Tuesday, October 6, 2015

There Are No Atheists

What is an atheist?  This may sound like a simple question, but there are different answers within the expanding atheistic community.

Atheism is growing in the United States and for decades has had a firm hold on entire nations through communistic based governments like China and North Korea.   

As best I can tell only once in the Scriptures does God address atheism directly saying, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1).  Otherwise, the Scriptures do not devote much time to it, because God does not see atheism as His biggest concern.  The Ten Commandments show the focus of His concern when He says, 
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

God assume two things.  We will either worship Him or something else.  Nowhere does He assume we will worship at the altar of nothing.  Since an atheist would admittedly not worship any god then let us ask “What is a god?”    

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a god as “A person or thing of supreme value.”  I argue this is what atheists are unto themselves.  Since they have nothing to exalt outside of themselves they become their own god thinking more highly of themselves then they should.  They worship the god of themselves and are their own living and breathing idol they bow down to. 

Atheists build a box around themselves keeping God out with only themselves inside.  Their means of living is purely self-sufficient, cutting off all the blessings and beauty of the one true God only doing, controlling and becoming what they can manage.  It is like they say, “All I want.  All I need is right here in this box.” 

God the Creator who made us (including all the atheists) put a natural desire within us to seek and know Him.  When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness. 

I challenge every atheist to open the box, step out and seek his or her Creator.  You were made to know Him.  There is no reason to fear.  God loves you and seeks your best for His glory.  May Jesus be your hope for today. 


Bob of QF said...

You silly man. I know who my creators are; my parents are very much alive and well, no thanks to your myth-god (who does not seem to give a crap about humanity; too much god-preventable suffering for a god to exist).

I do not worship *anything*. Worship is what slaves--who have been broken-- do for their owners.

Worship demeans both the slave (worshiper) and that which is worshiped.

No sane sentient being would welcome worship; it's beneath them.

Clint Decker said...

Thanks Bob of QF for reading the post and making a comment. In my column I argue that an Atheist does worship. Rather than worshiping the God of heaven and earth, they worship the things of this world and are a god unto themselves. I explain this by exploring where Atheists goes for counsel in difficult situations, where they seek happiness, pleasure, meaning, etc. This points to what they rely upon, what they exalt in their life. It all comes down to two things: themselves and the things of this world. If only Atheists would see the limits they choose to put on themselves walking down this path. There is so much more, so many more possibilities, such a better way.

Don Gwinn said...

Did you run your definition of atheism past any self-described atheists before you wrote this? It's hard to imagine an atheist who would agree with you that atheism requires that one have no beliefs whatsoever in anything . . . . I've never met an atheist who didn't understand that atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods, or that atheists cover wide spectra on any other question.
The idea that a person who "believes in herself," whatever that nebulous term means, is not an atheist is absurd.

Nullifidian said...

Clint, anyone reading your article could see that is what you were arguing. The point is that it doesn't matter what you argue if it is, in fact, not true. Pointing us back to your article doesn't help, because your claims don't trump the lived experience of the atheists you are misrepresenting.

Case in point: "When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness."

But I am an atheist without any such restlessness. You can tell me that I don't know my own life, which would hardly be likely to win me over, or you can deal with me as you find me. The problem with so many Christian apologists and preachers is that they refuse to put their preconceptions away when confronted with real-life people that don't fit them.

Andy Abbott said...

"This points to what they rely upon, what they exalt in their life. It all comes down to two things: themselves and the things of this world."

Few thing wrong here. Like all human beings, I rely on other human beings- I am not in a vacuum, an island to myself- and neither are you. I rely on the things of this world as well, as they are directly (or indirectly) observable- and so do you.

In your article, you state: "God assume two things. We will either worship Him or something else." Besides begging the completely unsettled question of "Are there any gods at all?" and about a dozen other non-established questions, you jump right from, "My book says this" to "this must be true" and assume that EVERYONE must worship SOMETHING. You don't get anywhere near backing this statement up.

