Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”


I was just reading/listening to Teresa Macbain’s story–

http://www.npr.org/2012/04/30/151681248/from-minister-to-atheist-a-story-of-losing-faith

Religion so often does the opposite of what believers think.  It makes people intolerant.  Why does Teresa’s community that she gave guidance and counseling and encouragement and support to, turn on her this way and treat her like an enemy?  Do Christians view Jews as the enemy?  Or Buddhists?  Or anyone who happens to have faith in something else?   Then why are atheists the enemy?  And especially atheists who were previously Christians?

Tell you what, listening to Teresa’s story…struck a chord with me.  I haven’t become an enemy like she has.  I am not seen as a betrayer of the faith as she is.  But I have lost friends since I made it clear I can’t believe anymore.   I also find myself suddenly having to walk on eggshells worrying how much should I exult in this new feeling of freedom?  How much singing out and speaking out and shouting out with joy can I do before I am admonished for offending someone?

Really, all it takes to offend a Christian is to say the words “there’s no such thing as god.”  Say those words and they are offended, personally and deeply offended.

It’s not meant to be an offense.  If I went 40 years of my life thinking I have a horrible singing voice and always being ashamed to sing, afraid to sing…and then one day I’m told by a voice teacher I have a really great range and wonderful potential as a singer, I’m going to want to tell people.    The same is true if I go my whole life believing in something that makes me feel I can’t ever be good enough, that I was born corrupt and I need to do this and this and this to be good or to be loved…and then one day I find out it’s all a lie and I was born into this world exactly right and exactly as nature meant me to be–I would want to sing that news from the rooftops!  I’d want to  tell my friends, my family, people I care about whom I still see struggling in the dark.   And yet…it offends people.

No Christian, especially not the ones who live for Jesus and give their whole life’s work to serving Jesus like Ms. Macbain, want or ask to lose their faith.   It’s not a road believers take intentionally.  It’s a path they stumble on.

We’re not supposed to ask questions.  I know a friend who was kicked out of her church for asking too many questions.  Why is that?  If Christianity is true–if any religion is true–it should be able to withstand any questions put to it.  It should  not shy away from the new discoveries of science either, but rather welcome those discoveries as further proof of its unshakable truth.

Instead when I asked questions, the kind of questions that put parts of the bible or god’s actions or Jesus’ actions, into doubt, I was given the same pat answers: “we are finite beings; how can we possibly understand god?”  Or, “god works in mysterious ways.”  Or, “have faith.  God will reveal this to you in time.”

And then that time never comes.

I look at the bible and I wonder, how can this loving god that the Christians believe in order little children dashed to pieces or pregnant mother’s bellies cut open with swords?   How can this just and merciful god order a man stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath or…allow his followers to teach that women are worth only half as much as men and should be silent, should not wear jewelry or braided hair or… speak aloud in church, and daughters can be sold into slavery.

These are the questions that catch us unaware.  We are like everyone else, Christians going along with what we’re told, assuming someone bothered to do the research and confirm it’s all true.  We nod our heads and sing our songs and high-light the appropriate verses in the bible.   But then one day someone points out something in the bible we didn’t know was there.  Or maybe one day it suddenly dawns on us that it makes no sense that Satan would hate the people who deny god, his enemy, and would want to punish them.    Or that god would punish Adam and Eve so severely for simply being ignorant, for making a mistake, and not just them but all of humanity.

Atheists are not the enemy of anyone.  Atheists simply do not believe in the supernatural–and have lately been brought to the point that we aren’t so silent about it anymore after having to hear politicians who should know better declare our country a “Christian nation” when it’s not, or for that matter have  Christianity shoved in our face wherever we turn.  How does this make us bad people worthy of hate?  How does this make someone like Teresa Macbain worthy of being shunned by the very community she served and helped for years?

Once upon a time God created himself an enemy.  I’m not sure why.  A lot of pain and suffering would have been avoided if he hadn’t.   But he made Satan and then punished Satan for being made.  Sometimes I feel like Christians want to have an enemy too.  So they hunt down people who dare to not agree, and attack them, call them ignorant or evil–arrogantly tell them they’re going to hell–basically punish them for daring to be, just like gays, true to who and what they are.

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26 comments on “Why Are Atheists “The Enemy?”

