“Dear Angry Atheist…”

Believe it or not, you may be the one living in a fantasyland

Dear Angry Atheist,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for quite a while now. I’ve heard your feelings about my beliefs quite clearly – from your Facebook posts, your arguments in person, and your comments on some of my own articles and blogs. I realize that not all atheists are angry, but the level of aggression you exude makes it quite clear you are.

You communicate your feelings about “people of faith” pretty clearly. And I have resisted the urge to respond to them…until now. But at the risk of sounding harsh, I think you deserve a little pushback.

So to make sure I’m reading you loud and clear, the following is what I’ve learned from you about “all Christians”, followed by what many Christians wish you understood. I apologize ahead of time, as I’m quite sure you will find much of it offensive. That’s not my intention, but it is hard to answer…forgive me…rather ignorant attacks without making your attacker sound ignorant. Again, I apologize (we Christians tend to do that a lot, I guess).

I did try to write in a language most atheists would understand – Contemporary Snark. Once more, I apologize.

Here’s what I have learned about Christians from your comments…

“We’re all hypocrites”

You seem to take particular glee in pointing out how imperfect we people of faith are. You mention that we don’t live up to everything we say we believe. You perceive this as a flaw, but I see it as quite noble.

It’s easy not to be a hypocrite if you don’t stand for anything lofty in the first place. If you aim at nothing, you’re very likely to hit it on a consistent basis. When your goal in life is to be a scoundrel, you’ll probably never be accused of being a hypocrite. Congrats.

Most Christians would be the first person to tell you they’re not perfect. The fact they are shooting for a higher goal than a base, hedonistic existence does not make them hypocrites. It simply means they want to be better than what others settle for.

So yeah, I strive to be morally good even though we obviously aren’t perfect. Sue me.

Sorry, but I’d rather try to be like Jesus and fail than never try at all.

“We’re dumb as rocks”

It seems you’ve made the presumption Christians are against education. Many of your replies to me imply that I must know nothing of science, history, literature, the Arts, etc. The fact I had to go to an accredited university and seminary to get my degrees (like most pastors) means nothing, I guess.

I suppose you think Christians spent all our time at Bible camp or Toby Mac concerts and have never read the opinions of those critical of our faith. Funny thing, in preparation for my ministry, I was required to read works by Freud, Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche, and many others. And as astounding as you might find this, most ministers I know had to do the same as well.

Many Christians know very well what the arguments are against faith. It’s not that we’re ignorant of them – it’s simply that we don’t think they stand up all that well. 

I distinctly remember picking up Bertrand Russell’s “Why I Am Not A Christian” with great fear and trembling. An atheist professor challenged me to read it, claiming it would utterly wreck my faith (what a coincidence…another arrogant atheist!). How stunned I was to find myself giggling with delight as I finished it, realizing how very weak his arguments were. To this day, I keep the book in my library as a kind of faith trophy.

Though I know you’d like to think we believe only out of ignorance, the truth is often the opposite. Many of us came to Christ PRECISELY BY LOOKING AT THE FACTS, not by looking away from them! The scenario of the atheist who sets out to disprove Christianity only to end up coming to Christ is almost a cliche now. That’s because it’s been repeated in the lives of so many doubters who eventually ended up believers (C.S. Lewis and Christopher Hitchens own brother come screamingly to mind, among many others).

But I understand there’s comfort in believing you’re just too smart to be a Christian. How many times have I heard you say, “I wish I could believe your religious fairy tales, but I just can’t bring myself to it”? I would pose that it’s not your intellectual honesty keeping you at bay, it is your stomach for true adventure. Because risking this whole cosmic existence on the truth of God is actually the ride of a lifetime!

“We’re judgmental”

I’ve heard the stories of people who’ve been hurt by churches. They’re legion and legend. I’ve been on the receiving end of some pretty painful stuff myself, and even have had my own children attacked by supposed “believers” who used them to pay back a grudge against me.

