More Thoughts on Atheists Attempting To Refute God

About a month ago I posted the following:

If you don’t believe in God, why are you so concerned with hashing out the idea that He doesn’t exist in a blog? I ask this knowing that the times in my past when I’ve most wanted to stand up for the perspective of atheistic life were times when my own conscience shivered – because something was touching a sensitive nerve buried deep in my soul. If God doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter, why not blog about something else?

For the post in its original forms – with responses go to… https://gracemark.wordpress.com/2007/07/04/brief-thought-on-blogs-attempting-to-refute-god/

The main purpose of this post is to point to an essay I came across that I thought was interesting and related to my original thought posted above:

SEVEN STEPS FOR ATHEISTS

By Richard Bewes

You’re hard at it, my friends – some of you; but you need a more vigorous recruiting method if you’re to have a hope of turning the world atheist. For all the efforts of a number of your champions, you’re falling behind on a number of fronts. Ought you not perhaps to disown some of your more prominent up-front spokespersons – who only seem to be turning out the well-worn slogans and boring cliches of many centuries?  As an outsider to your cause, then, here are a few tips – nothing too heavy:

1. Up-grade your message

The BBC, here in the UK, does you a good turn from time to time, in sticking an atheist on its ‘religious’ morning programme Thought for the Day. As a Christian I’ve done a number of Thoughts myself for them.But why do your representatives come up with such daft and stale  utterances as that given by your Richard Dawkins? – “Humanity can now leave the cry-baby stage and learn that it has finally come of age.” We’ve heard this sort of thing before. My goodness – we would like to see some substantial indication  of the truth behind Dawkins’ statement. When was the turning point of our growing-up supposed to have taken place?

It was the celebrated Professor C.E.M. Joad who thought that the point was being reached quite early in the twentieth century; that our problems could be dealt with as circumstantial – relating to environment, lack of education and the ‘growing pains’ of the human race. But Joad completely back-tracked in 1952, after the experience of two world-wars. In his book Recovery of Belief, he admitted that such a theory “has been rendered utterly unplausible by the events of the last 40 years. To me, at any rate, the view of evil implied by Marxism, expressed by Shaw and maintained by modern psychotherapy, a view which regards evil as a by-product of circumstances, which circumstances can therefore alter and even eliminate, has come to seem intolerably shallow.”

So, in the face of today’s escalating wars, conflicts  and atrocities on a bewildering variety of fronts, it’s a suggestion (only a suggestion) that you do what we Christians have done. Despite all the world problems that perplex us, we at least have worked out a framework of thinking that takes account of how evil entered our world, what God has done about it and how we may confront it. Suggestion: let the ‘growing-up’ argument be tactfully ditched, and some re-thinking be done. If not Dawkins, then someone else should try a little harder.

2. Be positive about your atheism

I once did a debate with a group of atheists and agnostics in Harold Wood, Essex, years ago; they were the Havering Humanists. I wasn’t too surprised when, some years later, they folded up – because in the debate I was aware, not of what they were for, but only of what they were against –and that was Christianity.

It doesn’t add much to the argument when one of your representatives, Philip Pulman, declares, “Without a doubt Christianity will  cease to exist in a few years.” Does he not know that the Emperor Diocletian even had a medal struck at the turn of the third century AD, to celebrate the end of Christianity?  In the end it was the Roman empire that bit the dust. Voltaire some two centuries ago prophesied that the Bible would soon be obsolete. He would have been surprised if he had known that his own Parisian residence would one day be turned into a Bible depot.

No, the historian T.R. Glover is nearer the mark in his words, “The final disappearance of Christianity has been prophesied so often as to be no longer interesting.”  See to it, then; surely you atheists can improve on these clapped-out sentiments?

And it is absolutely no answer at all, when asked what your world-view is, to answer “I’m an atheist”; what we would want to know is not what you don’tdo believe, about life and its meaning, on this world. How do you interpret your own existence? What is life for? believe, but what you

It was Mahatma Gandhi years ago who was once asked to organise and promote an atheistic cult. He replied, “It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something in which he does not believe.” Exactly.  Atheism is a denial – and if it simply stays as that, then its only reason for existing is parasitic. So my tip for the atheist is, See if you can develop a positive message which does not rely on an adversary to keep its momentum going! Otherwise, all you will do is to harden and strengthen the defences of your opponents. So what do you believe – positively?

3. Be creative about your atheism

Forget what you’re trying to attack; there’s no lasting future in that. Instead, start to express your atheism creatively; to address sonnets to it, to create sculptures – and dedicate concertos to it. I’m not sure you have done much in this field of sheer creativity yet; symphonies, paintings, statues, poetry? Most of the art galleries in Europe seem to be stuffed with the work of Christians.  See if you can fill the beautiful museums of this world with vivid and attractive expressions of your belief-system.  Anything else? –

4. Be populist in your appeal

Rallies, for example. Oh, you need to do more than book a London theatre for an esoteric debate with some religious cleric. That will only feed yourselves. No, think towards filling  the biggest football stadiums you can – with people who are ready (and even longing?) for something better than what they are living for now. Like Billy Graham has done at Wembley Stadium. Why you might even emulate him as he did in Korea, and have a million  in your audience at a disused airfield! He and Pope John Paul; they did tend to think big.  Work a little harder.

