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I’ve been a bit out of the atheist activtism/slacktivism game for a bit. Life’s been busy and stressful, and spending my days going through the grind of “debating” (I use this term loosely) with theists on Twitter, blogs, etc., became a bit of a chore. I still don’t plan to dive back into my atheism much, but I couldn’t help but put a little something out there about an article I came across (thanks to The Friendly Atheist). It called Atheist Agenda Wants You to Turn Your Back on Christ, written by Jennifer LeClaire. I can’t say I’ve read any of Jennifer’s other articles (if she has any), but I can say without a doubt, that her take on the atheist agenda (whatever that means) is so colossally far-fetched, I had to respond. So here it goes. Below is her article, word for word. I’ll be responding to as many points as possible.
P.S. Read the comments section at the link above. They’re even worse than her.
Anything the gay agenda can do, the atheists can do better.
And what exactly is the gay agenda? Equal rights? The right not to be beaten or killed by homophobes simply because they were born with a different sexual preference?
That seems to be the unbeliever’s mantra for 2013 as godless radicals rise up not only for recognition—and not only to tear down all things Christian in the public square—but to actually woo born-again Bible believers to the dark side.
Is the implication here that one who is godless must, therefore, be radical? Or is there a distinction between radical and run-of-the-mill atheists?
When you say “tear down all things Christian in the public square,” do you mean public or private property? There is a very important Constitutional distinction here. I think it’s safe to say that (generally-speaking) atheists don’t really care what you do in private, provided you’re not harming others. It’s your self-insertion into the government, our secular government, that we care about. That violates the Constitution, and it wreaks of Christian privilege, which has infected this country for hundreds of years. We (atheists) want equality. You (Christians) want to retain your special privileges, without any room for people not like you.
Call it reverse evangelism.
I suggest you look up the word evangelism in the dictionary. It does not apply here.
A growing number of atheist activists are no longer content with “freedom from religion” campaigns that seek to keep the local football stars from wearing John 3:16 on their helmets or to stop Christmas caroling on elementary school campuses.
In what circumstances would a football player in a public school wearing John 3:16 on their helmet be appropriate? If a football player, or an entire team put “All praise due Allah” on their helmets, would that be appropriate? Your privilege is showing again. Let’s not forget that public (government-funded) schools are prevented by the Constitution from endorsement (including the appearance of) of a particular religion. It’s called the endorsement test, and is used by the U.S. Supreme Court. If a high school football team’s helmets made reference to Allah, would you interpret that as meaning that it was a Muslim football team? Somehow I think you would, and you’d probably be offended. The same endorsement test would also apply to the Christmas carols. How about singing songs of all types – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, and secular? Again, Christian privilege.
This new breed of atheist activism wants to inject doubt into your doctrine with its own brand of Christless charisma.
I’m not sure what this “new breed of atheism” thing is. Of course atheism is Christ-less. And yeah, I can be charismatic. 🙂 But what’s your point?
Consider Peter Boghossian, a philosophy instructor and author of a hot new book dubbed A Manual for Creating Atheists. Yes, it’s actually a book that aims to equip nonbelievers with the skills they need to talk believers into willfully turning their back on Christ. This atheist is hoping to drive Christians into full-blown apostasy.
I am aware of the book but have not read it, so I can’t really opine on the nature of the book. Have you read the book, Jennifer? I’m guessing not, which makes me wonder why you’re opining on something you haven’t actually read. And since apostasy isn’t a real thing, who cares…
“Faith is an unreliable reasoning process,” Boghossian told Religion News Service. “It will not take you to reality. So we need to help people value processes of reasoning that will lead them to the truth.”
Jesus is the truth. He’s also the way and the life. (See John 14:6.)
I full agree with Boghosian’s assessment. Faith is not a virtue. It’s dangerous. It’s intellectual laziness. Believing things without evidence is not a path to reality. It’s a path to delusion. And quoting the Bible is meaningless. Unless we know it’s actually true (we don’t), it’s a meaningless text, of no more worth than a Spiderman comic.
Nevertheless, Boghossian’s book offers specific reverse-evangelism techniques, such as avoiding facts and working instead to get someone to question what they believe, avoiding any show of frustration because so-called “de-conversion” takes longer than conversion, and avoiding politics because they sidetrack the discussion.
There we go with that term, evangelism, again. I don’t think it means what you think it does. And I’m not sure where your conversion vs. de-conversion timeline comes from. I suspect you made it up.
