Commenting on the recent shootings at the New Life Church — and on the bravery of one person who helped stop the shooter before he could do more damage — the Atheism Sucks blog comments thusly:
What would the atheist do in this situation but run away and scream, “Hey, survival of the fittest! See ya later suckers!”
And when confronted with atheists in the comments, pointing out that this is not even remotely how atheists think, feel, believe or act, the blogger, Frank Walton, still insists that his opinion of atheists and atheism is correct. To quote again:
The atheist can save a life if they want, but according to the atheist worldview man is nothing more than matter and motion – saving a human life is no more better than saving protoplasm.
I can understand this attitude from a theist who hasn’t spent any time talking with atheists. I can understand it from the theists who come into the atheist blogosphere without any previous knowledge or experience of actual atheists, who only know about atheists and atheism from the monstrous, pathetic picture their pastors or other religious leaders have painted for them.
But once you’ve actually spoken with a few atheists — once you’ve had, say, half a dozen atheists tell you, “Of course I treasure human life; of course I believe in ethics and altruism; of course I’m not nihilistic or amoral or hopeless or joyless” — then you don’t have any excuse.
You know that itâs not true. You have the evidence of thousands of people telling you, and showing you with the reality of their lives, that it’s not true. You have, just for example, atheist soldiers, atheist cops, atheist firefighters… all willing to risk their lives for their fellow humans on a daily basis.
And yet you still insist on saying that atheists don’t value human life; that atheists selfishly look after themselves at the expense of helping others.
So what I want to know is this:
Every now and then, I do an ego-Google search on my name. (No, this isn’t a tangent; stay with me.) And experience has taught me to search on my name plus the words “Comforting Thoughts.” Because a number of Christian ministers have been using my essay, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing To Do With God, in their sermons — as an example of why atheism is a depressing, joyless, terrifying, nihilistic worldview.
How do they manage this, you may ask?
Well, they take the first part of the essay — the part where I try to be honest about the very real problem of permanent death and how frightening and paralyzing it can be — and they quote it out of context. They make it seem as if that’s the entire thrust of my piece. They conveniently neglect to mention the entire damn point of the essay… which is that, while the permanence of death may seem to be an impossibly horrible buzzkill for atheists, in fact it is not.
It is difficult to see this behavior as anything other than a flat-out lie. It is a deliberate misrepresentation of others, for the sole purpose of supporting your own world view.
And again I ask:
Whatever happened to “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”?
Even I know that you shouldn’t bear false witness against your neighbor. Even I know that you shouldn’t intentionally tell lies about people; that you shouldn’t deliberately misrepresent other people’s actions and beliefs and opinions. And I’m an atheist. I don’t think it’s wrong because God told it to Abraham. I think it’s wrong because it hurts people needlessly.
How difficult is that?
Is your belief that atheism is a joyless, heartless worldview so important to your faith that you have to deny the largely positive reality of atheist lives? Is your belief so important that you not only deny that reality in your own heart and mind, but feel compelled to convince others of it? Is your belief so important that you have to lie about that reality, not just to yourself, but to the rest of the world?
And is your faith so weak that it can’t accept the existence of people who don’t share it and yet have good, happy lives, full of meaning and connection and concern for others?
“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
It’s not rocket science.
(P.S. Thanks to Susie Bright for the tip.)