An upcoming atheist hotline, meant for people struggling with their faith but have nowhere to turn, is a "wrong number whose service should be disconnected," said a Christian philosopher, pointing out that its backers lack philosophical rigor and find themselves at an intellectual impasse.
Recovering from Religion, a secular company seeking to provide people leaving their religious views with various resources, apparently has nothing to say about arguments for or against God's existence, said William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif.
The secular group, along with the "New Atheist" movement in general, focus on the social effects of religion in an attempt to portray it in a negative way, Craig said in a statement Monday. The group's website, he pointed out, states that "many people" flee their religion because they "realize how much conflict religious belief creates."
Recovering from Religion hopes to raise $30,000 by June 30 for "The Hotline Project." The group has announced on its website that it is launching "a brand new campaign to … provide a valuable service for people struggling with their faith, with nowhere to turn."
However, Craig, founder of ReasonableFaith.org, a web-based ministry whose purpose is to provide, in the public arena, an intelligent and articulate perspective about the existence of God, said, "Either this group is completely ignorant of arguments for and against God's existence or they're ignorant of the best theistic scholarship."
Craig said it seems the secular group "thinks that the traditional arguments for God's existence are now passé and so no longer need refutation? If so, they are naïve." He went on to say that over the last generation "there has been a revival of interest among professional philosophers, whose business it is to think about difficult metaphysical questions, in arguments for the existence of God. In fact, many of the brightest philosophers today are theists, using a tough-minded intellectualism in defense of their beliefs."
Sarah Morehead, executive director for Recovering from Religion, earlier told The Christian Post that the hotline will not be "an 'atheist deconversion' phone line."
"That is not the purpose nor the intent. Responders will absolutely not urge any form of belief or disbelief. In fact, our volunteers will be specifically trained to never debate callers under any circumstances," said Morehead. "It's not our place to do anything but encourage exploration and discovery, and to provide a solid support structure as people reconsider the role of religion in their lives. For many, this is a long process and we will be with them every step of the way."
Craig, author and editor of over dozens of books on theology and philosophy, asked if Recovering From Religion is going to encourage their callers to consider the best philosophical, theological, historical and scientific evidence from leading theistic scholars or will it use this hotline as a means of dispersing an intellectually dissatisfying secularization?
"If anyone is calling the Recovering From Religion hotline looking for a philosophical, moral or scientific discussion, the conversation will no doubt leave them intellectually unsatisfied," argued Craig, who appears frequently in debates with prominent atheists and scholars from around the world. "It's difficult to not see this whole project as a speed-dial to secularization. In the end, this atheist hotline will offer nothing – it's a wrong number."
Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis at American Family Association, earlier told CP that human beings "have been running from God since the days of Jonah." "But to run away from God is to run away from life, forgiveness, hope, strength, and the promise of eternal life and to run toward death, emptiness, darkness and hopelessness. What do these secularists want people to run to?" said Fischer, responding to the announcement of the atheist hotline.
"Many people will, like Jonah, regret turning their backs on God and will come running back. The AFA and many other organizations stand ready to welcome them home and help them reconnect with God."