Meanwhile, there are bona fide atheist megachurches springing up across the U.S. These groups reportedly look like any other Sunday morning worship service—except that God is not in the mix. It’s a godless church. According to CBN, British comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans founded the movement and plan to kick-start more anti-God assemblies in the U.S.
Simply because people of like mind congregate does not make them a church. Look up the definition of church and tell me how it applies here, because it doesn’t. I belong to a humanist organization. We have cookouts (including charitable activities by the way, for those who erroneously assume that atheists don’t give). Does that make us a church? Is a knitting club a church if they meet on Sunday? Of course not. You do not get to re-define what a church is, to further a spurious claim. Furthermore, being atheist and being anti-God are not the same thing. In fact, if you’re anti-God, you’re not even an atheist. You’re a theist with a bad attitude. You see, being anti-God means against God. If you are against God, then you believe he (or she, it, or they) exists. Therefore, you are not an atheist, but a theist or deist. Get your definitions straight.
“I think the image that we have put forward in a lot of ways has been a scary, mean, we want to tear down the walls, we want to do destructive things kind of image is what a lot of people have of us,” atheist Elijah Senn told CBN. “I’m really excited to be able to come together and show that it’s not about destruction. It’s about making things and making things better.”
I buy that statement 100%, because it’s true.
Except that the radical atheist agenda is about destruction. It’s about destroying the faith of others.
Now we’re back to radicals again. Radical is just a buzzword used to discredit your opponent. It’s an inflammatory statement that has no basis in fact. Additionally, it’s not about destroying anyone’s faith. That’s preposterous. You seem to equate questioning with destruction. If you like country music, and I play a pop song for you, am I trying to destroy your love of country music, or am I introducing you to something different? Providing a new idea or counter-argument is not destruction. Besides, if your faith is that strong, shouldn’t it stand up to an scrutiny? The only person who can destroy your faith is you. Christians, in general, are often accused of being very closed-minded, and there’s a reason for that. They are often unwilling to even consider any alternatives other than what was learned through religious indoctrination. You see, statistically, people’s religions are highly correlated with where they live, and the religion of their parents. They grow up in an area with certain common religious beliefs, they are indoctrinated as children, and that’s it. There is often little or no study of other religions, or even examination of the truth of their own beliefs. You became a Christian as a child. Case closed. No need to think anymore. Mental sheep.
And it was Jesus who said, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad” (Matt. 12:30).
Again with the Bible. And wasn’t Jesus pretty closed-minded with his with me or against me stance? Isn’t Jesus about love, acceptance, and tolerance? That quote exudes none of those traits. That quote is full of hatred, intolerance, and closed-mindedness. Besides, if I’m not with you, why do I have to be against you? Must we be enemies? Can’t we agree to disagree? It seems your Jesus was very tolerant…of those just like him. How very Christian.
Building atheist megachurches is drawing people—whether they are already atheists, agnostic or just don’t know what they believe—away from true worship.
Worship is an absolutely awful thing. Just think about what that word means for a moment, and ask yourself if worshiping anything is appropriate. And use of the word true doesn’t actually make it true (worship).
We’re now competing with aggressive atheists to win the hearts and minds of lost souls on Sunday mornings.
Atheists don’t believe in souls. That is a religious construct. And it isn’t competition when one relies on facts, and the other faith. Personally, I prefer to accept what is true, rather than what feels good on Sunday mornings. My beliefs and knowledge are always up for debate. I welcome it. And if what I believe is proven untrue, I stop believing that thing. Can you do that, Jennifer?
Some atheists are taking another approach: infiltrating the church to plant seeds of doubt. I wrote about that in a recent column, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing Actively Working in Pentecostal Church.” An unbeliever I call “Wolf” because he won’t reveal his true identity details his plans to integrate with a friend into a “highly conservative religious community without informing the community that [they] are skeptics,” then look for opportunities to minister and serve before his planned apostasy takes place about a year later. Wolf’s self-proclaimed personal Lord and Savior is named “Doubt.”
I can’t speak to this, although it sounds like an interesting social experiment.
All of this was in November alone, as was the revelation that atheists are using the YouVersion of the Bible to evangelize unbelief. Some atheists are trying to position themselves as “friendly,” like Hemant Mehta, author of the Friendly Atheist blog who offered to raise money to cover the medical bills of a pastor who was attacked by a militant atheist.
Have you met Hemant? He’s a really nice guy. He’s one of my favorite atheist bloggers. And he did more than offer to raise money for medical bills, he actually did it. And he’s raised money for lots of others things, too. Let’s not forget that. He’s a giver, as are many atheists. The only difference is, when we help the needy, it doesn’t come with strings attached, like a sermon, or literature. To us, helping is the primary goal of charity, the only goal really. It seems that many Christians use charity as a conduit to proselytize. That’s not right.
