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Some Thoughts on Atheism

I just finished reading a book called Inside the Atheist Mind: Unmasking the Religion of Those Who Say There is No God by Anthony DeStefano (Nelson Books, Nashville. 2018).

Before I highlight a couple of ideas from the book, I want to first caution anyone who decides to read the book against thinking all atheists are exactly as the author describes. There are certainly people who are what he calls “evangelical atheist”, meaning they are proactive in recruiting people to their “faith” of “atheism.”

Yes, he speaks of atheism as a faith. This might sound confusing as we use “faith” to describe as “belief in God.”

If you look up “faith” in a dictionary, it is defined as believing in something that cannot be proven. Atheism believes that there is no God but they cannot prove God does not exist. So, the author says they have “faith” that there is no God.

DeStephano speaks of false “facts” presented by atheist such as blaming religions for most wars. He responds to this by citing the Encyclopedia of Wars by Phillips and Axelrod that shows that only 6.98% of wars “can be classified as religious in nature.” (If you read the whole book, DeStephano offers evidence to refute other similar claims of atheists that blame religion for most, if not all, of the world’s problems.

Yes, there are atheists who blame religion for many world problems. Some of them are aggressive in their attacks against religion. However, many atheists simply don’t know any better. They don’t speak up. They just keep to themselves.

I’m starting to drift from what I intended to write as I began this post so let me get back on track.

DeStephano includes a chapter (4) on “The Intolerance of Atheists.” He speaks of how atheists say we must “tolerate” the beliefs of others. Each person must be free to choose their own beliefs. This is true. We are not to force Jesus on anyone. Yet, there is a fallacy in their tolerance. If they say we must tolerate the beliefs of others, how come they don’t tolerate us expressing the beliefs of our Catholic faith? They think we shouldn’t talk about our faith because it might “harm” others. DeStephano speaks of atheists who go so far as to say, “We should no more allow parents to teach their children to believe, for example, in the literal truth of the Bible” (51).

I offer two thoughts on this:

  1. They talk about the freedom to make choices for oneself. I would argue that if we don’t teach people about our faith, then we are actually taking away their ability to choose. If they don’t know about God, they can’t choose him or reject him.
  2. If they are so sure they are right that there is no God and that our moral beliefs are not right, then how come they are afraid to let us speak. Why not let us speak? Perhaps they are afraid to let us speak because they know we are right.

The last point I want to bring up from DeStephano’s book, Inside the Atheist Mind, comes in his last chapter entitled “The End of the Atheists.” Have we let atheists win? There is no doubt that the number of people who claim to be atheists is growing.

Why?

Because, we believers choose not to talk about our faith. For some it is a conscious choice to “keep the peace.” For others, they may choose not to speak up because they feel in adequate to argue with someone about our faith. Now, we have lost the ability to talk about our faith. (We learn how to talk about our faith by doing it.)

Because we don’t talk about our faith, people don’t know about Jesus. We need to change that. We need to ask God to help us trust in what He says at the end of today’s first reading, “I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth
” (Isaiah 49:6b).

God, please give me, please give all of us who believe in you, the light of Jesus, and help us to be a “light to the nations.”

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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