The Making of an Fundamentalist Atheist

The Making of a Fundamentalist Atheist

Mark Twain once said ” there are reasons, good reasons and the real reason.” What is the real reason for your faith or lack of it?

I have noticed lately, that there seems to be an increase in the number of atheists I run across.  Most of whom are white educated males.  To be honest, for the life of me, I cannot understand why anyone would want to be an atheist. In fact, I’m always asking them the why question.  In reply, I usually get something along these lines; it is the reasonable position. In reply, I generally respond with another why question. Their answer is often; science has proven it.  My reply is how?   I seldom get any answer, and if I do it is usually an appeal to a pseudoscience. The truth is that there are no scientific arguments against the existence of God.  Science does not make arguments against Gods existence. The question of Gods existence is outside of the realm of scientific inquiry.[1]

I had a few atheists tell me that scientists don’t believe in God, therefore this is proof  it’s  not reasonable to believe in God. This statement is absolutely false.  Einstein is one of the foremost scientists of the last century, and he was a believer in a deity[2], though he did not seem to like organized religion. Still another great modern scientist who is a believer is Francis Collins lead scientist for the human Genome project. The truth is that as far as the hard sciences go, it is about a 50-50 split.[3]  Even if 95% of scientists did not believe in God it would not prove that God did not exist. 95% of scientists believed the sun rotated around the earth before Galileo, they were wrong. In fact, they were the ones that convinced church leaders to censor Galileo. At one time 95% of scientists believed that the empty space in the universe was filled with a substance they called ether, they were wrong. We should be cautious about counting the noses of scientist in determining the truth.

Still other atheists have said they’re “just trying to follow the truth.” Of course, following the truth is a noble undertaking if there is such a thing as truth. However, without a cosmic order can there be any real truth?[4]  If our thoughts and actions are nothing more than the interplay of atoms in our brain, how can there be any truth in the traditional sense? The best that one could hope for is a pragmatic utilitarian view of truth, i.e. whatever works. If this is the case, belief is superior to unbelief because people of faith are happier than unbelievers. Note the book “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt.

When everything is said, thought-through atheism is simply a negative faith that cannot be proven.  It is based on suppositions that cannot be proven or disproved.  Atheism can only raise questions about the existence of God, but it can never prove its negative position. When you look at its evidence for its suppositions, they just do not exist.

In view of this, I decide that there must be some other reasons besides ‘reason’ for people embracing this negative faith, so I began to look for an answer.  The following is what I came up with.  Some of my answers border on science and some on psychology. I freely admit that I am biased for faith in a deity. One reason being I believe faith is healthier for the individual and sociality as a whole. I have given evidence to this in previous writings.

Some may feel that it is not ethical to analyze someone’s beliefs, looking for a psychological basis for them.  However, atheists have been doing this for hundreds of years declaring that the believer’s faith came from an emotional need to have a father figure, which believer’s then projected into heaven to watch over them. Note that in Fauerbach’s, “The Essence of Christianity” it is actually when atheists analyze people’s faith in God, that they are simply attempting to look at faith scientifically. They are analyzing it by using the law of cause and effect. I have no problem with that, as long as they apply the same principles to their non-belief, which they seldom do. Of course, this lack of self-examination is an indication that their faith is  based more on dogma than reason.

Before looking at what I believe causes people to become atheists. I would like to say that in many ways I do respect the negative faith of many atheists.  Many atheists have more convictions in their world view than many believers have in theirs, and many unbelievers are men of integrity and excellent moral character.  I have a number of friends who are atheists and find them to be good friends. Of course, all this does not prove that atheism is true

What is the root of Atheism?  I do not have all the answers to this question but there is one thing I know atheists are made and not born.[5]  Children by their very nature are mystical and multi-dimensional.  So, what causes people to lose their sense of wonder and of the spiritual?  What causes men to suppress their spiritual nature?

The Christian Factor

One of the main roots of unbelief is Christianity itself, for it teaches that God is a good God.  This is fine for adults; however, as some children grow up, they begin to see that the world is filled with suffering and evil. This causes confusion in the child’s mind which cannot be reconciled with the ideal of a good God and a world fill with suffering and evil. For the immature mind the only way to reconcile the apparent contradiction is by renouncing reality or to deny God. The majority of people do a little of both however, there are some children who choose to deny God.   Of course, the problem of evil and suffering are subjects that much ink has been spent on by theologians and philosophers with less than satisfactory answers.

