Just because some people are jerks.

So, I was talking to a friend of mine about belief structures, and stuff. She was supporting the Atheist position, and I was pointing out my distaste for atheism, borne mostly of my disdain for the many athiests I know. Generally speaking, people don’t get too enamoured of you when you call them stupid, deluded, and irrational. Especially when you seem unable to explain why besides labelling all religious inferences “fallacies”, but I digress.

Of course, I should probably realize that not all atheists are jerks, it just seems that the few willing to talk to me about faith are.

That said, I was reading “Blue Like Jazz recently (a good book generally). In it the author tells of an incident where he and some fellow Christians took the time to apologize for the way in which Christians misrepresent Jesus to those around them. He also pointed out how the word Christian seems a little misused of late, since people tend to associate strange things like killing people and making fun of others with “Christian”. The author says he now uses the “follower of Christ” moniker rather than the much maligned “Christian”.

So I wonder if I’m not guilty of doing to atheists what some of them do to Christians. Just because the majority of atheists I talk to seem to be judgmental arrogant bigots doesn’t mean all of them are (or even that the ones I talk to are), or that atheism is a faith held only by the most arrogant of people. As a follower of Christ, one to whom forgiveness was given when I most definitely did not deserve it, I think it behooves me to give others the benefit of the doubt. It seems that may be what Christ meant when he commanded me to “love [my] enemy and do good to those who persecute [me]”.

I didn’t do the crusades, but some people see my faith that way, and not all atheists think the religious are inherently stupid.

In the end, don’t consign people to approbation because some people who agree with them are jerks. If I want people to give a good hearing to Jesus, I need to have the humility and honesty to face the blindness in myself.

Author: Stephen Dawe

Steve is a part-time vocational elder Calvary Baptist Church, St. John's as well as a full-time student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, in the Religious Studies Department.

8 thoughts on “Just because some people are jerks.”

  1. Fear not, brother Steve. It is we who will have the last laugh. Eternity is a long time, and hell is pretty hot.

    Stupid atheists! I spit on them.

  2. I have known a few people who would call themselves atheists if pressed to do so. They are more on the side of the postmodern theorist, PhD holders mind you so we have have a great conversation over a beer, or coffee and respectfully disagree.

    If you show them respect as people and value their opinions instead of shutting them down immediately as foolish (even if the thought process and reasoning is foolish from our perspective, ours is equally foolish from theirs) some great dialectics can occur. Granted it sometimes seems fruitless, but God’s word never comes back void and sometimes just standing your ground in a civil conversation is enough. Just remember to attack the argument but not the person. The person is still made in God’s image and God still loves that person (even if that person is unable to see and accept it, and thus is not among the elect) and is worthy of respect as a person, no matter how shattered the mirror is.

    of course the majority of atheists I have debated online are exactly as you have said. it’s much better to communicate face to face.

  3. Hmmm… I haven’t seen you in a very long time, but I will make post madness anyways!

    While I do agree that not all atheists are stupid or bigoted, as I also agree that not all the religious are stupid or perpitrated the crusades, there is a bit of an insulable dichotomy between the belief systems.

    An Atheist must believe that that which is most important to anyone who is religious is fundamentaly wrong. It is difficult to hold a serious conversation with someone who you feel is deluded about the most important thing in the universe (which the existence or non-existence of God would have to be).

  4. Torq, I wholly agree that there is a difficulty in the discussion, and that there’s an almost inherent necessary lack of respect from the atheist perspective (part of the reason I think atheism is not just false, but societally problematic).

    That said, not all atheists follow that particular line of reasoning to its conclusion.

    On the other hand, Christians have to have respect for people who we think are in error as to the existence of God. After all, we believe that it is only by grace (and not through our own intellectual prowess) that we are NOT deluded.

    For us it’s a question of blind/not-blind, not good/not good. After all, only Jesus is good, and even the best Christian is “not good”, by our own admission.

  5. You are right, of course. The soundest logical argument will ultimatly be fruitless without help from outside! I agree with the argument, inasmuch as I understand it, but it does cause me difficulty at times.

    I had a conversation with a theology student earlier this year who gave me this really great quote. He says that every time he sees someone who is REALLY heading down the wrong path it comes to his mind. “There go I, but for the grace of God.”

  6. Wait, wait! Are we moving the Holsapple family’s philosophy discussions to this blog? Do I have to sound smart over here too?

  7. *L* I can’t actually be part of Holsapple family theology discussions, as I am not a Holsapple. So by definition, this is not such a move.

  8. I find that a lot of the people who are jerks really are not interested in the truth, they are filled with pride and aren’t even willing to hear what Christians have to say. Most of the athiests who I have talked to simply just didn’t think the existence of God made sense, but were always interested in knowing my side. I always like conversations with these people, I learn a lot.

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