Atheist Antennae Go Up

I’ve started getting mail from atheists. One of the letters was poignant in its contempt for the Church and it’s longing for the Church to not be contemptible. I think that guy is closer to God than he realizes. Another guy responds to my Eupocrisy article:

Please explain to this atheist why a lack of belief in gods excludes me from caring about the fate of my fellow humans?

And, while you’re at it, explain why trashing atheists at this rather dicey Catholic moment serves your purposes?

Every time some religious atrocity occurs, I have to listen to another round of atheist-bashing. It wasn’t atheists who blew up the WTC. It wasn’t atheists who sent suicide bombers into Israeli marketplaces. It wasn’t atheists who assaulted those children in the sacristies all over the U.S.

Do you have a word for those who would make scapegoats of bystanders?

I wonder if he read what I wrote. I nowhere say that “lack of belief in gods excludes [him] from caring about the fate of [his] fellow humans”. I merely observe (as Minute Particulars did) that lack of belief in God makes it very hard for atheists to render a coherent account of why they care about their fellow human beings. This leads to the second point: my alleged “trashing” of atheists. Apparently, my reader assumed that, being written by a theist, any article with a title like “Eupocrisy” (a word that quite deliberately sounds like “hypocrisy” but with a radically different meaning) must be a hatchet job on atheists. After all, the Church is rocked by scandals, so hadn’t a theist better start pointing at atheist sins to distract attention from the problem? Trouble is, the piece basically praises atheist virtues and hopes. It merely points out that atheists have to draw from theistic categories to account for those virtues and hopes. I don’t think that’s an insult. I think it’s an indication that atheists aren’t as inhuman as their ideologies.

And speaking of ideologies, one could observe that every time there’s a Scandal among theists, atheists have a jolly time saying things like “It wasn’t atheists who sent suicide bombers into Israeli marketplaces. It wasn’t atheists who assaulted those children in the sacristies all over the U.S.” But, of course, this does overlook little matters like the reign of Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot.

However, that’s all beside the point, which was not to say that atheists are incapable of loving their neighbor. They are merely incapable of giving a coherent account of why they do so without smuggling in (usually unconsciously) a bunch of idea that only make sense in a theistic universe. Hence the term “eupocrisy”: being better than your worst words.


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