Friday, May 1, 2009

Are you a humble atheist?

Is a humble atheist a contradiction in terms? Have you ever met a humble atheist?

On an atheist blog a couple days ago, the subject was how disgusting it is to encounter hypocrisy in the Church. I agreed that it truly is disgusting but added, “In reality every single person on the face of the earth is a hypocrite. Only the degree of hypocrisy varies, not the presence of hypocrisy.”

Most people present a front of confidence while remaining unsure of many if not most things in their lives. They attempt to appear wealthier than they really are. Their kindness is often manipulative. Their caring covers a seemingly bottomless pit of anger. They’re more honest when they know they’re being watched. We can put on a false front for such a long period of time that people often date each other for years only to discover the true character of their partner after the wedding.

And for what it’s worth, it’s doubtful that anyone hates hypocrisy in the Church as much as Jesus hates it. The names that Jesus called religious leaders while He was on earth makes Christopher Hitchens’ tirades against religion seem tame in comparison. Regardless, my suggestion of universal hypocrisy touched a nerve. One reply was as follows.

“To claim that I am immoral and inherently evil is a bold claim. What evidence can you deliver, do you actually know me? Do you know everything that I have done? I know my true self, I know my actions and I can judge my actions (I can also judge the actions of others). I don't need a magic-man to tell my (sic) what is right and wrong, I am my own judge.”

(By magic-man I’m assuming that this atheist meant God and not me.)

The thing is, what would be wrong with just admitting that corruption runs deep in his soul? Do atheists really not recognise corrupt self-love in themselves, or do they have a vested interest in hiding from that reality? I suspect that it’s the latter. It’s too bad because atheists are missing out on perhaps the best part of life, that of self-honesty.

I meet every week with a couple other men. Besides reading the Bible and sharing the events of our lives during the past week, we have an accountability portion of our time together. We share with each other the results of these questions:

. Have I been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus with both my words and deeds?

. Have I exposed myself to sexually degrading material or allowed my mind to entertain sexually exploitive thoughts about another person this week?

. Have I lacked integrity in my financial dealings or coveted something that does not belong to me?

. Have I been honouring, understanding, and generous in my most important relationships this week? Would my wife agree with my answer?

. Have I damaged another person by my words, either behind h/her back or face-to-face?

. Have I given in to an addictive behaviour this week?

. Have I continued to remain angry and unforgiving toward another?

. Have I secretly wished for another’s misfortune?

. Have I lied by what I’ve said or left unsaid?

. Are there other struggles not mentioned here?

. Have I been honest with these men this morning?

It is so refreshing to be open and honest with another. It is so refreshing to be open and honest with myself. And that makes me see the atheist’s arrogance and self-deception so destructive, not just to the atheist but to those around h/her as well.

After all, we don’t connect with others through our points of strength but through our points of weakness.

To hide our true selves and to hide from our true selves is a betrayal of self. And that seems to be an inevitable part of atheism. As I’ve commented before, when atheists say, “I don’t need God in order to be good,” that must logically be followed with, “Since I say that I don’t need God to be a good person, therefore I absolutely MUST believe that I AM a good person.”

This is why, I think, the concept of Grace, as taught by Christianity is so absolutely, totally and completely incomprehensible to atheists. I have yet to meet an atheist who can accurately relate back to me what the Christian concept of God’s Grace means. They just cannot get it.

It’s also one of the reasons why Jesus’ message is so believable to me. Grace, as it’s presented by Jesus the Christ and the religion that bears His name is something that is absolutely foreign to the human mind. No one would have been able to make this up. We humans simply cannot conceive of getting something that isn’t somehow a repayment for OUR goodness or OUR effort. Every single religion, faith or philosophy EXCEPT Christianity, including the atheist faith is built around works salvation, around earning our salvation, or in the case of atheism - attaining worth / value through being as good / respected as we can possibly be.

