In today’s blog, I break all the rules. If a skeptic provided me with a list like this in casual conversation, and I genuinely thought he was open to hearing what a Christian has to say, I would show kindness, humility and love. Nevertheless, you have to understand my own humanity. Occasionally, I hear enough atheist nonsense to provoke my inner Mr. Hyde. I feel a bit justified in this since sometimes a firm response is necessary. Still, if my words offend you, I apologize in advance.
Below (in bold) are the best answers Steve Harrison could come up with for why he embraces atheism. This list is from a Huffington Post article called 10 Reasons I Am An Atheist, HERE. Following each statement is my brief, off-the-cuff irritated answer.
1. I didn't have to convert. I didn't even have to tell anyone. And it was free. No money changed hands and no guilt was applied. I just said to myself, "I'm an atheist" and it was done. Welcome aboard!
If this is not a testimony to our society’s On Demand laziness, what is? "Forget whether or not there is a Creator God who can promise everlasting life, or whether there is a reality known as Hell. I get to do what most westerners in the 21st century love most . . . nothing." I wonder if this sort of thinking would work in an emergency situation. What if the author had just been told that a tsunami was going to hit his city of residence in two days and all he had to do was tell everyone and leave? Would he use the same logic? “It’s much easier just to decide, ‘I don’t believe in tsunamis,’ and welcome myself aboard as an a-tsunami-ist." This reason just amounts to intellectual laziness.
2. Once I recognised I was an atheist, I didn't have to do anything. No church, no praying, no begging forgiveness. No rules. I live my life without worrying about whether or not I am adhering to the facets of a faith. I can just be.
Again, the writer’s issues have nothing to do with whether or not atheism is true. Instead he waxes on about how his newly adopted worldview allows him to do . . . nothing. Okay. Got anything else?
3. No need to differentiate between, or give weight to, confusing levels of belief. Whether someone believes in God, Santa, unicorns, ghosts, goblins or the Tooth Fairy, I apply equality to all supernatural beliefs, which is refreshing.
Again, laziness. "Why bother with thinking through the nature of reality and parsing out, with precision, what is true and what is false within the major world religions, or within the Christian community? By arbitrarily assigning the same level of warrant to the belief in God that I do to beings no one worships I get to bypass even more of this darn project we call thinking."
4. Owning no religious belief is empowering. Instead of following a restrictive religion, I now view myself as an integral part of the entire universe. I am made of the same stuff as the stars, not cobbled together suddenly by magic, and therefore made of particles as old as the universe itself. This is an incredibly profound realisation.
No it isn’t. Nothing is profound if atheism is true, because nothing has any real meaning. All art, literature, philosophical revelations, scientific discoveries, and other human endeavors will be wiped away in some cosmic catastrophe or other, making the entire human experience a colossal cosmic joke. For more on this, click HERE.
5. The sense of equality and unity. People are all the same, regardless of belief, colour, nationality, or any other superficial differences. We and all life on our planet share the same origin in a soupy primordial mix millions of years ago. It's a feeling that delivers a warm smile, a feeling of wellbeing and a wonderful sense of belonging.
Except that this makes the same misstep as the previous point, and adds to it hypocrisy. If this man has ever swatted a mosquito, then he doesn’t feel unified with “all life on our planet.” On top of that, recognizing that all people are the same, regardless of belief, color, nationality, or any other superficial difference makes sense if you accept that all people are made in the image of God. It makes no sense in a world without Him, where survival of the fittest is the only law. In case the author denies that survival of the fittest is the only rule of law on atheism, we must ask again whether he has ever swatted his brother, the mosquito. I’m betting yes. Of course there is no real rule of law on atheism, but I’m trying to respond to the author’s own subjective moral affirmations.
6. Freedom from doctrine. I follow the natural human moral compulsion to "treat others as you would like them to treat you", without ascribing morality to any particular religious instruction or acting out of fear of retribution. And I don't have to adjust my conscience to accommodate those uncomfortable aspects of a religion I disagree with.