But some atheists are still angry, including long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad who got up in arms against Oprah because she wouldn’t acknowledge Nyad’s atheism.
You’ve completely misrepresented this situation. Oprah was somehow trying to convince Nyad that she wasn’t what she actually was. I think Oprah wanted Nyad to be spiritual, and tried to convince her of such. Unfortunately, the person that gets to define Nyad is Nyad, not Oprah. If I was being interviewed on national TV, and the interviewer misrepresented something about me, I’d be quick to correct them, too.
Oprah’s October Super Soul Sunday program sparked a firestorm in the atheist community, which refuses to be marginalized in its year of momentum.
Why wouldn’t any group refuse to be marginalized? Would you like to be marginalized? Do you think that marginalizing people who aren’t like you is OK? You shouldn’t. That’s bigotry.
It goes on and on and on. I’ve just offered a few examples from October and November. So here’s the question: Could an atheist talk you out of your faith? Don’t answer too quickly.
Only you can talk yourself out of your own faith. Atheists don’t deal in faith. We deal in facts. Faith is not part of our lives, nor should it be.
Gay activists have already succeeded in getting many Christians—even pastors and bishops—to compromise the Word of God for the sake of inclusion, unity and perhaps fear of persecution. If the gay agenda can convince Christian leaders to pervert the gospel, then is it so far-fetched to think the atheist agenda could cause believers to doubt what they believe?
Let’s get this straight. Inclusion is good. Unity is good. Persecution is bad. Apparently, you think the opposite. Personally, I find it deplorable that you would use a 2,000-year-old book, written by anonymous authors, rewritten and voted on (council of Nicea) to justify bigotry, hatred, and intolerance, towards people who are not like you. That is deplorable. You should be ashamed of yourself for your petty, sad, pathetic, homophobic idiocy. You are a child.
I don’t think so. I believe all of these forces—the gay agenda, the atheist agenda and other humanist agendas—are converging on the church in this hour. Peter warned us that the “adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). That devil doesn’t always look like a devil or sound like a roaring lion. More often he sounds like tolerance or doubt. Much of the battle still rests in the minds of the believer. What will we ultimately believe? Will we take the Word of God literally, or will we look at it through the eyes of the spirit of the world?
I urge you not to compromise the Word of God for any agenda. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The great falling away isn’t too far away (2 Thess. 2:1-4). Those who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt. 24:13). That said, don’t fear these devilish agendas. Remember, Jesus said, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
Translation: More gibberish.
I spend a fair amount of time soaking in lots of information in the debate over whether a god exists. I watch YouTube debates, read Twitter debates, blogs, articles, etc. And one thing I’ve seen over and over is the theists ability to equivocate (improperly define) or straw man (misrepresent) what atheism is. I have a few ideas as to why this happens, as follows.
- The theist is ignorant to what words really mean. This could be because the theists just made up what they think a word means, or they obtained an improper definition, and accepted it as truth.
- Atheists will often claim things such as “religion is harmful,” “faith is a bad thing,” or something like that. Many theists will respond with statements like “atheism is a religion, too,” or “atheism requires faith.” These claims are spurious at best, and are used intentionally as a tu quoque argument. In other words, the theist is saying “you think X is a bad thing, but you are X, too.”
In my opinion, the biggest problem with these arguments is that the buzzwords used in the arguments are poorly defined, if defined at all. What I’m attempting to do here is dispel certain erroneous theist claims, using dictionary definitions to show why they are untrue. I will be using the same, neutral source for all definitions, so no one can accuse me of cherry-picking definitions to advance my claim. If a definition is ambiguous or too broad (some are), I will state why.
My source will be dictionary.com.
First, we must define atheism.
[ey-thee-iz-uhm] Show IPAnoun1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Although these definitions are similar, I consider the second definition to be more accurate. The first suggests that atheists make the absolute claim that there is no god. Very few atheists make this claim (I know hundreds of atheists, and only know of one who makes this claim). The second definition more closely reflects the definition used by the atheists I know. We typically say that we lack belief in any gods. I see a discussion with a theist going something like this:
Theist: Do you believe that any gods exist?
Theist: What else do you believe as part of your atheism?
You see, atheism is a lack of belief (or disbelief, if you will), in any gods. THAT’S IT. Anything above and beyond that is not atheism, and any claim to the contrary is making assumptions about the atheist.
