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10.21.2005    |    Faith for those without religion
Atheists can be fun. They can be geniuses, morons, but are, just like believers, mostly in-between those two extremes. One species of atheist appears to be those who so firmly believe that God can't possibly exist that they become, how do we say this gently, hysterical about it. Screeming meemies about it.

One such has a blog titled Evangelical Atheist. Cute title, eh? I'm not going to repeat any of his rants here, just to note that if this site is representative of the state of atheistic thought and practice, woe unto them.

As an American (and I think it is safe to substitute Australian, Briton, or, God help me, even Canadian here), I believe that we must have freedom of conscience in matters of faith. My belief is that God is in control; yours may be that you are. You are wrong, but your having this belief doesn't unhinge me.

Not so with some atheists. They simply can't abide that we believers believe. Atheists of course, believe in something just as strongly: the lack of a God. At least that is the sense one gets by sampling the atheistic blogosphere, for which Evangelical Atheist's site is a decent jumping off point.

The key word is belief, and the next key word is tolerance. Christians and atheists both have religious beliefs. In the atheists' case, it is that fervent prayer to Whom It May Concern (we Christians call Him God), that the believers in God will simply wake up from their trauma-induced nightmare that there is a God.

One of the threads I've found among self-confessed atheists (do they have some version of the Westminster Confession?) is a terrible eagerness to disprove that God exists, or challenge one of us to prove that He does. Most Christians that I know, myself included, would, when posed with such a challenge, fail to fall into the left-brain mode that atheists seem to prefer. I think that we would tend to answer simply, "I know my Savior lives. This is what I believe." That's what I'd say, anyway.
At the end of the day, that's why it is called "faith."

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17 Comments:

Blogger UberKuh said...

You wrote:
"In the atheists' case, it is that fervent prayer to Whom It May Concern (we Christians call Him God), that the believers in God will simply wake up from their trauma-induced nightmare that there is a God."

Sorry, no. Prayer is offered to a god as an act of worship. Atheists do not worship gods by definition. Thus, atheists do not pray.

What you are trying without very much success to do is to interject humor into your point by calling the wishes of certain atheists religious. Everyone laugh at the atheists, those pathetically lost souls. Losers. Hahaha. However, this will cease to be even remotely humorous to a theist once he realizes that you actually believe that point. He may laugh at you, but he will not laugh with you.

So, I am afraid that I must toss your initial quip back to you, that if this site is representative of the state of theistic thought and practice, woe unto them.

4:19 AM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger thinkanythingonce said...

Basically, you are saying that you can't prove anything and refuse to prove anything, but you know something (that God exists). You are delusional. Don't expect anyone with critical thinking skills to put stock in anything you say.

If it weren't for left-brain mode thinking, we'd still be living in caves (or worse), living in abject feat of gods and demons, and dying at the age of 20. That's what faith-based thinking really gets you.

9:45 AM, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous Chad said...

You said: "I think that we would tend to answer simply, 'I know my Savior lives. This is what I believe.'"

As I read Acts 17 I have a hard time reconciling it with a statement like this. Paul's example is clearly one of "reasoning and persuading" through left-brain modes.

Tons of people who believe in cults and various other religions would answer the same way - that they "just believe". One thing that really distinguishes Christianity is the solid historical evidence and we should not shy away from making that case IMO. In the end, I agree with you that proofs per se are futile and faith is required, but it is important for all parties to realize it is not a blind faith.

12:35 PM, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous The Atheist Messiah said...

"Christians and atheists both have religious beliefs. In the atheists' case, it is that fervent prayer to Whom It May Concern (we Christians call Him God)"

Atheists, by definition, do not have religious beliefs. We have beliefs concerning life, death, etc., but they are not religious in nature.

Atheists don't pray to "whom it may concern" either. This is a thinly veiled accusation that atheists believe in God deep down, but cannot bring themselves to admit it. I imagine you made that statement to justify your beliefs by making atheists look like religious cowards.

Chad said:

"One thing that really distinguishes Christianity is the solid historical evidence and we should not shy away from making that case IMO."

I make little distinction between competing neurosis'. Your religion has no physical or historical "evidence" to justify your savior. If there was such evidence, Christians would be touting it from here to Kingdom Come. You would convert many atheists with solid evidence. That is what most of us want. Unfortunately for Christianity, there is no Holy Grail, Noah's Ark, 10 Commandments (versions 1, 2 or 3), Ark of the Covenant, real Shroud of Turin, etc., etc.. All there is is strained accounts by biased Christians after the 'fact'. Apologists have been struggling with this for ages.

