Are all atheists immoral fools refusing to believe?

Following a discussion about my last post “Ed”, a British atheist asked a terrific question which gave rise to an interesting and enriching conversation.

*****

Ed: Marc, thanks. I am interested in the hiddenness aspect. You say in the piece: “The problem of God allowing many people to remain in the dark about his true nature (divine hiddenness) could be partially solved by considering His leaving freedom to man AND salvation not being dependent on holding the right beliefs while dying.”

Would this include the atheists like me who consider the evidence points strongly away from theism?

*****

Me: Hi Ed! Thanks for your wonderful question.

I can only answer you what Pope Francis stated:

“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not
believe in God is to obey their conscience.
Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

Let me give you an analogy. I believe that hardcore libertarianism (the idea that the State should NEVER intervene even if poor children are starving) is a wicked system.
I do believe that numerous rich people wanting to preserve or enhance their privileges aren’t sincere when they pretend to be intellectually convinced this is the best system for us all.
YET I also recognize that many libertarians are SINCERELY convinced this is the case and that private donations can take care of the poor.

The same thing could be said about atheism. I find no atheistic arguments convincing.
But I acknowledge the fact that sincere and kind people might disagree with that assessment IN GOOD FAITH.
I also believe there’s nothing wrong at all with respectful atheistic philosophers trying to rationally defend their worldview.

So I do believe that beyond the grave, God will give all these people the opportunity to accept Him and thereby inherit immortality.

****

Ed: Great Marc. I take it that when you said “The problem of God allowing many people to remain in the dark about his true nature (divine hiddenness) …” your view is similar to mainstream here: if atheists could overcome their prejudice then they would see the evidence for God as clear, as Rom 1 suggests. Have I read you correctly?

*****

Me: There are two issues which need to be untangled here.

1) Is the rejection of theism wicked?

I’m no inerrantist. I see the apostle Paul as a great man of God and read him like I read C.S. Lewis.

Consequently, I’m not bound to believing that everything he wrote in the book of “Romans” is free of errors.
I certainly don’t think that ALL atheists “capture the Truth” IMMORALLY even if I think this may very well hold for SOME of them.

It is, however, not really clear this is what the apostle meant in the first place.
He might have had a cultural rather than individual responsibility in mind.

2) Do atheists think as they do due to prejudices?

It is vital to realize one can hold false beliefs owing to prejudices WITHOUT being morally culpable.
In that sense, I do believe that COUNTLESS people are atheists owing to prejudices or ungrounded presuppositions (such as the universal applicability of Ockham’s razor or the general principle “the absence of evidence is evidence of absence“.)

******

Ed: Marc, that’s helpful. Now on the evidence side of the equation…. Does the evidence lead to God when viewed 100% objectively? Or is it unclear? Or is God hidden on this objective level as well?

******

Me: I’m no Bayesian and doubt in the first place that propositions such as “God exists” are characterized by a SINGLE-VALUED probability.

I think we’ve decent, ordinary evidence (which would be accepted in mundane fields of inquiry) that paranormal phenomena are real.
In addition, I find some versions of the ontological argument pretty intriguing.
That said, I don’t think that Christian theism can be shown to be true.
It is my contention that all humans walk by faith AS I JUST DEFINED IT.
Cheers.
P.S: capital letters don’t mean I’m angry.🙂
******
I greatly appreciated the respectful tone of Ed.
In the context of the culture war raging in America (and to a lesser extent in the whole English-speaking world) we see two bunches of extremists fighting anyone disagreeing with them in a flurry of over-generalizations and straw-man arguments.
https://i1.wp.com/www.machosofty.nl/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/130304RD-religion-shirt-_G0G5019final4.jpg
On the one hand, anti-theists keep saying that ALL religious people are deluded loonies who ought to be cured of their “God virus” through the use of ridicule, insults and emotional bullying.
On the other hand, religious fundamentalists say that ALL atheists are immoral fools who refuse to believe in God owing to their wickedness.
 
Both sides are mirror-image of each other and many current anti-theists tend to be former religious fundies.
I find the whole situation deeply saddening for I highly value respectful and reasonable conversations between people having different worldviews.
Indeed, this is one of the main reasons which led me to create this blog.

7 thoughts on “Are all atheists immoral fools refusing to believe?

