While testing a new social media platform, I encountered a woman who called herself “Baby Christian”. She felt God call her into an open forum to discuss all things in the Bible. The first few minutes were rather uneventful. I sat with her and made small talk: What’s your favorite Bible book? John. What’s your favorite Bible verse? John 3:16. How long have you been a Christian? About a year. Then, from what seemed like out of nowhere, the chat room exploded from three to 15. Wolves. Before I could jump in to help, the chat room was a plunder with anti-Christian rhetoric: How could a good God….?, Where was your god when…? What evidence do you have to support…?
Calmly, this baby Christian answered only what she knew, and answered with confidence, “I don’t know what you’re looking for but Jesus loves you”. The dialog continued for about half an hour and is certainly filled with stories concerning patience, morality, fallen saints, and a wealth of topics exposed as these predators preyed on a young lamb cub. But one comment hit me harder than most, and it led to some interesting reflection.
One atheist asked our heroin, “What made you choose to be a Christian?” Following a personal summary of Truth reflection, she turned the question back on her adversary: “What made you choose to be an atheist?” The rest of this post is my reflection on his response.
Does one “choose” to be an atheist? In a post here at ACL, Nate walks through atheism as a belief system. Nate, eloquently and purposefully, establishes atheism as a belief system. Rather than re-invent the wheel (an impressive wheel at that), this post will examine the antithesis. For the sake of this post, the assumption is atheism is not a belief and the statement, “I did not choose to be an atheist”, is the crux that will draw a pretty pointed conclusion.
As we begin, I want to draw on an interesting aspect of the story that started me on this intellectual pilgrimage. In my encounter, the protagonist referred to herself as “Baby Christian”, implying she was new to the Christian faith. I’ve heard this term a lot, and even went through the baby phase myself. Everything about the Christian experience was new: new Scripture to unlock, new feelings and emotions that start pouring out, new joy never experienced before, and a new sense of the splendor of everything around just to name a few. However, I have never heard the term “baby atheist”. In fact, when I looked it up on Google, the only thing I found of any relevance was a blog discussing Richard Dawkins’ stance that babies aren’t born into atheism. Dawkins’ comment is,
“When you say X is the fastest growing religion, all you mean is that X people have babies at the fastest rate. But babies have no religion.”[i]
In other words, because atheists like Dawkins insist that atheism is not a choice, all babies in the world are indeed born atheist and require external influence to induce a response.
So, following the assumption of the post, every baby is born with no belief system. Is it really fair, though, to say that some people never develop a belief? I think that is where the real problem with atheism as a non-belief falls apart. Even if one grows up in an impoverish, desolate, atheist, home, at some point existence becomes inner-reflection. At the heart of every human rests some desire to understand the meaning of life. One comedic science-fiction movie (actually a radio show and several novels which morphed into a cinematic rework), “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, spends 7.5 million years wrestling with this question:
“O Deep Thought computer, the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us…’The Answer’..to life!…The Universe!…Everything!”
In essence, what we are really asking is: Does life have meaning? Where did life come from? Where is it going? Hard questions, to be sure, that may not be able to be answered in full. But, that only identifies the necessity to continue asking the question. In fact, its commonplace to sit down every so often and ask, “Where do I see myself in 5/10/20 years?”; “Am I in the job that will get me there?” These intrinsic questions beg the individual to contemplate deep physical and psychological questions that deserve far more reflection than, “I have no idea”; “I didn’t choose this”.
Some will argue that career choice and the meaning of life do not bear the same intellectual responsibility as theos v. a-theos, and to that I agree. Determining whether God (the Christian God or otherwise) exists or not is far more significant. C. S. Lewis once wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” This notably Christian view is really quite universal; remove ‘Christianity’ and substitute atheism/scientism/relativism/etc. and the outcome is all the same: by it I see everything else. Are you willing to look at the splendor, and majesty, and intricacy of the world around you? Are you willing to step outside of your insignificant perspective and ask the hard questions about origins and purpose and meaning of life…the universe…everything? Or will you withdraw from the question, hide in your own little world and refuse to participate in open and honest inquiry?
“For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse” – Rom 1:20, HCSB
Therefore, if an atheist is going to fail to take up the intellectual responsibility to form a conclusion, their position should hold the same merits in the public domain—intellectually void. All atheist, those who claim “there is no god”, who claim their title by asserting the negative and passing all responsibility and ‘burdens of proof’ with comments like: “I did not choose to be an atheist”, have no business spewing their ignorant filth in a beautiful world drenched in possibilities.
[i] Brown, Andrew. “There’s no such thing as an atheist baby”. Theguardian. June 12, 2014. From: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/12/atheist-baby-richard-dawkins-babies-atheism