From a human perspective this is the way it works > ‘If God / the world thinks highly of me then I’ll be counted as worthy of salvation / winning the game of life. Of course, no one defines how good a person needs to be; with each person thinking, "It's at least as good as I am," so that God should just accept several billion personal standards of goodness. Obviously, these are standards that vary all the way from Hitler’s personal good-enough standard, to Mother Theresa’s personal good-enough standard. Within this context people are actually allowed, even encouraged to think they are better than others.

Christianity, and only Christianity levels the playing field by stating clearly that there is no such thing as anyone being good enough to be good enough for heaven. Salvation is by “God’s Grace alone so that no one may boast.” As stated, human arrogance, and particularly atheist arrogance is such that no human on earth would or could INVENT a religion that utilises God’s Grace and forgiveness as a means of salvation.

I had said on another atheist blog, “We Christians are able to admit that we not only have the potential to fail, but we’ve screwed up in virtually every area that humans can fail. That’s why we became Christians in the first place.”

One of the atheist members of the discussion said, “What a strange reason for becoming a theist.” I’m guessing Theist and Christian are synonyms in his mind. At any rate, I’m thinking - Why is that weird?

. I am a sinner

. Jesus has opened my eyes to that fact AND He’s shown me that He loves me

. Jesus loves me so much that He offers me forgiveness for my sins at His expense.

. I accept His offer thereby becoming a Christian (Theist?).

As far as I can see, the only thing that would keep a person from accepting Jesus’ offer of forgiveness is when that person is so deluded / proud that s/he honestly believes there’s no need for forgiveness. If, like atheists seem to believe, they’re not just a good person, but they’re better than most people, then of course they could see no need for forgiveness for the wrong that they do.

“They’re just little lies, little cheats, little selfishness” etc. etc..

I think that’s exactly what atheists believe about themselves. The wrong they do is so insignificant it hardly even counts as wrong. In fact,

. God should just overlook the murder of His Son.

. God should just overlook the fact the 100's of millions of children must wonder if they're loved because mom and dad are more concerned with their own happiness than that of their children.

. God should just overlook the fact that we allow millions of children to starve to death every year.

. God should just overlook the fact that we allow millions of children to be held in sexual slavery.

. God should just overlook the fact that we are destroying His creation.

Atheists may think that overlooking or shifting the blame for what’s happening in our world is a small thing but God does not. The horrendous problems in our world are OUR fault! A time is coming when there’s going to be hell to pay for those who aren’t willing to take responsibility for their actions; for those who deny that they've done anything wrong or that it’s always somebody else’s fault. “God opposes the proud, but gives Grace to the Humble.”

Do you know any humble atheists?

1 comment:

steve said...

Hi Makarios,

I think I'm fairly humble. I can't drive a nail straight to save my life. My efforts at organizing my desk always end in disaster. I lose things. All. The. Time. It drives me and everyone in my life crazy, but it's quite clear by now that I have some deep character flaw that makes it utterly impossible for me to set things down in logical spots.

I love baseball, yet every team I ever played for finished last in its division. I don't think it's just a coincidence, but has something to do with my own utter lack of ability.

I wrote a book called "The Turtle and the Universe" that is doing so poorly that my editor tells me I'm now less likely to get a second book published. Ever. Ironic.

I was a complete disaster at differential equations, and truth be told, while I made it through integral calculus, I never really understood it. I'm missing some key idea, and wish I had the time to go back and re-learn it, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

I love to teach (after father, husband, and learner, it is my most valued role), but, as Richard Feynman said, probably what I'm really doing is entertaining myself. Most people who learn, who really learn, teach themselves. The best I can do is light a fire. Maybe I do that every once in a while, but likely I'll never really know. But, ya gotta have faith!

Anyway, I'd suggest myself as a humble atheist. Of course, doing so perhaps disqualifies me from the title. Catch-22? Ah, well.

Good luck in your search.

Steve