  1. As a non-believer of the supernatural elements of religion, I also find those who claim Atheism may possibly be jumping to conclusions to the same degree as Theists. If Atheists truly cared about a rational approach, they wouldn’t be taking on a title that opposes the idea of gods, but they would take on a position of unknowingness and curiosity.

    From my point of view, there seems to be plenty of evidence that opposes the meddling Abrahamic God, but for that version to be questionable doesn’t automatically suggest that there likely was no creative intelligence behind the Big Bang. We simply don’t have conclusive evidence, and that is why I am critical of Atheists. There seems to be some underlying hypocrisy there.

    • There are a few things that are inacurate in your comment.

      First of all, you are using a single sentence to characterise atheists, even though it has been pointed out numerous times that atheists are not a group of people with similar ways of thinking. So using saying things like ” If Atheists truly cared about a rational approach” and “There seems to be some underlying hypocrisy there” is simply dishonest.

      Second, atheist is not a a title that oposes the idea of gods. Antitheist though is.

      Third, taking your suggested position of “unknowingness” is an existing stance called Agnostisism.

      Now, to set things straight, since you disregard all supoernatural elements of religion, but still believe in a creator god, I must presume you are a deist. That is fine, as long as you can accept that I as an atheist don’t hold firm disbelief in gods, but I do hold a curious disbelief in YOUR claim that a creator god exists. Now you should also understand that for as long as you cannot provide any evidence for the creator god that you claim exists, I can hold a comfortable position of not believing you, and not having the need to provide any evidence to contradict your your absurd claim. That my friend is neither hypocritical nor dishonest. That is what is needed to force people like you to see that your belief is not defendable, and as such any disbelief towards your claims is honest, realistic and rational.

      I hope I managed to type my thoughts in a way that you can understand. If not, let me know.

      • First off, I am not a Deist. I believe that it is possible that there could be an intelligent creator at some point beyond the Big Bang. I also believe it is possible that there is no such creator. To hold a position in either direction is essentially a belief as there are only scant tidbits to base such a position off of.

        Atheist is a title rooted in the disbelief of gods. Only recently has it been stretched in attempt to catch all who do not believe in any specific version of a grand creator. It is that stretching of the definition that I find of questionable ethic.

        The majority of Atheists I’ve interacted with seem to base their position off of existing Theistic beliefs, which seems to me to be a bit of a narrow way to look at things.

        And yes, I do relate with the term Agnostic. You could probably say I’m a fence-sitting agnostic, to include the Theist-to-Atheist belief scale in the title.

  2. How refreshing to read a mutually respectful debate between an atheist and a Christian! Ed is proof that not all atheists are immoral fools refusing to believe. He has the intelligence to ask Marc for clarification rather than assuming he knows what Marc believes, and the opposite applies too. I am so tired of being wilfully misunderstood by extreme atheists, who hate to be presented with evidence that not all Christians are right-wing fundamentalists. Recently, after I had carefully and respectfully explained to one extreme atheist why I do not conform to his straw-man view of all Christians, he exclaimed, “Why can’t you people make up your mind what you believe?!” The “sky daddy” and “sky fairy” taunts betray how far they are from understanding the depth and complexity of a Christian’s view (and spiritual experience) of God.

    • Hi Irene!

      Thanks for your incredibly encouraging comment🙂

      There’ll always be nice people on both sides willing to dialog without giving up their convictions.

      Since I have fewer, I can’t write much more now😦

  3. great blog. I think intelligent debates like this should be encouraged. I once thought of stirring a discussion on why people believe what they believe. I have many reasons why I became a christian and remain a Christian. Can all Christians say the same? I’m sure a lot of Christians can tell why they are Christians but there are some who don’t know why. These are cultural Christians. I’m a Christian primarily because I experienced a new birth. But beyond that being a Christian is the most intelligent thing to become. The Christian Bible has the facts of human history. Every other religious book defer to it. Jesus the saviour of mankind is revered by other religions but the Christian faith does not revere any religious figure apart from Jesus. Many scientific discovery have only confirm what the Bible had said thousands of years ago. For instance Scientist only got to know and agree that the life of a man is in the blood about 300 years ago. Bible had said that thousands of years ago in the book of Leviticus.

    • Hi. Thanks for your interesting comment.

      I’m no Conservative Evangelical so I strongly disagree with many things you’ve written.

      Still, I appreciate your willingness to seek a dialog with other people.

      Cheers.
      Cheers.

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