So I do not deny that cruelty exists in the church. But does it not exist outside the church as well? Is not your work place and beauty salon just as gossipy and judgmental, if not more so? 

But that’s the problem. You’re expecting the church to be perfect, even though it is populated by admittedly imperfect people reaching toward a uniquely perfect God. As soon as the first human shows up, church ceases to be perfect and somebody gets hurt. Since God has never been that choosy about whom He lets in, we seem to think an “open door policy” is good for the church as well.

So yes, if you come to a place populated by lots of imperfect humans, someone will eventually tick you off, hurt your feelings, step on your toes, or not kiss your boo boo. Buck up, buttercup and rejoice in this: if they made it in, there’s a good chance there’s room for one more jerk like me or you.

“We’re intolerant”

You grouse that we’re unwilling to change our cherished beliefs held for over 2000 years now to fit into your current social climate. You are shocked…yes, SHOCKED that we don’t see the wisdom in (INSERT LATEST CULTURAL FAD HERE), and that we refuse to get with it and sell out everything we believe in hopes of gaining your fleeting approval…which you wouldn’t give us anyway.

Most Christians are not trying to take away your rights, but are simply standing for what they believe. When you stand for your beliefs, we do not call you “hateful”. But before you’ll be happy, we not only have to tolerate your beliefs, we must proclaim your beliefs are just as right as our own or else we’re intolerant…

That’s not tolerance – it’s tyranny.

Ironically, Christianity is the “genesis” of most true tolerance we know today. Jesus broke with the custom of His day and spoke to women with respect as equals. Paul argued with Philemon to set free a runaway slave who had come to Christ. He also taught in Christ, there is no Jew nor Greek, male nor female…all are one!

Without the tolerance that Christianity first taught, I doubt some of you would be able to speak your minds in these political columns and blogs without endangering your lives…

You’re welcomed.

What you miss is that the beliefs which are not being tolerated today are, most often, the Judeo-Christian ones. To hold onto these is somehow seen as bigoted, hateful, and intolerant. What’s truly shocking is you don’t see the brazen irony in your being “intolerant to our tolerance” and then calling yourself “tolerant”. Brilliant.

“We believe fairy tales”

After what probably amounts to ten to twenty minutes of Google and Wikipedia research, you’re pleased to have found several arguments against the veracity of the Bible and Christianity in general. And of course we all know anything printed on the Internet is “Gospel Truth” (pardon the expression).

What you don’t realize is that most of these arguments take a verse of Scripture and jump to an erroneous conclusion about it’s original meaning, historic context or application. Then you flaunt your erroneous conclusion in the face of believers with a brash “whaddaya think about them apples” bravado.

Seriously, do you really think no one else in the past 2000+ years has asked those questions before? And do you really think that no one else, out of all the great minds of Christendom, has come up with a sufficient answer?

If Christianity were that easy to topple, don’t you think someone would have done it by now?

But Christianity has held up quite nicely to the honest questions of believers and doubters alike for a couple of thousand years now, thank you very much. And when you quote verses out of context or completely misrepresent their meaning, or ignore other parts of Scripture which explain or qualify the passage further, you actually betray how little you understand about history, archeology, or textual criticism at all.

Are there valid questions? Of course, there are. Are there reasonable answers? Yes, quite reasonable ones. Just because your western civ. professor snarkily told your class the Bible was junk doesn’t necessarily make it so.

Of course, Christians are completely biased in their beliefs, unlike professors in liberal arts universities, right? Oh, please.

And while you love to make fun of the kosher laws against pork and shellfish in the Old Testament, you ignore the fact that thousands of years before Louis Pasteur the Jews knew how to stay healthy and live sanitary lifestyles. As unscientific as you say the Bible is, it somehow managed to see the danger of germs and disease without benefit of the first microscope! It somehow saw the earth was a ball hung in space thousands of years before the first telescope!