The best answer that I’ve found is that suffering in itself is not evil but rather it’s a part of a perfect environment to serve God’s purpose of building, growing up and maturing people.  Suffering in the form of pain serves to warn us when our body is in danger of being permanently hurt or injured. It also warns us that things may be out of order or out of balance biologically and even socially. Therefore, it gives us the opportunity to change and grow.  If you think of suffering in this light, it’s hard to look upon all suffering as evil.  It only becomes evil when you add the human will to the equation. When a human inflicts suffering and pain on another human unnecessarily, it then can become evil.  Even if one continues to look upon suffering as evil this view in itself is not evidence that God does not exist.  It would simply imply that God is not all good and that the God of the Bible is not the true God.

The Environment Factor

 Family environment can also contribute to the loss of faith.  If one is brought up in a home of unbelief or in one of little spirituality, where sacred things are seldom spoken about or totally disregarded, your chances of being an unbeliever are higher than if you were raised in a spiritual atmosphere.  If your early experience of religion is negative for instance, having parents who are religious, but hypocritical, may have a negative impact on you or having a clergyman whom you didn’t like may also contribute to unbelief.  There is some strong evidence that an overbearing father or an abusive father may have a cynical impact on people’s faith.  This seems to be especially true for males. The hostile and negative feelings they have for their father are transferred to their heavenly father.  It’s interesting to note that the apostle Paul tells fathers not to provoke their children to wrath. Could it be that an over bearing father could be the source of much unbelief ? In science this is called psychological transfer.

Many others may lose their faith when they attend a college and fall prey to an atheist professor and a hedonistic environment. Young people are impressionable, and a highly educated professor can surely put doubts in their youthful minds.  However, if they do lose their faith, it will most likely not be the reasoning power or the knowledge of the professor but rather the indoctrination of the environment created by the materialistic university atmosphere. Being spiritual is not cool on most college campuses.  Intellectual ability seems to have little to do with people’s faith position.  Emotions and environment are the biggest players in whether or not one has faith.  After they make a choice of belief’s, then reason is used and intellectual information is compiled to support and justify a position, which is accepted by faith, whether negative or positive.

The worst college environment for making atheists is a religious school where the professors and the majority of student body live like the devil, but teach morality and religion. This kind of environment creates an emotional doubt which is deadlier to faith than intellectual doubt.  It was in this kind of environment where I began to question my childhood faith. However, in my case, I did not lose my faith in God, but in the institution which claimed to represent Him.  I am thankful for a good friend who pointed out to me the difference between faith in the Great Spirit and human religion. As faith is often misplace, so it is with doubt. When religion does evil, it should raise doubt in the religion not God.

The problem that often surfaces during the college years is one of wrong presuppositions. Young people growing up in semi-religious and even very religious homes often have a naïve supposition that religion has all the answers, or at least it ought to. When they attend college, they suddenly realize that it does not and in some cases their faith is shattered. Of course, the truth is that all human knowledge has what I call brackets. Brackets are question marks and contradictions that cannot be understood, at least at this time.  In religion, we call them mysteries, in science they’re called anomies and in philosophy they’re paradoxes. Young people of faith need to be taught that faith has its brackets.

In the college environment, there are certain fields of study like psychology, which are still being deeply influenced by Sigmund Freud’s atheism. Atheism seems to be a prerequisite for becoming a psychologist or a psychiatrist in many people’s thinking.  If you elect these fields of study it will become harder to maintain your religion; not for intellectual reasons but rather because of the environment which the people in the field create. They create a world without God, and it is difficult to live in their fictional world for very long without damaging your faith.  If you think )  you are immune to this kind of environmental influence stop kidding yourself.  You are living a delusional life. It has been shown repeatedly that many people who are taken hostage in time will  begin to sympathize and even convert to their captor’s ideology. When you give yourself over to a materialistic world view, you have been taken captive and most likely, will convert. If you are a College student, my advice to you is to watch out what kind of world you choose to live in. The apostle Paul said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Col 2:8)

On a larger-scale, it is obvious that if you are born in a culture like Russia where atheism is the state philosophy, it is more likely that you will be an atheist. However, even after 70 years of the state trying to eradicate religion, faith still remains strong in Russia.  It has been estimated that as  many as 80% of the Russian population  believe in God.  This strengthens the position that man by his nature is homo-religious, i.e. by his very nature he is religious.

Biological Factor

Even in the realm of the spiritual minded there will be varying degrees of God-consciousness.  Case in point is the scholar and the mystic.  The religious scholar may have a hard time understanding the mystic, and the latter may even question the faith of the scholar. Here within the confines of faith you have the same experience that you see between the atheist and believer. Could the problem be genetic?

