[About the motivational poster: It’s a double-entendre.]
I think about atheism more than probably most people, perhaps because I have friends who are atheists. I am interested in their motivations and thought processes. I also find some of the philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God somewhat intriguing, although I’m not one to hang my hat on any particular philosophical argument. For that matter, I don’t think many people do – including many who say they do. I suspect that on either side of the question, philosophical arguments are often merely comforting myths and bedtime stories, meant to put our minds to rest. (Real faith, on the other hand, is something much deeper.) For both of the above reasons, over the past few years I’ve read some of the top-selling atheist books (which I’ve reviewed here occasionally), and I’ve been subscribing to some of the better atheist blogs.
Overall, I’m quite disappointed in the state of modern atheism.
I had expected to find new and fresh thinking – after all, these are the self-proclaimed free-thinkers and intellectuals – but instead have found that there’s very little free-thinking or deep-thinking going on. An exception would be someone like Bradley Monton, who is perhaps more of a free-thinker than most atheists prefer. What I typically find are ad-hominems, straw-men (or straw-gods), false appeals to authority, question-begging, hand-waving, red herrings and a lot of bluster. Much of the time it seems atheists are merely trying to prove to themselves that they haven’t missed something; at least that’s how it often comes across.
Frankly, I’m bored with it. Real philosophy and theology are so much more interesting. Unless atheism starts going outside the “why evangelical Christianity and modernism don’t mix” box, it’s pretty much a waste of time (I would tend to agree that they don’t mix, anyway). Most “de-conversion” stories I’ve read seem to result from failed attempts to rationalize Christianity with modernism, which is in my opinion an exercise in futility.
I have a theory that if many of these deconverts had looked to a pre-modern faith – say, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutheranism or even Anglicanism – they would not have deconverted. From reading various deconversion “testimonies,” it seems that most issues – when they weren’t simply moral issues – had to do with disillusionment with a Christianity that wanted badly to fit within a rather small modernist box. Exposure to a Christianity which disregards that box, or at least downplays its importance, may have actually opened their minds rather than closing them to anything spiritual. But, I could be wrong. If people were highly committed modernists, which many atheists seem to be, perhaps that is barrier enough to any sort of religious influence.
But I digress.
Atheistic arguments that target modern, redacted versions of Christianity are typically uninspiring and unproductive. Besides being bored with the repetitive atheistic responses, I have no desire to argue for a modernist version of Christianity. So, you see, I find most of the discussions rather inane. While some atheist blogs will do what they can to keep the dream alive, I probably won’t even bother to read or comment about them any longer (unless I run across anything out of the ordinary). If someone says something remarkable, feel free to let me know.
In the meantime, I’ll continue studying and writing on more substantial issues, such as continuing my series examining the differences between Western and Eastern Christianity, as well as tossing in the occasional post on atheism, because sometimes I just can’t help myself.