Every Wednesday morning I board a city bus at 6:10 AM and head to Temple Terrace for a class. This is not a class anyone volunteers to take, it is one some people are required to attend. To say that it is a diverse group of people is a major understatement. The discussions are often quite entertaining for me, and this past week was no exception. A 38 year old man, when asked what he was doing to meet new people, indicated he was preparing to join an Atheist Club. The group facilitator, knowing my beliefs quite well by this point, asked me if I thought the guy was an atheist. I told the group I didn't think so, but for me to explain why I doubted him would take too long. So today, I offer up my opinion on what makes a good atheist. I hope you will read it in the spirit it is intended. So here we go- how to be an atheist:
- Believe in something. Too many people call themselves atheists when in fact they are agnostics. What's the difference? An agnostic doubts and denies the existence of God. An atheist believes there is no god- and everything that goes along with that belief. They don't answer questions about God with statements like "I don't believe all that stuff" or "I've never seen God." They answer flatly and with conviction- "there is no god." An atheist believes- they just believe in no god at all.
- Understand what it means. To believe that there is no god has ramifications in every part of your life, just as believing in God does. A good atheist knows that their belief system means that everything that has happened in all of history was an accident. Nothing created the universe, it just happened. Christians may argue about creation theories, but they all begin with "in the beginning God..." The atheist's universe has no beginning. People were not designed by a Creator, they just morphed out of slimy ocean creatures or magically appeared one day. There is no purpose to life, you just do whatever you want to because there is no higher calling to which you should aspire. And you can't just offer these thoughts as possibilities- you must believe them.
- Watch your language. It is a moral imperative that you quit asking God to "damn" things. You believe there is no god, and to keep saying this makes you a hypocrite. Interestingly enough, hypocrisy by Christians is often the #1 reason cited by non-believers when asked why they do not attend church. Wonder if it keeps them away from the Atheist Club too?
- Become lawless and loveless. A true atheist understands that our laws are based on the 10 Commandments. Since God does not exist, those commandments were bogus (despite historical documents that prove otherwise- See Item 5) and therefore the laws of our land are not valid. Make up your own, or live in the total chaos of a lawless society. And since our basic understanding of love- the way we treat our fellow human beings and show them respect- comes from the world's religions, you must throw out that stuff as well. If God is love (and He is!) then love must be totally foreign to you. You can have all of the sex and lust you want, but the concept of love should be removed from your belief system.
- Believe something for which there is no evidence. It's tough being an atheist. There are historical documents and confirmed events dating back thousands of years that point to the existence of God. The miracles and the resurrection of Jesus were reported in many historical documents (not just the Bible) by many different witnesses. Hundreds of people have spent millions of dollars and their entire lives trying to prove the Bible to be fake or God to be a fairy tale. Instead, they keep proving the very things they were trying to discredit. The fact that you got sick on your vacation or that your football team lost by 37 points yesterday is not proof that there is no God. Many scientists who believe in creation theories like evolution or the big bang cannot get past the question of how those things began. They are hesitant to say "God created," so they use the phrase "intelligent designer." Sounds like a creator God to me. In any case, it is hard to make the case that the universe "just happened." But that is the case you are left with, so learn to defend it.
- Have no hope. I cannot personally imagine going through life without the knowledge that God loves me. God's love and grace have lifted me from the depths of despair on many occasions. Without God, I would have no idea where I would turn for hope. Both of us have to have faith- the evidence of things unseen. But for the atheist, your faith is in you. No one stronger, no one greater, no one who loves you unconditionally. Just you, with all of your flaws and failures. You must be much stronger than I am...
Because of Jesus,