Athiest.


Atheist.

By the very mention of the word, I might have made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. It’s a word that incites arguments that seldom get resolved. Whatever I say, be it negative or positive, I’m bound to make someone defensive. This blog may not sit with both sides of the aisle.

But I really don’t feel like arguing so if you’re in a mood to debate, you may as well save your breath.

I didn’t know any Atheists growing up and for some reason I had two misconceptions of them. First, they were illogical. There were really no such thing as Atheists. God didn’t believe in them. It was in the Bible somewhere.

The other misconception was that Atheists were all bitter and hostile and lived to persecute Christians. It was us vs. them. The right vs. the wrong. The completely innocent vs. big godless meanies. I’m exaggerating…but only a little.

In my adult life, I’ve had the privilege of knowing many Atheists, agnostics, skeptics, and otherwise undeclared. I’ve known many of them on surface levels and a few very personally. They come from all different socioeconomic backgrounds, cultures, and mindsets for their beliefs.

And my former misconceptions have been blown to bits.

Now, let me just be frank. Not all Atheists are created equally (sorry, bad pun). I’ve known a couple that were quite antagonistic that hid under a disguise of rationalism that in truth couldn’t think themselves out of a wet paper bag. But then again, I’ve known a few Christians like that as well.

Lately I’ve been forced to think about the issue. A few months ago I was listening to a professor who claimed that Atheists do not have the truth of God. Because of this, they cannot find God. Only God can find them; and apparently God has ordained many of them to stay Atheists.

Basically, they’re screwed – and it’s God’s will.

The professor went on to say that even Atheists who do incredibly good humanitarian things are doing it under false pretense; that they only do things for their own selfish benefit. True goodness comes from God and since they don’t have God, everything they do is evil.

Of course, I couldn’t let this steaming mound of crap slide.

I responded to the professor, “Having truth can’t be that simple and black and white. Aren’t we all made in the image of God? Even as Christians, don’t we see God through a proverbial dark glass?”

He looked at me and said, “But it’s in the Bible” and gave me a lingering stern look that said, “If you challenge me on this, I will end you.”

Now granted, this guy is a brilliant PhD that has a carefully formed theology. And heck, maybe he’s right and I’m just a punk kid being confused by my own sinful logic (or some other ridiculous comment I’ve received over the past few years). Hate me if you must, but I can easily take a handful of scriptures and make a good argument for just about anything. But that doesn’t make it right. I just can’t buy into any theology that violates what I know about God through scripture and through my innermost being. I also can’t believe something that just doesn’t correspond with reality.

Because the reality is, I know some really good Atheists.

I know Atheists who are verbal about saying that God doesn’t exist but on the inside they’re screaming, “God, where in the hell are you?” I know Atheists whose anger is a suppressed cry for divine love. I know Atheists who whole-heartedly believe that the concept of God is absurd – and they’re logic is sound. But it’s only because they were fed a really crappy version of God that I’m convinced enslaves the majority of Christian Americans into being judgmental and miserable.

If that’s the only version of God I know, I’d be an Atheist too.

And believe it or not, I’ve known some Atheists who are more Christ-like than me, Mr. Christian. I’ve known some who’ve loved and cared and concerned for people way more than I do; that see more beauty in the things around them and that follow an ingrained higher law of love better than I can.

Some Atheists are following God and they don’t even realize it.

Now before I am declared a heretic by my fellow Christians, let me say this. I whole-heartedly believe in only one God and Jesus is the only way to him. I am convinced that the only way to make sense of this world is through Jesus. The only way to make this world a better place is through the way of Jesus. No other philosophy or worldview or system comes even remotely close to the way of Jesus.

But God does so much more than just to reveal himself through his followers. God is revealing himself in everything good and beautiful. In every nation. In every language. Every wonderful breath we take is a glimpse of God who creates and sustains everything.

And God is revealing himself to Atheists, whether they want to admit it or not.

So to my Atheist friends, some of whom I can say it is with the deepest honor that you’re in my life, do I want you to become a Christian? Absolutely! The God I want you to find looks like this: Imagine every noble and beautiful quality you can think of. Imagine love so intense it’s manifested in physical form. Now take all that and multiply it by infinity. Now take that concept, and imagine that it has a heart that burns for YOU. Imagine it desperately wants to be allowed to show you your true worth and a love WITHOUT JUDGMENT OR CONDEMNATION that is as big as the universe, as small as the cracks in your heart that no one else knows about, and is as natural and symbiotic as a newborn with its mother. Imagine that it wants to comfort you though even the most hideous of times in this often profane and ugly world. Imagine that it wants you to play along in reconciling and redeeming the world and empowers you with the same crazy torrent of love to give to others. That’s what the Gospel is really about. Anything else is just religion.

