Prelude to Atheism, part II:
I want to begin this entry with some words directed toward my Atheist friends. Here they are:
I am sorry. I was wrong. And I thank you!
Last week, I shared an entry that voiced my frustration with an observable lack of accountability towards extreme Atheists. As a Christian, I’m prone to speaking out against hateful, irrational Christians who speak out of anger and spite. Do Atheists do this?
It does still seem to me that Atheists get a free pass on this matter simply because Atheists can be (and, indeed, are!) so varied in what they believe! Unlike Christians, who are united by a common belief, Atheists are united by a common lack of belief. Still, it bothers me. It bothers me because I do have Atheist friends! It bothers me because I know Atheists who are not nearly so hateful as the comments in question might make us think. In fact, the vast majority of Atheists I have known in the course of my life have been decent, rational, honest, funny, personable people! I confess it with trepidation: I tend to enjoy the company of Atheists over my Christian buddies. It’s true! I like them very much. And in cultivating friendships with these Atheists, I would be shocked and hurt if any one of them would voice agreement with the hateful remarks made by some extreme Atheists. I just can’t imagine them hating Christians that much. So there’s a part of me that wants them to stand up and disagree simply to reaffirm our connection as friends. I don’t think that’s an incredible expectation.
I was so encouraged to learn that several of these friends did actually separate themselves from the person making the hateful, outrageous remarks. Do they agree with him on many other issues? It is likely. What is important to me here is that they were willing to stand up and say, “Yanno, you are so far out of line on this matter, it’s not even beneficial to listen to you until you chill out.” That blessed my socks off.
So to my friends who are Atheists, I thank you for your stance here. I have never been so happy to be wrong. It reaffirms to me that Christians and Atheists can be friends and still disagree. I am so, so thankful!
End of Prelude:
An interesting discussion occurred last night that has left me perplexed. Someone that I adore and respect an enormous amount made a comment about the number of people who’ve died “in the name of Atheism” throughout history. It sparked an incredible discussion and has left me with more questions than answers–which is pretty typical for me, to be honest! I offer no apology for these questions or the train of thought that leads me to them, because I’m looking for answers, not for any advantageous material to use against Atheism.
The first question is an obvious one: Is Atheism proved wrong by the wrongdoing of some Atheists? The first answer, therefore, is just as obvious: No! And for any Christian who wants to argue this matter with me, I would encourage you to turn the tables. I always fall back on the example of Bertrand Russell. When I first read Why I’m Not A Christian (which I highly recommend for Christians, by the way), I was disappointed to learn that the actions of Christians might somehow serve as evidence against the validity of Christ and the Gospel. It would do us well–every one of us–to remember that people are people. We are not perfect. Some of us make ginormous blunders in life. Some are downright power-hungry, money-hungry, blood-lusting. No Christian is excused, no Atheist, no Muslim, no Buddhist, no person–religious or non-religious. We are not a one perfect. Our imperfection does nothing to affirm or deny the truth of what we believe (or disbelieve).
The second question is a little harder to answer: Were the evils of Mao somehow justified by his convictions, by his Atheism? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know much about Mao’s personal beliefs, to be honest. But I know a lot of Atheists who would never condone Mao’s actions, and that leads me to suggest that these evils were not acted upon because of his Atheism, but rather–in spite of it. And again, I think I would default to that position for a Christian Mao as well.
The third question is almost impossible for me to grapple with, but I pose it nonetheless: How could anything be done “in the name of Atheism,” when Atheism is a lack of belief? What “name” could be used?
And my final question is the one that has caused me severe brain strain in the past twelve hours: Should we simply ignore a person’s religious ties (or lack thereof) when they pursue atrocious evils–whether or not it can be argued that this philosophy (in this case, Atheism) was not the motivation for his evils? Would we if it were a Christian? Would we if it were a Muslim?
As I said, it was a remarkable conversation. 10,000 SemBlog points to anyone who responds to the four questions above.