Skip to comments.Two Kinds of Atheists
Posted on 02/07/2011 4:00:33 AM PST by Kaslin
An atheist reader has asked that I devote a column to explaining what he sees as my contempt for atheists. In past columns, I have exhibited a careless tendency to lump atheists together into a single homogeneous category. In my experience, there are two distinct categories of atheists the unbelieving atheist and the evangelistic atheist. Only the latter category is deserving of contempt.
There are a number of reasons why a person might identify himself as an unbelieving atheist. I believe very firmly that one can be reasonably mistaken in ones unbelief. While I think atheists are uniformly wrong, I do not consider them to be uniformly unreasonable.
It may well be the case that the unbeliever was raised by atheist parents in a home without religious instruction. I know of atheists who were raised in homes without a copy of the Bible. Each had to rely upon second hand accounts of what the Bible says on a variety of issues. Most of them never got around to reading it firsthand.
Those who lack religious influence in the home and religious instruction at an early age are at a disadvantage in 21st century America. Long before President Obama declared that we are no longer a Christian nation, our courts and schools began to lay the foundation for post-Christian America.
There is no mistaking the fact that our public school system has become secularized to the point of relinquishing any claims of neutrality. Most schools have reached the point of being overtly anti-religious. Kids who have no firm foundation in Judeo-Christian ethics are likely to become highly resistant to conversion at a later age. You can thank our public schools for that. We all pay for public education in more ways than one.
The unbelieving atheist often sets a high standard of proof when confronted with Christian apologetics. That is what his culture teaches. He is also taught that religion and logic are incompatible. I recently heard someone say, One cant put the words logic and religion in the same sentence. Of course, that statement contains a serious flaw: It uses the words logic and religion in the same sentence.
Regardless of what others say, we are commanded as Christians to provide a ready defense for our beliefs. And that calls for the use of logic and reason and evidence. We are obligated to polish our arguments. It is a part of our obligation to hold out a candle and light up the world.
But holding out a candle cannot help others to see the sun. If things have become dark enough for them our candle might even obscure their view of the stars. At some point they must be willing to look beyond isolated arguments. They must open their eyes and contemplate their surroundings. And they must look beyond concepts like luck and random variation to find a more complex and refined view of the universe.
I love my unbelieving atheist friends and I enjoy the conversations we have on many weighty issues. Even when they seem stubborn, they seldom seem unreasonable. The fact that many of them are politically conservative gives me great hope.
But the evangelistic atheist is a different breed altogether. One atheist evangelist sits in his office with piles of anti-religious books as he prepares his next lecture for his Sociology of Religion class. He curses more than he uses words like a and the. And he posts the headlines of the latest church scandal on his office door. He takes more pride in the failure of others than in his own personal achievements.
Another evangelistic atheist writes books distorting the history of Christianity and the life and words of Jesus all the while calling it scholarship. He develops courses on Atheism and Unbelief. He even posts Godless! (Compete with the exclamation point!) in the religious views portion of his Facebook profile. Yet he claims emotional detachment on issues of faith and religion.
In short, the evangelistic atheist is characterized less by the absence of belief than by a zeal for destroying the beliefs of others. He is seldom politically conservative and almost always very liberal. Just take a few minutes to examine his Facebook profile.
The politically conservative unbelieving atheist must wake up and connect the dots between religion and politics and between social and fiscal conservatism. He must realize that the evangelistic atheist is on a political rather than religious crusade. His evangelism targets religion because he seeks to destroy the family. And he seeks to destroy the family because he seeks to replace it with the welfare state.
Our individual liberties are in jeopardy. But they may only be taken away by men if it is presumed that they are granted by men. We need fair-minded unbelieving atheists to reconsider the underpinnings of their beliefs. A godless conservatism is only one election away from extinction.
For those who are what I call, “exttreme” atheists, faith and state must be kept miles apart from each other no matter the costs. But it is set up for epic fail indeed.
I’ve run into evangelistic atheists, about all one can do is pray for them. They are indeed very much like liberals in their zeal, whether they are liberal politically or not. They want and hope to convince others to non believe the way they do. They seem to be seeking confirmation.
They form their own groups, which they are perfectly free to do in our society, that too is to reassure each other.
My group (Church) is formed to worship the living God as a family of believers.
Evangelical atheists=angry atheists. The most obnoxious people on the planet.And yes, typically left wing.
We are not endowed by chance with unalienable rights which is why an atheist philosophy inevitably leads to political slavery.
Evangelical atheists=angry atheists. The most obnoxious people on the planet.And yes, typically left wing.
Except for those Christians like the Westboro Baptist Church...there are obnoxious Christian Evangelists.
Re: Evangelical atheists=angry atheists. The most obnoxious people on the planet.And yes, typically left wing
They are “antithiests: They know God exists and fight Him.
Ironically, keeping “faith and state” “separated” invariably leads to the state BECOMING god.
Especially if you mix in hardcore relativism - under relativism, what is true and right is determined by who gets the power to enforce their truth and morality.
