Atheistic Evangelism

atheismLet’s face it, the New Atheism is a major movement now. We have our prophets telling people to “come out” of our Atheistic closets, Atheist conventions happening, and even Atheist Apologists defending the science of evolution against the fantastic ideas of “Creation Science”. We have gone from an unheard minority to a powerful force in the world and our numbers are growing. Only time will tell what our movement may  become, but one thing is for certain, we are here to stay.

I come  from an evangelical Christian background where my main goal in life other than “seeking gods face” was to “lead people to Jesus” . Maybe this is just me, but for some odd reason, I feel just as urged to spread the “gospel” of Atheism as I did to spread the “godspell” of Christ. I can’t fully explain it, but I imagine it comes from my desire to see people freed from the bonds of religious servitude, indoctrination, and guilt…I feel free and I want others to feel free. I suspect many of my peers feel much the same way, which explains at least in part why there are so many Atheist bloggers popping up and so many Atheists joining religious discussion forums and talking about religion so openly (Some trolling and others trying to be productive members of the forums).  Even if they don’t admit it, my Atheist peers want to leave their mark on this world in an attempt to improve it to the best of our ability, seeing as how we only have one life and no eternal life to look forward to we often attempt to make the most of what we do have rather than hoping for something after we die.

I don’t think this “Atheist Evangelism” is a bad thing, I think we are merely defending our point of view and promoting it (A few bad apples are being major turds while doing it though). Part of human nature is to try to spread ones ideals to others . This urge is a mirror of the Christian desire to see others “saved” from hell. Penn Jillette said it best in my opinion when he posed the question, “How much do you have to hate someone to NOT try to proselytize them in order to save them from eternal torture?” . Many of us are spending hours upon hours learning arguments and trying to fully understand the science behind evolution and the origin of life so that we can easily dismantle the arguments of the creationist because we are sure we are correct and sure of the positive effects of promoting a change in the understanding of those whom we find to be wrong. How much would I have to hate humanity to not try to save it from the progress retarding, painful, and intolerant aspects of religion?

There are multiple points I am trying to delicately make here so let me cut to the chase:

My first contention is that the Atheist has somewhat of a moral obligation to society. Religion can increase suffering, the more devoted to Christ I became the more painful my “walk” was. I have an obligation to society to work to prevent others from enduring this. Religion often retards the progress of science by trusting in books written before modern science rather than new understandings and evidence. We have an obligation to science and medicine to spread the ideas of progress and rationality to the religious in order to save humanity from the self implosion this may cause. Religion almost always expects the apocalypse to come in short order. We have an obligation to save the lives of those that may be caught in the crossfire of wars and political actions performed by religious extremists in our governments. These are all real threats to humanity that we must take action against to preserve this world not only for ourselves but for generations to come.

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron used the  "Croc-o-Duck" argument in a debate with the Rational Response Squad. Proof that Christian apologists often don't understand what they are debating about

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron used the "Croc-o-Duck" argument in a debate with the Rational Response Squad. Proof that Christian apologists often don't understand what they are debating about!

My second contention focuses on how we are to protect humanity from the threats previously mentioned and the nearly endless list of other threats that religion poses. I am not suggesting that we go on some “Godless Crusade” or anything like that, the last thing we need is a philosophical dark age brought upon by the  new Atheist movement…what we do need is to fight a war of information. I posit that the main reason why people refuse to accept the obvious truth of evolution is because they have either a really bad understanding of it (Often from propaganda) or because they have no understanding of it whatsoever. Same goes for almost any scientific school of study for the past few hundred years.  Therefore, what we have on our hands is a war of information and education…We have to make the study of evolution and science something that can be understood and enjoyed by a larger percentage of the population. Almost in the same way that the Bible has been translated into more and more common languages, our peer reviewed theories and studies need to be relegated to the individual that does not have a Ph. D or we can never expect to see any major increase in their understanding. Essentially what we have going on now is a crippling of information because understanding even the most basic scientific theories is nearly impossible…it has gotten to the point where many people consider science to be a faith just like Christianity is, because people often hear information but never actually study the evidence for themselves…they hear it and believe it without ever really looking into it. We cannot become another religion, we must be an evidence based movement.

