I got mail calling me a Hatetheist (I think that means I worship Hate. Which is a lie. I am merely sponsored by Haterade! The drink to replenish your electrolytes and your HATRED!) and linking me to a list of things that prove I am one.
A little googling (Because I wished to check if someone else had written this) netted me a result.
Robin Schumacher thinks we are Hatetheists. And it’s a bigger and more comprehensive piece than the piecemeal list sent my way so I shall field that instead. It shall be a refreshing change of pace from the otorhinolaryngology and ophthalmology that I have to study.
Over the past six or so years, I’ve engaged in many dialogs with individuals who claim that God does not exist. The typical label applied to such a person is atheist (“a” – no, “theist” – god, or belief in a god/deity). However, with all the conversations and interactions I’ve had, I see a distinct pattern emerging between an atheist and someone that instead I believe can be categorized as a hatetheist.
No we don’t believe God doesn’t exist. We believe gods do not exist. In the same way that Robin doesn’t believe other gods exist, just his.
But the hatetheist – that’s a different story. Whereas I’m happy to have conversations with atheists, I’m increasingly finding that discussing theology with hatetheists is an exercise in futility.
Granted but let’s see what a Hatetheist is to begin with.
Assembling the Profile of a Hatetheist
I thought I would try and present a profile of the hatetheist vs. the atheist so Christians can have an idea of when to enter into discussions and when to walk away with unbelievers. The below is based on my experience alone.
Oh what could be so abhorrent about a hatetheist?
- Whereas the atheist is respectful during a conversation or interaction, the hatetheist – either immediately or very soon – descends into ad hominem attacks and disrespectful name calling. The names used many times completely mischaracterize a Christian’s true position (e.g. “flat-earther”). Sometimes, the hatetheist will go so far as to say that anyone who believes in God is clinically crazy or insane.
One of the weird things about medicine is psychiatry and in particular the term “Delusion”.
A delusion is a psychiatric condition where the patient holds a belief that is demonstrably false but the patient adamantly sticks to said belief and twists existing information and knowledge to strengthen the delusion. So if a delusional person says “Aliens are Listening to my thoughts” you cannot say “No they are not” because then you become part of the delusion.
Religion falls outside of this not because it’s not true but because it’s insulting that a widely held belief can be considered a psychiatric issue. Many psychiatrists call religion the most common and acceptable delusion as a joke. But if we were to be scientific about it then the two issues share a lot of similarities.
I however prefer to think about religion being like the Matrix. You are so entrenched in a way of thought that you cannot believe that there is something else out there. Anything that brings down the matrix you automatically ignore or subvert to keep the fantasy going.
The Christian’s true position is Christian. Different people believe in different things. The Christian is no different from Atheists in that regards. HOWEVER many Christians believe in things that are patently wrong and insist that we have to respect viewpoints that are wrong while completely not respecting other people’s. It is the enforcement of religion on those who do not wish to suffer it that we “hate”.
- In addition to attacking a Christian’s intelligence or character, the hatetheist routinely tosses out derogatory names or references to God (e.g. “invisible sky fairy”) and Jesus (a “Jewish zombie” or “Bejebus”). The atheist, however, typically does not refer to God or Jesus in such ways.
Why not? Your faith specifically denigrates other gods so why shouldn’t the same apply to you? What? Kali isn’t real or is a product of Satan but Jehovah is perfectly real?
Jehovah and Jesus are mythical entities no different from Zeus or Hercules or Batman.
- Hatetheists tend to be inordinately arrogant and border on narcissism when it comes to their perception of their own intelligence vs. those who hold to a theistic worldview. An example are hatetheists who label themselves as “The Brights“, with the obvious message being anyone who is not an atheist must be dimwitted.
The equivalent term for people who believe in the supernatural is “Super”, so no that argument falls flat on it’s face because it’s a stupid one. We don’t call ourselves brights. If I was “bright” I would be back home sat on a comfy sofa planning to go out on the lash with the lads rather than say sat with the clinic doors open and with my textbooks. Intelligence is highly subjective and in my opinion, intelligence and cleverness aren’t the same thing. You can be an intelligent dimwit.