I brought this subject up at meeting of ministers and their wives and as expected I was met with some resistance… So I proposed a little experiment to test my idea. I asked each person to think about their earliest awareness of their God-consciousness and then asked them if theirs was stronger than their siblings.  Without exception, they said theirs  was  stronger than their siblings. Though the sampling is small about 20 people, it does give some credence to the belief in spiritual intelligence. Of course, like all forms of intelligence, it can be increased or diminished by its use or its lack of use. The lack of use could lead to atheism.

Therefore, it is quite reasonable to believe that some people who are born with the right-brain  structure have an advantage in sensing the deity.  This also explains why some believers experience God in different ways and to various degrees.  Does this mean that a person born with small antennas (metaphor) cannot believe in God?  No, it simply means that those folks need to work harder at it or learn to trust other men’s experience of God.  This kind of trust is need and used in every area of life, why not in the area of faith.   The reason this is hard for the atheist is that people blessed with a high degree of intellectual knowledge seems to believe that it is superior to all other forms of intelligence. In other words, their ego blinds them to the truth.    This seems to be confirmed by Scripture. ” knowledge puffs up and love builds up.”

The Pride Factor

The source of much atheism is human pride.  Many atheists use their atheism as a badge of their intellectual superiority.  This is very similar to the way some religious people use their religiosity to boost their self-esteem. Their religion allows them to think that they are more moral than others. Like the religious person, the atheist’s self-esteem begins to depend on their identification with unbelief and the sense of intellectual superiority it gives them.  In essence, they cling to their unbelief in order to save their souls for without their unbelief; they would be soulless. They would just be a part of the herd without an identity.  They refuse to call themselves agnostic for there is no glory or superiority in saying I don’t know and there are no arguments to be made to show their superiority.  What else can explain their choice of atheism over agnosticism, which is far more reasonable position than atheism.  This may explain why so many atheists are white, mid-class college educated males.  A group that is known for their pride, large egos and loss of identity.

Misunderstanding of the Difference Between Faith and Religion

I have also found that many atheists have a very narrow view of faith and religion. Their view is very  similar to the religious fundamentalist, both seem to have a hard time separating faith from religion.  This may be caused by a simple blind spot in the unbelievers thinking, but it seems to be dominant in much of their arguments against the existence of God.  I cannot help  however, to notice in their conversations and writings that most of their criticism of belief in God is really a criticism of religion. They fail to see that the hypocrisy of religion does not in itself offer proof that there is no God. It simply proves that there are hypocrites in religion.  Hypocrites play golf, but that does not mean that golf is a bad game, or it’s  only terrible when hypocrites play.  The bias of many unbelievers toward religion seems to blind them to the fact that religion is like every other endeavor of mankind; it can be good or evil depending on the nature of the men who are playing the game.

My experience has been that if the person is brought up in a cult or has a fundamentalist view of religion (like most young people), if they lose their faith in their religion or church, they may also become skeptical about God as well. The reason for this is that their faith was in their religion and not in God.  This confusion between God and religion is prevalent in churches that teach they are the one true church.  In these organizations, the church becomes an idol who veils the real God.  I have meant hundreds of individuals that have left these organizations.  Some became atheists,  although they never lose the belief that their former organization totally represents the Christian religion.  So, they believe  that if they can show the errors of the church or religion, then they have discredited belief in God.

However, misconduct of some churches and clergy now as in the past confirms that the bible is true.  For the scripture in fact teach that such organization would arise and bear bad fruit turning people always from Christ and real faith. The apostle Paul warns the church in Acts 20:29-31 “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” And again in 1 Tim 4:1-3, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars.  Whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.”  If one is going to judge the Christian faith, it would seem logical to judge it based on the life and teaching of Jesus and not on a group’s behaviors that may or may not be truly following Jesus.

You may be surprised that I am thankful for the atheistic criticism of religion. In many ways, it reflects the Spirit of prophecy as seen in the Scriptures. Jesus and all the prophets criticized religion for its hypocrisy’s and its empty rituals and traditions.  However, when the critics fail to see the difference between religion and God, they have stepped out on some very dangerous ground. Ground that cannot be defended by reason or science.

Moreover, as demonstrated by the Russian experiment, you cannot get rid of religion much less faith by atheistic education or even force.  If you suppress it in one place, it will break out in another.  You are just simply wasting your time and energy.  However, wasting one’s time is a matter of choice but destroying a person’s faith is a sad undertaking.