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Comments on: "Athiest." (11)

  1. Josh…I’m with you one hundred percent. In fact, just read Acts 17 and tell me Paul doesn’t also agree. Some of my favourite people and thinkers are atheists. And as you say, if God looked like the God they are sold, I would be an atheist too. Friedrich Nietzsche is a good one on this. He basically rejects the entire God he is sold because it is too small for his vision. Interestingly, he talks about Jesus as someone who understands the truth about the world and he talks about the Kingdom of God in more poetic terms than most Christians and yet, he is one of the most hated and feared atheists of all time. Go figure.

  2. Interesting post Josh. I myself consider myself an atheist. Yes, I am an atheist. But not in a traditional sense of not believing in a god or a divinity. I declare myself atheist to the traditional christian view of god. I see no head in the sky with the all knowing all judging eye turned toward the sinning humanity. I see the logic in the different views of the many religions in the world. I see the faith and love in the people I surround myself with. I see a spiritual force in the world that cannot be explained in the details of science. I also believe that christians are the greatest cause of atheism. I think people use god and the idea thereof as a weapon against those they cannot understand. I know that anyone reading this now considers me dead wrong and destined to hell for denying the idea of god. That is I am unbelieving in. The idea that someone can speak for the creator and decide to take action or make judgement on those beliefs is what turns people away from the basis of a god ideal.

    I appreciate the post Josh. I am always interested in seeing what others believe and their desire behind it.

    • Poetic: You mentioned something that clicked. I’m crazy curious on what makes people click and decide whether they believe in a deity or not. I like you you and random went at it at different angles. One of my favorite areas of study is the philosophy of thought and belief. Why do we believe what we believe? The funny thing is, I reject that view of God as well. So it looks like we’re in the same boat 🙂

      • I often wonder as well why people believe what they believe. I think it has a bit to do with the nature and nurture aspect of life. I am certain that a huge aspect of it involves how you are raised. The ideology that your parents constructed for you. Some rebel against it and some embrace it. However some has to be an ingrained knowledge of who you want to be and what your journey is. My parents had no specific belief system and I chose on my own to be baptised at age 13 in a Baptist church. I bounced from same ideals different flavor churches for a few years afterwards then decided to find out just what options where available to me for my views. I did research, I spoke with people from all walks of religion, and dissected textbooks and books on every conceivable religion with all the fervor of a night before final college student and came to the climatic decision that…None of it mattered. I was a good person, I am thankful to someone who gives me grace, I believe in Karma and love, I believe that emotions, even the bad ones, are good. I think that bad acts, thoughts, moments are lessons and show us that the good ones are more precious. But I also believe it is different for everyone. My awesome husband is a “recovering cathoholic”. He grew up in a strict catholic home with all the opportunities to study the faith and become a pillar of it and decided in the end that it was more dogma than truth. So who’s to say why people believe what they do or don’t believe.

  3. […] least, and scream at the top of your lungs in frustration at the very most  Go on over to his blog and check out the rest of the piece. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  4. I think this is a little vague and I disagree with a lot of your ideas.
    But it is well written, so kudos to you.
    Have a nice day!

  5. I think there’s a problem with understanding what an atheist is.

    This image of athiests being angry at god is not atheism, you can’t be angry at something that doesn’t exist.

    So these alleged “angry atheists” are more like pissed off believers who are rejecting out of events that have caused them hurt and anger.

    That’s a world of difference from a person who doesn’t beleive in deities – any deities not just Christian ones.

    I have never believed in deities and formally stop trying by age 12. In the 31 years since then, I’ve done thousands of volunteer hours in a variety of non-profits, without seeking anything for myself other than being able to contribute and make even just a little difference for people.

    Being good for it’s own sake, is it’s own reward. There’s no need for inspiration other than seeing human need.

    Being good – or rather following rules that religion says are good – to be rewarded with a particular afterlife or avoid punishment, is not being good, it’s being obedient at best.

    • I appreciate the feedback, everyone. Great thoughts. Poetic and Random: I particularly enjoyed your fleshing out of what it means to be an athiest. You both approached it at different angles, again, shattering all the misconceptions that many Christians have.

      Random, I agree that angry atheists are more like pissed off believers. And to your credit, I didn’t talk about Athiests who just objectively don’t believe in any deity. What I’m curious to know is how many Atheists don’t believe due to some kind of causation in their past vs. Atheists who just logically conclude that a deity just doesn’t make any sense.

      I’m incredibly glad you mentioned the volunteer hours you do. This is the thing that made my head spin with that professor. You hit it on the head: being good simply for the sake of human need. I fully believe that that self-sacrifical giving without any reward is one of the central pillars of Christian faith. In my opinion, living life solely to determine your eternal outcome is completely unbiblical and just a really sad way to live. But you see this mindset plagued in today’s church. I think the only place we disagree is where you might call doing good for the sake of good common sense or deontological ethics, I would call them the same thing except I believe the notion to know it’s good comes from God.

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