Double standard for Atheists

11 Jul

Earlier this afternoon I was mowing the back grass (something I hate with a passion) and a thunderstorm was rolling in. I knew from emergency broadcast messages flashed across the TV that a little ways away from me was experiencing severe thunderstorms and even a tornado. Well there I was in 100f/38c degree weather, holding on to a big metal machine in the back yard and the thought occurred to me, “What if I get struck by lightning and die?” Well, for one I wouldn’t have to worry about finding a job/new place to live/ friends; guess that would be the silver lining.  On the other hand, I have no doubt some might say “Ah ha! SEE! Look what happens to an atheist!!! God struck him down!” Of course to them they would see this as a sign, proof that not only a god exists, but that his son was Jesus, born of a virgin to come and save you from your sins.

You see, there is a double standard for atheists. Being in the minority, everything must go perfectly for us or else someone tries to label it as a sign. My atheist bumper stickers on my car for example: should I be involved in an accident people would no doubt try to link the accident to my atheism; as if my misfortune was a direct result of not believing in their god. Or take Christopher Hitchens’ throat cancer: as soon as the news became public the religious started frothing at the mouth about a death bed conversion. Almost 30,000 people get throat cancer each year in the US alone. No big deal, but the moment an outspoken atheist gets cancer, Ah HA!

You see, the problem for the atheist is that the whole conversation is rigged so they can’t win. Bad things happen to all people everyday, regardless of their religious views. However, to the religious, when something bad happens to a fellow believer they rationalize it away. “Oh, god was punishing you for something.” “This is just a test of your faith”, or the ever classic cop out: “God works in mysterious ways”. Yet the moment something bad happens to a non-believer, bingo! Proof positive that you’re a sinner and god is getting his vengeance. You can’t win with these people. Don’t even try to reason with them. They’ve put all reason out of their head. They’re completely wrapped up in a little something called “Confirmation bias”. This is an extremely important concept that many people fall victim to, so take note:

Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice and to look for what confirms one’s beliefs, and to ignore,

not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one’s beliefs.

3 Responses to “Double standard for Atheists”

  1. Ryan Johnston July 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    Just happened to notice your blog. Some really well-conceived thoughts. I just thought I would mention how I first read your post. For truly practicing Christians, who don’t simply name themselves as such and walk out the door and deny Christ by their lifestyles, the response we would have to “What if I get struck by lightning and die?” is one of compassion, not of judgment. My initial thought when you said that was, “Man, I hope you’re right about atheism…” I have to be perfectly honest. While I believe without one shadow of doubt that the God of the Bible is real and the singular means of having any quality eternity, when I come across deeply-rooted atheists like yourself, I hope for your sake that I’m wrong. You have to know that, when the day is done and we’ve all bitten the dust, there’s only one question that matters: who was right? Yeah, we have the freedom to believe whatever we want, and I applaud your tenacious adherence to your beliefs. But ultimately, one of us is right, the other is wrong, and the implications of vindication one way or the other are absolutely staggering.

    Do you really feel confident enough in your position to risk your eternity for it? Are you so confident that there is no God that you would curse His name just because you can when to do so has no possible value if you’re right yet every possible consequence if you’re wrong?

    The Bible and reality both point to the fact that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, that God blesses whom He blesses, and that no one, Christian, atheist, or otherwise is immune to difficulty or guaranteed prosperity. The mature Christian would never point to your difficulties and blame God. To do so would mean they never read the book of Job, studied the life of Paul, or any of the Old Testament prophets. God never promises the easy road (“take up your cross [a concept we can hardly fathom] and follow Me”), and we certainly don’t blame Him for our own errors and the collective errors of our world.

    I know this is just one response to one blog out of thousands, but I ran across it, and I care enough, even though I don’t even know you, to hope for your sake that your hostility toward God will not be terminal and that you would truly seek Him. Here’s an interesting challenge. The Bible says that all who seek Him will find Him. If you really want to prove Him wrong, really try seeking Him and see if He lets you down. Truly, TRULY, seek for Him. Don’t just give it lip service or a half-hearted attempt. Rather than trying to find all the reasons not to believe, try to find out the reasons to believe. If you can’t find them after you’ve really given it your all, then perhaps the Bible isn’t right and God has fallen down on a promise. If you haven’t really sought after Him, how can you actually know you’re right?

    • godlesspaladin July 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

      Ryan, what you’re basically proposing in a nutshell is an argument called “Pascal’s Wager”. It is one of those tired old arguments that theists throw at atheists all the time. It has been debunked many times over, here is a link to where you can read why it fails. I know your beliefs are probably unshakable, no matter what anyone might say to you, and that you probably think that such steadfast blind faith is a virtue. This may be difficult to undestand, but there are people out there that feel exactly like you but subscribe to a completely different religion/worldview. They know as deeply and as strongly as you do, deep down, that they are right and that they have the truth.

      They probably worry for you like you do for atheists. The fear for your soul and wonder why? Why would you risk all eternity? As an atheist I see all religions doing this. All have the same “evidence” (aka, no evidence) and yet each claims to have “the truth”. You as a Christian reject all other gods but Yahweh. You are in effect an atheist with regards to all other possible gods but Yahweh. I just go one god further. As hard as it may be to understand, you are risking just as much as I am. If there is a god, which I obviously don’t feel the evidence supports, then I can just hope he values honest disbelief over belief out of fear. If not, then he is not god.

      Also, if you have a minute to spare, check out this funny video which elaborates on what I was getting at.

  2. thisisnessie July 22, 2010 at 7:24 am #

    I think you hit the nail on the head on why I feel so uncomfortable talking to Christian friends about things sometimes… there’s definitely that pressure of since I’ve come from the same place to atheism, I need to show that everything is going great, even though I have a lot of the same problems I had before I became an atheist (and I should also mention a few less).

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