I know this exclusion has not been intentional, it just seems to be an unrecognized need. I personally do fairly well when trying to study and understand Evolution or the Big Bang but not everyone can do that and they shouldn’t be left in the dark because of it.  The events that brought this to my attention were conversations I have  had with people of different religious backgrounds when I realized that when they watched debates between theologians or religious apologists  and Atheists or heard my own personal arguments they really had no clue as to what I was talking about, it was as if I were asking them to simply BELIEVE information without actually presenting any evidence, because the evidence was not comprehensible. If we change this, if we present this information to people in a different and easier to understand way (in layman’s terms) and we continue to hear bad arguments I may be proven wrong, but I think that this will make a difference for those that are not simply in denial. I don’t know how to start this, but I think it needs to be done, perhaps someone with a higher mantle than mine can take up this challenge.

jesusknockknockI also want to point out that the New Atheist movement should drop the anger we often have towards those that attempt to proselytize us. You wouldn’t yell at a mailman for delivering your mail to your door, perhaps we shouldn’t be upset when the local Baptist Church (or insert any other group here) comes knocking on doors to spread their message, it is part of their job (Mark 16: 17-18). I encourage you to invite them in, show them that Atheists aren’t the beasts we are often portrayed to be, just like many of them aren’t at all what they are often painted to be. I can’t tell you the wonderful conversations I have had with religious folks just because I didn’t fit their idea of the bitter and angry Atheist (Though sometimes I do display that attitude).  I think we are all better than that.

As the title of this post proclaims, “Atheistic Evangelism” has long been a neccessity, these are just a few things I think we can do on top of all the information we are already pushing. This post isn’t meant to be a proclamation of Atheism as the new posh religion or anything like that, we are not a Faith…we are a movement toward progressive ideals and the desire to see humanity survive rather than a fundamentalist extremism that I fear we may become. We cannot oppress people for their naivety, we must give everyone an opportunity to embrace a better understanding of the things we promote. This post is about giving the religious the benefit of the doubt and not entirely about deconverting people from their faith. Faith will dismantle itself, but reason and logic may need to be learned or taught.

To my Christian or religious readers, please do not take this post as an offensive against your faith…I still love and respect my Christian friends but I see a definite need here that has not been adequately filled. I still want to have open and intelligent conversation with you all despite our major differences in opinion. I still respect those that are faithful and appreciate the struggles of faith. Also please note that when I say that religion is bad, I generally mean fundamentalist religion for the most part.

Please comment on this post any agreement or objection coming from any point of view…I want feedback and I want to see as many Atheists read it as possible so please Stumble, Digg, Tweet…whatever this post…it is important for me to understand the consensus of my peers.


Digg!

  • Matt, please understand that what I'm about to say is not mean as an attack on you nor am I offended, upset, or angry because of what you've posted here. That being said, despite your denial here, you've just basically admitted that Atheism is a religion and it is based on faith. Maybe it doesn't adhere to the textbook definition of "religion" but to describe atheism even as a movement implies their must be some common set of beliefs (i.e. creeds, doctrine, etc. – i.e. a set of guiding principals by which all atheists agree upon. To say that's it's simply "we all agree there is no God" is way over simplifying because I seem to keep hearing the same arguments on a number of topics from a variety of atheists). You certainly have a god – yourself and/or the scientific process which is what you also put your faith in. You've also shown successfully that just like those of other religions, followers of atheism can be fanatics or "fundamentalists" – ones you would not consider to be "orthodox" atheists. I would also submit, though you don't address it directly, that just as there are a minority of those who follow other religions (Christianity, Islam, etc.), there are a minority of atheists who twist your "doctrines" (and I'm defining doctrine as a guiding set of principals here) of natural selection and survival of the fittest to justify horrible actions. Have there been more instances of this happening with Christianity? Sure, I'll admit that. But that's should be obvious since, as far as I'm aware, Christians have historically far outnumbered atheists. Percentage wise, however, I'd be curious to know the results. My guess is it would come out roughly the same across the board, if not higher numbers for the atheists – but admittedly that's pure conjecture on my part. I have absolutely no hard evidence to back that up. So, try as you may, atheism just falls into the same category as the rest of the world religions. A horse of a different color is, after all, still a horse.

