Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Problem with Atheists and Christians

One of my friends recently posted a link on Facebook to a blog post called "Then What Do You Believe?" written by an Atheist criticizing Christianity and attempting to lay out a broad sense of what it means to be an Atheist.

Setting aside the condescending tone of the piece, I have a few problems with the points made which reflect problems I have with Atheism on the whole.

The first problem I have is that the writer makes the claim: "...atheism has no doctrine, set of core values, or even shared vision of the world..." and that "...atheism implies nothing besides a lack of theistic belief..." Now, this may all very well be true. I understand that "Atheist" is a simply a label and that any people group falling under such a broad label is going to be diverse.

I think the writer's line of thinking here fails to recognize something very important though: Atheists DO have at least one core value.

If you consider yourself an Atheist you subscribe to the fact that there is no deity or higher power. Obviously this still includes a wide spectrum of people, but rather than putting one's own faith into a higher power it is being put into one's own self. Clearly it is easy to have faith in one's self and one's own understanding, they are things we experience on a second to second basis, but faith is most definitely still involved.

This brings me the second problem I have with the piece. At the end of the entry the writer makes a list of values to better help the reader understand what values make up their worldview, one which is a link to an entry called "Secular Humanist First, Atheist Second."

In this post the writer discusses that logic and reason has led them to Atheism via a firm belief in secular humanism and goes on to talk about how science confirms his faith in Atheism.

My problem with this is that over the course of history science has proven itself wrong time and time again. In the past thousand years alone there have been frequent paradigm shifts showing time and time again that we know very little about anything, yet within every paradigm there is the thought that science is done and that we know everything there is to know.

I've been through a process where I logically weighed out what I believe, and I agree with this writer's thoughts on secular humanism for the most part, but to me it would be illogical to put my faith in science because it is so fickle.

(I also have a problem with the place where science coupled with Atheism leads, which I will address in another entry).

Now, the writer does touch on some very excellent points: most Christians (in my experience) have no idea what they believe or why they believe it and even if they do their actions would not reflect their beliefs, Christian Extremeism is dangerous, "Christians" are often intolerant of other faiths (especially Atheism), and science, reason and logic are important.

It's interesting to me that this writer picks out Christianity specifically to frame this piece. I would imagine that this is because the writer is in the United States and has had little to no contact with other faiths (understandably so), but I have to wonder if the writer's disdain for Christianity is stemming from a specific experience which would definitely alter their perception.

It breaks my heart that so many people misrepresent Christ, and I apologize on their behalf to any Atheist who has ever been mistreated because of their faith, but it also frustrates me that most Atheists feel that their faith is the superior one because they feel they have the market on logic and reason cornered, which isn't so (thanks to those who don't have this complex).

The problem with Atheists and Christians is that I have seen very little sincere conversation or attempt to build relationships. Both seem to be talking past the other thinking to themselves that the other is ignorant and naive.

At any point in a line of reasoning so complex as a belief system one must take a leap of faith in subscribing to whatever it is they believe. I've read books, researched and come to the logical conclusion that there must be a God. Another line of logic brought me to the conclusions that Jesus Christ is who he said he is.

Obviously in these conclusions science and logic could only bring me to a certain point and then I had to decide. I suppose I could have just as easily put my faith in Atheism, but even then science and logic would only bring me so far and then I still would have that same choice to make.

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