C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Evangelical Atheist – Say What?

Recently in my last post the term “evangelical atheist” was mentioned by a commenter.

Personally I don’t like the use of “evangelical” and “atheist” together, but I didn’t coin the phrase and people will say what they want to say. Of course, I don’t go around calling myself an “evangelical Christian” either. I simply use Christian or Baptist.

I tried to do a little surfing to find the term to see what I could come up with. The reason is because it is most often heard from atheists that they want Christians to keep religion to the church, their homes, and themselves and to reframe from proselytizing (their word). So I found the term “evangelical atheist” interesting because in it carries the meaning that they are indeed atheists which go about to proselytize/convert theists to atheists; which would go against what atheists are telling Christians to stop doing.

Here is the article and a small bit from it:

None of this means, however, that there aren't some atheists who really do want to convert theists. What everyone must remember is that this does not indicate that such atheists are just trying to convince themselves. There are many Christian evangelists who spread all over the world to convert people to Christianity, but are they all trying to convince themselves as well? I doubt many Christians would accept such a conclusion, but if so then they shouldn’t claim that it's true about atheists.

In fact, some atheists think that theism, or at least religion, causes a great deal of harm in society, so they try to get people to change their minds. This isn't much different from someone having strong political convictions and trying to get others to change their minds and agree with them. An advocate for laws against abortion or gun control isn't trying to simply "convince themselves" — they are, instead, trying to improve society by promoting particular ideas and/or arguing against others. An evangelical atheist who argues against theism and/or religion is doing much the same.

So two things:

1] Before atheists scream at the Christian for obeying the Word of God and witnessing to every creature, please call off your own from witnessing that God does not exist; or simply except both exist and when a Christian knocks on your door simply say I am not interested.

2] As a Christian take into account that some people may not want to hear the gospel message. I am not saying don’t witness, I am saying when they say they are not interested, don’t cram it down their throats. We don’t convert people, God does, we simple present the gospel message to those that may accept or reject it.


Anonymous said...

I can only speak for myself and other atheist that I know, but neither of your points address the root issue.

1) Generally, atheists don't agitate in response to evangelism as such. They agitate in response to the efforts to legislate Christian dogma, forcing it on everyone. Over the past few years, this has become so blatant that there is growing anger, and that may result in some intemperate responses. I'll grant that much. But when Christians knock on my door to sell me their religion, I treat them the same as any other salesman who knocks on my door.

2) I commend you for your attitude in this. Unfortunately, you're apparently in the minority. Most evangelicals I've encountered very much want to cram their beliefs down my throat. To them "I'm not interested, thanks" are words that present a challenge. And I shouldn't even need to mention the many evangelicals who are insulting and even approach being verbally abusive.

Personally, I don't want Christians to shut up. Freedom of speech and religion are essential things. It doesn't bother me that people enjoy talking about their dearly held beliefs -- I know I enjoy talking about mine. But I very much resent attempts to force those beliefs on me, either through coercion or force of law.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

What do you think about The Rational Response Squad promoting their "Blasphemy Challenge"?

"What they did was challenge people to make videos of themselves, denying, denouncing or blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and then post them on YouTube."

Why quote what they do not believe (Bible) and call people to denounce what they do not believe (Holy Spirit)?

Is this not proselytizing?

Anonymous said...

Indeed it is. That's the whole point of it, in fact: to turn a mirror onto the tactics of religious evangelicals. It isn't offered as a serious tool of "conversion," but rather as a kind of parody.

There's a deeper layer to it as well. It is highly disadvantageous -- even dangerous -- to declare oneself an atheist in our society. It gets you fired, gets you harassed and assaulted, reduces the chances that you'll get bank loans, etc. Atheists are one of the most discriminated-against subgroups in the US. Even though our numbers are not miniscule, most atheists will only admit their stance when they are among other atheists.

The blasphemy challenge is a way of changing that, of getting atheists to recognize that they are not alone, nor second-class citizens. In this sense, it's following the same strategy that every other oppressed minority has followed.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

Couldn't the "blasphemy challenge" lead to anger and/or violence from atheists toward theists? Similar to other riots we have had in the US over issues.

Anonymous said...

Well, anything is possible. Atheists tend not to be a terribly violent lot, but there are crazy and dangerous people in any subgroup, atheist or not. But is that a reason to accept domination and prejudice? If that were the case, then we (all of us, not just atheists) would never have attained the amount of freedom we currently enjoy.

As to the anger, it's been there and growing for a long time before the RRS existed. So far as that goes, the Blasphemy Challenge only reflects what already exists. I seriously doubt it will create any new anger. Anger is not automatically a bad thing, either. Anger often drives people to right wrongs.

Writer, Splinters of Silver.com said...

By my comment I meant that atheists could indeed become the same as what they claim theists are now. Right?

Atheists tend not to be a terribly violent lot

I wonder, since it isn't much talked about. Out of all of the crimes that are committed on a daily basis, how many really believe in a God and how many don't. That would be interesting.

Of course we would also like to see how many people in the US say they believe in God and how many of those actually live like it.

Can people stay angry without violence?

Is violence necessary for freedom? If so, then we can look for violence in the case of pro/anti homosexuality on both sides then, right?

Will the atheist have to resolve to violence to gain the ulitimate freedom they want from religion in government and society?

Can atheists consider preaching and speaking out against homosexuality "hate speech" while all the while speaking as vial (maybe not all) against religion?

Anonymous said...

"atheists could indeed become the same as what they claim theists are now. Right?"

Well... it depends on what you mean, precisely. Do you mean all theists, or just Christians? What are the claims you're asking about? With some claims, I'd answer yes, with others, I'd answer no.

"Out of all of the crimes that are committed on a daily basis, how many really believe in a God and how many don't."

This statement expands the field of debate a bit, from extremism (which I define as "the use of force to impose an ideology") to all crimes. I'd guess that of people who commit crimes, roughly the same percentage are religious as in the general population. Religious people are, I think, far more likely to resort to extremism than nonreligious. The reason is simple: religious people (particularly those of Abrahamic faiths) are deeply and powerfully driven to convert people to their belief systems. Nonreligious people are not.

"Can people stay angry without violence?"

Absolutely. That's the case more often than not. Is freedom possible without violence? Not when those who wish to restrain freedom use violence to do so. Otherwise, yes, freedom and violence aren't joined at the hip.

"Can atheists consider preaching and speaking out against homosexuality "hate speech" while all the while speaking as vial (maybe not all) against religion?"

I'm a little confused about this question. I don't know many atheists who consider simply preaching/speaking out against homosexuality to be hate speech (hateful speech, perhaps, but "hate speech" means something a bit more specific). I suspect, however, that you're referring to the recent "hate speech" law change. That's an entirely different animal, as that applies to physical acts of harm, not simply speaking out. (By the way, I am opposed to "hate speech" laws of all stripes. It a bit Orwellian to me. However, it's true that they only kick in when there's been a violent act.)

BEAST said...

According to research, there is a higher percentage of christians in american populations compared to atheists, most of them being born agains.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.