  1. If your going to have such a simple minded, and probably american fundamentalist aproach to reading the bible then i am not surprised that you would want to leave such a religion . you read the bibel with no imagination or spriit. many so called christians do this but not all. as for the poor relations between atheists and christians, i have seen many examples of abuse from both sides and this is because there are fundamentalist mentalitys at work within both camps and in my opinion there is very little between one and the other. When i have met a deep thinking sensitive atheist and or a real person of faith (any religion) they actualy have a lot in common. atheisim is accepted within some religious belief systems like buddism , jainism, the deniel of the existance of god has played its part in the teachings of the christian mystics. I think it was early christian writer meister Eckhart that said ‘for gods sake let us take leave of God’

    • Actually I was forced to employ my very vivid imagination for three decades as my one way to believe there was anything true or factual about the bible at all. It is when you shut off the fantastical way of thinking and allow yourself to see the truth of what the book actually says, that you can finally recognize it for the vile work of deception and fiction that it is. I am new to reality and new to reason. You are telling a writer who has written fantasy adventure short stories and novels that she has no imagination. On the contrary. I have enough imagination in me that I could, right now, create a whole religion and maybe even convince people it’s the one true way to heaven. Honestly, it wouldn’t even take that much…there is plenty of other fiction out there I could borrow from.

    • I would likely start as your cultists started. I would build my lie upon the myths that came before. Christianity was the merging of Judaism and Mithriasm. I’d also use that as my base. I would probably scrap the entire NT as it exists now, or at least the four gospels which are woefully erroneous. The fact a Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus is just one of many glaring errors. Also the Bethlehem at that time was not inhabited. Nor was there a census taken in that year and if there was, it would not have required Mary and Joseph to transport a 9 month pregnant Mary on the back of an ass for 7 days, a feat that would likely be physically impossible for Mary…unless we want to employ angels and the miraculous power of god coming to her aid.

      Anyway, I think I’d come up with a new god man completely. I could use one that already exists–Satan, since he is pretty much silent during most of the biblical history and only slays 10 people compared to god’s 2+ million (at least). Trouble with that is, Christians have been programmed since infancy to believe Satan = baaaad. Not the all loving all good guy who dreamed Satan up and made him no, or for that matter put Adam and Eve in close proximity with Satan, no. Just Satan. Satan baaaad!!! Just like humans = baaad for doing exactly what god created them to do, intended them to do, PLANNED for them to do.

      I think most people would agree Gandalf the White is a very good guy. And in fact in the very historically detailed Lord of the Rings series, J.R.R. Tolkien takes pains to invent that history for a nation of conquered (by the Romans) people. In the series, wizards walking around in Middle Earth are the same as angels walking around…rather like Touched by an Angel or Michael Landon in “Highway to Heaven.” So I would incorporate the Lord of the Rings histories into my new religion, and Gandalf would be my god-man. He already has a huge following. It wouldn’t take much to say that J.R.R. Tolkien was divinely inspired by the god of his stories to write about Gandalf and bring the truth to the world. There would be a Satan figure too in the world. That seems to be a requirement for most patriarchal religions–the need for a bad guy or darkness to make the existence of light possible…

      It might even be fun. I could say that I am a disciple of J.R.R. Tolkien, who’s great works were mistaken as merely fiction. The Middle Earth god came to me in a vision I saw in the swirling depths of one of my many fountains I have in my condo–I saw a vision of Gandalf battling the false biblical god and all the deluded brainwashed people of the world prostrating themselves before Gandalf the merciful, who did not change any of them into something unnatural but rather offered them all a good party with fireworks and a smoke of famous Hobbit leaf.

  2. i think your confusing truth and factual, the problem you had with the bible stems from treating it as factual , meaning and truth are not always found in factual form, you know this as a writer of fiction, unless you think writing fiction has no realtion to truth? the bible is a great mix of historicle document, poetry ,and fiction (in the attempt to convey a truth sense) ‘Vile work of deception’ seems strange language from a writer of fiction?
    Also you confuse fantasy and imagination. truths are first grasped by the imagination,this is common to the arts and the sciences, its not just ‘making something up’ . Many biblical stories are grounded in universal human truths and experience. Fantasy is driven by disconection with reality and is quite often associaited with mental illlness.
    You were not as you say employing your “imagination for three decades as my one way to believe there was anything true or factual about the bible” its was in fact your lack of imagination at the time that was blocking you from seeing past what you were in. Your literalist ‘faith’ was the cause of the problem not the bible.

      • thats quite an extream view to hold the the bible has no historical fact in it, i have never read anything anywhere saying that. many christians will off course overestimate the historical evidence , but i think there is a certain amount of archaeological evidence , for some parts but also evidence that throw extream doubt on other parts in terms of historical acuracy. Again i just find it interesting you take an extream view. Your a mirror image of the thing your against.