Ah, the atheist attempt to locate genuine moral rules without a moral rule giver. Greater atheist minds admit failure in these moral waters. As for not having to adjust your conscience, now we have moved from intellectual laziness to moral laziness. Man gets to be his own god. So many Sophomoric missteps.
7. Ignorance is bliss. Science provides many answers to fundamental questions and is constantly searching for more. The vast gap in our knowledge is tremendously exciting, filled with wonder and allows my imagination to soar without the need to contrive supernatural answers.
Who needs facts anyway? The author has already made it clear he has no interest in getting off the intellectual sofa. Besides, Christian theism allows for much more imaginative soaring. This is partly so because orthodox Christianity applauds science. Yet, we have the best of both worlds. Science does not represent the whole of reality. These sorts of skeptics think it does. “I believe in science!” has become the unfortunate and ignorant atheist chant of the 21st century. Guess what, I believe in science, too. I believe in record players. I think they’re great at playing records. However, that record players can play records really well does not mean that recorded music is all that exists. Just because science is really good at studying the physical universe does not mean that physical things are all that exist.
8. Self-sufficiency. I am my own boss. Atheism has no rules, no headquarters, no spokesperson. No referral service or councillors. It doesn't exist as an organisation. It is whatever an individual makes it and its interpretation is entirely up to me.
Now we’re not even trying to hide the repetition. You get to be your own authority, boss, spokesperson, and . . . let’s just say it again . . . god. Gotcha. Why does that make atheism true? Also, if everyone adopted that way of thinking, you could kiss society goodbye. That is, unless there were no child molesters, rapists, murderers, thieves, etc. Unfortunately, there are.
9. I ask for proof before belief, not an unreasonable request. Atheism to me means accepting what has been proved and being fully open to what has not. I do not believe there is a God, but I am very willing to be proven wrong about his or her existence and that of the aforementioned Santa, unicorns, ghosts, goblins and the Tooth Fairy.
If you’re really looking for proof of Santa, unicorns, goblins, and the Tooth Fairy, you may need to locate a counselor. We all know that the belief in those human inventions is different from the belief in a supreme being. All cultures everywhere have developed beliefs about a creator. All cultures everywhere have not developed beliefs about the rest. However, if you’re willing to be proven wrong . . . high-five. The problem is that you already told us how much you like not having to do anything. Considering the evidence will require you to put legs on that open-mindedness. Also, if you ask for proof, why not be prepared to provide some. Typically, skeptics say that they shouldn't be required to "prove a negative." The problem here, is that the author claims to "know" the truth (in the next bullet point).
10. Long term comfort. I know what happens after death. My body will decompose or be cremated and my remains will once again become part of the stuff of the universe. I don't worry about Heaven or Hell, an afterlife or purgatory. The acceptance that life will end when I die is tremendously empowering and comforting. What could be more exciting than knowing I will one day return to the universe I -- and all of us -- came from?
This last bit 1) contradicts the admission that you might be wrong and that you’re willing to be convinced. You claim to “know what happens after death.” Where did you receive this omniscient revelation? 2) These statements only make sense if it turns out you’re right. If you’re wrong, then you’ll have an everlasting period in which to regret the decision.
And that’s the end. No philosophical arguments from evil. No incoherence arguments, no atrocities of the Old Testament. Not even a jab at Islam. This man is an atheist, according to the article, because he can do what he wants without feeling bad about it.
Perhaps I’ve been too blunt, but I actually want to express my appreciation for the candor of this author. I think he represents what is actually going on in the heads of most atheists. Granted, some skeptics have legitimate intellectual reservations about belief. Fortunately, Christian apologists have legitimate responses for those reservations. However, in my experience, most atheists want what Steve Harrison wants. They want to have their own way, and don’t we all? They don’t want objective moral laws that inconvenience their own proclivities. They want to be their own bosses, spokespersons and gods. They would love to discover that death is the end, and there will be no justice for our sins.
I’ve never liked Pascal’s Wager, but this sort of thinking is a dangerous wager indeed.