Greetings from the Losers' Club

John Loftus of the blog Debunking Christianity has very kindly linked to my recent post, “An Inspiring Story“, with a post of his own, “Ex-minister Walks Atheist Path“.

However, it seems that his much-appreciated courtesy has attracted attention from a different direction. Specifically, the Christian site Triablogue responded with a post titled “The ‘Inspiring Story’ of Induction into the Loser’s Club” – the losers in question being atheists, in case there was any doubt.

From the very beginning, starting with its title, this post bleeds arrogance and contempt. The author, one Evan May, seems to have studied at the J.P. Holding School of Apologetics, where the way to “win” a debate is to come up with the most creative string of insults. His post is filled with hostility, derision and invective. One of his commenters wonders publicly why God has not killed Mr. James Young, of my original post. (Why are all these Christians so filled with anger?)

I seriously considered whether this provocation was even worth responding to, but ultimately I decided that Mr. May’s post deserved an answer. The mission of Daylight Atheism, after all, is to defend freethought where it matters, and to shatter the noxious stereotypes about us spread by religious commentators. However, so Mr. May does not acquire an inflated sense of his own self-importance, I will say at the outset that I will not give him any more of my time, either now or in the future, if he cannot clean up his act. I have better things to do than deal with his attitude; there are plenty of theists with whom I disagree that can carry on a civil conversation.

Now then, his points, in order:

Is the story of a man who once (supposedly) had hope for meaning in life and later came to believe that there is, in fact, no meaning in life really “wonderful”? Is it really “inspiring”?

I am an atheist and I happen to believe there is meaning in life, thank you very much. Many other atheists feel the same way. The only difference is that a Christian believes that meaning is conferred upon life by God, while an atheist believes that we define our own meaning and choose our own purpose in life. And this turns out not to be such a great difference, because just like an atheist, the Christian must still choose to find a particular set of religious teachings meaningful and worth following.

The author of this post almost sounds like a religious zealot for the cause of secular humanism.

If by this he means that I find secular humanism to be a positive and uplifting worldview and would encourage more people to adopt it, guilty as charged. Humanism stands for the positive values of reason, compassion and tolerance, which are three things we could use much more of in this faith-mad world.

Who is he helping by propagating the notion that life as we know it is a biological accident?

I could just as well ask, who is Mr. May helping by propagating the notion that humanity is a mass of worthless wretches most of whom are destined for an eternity of suffering damnation at the hands of a jealous and vengeful god? The knife of negative stereotyping cuts both ways.

As far as life being an “accident”, I suppose that is true in the strict sense of an unplanned event, but so what? If your parents inform you that the pregnancy that led to your existence was not planned, does that immediately rob your life of all meaning and purpose? Of course not, and it would be silly to say otherwise. Life is valuable and meaningful because of what we do with it now that we have it, not because of the manner of its origin. (I dealt with this exact claim, and the confusion of terms it exploits, in the Ebon Musings essay “A Cosmic Accident“).

If you are an atheist, and you’re wrong, you lose (and you lose badly). But if you are an atheist, and you’re right, you still lose!

If you’re a theist and you’re wrong, you lose just as badly. There are plenty of other religions besides Christianity that stipulate a hell for non-members, as Mr. May seems to have forgotten. On the other hand, I do not agree that an atheist who is correct loses anything. On the contrary, such a person has gained something extremely valuable – the chance to live this life, the only life they will ever have, free of superstition and fear, with a clear view into how the universe really works. I do not consider the truth something to be tossed aside lightly, as Mr. May seems to; and I do pity the people who allow ancient mythology to cloud their worldview, cramp their imaginations and fill their lives with unnecessary fear and guilt, when the truth is far more magnificent and inspiring.

This is because humanism, as a worldview, is simply a religion of anti-religion.

Given the sheer unprovoked fury with which Mr. May has responded to me, it would probably be more accurate to call his worldview a religion of anti-atheism. On the contrary, atheism and humanism have many positive traits – but when his entire focus is to denigrate and insult nonbelievers and argue that our lives are meaningless, it is no wonder he has overlooked that. Like many other atheists, I would be more than happy to leave religious people alone, if only they would grant atheists the same courtesy.