      • Let’s see. The Temple of Solomon–the largest structure I believe in his day–has never been found. Not one shred of evidence that such a thing existed. Any archeological evidence that has been found has shown that one, Bethlehem was not inhabited at the time of “jesus” birth and two, no Nazareth existed until 3 centuries after “Jesus of Nazareth’s” death. And in fact the city of Nazareth started out as a way to fulfill an old testament prophecy that doesn’t really exist.

        What does extream mean?

        No, I’m just stating that there is no non-biblical proof of a god, of Jesus, or of really anything in the bible happening. The Roman Chariots that were covered up by the parting of the Red Sea were made of iron. How interesting that not a single remnant of those soldiers or their chariots can be found on the bottom of that sea today.

        Anyway, whatever. Name some proof–then maybe I won’t have a reason to say there isn’t any.

        When I say I never took the bible literally as a Christian… I was doing what all Christians have to do to reconcile the glaring errors and contradictions and many obvious things that are just too absurd to believe–I was using my intellect to try to explain away the things I knew weren’t right. The stuff that didn’t make sense–I assumed were metaphors. Jesus being in several different places at once after his resurrection, I assumed that to someone smarter than I am, there was a reason for this. The fact in one book the bible describes an angel on the rock and two guards and another book describes a young boy inside the tomb with no guards, or the fact that only one book of the bible has the made up nativity story, or the fact that only one book describes the massive earthquake at the time of Jesus’ death and the dead coming out of their graves to meet and greet with the living… So interesting that not one historian in that day wrote about these things either, and there were many prolific ones living right there in Jerusalem.

        Anyway, whatever. I am not defending myself to you. I have very good reasons for thinking it’s a pile of crap and you can accept that or not. I don’t really care.

      • i also wonder , when you say you never took the bible literaly, when you were a christian how were you taking it.?

    • I hate when people start talking out their butt because they have no actual leg to stand on. It’s okay if you believe in god, but please don’t ask me to. You would be grossly remiss to deny that there are numerous inconsistencies in the bible. If you like the message behind some obvious made up story, good for you. Love thy neighbor is a beautiful message.

      • I just feel like if someone is going to make the claim that the bible is recognized and accepted as a historical document, they provide the references they get the info from. What historians accept the bible as accurately recorded history? Just the sampling I saw online on the subject–they all seemed to be featured on Christian websites.

  3. Its funny I mean you set up the blog , your setting the agenda on it , I’m just asking you about that. You don’t have to say anything but why start the conversation.

    I am no defender of Christians as such. But weather you like it or not the bible is an historical document, written at various times by various people.

    Wake up, north wind!
    Come, south wind!
    Blow on my garden.
    Then its smell can spread everywhere.
    Let my lover come into his garden.
    Then he can taste its pleasant fruit.
    From song of Songs real words written by real person expressing real thoughts and feeling from there time.

    I have no doubt that you have very good reasons for thinking it’s a pile of crap, and I would not want to dismiss your reasons for feeling that way but that’s just not the same as it being the case. Bye Bye

    • I don’t have to like it or not. The bible is a collection of myths and heresay. It is not considered a historical document by anyone outside of the religions clinging to it.

      And it is crap. It’s as vile as the Koran. Worse. The Koran actually commands to respect women. But just like with Christians, Islam picks and chooses what bits to pay attention to.

    • I guess now I’m going to have to go researching just so I can properly answer your question because all I’ve had up to now is second hand info I’ve heard and debates I’ve watched on Youtube. Someone replied to my inquiry online who sounds like he knows something about the subject.

      Robert Solomon
      How serious are you in looking for real history? The internet is not the best place to look. WIKI isn’t bad, but it’s footnotes are better. Are you looking for deep, serious, scholarly publications, or popular literature? But where to start? Nothing in Genesis is remotely historic until Abraham. But modern scholars think Abraham was an Indo-European, not a Semite, from a neo-Hittite or Hurrian expatriate community in the upper Euphrates, not from the Sumerian city-state, Ur. And not from 2000 BCE, but more likely about 1000 years later. And perhaps the name change (from Abram to Abraham) masks a blurring mix of different people with similar names. Nevertheless, the literature about Abraham, the story types, the allusions, the themes, all point to other common themes in Ugaritic literature and to Hittite themes. There is no evidence for a great slave uprising or emigration of Israelites from Egypt, but there are enough events that shadow Akneton’s monotheism, the Hyksos, etc., to believe that the Exodus adventures are a shadowy reflection of real events. There is likewise no evidence for a conquest of Canaanite cities by an army of Israelites, for a city of David, for a Temple of Solomon.