I think your central notion (Atheists worship themselves) goes even further off the rails than that- I would argue that the theist is the person who turns more inward and thus to themselves than the atheist (we exist, BTW- Hi!).

Given that the theist might just be relying on something that they are imagining is real, they just could be putting their trust and hope into a god they have created for themselves. For example- you are a Christian. You would presumably not believe that Shiva or Vishnu are real- has the devout Hindu not then created an imaginary image of a bogus god to put his faith into? Is he not, in fact, worshiping a self-generated image, and, by extension, himself?

The same can be said for any other faith by people who are not followers of that faith- yes: the same applies to Christianity as seen through the lens of the other 50% of the population of the planet. Kinda funny when you run it through the "outsider test."

In turning away from the real and to things that can neither be observed, demonstrated, or explained, in letting go of reasonable doubt for faith, the theist ends up the worshiper of self.

Clint Decker said...

To Don Gwinn's comment - According to my worldview we either believe in and worship God or we believe in and worship something or someone else. I argue that atheists simply have replaced a belief/worship of God with a belief/worship of themselves. Therefore, an atheist is a god unto themselves. I realize you would adamantly oppose this viewpoint. My goal isn't to change your beliefs, but simply share.

Clint Decker said...

To Nullifidian's comment - Thank you for commenting. I know my words sound assuming, but it is based on my worldview of the Bible and 25 years of experience in talking with people about God. There IS a divine restlessness in every human soul outside who is outside of knowing God. None would admit nor understand it until they finally come to know God, look back and connect the dots. It is this restlessness that has been the basis of former atheists who turned and became faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

Clint Decker said...

To Andy Abbott's comment - Thank you for sharing. According to my worldview there is the God of heaven and earth and there are "other" gods. Native Americans and Hindus are examples of the hundreds of thousands of other gods there are. My view of a "god" isn't just something or someone supernatural. It's the basis of what we look to and trust in. I believe an atheist looks to and trust's in themselves first and foremost. Therefore, according to my worldview they are a god unto themselves.

Nullifidian said...

Clint, that's some pretty good examples of assuming your conclusion and hasty generalization. You say that "this restlessness... has been the basis of former atheists who turned and became faithful followers of Jesus Christ". All right, so what if some have? How do you address the fact that there are some atheists who never convert? Surely if your thesis were correct, you could hardly stop them stampeding to the nearest church at the first available opportunity.

All your "worldview of the Bible and 25 years of experience talking with people about God" amounts to is reinforcing your preconceptions. Who do you talk to about God? You talk to believers in God about God. What do you do when you consult the Bible? You find the writings of believers in your God. Where, in all of this, are you actually approaching the atheist on a basis of true mutual understanding?

What you're doing is confusing propaganda designed to keep you safely ensconced within the comfortable limits of your faith with the lives and experiences of real people. This is fine as long as you only talk to your fellow co-religionists, who largely share your assumptions, but when it leads you to publish articles that are picked up and published (admittedly in minor newspapers), the limitations of your view become apparent. As a lifelong atheist, I don't recognize myself in anything you've written. Your view cannot comprehend anyone who is raised without religion and happens not to believe in God as a result.

Clint Decker said...

Nullifidian - You may call it "preconceptions", I prefer to call it "reinforcing truth". I have no concerns about engaging with people who oppose my views. I've read parts of the New World Translation, the Book of Mormon, the Koran and visited with many people over the years that believe or don't believe a variety of things. All the while I find it reinforces the truth I've learned from the Bible.

What lead you to becoming an atheist?

Nullifidian said...

I have no concerns about engaging with people who oppose my views. I've read parts of the New World Translation, the Book of Mormon, the Koran and visited with many people over the years that believe or don't believe a variety of things.

