Atheists Give Up Sleeping In On Sunday, Klingons and Tribbles

 

Atheists in London have started their own church, called The Sunday Assembly.

The first services were conducted by  a stand-up comedian, whose homily seemed to amount to jibes at Christianity. The whole affair appears to have been topped off with a singalong.

Trendy.

Cute.

And reflective of the deep human longings which atheism denies. People want faith. They need it. There is, in each of us, a God-shaped hole. We can try to fill it with all sorts of things, but nothing will suffice except God Himself.

I think that is why atheists are the most God-obsessed people you will ever hope to meet.They read the Bible more than Billy Graham, talk about Church teachings more than the Pope and generally talk/think and obsess over God more than a while monastery of praying monks put together.

Witness their bizarre obsession with commenting on this blog. It would appear that they want nothing more out of life than to come in here, dump off a load of mindlessly repetitive atheist rhetoric and start a few fights. Part of this is due to their equally bizarre evangelistic fervor, but most of it seems to be just a plain old obsessive/compulsive demand that I allow them to smear their insults and nastiness all over this blog.

They act like Public Catholic was the last lifeboat off the Titanic and they were standing on the tilting deck, fighting for their lives.

Now I read that they’ve put together a faux church in England, which has been so successful that they’re planning to open a branch office in Scotland. There are remarks about how they can now have the community of church without all that tiresome dogma.

Excuse me, but are they seriously contending that atheism doesn’t have a dogma? If that’s what they think, I challenge them to go to one of these gatherings and say something even slightly traditionally moral such as … ummm … abortion kills a living child. Say it and back off and watch the fireworks.

Atheists most certainly do have a dogma; and an ugly, death-dealing dogma it is.

There should be nothing odd about this, since atheism itself is based on the ultimate death-dealing dogma of turning your back on God. After you’ve done that, there’s not much death dealing left that can top it.

I don’t know if these atheist faux church services will continue to thrive after the novelty has worn off. I do know that during my anti-God period, I never once thought it would be a good idea to get up on Sunday morning and go to a singalong. Sleeping in on Sundays was one of the perks of my anti-God state, and I enjoyed it to the max.

However, if they do continue to draw crowds to these things, it won’t be long before they develop an official dogma of some sort. Atheism is not all that supportive of free thought. It’s also not all that supportive of freedom of action. My experience of associating with mostly atheists back in the 17 years of my anti-God period is that they are fiercely clannish and fiercely intolerant of anyone who disagrees with the core tenants of their disbelief.

This business of aggressively and openly attacking people of faith is new. Back in the day when I was walking with them, they shunned people of faith, made fun of them and lied to them, then laughed about it when they were together. The open attacks are a new flavor of atheism spawned mainly by the insult polemics written by a few of their tribe.

I don’t know of any sin that could have gotten me drummed out of that merry band of atheists. I mean it. Nothing offended them. Save one thing, which is what I did. I found Christ.

I didn’t have to tell them I’d found Christ for them to know it. That was my first intimation that there was more going on under the surface than any of us knew. My atheist buddies reacted to me after my conversion in much the same way that Tribbles react to Klingons. They were appalled by my presence.

That came as a big surprise to me, since I hadn’t said anything to them. I was a secret Christian at that stage, still trying to figure out what this new thing that had happened in my life meant for me. But they knew on a visceral and unthinking level that I had changed, and they reacted by getting as far away from me as they could. All they needed to add was to hold up an atheist A and shout “I cast you out, clean spirit!”

I know now that we were both dealing with powers and principalities, that atheism is not a simple intellectual choice, anymore than following Christ is a simple intellectual choice. Both of them involve a spiritual dimension that shapes our actions and reactions without our being aware of it.

I remarked once that God didn’t change what I did. He changed what I wanted to do.

The other side of this coin does the same.

In all my years of anti-Godism, I never experienced this, at least not fully. I think this was because I was never a true atheist. I didn’t actually pretend to be one. I made fun of believers, of Scripture, of traditional morality, but I always told people that I still believed there was a God. I even refused to do certain things and told people I still had too much belief in God to do them.

So I wasn’t even a pretend atheist. I was anti-God. I was also anti-religion. In fact, I would say that I was specifically anti-religion, with a side dish of God-can’t-or-won’t-help me.

