I’m always amused when a believer tries to explain to me how it’s not possible for me to be something I know myself to be. Clint Decker at the Ottawa Herald is just the latest to lay claim to the idea that there are no atheists:
What is an atheist? This may sound like a simple question, but there are different answers within the expanding atheistic community.
Already we’re off to a bad start. Here he asks a question and then fails to provide an answer despite claiming there are multiple possibilities. The whole column is pretty short so perhaps he was trying to save space. No, that doesn’t really work as an explanation because there’s a very simple and concise explanation that would’ve taken less space than what he typed: “An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God(s).” That pretty much sums it up.
You can get more granular, as some folks do, and place yourself an a gnostic/agnostic scale or limit your lack of belief to “known” Gods while accepting the idea that some form of God might exist, but that’s splitting hairs. You’ll still find we have fewer divisions of thought on the topic than the Christian religion with its 41,000 or so denominations.
Atheism is growing in the United States and for decades has had a firm hold on entire nations through communistic based governments like China and North Korea.
The first part of that sentence is true. The second part is only part of the truth. Yes, China and North Korea are communist countries that officially discourage religious belief, but both countries do have religious groups within them including some Christians. China in particular relaxed its stance on religious belief quite some time ago. In both cases the governments encourage atheism not because it thinks that’s the right stance to take so much as it eliminates a competing power over the people.
Clint conveniently decides not to mention Sweden or Denmark, where religious believers number a mere 17% and 18% respectively, probably because he wouldn’t be able to put in the negative connotation that atheism and communism run hand in hand. Norway is another highly atheistic country that is also ranked as one of the happiest. Perhaps Clint is ignorant of these non-communist, but still highly atheist countries.
I’m going to quote the next few paragraphs together because Clint uses it to make a pretty sketchy jump in logic:
As best I can tell only once in the Scriptures does God address atheism directly saying, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). Otherwise, the Scriptures do not devote much time to it, because God does not see atheism as His biggest concern. The Ten Commandments show the focus of His concern when He says, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
God assumes two things. We will either worship Him or something else. Nowhere does He assume we will worship at the altar of nothing. Since an atheist would admittedly not worship any god then let us ask “What is a god?”
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a god as “A person or thing of supreme value.” I argue this is what atheists are unto themselves. Since they have nothing to exalt outside of themselves they become their own god thinking more highly of themselves then they should. They worship the god of themselves and are their own living and breathing idol they bow down to.
Got that? God only addressed atheism once because God assumes you’re going to worship something so if you’re not worshiping God you must be worshiping yourself because of a cherry-picked definition of “God” that Clint managed to find in the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Clint is trying desperately to find a way to deal with the fact that the Commandment specifically says “you shall have no other gods before me” because clearly God didn’t mean “gods” because there’s only the one God. Except that there have always been other Gods in the forms of other religious beliefs. There are religions that predate Christianity and even Judaism by thousands of years. There were plenty of well-established belief systems by the time the Jews decided they were the chosen people and just as you can find some non-Jewish believers in Judaism, the reverse is also true. The founders of Judaism couldn’t have that so in goes the commandment about other Gods. While there are plenty of passages where God claims to be the only God, there are plenty more where it appears God seems to think there are other Gods that he’s worried will steal away his followers. He is, after all, self-admittedly jealous of those other Gods.
So Clint starts digging around in a dictionary to see if he can find some way to deal with that “other gods” bit and comes across that minor definition he quotes above which he uses to make the argument that atheists must think overly highly of themselves and thus end up worshiping themselves. He doesn’t say what that sort of worship would consist of or what rituals we engage in or how he knows we think too highly of ourselves, but never mind that. He’s got a dodgy argument to conclude:
Atheists build a box around themselves keeping God out with only themselves inside. Their means of living is purely self-sufficient, cutting off all the blessings and beauty of the one true God only doing, controlling and becoming what they can manage. It is like they say, “All I want. All I need is right here in this box.”
Huh. He says that like it’s a bad thing. I thought Conservatives were all about personal responsibility and being self-sufficient and not relying on others to take care of your sorry ass? You’d think he’d appreciate someone who can be content with what he has instead of longing for some greater undeserved reward.
God the Creator who made us (including all the atheists) put a natural desire within us to seek and know Him. When atheists put a box around themselves, it instinctively sets off a divine internal restlessness.
Really? I don’t feel restless. At least not with regards to spiritual matters. Does it feel different than other forms of restlessness? Like when you’re itching for a new video game, but you really can’t afford it and there’s no Steam sale going on so you just go back to playing the stuff you already have, but it’s just not hitting the spot so you go on Netflix and can’t find anything you haven’t seen a million times already? Cause that’s a pretty bad itch and I can’t remember the last time I felt that way about God.
Clint wraps up his bad argument with a challenge:
I challenge every atheist to open the box, step out and seek his or her Creator. You were made to know Him. There is no reason to fear. God loves you and seeks your best for His glory. May Jesus be your hope for today.
There’s no reason to fear? What about all that shit-talking God does in the Bible about how you should fear him?
I’ll tell you what, Clint. I’ll take up your challenge if you promise to do the reverse. Try out atheism for awhile and see how that works for you. It’s only fair. Plus, if we’re right, there really isn’t anything to fear. Well, other than possibly losing your faith.