However it is true, many atheists are in academic fields of science which are more rigorous at testing your faculties than other fields and are less subjective, but socially there are atheists who run the whole gammut of intelligent.
It’s in our most VOCAL that the difference shows up. The representatives of faith are priests, the representatives of reason are scientists.
- The atheist genuinely considers arguments and presented evidence where the hatetheist does not. The hatetheist either ignores expert testimony, uses numerous red herrings, or charges the Christian with “quote smithing” when various quotes from experts are used to support the theistic position, and never considers any expert testimony. Ironically, many of the same hatetheists who do this maintain web sites with rotating quotes from famous atheists and sport links to other atheist sites that contain quotable information. But the bottom line is there is a “willing unbelief” in the hatetheist that will not entertain a position that is contrary to their own.
I do not consider the expert testimony about Santa Claus or the Existence of Ghosts to be a valid one. There has been no expert testimony that proves a god exists let alone the Christian one. The mere existence of Jesus as a historical figure means “absolutely nothing” considering Mohammed was a historical figure as was the Buddha (whose teachings form the basis of Buddhism and who is considered the last Avatar of Vishnu).
I am willing to accept a god, ANY god of your chosing if you can provide empirical evidence for it’s existence. The philosophical argument has to make way way too many unproven assumptions to be taken seriously.
- The atheist actively engages in critical questions put to them about their worldview and responds, whereas the hatetheist ignores questions that challenge their position and does not take them seriously.
However I note that many of the critical questions we respond to are equally ignored by religious people. And when we pose “Position Threatening Questions” religious people often straight ignore them.
- The atheist adheres to science, but understands and recognizes its limits, whereas the hatetheist is a devotee of scientism.
A perjorative used to refer to the notion that the scientific method and empirical evidence are the best methods of answering the questions in our life.
The limits of science are in the supernatural. We cannot disprove the existence of magic because by definition “magic” is outside the realm of science.
We are bound to the basic postulates of science which are that the universe is real and a product of natural phenomenon and our senses are a reliable way of examining and experiencing the world around us. However so far these “limits” have made us the most technologically advanced species that we know off.
Religion has no such ability, all of our advances have occurred in SPITE of religion whose claim is (And even the Christian world view is this) that they are the sole inheritors of the correct view of the world and that we should ONLY listen to them.
The postulates of faith are monsterous! You would have to make so many assumptions to live in such a world and that these assumptions are only valid because no one tests them out.
However we are discussing “Scientism” not science. Scientism has an issue in believing that the social sciences and philosophy are not valid fields of inquiry. However science does test the claims of those too and if they are found “lacking” they are usually called on it.
- The atheist tends to be universal in their critique of any god, but the hatetheist focuses mostly, if not solely, on Christianity. The hatetheist shows no fear in mocking Jesus in graphic ways, but is remarkably restrained where others such as Muhammad of Islam are concerned.
Because for most of us Christianity is the biggest threat in our lives. Not Islam. Muslims are a minority in our countries and no matter how much you spin it the people trying to force creationism, anti-gay legislation, prayer and anti-abortion legislation are Christians. Muslims aren’t trying to stop you from eating Pork. Hindus are not trying to make you stop eating Cheeseburgers.
- The atheist does not practice historical revisionism where the practice of Christianity is concerned in a country like the U.S. and is perfectly fine with the freedom of religion being practiced. By contrast, the hatetheist tries to rewrite history where the roots of Christianity is concerned and pushes hard for freedom from religion in the hopes of removing it from society altogether.
In a society based on reason it is inevitable that faith in the supernatural will die out.
However the problem is what people define by the term “freedom of religion” often includes the freedom to impose religion.
