Thursday, September 4, 2014

On the Willingness of Atheists to Contradict Themselves if it just Attacks the Faith

In conversations I have from time to time with atheists I've noticed a shocking willingness for the atheist to immediately contradict himself so as to take another shot at Christianity. Nothing, it seems, not even intellectual consistency, will prevent him from taking a swing at the Christian. One such example, and fifty such could easily be given, is the typical atheist attitude towards the God we Christians believe in. One famous description comes from the leading light of the new atheism, Dr. Richard Dawkins, who contends the Christian God is
arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully... Richard Dawkins, (The God Delusion, pg 31)
But we Christians are simultaneously ridiculed for having a puerile relationship with God, who atheists don't hesitate to compare to a child's "invisible friend," kept about  solely to make us feel safe and secure in a world we can't bear to face. Yes, we are told God is simply a crutch for weak and superstitious people who can't handle reality. Someone weak-minded people turn to when they are sad grandma died or can't cope with some tragedy in their lives. No less an authority than Dr. Dawkins himself takes this "wish-projection" view to explain belief in the Christian God,

Wouldn't it be lovely to believe in an imaginary friend who listens to your thoughts, listens to your prayers, comforts you, consoles you, gives you life after death, can give you advice? Of course it's satisfying (source)
Dr. Dawkins

I must confess to starting for a moment after reading those two opinions side by side from the mouth of the same, presumably sane, man. How, exactly, it would be "lovely" to believe in a "petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, geneocidal, filicidal,... bully" is quite beyond me. Honestly, it sounds like the furthest thing from "lovely" that I could imagine. In fact, it seems like the most horrifying belief imaginable! Believing "the most unpleasant character in all of fiction" also happens to be real, all-powerful, and constantly watching over you, ready to judge you when you die? Not exactly my idea of "satisfying."

Of course, Dr. Dawkins isn't really all that convicted in either his "God is a hideous monster" or his "God is a fairy tale" opinions, if he were he wouldn't believe the other. No, he just finds both to be effective weapons to fight Christianity.

There is nothing new in this atheistic dishonesty. The great GK Chesterton was, in part, converted from agnosticism by the contradictions he found in the attacks on Christianity a century ago, as he relates in the sixth chapter of his masterpiece Orthodoxy,
As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith... a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind -- the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other. It was attacked on all sides and for all contradictory reasons. No sooner had one rationalist demonstrated that it was far too the east than another demonstrated with equal clearness that it was far too the west. No sooner had my anger died down at its angular and aggressive squareness than I was called up again to notice and condemn its enervating and sensual roundness. 
Chesterton then goes on to provide some examples that he encountered while still "a complete agnostic," first one similar to our dilemma above,
I was much moved by the eloquent attack on Christianity as a thing of inhuman gloom....a thing purely pessimistic and opposed to life... that it prevented men, by morbid tears and terrors, from seeking joy and liberty in the bosom of nature. But another accusation was that it comforted men with a fictitious providence, and put them in a pink-and-white nursery.... One rationalist had hardly done calling Christianity a nightmare before another began to call it a fool's paradise. This puzzled me... Christianity could not at once be the black mask on a white world, and also the white mask on a black world. The state of Christianity could not be at once so comfortable that he was a coward to cling to it, and so uncomfortable that he was a fool to stand in it.
Chesterton goes on to site another example common in his (as well as our) day,
I felt a strong case against Christianity lay in the charge that there is something timid, monkish, and unmanly about all that is called "Christian," especially in its attitude towards resistance and did seem... that there was something weak and over patient about Christian counsels... (which)... made plausible the accusation that Christianity was an attempt to make man too like a sheep.... I turned the next page in my agnostic manual, and my brain turned up-side down. Now I found that I was to hate Christianity not for fighting too little, but for fighting too much. Christianity, it seemed, was the mother of wars. Christianity had deluged the world with blood. I had got throughly angry with the Christian, because he never was angry. And now I was told to be angry with him because his anger had been the most huge and horrible thing in human history.
After providing more examples (the whole chapter is well worth reading, as is the whole book, and well, pretty much everything the man wrote) Chesterton concludes,
It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with. What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?   
GK Chesterton

Which brings us back to our "new atheist" friends. Perhaps it isn't the Christian God who is inexplicably the vilest and most disgusting character to ever be dreamed up by man and simultaneously the "invisible friend" of weak minds clinging desperately to a friendly-face in a menacing and foreboding universe. Perhaps it is rather the case that any argument is still "good enough" as long as it is wielded against Christianity.

Haven't read Orthodoxy? Pick up a copy over at Amazon:

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