Atheist Memes: ‘Reason’s Greetings’?
“Reason’s Greetings.” Hey, those atheists sure keep scoring “cute” points, don’t they? And who knows? You might get a card with that greeting in the mail this year.
I’d be more than happy to see one come, myself. I’d see it as an invitation to interact, and I’d be up for it. Reason came from God, and properly applied, it points straight back His direction. That’s not exactly what these atheist greetings have in mind, though, obviously.
Atheist Pride: “We’re Smarter”
But I see a couple of interesting things going on there. First is the skeptic’s proud self-congratulation: “We’re smarter than those Christians. We’re the reasonable ones.”
This “reasoning” pride of theirs shows up everywhere you look. Poke around atheist organizations and you’ll always find them touting their commitment to reason. Poke around further, and you’ll find out what that means to them. “We don’t believe in invisible fairytale sky-gods. We only believe in what science can show is true.”
It reeks of the putdown.
We’re smart; religious people are stupid. Can it get any clearer than that?
Let’s not react the wrong way, though. There’s something worthy of pity there. It reeks of the putdown, first of all. In my experience that never comes from people who are comfortable just being themselves. It seems like a sad, hard way to live.
God’s Way of Humility
God’s way is the path of humility instead — with God Himself setting the example. “Christianity,” wrote historian Bruce Shelley, “is the only religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God.” He meant the Crucifixion, but it really began at the first Christmas. Phillipians 2:6-8 tells of Jesus Christ,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
For us ordinary humans, God’s way of humility is both terrifying and freeing. It means admitting we’re not as good as we thought, and certainly not good enough to make it. At the same time it means realizing it’s not about being good enough. We don’t have to measure up to some “good enough” standard. Instead we need to trust in Christ alone.
So Christians don’t have to be the best people on the planet; not even the smartest. There’s no intelligence test for admission to the Kingdom of Heaven. And thank God for that! Who’d want to live forever in some kind of faculty lounge?
So of course I’ve seen Christians fall short in reasoning. I’ve had to admit errors often enough myself, and I’m sure there are many more I’ve passed blithely by.
Not Living Up to Their Label
At the same time, though, the atheists I’ve interacted with have fallen pathetically — and consistently — short of living up to their self-claimed “reason” image. I’ve debated dozens of them online. Time after time they fall short in their reasoning. They make charges that backfire. One fellow told me he’d believe in God (I’m not making this up) if God would do something “highly improbable” like “making the moon sprout legs and do a moonwalk.”
He’s got an image of what God would be like if there were a God. Turns out, that kind of god doesn’t exist. Funny thing: Christians don’t think that god exists either! That sort of error happens so often, I’ve taken to asking atheists why they don’t get bored, always disproving gods no one believes in to start with.
I’ve seen leading atheists confuse science with non-science. They demand evidence for God while ignoring what “evidence” really means. They argue in circles. They miss key words, thus misrepresenting arguments. All those happen frequently in my experience. It’s worth noting, though, that I can show examples of them all from one highly influential atheist, a University of Chicago biologist, no less.
Trying Too Hard
Of course there are much better atheist thinkers than that. I’m betting, though, they’re not the ones sending “Reason’s Greetings” cards.
I feel mostly sorry for the ones who do. Same for those who push their “reason” image so hard in other venues. For that’s how it comes across to me: they’re trying too hard. Acting defensive. Pushy. Delivering a putdown, but an ineffective one.
It’s an example we must be careful not to follow. We don’t need to, for God’s way is both reasonable and humble.
Part of a series on atheist memes.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream and the lead editor of an anthology on atheist irrationality: True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (Kregel Publications, 2014). Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.