Monday, May 5, 2008

There Are No Atheists

I continue to keep up with some of the leading atheist blogs, but over time a few things have become apparent:

  • Atheism, by its very name, is defined by what it opposes. It's very hard to build a coherent life and philosophy based primarily on what you oppose, because in so doing, you are letting your opponent determine your thoughts and actions. If you're a person of faith, therefore, you can take satisfaction in having full control over the atheist agenda.

  • The atheist blogs become rather one-note and boring after a while. Mockery wears thin. Of course there are stupid Christians. But how does that prove the stupidity of religion? A stupid carpenter may install a cabinet door upside down, but that hardly proves carpentry is bogus.

  • Many atheist writers like to point out what they see as inconsistencies and illogic in the Christian worldview, but their own logic begs pity more often than awe. Thinking you're clever and insightful is not the same as actually being clever and insightful. Historically-informed criticism based on knowledge goes much further than criticism based on received wisdom and caricature.

Atheists claim that God doesn't exist. The Orthodox writer Thomas Hopko questions whether atheists themselves can exist:

According to the Bible, humanity's basic sin is not atheism. It is idolatry. In this perspective, all people have their god. It is either a god (or gods) that they have made or others have inflicted upon them, which they command and control; or it is the God who made them, whom they are commanded to worship and obey for their own good. In this view, there are no atheists, but only idolaters.


  1. Hi Arnold, a couple points in response to your blog:

    "Atheism, by its very name, is defined by what it opposes."

    Well, not really. Atheism doesn't "oppose" anything. It's just a type of belief. A life and philosophy are cohered from a variety of other beliefs.

    I'm sorry you haven't found an atheist blog which doesn't always engage in mockery. Have you visited the Daylight Atheism blog? I think it's one of the more thoughtful ones.

    "Many atheist writers like to point out what they see as inconsistencies and illogic in the Christian worldview, but their own logic begs pity more often than awe."

    Could you provide examples?

    "Atheists claim that God doesn't exist."

    Some do. Most just claim to lack a belief in god(s). There is a difference.

    With respect to Hopko, what "god" does he think atheists actually worship?

  2. Hi Robert -

    Thanks for your comments. I'm always a bit surprised when someone I don't know comments on my blog.

    My definition of atheism comes from the word's Greek roots. a + theos = not God. My English dictionary defines atheism as "disbelief in the existence of deity" and "the doctrine that there is no deity." Disbelief, coupled with a doctrine that something doesn't exist, fits my description of being defined by what is being opposed. The definition/description you prefer seems to me to fit better with agnosticism, "unknown and probably unknowable."

    I had not heard of Daylight Atheism before. Thanks for pointing it out . . . I just added it to my list of Bloglines subscriptions.

    On the logic question, I don't have a single, clear-cut example to point out right now. My comment was more an aggregation/summary, rather than a response to one particular piece of writing. But you can get a feel for what I mean if you read my exchange that was on EvolutionBlog... referenced in my blog entry from May 7 of last year:

    Regarding the Hopko quote: I think we all have things about which we believe/feel, "I cannot have a happy or fulfilled life without this thing." The identity of the "thing" could be just about anything. Maybe it's acceptance by others, a beautiful wife, a certain amount of money in savings, a particular job or promotion, name it. (I'm not talking about obvious, true needs such as food, air, and water, without which we cannot live.) Hopko would argue that these "things" are "idols," because they become the focus of our thoughts and aspirations and we surrender to them our ability to be happy or fulfilled. Because we have given them this power, they become (for us) gods, or idols.

    We are all worshippers of something.

    I hope I explained that reasonably clearly. It's hard to do the thought justice in a blog comment.