- The atheist’s actions are ones that are secure in that they will not lash out in irrational ways to thoughts of theism. Christianity is not threatening in that way, and they find no need to interject themselves into a Christian’s worship or their special days to interrupt them. The hatetheist, on the other hand, exhibits very insecure activity such as launching billboard promotional ads during seasons where their worldview is most threatened such as Christmas and Easter.
Our world view is not threatened by Christmas or Easter.
However due to the excessively religious nature of those holidays a lot of atheists are ostracised and indeed struggle with their lack of faith because they are alone. We are constantly told that those festivals are not for us. I spent most of my childhood demanding presents from Santa Claus and I wasn’t a Christian (There is a very adorable letter from me aged 8 threatening supervillainry if I didn’t get Chrismas presents and as far as I know there was no equivalent war on Diwali).
And I feel that is because Christmas in religious homes is an exclusive event. While Diwali and Eid are not as exclusive as you think. The prayers may be private but the feast is anything but. During Diwali it is customary to feed everyone irrespective of what they believe in. Same for Eid. (The muslim shops that know me actually send me breakfast, lunch and dinner because I am “a valued customer”). Diwali is a festival dedicated to money, good luck, fire and explosions. It’s Guy Fawkes night on steroids. It’s open to all. Muslim kids will burst fireworks with Hindu kids. The majority of these people are not forcing western society to adhere to their rules bar the basic dietary restrictions that they have. If you serve a bacon double cheeseburger (the most blasphemous of burgers) the Hindu and the Muslim will refuse to eat and ask if you have something else rather than demand that you don’t eat it.
Responding to the Hatetheist
First, we should make sure that we aren’t exhibiting hateful behavior in dialogs with anyone who disagrees with the Christian worldview. This includes not hurling back insults, but instead turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), not firing off parting words of how they’ll learn there’s a God one day (hint, hint … you’re going to Hell Mr./Ms. Unbeliever), being prepared to offer reasonable arguments for Christianity vs. saying “just believe”, and showing respect for atheist’s arguments against Christianity. Some arguments, like the problem of evil, etc., deserve serious attention and a well-reasoned reply.
Okay fine. However we are entitled to tear apart arguments or mock any that we consider to be flawed. That’s the entire point of examining a belief system.
Some Christians believe that we should continuously engage all unbelievers no matter their manner or attitude. They say that no one is too far gone and reference the Apostle Paul, who as Saul, was about as aggressive and hostile as any unbeliever ever could be.
A fair point, to be sure.
However, as I’ve done a little Biblical research in this vein, I’ve reached the current conclusion that the Scriptures seem to warn us away of continued (note the importance of that word) interaction with hatetheists where sharing the gospel is concerned.
Isn’t this just saying “don’t engage with people who really question your beliefs”?
Two episodes in the gospels give us Jesus’ take on the matter. First is Christ’s command in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6). Commenting on this passage, John MacArthur in his Study Bible sums up Jesus’ warning in the following way: “This principle governs how one handles the gospel in the face of those who hate the truth.”
Which is basically saying don’t give pass on your teachings to those who will destroy them.
In which case I may make a suggestion.
Tell the Christians and indeed any people who believe in a god that if they try to push religion in a public domain that their pearls of wisdom will be trampled by us swine. Keep Christianity at home and in churches. Not in our schools and in our laws.
The word “reviling” in the above passage is ‘blasphemeo’ in the Greek, and it means “to speak in a disrespectful way that demeans, denigrates, maligns”. Paul evidently recognized these individuals for what they were. While the Gentiles rejoiced over Paul’s words, the first century hatetheists went even further in their hatred of Paul, demonstrating the strong rebellion that was in their heart: “But the Jews incited the devout women of prominence and the leading men of the city, and instigated a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. But they shook off the dust of their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium” (Acts 13:50–51). Paul simply moved on from them.
