I was doing some research for a short paper I needed to write for English when I came across a post by Craig Hazen entitled “Can We Be Good Without God?” What followed was a reading of the ideas that Atheists expect from Christians, essentially a gross (possibly intentional) misunderstanding of anything outside the walls of their religious institutions, let alone Atheism.
As I meet more people at school I’ve seen that, despite the variety of religions represented there, religious people have no real understanding of other religions. I suppose that’s the nature of the beast, though. Religion was created to keep the social order and if we deviate out of that social order there might be chaos (ie change) and that would be bad for the presiding social order. Or, as my Art History professor put it, religion is all about survival.
Religious people are taught from an early age that their religion not only worships the only true god, but that it has the only true morality. All of history is ignored for the sake of this teaching, and Hazen’s article, and people who believe like him, are merely proof of that.
Hazen claims that if it hadn’t been for Christian apologetics, Athiests would still be running around feasting on babies, just like Bertrand Russell.* He offers no evidence that apologetics has forced Atheists to suddenly discover morality, just as he offers no evidence that Atheists were all completely immoral. He sets up a few straw men, and does a shitty job even of that. I could set up better, far more sturdy straw men, just pulling from the arrest records across the United States that shows that pastors are child predators. Of course, there’d be only a little straw in my straw men.
Like most Christians, Hazen finds it of the utmost importance to accuse us (Atheists) of being evil, horrible people. I can’t help but think, every time I hear or read this nonsense, that all these arguments are made to draw our attention away from the very great evils within the church. It’s difficult to go an entire week without hearing about another child molesting pastor in the news. It’s impossible to forget the cold way in which rape and domestic abuse victims are treated by pastors and others in the church and the way in which the perpetrators receive care and attention.
When I was in the church it was always confusing the way Christian leaders focused on the “sins” of others, Atheists, abortionists, homosexuals, while completely ignoring their own, porn addiction, domestic abuse, child molestation. On the other side, it seems pretty obvious. By preaching sermons about how Hitler and Stalin were Atheists and killed more people than all other religious wars combined (it’s not true, but let’s pretend right now that it is), by railing against abortion and the LGBTQ+ community, they can draw the focus away from their own evils. They even get to legitimize it by calling it apologetics.
However, this is not the worst part. The worst part is that very few people in the church even bother to investigate the claims. I get that, though. When I was in the church I feared the truth. I feared researching whether or not what my pastor was saying about Atheism was true, or, really about anything else. Because if it wasn’t, if he was as much a liar as I now know him to be, I wasn’t sure what to do.
Atheism is a slow burn kinda thing. One does not deconvert overnight. It took me years of reading and re-reading the Bible, over 2000 Sunday’s worth of sermons, and countless hours in Bible studies and Sunday School before I could face the truth that it was all a lie. I don’t expect anyone else to jump on the bandwagon just because I left the building, neither does any other Atheist. It takes a long time to dig out of lies that we want to believe.
It would be nice, though, if you all could look at some facts. Facts such as the least violent countries in the world are among the least religious. Facts such as the majority of people in prison are religious (and the correlating fact that the number of Atheists represented is less than the corresponding percentage of Atheists in America). In short, how about just facts? Is it possible for Christians to bother to fact-check Hazen the way Atheists fact-check Dawkins and Harris?
Christianity, and religion in general, is not about facts. It’s about survival, it’s about keeping the social norms, it’s about shutting down anything that might change the way our society behaves. Ultimately, it’s about control and our personal sense of safety. I get it. I never set out to become an Atheist. I wanted the peace that religion promised. So I jumped through the hoops and believed the lies. In the end, I found no peace, because lies cannot bring peace to those who seek truth. Ultimately, those that seek truth will leave religion, all religion, because they will finally recognize the lies. And lying, as most Atheists know, is not good.
*If you don’t understand sarcasm, you have no business here.