With the objective standard of morality, and the agreement to defer to it regardless of our own opinion, it doesn’t matter so much who has power.
I don’t believe in atheists; really I don’t.
You have people who reject God for one reason or another. The ones that are angry about it, make that rejection a production. Not unlike adult chidlren who revel in showing their parents that they can do anything that they want to (generally the worse the better). They profess not to care what their parents think, yet they can’t stopping talking about how much they “don’t care”.
The action refutes the assertion.
You got it. Said it better then I could. :)
Ayn Rand does a good job refuting that.
I’ve met those kind of people. Frankly, they come across as having a “kill the Jews” mentality in regards to religion.
I believe I’m the former, and I don’t have a whole lot of respect for the latter myself.
I’m content not to believe in God and leave it at that, but I also have Christian parents and many Christian friends and mentors and I have no interest in seeing them cursed or belittled simply for being religious. I know I’m going against Ayn Rand on this and I’m a big supporter of hers, but I do believe it is possible to believe in God and still be a wise, kind and successful person.
I call them "militant secularists."
There’s a guy who posts reviews on Amazon, going by the name “lucifer”. He likes to find religiously oriented books, then post biting, sarcastic reviews and give them five starts so that they are right there among the other reviewers who actually did like the book.
My first thought was, gee, this guy has time to spare....
The only difference between a secular humanist and a Satanist is that the latter knows who he’s working for.
They are not Christian at all. Not one iota. Christ will have nothing to do with them and they will be sent to the lake of fire with more guilt on them than an athiest. They are actively destroying lives by lying about their beliefs.
Your post puts into words my take on this subject. It matter not to me what a persons beliefs are. I judge by their actions.
I've found that mostly who they're angry at is God, and they think they're punishing Him somehow by refusing to believe.
I was going to write "Awaiting No True Scotsman post in 5, 4, 3,..." but I see somebody already beat me to it.
Whenever I talk to atheists I always ask them, “If there is no God then why are there Egyptian chariot wheels and axles on the bottom of the Red Sea.”
Then I get a blank look. :-)
“...Ive met those kind of people. Frankly, they come across as having a kill the Jews mentality in regards to religion...”
A lot of the atheists I have met *ARE* Jews...
I recall hearing a response to an Athiest’s denial of God:
If I am wrong, and there is no God, what have I lost?
If you are wrong, and there is a God, what have you lost?
The “no true Scotsman” fallacy applies when the arguer arbitrarily changes the definition of the issue in question in order to defend his original argument against a counter example.
However, there IS a standard by which the definition of “Christian” can be measured, and it comes from the original [perjorative] use of the word. It means to be like Christ.
No one would argue that Westboro’s adherents were “being like Christ”.
Most Christians aren't like Christ. Remember, he's perfect, you only try to follow, and of course according to the definitions you will fail to live up to his example. They believe in the Christian God, they believe the Bible is authoritative, they're Christian. They might not be of a sect you agree with, but then there have been many disagreeing Christian sects throughout history. Wars have been fought and people have been executed over these disagreements.
I am given to observing that real atheism is a curious creed: the absolute certitude that the ground-of-being, the reason there is something, rather than nothing, is not enough like a person that we ought to relate to It personally. (And since “It” doesn’t work for a person, those of us inclined to the opposite view say “Him”, not just because revelation uses that pronoun, but because “Her” would lead to thoughts of creation as birthgiving and vitiate the transcendence of the Creator.)
Most self-professed atheists don’t seem realize that that’s what atheism in the face of monotheisms that declare an absolutely transcendent creator really has to be. Mostly they can’t imagine monotheism as anything other than one-god-paganism.
Well, I don’t believe in the existence of any beings of the sort pagans call “gods”, whether one or many, so at that level, were the old Roman state-pagans still persecuting folks, they could run me up on charges of atheism and get a fair conviction. Yet I’m an Orthodox Christian, and can with full conviction say the Creed which begins, “I believe in One God, the Father Almighty, . . .”
Even one of the most odious of the “evangelical atheists”, Dawkins seems to have a glimmer of this, and is really, going beyond the sort of atheisms even us traditional Christians can share in, an agnostic, though he only admits this in unguarded moments with remarks like “there might be a marvelous something, but *not God*.” Had I been there when he made that admission, I’d have wanted to take him by the shoulders, shake him and shout, “You dolt! That’s the point of the transcendence of God! He’s the marvelous something, not an magical old man in the sky, not a pagan pantheon reduced to one member!”
I wasn’t meaning anything towards Jews themselves, it just seems to me that a lot of these extreme atheists would have zero problem if religious folks got the Nazi treatment.
Andrew Ryan is a far more believable fictional character than John Galt. :-)
I had a friend like this. Claims he doesn’t believe and learned the “truth” in college(gee bet that made your parents who have a religious background proud)and that he has no problem with people of faith, “he’s all about freedom...”.