Wow, you’d need great faith to believe all that was just a coincidence. Oh, the irony…

OK, my little rant has now come to an end. I apologize if my tone has seemed snarky at times, but just consider it a verbal “eye for an eye”. After years of Bill Maher and Jon Stewart making fun of us, maybe it’s finally time the Christians had a little good-natured fun of our own!

But I hope I haven’t caused you to question any of your own cherished beliefs against God. Far be it from me to cause anyone to doubt (“snort”).

straight-talk-for-skepticsThis article is the first chapter of YOUR BRAIN’S TOO SMALL FOR GOD, my book for skeptics and the Christians who love them. Order your copy today at Amazon!

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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23 thoughts on ““Dear Angry Atheist…”

  1. Christianity is in trouble today precisely because it has NOT held up quite nicely to the honest questions of believers and doubters alike for a couple of thousand years. The honest questions of believers were, for a long time, met with persecution. One example is Giordano Bruno: in 1600, the Christian authorities in Rome took him out of the dungeon he had been in for eight years, drove a nail through his tongue, tied him to a metal post, put wood and some of his books under his feet, and burned him to death. This is how Christianity “held up to honest question” in the past: it burned such people to death!

    Among Bruno’s heretical writings were the ideas that the Earth revolves around the sun and that the sun is a star. Copernicus and Galileo later published books that made that same claim. Copernicus died before he could be tried by the Inquisition, but Galileo wasn’t so lucky – he was tried as a heretic and found guilty of spreading the hypothesis of heliocentrism (an idea we now know to be true). He avoided Bruno’s fate, but his sentence was that his book would be banned, he would have to publicly admit that he was wrong, and he would also have to be placed under house arrest and perform religious penance for an extended amount of time. In this case, and in many other cases, religion clearly harmed scientific progress.

    Recently, Christians have had to watch as their power has receded as secularity gained power over the state. Christians can no longer burn heretics or persecute unbelief with the power of the state behind them. Instead, the murders and persecutions continue on a smaller scale: we see individuals doing the “Lord’s work” – people like Anitra Braxton, who killed her friend because she did not believe in God, and people like Laura Reid, who beat a disabled man for the same reason. The Lord’s Work in this case being to adhere to the text of 2 Chronicles 15:13: “That whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.”

    This is why Christianity is dying. Reasonable people no longer have the patience to stand for your faith’s immorality and its violent nature.

    • Hi Ian,
      Thanks so much for reading my article and responding.
      Of course, I disagree, but I am glad you shared this. You’ve provided a perfect example of what my article is about.

      First, you provide the “argument from arrogance” – that people are just too smart now to be Christians. The hidden hubris of this is that once someone becomes as smart as you are, they will think just like you personally think. That intellectual snobbery is what attracts many people to atheism, lured by the same snobbery that makes people change out their clothes closet simply because “NO ONE is wearing that style any more”!

      So in an effort to appear intellectual, we become a true-life illustration of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We cast away God’s wisdom and stand naked in our new found, stylish foolishness.

      Second, you do as many atheists since Bertrand Russell have done, cherry-picking people in history who, in the name of Christianity, have actually trampled upon the teachings of Christ Himself. You managed to mention Bruno while ignoring the fact that the Bible taught “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). And by the way, Galileo was a Christian. The fact that the church of that day persecuted them does not make Christianity wrong, it makes those leaders wrong.

      If I were to take your same tactic, I would mention all the wonders done by the atheist regimes in the past 100 years. But like Russell’s critiques which are today recycled by Dawkins and Hitchens, I’m a little tired of those arguments too. And I won’t bother to respond about the insane people you mention, except to say that most every serial killer whose name we’d recognize lacked a belief system in God. Except maybe for Dahlmer, who reportedly became a Christian in prison AFTER his horrible killings. So people with mental illness make lousy arguments for either side, and their state is too pitiable to be used as pawns for your argument.