An honest unbeliever, Dr. E. Wengraf  once confessed,  “Every piece of anti-religious propaganda seems to me a crime.  I surely do not wish it to be prosecuted as a crime, but I consider it immoral and loathsome.  This not because of zeal for my convictions, but because of the simple knowledge,  acquired through long experience, that,  given the same circumstances, a religious man is happier than the irreligious.  In my indifference and skeptical attitude toward all positive faith,  I have often envied other men to whom deep religiosity has given a strong support in all the storms of life.  To uproot the souls of such men is an abject deed.  I abhor any proselytizing.  But still,  I can understand why one who believes firmly in a saving faith tries to convert others.  But I cannot understand a propaganda of unbelief.  We do not have the right to take away from a person his protecting shelter, be it even a shabby hut,  if we are not sure we can offer him a better,  more beautiful house.  But to lure men from the inherited home of their souls, to make them err afterward in the wilderness of hypotheses and philosophical question marks, is either criminal fatalisms or criminal mindlessness.”

The Factor of Evil

Often evil men use religion to cover up their evil, you might say they dress it up with religion. However, evil men also sometimes deny their evil by renouncing God.  In the last century atheists like Stalin and Mao, under the banner of atheistic communism have murdered over 100 million people. I am pointing this out not to count noses but to demonstrate that religion doesn’t kill people and atheism doesn’t kill people; evil people kill people. Immoral people will use any religion or ideology that will justify their evil. However, it is evident that some belief systems, including atheism are  more likely to be used to justify killing, than others. Evil people will also avoid and reject anyone or anything that might bring their evil to light.  The teacher said, ” This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. However, whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”  This helps us to understand why some men choose atheism, though this would represent a small minority.

The Factor of Human Nature

One of the basic causes of atheism is simple rebellion. Some men by their very nature are rebellious. You could say they were born doubters, doubting all authority.  Their doubting is not grounded in a superior intellect but rather in a rebellious nature and a strong appetite to do their own thing without any outside limitations; this included any limits imposed by a deity. In fact, some men are so rebellious they rebel against the limit placed on them by nature. In many ways the whole folly the human race is in rebelling against God and nature. The atheist wants to expel God and his law from the universe and many in science want to overcome nature as though it was our enemy.

On a more basic level, many men choose atheism simply because they are too lazy and indifferent towards spending the time and energy to seek the truth.  I have found this to be the  prevalent cause of what you might call shallow atheism. Of course, the same thing could be said of believers that inherited their faith from the culture without putting it  through the test of reason.  However, if the truth about God is to be found one would have to expect it to be difficult, since learning physics is difficult and knowing an infinite God would even be harder if he did not simplify it somehow.  Of course, he did simplify it by revealing Himself in and through Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Many of the ideas in this article are the same arguments used by unbelievers to criticize believers. All I have done is to simply reversed them.  This demonstrates that atheism is just a faith very similar to any religious belief.  Any psychological argument used to explain away a belief in God can be used to explain atheism. Both atheism and faith in God are based on faith. Both are metaphysical in their nature.  The atheist in many cases is actually more religious than the believer in God.  In any case, the new atheists are organized and are as committed to their non-belief as any fundamentalist religious people.  In the end, the debate is really who’s religion is right.

[1] The US National Academy of Sciences has gone on record with the following statement: ‘Science is a way of knowing about the natural world. It is limited to explaining the natural world through natural causes. Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral.” Taken from “Who made God?, Searching For A Theory Of Everything” by  Edgar Andrews.

[2] Einstein did not believe in the traditional view of God held by Jews or Christians. He had a mystical view of God in which he had said more than once; he had a religion of one.

[3] According to the poll, just over half of scientists (51%) believe in some form of deity or higher power; specifically, 33% of scientists say they believe in God, while 18% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. By contrast, 95% of Americans believe in some form of deity or higher power, according to a survey of the general public conducted by the Pew Research Center in July 2006. Specifically, more than eight-in-ten Americans (83%) say they believe in God and 12% believe in a universal spirit or higher power. Finally, the poll of scientists finds that four-in-ten scientists (41%) say they do not believe in God or a higher power, while the poll of the public finds that only 4% of Americans share this view. Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey, conducted in May and June 2009

[4] Atheism has been pushed into a corner where they are obligated not only to deny the existence of God but also any other ordering principle in the universe, which might infer a deity. However from this position it is impossible to confirm in any reasonable way the concept of truth.

[5] Infants are hard-wired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned, according to an Oxford University psychologist.  Dr Olivera Petrovich told a University of Western Sydney conference on the psychology of religion that even preschool children constructed theological concepts as part of their understanding of the physical world. Psychologists have debated whether belief in God or atheism was the natural human state…. Dr Petrovich said her findings were based on several studies, particularly one of Japanese children aged four to six, and another of 400 British children aged five to seven from seven different faiths. “Atheism is definitely an acquired position”, she said. The Age, July 2008 by Barnet Zwartz. www theage.com.