Atheists in the Evangelical Mind

The AV Club reviews the new movie God is Not Dead in which atheistic villain Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) butts heads with a yound evangelical student named Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper):

Josh, and the film that takes his viewpoint, doesn’t dare actually engage with Radisson’s arguments; any legitimate critiques of Christianity are ignored in favor of suggesting that all atheists are just haters who need someone to ask them to point out on the doll where organized religion touched them.

Great line, and a big problem. When dealing with folks from the Evangelical subculture, we frequently run into people who define atheism in their own way. Not quite able to believe that anyone could doubt the existence of a God that seems so obvious to them, they imagine atheists as being in rebellion. Our own Libby Anne used to think this way:

I was also told growing up that atheists are not really atheists at all, they’re just angry at God. Or, they’re denying the existence of God because they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. In fact, the idea that atheists might literally not believe in a God was foreign to me.

And of course, whenever we need a bad example, there’s always Pat Robertson:

“It’s something beyond normal human experience, something has happened and she associates God — maybe she had an abusive father, somebody who raped her and then acted like he was preaching to her from the Bible, you just never know what is going on in somebody’s childhood.”

… I just can’t. Nothing I can type is going to counteract that. Trying to make light of it would just be grotesque.

I think that breaking up this closed mindset and exposing American evangelicals to functional atheists is one of the best justifications for the visible role atheists are now playing in society. (Not that we really need a justification, but still …)


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