Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I Don't Believe in Atheists

There is a long tradition of atheism and agnosticism in the west. We extol the virtues of the mind, free-thinking and reasoning, and for many this leads to the diminishing of any serious consideration of God. In some enlightened circles atheism is the standard frame of reference for all things. If you use your mind at all, the thinking goes, you will realize that religion- any religion- is simply superstition.

My first problem with this line of thought is an old argument from the field of Christian apologetics. To be an atheist, to not believe in God, implies that you know what it is you do not believe in. Therefore, God must exist since you know what God is. If God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-present, then the best a person can do is to say that he does not believe that what others think about God is true. A person cannot truly be an atheist, but merely an agnostic- one who has doubts about the existence of God.

But recently I came across a new approach. I think that this is absolutely true. There are many people who call themselves atheists simply because they are too lazy to think about, learn about or decide about God. It is much easier to not think, than it is to think. Most people do not examine their lives and beliefs at all. We come up with labels for people, institutions and ideologies so that we can dismiss them or address them in the shortest amount of time possible. I believe that many people accept the label "atheist" so they do not have to do the hard work of thinking about what they truly believe about God.

God help them, and us!

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