Yes, you read that right: Thank God for Atheists. This title was prompted by a book I just finished called Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker.
The thesis is that the Enlightenment—a philosophical movement led by great thinkers like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson—ushered in a new way of thinking that greatly benefited humanity.
The United States was born in the Enlightenment. Enlightenment ideas have cured diseases, created wealth and promoted democracy.
While the book is beautifully written and thoughtful, it has one glaring weakness. Pinker is an atheist with little interest in God. He believes progress comes solely from human ingenuity rather than divine inspiration and guidance. But here’s the problem: The notion of light guiding us forward—of human beings guided by light toward the truth—rests in the Bible.
God Creates Light
Remember that God creates the world with the following words: “Let there be light.” [see this earlier post on the power of light) Light began as a gift from God. God gave us the means to create, improve, and progress.
In other words, an enlightened world is a better world, and the source of that great light is God. Still, despite Pinker’s avowed atheism, I am grateful for this book. It reminds us that ideas matter. And faith matters. Sometimes a person without faith reminds us of how important and powerful it is.