Atheist Memes: The One Answer (Two, Actually) That Answers Them All
Atheists are a creative bunch, you’ve got to hand them that. They’re good at creating anti-Christian memes, anyway. Never mind that most of their slogans get recycled hundreds of times; at least they find new ways to put them on display.
The ones who do that are a self-congratulatory group, too. They’ve got Christianity nailed, or so they think. Paste a few words on a photo, and it’s over. It’s done. Christians are stupid. Nothing more to add.
There’s just one problem with this. Two, actually. (I’m not speaking of all atheists; just the ones who make and display these memes. Call them “memers.”) First, in a day when secularists make “tolerance” their chief virtue, atheist memers are just plain rude. Deadlier yet, they display some embarrassing ignorance when they treat Christianity as stupid — as they do, sometimes quite blatantly.
Christianity’s Solid Intellectual History
There’s one big problem with treating Christianity that way. Two, actually.
First, Christian history is absolutely filled with brilliant people. Look at the arts: Palestrina. Milton. Bunyan. Bach. Dostoyevski. Chesterton. Lewis. Tolkien. Solzhenitsyn. Fujimura. And many more.
Look at philosophy: Boethius. Augustine. Abelard. Aquinas. William of Ockham. Buridan. Bacon. Pascal. Locke. Berkeley. Kierkegaard. Gilson (Etienne, that is). Plantinga. And again, many more.
Look at the sciences: Grosseteste. Oresme. Buridan again. Galileo. Copernicus. Brahe. Kepler. Pascal again. Boyle. Lavoisier. Linnaeus. Faraday. Maxwell. Babbage. Lister. Kelvin. Thomson. Eddington. von Braun. Collins. Gingerich. Lennox. Plus more yet.
Second, consider the attitude blaring out from behind these memes. It boils down to this: “Here’s a big problem with your religion. It’s such an obvious problem, too. Just as obviously, though, you’ve never given it a moment’s thought, and you sure don’t have any answer for it.”
Christians Taking Our Own Problems Seriously
There’s one big problem with “you’ve never given it a moment’s thought,” though. Two, actually.
First, it’s factually wrong. That partial list of Christian philosophers above? That’s what they do, and what they have always done. They take serious problems seriously. They’ve been doing that since the very beginning. Jesus himself dealt with the problem of evil. Paul the apostle did, too, along with other knotty problems like the fate of those who never hear of Christ. Down through history, from the Church Fathers to this very moment, Christian thinkers have wrestled with these questions.
They haven’t just been spinning their wheels, either. As I look at their work, I am convinced that every difficult question raised against the faith has an answer that ought to satisfy a reasonable mind. Take any of these memes, do the right kind of search, and you will find that someone has an answer for you.
Atheist Memes: Foolish and Historically Ignorant
Which leads to my final answer to just about all of these atheist memes. They’re not just historically wrong, they’re historically impossible. They put these problems forward as though they were some fatal surprise; as if Christians have never thought about these things; as if no one could have ever come up with any reasonable answer. It’s impossible that Christianity, the foundation of Western civilization, the home of so many great thinkers and artists, could be that stupid.
To think it could be that stupid is, well, stupid. Ignorant, anyway. Thoughtless. Foolish.
“Some people are stupid, some people are religious; I really can’t tell the difference,” goes the meme. That’s not a flattering statement to make about oneself.
Let’s Not Play With Toys Here
Remember, this isn’t about all atheists. There are thoughtful people among them, well worth taking seriously. I doubt there are any really thoughtful atheist memers, though. If there are, they must have decided to turn off their minds for the while.
Christians can make the same mistake, too. Sometimes believers underestimate their intellectual opposition; some even stoop to fighting memes with memes. I don’t know why they’d do that. I don’t think much of fighting slogans with slogans. It’s like bringing a toy knife to a toy gun fight. Either way it’s playing with toys.
It’s also being defensive where there’s no real threat. Atheist memes are uninformed, historically unaware, and foolish. Some of them raise worthwhile questions, but none of them are as fatal as their smug, self-congratulatory creators assume. Worthy answers are easy to find.
Final in a series on atheist memes.
Tom Gilson is a senior editor with The Stream, and the author of A Christian Mind: Thoughts on Life and Truth in Jesus Christ. Follow him on Twitter: @TomGilsonAuthor.