    I really don't take offense to your post, at least not in the sense that I feel like you're deliberately trying to be rude or disrespectful to Christians. However, I do find what you say to be very chilling. And again, what I still do not hear – and have not heard from you to date – is what makes atheism so freeing? What makes it the religion of choice? As I (and I know millions of others) have experienced the Christian faith, I find it anything but oppressive. To the contrary, I have a freedom that isn't bound to my emotions. A joy that isn't dependent on whether or not my life is going well or not. A peace that surpasses all human understanding in Christ my Lord because I KNOW that I am forgiven and will spend eternity in heaven with Him. It is that peace, freedom, comfort, and joy that gives me the motivation to make this life better, to treat others with respect, to do what I can to help those in need, to be a better person, and to live my life. In the here and now – we both do good, we both have positive impacts on the world around us. At the same time, we both make mistakes – sometimes major ones – we hurt those around us. In the end, the real difference between us is that I believe that I'll live forever because Christ died and rose for my sins, whereas you believe you'll simply be rotting in the ground. I still don't understand how your view provides any motivation for doing – well, really anything. I might as well just worry about myself and forget about everyone else because in the end, it won't make one bit of difference. I know you've tried – patiently, at that – to get me to understand how your "truth" is noble, and I certainly get that. You've also tried to get me to understand what a tragedy it would be if we spend our lives pursuing a lie. And I certainly agree with that. But my contention is again – as it always has been, that I am following the truth. Further more, even if I'm wrong – in the end, what does it really matter? If I'm just going to end up rotting in the grave and I lived a pretty good and satisfactory life (albeit one devoted to a lie), I'll be dead and pretty sure I won't care. On the other hand, if you're wrong – there's a lot more at stake. And yes, I know it irks you when I bring up this Pascalesque language, but I don't know how else to boil it down for you. To close, I'll use your favorite retort to everything I say (with my own twist, of course): Just because you don't believe God exists doesn't make it so and just because you've denied the death and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, doesn't mean it didn't happen.

    • Hey Russ, I've been waiting on you to weigh in on this, i knew you would pick up on it pretty quickly which is actually why i left a few things out of this…I didn't want to use any more labels for the movement than I had to…but essentially the set of people I am referring to are Atheist Humanists…which isn't really a religion, but like religion it is a philosophy…we believe something is good to do simply because we do…not because we were told to by anyone other than our own desire to do what we feel is good. There is something satisfyingly freeing about that…I am free from heaven and hell and the threat of eternity…if I fall under Pascals wager and I end up screwed in the long run it still wasn't my fault…I can't make myself believe again…not a possibility..

      Truth is Freedom, for me…my Christian walk was about finding Truth…I found it and accepted it when it hit me no matter how hard it was…I have always wanted truth and nothing less, so for me to devote my life to a lie is tragic and painful and I know that if you got to heaven and Allah was standing there instead of Yahweh it would be a crushing blow.

      My Truth is noble because I will never reap the benefits of the good things I do in my life, not that I am some philanthropist or anything extraordinary, but the only people to benefit from my life will be other people, that makes me happy…if i get a little kickback i won't complain or anything, but I won't get a Crown or a Mansion in the sky or anything like that, just the satisfaction of doing my damndest to improve humanity. That isn't a religion at all…it is just a lifestyle or a philosophy and I don't see how it can be construed in any other way. That is what unites us…not all of the New Atheists will agree, but the idea of improving the world without reward may just catch on…