      Of course the passage you quote from 2 Chronicles 15:13 is taken completely out of context, which is what I expect. Interestingly, that passage was not a call to attack other peoples, but was instead an oath taken voluntarily by the people of Judah regarding themselves. It was, in fact, “the will of the people” vowing to follow God. Also interesting is the fact that the chapter ends by saying after the oath there was no war for 35 years. So the voluntary obedience to God’s will brought peace, which is what God promises.

      Your hope that Christianity is dying is simply wishful thinking. What is dying is a faux-Christianity that was built on religious pretense and image. And I for one am happy to see it go. But Biblical Christianity, according to the pollsters, is as strong as ever. Evangelical, Bible-believing church are actually growing, while the mainline denominations who’ve bowed to your secularism are the ones who are dying out in droves. And outside the US around the world, Christianity is growing even more rapidly. Sorry, but the numbers are there if you wish to see them.

      My prayer is that you would set aside whatever hurt has made you hold this hatred toward God. Because honestly, if you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be angry and you wouldn’t have written. Know that God still loves you and desires to have a vibrant, life-changing relationship with you…if you will only let Him.

      Open your heart, and let Him in.

      God bless,
Dave

      • Amen, Dave. I loved your first reply in the comments and appreciate so much the gentle spirit you presented to Ian. You are an inspiration for people like me.

  2. I’m unclear: Is this specifically directed at somebody using the “Angry Atheist” moniker?

    I ask because the accusations are presented in quotes as though a particular infidel has leveled these charges verbatim, and I’d rather give you the benefit of the doubt than accuse you of setting up your own scarecrows to joust with…

    • Hi there!

      No, not a specific “angry atheist”, and most certainly not all atheists, as I stated in the beginning of the article.

      I write fairly regularly for the local paper, as well as my own blog. What I found was when I was writing articles about issues of faith, devoid of criticism toward those who don’t believe and even occasionally sympathetic to their arguments against Christians, I began receiving responses from atheists.

      What surprised me was that no matter how respectful or kind I tried to be, my responses were rarely greeted with the same kindness I extended. They seemed to be trying to “pick a fight”, and the statements I’ve used here in my article come directly from my correspondences wth them.

      I’ve found the same results on Twitter. There are the usual insults about my intelligence, and the implication that their intelligence far surpasses mine. There is bating by asking me to prove the age of the earth…although I made no statements about its age in the first place. There are the Bible verses taken completely out of context, and usually with a lack of understanding regarding Biblical archaeology or textual criticism used with similar documents from that time period. And of course there are the same arguments about how damaging Christianity has been to civilization as presented by Hitchens and Dawkins…which were stayed long before by Bertrand Russell.

      Mostly, there are the same assumptions about Christians the way a bigot would make assumptions about people racially – that they all think the same and are homogenous. And more than anything, there is arrogance, brimming over the top of every sentence.

      While this arrogance is not the case with atheists who I count as personal friends, something seems to happen to people here on the “interwebs” to bring out the worst in them. So the article is my admittedly snarky response after several years of frustration, after having written the same responses to these assumption over and over…and over again.

      Hope you understand and do not take personal offense. My goal is not to offend (though I am having fun, just as Mr Jillette or Mr Maher do with us), but to cut through some of the same baloney I hear over and over. If successful, maybe we can have a respectful conversation without assuming we’ve already got each other figured out ;0)

      Thanks for writing and God bless (oops, there I go again),
      Dave ;0)

      • “What surprised me was that no matter how respectful or kind I tried to be, my responses were rarely greeted with the same kindness I extended.”

        “Thanks for writing and God bless (oops, there I go again),”

        Luke 4:23

        • Hi Brian,

          If you’re trying to imply that by making the “God bless” joke I was being disrespectful to my friend “Stupid Atheist” (his chosen moniker), oh please. Sarcasm is not unGodly (theologian Elton Trueblood argues Jesus used it Himself), and the joke was AT MY EXPENSE, NOT THE ATHEIST’S….geesh!

