Atheists are a miserable lot—
Just horrid, each one that I’ve found;
They’re grumpy and angry and touchy and mean—
Or, they have been, while I’ve been around.
In an odd sort of editorial at the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Dr. Joe McKeever (preacher and cartoonist) gives a lesson in caricature. That is, he writes a piece honestly, that serves as a caricature, so broadly sketched, distorted and unsubtle. He addresses the “atheistic peddlers”, who “are sure that we mindless theists have never considered the superior evidence for the positions they hold.” (Interestingly enough, I have never known any atheists who have actually gone door-to-door peddling their atheism, but just this past weekend some Jehovah’s Witnesses seemed surprised that I had, in fact, read the bible and considered the evidence they figured I, as a mindless atheist, had never considered. I’m sure my atheist readers will confess to their peripatetic atheism-peddling in the comments.)
Most of the solid believers I know have considered atheism at one time or other. I did, while in college. This is not to say I joined the humanist society of Birmingham or majored in skepticism at Birmingham-Southern. But I read some of the stuff, talked to a few of the people, thought about the ramifications of it all, and made my choice to take my stand with believers.
I’ve never regretted it.
That is, here are seven incredibly bad, old, trite, and useless excuses. Each has been answered many times over; hell, each has been answered here, in verse.
1) As a rule, atheists tend to be a pretty miserable lot, while the best Christians I know are also the most put-together, positive, and effective people in the room.
Today’s verse is in response to this one. Dr McK has distilled a common factor–atheism–from his interactions with a bunch of miserable atheists. Now, I’m an atheist, but I am not miserable, as a rule. I do wonder, though, if I might not be pretty miserable around Dr. McK.
2) Since faith is required for either position, choosing to believe this amazing universe came together by chance and will go out the same way requires far more faith than this Alabama farm boy can muster. As has been said in the book by this title, “I don’t have faith enough to be an atheist.”
3) While it’s true a large portion of Christians have probably not investigated various apologetic aspects–evidence for the resurrection, the historicity of Jesus, the integrity of Scriptures– a great many have. I sat in the room with Dr. Carl F. H. Henry in the summer of 1978 as he said to some of us, “Christianity is the only world religion that has come through the scientific revolution and emerged intact.” Some of the others are fighting tooth and claw to keep modern technology from taking a look at their authoritative writings.
Regarding the first part… so, does the good doctor agree that children are believing for the wrong reasons? As for the second… wow. If by “intact”, you mean “splintered into tens of thousands of sects”, and by “only” you mean “one of many”, and you ignore the clash between science and christianity in schools across the nation, he might have a point.
4) I do like the old line of reasoning that goes: “If the atheist is true and after death, we all disappear into nothingness, then as a Christian I have lost nothing. But if Jesus Christ is true and after death life just begins to get interesting, then the atheist is in a lot of trouble.” What about that can they not see?
Ah, Pascal’s Wager. I used to keep running tallies of a) people who used Pascal’s Wager as a serious argument, and b) people who sincerely argued that no Christian ever used Pascal’s Wager as a serious argument anymore. Here’s one response. Here’s another.
5) If we know people by their fruits, then philosophies should identify themselves the same way. So, does anyone know any charitable ministry ever started by the atheists? Show me one and I can show you a hundred hospitals and colleges, children’s homes and crisis centers begun by Christ-followers.
I wrote this before what’s-his-name noted that there were no atheist groups helping Oklahoma (and, obviously, before he got roundly spanked for making the same mistake Dr. McK makes. I wrote some after Katrina as well (and yes, donated both money and blood–but there is no way in Cuttletown to have my money marked as an atheist contribution), and contrasted the church response at the time.
6) There are the miracles, such as the existence of Holy Scriptures (the uniformity of them, the prophecies, the clarity, and a thousand other aspects), the existence of the Man of Galilee (His birth, life, death, and resurrection; His teachings and promises, etc), the existence of the Church (so flawed, without its divine nature, surely it would have vanished long ago), and the existence of honest inquiry among believers (a sure sign, if you ask me, that God’s people are into Truth and nothing else).
7) My testimony–and yours–on the power of Jesus Christ who changed our lives. And, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, if a skeptic scoffs that my life is so far inferior to what a true Christian should look like, I do not argue with that, but reply that my life is still so far beyond what it would have been without Christ.
Ok, I actually have quite a bit on this, but I’ve chosen a bit of musing on special pleading–Dr. McK has exceedingly high standards for atheists to meet, but when it comes to sufficient evidence for his own beliefs, his own testimony trumps all. Just because.
There is more to his essay, but nothing you haven’t heard a thousand times. I don’t think they are taking comments at the NOLA site, so I’m afraid you can’t let the good doctor know what you think of his reasoning. But hey, you can vent here.