      • I should clarify because I can see how something could be incorrectly inferred from my comment. I did not mean to imply that my "motivation" for doing all the good stuff in this life is to earn some sort of rewards in heaven. My reward is eternal life and that comes by nothing I do but is solely accomplished by the work of Christ (Eph 2:8-9). It is that selfless love for us that in turn motivates us to serve others. Sacrificial, love, if you will. Looking out for the needs of others at times over and above or even at the expense of my own needs. And certainly, I understand that you (and other atheists) are capable and at times probably better at being altruistic than I am and vice versa. Ultimately I guess that what I was trying to articulate is that at the end of it, your motivation – though it may be helping others – seems to still be all about pleasing YOU (at least that's how I'm interpreting it). You're doing it because it "makes you happy" – it gives you "satisfaction." So that, as simple as it may be, is always your kickback. Again, as I see the Christian life, there are times I have seen others do things that in NO WAY or shape benefit themselves but in fact end up being a detriment to them. Again, I won't make a blanket statement and say that this doesn't apply to atheists because if I did I'm sure you could provide examples to prove me wrong. Basically, another way of stating it is that for me, I do the good things not because it makes me feel good (though I won't lie and say that never applies), but because it's what I'm supposed to do – because it's what God wants me to do. Does it earn my salvation, forgiveness, or place in heaven? Not one bit. The love that I show is merely an imperfect reflection of the perfect love God has shown me in Christ.

        I don't know if that's any clearer, but I gave it a shot.

        • I understand the doctrine of salvation…though i would say that belief is a work…I know what you are saying and I know that heaven is not your only motivation, what I am saying is that I don't have the fear of hell to keep me doing good things or the reward of heaven to motivate me…and i don't have the bible or gods little voice in my head letting me know i should do something kind…im not saying that you use that as your only motivation, i know you better than that…but clearly it is more noble to simply do good…just for the hell of it…it tells me that my character must be pretty damn good if i simply want to help humanity…if that is my motivation I think thats great

          • Actually, I still wasn't clear enough. Neither the "dangling carrot" of heaven nor the threat of hell serve – in any way – as my motivation for doing good. Not one bit. If that were the case, it truly would be works righteousness. My doing good comes as a response of gratitude, if you will, for what's been done for me. But even that isn't solely it. In fact, I would agree with you that there's an aspect that I just do good because it's what I should do. And I would argue (and I'm sure you'll love this) that the reason you, I, and anyone else do good "just because" is evidence of God's Law written on our hearts. In other words, I fully believe there are times people of all religions do good stuff without even a thought of reward or fear of punishment – they just "know" it's right to do and they act accordingly and expect nothing for it. Again, from my perspective that's evidence not of our "inherent good character" – but God's Law written on our hearts from our creation. The problem is we sometimes mess it up, which is precisely why works righteousness comes up short.

          • I know and i wasn't accusing you of that…i would argue that "gods law" is simply the product of evolution however.

          • Not getting upset and I didn't think you were accusing me. I was just trying to make sure I was being as clear as possible.

            Here's a question – if it's simply a product of evolution, how did life even survive? If people didn't inherently know to be good to one another and instead it was all "kill or be killed" or "do what you need to survive", it doesn't seem sustainable. Does my question make sense?

          • Why wouldn't that be sustainable? It wouldn't take long for nomadic people to realize the potential of a group when hunting, staying warm, reproducing etc and learn that killing off your own people hurts everyone in the long run. Tribal people were more inclined to have children which would carry on that culture and tradition, making those people more prevalent than say the more primitive neanderthal who may not have learned this same thing.

          • More to the point, what you're talking about here still isn't selfless love for others w/o regard for self. All you're talking about is still survival of the fittest. It's certainly not altruism; it's about helping others/the group SO THAT you benefit yourself. Understand again, yes we as Christians are selfish too and do things often at times for our own individual self interest. We're forgiven, but this side of heaven we still struggle with our sinful nature and that's how it acts (See the end of Romans 7). I'm just trying to understand how does pure, selfless, love for others "evolve"? It just doesn't make sense to me. If it's all about survival, it's not about others – it's about yourself.

  • I think whenever our beliefs shift to something we feel is "better" we feel a need to open others eyes to it as we have, then get frustrated when they do not.