Can you do the equivalent of BBC Television’s  Songs of Praise?  Let’s hear your atheistic music with its positive lyrics than can lift, inspire and give new hope to millions!

5. Show us your virtues

It would be a help if you can show us around atheistic youth clubs and camps and summer houseparties and any work you may be doing among orphans; let’s see your family and play groups, and community centres.

Could you take us on a tour of your work among the down-and-outs and the homeless,  and your equivalent of the Salvation Army’s soup kitchens? And your centres for Aids sufferers? And the hospice movement – had you thought of getting any homes established,  and staffing them yourselves?

And – if we can be really adventurous – take us abroad for a peep at your leprosariums?  I remember meeting Dr. Dennis Burkitt (of the Burkitt Lymphoma fame) out in Tanzania. He told me that he had been all over the tropics. Every single one of the leprosy hospitals he had ever visited were begun and run by Christians. Surely there must be one, run by an atheist organisation? 

You see, I’m not absolutely sure that we have seen all that you have done, or could do, for suffering humanity. It’s only my tip….

 6. Can you develop a ritual?

Every movement of substance needs a form of celebration, if it is to appeal to great masses of people. I suppose that the only really big atheistic movements in recent times were Communism and Fascism.  And indeed for a while they did pull young people into their ranks, with marches, flags, songs, parades, medals and orchestrated adulation of the leadership. Have you plans for a similar exercise? Always assuming, I hope, that you would avoid the persecution of non-adherents – the burning of books, the pulling down of buildings and destruction of family life  that seemed to go hand in hand with these organised movements?

So, I’d be glad to see how you celebrate your atheism. Which leads me to my last and seventh tip:

7. Let’s see some joy in your lifestyle

Oh we Christians have sometimes been accused of being kill-joys!  Perhaps that has occurred when our beliefs have become rigidly nominal and mechanical. But visit a community which bears a close and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and I would then ask whether you too have an infectious enthusiasm and joy that overspill with songs, love and practical service into the surrounding society, as theirs do, in community after community, in country after country – even when the government and the media try to shut down their operation. We have millions  of martyrs on our roll of honour. I have known some of them. They were honoured to die for Christ. How far would you be prepared to be killed for your beliefs?

Are your prophets and your champions happy people? Do they come across that way? For they – and you also – will certainly need to show some joy, if others are to be drawn like a magnet into the sheer satisfaction  of an atheistic world-view that really holds together and makes sense of the universe! 

So, try a little harder. Seven tips, my friends. I wonder if this helps.

(From http://www.richardbewes.com/comments-6.html )

19 thoughts on “More Thoughts on Atheists Attempting To Refute God

  1. Atheism is not about refuting God. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. You are an Atheist when it comes to the Sun God Ra as I am when it comes to Jesus or Yahweh. Apart from that basic misinterpretation and number six I think that these are very good ideas.

  2. I should clarify that my use of the word term ‘Refute God’ was intended to be interpreted as refuting the existence of God. The word ‘refute’ means to prove something wrong, so, I was speaking in terms of Atheists who attempt to disprove the existence of God. Regardless, God (a/k/a “I am,” “The Alpha and Omega,” “Jesus Christ,” “The Way,” “The Messiah”) does not believe in Atheists =). Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi again. I only glanced at the article, but I just wanted to say that number four is pretty silly.

    If you think of atheism as simply the lack of belief in a god or gods, why on earth would anyone devote a work of art to it? That’s like finding inspiration from your hobby of not collecting stamps. Maybe he’s referring to humanism – we should convey the beauty of human life without positing the supernatural. But by that logic, every portrait or sculpture that doesn’t mention God fits his criteria. What does he want? The New Life Church of Atheism?

  4. Thanks for the clarification gracemark. I don’t need to disprove the existence of any god because the emphasis is on the religious to prove to me that their god exists. The default position is one of scepticism. The world does not appear to move but their is sufficient evidence and scientific tests to prove to me that it does therefore I believe that the world moves in an orbit around the sun and that the sun moves in relation to other stars. No such evidence exists for any deity so I remain a sceptic and agnostic.

    As for art is it not the case that the wealthy churches often sponsored the creation of works of art. It is only right that an artist honour their patron by creating something that they would appreciate. There are also plenty of works of art that fail to depict anything religious at all. I have a painting of my children on my wall that doesn’t have a virgin mary or church anywhere near it. 😉

  5. “You see, I’m not absolutely sure that we have seen all that you have done, or could do, for suffering humanity. It’s only my tip….”

