“RELIGION SHOULD BE TREATED WITH RIDICULE, HATRED AND CONTEMPT”
Atheism, or “antitheism,” which was once considered taboo in America, has become mainstream in today’s society; books like Christopher Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion, and Sam Harris’s The End of Faith have all become New York Times bestsellers.
Faith-bashing films, such as Bill Maher’s Religulous and Ricky Gervais’s The Invention of Lying have done well at the box office. The left never misses an opportunity to ridicule Christianity, or the latest errant statements or behavior from groups who claim to speak or act in the name of Christianity; yet many of them are quick to (angrily) point out that Islamic Extremists don’t represent Islam as a whole. Why the hypocrisy? I suspect it’s “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”
Why the anger, ridicule, and hypocrisy? Hatred of something they can never disprove exists? Fear of being caught in an “oops” moment in the end? Second thoughts? Guilt? All of the above?
We also have passive-aggressive atheists, many of whom refer to themselves as “agnostic” — due to their lack of courage in coming out of the atheist closet. These people are forever on the lookout for examples” o “non-Christian” behavior by Christians. Once they think they’ve struck pay dirt, they smile derisively, make flippant comments, or mumble under their breath — as opposed to going all Bill Maher on the nearest Christian(s).
My faith teaches me not to judge others; God will handle that. (Don’t misconstrue this to mean that I don’t criticize the hypocrisy, lies or political beliefs of others; that I do with gusto — whenever possible.) However, there are two aspects of atheism that have always puzzled me: the desperate need to ridicule, deride, or fear Christians and their faith — and the outright anger and hatred that many atheists display; the Bill Mahers of the world.
Well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens, for example, says that religion “should be treated with ridicule, hatred, and contempt.” Hitchens is quick to point out of course that Christians themselves should not be treated this way; it’s Christianity he hates. (which is akin to “supporting the troops” — but not the war.) Hitchens leaves no room for doubt as to his bitter contempt:
“It is entirely appropriate to ridicule absurd ideas rather than to treat them as serious and give them respect. Only serious ideas based on reason and evidence are worthy of intellectual respect. The ideas that we critique and ridicule have historically led to or facilitated war, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. They have enslaved millions, impeded medical and scientific research and are now draining vast sums of taxpayer dollars to propagate more of these ridiculous ideas.
These ideas have resulted in untold amounts of violence, death, torture, and suffering as well as the profound intimidation and physical molestation of our young. Ridicule and even sneering condescension are about the mildest critical reactions that we can have for the enormity of the mind-boggling injustices perpetrated in their name. I can readily empathize with those of us who consider the behaviors prompted by these dogma to be illegal and criminal.”
Greg Epstein, “Humanist chaplain” at Harvard University, and author of Good Without God: What a Million Nonreligious People Do Believe, has a different view of the role atheism and its believers should play in society. He describes the “New Atheists,” (Hitchens, Dawkins & Co.) as “atheist fundamentalists,” to whom he imparts “mindlessness and hypocrisy” for their ridicule and derision of Christianity.
Epstein believes that atheists have allowed themselves to become defined by what they don’t believe. “Humanists,” as he refers to atheists, would be better served by respectful coexistence with believers. Mutual acceptance of the beliefs and conviction of others –or the lack thereof — allows for common ground on issues of shared concern, he says.
In an apparent concession to the New Atheists, Epstein has somewhat hedged lately: “What I’m more concerned about,” he says, “are religious people who’d be fine with ‘Humanism,’ and are interested in working as equals with me. We’re not here to erase you — we’re here to embrace you,” claims Epstein.
Really? Hmm…haven’t run across much “embracing” of Christianity by atheists.
Excuse my skepticism, but the Bill Mahers and Christopher Hitchenses of the world are much more vocal — and prevalent, as well.