What the Atheists Taught Me
John ShoreBesides here on Crosswalk, John blogs on JohnShore.com.
- 2007 Sep 17
In my last post I asked atheists to talk about their relationship to their guilt.
And man, oh man, did they ever respond. (You can see their comments here.)
Turns out atheists are quite the ... cyber-communicators.
It also turns out that atheists -- or the many from whom I heard, anyway -- care just as much as we Christians do about loving and doing right by others.
Curse the atheists! Why couldn't they be the craven sensory-hounds they're supposed to be? Must they reject God, and be intelligent and sensitive?
How are we to tolerate these people for whom toleration is a tenant?
Anyway, they got me thinking. (Another reason not to like them.)
I could no sooner imagine what it would be like inhabiting a consciousness devoid of the constant awareness of God than I could what it would be like to be a ... Venusian cannibal.
Right? I have no idea what it's like to be a cannibal from Venus.
Be pretty lonely, I'd guess. Or pretty full.
Point is: Mystery. Can't imagine it. Just like I can't imagine what it would be like to be an atheist. Even before I was a Christian -- for just about every second of my waking life, in fact -- I was intensely aware of what to me was the fact of God. It's never even occurred to me there isn't a God.
Atheists, of course (and insofar as such generalizations have merit), can't imagine that there is a God. (Well, of course they can imagine there's a God. They just can't imagine why anyone would give themselves over to what to them is so obviously a fantasy.)
So we Christians are over on our side of the fence, and the atheists are over on theirs.
And we keep lobbing Bibles over the fence at them. And (alas) they keep lobbing them back at us.
We Christians want the atheists to come over to our side of the fence -- to join us, to become one of us. They would much prefer it if we would quit wanting that, and leave them be. They would naturally prefer it if we could actually respect them for, say, their intellectual (not to mention moral) integrity -- but they aren't exactly holding their breath waiting for that to happen. Because they know that Christians believe atheists to be at best lost, and at worst damned.
And let's face it: If you know the best someone can think about you is that you're lost, you're hardly inclined to, say, invite that person to your birthday party. Ever.
Hence the fence.
I hate that fence! What is it doing there?
Listen, Christians: I hate to be the one to say it, but can we all just admit that all the good music is coming from the other side of the fence? Can we at least give the godless folk that?
Anyway, here's what the atheists have taught me: We Christians need to listen to them. And not just because they have all the good music. (Okay, that'll be the last of the "Christian music always sounds like soggy white bread" line of humor, which I realize is just totally obnoxious.) We need to listen to the atheists because ... well, because we never do. We try to listen to them, but we fail. And we fail because while we're listening to them, we're secretly thinking how they really, really need to become Christian.
And it's just about impossible to really, really think something about someone and not, in one way or another, really, really communicate that something is.
And then before we know it: No birthday invites for us! Again.
So I say: Let's every once in a while put aside our Christian Agenda (none of us are thinking that we don't have one too, right?), and just listen to atheists. Let's just hear what they're saying, and what they're thinking, and why they're saying and thinking whatever they are.
Let's actually respect them. Why not? How could such a thing possibly hurt us?
Who knows? If we listen to the atheists long enough, isn't it just possible that we might actually learn something from them?
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