    When my beliefs slowly shifted to Christian universalism(I still dont like using that title) I felt the need to tell people about God (more specifically how hell save everyone) more than I had since the first few years of me becoming "saved". It makes me very debate hungry. But then eventually it wears off I suppose, as your atheistic evangelizing may at some point

    • @ Eric,

      I suspect that it will eventually wear off…i mean, i remember being on fire for sharing my christian faith…any time i had a new religious experience or a coming back to god i would be more on fire…

      I don't think that i will stop caring for humanity however…that will be a lifelong goal of mine

  • It would be great if we could evangelize. But it's just as impossible to argue with the faithful as it is to argue with the anitvaccine nuts. It wastes our breath.

    I think the best we can do is be honest about our faith (or lack of faith), and walka a careful moral line to make sure that the morality argument cannot be used against us.

    And support organizations like the Skeptic Society and FFRF.

    • I don't think it is entirely impossible, they may be hardheaded but so are we right? On occassion one might find a Christian that is willing to listen, to reason, to question…I have found a few…if they didn't exist I'd still be under the godspell.

      I think we should be out and proud of our lack of faith, it sets us apart from the majority of society, and we should live lives that put others ahead of ourselves (if it is prudent at the time). I'm not trying to give the movement doctrines to follow…just suggestions…these are good ones IMO.

      and we should definitely support organizations for skepticism…and your local Atheist bloggers!

      btw…im a little wary of vaccinations myself…long story

  • Dax

    therevruss
    If you change the definition of religion,faith, god and beliefs(creeds doctrine etc.)you would be correct.
    “Believers”just cannot accept the fact that people who don’t believe in a god don’t actually believe in a god and have to try to shoehorn them into a frame of reference in which they actually do believe in a god but don’t realize that it’s a god so they have to tell them that they actually believe in a god. If you believe in nothing they make that a god because that’s the only way they can comprehend and they wind up thinking that you actually believe in a god .You just don’t know it.

  • Atheism is turning into the same $cam as organized religion…

    Buy a Dawkins book, buy a bumpersticker, a t-shirt, a pin, a this, a that. Support this effort with your donation, support this cause with your financial gift.

    $ame $cam, Different grifter…

    • Just a question for you Guy and not meant to be an attack. But aren't you're a pastor of a church? Isn't that organized religion or am I missing something? Maybe our definitions are different

      • We are a non-denominational assembly of disciples of Christ, we do not believe that the current incarnation of the New Testement Church was what Christ had laid the foundation for.

        Our core principles are of course the same, but we have little to nothing to do with any theology that cannot be backed by both the OT and NT in at least three different instances.

        In other words, the "inbetween the lines" BS doesn't wash round hyar…

        For me to preach it, I need to see at least three scripture citations in the ot, and 3 more in the nt that tell the exact same story,

        The same then, and now, and in the future.

        And words like "rapture" NOT being in the Bible does not mean that the event does not exist, in case someone was going to hit me with that tired old argument. I spose "rapture" is a good enough name to use until a better one comes along.

        If it ain't in the Bible, then more than likely it will be on TBN.

    • absolutely Atheism is becoming a business…any time something becomes popular or taboo people will start making money off of it…that's the way we are as humans. Dawkins, whom I have told you I don't care for much in his writing style is at the very least NOT promising you heaven in his books or anything else. There is no membership fee to be an Atheist or tithing requirement but we are often encouraged by others to donate to worthy causes…how does that change anything? there is still no God…just more evidence that men like money and recognition

  • That is a very thorough and enlightening outburst. I am a born Catholic and I hate the Catholic dogmas. I mean, there are just so many things going around, people who are preaching but their acts are as disgusting as a b_S and although they are not my main concern, in a way or another, it gets me thinking.

    I have nothing against any other religion nor my own but the dogmas are just too much at times. I have nothing against atheism as well as we all have our own reasons. I don't stand just "impartial" but I am thinking, if we try to understand each other in this world, it would be a much MUCH better place to live in… and if we start understanding each one's religion and philosophy, this world would be the BEST to live in!

    • solomon

      Dear Webbielady,
      There will always be one & only true religion & true God.Thats why you find preaching people with disgusting acts as beasts(if I'am not wrong),because they are not or yet on the true path.Understanding one's religion or philosophy alone is not enough.Understanding the truth and abide by it is one should look for.And do you want to know what is truth.It's in the religion of Moses,Abraham,Jesus(the real one) & Mohammad.