Strong Rebellion is not in our hearts. I never ever considered Christianity as a real religion in the same way that Christians don’t consider Hindus as a real faith. And this line has the most utter tragedy involved within it as it’s part of the Bible that was used to excuse the various pogroms and anti-Jewish sentiments in Europe. The entire problem of Jewish persecution and in turn the current behaviour of Israel can arguably be placed at the feet of lines like this in the Bible.
Particularly calling them “Hatetheists”.
As Christians, we want to believe there is no point in an unbeliever’s life where they cannot turn back from their rebellion against God. However there are warnings in Scripture that seem to indicate otherwise. For example, the writer of Proverbs says, “A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth, who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet, who points with his fingers; who with perversity in his heart continually devises evil, who spreads strife. Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing” (Proverbs 6:12–15, my emphasis).
That is what you consider evil? What of GW Bush Jr.? A man whose good faith led him to wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of people, destabilised the world’s economy and increased the threat of Islamic Terror by creating massive recruiting grounds and new conflicts to stir the Jihadi voice. What of a man who did such things arguably to profit some of his friends? Does his Christian faith give him free reign? What of Christians who oppose the right of two loving people to marry and live in love? What of Christians who oppose the right of women to control their own reproductive systems? Or of the teaching of science in schools?
No, if that is wickedness then you live in a world of cotton candy. There are really horrific things in the world, people telling you that your religion is just superstition the same way you tell others that their faith is superstition is not wickedness. If I am wicked then your faith requires a dictionary.
The writer of Hebrews also warns: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Hebrews 12:15–17, my emphasis).
These verses seem to indicate that there is a time to let the tares grow alongside the wheat (cf. Matt. 13:15-30) and a point where God closes the door to the ark of salvation for people (cf. Gen. 7:16).
So there is no forgiveness for atheists? If we are to assume (on top of the myriad of assumptions) that scripture is perfect then the scripture indicates that Christian origin atheists who reject their birthrights are fucked no matter what they do.
It just proves that your god is petty and judges people’s “wickedness” not by what they do but by what they believe in.
I don’t find it at all easy to write the words above, but increasingly, when it comes to hatetheists, I find the words of Richard Weaver in his book Ideas Have Consequences spot on: “Nothing good can come if the will is wrong. And to give evidence to him who loves not the truth is to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation.”
Paul gives a rather interesting analogy to how the gospel affects people when he says, “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2 Corinthians 2:15–16).
Have you ever been exposed to the smell of death? It stinks, doesn’t it? To the hatetheist, we stink very badly, and they react accordingly.
Because of this and the Biblical examples I’ve cited above, I’m afraid that, when it comes to hatetheists, once I have made a number of attempts to share the gospel and answer their questions to the best of my ability and they exhibit the characteristics I’ve noted above, my position today adheres to Jesus’ simple statement: “Let them alone”.
I have worked for a charity whose sole job is to bring closure to those who need it. They do autopsies for free. A thankless and grim task. For a week I was a butcher of humans, carving up the dead to find truth.
And for that week I was closer to humanity than I thought possible because in death you see a lot of life. The smell of death is the smell of bacteria decomposing what was once living. It is our final destination, if you were a shallow person you would see that as the fruit of human endeavour. If you think like me, the fruits of human endeavour are the people who stand outside wanting answers as to how you died.
How can you say that life has no meaning when there are people outside who want to know how you died? Every callous on your hands, every scar tells a story of how you lived.
And inside tells me the story of how you died. On that week I heard the stories of the young and the old. Babies and Babushkas. Of the strong and the weak. Of the men and women who died with smiles on their faces in their sleep as they dreamed and of the men and women who died because they were deeply sad and sought escape in death.
And no Christians don’t stink, no more than Atheists do. The smell of death is a small price to pay to tell people how others died. And very few religious people celebrate life. By definition any person who is a “Hatetheist” seems to be any atheist who won’t take the Bible seriously.
By definition all Christians are Hatetheists because their faith mocks my old one just as much as my current atheism mocks theirs. Thou Shalt Not Have Graven Images? Only One Path to Enlightenment? What madness!