Where are the honest atheists? →

From a fascinating article by Damon Linker at The Week on the continuing crop of ‘new atheists’:

If atheism is true, it is far from being good news. Learning that we’re alone in the universe, that no one hears or answers our prayers, that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter, that we face certain annihilation in death, that our sufferings are ultimately pointless, that our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense, that those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free — all of this (and much more) is utterly tragic.

(h/t Jean Williams)

6 thoughts on “Where are the honest atheists?

  1. This is clearly a misguided article. The title is like claiming that only Mormons are honest Christians.

    If atheism is true, it is great news! No eternal torture of anyone in Hell and learning that prayers don’t work enables you to act in a real world.

    Nobody claims that “humanity is entirely the product of random events”, this is clearly a straw man (where is the “honesty”?)

    To face certain annihilation in death makes life more valuable and our sufferings are ultimately pointless to us.

    In Christianity “those who commit horrific evils and elude human punishment get away with their crimes scot free”. Any mass murderer can get to heaven turning to Christ and victims of genocide will suffer eternal torture in hell if they are non-Christians. It is “utterly tragic” that people believe that is justice.

    If you argue against atheist honestly learn their view point first and don’t build a straw man. This was a poorly written article complaining about “another book”. Last time I check there are even Christian books store stocked with only Christianity related books.

    -apparently a dis-honest atheist

  2. I can understand how an atheist might feel offended by the original quote, particularly if they feel like they’re being accused of dishonesty when they don’t agree.

    All the same, when I honestly try to put myself in the atheist’s shoes, I think I still resonate more with the original quote.

    Atheism doesn’t satisfy my sense of justice. Hell is still right because it upholds God’s justice, whether we agree with it or not. No one is good enough before God’s perfect holiness – whether mass murderer or a victim of genocide. Neither is deserving.

    Christianity is great because anyone can be forgiven who (really) surrenders to Jesus – whether mass murderer or a victim of genocide, and God’s justice is still satisfied in the death of his Son in their place.

    No God + annihilation doesn’t make me think life is more valuable, but more depressing. And pointless suffering would indeed cause me despair.

    And without being able to pray and trust the God who is in charge of the real world, I don’t think many people do operate properly in the real world.

    Perhaps it’s just a matter of agreeing to disagree.

  3. Simon, you clearly don’t know how to put yourself in the atheist’s shoes. Please talk to atheists to understand where they come from.

    It boggles my mind how Christians think that billions of years of torture of all non-Christians is not even a beginning of their suffering. And this idea satisfies your sense of justice? This is just weird to me.

    I guess you think that when I use my God given brain and reasoning ability, and don’t see good evidence for God(s) existence, justice is served when I get tortured forever.

    Nations with least God beliefs are safest, democratic, most advanced and happiest places. Without praying and trusting that the God who is in charge of the real world, people have created best places while being in charge.

  4. To me, getting away “scot free” is a more palatable outcome for a criminal than eternal conscious torment. It’s one of many reasons that I choose atheism over Christianity. And before anyone suggests I’m some pampered ivory-tower type who’s never been grieved (as someone always does in these sorts of discussions), know that I speak as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. I’m fortunate that the criminal who “sinned” against me was caught and punished for his crime. He got what he deserved. What he doesn’t deserve is to suffer eternally. No one does.

  5. This is some weird essay. Linker convicts the New Atheists on a trumped up charge of dishonesty then makes a virtue of Christian deceit. Go figure that!

  6. I can understand that as an atheist, you might see things differently. And perhaps I don’t know how to put myself in your shoes. But I think there’s a lot of former-atheists who would agree with me.

    I know this goes both ways, but such is the nature of this sort of thing. Clearly, it’s not a matter of intellect, since there are many brilliant and simple minds on both sides of the debate.

    So I stand by what I said, as I honestly try to put myself in the atheist’s shoes. But I appreciate that you see things differently.

    I don’t think all God beliefs are Christian believes. And I can think of a couple of countries that were truly built on atheistic principles that had pretty sad outcomes actually. But anyway, without praying and trusting the God who is in charge of the real world, I still don’t think people are operating properly in the real world, even if they are happy, etc. Perhaps we have a different idea of what it means to “operate properly”.

    I know where you’re coming from with the idea of Hell, and I use to think the same way. Two things changed my mind. One was the idea of God’s perfect holiness and purity, which I have found is rarely appreciated for the difference it makes to the debate. The second is the nature of Hell itself. Often, there is a perception of Hell that people will be tortured for eternity against their will – as if they would want the alternative. I think this is questionable. Would you be interested in hearing more about this?

    The other thing to say is that I don’t think people will be in Hell because they honestly couldn’t see any evidence for God after using their brain and reasoning ability. I think people will be in Hell for a different reason.

    But I do agree that justice should be upheld by the rulers of the land when a crime has been committed – whether that person has been forgiven by God or not (Romans 13).

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