A while back I did a little research for a class I was teaching. I became hopelessly sidetracked by a series of stories I found on atheists and their political and social activities. A good portion of my afternoon was spent on spur-of-the-moment research on the recent endeavors of atheists. Here are just a few of the headlines I uncovered:
Atheists Demand Cross Found in Rubble be Removed from 9/11 Museum
Atheists Say Nobody Needs Christ in Christmas
Atheists Demand Monument to War Heroes be Removed
Atheists Unveil Monument to Atheists Near the Ten Commandments
Atheists Demand Right to Give Invocations at Government Meetings
Atheists Demand Governor Scott Walker Remove Scripture Tweet
Atheists Demand City Remove Cross in Tennessee
It was fascinating stuff. Although I am not a supporter or an advocate of their cause, I must confess a reluctant respect for their commitment and devotion to their beliefs. According to the Pew Research Council, 1.6 % of Americans identify themselves as atheist. Their tiny numbers have not stopped them from producing a sea change of educational and societal transformation in recent years.
A few things struck me as I shifted through the plethora of information I uncovered. Nearly every headline I came across contained the phrase “atheists demand.” I found this odd. I finally concluded that the typical atheist must be so convinced by what they see as the righteousness of their cause that they feel it acceptable to demand others give in to their minority views.
The number of stories detailing their undertakings astounded me. There were hundreds of articles describing similar demands by atheist groups in different locations. This led me to wonder about how atheists spend their time. They certainly seem to have more of it than most people. I wondered if they had families, other hobbies, or if maybe there might be rampant unemployment in atheist circles.
Last but not least, I couldn’t help but notice that these people get awfully worked up over an issue they believe to be a fairytale.
The question is: why?
I do not believe in Snow White, Superman, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. And it does not bother me that some do. I do not feel the need to enact legislation limiting a parent’s right to spread those legends or fight for freedom from belief in such things.
I pondered all this for quite some time and finally concluded that atheists are actually the most religious people I know. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a zealot as:
A person who has very strong feelings about something (such as religion or politics) and who wants other people to have those feelings: a zealous person.
The Oxford dictionary put a slightly different but noteworthy twist on that definition:
Webster’s defines religion as:
An interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group.
It’s not an overstatement to say that most atheists are fanatical in their opinions. Atheists are, by their own admission, intent on converting every person on Earth to their beliefs. They go to great effort and expense to proselytize the unbelieving. They are passionately dedicated to the pursuit of their vision of a godless world. Sounds an awful lot like a religious zealot to me.
Again, the question is: why?
It’s really very simple. Atheists are invested in their belief system for the same reasons Christians are invested in theirs. It’s a faith thing. Atheism is all about faith; it’s just that their faith is in nothing rather than in something or someone. Atheists have more riding on their faith than the average Christian does.
If Christians are wrong about their convictions, then Christians have lost very little at the end of their lives. They might miss out on an opportunity or two to indulge their baser nature but little else. If atheists are wrong and Christians are right about God, life, and life after death, then things will not go well for the atheist in the hereafter.
Until recently, I found atheists to be maddening. I was offended by their dogged insistence that everyone believe as they do. It irritated me to no end that a tiny minority of the population was working so hard to control the type of information everyone else can access. I was appalled by their endless demands and their apparent disdain of fun, revealed by their loathing to all things connected to Christmas.
I have had a change of heart. I no longer see atheists not as irritations, but rather as role models for the type of dedication I would like to have to my own faith. I have come to realize that if I can somehow channel their enthusiasm while maintaining an attitude of love and spirit of graciousness, I too might just make the kind of cultural impact that atheists have made.
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised~ 1st Corinthians 2:14 NASB