So anyway, on to the claims…
CLAIM #1: ATHEISTS ASSERT THAT THERE ARE NO GODS, WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY
This claim may be true of some atheists, but it’s not what atheism is. Atheism is a lack of belief. Absolute certainty is a claim of knowledge. Claiming knowledge that no gods exists is called gnosticism.
[nos-tik] Show IPAadjective Also, gnos·ti·cal.1. pertaining to knowledge.2. possessing knowledge, especially esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters.3. ( initial capital letter ) pertaining to or characteristic of the Gnostics.noun4. ( initial capital letter ) a member of any of certain sects among the early Christians who claimed to have superior knowledge of spiritual matters, and explained the world as created by powers or agencies arising as emanations from the Godhead.
A lot of people tend to think that people can be one of three things: theist (believe a god exists), atheist (lack of belief in the existence of any gods), or agnostic (indifferent), but this is not true. In fact, you can be a gnostic theist (believe gods exists, and know it to be true), an agnostic theists (believe god exists, but do not claim knowledge), a gnostic theists (lack of believe, but claim of knowledge, i.e., “I do not believe in any gods, and I know it to be true”), or an agnostic atheist (lack of belief, but no claim of knowledge). Most atheists are agnostic, including me. I actually find it arrogant for someone, anyone, to claim to know whether a god actually exists. There are some things in this world we may never know, or properly understand, so I’m not going to dismiss the possibility. However, because there is no evidence to support the existence of any of the 3,000 documented gods, I have no reason to believe. Furthermore, I consider the possibility that a gods exists to be extremely unlikely.
You may also want to reference the following article: The Spectrum of Theistic Probability.
For a nice meme, see this.
So no, most atheists do not claim there is absolutely no god.
CLAIM #2: ATHEISTS HATE GOD
Now this claim is just ridiculous. How can an atheist hate that which he/she does not believe exists?
CLAIM #3: ATHEISTS WORSHIP SATAN
See claim #2. No God = no Satan. If someone claims to worship Satan, they are not an atheist. They are a Pagan. Atheists do not believe Satan exists, therefore, cannot worship him (or her, or it).
CLAIM #4: ATHEISTS JUST WANT TO SIN
Once again, going back to claim #2, atheists do not believe sin exists. Sin is a man-made construct used to control people’s actions.
CLAIM #5: ATHEISTS ARE IMMORAL/AMORAL
Morality is entirely subjective, so your opinion is no more valid than another person’s opinion. You’d have to define what morality is before you can even make that claim. My assumption is that a theist will define immoral/amoral as “not adhering to my book.” 🙂
CLAIM #6: ATHEISTS ARE (INSERT CLAIM USE TO DEFAME, E.G., LIBERAL, SOCIALIST, HUMANIST, COMMUNIST, NAZI, FEMINIST, HIPPIE)
These claims are solely made to insult the atheist. First, whether an atheist is any of these things is irrelevant, and has nothing to do with being an atheist. In fact, I am none of these things, except for a humanist. Theists are so quick to judge and draw erroneous conclusions just to make themselves feel better. Remember, atheism is nothing but a lack of belief in gods. That’s it.
CLAIM #7: CHRISTIANS IN AMERICA ARE OPPRESSED/ATHEISTS WANT TO DESTROY RELIGION
This may be the most ridiculous claim of all. Christians are not oppressed at all. They think that banning Bibles from classrooms constitutes oppression, or keeping nativity scenes off government property is oppression. The fact is that Christians have had special rights in this country for a very long time. Their religious views have always been given special preference over other belief systems (or the lack thereof). Not only that, but churches get tax exemptions, and ministers get tax breaks that are not available to anyone outside the clergy. How’s that for equality? So if you think Christians are oppressed, just get over yourself. Christianity is fighting to keep its special rights, where everyone else just wants equal rights.
With respect to the claim that atheists want to destroy religion, that depends on the atheist. Personally, I think the world would be a much better place without religion.
CLAIM #8: ATHEISTS ONLY CRITICIZE CHRISTIANITY
While it is true that most American atheists tend to criticize Christianity more than other religions, there’s a reason for that. They’re everywhere. Christianity is by far the most popular, and most visible religion here. We see nativity scenes, Christian churches, and religious symbols everywhere. Christianity is constantly trying to infiltrate a constitutionally secular government. Christianity is what we see, everywhere.
With that said, that’s not to say that atheists don’t criticize other religions, because they do. I am fully aware of atrocities worldwide committed by other religions, as are many other atheists. I will condemn those atrocities no less than any committed by Christians. And some atheists I know focus on Islam and other religions that are less common in the U.S.