But atheism… is a religion for overgrown children. It is for those who have never left the shadow of their fathers…

I never cease to be amazed by the blithe arrogance with which some Christians attempt to psychoanalyze people they have never met or spoken to. If Mr. May meets me and my father and gets to know the two of us and still comes away believing that I am an atheist because of some Freudian neurosis, more power to him. Until then, I would appreciate it if he would stop making claims about my family life that he cannot possibly support.

Loftus, for instance, may have left the faith, but he has not left its shadows. Its truth still haunts him. That is why he works at the purposeless effort of destroying believers. Christians evangelize in obedience and from a heart of burden for the loss. But what motivates the “evangelism” of John Loftus? Might I suggest that it is the stain the church has left on him? It certainly isn’t to give any hope to those who are at his listening end!

I assume Mr. May is claiming the psychic power to read another person’s thoughts, because I cannot see any other way he could so confidently discourse on the motivations of others. On the contrary, as I have said, I do believe atheism is a positive, hope-filled worldview and I would like to share it with others. Spreading it is not a “purposeless” effort, but one founded on a very significant and important purpose: helping people who are under the shadow of superstition come out into the daylight, and persuading those who are harming others in the name of God to cease.

There is one point left to make. Despite Mr. May’s implied insult, it is absolutely correct to say that atheists are losers: we have lost the superstition, illusion and fear associated with religious belief, as well as all the other aspects of theism which hold people back and prevent them from attaining their full potential and leading lives full of happiness. This is a loss worthy of celebration, not the tragedy Mr. May and his ilk seem to think it is. If he ever decides to stop clinging to his fantasies, he is welcome to join us.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    I have to appreciate the dripping irony of the accusation that it’s atheists who have never left the shadows of their father, from a Christian who, if we put Judaism and Christianity together, has a religion based entirely around being in the shadow of their father in heaven, and has been for at least, what, 3000 years? That, and the irony that comes forth when we see that Jesus himself commanded his followers to go forth and convince others of his truths, yet folks like this instead drive people away, intentionally, in complete violation of their own religion.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    I’m afraid that to people like this, “irony” is just a word that means “sort of like iron”.

  • http://dominicself.co.uk Dominic Self

    “But atheism… is a religion for overgrown children”

    Haha – yes, that line also makes me laugh. Children in the sense of needing an authority figure to command them and make decisions for them, rather than be independent and free? Hmmm… reminds me of something…

  • http://triablogue.blogspot.com Evan May
  • tobe38

    Good post, Adam. Mr. May’s article was as entertaining as it was infuriating. I agree that his style of debating (and I use that term generously) was condescending while I felt that you were admirably civil, especially in the face of such brazen ignorance.

    Dominic Self, re-arrange the following words to describe your post: the, head, the, nail, on, hit.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    It appears we have a plant.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    And of course, the response is messy and difficult to follow, hardly substantiated, poorly types with regards to spelling and grammar, and ultimately hypocritical. It also forbids comments by all but other bloggers, and if I’m not mistaken, Adam, this individual did not even use your correct name…

  • http://triablogue.blogspot.com Evan May

    It also forbids comments by all but other bloggers

    Heh, well that surely isn’t Steve’s fault. You can bring that complaint to http://blogger.com or just join the rest of the world and get a blogger account.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Heh, well that surely isn’t Steve’s fault…

    Actually, a Blogspot blog’s owner can choose whether to allow anyone or only other Blogger users to post. If you want an example, see the Debunking Christianity blog, which I’m sure is a personal favorite of yours.

  • BlackWizardMagus

    So it’s ignore the most relevant criticisms->try to pass off blame for the one actually responded to->not reply when corrected even on that.

  • Archi Medez

    Folks, sorry I missed all the fun. Christians and Muslims can be very slippery. Therefore, I try to stick to the very basic issues: Facts (is the Bible or Koran believable), and Morals (is what is recommended in those books acceptable morally). We needn’t get fancy. The Bible and Koran make some empirical claims that are known to be false, and they make recommendations or orders that should be morally unacceptable in any age (rape, unjustified slaughter, acceptance of slavery, etc.).
    Christians and Muslims can twist and turn all they want, but they can’t escape what’s in their holy books.

    http://www.evilbible.com
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com
    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/index.htm

  • tony

    [Long, rambling, preachy comment deleted. Don't feed the trolls, folks.]