Rather than answering my objection, you've just reinforced it. I said that you don't get an independent view of atheism because you only talk with other theists, and here you are citing your perusal of religious texts. That's hardly material when it comes to the subject of atheism, because these texts aren't going to be any more understanding of atheism than you are.

What lead you to becoming an atheist?

You're still assuming that theism is the default position and atheism some kind of aberration despite the fact that I explicitly told you last time that I was a lifelong atheist. So the things that led me to becoming an atheist were conception and birth. I was raised entirely without religion. My mother lived and died without me ever learning what her religious views were, if any. Because of my lack of early childhood indoctrination, when I became aware that people actually believed in god(s) in the present day, not just as some quaint practice of centuries past, I had no emotional ties to any religion nor any impulse to think god's existence more likely than not.

For several years, I continued as a young atheist who was aware of his atheism (I consciously omitted the "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance because I knew I didn't believe in it, and since I was only required to say the Pledge from K-2, that will tell you how soon I was aware of not believing in god(s)). Then when I hit about 12 or 13, I decided it was time to investigate the subject of atheism in depth. Being pre-New Atheism, the only popular-level book on atheism that was in print was George H. Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God. It's a rather mediocre work, but that didn't make me more inclined to accept theism. Just the contrary: by mentally arguing with the author, I managed to construe his arguments in stronger terms than he himself managed, so it ended up strengthening my atheism in a way that a better book might not have. Continuing to research arguments for atheism meant getting into academic philosophy of religion, which I did with works like Critiques of God: Making the Case against the Existence of God by Peter A. Angeles (ed.), The Miracle of Theism by J. L. Mackie, and Atheism: A Philosophical Justification by Michael Martin. At roughly the same time, I was also looking into religious texts and authors, in a spirit of investigation to see what other people thought. So I ended up reading the Bible in the NRSV translation, the Koran (N. J. Dawood/Penguin Classics translation), selections from the Upanishads, the Dhammapada, the Tao te Ching, etc. I also read Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Schleiermacher, Kirkegaard, Bultmann (just mentioning a few the Christian authors, as some of the others might not mean much to you). The result was stalemate. I could see that tremendous intellectual energy was spent writing and interpreting scriptures, and in arguing for gods, but the scriptures themselves are so divergent that they clearly cannot all be true, and the arguments for gods are counterpoised by the arguments against them and against the existence of gods. Considered as a purely intellectual problem—and I have no reason to consider it any other way—the existence of gods is very far from being established. Hence my atheism. I was an atheist at birth, I was never indoctrinated into religion, and so there's no emotional pull to any religion, let alone yours. Your "divine restlessness" isn't an inherent quality of humanity (I am human the last time I checked), but if it exists at all it exists as the product of religious indoctrination. Those who don't get any don't feel any sense of loss in not believing.

Anonymous said...

Methinks thou dost protest too much. Why does Nullifidian read so much if he is not searching to fill the God shaped void in his heart?

Nullifidian said...

I missed this the first time around. I had it set up to receive alerts, but they went to a "social media" tab that I never look at, so I didn't see it until now.

But to give a belated answer:

Methinks thou dost protest too much. Why does Nullifidian read so much if he is not searching to fill the God shaped void in his heart?

That is a question that could be applied to anything people do. "Why does X do Y if he is not searching to fill the God shaped void in his heart?" You could substitute gardening, playing pinochle, lifting weights, doing cross-stitch, watching television, or any other activity for that. Since there's no necessary relationship between the activity and thinking about God, it applies just as well to anything.

I read because I like it. It's news to me that reading is supposed to either lead one to God or that it's supposed to cover some alleged 'void' left by God's absence—a void I've never felt because, as I explained above, I was never raised to think that any gods existed in the first place. My reading in the philosophy and history of religion was only for a brief span from high school to my early undergraduate years and was entirely due to the fact that, never having been raised in any religion, I was curious about them all. I then learned what I wanted, and I moved on to subjects that interested me more.