CLAIM #9: ATHEISTS ARE ANGRY
Some of us are, and for damn good reason. I’ll concede this one. But anger is by no means monopolized by atheists. Do you know that many atheists are unwilling to “come out” as atheists, for fear of repercussions from their families, friends, and employers? How many Christians fear being ostracized for coming out as Christian, in a country that is 78% just like them?
CLAIM #10: ATHEISTS DON’T GIVE TO CHARITY
I had someone on Twitter once try to claim that there are many Christian charities, but there are no atheists charities. First, this is not true. Second, a charity doesn’t have to be atheistic in nature to count as actual giving. Many atheists, including me, give to charities, some of which are religion-based, and some which are secular, such as the red cross. I also belong to a humanist organization, which does food and blood drives, and other charities. I have gladly give. But I will only give money to secular organizations, because I want my money going to help those in need, not to convert.
CLAIM #11: ATHEISM IS A RELIGION
OK, this is ridiculous. Let’s see a definition:
[ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA
noun1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
The overarching theme for the definitions above is that a set of beliefs is required. Atheism contains no beliefs. And if you think atheism does include a set of beliefs, I’d like to know what they are, because they don’t exist. Atheism also does not address the cause, nature, or purpose of the universe. Therefore, it meets none of the criteria of any of the definitions. If you start bringing up terms like evolution, big bang, or abiogenesis, you’re not talking about atheism. You’re talking about something else.
CLAIM #12: ATHEISM IS DOGMATIC
Time for another definition:
[dawg-muh, dog-] Show IPAnoun, plural dog·mas or ( Rare ) dog·ma·ta [dawg-muh-tuh] Show IPA .1. an official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church. Synonyms: doctrine, teachings, set of beliefs, philosophy.2. a specific tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, as by a church: the dogma of the Assumption; the recently defined dogma of papal infallibility. Synonyms: tenet, canon, law.3. prescribed doctrine proclaimed as unquestionably true by a particular group: the difficulty of resisting political dogma.4. a settled or established opinion, belief, or principle: the classic dogma of objectivity in scientific observation. Synonyms: conviction, certainty.
Atheism definitely doesn’t meet the first three definitions. No system of principles, morals, behavior. No doctrine. Nothing proclaimed as unquestionable. You could argue that atheism would fit the fourth definition, as a belief or opinion, but that definition is so vague that any opinion could be considered dogmatic.
CLAIM #13: ATHEISM IS A WORLDVIEW
I can’t seem to locate an official definition of worldview, but I did find this, which I thought was a good way of putting it.
“A framework of ideas and beliefs through which people interpret the world.”
To me, a worldview is a general idea of how the world works, or should work. A worldview is a system of many things that work together to form what you consider to be the world-as-we-know-it-or-should-be. Atheism, again, is a lack of belief in any gods. Nothing else. It takes no stance on human rights, the economy, anything but lack of belief in any gods. Don’t make it more than it is.
CLAIM #14: ATHEISTS HAVEN’T READ THE BIBLE
Actually, most of the atheists I know are atheists because of the reading the Bible. It’s full of contradictions, atrocities, misogyny, rape, murder, silly stories, and so forth. Let’s also consider that there’s no evidence for a global flood, talking snakes, women turning to salt, or 900-year old men. C’mon. Seriously?
CLAIM #15: IF YOU CLAIMED TO BE A CHRISTIAN, YOU WEREN’T REALLY A CHRISTIAN
It’s really disingenuous to tell someone that they aren’t want they define themselves to be. If someone reads the Bible, and attends a Christian church, guess what? You’re a Christian. Rejecting your religion doesn’t mean we somehow didn’t get it, or misinterpreted the Bible, or didn’t go to Bible study, is preposterous.Not only that, but you’re using the No True Scotsman fallacy.
CLAIM #16: INSTEAD OF WORSHIPING GOD YOU WORSHIP (INSERT PROMINENT ATHEIST, E.G., DAWKINS, HITCHENS, DENNET, HARRIS)
This is another example of trying to portray atheists as being like theists.
[wur-ship] Show IPA noun, verb, wor·shiped, wor·ship·ing or ( especially British ) wor·shipped, wor·ship·ping.noun1.reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred.2.formal or ceremonious rendering of such honor and homage: They attended worship this morning.3.adoring reverence or regard: excessive worship of business success.4.the object of adoring reverence or regard.5.( initial capital letter ) British . a title of honor used in addressing or mentioning certain magistrates and others of high rank or station (usually preceded by Your, His, or Her ).
[feyth] Show IPA
noun1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
Jim Todino is a little confused…