Sigmund Freud famously dismissed belief in God as a psychological projection caused by wishful thinking. Today many of the “new atheists”—including Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens—make a similar claim, insisting that believers are delusional. Faith is a kind of cognitive disease, according to them. And they are doing all they can to rid the world of all religious belief and practice.
Christian apologists, from Dinesh D’Souza to Ravi Zacharias, have been quick to respond to the new atheists, revealing holes in their arguments and showing why theistic belief, and the Christian worldview in particular, is reasonable. In fact, the evidence for God is overwhelming, confirming the Apostle Paul’s point in Romans 1 that the reality of God is “clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20, NIV).
So if the evidence for God is so plain to see, then why are there atheists? That is the question that prompted The Making of an Atheist. The answer I propose turns the tables on the new atheists, as I show that unbelief is a psychological projection, a cognitive disorder arising from willful resistance to the evidence for God. In short, it is atheists who are the delusional ones.
Unlike Dawkins and his ilk, I give an account as to how the delusion occurs, showing that atheistic rejection of God is precipitated by immoral indulgences, usually combined with some deep psychological disturbances, such as a broken relationship with one’s father. I also show how atheists suffer from what I call “paradigm-induced blindness,” as their worldview inhibits their ability to recognize the reality of God manifest in creation. These and other factors I discuss are among the various dimensions of sin’s corrupting influence on the mind.
I’ve been told that The Making of an Atheist is a provocative book, but I didn’t write it to provoke anyone. I simply wanted to tell the truth about this issue. Anyway, since the new atheists are bold enough to trumpet their claim that theists are delusional, it seems appropriate that someone should be willing to propose that the opposite is true. As they say, turnabout is fair play.
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“The Making of an Atheist is a helpful book that introduces the reader to a biblical analysis to the nature and roots of unbelief. While not disparaging the use of apologetics in laying out a case for theism, Spiegel shows that the central issues influencing disbelief are often more a matter of a commitment to moral and spiritual independence than to an objective assessment of the evidence.”
— Gregg Ganssle
Yale University Philosophy Department and the Rivendell Institute
“Most of the work being done today in response to atheism focuses on intellectual issues and arguments against belief in God. In The Making of an Atheist James Spiegel has crafted a clear, crisp, compelling case that there are non-rational moral and psychological dynamics that lead to unbelief. Rooted in Scripture and argued with the precision of a trained philosopher, this powerful little book is a must read for theists and atheists alike.”
— Chad Meister
Bethel College Philosophy Professor, author of Building Belief and co-editor of God is Great, God is Good