God never deserted me in those years, never stopped calling me.

I don’t doubt that He’s calling many of the atheist cranks who are so frantic to climb aboard the good ship Public Catholic and lay waste to the place.

These atheist faux churches are a reflection of what St Augustine observed when he said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

I pray that these lost souls will find their way Home to that resting place before they die. How tragic for them if they don’t.

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  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    I hope they find that God loves them, and that they will allow themselves to be led to Him.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I agree.

    • Mike

      Agreed.

  • Peg

    ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,’ – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats

  • Oregon Catholic

    I think I would qualify what you’ve written as applying to what is commonly called New Atheism and the followers of Hitchens and Dawkins, et al. I know a few atheists who don’t have particularly negative feelings about religion or God, they simply don’t believe and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it either. They certainly don’t get exercised about it.

    I am postively giddy at the thought of them organizing as a church – even as a spoof. Because while they are all organizing under their spoof banner and writing their spoof catechism the truth will out that they are in fact the unified group with their own religion they have always denied. And then… they will no longer be able to force their particular religious views on the public. They will be hoisted with their own petard of anti-religious court rulings!

    • Subsistent

      Yes, there are atheists and atheists. Mark Shea has adduced the instance of one Nat Hentoff, an atheist “who says he believes we are products of chance yet who fights like a tiger for the life and dignity of unborn children”. (See his article “Eupocrisy” in his own blog “Mark-Shea.com”.)
      And altho an atheist faux church may be something new, a faux religious service is not. Think of the long tradition of the “black Mass”.

  • Bill S

    “…they simply don’t believe and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it either. They certainly don’t get exercised about it.”

    I feel a need to proclaim my unbelief and hear what believers have to say about it. I can’t do it with my wife because she is a living saint and I don’t want to change that.

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      I have a serious question, that I don’t intend as a challenge: where does that felt need to proclaim your belief, and hear what believers have to say about it, come from?

      As a Christian, I find the requirement to evangelize to be one of the most difficult aspects of my faith. I’d rather do almost anything than proclaim my belief, and I certainly don’t want to deal with what other people might say (or do) about it. But then, I’m both shy and introverted. It’s only my faith that drives me out of my shell. Therefore, I’m curious about what drives you out of yours.

  • http://kathieevenhouse.wordpress.com Kathie Evenhouse

    Atheists don’t realize that they are following a pattern that God made part of humankind when He created us–”It is not good for humans to be alone.” We are made for community (although introverts and extroverts define that word differently).

  • PatrickG

    Well, that’s interesting, to say the least. As an agnostic, I do take issue with some of your characterizations of atheists (though, I’m not sure, maybe you wouldn’t call me one). I’m certainly not anti-God, nor am I intolerant of Christians or any other religion, provided they aren’t trying to force anything on me (and I literally mean force; I certainly think everyone has the right to try to persuade others). I also hope you don’t think that my posts on this blog have been purposefully inflammatory or full of atheist dogma, or something like that. I can only speak for myself, but I come to blogs like yours because I love reading and commenting on posts with which I disagree. Always agreeing and patting each other on the back is not only boring, but leads to stunted intellectual growth.

    Anyway, one reason I think this came up is that the atheist community has been generally unhappy at the outsize influence of religious communities. This is probably in part because religious communities are organized, so they are trying to do the same, organize around a principle and provide a community for each other. I don’t see any reason to believe it has to do with a desire for God.

    It’s usually true, I think, that atheists know more about the Bible or whatever holy book they were raised to believe than many believers, though I think that’s more of an indictment of religion than atheists. As to their (our?) supposed evangelical attitude, part of it has to do with how many of us were troubled for years by lack of evidence, yet guilt from lack of belief. Our embrace of nonbelief, or nonstandard belief, relieved that guilt, and some of us would like to say to others on the fence that it’s ok, that they can be happy with themselves and not feel guilt over a being they don’t believe in. It definitely goes over the top- I wouldn’t disagree- but I think that’s part of the reason.

