, but does it in a much more pronounced and concise way. Yet it is not done in a mean or offensive manner. It simply challenges atheist to look at the issue with intellectual honesty.
The greatest irony is that the book works so well because it turns a skeptical eye towards the skeptics. Something that I have noticed before when dealing with atheists is that they are often selectively skeptical. That is their Achilles heel if pointed out in public and challenged.
I am speaking generally of atheists who I have debated and were of the more modern inclination. This is the more militant strain and are interested in generating converts to their cause. There certainly are many atheists and agnostics who are not hostile towards the concepts of faith or people of faith, but simply haven’t yet considered all the possibilities or followed their beliefs to the natural conclusion. Because book is written in a manner which is not hostile to atheists but simply asks them to take an honest look at the problems inherent in atheism, it is something that can be freely given to someone who has no dog in the fight but just simply has not come to believe in God yet or is not examined the issue at all. I find this is one of Patrick Madrid’s great assets. He has become one of my favorite apologists for the the Catholic faith. He does not come out all pumped up, looking for a fight. He starts with simple honest questions and lets logic, understanding, and human experience carry the argument forward. In other words he does this in a very Christian manner, respecting and loving the people who he is engaging in dialogue with.