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The Atheist Syndrome

Dr. George Grant sat for a video interview a back and he talked about the book, The Atheist Syndrome. The author, John Koster, profiles the lives and personalities of four of most well-known atheists and their followers. In the most extreme cases, atheism is not just a healthy skepticism, such as agnosticism (the admission of “not knowing” if there is a God) or “free thinking” that eschews supernatural theology in favor of naturalist explanations. The atheist claims to speak as infallibly as God in claiming there is no God. In its extreme form, atheism is a mental disorder.

George Grant explains:



If you think this is pure polemics, I’ll go as far as to agree that on the surface it seems that this profile is too naïve. To say that all atheists are bed-wetters, sexual deviants, victims of abusive fathers and promiscuous mothers is at best an over-generalization based on four of the most well-known atheists and some of their followers. I’d never go to this extreme to say all atheists are like that.

But there is a syndrome that is very real and more endemic to atheists than any other group.

Since 1987, my passion for ministry has focused on media projects, eschatology, theonomy, evangelism, foreign missions, political action and pro-life activism. Therefore, most of the criticism I get from our web presence has been from liberals, witches, pagans, and pro-abortion advocates. It is completely understandable and expected. The liberals (both theological and political) fear that a growing Christian movement represents a throwback to the fear and prejudice of the so-called “Dark Ages.” Witches and pagans fear that biblical law will lead to a return to the “burning times.” Pro-aborts oppose pro-life activism out of their desire for selfish autonomy and a license for irresponsible behavior.

Most of the emails and comments I have received from these groups have taken the form of hysterical screeds. In effect, they say: “You Christians want to kill and repress us all!”

Of this group, King Solomon lamented when he wrote:

“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing” (Proverbs 28:1).

When faced with left-wing paranoia, I usually try to explain in a rational and calm tone that there is always great freedom in a Christian society for people to hold other views and practice their religion in private just as long just as they do not break the civil laws of the society. Of course, Christians want these laws based – if not wholly, then at least in principle – on biblical law.

As a person who was converted to Christ as an adult, I realize that everyone is in a different place in their journey toward God. We can offer a great deal of tolerance when dealing with groups who do not share our worldview. It took me 23 years to see the truth. I try to keep that in mind and that I should bear with people who don’t see it my way.

My vision for a Christian America is the Puritanism of Oliver Cromwell – a ruler who invited Jews to return to England 100 years after being banished by King Henry VIII. Cromwell also protected the rights of Roman Catholics to worship publicly in Protestant England – although he was adamantly opposed to their theology on a personal level. He strengthened a republican form of government in England and fought the idea of the “divine right of kings.”

Recently, due to some side comments I made on a blog post regarding imprecatory prayer, I’ve flushed out droves of new antagonists – the militant atheists. Except for a few notable champions, most prefer to remain anonymous while sniping at Christians and all theists in general from the bushes. Their most effective field of battle is the blogosphere of course.

They are even more hysterical than the usual suspects – the liberals, pagans and pro-aborts – but they are different in that they share in common several pathological characteristics. While I don’t necessarily think that Koster’s thesis is entirely correct, I’ve noticed several common denominators among atheists – or at least the these anonymous atheist flamers on the Internet. These include:

  1. Decrying the supposed stupidity and lack of intelligence on the part of Christians without ever condescending to a focused debate on worldview issues.
  2. The use of invective, profanity and ad hominem attacks when refuting Christians, ironically acting extremely insulted when the tables are turned.
  3. Focusing on the supposed hypocrisies of Christianity, while never owning their own behavior or the inhuman criminal history of recent atheistic societies.
  4. An obsession with sexually demeaning comments bordering on harassment in an attempt to assault the moral sensibilities and sexual ethics of the Bible.
  5. An obsession with irrelevant details.
  6. Frequent accusations of lying and dishonesty even while purposefully interpreting Christian writings and biblical theology in a skewed and satirical manner.
  7. An irrational insistence that experimental science is the only form of rational thought. In other words, a belief in metaphysical naturalism (the idea that all truth is knowable through naturalistic experimentation and observation) rather than traditional scientific rationalism (the idea that science can only observe, reproduce and describe natural events according to an imperfect paradigm.)
I didn’t need to do case studies or conduct a scientific study to discover this syndrome. I have enough data in my mail box over the years. (I am sure that I’ll get many more of these now as a result of P.Z. Myers free advertisement of my website.)

No atheist’s response is complete without the “bearing false witness” charge. Although mountains of materials defending Christianity have been written and collected over the centuries, the charge is always that it is a “lie” to say so. On the contrary, if a religious opinion can be proven demonstrably wrong, it is only an opinion, not a lie.

Another ploy is to portray Christians as “hateful.” The idea that Christianity promotes a “love you neighbor” ethic is freely admitted by atheists when they berate us for our alleged “hatred hypocrisy.” They need to borrow from Christianity’s moral code of the “law of love” even while they mock us!

I sometimes use sarcasm in my responses to non-believers. Jesus and the Apostle Paul used sarcasm, so it’s not wrong to use it in a measured way. But usually I try to answer rationally – not with my answers, but with a theological consensus based on years of study on the matter. I don’t get into arguments over things I know nothing about. In this case, silence is usually treated as an admission of surrender.

It is supposed to be hypocrisy for Christians to treat biblical morality as binding on non-believers. It’s hypocritical for us hold a black and white view of morality. Who are we to say what is “good” and “evil”? But that’s not to stop the pot from calling the kettle black. Atheists have their own version of morality that they seek to impose on society.

Neutrality is a myth. Every civil law is an imposition of someone’s morality on another person. No culture can exist for long as an amalgamation of diverse “moralities.” Eventually one worldview is going to win out. And that is really what this debate is about. It’s a battle for our culture. The militant atheists are worthy adversaries in this battle because they understand that theirs is a battle for cultural dominion far better than most Christians. Although atheists are a small minority, they understand that they can win by holding forth in the battle of ideas. No matter how vacuous they may sound at first, many of their core ideas are already the ruling presuppositions of the media, entertainment industry and liberal politics.

That is why the Sarah Palin nomination has them hysterical. Win or lose, she is a bright, young, articulate defender of the Christian political worldview who will be around for years to come.

So get ready. The culture wars are back.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

You go Jay, run to the battle and slay thousands of philistines with your keyboard.

Posted by  Anonymous on 09/09/2008 08:41 AM #

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.

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6. What about the separation of Church and State?
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