4:11 PM, October 22, 2005  
Blogger breakerslion said...

"I'm not going to repeat any of his rants here,..."

'Pay no attention to the mind behind the character assassination?'

Wattsamatta? Afraid the "rants" might make sense to one of your readers? For that matter, who asked you to post his material, and who in their right mind would expect you to? Oh, I forgot who I was talking to. Sorry.

Bah. If this is the state of Theist thinking, you aren't meaty enough to make a good snack.

8:57 PM, October 22, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About faith:

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason. - Benjamin Franklin

5:52 AM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger Peter Sean Bradley said...

Preacher,

I think that the last set of comments prove your point. I have also wondered why so many atheists have such an investment in noisily and obnoxiously proclaiming their non-belief and in intolerantly savaging those they consider inferior to them. The arguments one finds on many atheist blogs - and which is demonstrated in the prior comments - involves name-calling, a lack of the gentleness that might allow the use of irony or humor, and, frankly, a poor understanding of history. (For example, the idea that somehow religious belief is antithetical to science, progress and all of the good things of Western civilization simply is not part of the historical record where believers - Copernicus, Mendel, Galileo - were responsible for science because they had faith in a God who was accessible to human reason. Likewise, it might surprise your correspondents to find that Thomas Aquinas affirmed the idea that there is nothing in the mind which was not first in the senses, a key doctrine of empiricism.)

There are a lot of things that I don't believe, but I wouldn't go out of my way to crusade against believers in crop circles, astrology or romance novels. Toward such people, I show the same bemused tolerance that I show people who organize their life around the idea that life is without any transcendental meaning.

12:21 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger jpe said...

I have also wondered why so many atheists have such an investment in ...savaging those they consider inferior to them.

Mocking people is fun.

2:04 PM, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Toward such people, I show the same bemused tolerance that I show people who organize their life around the idea that life is without any transcendental meaning."

http://glclk.about.com/?zi=18/qNo

3:12 PM, October 23, 2005  
Blogger breakerslion said...

"I think that the last set of comments prove your point. I have also wondered why so many atheists have such an investment in noisily and obnoxiously proclaiming their non-belief and in intolerantly savaging those they consider inferior to them."

Point proved only if you also think that the savaging is unidirectional and unprovoked. For my part, it is a response to the inarticulate arguments I receive on my blog like, "YOU WILL BURN IN HELL MINION OF SATAN!!!! JESUS IS THE ANSWER!" From there, we graduate to circular logic, ad hominem attacks, straw men, "close" interpretation of statements having all the ambiguity of a fortune cookie, and statements beginning with "Of course..." and other semantic advertising tricks geared toward prejudicing the judgment of the listener. And you wonder why there is a contemptuous edge to some of our responses? No one appreciates being smeared with epithets like, "hysterical". You are an intimate of a certain blogger and a psychologist besides, to make such an authoritative statement?

Unfortunately, much of your readership is used to lapping up any bald statement of fact like a kitten with a bowl of cream. This is what we are defending against.

In terms of belligerence and using the hard sell, as I see it, you Theists have at least a 5,000 year head start on us. We're relatively new at defending our position without getting screwed or murdered for our trouble.
The Roman game of feeding Christians to the lions is long over, so quit with the phony persecution complex already!

5:11 PM, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous John Luke said...

Breakerslion, you've half a point. So-called "Christians" have for many years burned heretics. Who they defined as anyone who didn't share their version of the faith. Note the scare quotes around Christian. Such burners and haters were most certainly Christian in name only.

I don't know if you will go to hell; I don't even really know if I will. For now, I'm content to think that many self-proclaimed atheists do protest too much, although I think I understand why they are applying the "two wrongs must make something right" principle -- some "Christians" today are intolerant; hence it's ok for some atheists to also be intolerant.

6:54 PM, October 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Such burners and haters were most certainly Christian in name only."

Herein lies one of the biggest problems between Atheists and Christians. What are we to think when the biggest names amongst your faith and certainly the most prominent members of it display such vitriol and hate for their fellow man. From Pat Robertsons call for assassination (of Hugo Chavez), the corporate greed, war mongering and social amorality of the Neo-conservatives (who are to a man self declared christians), the Papacy and their battle against homosexuals and contraception (leaving millions to die of STD's in Africa when one sentence, JUST ONE from Ratzinger would cut Aids bya staggering amount) all the way across to the constant little reminders of God everywhere, on our money, or buildings, our presidential oaths.