    • Mike

      “and I literally mean force; I certainly think everyone has the right to try to persuade others” This needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated. Thank you for this. We should be encouraging the art of persuasion not labelling it “hate speech” or whatever and chocking off ideas. Atheists should become the champions of freedom of speech instead of its attackers IMHO. BTW not all atheists are extremists but in my experience most are unbalanced, just saying.

  • Bill S

    “And altho an atheist faux church may be something new, a faux religious service is not. Think of the long tradition of the “black Mass”.”

    That doesn’t seem to be a very good example. The Black Mass acknowledges the existence of the supernatural. The atheist service does not.

    Church services are an integral part of community and there is something severely lacking without them. I can see where atheists would feel the need to have something comparable.

    I myself continue to fully participate as a member of my church community. I have no use for the hierarchy but I have great relationships with everyone else. I would never give it up to attend atheist services. I would rather sleep in.

    • Subsistent

      While I can admit that atheists deny “the supernatural” in the sense of “the divine”, yet in the fairly frequent sense of “supernatural” in which the word means something “entirely imperceptible by the senses or picturable by the imagination”, I daresay they not only acknowledge it but value it. For (as we believers do too) they value RATIONALITY; and they affirm themselves to be rational. But what color or colors is someone’s rationality? What size or shape (whether constant or changing) can it be? Of what order of mass or weight? These very questions are laughable, right? Because there’s just nothing sense-perceivable or picturable about someone’s rationality. Yet it’s real. Therefore, in this not-unusual sense of the word, atheists actually do acknowledge something that’s “supernatural”.

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  • Bill S

    I would not want to confuse what I use the word for with “entirely imperceptible by the senses or picturable by the imagination”. That’s not how I use the word.

    I mean God, angels, Satan, demons, etc. they are included in your more encompassing definition but I was being more specific.

    • Subsistent

      Fair enough. I was not gainsaying Bill S’s statement about atheists and “the supernatural”; I was just using it as a springboard to make a point about empiricism.

    • Theodore Seeber

      Hmm, is atheism really just anti-animism?

      The most natural form of what Bill describes, found in every primitive tribe on the planet, are anthromorphic stories about why observed events in the natural world happen.

      Homo Sapiens, when you remove the influence of culture, is an intensely religious being; so much so that some theistic anthropologists have renamed the species Homo Fidelis.

      That’s why atheism is a non-starter for me. It denies the direct observations of millions of other cultures, in favor of a purely materialistic explanation. Reductionism doesn’t make sense for finding truth for me; I can’t find the full truth by excluding 99% of the data in a given system.

      And I have been known to say the same thing about Capitalism.

  • Bill S

    ” I’m curious about what drives you out of yours.”

    I am not out of my shell except on this blog. It is harder for me to share my unbelief than it is for you to share your belief. I’m hoping someone can convince me I am wrong.

  • Bill S

    Yeah, I don’t hate God. If anything, I am mad at him for not being real. He said his name is “I am” and it turns out that he isn’t. There is, however, a glimmer of hope. Although it is confused with Creationism, Intelligent Design proponents have been making a strong case for it. If I come to accept ID, I will call the intelligent designer “God”, but then I will have to rule out the Judeo-Christian-Muslim description of it. It will be the intelligence behind the Big Bang, Fine Tuning of the constants of physics, the laws of nature, the beginning of life, etc. It will be the Creator and possibly the Holy Spirit, but it won’t be Allah or anyone’s Father, including Jesus’. And Jesus won’t be God or the Son of God. I hope to come up with something more than the nihilism of atheism.

    • Theodore Seeber

      I’m breaking my Lenten vow again, just to respond to this, but for once, positively.

      MOST ID theories I’ve seen, are creationism in disguise, that is, you have to give up on one or more scientific principles or discoveries for the theory to make sense.

      There is but one exception- Theistic Evolution, which oddly enough is what the last five Popes endorsed. It’s still an evolving theory- that is, it takes into account recent discoveries and incorporates it into the theory. It is compatible with the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics, the one that says that the apparent randomness on a quantum level may just be a limitation in the ability of our species to measure quantum states.

      I actually find Theistic Evolution to be not only valuable as a theology and a scientific theory, but also as a model for my own work as a software engineer- for if God uses Theistic Evolution complete with environmental pressure to shape species, then Test Driven Development, which is modeled on Theistic Evolution, is a very worthwhile method to consider in my professional life.

