Piers Morgan asked funnyman Penn Jilette about his faith a couple of weeks ago while Jilette was promoting his new book, “God, No!” and the interview can be watched on Youtube. It was quite interesting, and neither party pulled any punches or copped out of direct questions.
Piers’ objection to atheism could be summed up to “You tell billions of people they are wrong about the answers to the big questions of our existence but offer none of your own…atheism is all about bursting the other guy’s bubble while defending a non-falsifiable position. ”
That is a summation of what I got out of Piers, anyway. Jilette posited that his love for his family and arts and science fill a void in his life where others would insert religion. Piers brushed that sentiment away stating that religious people also care about science and arts and definitely love their families too.
To an atheist like myself, I simply saw that people are really all the same and religion does not add anything to someone’s life. If I were outside a church polling all members indiscriminate to their age or spiritual maturity, I would ask them to list 3 things they thank God for. Those people would probably list 1. family 2. friends 3. salvation–not going to hell when they die.
To an atheist, we also love our family and friends. We are glad we are not going to hell when we die because we do not believe in hell. Atheists and Christians have a great deal in common with each other because of an intense interest in Truth. Christians care about their doctrine and want to be right about the big issues. So do atheists. What bothers me though, is from a perusal of youtube comment arguments and other atheist blogs I see one side being very loving and gracious and the other side behaving like total dicks. Sadly, it is the side of the atheist. What’s worse is that it plays into the hands of the Christians and even public perception that atheists are smug assholes and Christians are just making the world a better place.
We need to do a better job as atheists showing that we are kind and compassionate humanists. Atheism does lend itself to humanism but the broad tent of atheism includes a great deal of smug assholes. I hope that atheists will take up the mission of loving their religious neighbors and showing the Christians that love is not exclusive to their creed. Calling Christians crazy and stupid and deranged is not only disrespectful but in many ways simply false. There are poor Christian arguments and poor atheist arguments. We have our Hitchens and our Dawkins, they have theirs, trust me. With love and respect at our disposal, we must be quick to employ their use–for goodness’ sake. Atheism has provided me a more robust sense of love for others because I do not look down on anyone for being different anymore–I used to think that sexually active single people were living in sin. I thought gays were evil and trying to ruin America. Atheism has helped me find meaningful humanism and common sense ethics. I hope if I help people free themselves from religion that would be their story as well…not that they turned into a vengeful prick tearing up the Twitterverse with hateful slogans and one liners.