    Christians make a lot of noise about their charity and good works. They use money they fleece from their flocks to hire PR flacks to announce what they do. Who can respect that? Plus, would it not be safe to say a lot of what Christians do for the down trodden could be marked down to efforts to convert them? Atheists work in quiet ways, (we don’t have PR flacks) usually as individuals and it may surprise you to know that I have encountered many atheists who work side by side with Christians in predominately Christian organizations. As an Atheist and a former Peace Corps member your condescending remark is offensive. You are way off base with this comment.

  6. I don’t fully agree with everything that Mr. Bewes said, but, do think he made good points. I couldn’t agree more with you on the idea that we shouldn’t be publicizing our charity, though. The truest sense of what Jesus intended for his followers was to serve others humbly. Note what He said in Matthew 6:1-4:

    1″Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
    2″So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Unfortunately, because all of us are short of what God requires (even or often times especially “Christians”), Christians (including myself at times) often give in to their pride and declare their charity as some kind of merit badge. This isn’t what Jesus intends. It is by His grace that I find peace and meaning – not by anything I do. So, I have no right to boast.

    All that being said, I hope to use better judgement in the future when deciding to post another persons views within the context of my blog. While I do agree with much of what Mr. Bewes said, I don’t agree with all of it and I think that his essay and its antagonistic tone, betrays the love of Christ who told us to love and serve others as we love ourselves.

    Thanks for stopping by and your comments are welcome.

  7. No no no no NO! I am a blood and bone marrow donor as well an Atheist and the very thing that I want is to shout out to everyone that we need more donors. I want to publicise my donations, I want everyone in the world to know about the good works that I’ve done so that it may influence others to do good works as I have done.

    Where is the good in keeping charity a secret? Is modesty a greater virtue than helping another human being survive? Is vanity a greater SIN that charity?

    Shout your charitable work to the very heavens (pun intended) so that others may emulate you. Only that way may we love and serve others as we love ourselves.

    Guilt is a wonderful motivator and one that I believe influences the less charitable to become more charitable and this more socially conscious. It is a tool used by religion to it’s utmost after all.

  8. I think it has more to do with doing good for goodness sake rather than self-esteem. If you’re bragging about your good deeds, your heart probably isn’t in the right place. There’s a big difference between telling your friends to donate blood and saying “Aha! I’ve given blood, aren’t I a super!”

  9. BTW, I think you logo is way frickin sweet, Mark.
    Frog:
    “Guilt is a wonderful motivator”
    Come on, that is as old as the hills and gets less mileage. Use a real argument.

  10. Pingback: Helpful Pointers for Atheists « Scott W. Kay

  11. This doesn’t even make sense. This guy says that atheists are against Christianity. Atheists are generally passive, and the rest of the list makes less sense. Develop a ritual? of Atheism?? Developing sonnets and concertos to a belief of only things that have been proven through the scientific method doesn’t make sense. This man has some seriously misguided views on atheism and what it is

  12. Well, what is it worth discussing atheism then? There’s an awful lot of blogs devoted to it. Again:
    If you don’t believe in God, why are you so concerned with hashing out the idea that He doesn’t exist in a blog? I ask this knowing that the times in my past when I’ve most wanted to stand up for the perspective of atheistic life were times when my own conscience shivered – because something was touching a sensitive nerve buried deep in my soul. If God doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter, why not blog about something else?

  13. I think the reason atheists feel they have to frantically blog is that there are a lot of religious people in the world who seem convince that everyone should accept their point of view and that indeed it is actually worth listening to. If you think the number of atheist blogs is wearisome then you should try listening to the endless guff that we have to hear.. (thought for the day 95% of the time in fact is a good starting point). Mind you isn’t the bible possibly the longest most tedious blog ever. ‘God’s’ blog in fact. And a very racist, homophobic, intolerant and sexist blog it is too.. I can’t understand why anyone one could actually read that thing (and I mean read the whole of it, rather than concentrate on the nice fluffy bits) and still think, even if he did exist, that this god was worth the effort anyway. That said some atheists can sound like they are droning on a touch admittedly, but christianity has been droning on like that for two thousand years or so, so I can let them off for a bit..

    GraceMark’s response: There are things that I don’t care for that surround me throughout my daily life (e.g., commercial radio, fundamentalists, Carolina Panthers fans), but, I’m not blogging about them. Thanks for the visit, though.

  14. Most of the atheist blogs I’m aware of (and frequent) are there because Christianity (and religion in general) is making itself very comfortable with politics and education. I do not wish to be held to a standard enforced by something in which I have no belief. I take no issue with anyone having and loving a god(s), but I do take issue with those who wish to force their beliefs onto me by way of legislation.

  15. I agree with Claudia. My blog is partly about atheism because theism is so pervasive where I live. It is literally inescapable. So, I blog about certain aspects of it, along with lots of other things like Twinkies and photography.

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