  • Everyone, Atheist, Christian, Religious, Artist or Scientist, simply believe according to their heartfelt experience. My belief is that the human heart is divine, when it is totally healthy, and can thereby do anything, like walk on water or part the Red Sea. Christ's heart was stopped with a spear head puncture, but being totally healthy He was able to heal a wound to the heart itself.

    And so my contention is that if one chooses to make his or her heart as healthy as possible one's beliefs will follow suit. Matt's desire to make the world a better place through Atheistic Evangelism is a healthy desire. Furthermore if Matt were to become more and more healthy and promote Atheism to make society a utopia, his growing ecstasy would be no different than a Christian or anyone else doing the same thing. But Matt's Atheistic beliefs will have to change when he gets so happy and healthy that he starts performing miracles.

    • solomon

      What??
      Matt's healthy? He's sick!
      Edit my comments if you dare!

  • Ha. I always felt that it was a waste of time to try and convince the Bible bashers of the error of their ways. I've always just got on with my life and enjoyed it the best I can. Life's too short to get stressed over the insanity of religion.

    That said, I'm glad you've found 'the light'. 😉

    BTW. What is this 'new' atheism you speak of? There's only one A, as far as I know. Unlike the many religions. I have a 'motivational' poster about that somewhere. Ah well, can't find it.

    And no, I strongly dispute the fact atheism is a religion. It's a LACK of religion!

  • woah that kirk cameron thing…woah!
    how did i miss that?

  • Rox

    Make no mistake, Matt, the "not-understanding" of science isn't an accident. The Wedge Strategy isn't a fable… http://www.antievolution.org/features/wedge.html

    For me it is and always has been about the violation of my First Amendment rights. I advocate the "in your face" style of Dawkins, Harris, RRS that's come about recently – because we've had to put up with the rise to political power of evangelicals (brilliantly marketed, I'll allow) for thirty years, and it's time someone put them in their place. That is, firmly OUTSIDE the halls of government.

    Personally, I'd be elated if more Christians would study the histories of their own country and their chosen religion's history within that context … chances are, they'll wake up to how they've been played by the slick, fear-mongering salvation-slingers who keep them ignorant, scared and dutifully tithing because "the end is near." It amazes me how many Christians I know who haven't the faintest idea that the particular flavor of Christianity they practice today is a fairly recent creation, much more moderate than it was even 50 years ago.

    Atheism may be becoming a political movement (again), but to characterize it as "religion" stretches the definition… feminism or civil rights activism might as well be called "religions" too, then. Religion involves rituals and worship, and there's none to be had for atheists.

  • I grew up in the USSR which was proclaimed atheistic society,. and, boy, we hated atheistic propaganda as much as you Christian dogmas. Even though later becomes obvious that they are just the different sides of the same idea, and dialectically complement each other. Atheism is a religion based on negation rather than a statement. There are more intellectually engaging concepts. In spite of your answer, I do think you're fighting your religious upbringing rather than the variety of philosophical ideas of God. And you obviously need the idea to fight against.
    Irene
    http://joborenterprenuirship.blogspot.com/

  • I grew up in the USSR which was proclaimed atheistic society,. and, boy, we hated atheistic propaganda as much as you Christian dogmas. Even though later becomes obvious that they are just the different sides of the same idea, and dialectically complement each other. Atheism is a religion based on negation rather than a statement. There are more intellectually engaging concepts. In spite of your answer, I do think you're fighting your religious upbringing rather than the variety of philosophical ideas of God. And you obviously need the idea to fight against.
    Irene
    http://joborenterprenuirship.blogspot.com/

  • Hello Friend,
    It was nice to hear from you today. I have to admit, when I saw your comment it made me smile. Thank you!
    On a different note, I love Kirk Cameron, and Ray Comfort for their work for the KINGDOM…but you know that already. I love JESUS and I always will not matter what!
    I hope you stop by again soon my friend!

    In service for CHRIST,
    Donna