Depending on the source, between 10,000 and 30,000 atheists and agnostics gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., last Saturday in the rain to "unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society," according to the organizer's website. Featured speakers at the Reason Rally included David Silverman, president of American Atheists; actor and "comedian" Bill Maher; magician/comedian Penn Jillette; and famous atheist (or agnostic, depending on the source) Richard Dawkins.
Rather than trashing religion, the Reason Rally was supposed to be a "positive experience" to celebrate "secular values" and motivate atheists to "become more active." While that might sound reasonable, if you listen to Dawkins's speech, you'd get a different impression.
Dawkins called on atheists and agnostics to "ridicule and show contempt" for the religious and their doctrines. The example he used was the Roman Catholic belief that the bread and wine of communion turns into the actual body and blood of Christ. He encouraged atheists to mock and ridicule the religious in public.
Although Protestants don't adhere to the doctrine of transubstantiation, we do believe in the virgin birth and that Christ rose from the dead, which atheists find equally mock-worthy. But it wouldn't occur to this Protestant to mock and ridicule Roman Catholics. We can reason together from Scripture the doctrine's veracity.
If Saturday's gathering was a rally for reason, why didn't Dawkins urge the crowd to reason with people of faith? His own words betray his contempt not just for Christians, but also for God. Isn't it telling how strongly the godless embrace godlessness? One wonders why Dawkins, an intelligent man, would promote scorn instead of discourse. Perhaps he's afraid of conviction.
Intelligent people should understand that faith and reason are not incompatible. Reason and revelation guide us. Christ made the bold assertion that He was the Son of God. We read about His miracles and His claim to forgive sin. We read about the Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in Christ. We read the credible testimony of witnesses and other evidence that point to the truth of Christ's claims. But beyond evidence, we acknowledge Christ as Savior through the Holy Spirit.
To the unbeliever, it all sounds absurd. Yet they have faith that a "mechanical, unplanned, unconscious," and undirected force resulted in complex creatures with the capability to ponder their existence. Dawkins and the atheists suppress the truth of God, and they do so in unrighteousness. The Bible tells us that God's invisible attributes are clearly seen and understood—His power and divine nature—and Dawkins and his fellow unbelievers are without excuse.
Like Dawkins, we once were unforgiven. In fact, I was downright hostile toward Christianity. But in his infinite mercy God forgave me and paid the penalty for my sins past, present, and future. God may yet forgive Dawkins, who turned 71 Monday, and many of the people who gathered in the rain to celebrate godlessness.