          If you think Christians should not have a sense of humor, you’re on the wrong site. But clearly, it’s more that you’re trying to play “gotcha”. And from a guy like you with a background in comedy, I honestly expected a better shot.

          After the derision Christians have taken at the hands of atheist critics, you really should develop a thicker skin…especially when someone is just trying to break the tension and show goodwill using humor.

          Much love (and silliness),
          Dave

          • ” and the joke was AT MY EXPENSE, NOT THE ATHEIST’S”

            I certainly didn’t interpret it that way. It looks like a deliberate insult on your part.

          • My dear Brian,

            If me pointing out the many demeaning and sometimes hateful things that have been said to Christians offends you, may God help you get through the real struggles ahead in this life.

            Much love,
            Dave

  3. It’s unfortunate that Christians like Mr. Gipson are having their feelings hurt by atheists. On the other hand, when Christians were in power they were burning atheists at the stake.

    So maybe Mr. Gipson should count himself lucky that the only thing he has to suffer is a few hurt feelings.

    • Hi John,

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Actually, I don’t believe I ever expressed any hurt feelings. If anything, it was getting old answering the same arguments. This way, when I write an article on faith for my local newspaper, instead of writing a long reply I can simply refer them here. Because I can almost bet their comments will be one of those I’ve mentioned here.

      Funny you should mention atheists being burned at the stake. They seem to have had quite a bit of company from Christians. Between burnings and dying in the Roman coliseums, Christians have worn the name “martyr” more than any of people group in history.

      But I think your argument is mainly invalid since it’s been quite a few year since any atheist was burned at the stake, although Christians continue to be martyred for their faith all around the world. So in that light, hopefully my responses to atheist’s criticques will not be too disabling for you.

      God bless,
      Dave

  4. Gosh, your rant did not sound like good natured fun. You need to meet some real atheists sometime. There are a lot of really nice people that don’t believe in any gods. Instead of trying to debate them you could join them in some helping activities and get to know them.

    • Hi Mark,

      I appreciate that you started your comment with the same condescension that I talk about in the article. Great way to illustrate a point ;0)

      As it would happen, I do know some real atheists who are good friends and delightful people. You see, here you go making assumptions already. I work with several people in the Arts locally who are open about their “absence of faith”, and I consider them friends in high esteem.

      I’m afraid you may have missed the sentence at the start of the article where I clearly noted that “not all atheists are angry”. My article is meant specifically to respond to the many, many angry ones I have encountered due to my articles.

      I am sad to say though that the majority of the responses I get from atheists online are condescending and hateful. Interestingly, this happens even when my article has nothing to do with atheism at all. They seem to just enjoy taking jabs at a person of faith.

      So while you may think this article is an attack on you, it really is just the result of hundreds of insulting comments. Hope it wasn’t too harsh, and if you have further questions, just let me know.

      God bless,
      Dave

  5. Pastor Dave,

    What if someone is not an “angry atheist” but more of an angry Christian? What if someone is questioning everything in their life now because at one point, they had some horrible stuff happen to them and they wonder how a God who is so perfect and Omni Present can allow these horrible things to occur?

    • Hi JulieAnna,

      Well, that’s really a completely different topic, but I’ll try to address it a bit.

      First, it’s fairly normal to get mad at God. I’ve done it before and even wrote an article about it http://davegipson.net/mad-at-god/

      The problem is we often presume that if we follow God, He will work to make things work out the way we want it. But that was never the deal. The deal was that we were to get on HIS agenda, not the other way around. So when God doesn’t do things out way, we get ticked at Him for not keeping up His end of the bargain…although it’s a bargain He never made.

      If you’ll look carefully at the Bible, you’ll find a God who won’t be pushed into doing things up to our expectations. Most of the book of Job is Job railing against God for letting Satan kill his family and take his wealth and health. It also says God lets the rain fall on the good and bad alike. So know that the only people who are promising God will do what you want are a few greasy TV faith healers and teachers.

