Every time I write an article that mentions god – even if used as a descriptive reference to “the gods” – I get insulting and arrogant comments from atheists. And it’s not just me; you can see the same thing all over the Internet.
To put it simply, these people are bullies, striking unbidden with fast, hard blows. It’s not about truth; it’s about dominance.
Not all atheists do this, obviously. I have quite a few atheist friends who are decent, kind people. But an abusive strain of atheism has taken root in recent years, and I think it’s time to confront it.
Here’s the key:
The goal of these bullies is not to find truth or even to defend it; it’s to put down other people – to insult, humiliate and laugh at the fools who believe in any sort of god, even people who use references to god.
These people slash and burn. They labor to destroy, not to build.
I used to have a standing offer: that I would publish any atheist book that did not criticize, but instead told people how atheism would make their lives better. The result? No one ever submitted a manuscript.
The Irony of It All
Last week I wrote an article entitled Are you a Gorilla or a God? In it, I explained that the worst of human behavior is gorilla-like and the best god-like. I went on to explain the gorilla side this way:
Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them.
In response to the article (which mentioned gods!), I received the business end of that atheistic slash and burn. But these people never realized that they were placing themselves precisely into the position I had assigned to the gorillas: slapping and biting smaller animals to make themselves dominant.
A Defense of Atheism
I don’t have a problem with atheism per se. I was actually raised as an atheist, by a mother whose love I never for a moment doubted. And, as I say, I have friends who are atheists. The opinion, by itself, doesn’t bother me.
I think atheism is a valid opinion. I happen to disagree with it, but I disagree with a lot of things – that doesn’t mean I go about to destroy them all. Our goal should be to improve people, not to chop them up.
One essential flaw I find with strident atheism is that no one can know enough to make that pronouncement. Here’s what I mean:I think it is 100% fair to say, “I’ve never seen evidence of a God, so I don’t think there is one.” What I don’t think is fair, is to say, “I know there is no such thing as God.” This is especially true regarding the Judeo-Christian God, who is said to exist beyond our universe. Until they can look beyond the universe, no one can say for sure.
Some atheists will say that putting God outside of the universe was merely a trick to avoid evidence. But even if it did begin as a trick, the idea stands on its own, and saying, “I know that there is no god at all, anywhere,” is unsound.
But, again, to say, “I see no evidence and don’t think there’s a God” is an entirely fair and rational opinion.
The Unfair Atheist Argument
You’ve all seen the technique: The aggressive atheist picks their spot and pounces with references to the very worst examples of theism, and implies that all believers are that way.
But most believers have no desire at all to burn witches or stone homosexuals. To paint them as being that way is not only unfair; it is abusive.
These atheists will, of course, pull together abstract arguments, saying, “Your book says that, and you say you believe the book, so you defend burning witches.”
The truth, however, is that modern believers want nothing to do with burning witches, inquisitions, or any other horrors. (In fact, they would oppose them strongly.) The atheists know this, of course; they’re just trying to slash and burn.
A kinder, better atheist would say, “You believers really should explain why you no longer accept some of the things written in your book.” That would be honest and helpful.
Can We All Get Along?
Yes, of course we can. Only one thing needs to be absent (on both sides): the desire to injure and dominate.
Atheists and theists can be friends and co-travelers. I’ve spent pleasant hours with evangelists for atheism. We disagreed, we got over it, and we enjoyed each other’s company.
It really comes back to the basic principles that we learned as children: You don’t try to bully them, and they shouldn’t try to bully you. Play nice.
It isn’t that hard.