I avoid debate on religion with him, it’s useless to debate it with him. Funny thing is, we can be discussing the death penalty or something as simple as a cooking recipe or a ballgame and he will always without fail get in a dig at Christians and Jews in the conversation, taking care to say nothing of islam, and he is not from a muslim background.
I finally had to ask him, hey, why the hostility? You claim to be tolerant but take every opportunity to bash Christians and Jews? His take, oh, I didn’t say anything out of line, just expressing my opinion. I finally told him you are a bigot, you hate Christians and Jews specifically, read your own writings in emails and tell me you don’t have a problem. Why can’t you live and let live with Christians and Jews? It sent him into the upper atmosphere. We rarely talk anymore, his choice, but it makes me happy not listening to his inane “I’m open minded and all about freedom...” hypocrisy.
convincing the former is difficult indeed, and although usually non-productive, we still are required to try to do so...
Good point...the Westboro ilk are wandering microbes...they are not as yet influential in the legal system. But they sure give fodder to the liberals who love to denigrate Christianity in general.
Point out that they are not Christians but Democrats. Phelps Jr. was even a Gore delegate. Works every time.
The difference between a Christian and an atheist is that out of the thousands of gods believed in by various cultures, the atheist disbelieves in one more god than the Christian.
“For myself I maintain that we are both atheists. I simply believe in one less God than you. When you rationalize why you have rejected all other possible God’s you may then realize why I have rejected yours?” ????
Not sure who originally said that, but here is the quote as I remember it.
Most people, however, don’t trouble themselves to rationally reject other possible faiths. Most people adopt uncritically the faith of their fathers.
That is perhaps why we as a nation are so full of Christians, yet so ignorant of the Bible. Your average American “Christian” doesn’t usually even bother to critically examine their own faith, let alone others.
For myself I maintain that the more you read the Bible (especially Mathew Mark Luke and John), the more you will realize that Christ is Lord.
But maybe that is just me.
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. Stephen Roberts
You missed my point and thereby make it again. God is not a god. Your quip encapsulates the mistake that modern atheists make, in misunderstanding monotheism as one-god-paganism.
For a Christian, pagan means all non-Abrahamic religions, whether the adherents worship one or multiple gods. Sikhs are monotheist, believe in one transcending deity, yet you disbelieve in their god. Same for the Zoroastrians. You are asking for a special exception for your religion.
I am not an atheist but I will say that I have never PERSONALLY known a professing atheist to call for the death of believers but I have PERSONALLY known professing Christians to call for the death of nonbelievers, sometimes in quite an enraged manner. I don’t even want to talk about Muslims. As far as I am concerned anyone who believes God is calling him to kill those who don’t share his beliefs is following a false god.
Science is based on things ‘seen’.
Faith is based on things ‘unseen’.
Thank you for posting the article.
Some good food for thought.
Those people aren’t Christian, and that is not a church. They just call it one.
Well, the guys I’m referring to haven’t openly called for such, but one expressed...perverted pleasure at reading about a church burning, and many have expressed an eagerness to see religious people get punished for their views, see private religious schools get closed down/federalized, and none have given me cause to believe they would speak out if the rights of religious people were openly violated.
No, as an Orthodox Christian, I regard other monotheistic religions as having more or less mistaken conceptions of the One God, rather than believing in a different God. Nor do you get to tell me what Christians hold to be pagan. Indeed, I as an adherent of the original Christian Church (in fact, a lowly subdeacon serving the Great Church of Antioch, where the disciples were first called “Christians”) I’ll claim dibs on saying what attitudes are normatively Christian.
The transcendent Ground-of-All-Being is Who (by improper analogy) He is. As a Christian, I believe that adherence to the Christian revelation gives the best account of Him. I even regard Taoism as having an imperfect (though very good) account of the Ground-of-All-Being: though Lao Tzu missed that It is personal, he very clearly grasped that It is self-less. I do not consider Sikhs, Taoists, nor Buddhists pagans. (Well, at least not the sort of Buddhists that have not repaganized Buddhism contrary to the Buddha’s correct intuition that the existence or non-existence of such beings as the Hindus call “gods” is irrelevant to human spiritual development — the Tibetan variety is still pagan). They are, however, mistaken about many things.
You are, however, mistaken that the Zoroastrians are monotheists: they are dualists, having two gods, one good and one evil, neither of which is the transcendent source of all being.
I am not asking for an exception for Christianity, but pointing out the poverty of the notion of God, as a mere god, which most atheists set out to deny. I too deny such a poor notion of God.
Then I get a blank look.
Probably because they're shocked that you brought up the discoveries of a con artist.
He also claimed that he found the Ark of the Covenant, samples of Christ's blood, and the Tower of Babel.
The real question would then be, “Which God?”
"The magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)."
I don't agree with him, but it's certainly the most noble attempt to try and make a compromise between empiricism and religion.
He’s not a con artist. You can see from google earth where the petrified remains are of the ark, and also the foundation of the Tower of Babel in modern day Babil, Iraq.
I have both sites marked on google earth on my computer.