  • Polly

    @tony:
    (I’m probably wasting my time, but here goes…)

    If what the atheist believes is REALLY his belief, then he would leave people like me alone

    Who is persecuting you? You came here to post your ideas. Did anyone stop you? Why don’t the religious leave unbelievers alone instead of trying to pass laws to impose their religion on everyone else? You try to stop science education and force submission to god by inserting that wording everywhere not just into the Pledge of Allegiance, and would proabably try to enforce laws (already on the books) barring atheists from holding public office if you could get away with it. If YOU really believed in the power of your god, you wouldn’t feel the need to work so hard to protect him.

    This is my view that men seek an out from reality. Some take drugs, drink, there are many ways to “escape” reality.

    I think putting faith in invisible saviors is “an out from reality.”

    If you and the Atheists believe there is no “God” than why you hate him so much?

    Atheists do not hate god. This is your presumption not backed up by anything any atheist has ever said.

    An atheist once wrote and said, “2+2 is not necessarily 4″.

    You should reference your outlandish claims. But, putting that aside, the vast majority of Christian demon-ations seem to believe that 1 father+1 son+1 spirit=1 god. Try putting THAT on a math test.

    Think about this: What does the atheist have to offer you? Eternal life? Spiritual comfort? Love? Kindness? Comfort in the midnight hour when no one is around? No, none of these. He has nothing to offer you but blasphemy, hell fire and the wrath of God. The atheist will tell you fabulous fairy tales like…

    Don’t you think stories about talking snakes and donkeys and world-wide floods and stopping the sun from moving *stifling laughter at geocentricism* are “fabulous fairy tales”? You can’t offer eternal life either. Be honest have you ever seen the real heaven? Do you have any real evidence that it exists and is your destination? As for love and kindness, these things come from the human heart, not from any god and certainly not from the Bible as a whole, which is filled with god-sanctioned and approved acts of hideous barbarism including rape, child-sacrifice, murder, and wholesale genocide and infanticide. Worst of all is the idiotic doctrine of HELL. Eternal punishment for petty crimes. If this looks like justice to you, you should practice thinking for yourself for just a few minutes a day until you can sustain it indefintely.

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    An atheist once wrote and said, “2+2 is not necessarily 4″.

    Was that Bertrand Russell? If so, given that the foundations of mathematics was one of his major areas of study, I’m sure he knew what he was talking about!

    Tony, you could gain a lot from watching and listening, here — you obviously have a lot of misconceptions about atheists. I’m not going to reply to them individually. If you look around this website or around its parent site Ebon Musings (the link is towards the bottom of the sidebar) I’m sure you’ll find good replies to your claims quickly enough.

  • http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com Mariano

    Archi Medez,

    EvilBible.com is Dead

    Large portions of evilbible.com have been considered, dissected and declared fallacious on very many levels.

    Two examples of this fact are as follows:

    Whilst besmirching the Bible for allegedly commanding rape evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention the most relevant biblical text related to the biblical view of and law about rape. Why this omission? Who knows, but it would certainly have gotten in the way of a good session of emotive expression of prejudice—it would have discredited evilbible.com to reference this most important text. Indeed, those annoying little facts have an annoying way of getting in the way of good fallacious assertions.

    Whilst besmirching the Bible for allegedly commanding human sacrifice evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention that the Bible does not command but condemns human sacrifice. Evilbible.com, for some odd reason, neglects to mention that when the Bible reports that human sacrifices did take place they were carried out by Gentile Pagans who were not worshiping the God of the Bible but various false gods. When “Jews” were performing human sacrifices it was only when they turned away from the God of the Bible and joined Gentile Pagans in worshiping various false gods. Yet, in typical militant activist atheist fashion, evilbible.com does not condemn Gentile Pagans but only condemns the Jews.

    Some of the resources provided in the original post are as follows:

    http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2009/07/evilbiblecom-is-dead.html