Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Atheism As Fashion Statement"

That's the title of an article yesterday at The American Catholic. The column is based on the comments of author and former atheist A.N. Wilson, who recently converted to Christianity. Wilson says that growing up in Britain left him feeling that religion was "uncool," and that this made him lose his childhood faith and become an atheist. Fine, that's one man's story. But the author of this piece feels the need to extrapolate Wilson's experience to atheism at large.

Atheism as fashion statement. Very true, and a key weakness of atheism long term. Intellectual fashions and trends come and go. The Church has proven its staying power over 2000 turbulent years, in many periods going uphill against the “spirit of the times”. I doubt if the current wave of atheism will have this type of endurance.

Except that it isn't a fashion statement for most atheists. Many atheists, probably the overwhelming majority in the U.S., did not grow up thinking religion was uncool and adopt atheism to be part of a intellectual club. Most came to realize that their religious beliefs simply didn't make any sense, and that there was no evidence behind them. And as their faith eroded, they looked for evidence of God, and found it non-existent. Atheism is no more a mere trend than Christianity. Atheists have been around throughout history, and there were likely more than we know about.  Far from being a fashion statement, open atheism still provokes hatred, discrimination, and outright persecution from the religious majority in many areas. Even in the U.S. polls show that atheists are a despised minority.

After admitting that he doesn't need evidence to hold his religious beliefs, the author turns right around and attacks atheists as irrational.

materialist atheism is not merely an arid creed, but totally irrational.
Anyone writing the following shouldn't be accusing others of irrationality:
Materialist atheism says we are just a collection of chemicals. It has no answer whatsoever to the question of how we should be capable of love or heroism or poetry if we are simply animated pieces of meat.
That's right, atheists must view people as just "animated pieces of meat" because we look for naturalistic explanations to understand the wonders of human existence, rather than attributing them to an imaginary magical being. 


  1. Oh, yes, atheism is so cool. Cool like my shoes. And I frequently look at people and think, "mmmm . . . with just a little barbecue sauce . . ."

  2. Interesting comments coming from someone who recently converted to Christianity after being an atheist.

    My bet is he was never really an atheist at all but only tried to be or pretended to be because he (mistakenly) thought it was cool. How can anyone *decide* to be an atheist? You either are or are you aren't.

    It's amusing that someone so recently enlightened calls the people who still believe what he believed for most of his life "irrational." Having tried to be a Christian for my first 33 of my 42 years, I'm going to hold back from calling all Christians irrational.

  3. "My bet is he was never really an atheist at all but only tried to be or pretended to be because he (mistakenly) thought it was cool. How can anyone *decide* to be an atheist? You either are or are you aren't."

    Yeah. Although I've found that a significant number of religious people do think that atheists are like Wilson. They don't understand how anyone could possibly disbelieve in God, because they see God as a self-evident truth. That attitude leads them to see atheists as people who are just denying God's existence for some reason, rather than truly disbelieving.

  4. 40 seems to be the magic number. Its when non-practicing christians, crash into the mortality wall. They then dump their "atheism" for Jesus, quick smart.