No, this isn’t a post about what attractive, female followers of Jesus think of atheism (no one gives a shit about what the Palins think).
Atheists are bombarded on a daily basis with religion, primarily Christianity (or at least what passes for it these days). In many ways, atheists have a better vantage point for analyzing religions, because believers are often in a situation where they cannot see the forest for the trees. While the Christian has convinced themselves their faith is all about things like love and compassion, those on the outside looking in have a clearer view of reality.
This isn’t because atheists are just so amazing and intelligent, but because Christians basically never shut the fuck up about their religion. Their dogma is everywhere, and it permeates American laws and social norms. We all know what Christianity says, and those of us on the outside have a much clearer view in regards to what Christianity actually does.
Just as an example, the Christians have attempted to appropriate marriage as an institution that was “created/ordained by God.” Logically, this makes no sense, because people have been forming their own family units since before God was ever a twinkle of the eye of the Bronze Age desert Semites who borrowed him from their Pagan neighbors. However, taken in the context of the belief that this God has been around since the beginning of time, it makes a bit more sense (or at least achieves an amusing semblance of sense).
So, let’s flip the tables.
What do Christians know about atheism? Well, as it turns out, not much. Most Christians I have met cannot even properly define what atheism is. Really stop and consider that for a second, because this may be one of the root causes of the other problems I want to delve into regarding Christian perceptions of atheism.
Frankly, I am astounded by the things I have heard Christians say about atheism and atheists (both in general or about specific atheists). If you had asked me a decade ago what I thought of Christians, when I was a newly minted atheist of just a few years, I would have told you Christians were mentally deranged, and that they clearly suffered from some form of cognitive disorder.
Over time, I found this insanity to be far too systematized to be organic. Generally, a mental disorder is expressed differently in different patients. For example, if two people are hallucinating, they probably won’t see the exact same thing. If you’re an atheist for any length of time and you engage Christians in discussion, you will find that the madness they exhibit is far too standardized and similar to be the result of spontaneous mental failure.
In other words: Christians are saying the same crazy things, so the most likely reason for this is not disease, but rather that crazy people are feeding crazy ideas to Christians.
What sort of crazy ideas? While there are a finite number of these dim-witted views, they are far too numerous to list them all here. In fact, I would also need an inordinate amount of time to collect all of these ideas, because the roots of Christian apologetics run deep. They’ve been shoveling bullshit for thousands of years, after all, so the pile is bound to be pretty high.
Just some examples:
- atheists believe in God, they just refuse to worship out of pride
- atheists worship Satan
- atheists leave religion because they cannot adhere to God’s morality
- atheists are angry at God
- atheism is a phase some young people go through
- atheists are possessed by demons
- atheists believe nothing created everything
- atheists are all gay
- gay people are all atheists
- atheists can’t be trusted (since they can’t swear on the Bible)
- there are no atheists in foxholes
- Charles Darwin recanted on his deathbed
- atheists have no moral compass
- atheism is a religion
- atheists can’t prove there isn’t a God, therefore there is one
And the list goes on, one canard after another.
Most Christians don’t talk to atheists about atheism. Let’s be honest: religion doesn’t come up very often in daily conversation. I’m sure Christians interact with plenty of atheists on a daily basis, they just don’t know it. This is why it’s such a shame to me how closeted most atheists are, because most people only have one type of interaction with atheists.
I would be willing to bet a fair amount of the exchanges a Christian knowingly has with atheists will be adversarial in nature. The oft-cited “they got offended by me saying ‘God bless you’ when they sneezed” or “these atheists were protesting the Christmas tree downtown” are the only time some Christians are exposed to atheism.
This might account for some of the hostility Christians display, a sort of misguided, ill-informed counter-counter-protest attitude. Christians have no way of knowing how unbelievably fucking annoying they can be, so in their mind, here’s the scenario: atheists appear magically out of the blue to screw up the happy, smiling community that just wants to keep on marginalizing people in peace.
Of course they are then going to get upset at these atheists who are suggesting such extreme ideas as not using public funds to erect a monument to the ten commandments (over half of which aren’t even laws…).
It really comes down to two different ways of looking at things: those who are rational, and those who rationalize. Those who are rational tend to want to change what is wrong with the world to make it a better place. Those who rationalize want nothing to change, and in order to defend it, will dig down deep and pull every possible argument they can find out of their ass and shove it in your face, like a rhetorical Dirty Sanchez.