  4. I think for many people, it is difficult to separate out what we deeply believe from who we are. So, when statements are made that the Bible is a vile book, or faith/God is a virus as I’ve heard some athiests claim, it is difficult for many people of faith not to interpret this as a disrespect and personal attack. Can you understand this? Also, I think there are Christian people who are insecure in their faith, and so naturally feel defensive when their convictions seem to be under attack.

    On top of that, not everyone sees Christianity in the same way. For me, I find my faith to be very freeing. I don’t feel that I am vile and worthless. I don’t see my self as having to perform to win God’s favor. It seems to me that a huge part of the “good news” is that we are unconditionally loved and accepted in Jesus Christ. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.”

    I’m part of a denomination that thinks it’s perfectly ok and more than fine to pursue honest doubts and questioning. Even the term “freethinking” is problematic. It almost suggests that people of faith can’t think, and all want to throw reason/science under the bus. For me, nothing could be further from the truth. Although, I do believe that all truth cannot be determined by human reason alone.

    I’ll tell you the truth. There was a time when I would have had no difficulty with voting an atheist for president of the United States. Not I’m not so sure. Just in viewing many of the blogs on the internet, listening to material from the Freedom from Religious Association, I hear what sounds like bigotry and intolerance toward people of faith, and the church, mockery. What Christians believe is caricatured. (To give one example, how many thinking Christian people actually believe that God literally scooped people out of the mud like a potter to create the human race? Most, that I know anyway, understand that this is an anthropomorphic and poetic way of speaking, communicating truth.

    I have no difficulty with people speaking out against toxic religion, and spiritual abuse. And, I certainly support the separation of church and state. But, it seems to me that more than a few of these folks go much further than this. I suspect that they have a very personal axe to grind.

    Thanks for listening. Hope this helps to answer your question.

    • Graceone,
      It IS possible to have faith and still have an open mind. I pulled it off for over 30 years. It’s also possible for atheists, being human beings, to have the same tendency toward reverse discrimination as our society now seems to be toward white people or men. In the zeal to show equal treatment to women and minorities, the once-favored groups for jobs now complain that their gender or color keeps them from being hired. I think no matter what category of people you’re looking at, you’re going to find some stereotyping and discrimination. Christians tend to look at atheists as “goats” or “lost” or Satan worshippers. And you see just by my writing that sentence I am throwing out a huge generalization that is likely not true for many Christians.

      I don’t think a person’s religion or faith should have anything to do with their fitness to run this country. This is a secular nation–our forfathers took great pains to create separation of church and state. So why is religion emphasized at all during the running-for-election process? An atheist, a Wiccan, a Muslim, a Jew…a Scientologist…all these people should have an equal chance to be President if they are knowledgeable enough, and have a good clear vision of a positive direction to take the country–AND they have the ability of communicating that vision to others.

      I think atheists tend to be strident and often rub Christians the wrong way because we are the minority–just 10% of us in this country, and feel overwhelmed and outnumbered. I know when i was a Christian i liked to view the world that Christians were the persecuted ones…the minority…in the world but not OF it. The truth is Christians are of the majority and it is the non-believer who is persecuted and viewed as an abomination going to hell. Even Our lovely Pres. Bush SR declared he didn’t think atheists should be considered US Citizens because we are not patriotic. Implying we must believe in a supernatural being in order to love and want to defend our country.

      I don’t think we are unconditionally loved at all, by the way. There’s a huge condition placed on us. We must love god or fry in hell. In my view this isn’t love. It’s emotional black mail. But I digress. And I do agree with you that Christianity the religion has very little to do with the bible. Most Christians are fond of saying “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship,” and I think they do this because they realize the majority of the bible does not reflect what they feel or believe. And that’s good. I was like that too as a Christian. I very rarely went to church, and I was selective about what parts of the bible I felt represented MY god and what did not.

      The day I couldn’t believe anymore that the only proof of the god I believed in was a book I could not believe–that’s the day I started the path to non-belief. It is not a journey that people seek out or can be guided to. It’s a journey that either happens or doesn’t happen. But when it does happen, it really does feel like a rebirth more than anything I’ve experienced, including my conversion to Christianity.

      And this is why I find it offensive when I tell Christians I’m a former Christian and now I”m an atheist and they treat this like a trivial thing and I can just read this verse or that verse and I will find my way back. They don’t understand or appreciate how agonizing the process is that takes a believer to unbelief. Also I find that I am not able to express my natural enthusiasm or happiness to find what I believe is the truth for myself–because when I do it’s always seen for some reason as an attack or threat to Religion or Christianity. My feeling is the truth will prevail. If Christianity is true it should be able to take rigorous questioning and scrutiny-and science. It should not fear but welcome science as further proof of its unshakable truth. But it doesn’t.