      But I don’t think it will result in large conversions from atheism. Most atheist books about ID and creationism I’ve read take it as a gospel truth that believers need the book of Genesis to be scientifically literal instead of the Catholic version, which is a moral allegory. Creationism as a simplistic story about Adam and Eve, while useful morally for teaching very young children, is simply false as a scientific dogma.

      • Bill S

        The problem with the ID community, particularly the Discovery Institute, is that they can’t get away from the creationists. Dr. Stephen Meyer is right on the money when he poinst out the programming of DNA as only have come from an intelligent source. If I believe in that intelligent source and call it God, I guess I would not be an atheist any more. But that wouldn’t make me a Catholic or any kind of Christian, Muslim or Jew.

        • Mike

          Well I am not so sure. Look, how crazy does creationism sound compared to some people’s belief that human persons just spring forth from nowhere at some magical point during gestation. They seem to think that quite magically persons pop into existence and all of a sudden acquire rights: that’s just weird too. I mean I don’t pop into existence everytime I wake up in the morning, I exist no matter my state.

    • Mike

      “am mad at him for not being real”, I get what you’re driving at but still this made me LOL. BTW I think most atheists are at bottom believers scorned.
      I think you think God is possibly a clock maker because it feels good. But don’t forget that we live in a moral universe, not a physical universe, which is only incidental. Notice how moralizing atheists/socialists can be about same-sex marriage, abortion and feminism; notice the language, the fire and brimstone, the emotional appeals to a higher standard, to concepts of equality, justice and fairness, all concepts that make zero sense if this is all a chemical fluke.

      • Bill S

        “But don’t forget that we live in a moral universe, not a physical universe, which is only incidental.”

        I can’t figure if you are being sarcastic or you really believe that. It is definitely a physical universe. What other kind of universe it there. What is a moral universe? Morality is something that has come along late in the history of humanity. Does it really make zero sense if this is all a chemical fluke (which I am starting to think it is not)? Even if we are here by sheer luck, we do need moralizing atheists. I don’t know any socialists.

        • Mike

          Oh I really believe it. The physical world is here no doubt but it is incidental in the sense that although it is real it is not to be confused with what is the ultimate reality, which is that it was created. The material of the universe, God’s creation gone bad, can invert our desires, the trajectory of our lives. We think the purpose of life is money, or power, or intelligence and smarts but in reality it is Love. Everything else is secondary, like the physical nature of the universe.

          So a moral universe is one in which morality seems to permeate everything. Notice how people, all people can’t go 5 minutes without making some kind of judgement on the morality/ethics of a thing. We’re always talking, acting, living as if right really exists and wrong is really wrong. It’s happening all the time: what tone should I use, will it offend you, will the blog master get annoyed, is this right, is it justified, if so how, to what extent, welll he’s an atheist so he doesn’t deserve mercy, and on and on. We do this without thinking about it, ALL the time. I first saw this expressed in a clear manner by Clive L. but I’ve always been aware of it. So what I am saying is although we are biological chemical animals we are really moral animals. It’s always about right and wrong for us, we’re obsessed with right and wrong. The keyston pipe line is wrong not just inefficient, for example.

          Oh by socialists I meant the people constantly going on about how immoral capitalism is and how it leads to wrongs being perpetrated on victims on people with dignity. My point is that is ALL about right and wrong not just efficient versus wasteful.

          And IMHO that is the biggest clue that we actually live in a moral universe. And whethe we believe it intellectually we LIVE as though we do – all of us.

  • Bill S

    ” It’s always about right and wrong for us, we’re obsessed with right and wrong.”

    Who are you talking about when you say “we”? I’m not obsessed with right and wrong. I think some people on this blog are and probably think that I lack a conscience. Most people I know do not look at life as spiritual warfare, a conflict between good and evil, right and wrong, etc.

    The purpose of life is to pass on genes. Love is important and we all need it. But natural selection is all about survival of the fittest. To quote Tina Turner “what’s love got to do with it?”

    You say we live in a moral universe but I don’t see it. Morality evolved in humans because it enhances our chances to survive and pass on our genes. It’s the selfish gene that determines everything.


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