By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
The Patrick Henry College community includes film enthusiasts, young people headed for careers in law, and philosophers. Represented are Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, and other Christian denominations. Yet every semester, the campus unites around a faith and reason lecture—a day-long shared experience that involves a presentation by a faculty member or guest, small-group discussions, and a question-and-answer session with a faculty panel.
On February 19, Dr. David Aikman, former senior and foreign correspondent for TIME magazine and Associate Professor of History at PHC, will be presenting this semester’s lecture on the topic “Weaknesses of the New Atheism.” He has written a book, Delusion of Disbelief, due for release in April, which is a critique of the reasoning in five high-profile books published by atheists in 2006 and 2007. These authors, say Aikman, “launched a concerted attack upon theism in general and Christianity in particular.”
He plans to present three major arguments in his lecture: first, that in the last century, a godless worldview led to tyrannical regimes that killed millions; second, that the atheistic approach to science contains serious rational weaknesses; third, that the five authors’ historical viewpoint holds a significant blind spot, which keeps them from seeing that the American success has stemmed largely from a worldview sympathetic to Christianity.
Aikman breaks his typical British reserve when asked to explain this important topic. “If you don’t have faith, if you take a materialistic view of human existence, you have room for every conceivable form of anthropocentrism that has gotten people in trouble,” he insists, gesturing to punctuate his points. “I think most of the greatest crimes of the last two hundred years have been committed by people who thought that humans were the center of the universe.”
As always, the student body looks forward to this break in its regular routine, and to the cross-campus conversations that are sure to follow