• David Flowers

Out of touch atheism?

I’ve spent some time today on the Godless Wonder blog. It’s a blog written by an atheist, dealing with atheism. There are quotes from various personalities denying the existence of God, cartoons making fun of religious believers, and snippets from news articles about religious foibles and idiocy.

I had two primary feelings about this blog. First, I think a lot of atheists are kind of out of touch with modern religious belief. Read about atheism and you’ll read about believers who disdain science, who don’t believe in evolution, who hate gays and possibly even approve of violence against them, who insist that women stay home pregnant all the time, who homeschool their children, and who take every single word of the Bible literally.

I know people and churches exist that might fit that description, but the majority of believers I know would not. The other day I was talking to an atheist friend of mine who said that the only reason the church exists it to exert power over people. I thought, “Wow, that’s a pretty sweeping generalization.” I told him I have spent my life in the church, either as an attender or a worker, and during that time I have met very few people who I believed were really interested in exerting power over people. Most are sincere and kind and really want to see people’s lives be better. I find it hard to understand how he can make such a sweeping generalization about the church with any certainty, as he associates with few church people and is not a church attender himself. He probably believes my opposition to his opinion comes from having been brainwashed by a malevolent religious institution.

But the fact is that the church is changing. The church that preaches hellfire and brimstone, the primitive, hateful, vengeful God, is disappearing, as it should. Even so, it’s not like this is the first time in the history of Christianity that we’ve ever not been neanderthals. The church has been a powerful force for good at various times in history. That does not excuse the evil the church has done, but the fact remains. The atheist blogs and websites that target the kind of believers I described above are actually referring to fewer and fewer churches and believers every day.

Which leads to my second reaction to the Godless Wonder website: Worry. The critics of religion are true believers — in atheism. Many Christians struggle with moments of doubt and openly deal with the contradictions created by their belief system. Most atheist websites I have seen feature writers who are positive that all Christians of every kind are stupid, dangerous, and malignant to society. They include few, if any, questions about the problems posed for individuals and humanity by an atheistic belief system. I fear this is because it hasn’t even occurred to them that it’s a legimtate perspective that there ARE any such problems. Just like fundamentalist Christians explain the unexplainable by invoking God, atheists tend to do the same thing by invoking evolution, time, and chance.

Life is a highway. And there is a ditch of closed-minded dogmatism on both sides. Atheists (at least most of the atheists who are publishing blogs and websites that I’ve seen) fail to realize they emerged from one ditch merely to fall into the other. At my church we don’t claim to know all the answers or have everything right. Meanwhile, atheists arrogantly deride us, maintaining that they are right and we are wrong, and that this is so self-evident we are idiots for not agreeing with them. Isn’t that exactly the kind of intolerance they accuse us of?

It’s almost like atheism, or naturalism, has become the modern-day Phariseeism, where you have a group of people who are so certain that their beliefs are true that they can’t even begin to consider other points of view. Why would they do that? They wouldn’t, after all, want to be idiots like us crackpot believers.

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