How NOT to become an atheist

| Polemic warning, thanks to Confessions of a Heretic Husband for the link |

GROUPS: Atheists, Christians.

Teresa MacBain has converted to atheism from the United Methodist denomination after 20 years as a pastor. She is now the PR director for American Atheists. Note that she is not a simple PR employee but the director or head of PR. As an atheist PR director, one reasonably expects her to speak with rigor and erudition. Her fall from “faith” is given in four steps.

1. There are bible contradictions such as the “lack of scientific or historical foundation or accuracy”. This led her to know that ‘the bible isn’t true’

Scientific accuracy: The bible does not purport to be a science book but a book of mankind’s past, present and future. To expect it to be scientific is as stupid as expecting science to be able to prove or disprove the existence of the supernatural. Science does not have the bandwidth for such an enterprise. Likewise, the purpose and bandwidth of the bible is not to be scientific.

Historical foundation: The bible has more historical foundation than any other religious book. There has been over 2000 years of apologetical work which highlight the archaeological and historical veracity of the bible. No one uses Islamic archaeology to try to disprove the historical accuracy of the Quran but they do for the bible.

There are multiple books which she could have read and professional organizations she could have joined such as the Associates for Biblical Research and the Biblical Archaeology Society. There are freely available books like that of William Albright’s From The Stone Age To Christianity Monotheism And The Historical Process written way back in 1940. She could have accessed the following peer-reviewed journals through JSTOR.

  • Near Eastern Archaeology
  • The Biblical Archaeologist
  • The Biblical World
  • Journal of Biblical Literature
  • Journal of the Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis
  • Journal of Bible and Religion
  • Journal of the National Association of Biblical Instructors
  • The American Journal of Theology
  • American Journal of Theology & Philosophy

Just recently, a seal has been found that confirms the existence of the town of Bethlehem and another may have confirmed the story of Samson. Is that something that happens for other religions?

2. Religions are derived, sustained and interact through/from culture i.e. most adherents of religion X treat most adherents of religion Y according to religion X’s culture and vice versa

This is not applicable to Christianity as it is derived from Middle Eastern/European milieu but has subsequently become universal encompassing most cultural groups and taking on the distinctive flavour of each group. Latin American Christians are different from Chinese Christians with some commonality on theology, worship traits and government. However, Christianity varies in its interaction with different religions and is simply too diverse to be compared say to Hinduism or Islam, the adherents of which are more or less the same in worship style, worldview and theology regardless of culture or locale. In other words, Christianity is a pan-cultural and ethnic belief system.

3. Pantheism (all religions are equal, depends on where you were raised and all are on the same ‘journey’)

If her path to knowledge (atheism) from superstition (Christianity) carried her through pantheism, what does this say about the standard or quality of her atheism? She also commits classical bulverism by associating a person’s religion with where they were raised. For instance, in China there are over 100 million Muslims and (supposedly) another 100 million Christians though China is more associated with atheism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

4. Theodicy (God is bad for making weak humans suffer in hell)

To argue against theodicy is to make oneself into god which may explain her trip through pantheism. She elevates human logic (atheism) to pronounce God barbaric as if being tossed into the Christian hell is arbitrary and based on human weakness. Theodicy is an argument from emotion, not from logic. If God is the final arbiter as proposed by Christianity, he can punish who he pleases and how he pleases even if all our logic would like otherwise. Theologically, she is not well taught as not every Christian believes in an eternal hell and I have yet to meet even a simplistic Christian (and I have met many) who believes in a ‘human weakness’ hell. One may also argue that humans are known strong-willed sinners.

She continues:

“Instead of looking to an outside source for the solution to humankind’s problems, we see that responsibility as [our own]. We have to reach out and support each other. We can’t say a prayer to an invisible being somewhere and expect that to be the solution. The solution has to be when one human reaches out to another.”

What an excellent idea! Now if this is the case, would she kindly point out the atheist soup kitchens, atheist campaigns against sexual slavery, atheist halfway houses, atheist drug rehabilitation centres, atheist prison ministries, atheist relief organizations, atheist orphanages and all the other atheist solutions? And then to outdo those “crazy fundamentalists” as she describes her former Christian self, she would need to point out the people who were drug addicts, prostitutes, drunkards, child molesters, rapists, thieves and the such, who on conversion to atheism changed their lives for the better. As a PR director, that would be most easy, don’t you think?

From NPR, MacBain Logic:

  • Christians are sheep or uncritical thinkers and they’re also haters
  • Does not inform her congregation that she is an atheist
  • Claims that she was a Christian “good guy” (I thought they were haters) and finds it hard when ‘hater’ Christians react with ‘hate’ to her announcement
  • Christians ‘haters’ pray for those they ‘hate’ including her husband who is also a ‘hater sheep’ (nowhere does it say that she is going to divorce her ‘hater’ husband now that she has seen the light of ‘atheistic love’ through ‘critical thinking’)

DYNAMICS:

  • Christianity (or any other religion for that matter) has nothing to fear from poor quality atheism.
  • If you become an atheist, do so for good reasons.

SOURCES:

Hagerty, Barbara. 2012. From Minister To Atheist: A Story Of Losing Faith. NPR. http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith [accessed: 2012-08-14].

Zaimov, Stoyan. 2012. Ex-Pastor Turned American Atheist Director Tells How She Lost Faith. The Christian Post. http://www.christianpost.com/news/ex-pastor-turned-american-atheist-director-tells-how-she-lost-faith-78048 [accessed: 2012-08-14].

Other links:

This just in: “Former atheist becomes minister

An Atheist Pastor

When They Stop Believing, Do We Get To Stop Loving?

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