      When I was a Christian I too feared to communicate with people who disagreed or read or hear anything that disagreed. I too didn’t feel girded enough in the word to defend it.

      I think the best part about being an atheist…I have so much supporting what I think–I’ve never had this kind of confidence before. 🙂

      Anyway, I loved your reply and appreciated it very much. Thank you! 🙂

      • sorry its me again, thought i had stopped but it is interesting. You say on the last post ‘. If Christianity is true it should be able to take rigorous questioning and scrutiny-and science. It should not fear but welcome science as further proof of its
        unshakable truth.’ i agree about the rigorous questioning, and the scrutiny the science bit i agree with if your arguaing against the type of christain who for instance beleives the world is only a few thousand years old, or that evolution and natural selection are mistaken theorys, this is to me obvious madness, but many christains at least here in the uk are not of this type. many christians i know find no problem with science , at least not from a religious point of view. i feel that any reasonable athist should be working with this type of christain not against them.
        its fudamentalism from what ever view point that is the danger.

      • ModernRel, well then. When I was a Christian I was of the UK variety. I was an amateur Paleontologist as well as a Christian. I considered digging up fossils not an effort to disprove god at all, but rather as a way to further marvel at his works. Then I went to the Westgate Chapel–really big church down the street from where I used to live. The pastor had taken his kid to “Dino Days,” something the museum we work with “The Burke” puts on every year for kids. The pastor poo-pooed us (I volunteered that year as one of the guides), as arrogantly thinking we were right and said that paleontology was the work of the devil.

        This really pissed me off and was one of the first real douses of ice water on my head that woke me up to the fact this religion can’t take the heat when it comes to threat by science (or at least Christians in America can’t–probably because they’ve protected themselves for so long against people protesting or challenging their absurd statements). Anyway, I went up to this pastor after the service and I told him I work at Dino Days and I dig for fossils and he said I shouldn’t do anything that doesn’t glorify god. I said I believed this does glorify god. He disagreed. I walked away listing in my head all the things I do (like go to the bathroom) that do not glorify god. I felt rather disgusted that my whole life needs to be about glorifying god. I didn’t like the taste of that in my mouth and really…at that point I started seriously questioning what I never had thought to question before.

  5. I think you have it right. The core issue with Christianity is that Jesus’ followers think that they have the answers. Atheists are threatening because they have questions for which the Jesus people don’t have answers. And when what you believe is that you have the right answers, that’s downright terrifying.

    I’m a Christian, and I’m living (sometimes uncomfortably) on the fringes. I still believe in God, because of this deep-seated inclination that there’s more in existence than what I can see, but I also see all the points that you’re making. And you’re right: it’s hard asking questions around other Jesus people, because they feel threatened and then say “You just have to take it by faith.” …To which I reply, “No, that’s just stupid.” But I still believe. I keep inventing a thousand and one reasons to believe.

    • Dave, you sound like me. The hardest part was the day the realization dawned there is no god. It was terrifying. I felt like I was betraying everything I had been raised to just accept. Saying it out loud was even harder. And then you get to feeling like you can’t say it enough…you want to shout it…and the relief that awareness brings is like a huge weight falling from your shoulders.

      I don’t know if I’m a true atheist. I think I will always be an agnostic atheist. We can’t know for sure until we die what the truth is. But if there is an afterlife of any kind, I don’t believe it has a god ruling over it. I think the whole notion of there needing to be a male king running the kingdom is very much a creation of limited minds from the bronze age. 🙂

      • when you realized there was no god , what was the god that you stopped beliving in like?

      • The god I believed in was the Christian god of the New Testament. I did not really pay much attention to the Old Testament since that was more to do with the Jewish faith and the New Testament the Christian faith. I imagined God was all knowing, all powerful, and loved everyone. I also believed in the trinity and that Jesus was god sent to the earth.

      • am really not being difficult, but ‘the christian god of the new testiment’ could mean different things to different people , i am trying to get to how YOU imagined, at the time this god to be. how would you have describe it to be to a non believer?

      • It’s hard to now describe an imaginary being. I believe I did though…didn’t I? The warm and fuzzy god of the NT is the god I thought existed…not the vile monster we see in the OT.

  6. i know its difficult to describe its just that it seems inportant to know the god we are rejecting. i have met some very religious people who have inpressed me with there sense of god. it impresses me because it did not seem in conflict with rationality or science. i did not get te impression these people were ‘imagining ‘ any sort of being
    it seemed more like a place they were at, if that makes any sense. anyway its led me to feel that there is still room for god but not in the way its mainly used.

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