Monday, December 22, 2008


Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism is a 2006 nonfiction anti-religion, pro-atheism book by David Mills. Ostensibly, this book points out why God is unnecessary to explain the existence and origin of the universe, and rebuts arguments in support of God’s existence.

David Mills is not a scientist. What he seems to be, if anything, is a professional atheist. Atheist Universe’s “About the Author” section begins, “David Mills has been an atheist for thirty years…” Not surprisingly, then, this book fundamentally isn’t about science – it’s about atheism as an ideology versus religion as an ideology. Mills is not a historian, either. He’s on record that Jesus never lived at all, which shows a profound ignorance of the kind of accepted historical standard we have for that era.

Mills’ biggest hang-up with Christianity seems to be the hypocrisy of many Christians and the un-Christian behavior of the Church throughout history. Other problems with God that Mills has include God’s punishment of evil, the fact that bad things happen, and God’s failure to solve all the world’s problems immediately. On the whole, Mills shows himself to have a very juvenile and simple concept of what God should be, and what humanity by implication would be.

Mills does point out some legitimate problems with Christian fundamentalism. Yes, you run into problems when you try to make everything in the Bible completely literal. Yes, you run into problems when you throw doctors and modern medicine away completely. But Mills irresponsibly bases almost his entire argument against all religion on these problems. Mills takes his arguments against those on the fringe and applies them to the whole. Similarly, he takes a few poor arguments that some proponents of intelligent design have made and applies them with broad strokes to the whole of creationism. In Mills’ mind, God and science are never compatible at all for any reason.

Mills claims to understand the Bible, but the way he quotes it and uses it shows that he doesn’t, on any fundamental level. This is not to criticize him for not believing the Bible; rather, many of his attempts to use the Bible against itself (“here’s a Bible verse – look how silly that is”) are poor, silly, baseless, and stupid. And he’s often completely wrong about what the Bible says, period. He frequently attacks those whose pro-Bible arguments boil down to “The Bible is true because it’s the Bible”, but his criticisms of the Bible often boil down to “The Bible is untrue because it’s the Bible.”

The fundamental problem with Atheist Universe is that Mills makes little in the way of meaningful arguments to support his positions. He mostly draws from the old “Here’s the religious/Bible/Christian position – see how ridiculous it is?” well. Those arguments would carry a little more weight if he had any clue what he was talking about. Either way, debunking something else doesn’t prove the point you’re trying to make (not that Mills does a good job of debunking anything other than his credibility). On the whole, Mills comes across as petty, juvenile, and not much of a thinker.
Atheists who evangelize are always remarkable. If nothing has eternal bearing, than what’s the point converting other people to atheism? It’s one thing to say, “God doesn’t exist.” It’s quite another to say, “God doesn’t exist, and I hate him.” Mills carries on at length about “injustice” and “evil” in the world – Mills, you’re an atheist - injustice is relative, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Mills doesn’t want God judging him, so he judges God and finds him profoundly lacking.

Atheist Universe is poorly reasoned and poorly argued. David Mills is, on the whole, quite content to throw the spiritual baby out with the religious bathwater and grind his axe against God and religion. Calling this book “The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism” is an insult to thinking people everywhere.