      Also, you’ve got to understand that while God is omnipotent, there are things He will not override. In the Garden, He gave us free will, and that freedom is still at work today. So when a drunk driver exercises that freedom, innocent people will probably die. And when the world is under Satan’s influence, all manner of bad things will occur. That’s what happens when we tell God to get out of our lives and our world – chaos ensues.

      You may argue, “That’s not fair for other people’s choices to hurt the innocent”, but you’re forgetting He said “in THIS world, you’ll always have trouble”. It is the NEXT world where things will truly be done HIS WAY, not this one. So in this life, innocent people will be victimized, bad guys will occasionally win, and truth will be traded in for lies. But it’s the NEXT LIFE where God sets everything aright. So if you’re waiting for justice and payback now, you’ll be waiting quite a while. If you’re waiting for truth to prevail, keep waiting.

      All those are characteristics of the world Christians will soon be entering. That’s why the Lord’s Prayer says “Thy Kingdom will come, on earth as it is in heaven”. Heaven is where God’s reign is manifest, and one day his Kingdom will come on the earth. Until that time, just remember the old hymn, “This world is NOT my home, I’m just passing through…”

      All Christians are strangers in a strange land here. So stop trying to feel at home, stranger ;0)

      God bless,
      Dave

  6. Hi Juliana,Isn’t it wonderful that God gives us free choice. It’s up to us to choose right or wrong
    That free choice is sometimes good but sometimes directs a person a wrong way.They hurt themselves or it leads them to hurt someone else.Someone made a bad choice that effected my family.Hard as it was that my daughter was murdered I applaud God for continuing to give us all free choice.

    • Ann- I am sorry to hear that your daughter was murdered. I am however a little weirded out that you applaud God for that. I can’t applaud God for allowing me to be hurt the way I was. My father is a Baptist Pastor and I was raised in a Christian home…but applauding God for allowing me to be hurt this way will NEVER happen. At least your daughter doesn’t have to suffer anymore. I am stuck re-living the events that happened to me over and over again. I prayed for God to either help me or kill me but neither happened. I’m not atheist but I cannot “applaud” God for being hurt.

      • Hi Julie,

        Forgive me for stepping in here, but I’m a good friend of Ann’s and I believe she’s not often on the internet. I hope you’ll look back as see that Ann was not “applauding” God for evil happening.

        What she is doing is recognizing that even though free will means that people can choose to do horrible things, it is that same free will that allows us to choose to follow God and to do good. Without the ability to choose to disobey God, we would all be robots and our love for God would not be real.

        Also, knowing Ann and the horrible thing that happened to her daughter has taught me one of the deepest truths about Christianity. Ann’s daughter was murdered by a woman and went to jail for it. But Ann found within herself the forgiveness to start ministering in jail to women convicts. Then she actually met the woman who murdered her daughter and forgave her.

        This is the amazing power of God’s love working in our lives: that things meant to destroy us actually become weapons in our own hands for goodness. God takes what Satan meant for evil and turns it around to do something for His glory. And while Ann is certainly not happy her daughter was murdered, she praises God that He could take something so wrong and bring good from it.

        It can be the same in your life. Whatever happened to you, God can turn it around and make it something you use to change the lives of others. You may not be at that place yet, and that’s OK. It’s a process, but know that God can do that when you’re ready for Him to…

        God bless,
        Dave

  7. I can’t help but feel the same way. I have written-off portions of social media because the vast majority of comments I receive from “Internet Atheists” (How is there NOT some clever name for this group yet?!) are filled with vitriol or straw men, which leads me to believe that most of the time they aren’t interested in giving our side a fair hearing anyway.

    Keep at it brother!

    Neil

    • Thanks for reading, Neal! I’m so happy the article encouraged you. I want to always be kind, but sometimes we have to speak straight back to some of the ridicule and hatefulness.

      Thanks again for stopping by,
      Dave

  8. To those who rail against God for allowing evil men to do evil things…consider yourself extremely fortunate that the wages of sin are not paid on demand. Not one of us would be here.