Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The New Breed of Atheism

When I responded to FSMDude on YouTube, I had the very simple intention of challenging him and then quickly moving on. I doubted FSMDude would take the challenge seriously, and I was right. What I didn't anticipate was the passionate response from a small group of atheists, who, I imagine, find nothing more satisfying than trying to crush the faith of a religious person. (Muslims seemed to be of particular interest to one.)

I've crossed paths and swords before with atheists, but this is a new breed of atheism I've encountered. Coupled with the nihilistic environment of our society, the younger atheists are belligerent, rude, and quite frankly, kill-joys as they set out to mock something as harmless as a smile. (Yes. FSMDude called my smile in one of my videos as "creepy" because I ended a statement with one. As in, "Faith is a personal issue." Smile.)

This is the current crop of atheists we now have, thanks to a lackluster public school system and an embarrassingly impoverished slew of supposed "higher learning" institutions called universities. These young atheists have not been taught to be critical thinkers. They've just been taught to be critical with no substance. The arguments are generally the same - you can't 'prove' God and they'll never be satisfied because as far as they're concerned, one will never be able to prove God according to their standards.

They seem to have more energy invested in defending their unbelief than they do in honestly pursuing truth. Atheism has always been rather stupid to me because you are operating on a negative. God can't be proven thus, God does not exist. They always assume the absence. I would have a greater respect for someone who would just say, "You know, I don't believe in a god because I don't want to." That's pretty much where most atheists stand. Do you ever notice they demand that Christians jump through philosophical hoops in order to answer their relentless questions but rarely, if ever, do they define what it would take for them to believe in God's existence?

It's because they don't care and that's the point. All they care about is destroying faith.

I had a friend years ago who was fairly intellectual. She attended church with me several times but was starting to question God's existence. She would pepper me with questions, challenging my faith. Before I could address one question, she would quickly ask another. Then another. And another.

Finally, I said to her, "Look, Beth. I know you have questions and they are good ones. However, are you really interested in finding an answer to them? Or are you caught up with your own sense of reasoning and logic, thinking you're outsmarting God?" She simmered down a little and we started to have some interesting conversations.

But this is the exact feeling I get with these younger atheists. They aren't interested in answers, only in their bloated attempts to dazzle someone with their intellectual prowess. It all boils down to a glorification of self, puffing themselves up by minimizing God's place in their lives. As Christians, we know it is a futile exercise but yet also realize they are blind. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we see the truth but yet an atheist is caught in his own trap.

He not only refuses to acknowledge he is blind, but insists on trying to "open" the eyes of those who see. It's the blind trying to blind the seeing.

When I tried to describe to an atheist what constituted as "seeing" or "hearing" God, I pointed out that he had already decided that God was invisible and thus, could not be proven by the senses. I pondered that if we have an invisible God, then He must choose invisible methods to communicate with us. Anyone who says they "hear" God is usually labeled a lunatic. (Especially my St. Joan and her 'voices'...) Christians can attest to the fact that we do not hear an audible voice when we pray, but we know when we sense what I call the "otherness" of God as He speaks to our heart. We know when thoughts - fantastical, wise thoughts - pass through our minds and know we are not the author of such thoughts. We can recognize truth and wisdom because of the Bible and the grace of God. The Holy Spirit guides us. The sheep know the voice of the Shepherd.

As I laid in bed a few nights ago, an enormous weight of compassion settled upon my heart. I remembered the verses in Scripture when Jesus looked out upon the multitude following Him and saw they were like sheep without a shepherd. I think I felt just the tiniest fraction of what Jesus felt when He gazed upon that crowd. These young atheists are lost. So very, very lost. You can almost taste the restlessness of their souls. They jump from one demand to the other, one leap of faulty logic to the other; desperately trying to build a strong fortress with a deck of cards. One gust of strong wind and it's all gone but they just refuse to see the toppling and scurry to another area and start building again.

It's a sad existence.


joannaB73 said...

Thank you for this article; it was very good. I have been shocked to see some of the comments out there on You Tube - perhaps I didn't realise how low some people can go. Most of it I don't believe is 'real' but it seems that this form of commenting is just entertainment to them. I try to ignore the bad and concentrate on what is good out there. However for every good Catholic argument on You Tube there seems to be many people trying to give a 'counter-argument', probably without much substance. I don't suppose there is much we can do about those but just continue to witness in whatever circle God has given us. And pray that if people are searching enough that eventually they will come against the 'truth'.

Janny said...

On a related matter...
Two years ago, in a writers' group to which I belonged, I wished everyone a merry Christmas--and reminded them that since Jesus is the reason for the holiday in the first place, I also wished for them the knowledge of, and personal relationship with, Jesus Himself. I, of course, caught flack for it--which I kind of expected; what was unexpected was that people didn't pick on my sentiments nearly as much as they picked on my signature line, which had a quote in it from Archbishop John Noll that included the phrase, "...the Catholic religion is a religion of joy."

THAT infuriated several of the self-proclaimed atheists/agnostics so much that they actually began to RANT at me. They couldn't say enough cruel words, all of them, of course, based on the same recycled lies about the Catholic Church that have been around for millennia. Our list/group host stepped in at that point and said, "Whatever we celebrate, let's just wish each other well, and leave it at that"--which I agreed with. These attackers, however, paid no attention to his request and kept hammering, to the point where he had to threaten them with closing the loop entirely and/or moderating their comments to get things back on "civil footing." Many people would have said, "Well, that's what you get for bringing religion into it--you should have known better." (Never mind that no one "brings" religion into was already there!) But quite frankly, everyone in the group already KNEW I was a Christian--or if they didn't know, they had to suspect it, since I'd sold an inspirational novel!--and all I did was take it one step further, politely reminding all that "Christmas" has someone's name in its title. :-) I had had it with "happy holidays" nonsense, I felt led to inject the Good News in where it's been forgotten, and most people took it in the spirit in which it was offered.

Except for those vitriolic, hate-filled atheists--the same people who dared to call themselves "free thinkers" and lambasted me for daring to suggest that God had a place in anyone's life, much less that an evil institution like Catholicism had anything to offer them. They could not let the subject go...they could not leave off with mere insults or venom...they wanted to pound on me until I gave in. I didn't--and that literally made them see red.

You never know where the fight's going to come from, sometimes--or how vicious it's going to get. But our job isn't to second-guess, to water down, or to hold back. Our job is simply to witness, and trust God to do the rest.

Hard to do, I know, sometimes. We just have to cling to the knowledge and certainty that, in His way, God will honor these words of ours. As a wise priest told me after one of these bouts, "You are living the Beatitudes. God sees this, and He will honor it."

My take,

Samuel Skinner said...
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Timothy 4:12 said...

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