Most of us know Christopher Hitchens, but many may not know that he has a brother who is the polar opposite (http://www.foxnews.com/world/2010/06/18/atheist-christian-paths-chr...
) Now this I can relate to! My brother moved down to Tennessee to live with my dad a few years ago and became dead again.....I'm sorry, "born" again. He has become a creationist, and I'm not just talking "god created the universe in 6 days and watched season DVD's of Lost on the seventh." I'm talking flaming young earth creationist! Aside from being able to relate to it, I wanted to write this blog because I was suprised by my reaction to a portion of the article. I got to the sentence where Christopher's brother said that his own atheism took the form of "a rambunctious, arrogant, annoying teenager who thought he knew everything." He has written a book entitled "The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith" which chronicles his journey from radical atheist to faithful servant of God. I'm not really sure what he meant by "radical Atheist" because, as has been stated before, radical muslims strap bombs to themselves, radical Christians shoot abortion doctors, and radical Atheists write books! He makes it sound more dangerous though. Aside from that, I couldn't help but immediately having the reaction; "Sure you were an atheist.....probably not a true Atheist." Wait, what did I just say? Yes, I managed to do exactly what people of faith often do when someone who shares your belief system does something they don't like, or converts; no not kill them for being an infidel, but rather blame it on the fact that they weren't a "true" (insert religion here). At the same time though, is this a fair comparison? Atheism is a rejection of a claim, not a belief system where written rules are followed. So how can someone be a “true atheist?” Can you even logically argue a statement like that, since, as stated before, there are no written rules, just a rejection of a claim?
I personally have a few feeling about this. I would like to start by saying that I will never again use the phrase "true Atheist!" I think it is probably more appropriate to say they "weren't an Atheist for good reasons." This might sound more “douchy,” but I already am kind of a tool, so it'll fit in just fine with my persona. It is easy to pick out someone who isn't an atheist for good reasons. One dead give-away is if they talk about being angry at god for something (assuming this in their only reason, it can open the door to better reasons). Aside from pointing out the obvious fact that you can't be angry at something you don't believe in, believing anything based on emotion is never really a reasonable way to justify any belief. Quite frankly, if it were, you'd be religious. Another dead give-away is if they don't know how flawed Pascal's Wager is. Doesn't that have something to do with fluids? Of course, don't worry if you don't know how to refute it, it's not a perfect method for knowing how knowledgeable of an atheist someone is; I dropped the god belief because of the inherent incompatibility between science and the bible, all along while knowing little of Pascal's Wager...sad, I know. At this point in my life (15-20) I still could’ve fallen prey to some of the more sophisticated (ha!) arguments from apologists. Does that mean I was not as “true” of an atheist as I could be? I certainly realize now that my reasons still weren't well rooted enough in the philisophical aspects of rejecting the "creator theory." My point is this; there are indeed a fair number of people out there who call themselves atheists, but in all reality know very little of the philosophy or science that truly helps cement the rejection of all god claims. These are the people who, very sad to say, could easily go banana’s and become the next Kirk Cameron....pun intended!
On the other hand, what does it mean to not be a “true Christian?” Honestly, you’d have to first ask, what type of Christian? My brother would say “someone who follows the word to the letter.” Uh, okay…well, despite that making any religious person a hypocrite (let’s face it, no Christian can do that), isn’t there a lot of contradiction in that book? More importantly, doesn’t being a true Christian, in those regards, mean that you are going to be quite an unpleasant person? Most of you already are well aware, so I don’t need to go into detail here, but the bible, even the NT, isn’t exactly one of the most moral guidelines to live a decent life by. I’d rather not allow slavery, thank you very much! I don’t know if any Christian today would want to meet the so-called “true Christian.” It might be the quickest way to increase the number of atheists out there. Now, I don’t dismiss the fact that there are Christians out there who use the label, but haven’t read a word of the bible and are indeed doing very "un-Jesus like things," if you will. How many rappers step up to the microphone and proclaim, “I’d like to thank baby Jesus for this award. If he hadn’t died on the cross, my song “Kill them bi***es and f**k dem hoes” would’ve never been possible!” How many preachers are touching little boys, how many Christians are having non-procreative sex and cheating all the time, etc, etc, until the cows come home and the dogs quit barking. If you take the label away from every one of them, eventually you are left with human beings who are, well, just as human as every other person no matter what label they claim. I think the big difference is in the fact that non believers don’t pretend to have some special moral authority, nor do they perform hideous actions that can be blamed on their deity. However, I would much rather see someone use a religious label than the Atheist label if they aren't going to be backing up their views with sound reasoning.