Most atheists would be happy to let Theists go do their own thing and not harm anyone, thats why there are so few of us "savaging" the Buddhists, pagans , hindus and Taoists. Because they tend to leave us alone (mostly, exceptions always exist). Its the monotheistic faiths, and by that i mean Christianity and Islam that piss us off because they interfere in our daily life without our consent.

Having said all that, i can at least agree with your comment about not falling into left-brain thinking when talking to atheists. This is why there can never really be compromise or agreement on such matters between an atheist and a theist. You believe something without evidence. Thats what makes it faith. We don't believe without evidence. What you term faith, we term delusion. To us the idea of god makes about as much sense as the easter bunny, and most of us stopped believing in him ages ago.

To put it bluntly. We think you are insane. Often in a polite, friendly, nice guy crazy, but crazy none the less. You think we are weird for not seeing the obvious because to you it IS obvious.

I'm trying to think of something witty to say to bring this all together now but the two opposing sides in the arguement simply cannot reconcile their differences.

- Gribble

9:29 AM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

I am curious to know exactly what you find "hysterical" about Evangelical Atheist. I'm also a little curious what a "screaming meemie" is- perhaps you meant to reference the "screaming meanie" German rocket artillery from World War Two?

But this is the part I really don't understand:

I believe that we must have freedom of conscience in matters of faith. My belief is that God is in control; yours may be that you are. You are wrong, but your having this belief doesn't unhinge me. Not so with some atheists. They simply can't abide that we believers believe.

I have known quite a few atheists in my day, and I've never met one who wants you to believe other than what you believe or to live in any way different than you do. Conversely, almost every Christian I meet is obsessed with trying to convince me that their cult is not a full-on hallucination, written down for posterity. Now, quite a few atheists (myself included) want to ensure religious neutrality for all citizens, and that means removing a lot of the religious-majority dominance from public places and practices... but we don't care if YOU are a believer or not. The reason I'm mentioning all this is that there are quite a few movements to establish specifically Judaeo-Christian desert-beliefs as everyday practice for all Americans, but not one counter-example of a refusal to allow Christians to be Christian wherever and however they please, so long as they do not invoke their religious rituals or magics as part of any public power.

So are you intentionally ignoring the everyday actions of fundamentalist groups who seek the extermination of atheistic values like the ones I espouse... or are you simply blowing up what atheists do in the name of neutrality into some kind of persecution complex. These are not rhetorical questions-- I'm genuinely curious.

2:20 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

I stand corrected, actually. I went and looked up the Nerbelwerfer I spoke about above, and it really was called the "Screaming Mimi" or "Screaming Meemie." What the heck is that!? My apologies for the question.

3:58 PM, October 24, 2005  
Anonymous John Luke said...

Anonymous wrote, "war mongering and social amorality of the Neo-conservatives (who are to a man self declared christians)." Interesting take on the usual lefty cant, which should have included "Bush Lied; People Died; No Blood for Oil; and, of course, "Halliburton!!!", with the by-now standard three exclamation marks.

Oh, would somebody please inform Bill Kristol, Norman and John Podhoretz, Paul Wolfowitz, and Charles Krauthammer that they've now become Christian...

Since atheists claim to be rational, perhaps a little fact-checking might be in order before spewing.

4:04 PM, October 24, 2005  
Anonymous John Luke said...

For un-apologetic, from Wentworth & Flexner, "Dictionary of American Slang," 1960:

"screaming meemie" 1. A specific type of small Army rocket launched from a multiple rocket projector on the back of a jeep or truck. Common Army use since late W.W.II. From the frightening noise and effect such rockets made, similar to the screaming meemies. 2. So intense or extreme as to cause one to scream or feel effects similar to the screaming meemies. 1953: "Rather than endure amother minute of screaming-meemie loneliness." William DuBois, N.Y. Times;
: "screaming meemies, the" The delirium tremens; the jitters, the heebie-jeebies. 1927: "To have the screaming meemies." New Republic

My usage was No. 2.

4:08 PM, October 24, 2005  
Blogger The Un-Apologetic Atheist said...

Thanks, John Luke. Learn somethin' new everyday. Neat!

Might I reiterate my original question about why you said what you said about atheists, then? I can of course understand if it's worth a whole new blog-entry, and if you'd rather compose your thoughts on the subject rather than simply firing off a reply here in the comments. I think it's important that intellectually honest types of both sides learn to speak a common language, as we share a common nation that must have common laws and public practices. Though I will say I grew up strongly Southern Baptist, so most of the positions of the SBC do not need to be reiterated on my behalf.

4:47 PM, October 24, 2005  

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.