Post image for SparkLife: “Life as an Atheist”

SparkLife: “Life as an Atheist”

by Stephen Hebert on Thursday - 16 December 2010

in Ministry

This post is long. Deal with it!

One of my students recently referred me to a post on the SparkLife blog called “Life as an Atheist.” After reading the article, I remained annoyed, so I decided to post the article here and offer up some thoughts.

Here it is:

You might have read the title of this post and gasped. “An atheist!? Oh, the horror!” Or maybe you thought, “What does that even mean?” Or, maybe, you had no reaction other than “eh.”

I’m an “eh” person here. I used to be an atheist, so I’m not surprised that they exist.

Usually when I state my views on religion, I get the first response. Angry stares, shocked expressions, silent condemnations, and some people even walk away. All because of one little sentence: “I’m an atheist.”

I know it’s not like this everywhere. Some cities and states are extremely open-minded. Unfortunately, I do not live in one of those places. I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And Colorado Springs is unlike the rest of Colorado. Colorado is mostly Democratic, liberal, and extremely open-minded. But Colorado Springs… is the total opposite. And really, extremely Christian, which puts me in a distinct minority.

I do apologize if people really treat you this way, esp. if they are Christians. That’s not what we’re supposed to do. Forgive us. (Question: How do you know it’s a condemnation if it’s silent? Not to be too deconstructionist here, but perhaps that’s just your interpretation.)

I generally keep my views to myself (because I’m shy and like to avoid conflict), but it can be hard. At least two of my teachers always bring up religion in class, and when I don’t get biblical references, I’m questioned.

What do you mean when you say “I’m questioned”? Do you feel like you’re being interrogated? Just curious…

Today I’m going to answer questions, but not about the Bible. These are my answers to the most common questions I get about my beliefs…

This is where I start to get excited about this post. Here is an atheist who is going to prove atheism to me. Unfortunately, “Contributor” does nothing of the sort.

Why are you an atheist?

This is the most common one, and the hardest to answer. I’m very opinionated, and I’ll easily go on for hours about why God can’t exist, why, if He did, there are so many inconsistencies and caveats… like I said, I can go on. So, unless I know the person is willing to debate with me, I shrug and say “It seems illogical.”

Two thoughts here:

  1. You’ve already contradicted yourself. Earlier you said that you avoided confrontation, but here you make it sound like you love talking about it. Though, of course, your actions (e.g., this blog post) don’t show that.
  2. Another contradiction — you told us you were going to give us answers to common questions. Yet, for what is possibly the biggest question (“Why are you an atheist?”) you offer no answer. This is frustrating for me.

Here’s the problem with many Christian vs. Atheist debates. The atheist never feels like the burden of proof is on him/her. Instead, they can bully the theist ad infinitum requesting evidence for his/her theistic assertion. Atheists, please realize that you too have made an assertion that requires evidence. You have asserted there is no God. Show me evidence. “Contributor”, please tell me what “seems illogical.” I find it hard to believe that your sense of logic is that much better than most of the greatest thinkers of all time. Help me to see their error.

I do still have morals!

I agree with some of the morals that Christianity and other religions propose, and I follow them. I don’t have to believe in God to believe that all people should be treated fairly, and I try to live by that rule. Basically, I make up my own morals. If I feel that something should be done, I do it.

Question: How do you go about making up your own morals? Where do those moral ideas come from? How do you know what justice and fairness are?

Why, if there were no God and no such thing as Hell, would people be good?

Why wouldn’t they? Everything you do is up to you, and if you want to be good, well then, problem solved. If you don’t want to do nice things, no one can change that. People live by the morals they believe are right, and if that happens to be “good,” then awesome.

This seems like a silly question, and I’d never ask that. Here’s what I want to know: If morals are relative, how do we know what “good” is? Is there even such a thing as “good” or “morals” if all things are equal and it is left up to the individual to decide what is “right” and “wrong”?

What happens when we die?

I don’t even have an inkling. Personally, I believe that we just stop existing, and that’s that. But I know other atheists who believe that their soul will carry on, just not their corporal body. It varies, basically.

Fair enough.

Are you telling me I shouldn’t believe in God?

Not at all. If you believe in God, and you’re happy with that, then I’m happy for you. All I ask is that you’re happy for me, and don’t try to shove your beliefs down my throat. I accept you, and you believe in God. And I’m totally fine with that.

I understand your frustration with people “shoving it down your throat.” I’ve been there. However, put yourself in a Christian’s shoes for just a moment. It is not possible for me to be “happy for you” in this particular case. Sure, I might be happy that you’re doing well, that you made a new friend, or received a job offer or whatever. But I cannot be happy about your choice to believe the tenets of atheism. As a Christian, I see you as lost. I would never say: “Oh yea! That little boy is lost!” Out of love for you, because I believe that you were created in the image of God and worthy of my love and respect, I am compelled to tell you about Jesus. Sure, some of my friends don’t have a lot of tact, but we are just doing it out of concern for your well being.

OK, you can get out of my shoes now.

I hope you have had some of your questions answered!

Unfortunately, no. You’ve not really answered any questions. Instead, you’ve just said: “I don’t know.” This is not compelling or interesting.

My intention is not to offend you, I promise. If you have any more questions, or just want to talk about anything, please leave me a message in the comments!

Sorry, can’t leave stuff in the comments because that would require me to sign up for a SparkLife account, and I just can’t bring myself to do it.

I would love for you to answer the first question. Why are you an atheist? When you answer that question, please give me some evidence to tell me why you believe there is no God or gods. (No need for you to attempt to disprove Christianity, yet. Start by disproving theism since that is what you are adamantly opposed to.)

Has atheism ever appealed to you?

Yes. I was an atheist for much of my youth. However, when someone asked me to disprove the existence of a god, I started to have trouble.

Dear readers — your thoughts?

Previous post:

Next post: