Recently I was reading through some Atheist material in preparation for an upcoming sermon series when I came across a familiar counter theistic argument. The basic concept is that Christians are actually Atheists in regard to all other gods except their “one true God.” Therefore the only difference between a Christian and an Atheist is that the Atheist goes one god further. Now I do admit the argument is not only cleaver, but a bit compelling too.
As an Evangelical I am a stanch Atheist in regard to all other gods. Oden is lore, Zeus is fiction and while Osiris looks like “Beast” from Teen Titans (which is awesome) he lacks standing support. But here is what is also true; I have no angst, spite or distain for those gods. I feel zero need to discuss how petty, juvenile, cruel or ridiculous they may be. In fact my “Pissed-O-Meter” doesn’t even tack .1 when I think about the topic of other gods.
Now maybe that is because I’m reflecting on gods that are long bereft of worship. So I decided to dig a bit deeper into my own emotional grid. But when I did so realized that my “P-O-M” doesn’t even budge when I think about the gods of current religions such as Islam or Hinduism. Isn’t that weird? It should be weird based on the “Christians are actually Atheists – save one” argument. Here is what I mean.
I concur that I am a full naturalistic skeptic in regard to Allah and Shiva, but I’ve also never been compelled to assault their character, actions or personhood. I can’t even imagine wasting time, emotion or energy to do so. I have certainly spent time dealing with comparative religious systems in light of Christianity, but I have never put the gods of those systems in my crosshairs because I know I’m shooting at thin air. I don’t waste time mocking the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the same reason. To have any critical or negative opinion of a deity that I consider to be a mythology is about as rational as mocking the Leprechauns I don’t believe inhabit my toilet bowl. What makes this even weirder is that while billions of people are affected by and follow the gods that I don’t believe in, my Atheism regarding their gods is so sincere I don’t feel the need to burn a single calorie to assault the character of their deities. I will challenge their religious philosophies, but I never attack their gods. Additionally I’ve never been a part of any Christian group where people sat around and badmouthed other dieties. They may talk about Islam’s doctrines, but no one I know sits around and talks about how silly or sadistic Allah is. That would be a bit weird right?
Then I thought about it more. I’ve also never met any full Atheist who has displayed the need to consistently dismantle the reputation of any other god – except the God of Christianity. On this god I find a disproportionate obsession with assaulting the character of what is adamantly defined as an inane and outdated myth. A famous instance of this comes from Richard Dawkins when he writes:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
I give Dawkins points for flair, but I also sit somewhat dumbfounded and think, “Why waste this much ink to mock a fable?” It would seem a sincere Atheist would be radically passionless toward any mythological deity precisely because of the “fact” that it’s a fiction. I think about how more than a few Atheists glibly equate God with Santa Clause, but none that I know of take the added time to bust St. Nick’s snow globes for breaking an entry or jipping naughty kids out of Christmas. Yet in my experience I commonly find Atheists are colored with a deep passion against the “myth” of the Christian God. It’s a case of real hate for the fake god. And then I realized, perhaps the hate is real because deep down inside they hope – might I even say, “pray” – He is real so He can feel their disdain.
As for me, I will continue to go on in my unimpassioned Christian Atheism. I will not Photoshop Zeus out of the Trevi Fountain to mock his mythological status. I will not imprint a Flying Spaghetti Monster between the elephants of the Banteay Srei Carving of Shiva to belittle Hindu gods. And I will not rant about the cruelty of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious when he had Anakin kill his loyal Count Dooku. All for the same reason, only realities are worthy of my passions.
Passion for your house (Oh Lord) has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9
15 thoughts on “I Don’t Mock Zeus Because He’s Fake”
Allah and YHWH are the very same god of Abraham. Atheists do not mock the Christian god because they don’t believe in it, but because you do. Belief in that god has proven to be dangerous to society and mocking is a simple but effective way to effect change. It is the Christian believer who work very hard to deny rights to some citizens and strive to educate our children with myth instead of fact.
Nobody is trying to insert santa claus into the science classroom. No matter how much you think your god is true, there is no evidence and the priviledged position of religion needs to go. It is false, and if you want to claim that such cannot be proven I will say you cannot prove it is true and while we argue what can be said is that religious belief conflicts with known facts. The danger is that religious belief does want to take over education and the law… this is dangerous, and must be stopped. That is why atheists bother.
Allah and YHWH are not the same God. They are not only different in substance and personality, the history of the foundation of Islam and Judahism are very different. Islam does borrow from both Judahism and Christianity (as well as Zoroastrianism), but that is a far cry from the 3 religions sharing a god.
As far as the rest goes, everything that religion is accused of can also be pinned on Atheistic regimes. At some point, people need to take a step back and recognize that the problems in this world are caused by the condition of being human and not much of anything else.
You’re missing a rather important point. Atheists aren’t going after the deity of Christianity. That would be pointless since we don’t believe in it, just as it would be pointless for you to go after the FSM. We are challenging the people who believe in it. We are challenging the people who claim that because they believe in a deity, all of us should live according to what they think their deity wants.
By sitting down to write what you have written here, you have done exactly what atheists do. You have attempted to show that the thoughts and actions of a group with whom you disagree are without merit. You even try to goad us with the claim that we secretly do believe in god. It may not be Photoshop, but it’s not really any different.
First of all, a very nice article.
One obvious reason that Atheists are getting vocal today is that religions are not confined to private places but are enforced in public also. And, because, religion can only be taught to a child who has no power to distinguish truth from lie, it has a factor of brain-washing involved too. And yes, I’m an atheist. Your arguments were compelling. Earlier, I was also very quiet about my religious views but seeing my small cousins being brain-washed into God(Hinduism for me), I thought, no its time to do something.
The truth of the matter is that it takes as much faith not to believe in God as it does to believe in God. The believer may never be able to offer any physical proof that God exists while the Atheist at some point must admit that s/he cannot explain why life in this Universe should exist at all.
In some respect it seems tolerance is a door that only swings in one direction. You may think religion has brought great damage to this world and I would not argue with you about that. But I would also tell you that because of religion, we have some of the greatest works of art, schools, scientific discovery, hospitals and on and on. On the other hand, because of Atheistic Marxism, we have also had some of the most brutal regimes this world has ever seen and more people murdered in the 20th centuray than any religious war since the beginning of war.
So, we have a choice, We can either choose to marinate in our disageements with one another, or we can find some way to meet in the middle. That meeting does not presuppose that we give up our strongly held beliefs, but it does require that we put aisde our disagreements for the sake of our humanity.
The difference is that you live in a culture (I presume) in which the majority of people are at least a version of Christian.
If the majority of the people in your country believed in Zeus, preached Zeus, and a portion of those Zeus followers tried to change laws to reflect their Zeus worship or teach Zeus worship in science classes…then you might understand why some atheists mock and disdain the Christian concept of a god.
I believe the issue is more so that Christianity has been woven into the cultural scripts, philosophies and expectations for how people should behave. I would be willing to bet that atheists in the Muslim world lodge similar arguments against Allah.
And it also matters whether or not you’re talking about an Atheist who once was a Christian or not. Most who spend time on that line of rationality once believed in that myth. And so their time spent on the subject is a reflection of their own personal journey away from it. Add in concern for the way that perceived character of God impacts our cultural values and society in a much more meaningful and sustained way in the US than Shiva or Allah have and you have your reason. From this perspective, the Christian God myth has had a much more profound, and especially for the once-Christian atheists among that mix, in many ways negative, impact on their lives and/or the lives of others they care about.
Additionally, if you’re speaking with an atheist as a Christian and trying to open a dialog, it’s entirely likely that the atheist is going to spend time talking about the issues with the Christian god. In my daily life, it’s been years since I’ve even considered or engaged in this type of dialog. It’s only been a family member asking me questions about my story that have reminded me of the inner turmoil involved with leaving the church and this being a part of it. Otherwise, I don’t think about the Christian god. I only get riled up about it when a Christian prods me into it.
