Note: This piece is mostly written tongue in cheek out of response to a recent blog post entitled “Twelve Reasons I Never Argue With Internet Atheists.” I’m addressing this post because it echoes many sentiments I hear regularly thrown at “Internet Atheists” by Internet Christians, and I think this is as good a place as any to address them. Although some items contain my honest thoughts, many of the items are just meant to be a parody. I’ve found that, while many will tolerate slurs towards atheists, it seems fewer are willing to tolerate the same slurs towards Christians without the disclaimer. Maybe this will expose the double standard. So, now that that’s done:
Some Christians try to pick a fight with the superior position of my atheism, but I never argue with Christians. Here’s why:
1. Most of the internet Christians I’ve come across are ignorant – I don’t mean they’re stupid necessarily, or that they are bad people. I don’t even mean they are uneducated in their particular field. But most of them are ignorant when it comes to atheism. By this I mean they just don’t know stuff. I don’t blame them for that, I’m ignorant about how to work an oil rig, how to play the trombone, the rules of badminton and a pile of other stuff. However, atheism is one of the areas I do know something about, so it’s difficult explaining my position to people who think they know it already, which is why most Internet Christians aren’t worth my time.
2. Most of the internet Christians are “atheist blind” the way a person might be color blind – Arguing that God doesn’t exist with this kind of religious person is like expecting a color blind person to be an art critic. Furthermore, many of them are blind to the truth regarding the status of God’s (lack of) existence but think they’re not. Tough one.
3. Arguing atheism doesn’t work – This is why I don’t argue with any religious affiliation. For a person to understand and connect with atheism they have to go on an honest search themselves and really seek the answers. “Seek and you shall find” and all that. Arguments don’t really fit with the kind of simple acceptance of atheism that I’m looking for. However, if a person – any person – is an honest enquirer and wants to learn more about atheism, I’ll spend all the time in the world trying to point the way (as long as they don’t express disagreement with what I’m saying).
4. There are better debaters out there – Chances are high that if you’re debating a relative or friend about atheism on the internet, they’re probably not worth your time. Why? Because they’re on the Internet. I think the humble way here is to make sure I only discuss these matters with those who approach my caliber, and not the Internet Christian (by that I mean Christians, like you, you are on the Internet). There are many atheist sites that you can conduct rational conversations about God and religion (although not all people do). I would recommend a religious one, like Strange Notions…but commentary against same-sex sex makes it a bit too disturbing for me to really follow through.
5. I’m not that convinced about the usefulness of the “arguments” for atheism – I could argue for atheism very effectively, but I won’t because, you see, the whole not believing in God thing is larger than intellectual argument. For me it’s just pure awesomeness to “sin” and stuff without having to worry about God or anything. It’s a bigger adventure and grander love affair with nature than anything the narrow-minded internet Christians are really able to connect to in their arguments. It’s like music — I’d rather just invite people to enjoy atheism with me than have my stance challenged or reexamined.
6. Evidence? What Evidence? – Very often Christians will ask for “evidence” for the nonexistence of God, but I have never been able to ascertain from any of them what they mean by evidence. Do they want scientific evidence of the sort you produce in a laboratory that indicates disembodied consciousness seems an impossibility? Archeological evidence of sites dug up that contradict the biblical accounts? Documentary evidence of contradictions in the Bible and unreliability of the earliest manuscripts? Eyewitness evidence (as none of us have seen God or Jesus, for that matter)? Psychological evidence that indicates the Bible’s commands are often psychologically unsound? Forensic evidence indicating that the earth is billions of years old and Jesus was just a man (if he existed), like the rest of us? You tell me what kind of evidence you want and I’ll try to provide it. None have (probably because I don’t argue with them). Meh. Fugheddaboudit.
7. I’m called to produce first hand evidence – The most astounding evidence for the nonexistence of God is the work it does in the lives of real people. It turns them into super humans we call “rational people with their heads on straight.” I’m trying to get to that place in my own life and thus produce irrefutable evidence of God’s nonexistence -proof that will convince the people who meet me and who are touched by my rational and secularly humanistic life. That’s hard work, and I’m still climbing that mountain. If I ever get to that point, then my life, I hope, will be my greatest argument for the nonexistence of God for those who have the proper respect for reason and secular humanism.
8. Many Christians aren’t Christians at all – One of the reasons I don’t argue with Christians is because many of them aren’t even Christians. They’re just people who hate the idea of there not being a God. To be honest, the people who aren’t really Christians usually are the best in arguing with atheists, though, because the most honest, up front, and articulate Christian is the one who — let’s face it — has so many doubts that they aren’t really Christians at all. Deep down inside, they really don’t believe. I mean, they might call themselves “Christians,” but really they’re just people who like the idea of God but don’t really believe in it. Which is OK, but if the Christians who discuss atheism best are not Christians at all anyway, why waste my time?
9. I usually don’t hold to whatever atheism they reject – When I sometimes do get down to the level of talking to Christians (so “never” doesn’t mean “never”) and ask what they think atheism is, I find that I don’t believe in that atheism either. So they reject an atheism that say morality without God is meaningless. Or maybe they think atheism is like Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China. I don’t hold to that kind of “atheism” either, so it’s a big waste of time dealing with people who present atheism that way.
10. There’s often a lot of rage, ad hominem attacks, and dumb stuff you have to wade through – Why do Christians think it’s so smart to say stuff like, “If you’re an atheist, why do you hate God so much?” That sort of wisecrack only shows their own ignorance of the way fictional concepts, like God, are often cause for concern when they impact ancient cultures, connotations in language, literature in general, symbolism, types of literary genre, human psychology etc. I certainly wouldn’t mind if hey picked up on some of the things atheists I don’t like do, but why can’t they do a better job of it? When these “arguments” are combined with condescending aggression, holier-than-though arrogance, rude behavior, vulgar concepts of being a s”sinner” and an amazing lack of any sense of humor it makes any discussion with most Christians a rather unpleasant and pointless experience.
11. My atheism is precious to me – I actually don’t believe in a God most people around me believe in, and that influences the way I look at things in ways that are important to me. These ways are, as I grow older, precious, fragile, and dear to me. They’re like an old Chinese vase that I have inherited from the Buddhists. It is easily broken, soiled, or marred, and you Christians don’t deserve and should not impose on it. I would prefer not to bring it out for people who want to actually talk about it or for people who think I’m wrong and want to show me why.
12. Christianity is dull – Christians themselves may be exciting, charming, entertaining and vivacious people. It is not Christians I object to as much as Christianity. I say it is dull because it is, at its essence, a substitute for and denial of reality. There can be nothing festive about it that has any true meaning. There can be nothing intriguing or mysterious about it, because it’s not based on truth and is essentially made up to ignore the real world. It is a negative, because it denies things like secular humanism and other things I like, personally. It does not allow for positive growth in the individual human spirit. It is something empty — with a nonexistent God at its center — and not full, like reality. To me, it looks demotivating, and therefore that’s what it is…which, even worse, makes it uninteresting.