So true, Pastor Matt! I always wondered why people like Richard Dawkins et.al. are so filled with vitriol toward God…when…if He doesn’t exist, then what are they getting so mad about? Seems like deep down there’s another reason they won’t/can’t admit, and it makes me feel sad for them. Really good article, thanks for writing it!
Romans 1. Generally I don’t get into debates with folks/friends from other faiths/non-faiths because I’m the only one they want to reconsider my worldview. If others were to equally re-consider or at least be willing to be questioned as to the reasons for their faith/worldview, i’d be more than willing.
As for Christians, we believe that our authority and motivation to share our ‘worldview’ is based on our Scripture. If anything at all, we’re only seeking to be faithful to what our Bible teaches.
The Bible teaches many things that are illegal and morally corrupt by today’s standards, even for Christians. If you know your Bible, I’m sure you don’t need me to cite examples.
Reblogged this on Hope's Reason.
I find it quite affirming of the point made in this article that the majority of the responses are made by atheists. If our God is a non-entity, and we are but blind fools driving the world to the brink of destruction with our poisonous Christian dogma (such as love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemy, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you), why bother trawling the internet for Christians to deflate? Aren’t your energies better served deflating our tires…you know, to prevent us from driving off to ruin society with all of our doctrines of giving to the poor (Old Testament), doing justice to widows and orphans (Old Testament), and standing up for purity, righteousness, and the rule of law (Old Testament)?
Atheists seem to give a whole lot of credit for the world’s ills to a bunch of half-wits who are so dim as to bow down to an invisible nothing.
I realize that many of the comments made above were genuine and honest statements of belief. To those, please forgive my sarcasm. My frustration is really aimed at the same place as the author’s: The unending ride on the merry-go-round of cliches about the cruel and heartless “deity” of the Old Testament who dared to judge nations that actually did ruin the world with many of the things Christians are accused of. Things such as genocide, religious fanaticism to the point of infanticide (see worship of Molek), warmongering, and hate.
I freely acknowledge that many people have dishonored the name of God by doing ungodly things in His name. I also acknowledge that there are passages of Scripture that are hard for the human mind to reconcile because they don’t easily fit our schema. God is not easily comprehended. But to make sweeping generalities about the human condition and to try and anthropomorphize the judgments of God in human terms is over-simplifying. To claim that the concept of deity is to blame for suffering and strife is to pass the buck to what you claim as non-existent instead of seeing that broken human beings are capable of doing horrible things to each other in the name of whatever makes them feel better about it.
And it entirely dismisses the transcendent power of God’s influence to rein in and reshape the vicious human heart.
It was Christians standing on the TRUE Word of God in its full context who abolished slavery, who have sought to protect unborn children and their mothers, and who have built societies on the principles of equality, dignity, and liberty.
May God forgive us Christians for all the ways we have failed Him and given credence to the atheist, and may all you who don’t believe gain wisdom to give credit where it is due.
One thing which has already been said but which bears emphasis again is that evidence is pretty strong that the most dangerous belief system which has ever been developed is atheism. Atheists protest that Christianity is dangerous and that we’re going to bring back an Inquisition. But let’s be honest, the Inquisition, universally derided even among Catholics, killed a few thousand people over 400 years. Stalin murdered possibly 30 million in three decades. Christianity would never survive with that track record.
The other piece of dishonesty is the equating of Intelligent Design with “teaching religion in the classroom.” Sorry, if a Christian, Jew, and Muslim all agree on something, it is not equivalent to a religion or worship. You don’t get to define a general recognition of some kind of God as a religion simply because you reject all religions. Most people in the world believe in SOMETHING divine. It is totalitarian to demand that the majority of the planet avoid offending your belief system. That kind of thinking, unrestrained, would lead to . . . Oh wait, I already covered that.
Hi may i ask if you ever studied astrotheology? Thank you