atheists exist

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Daniel Fincke explains how the film God's Not Dead actually denies the existence of atheists:

In the movie God's Not Dead the evangelical Christian filmmakers used atheist characters like puppets who would act out evangelical Christian stereotypes about atheists. Evangelical Christians frequently assume, unsympathetically, that were they atheists they would see no reason to be moral. So they have the atheist characters act unapologetically immorally over and over again. Evangelical Christians assume atheists would be more selfish and materialistic, so that's how the atheists in the movie act. They like to characterize atheists as basically rebellious children ignoring their loving Father who they deep down know exists but that were they to get in serious trouble they'd come running back home.

Part of the problem Fincke identifies is that "The filmmakers 'know' that atheism is not really a sincere conclusion of the head but an excuse for something going on in the heart:"

Not even someone who has a PhD and a professorship in philosophy is actually motivated intellectually to disbelieve in God. In fact, even this person whose job involves being an expert in arguments related to metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophy of religion, etc. is only lying when he says he disbelieves in God at all! Because the Christian filmmakers "know" that atheists all know there is a God and are in denial, it turns out that Professor Radisson is lying to himself when saying he's an atheist and in fact he does believe in God and is simply angry at God for his mother's death from cancer when he was 12.

Fincke makes a personal effort to "help evangelical Christians understand what's so wrong with Christians refusing to acknowledge the actual existence of atheism:"

We former Christians have to deal with the equivalent kind of treatment all the time. We say "I don't believe in God anymore" and are told by Christians what is supposedly really the case about our own minds. We are told by other people than ourselves that we "hate God" or are "angry at God" or are "turning our backs on God". We are told this by total strangers who simply assume that they know all about atheists better than atheists do. [...]

Rather than remembering the facts about our spiritual commitments and listening to us and painstakingly trying to understand our perspective, these friends and family members are so palpably threatened by the prospect of entertaining our actual point of view that they would rather assume that we are liars in our claims to having been intellectually dissuaded and that we are immoral people who simply want to sin.

He makes a number of forceful suggestions, borne of frustration:

Some of us genuinely do not believe in God. Accept this fact. You do not need to share our disbelief to simply acknowledge its existence.

Some of us conclude there is no God and reject distinctive conservative Christian values as matters of our own sincere moral and intellectual consciences. Accept this fact. Talk to us in such a way that treats it as a bedrock premise about what is going on in our minds.

That doesn't mean you need to agree with our consciences. But it does mean you have to stop smugly acting like we are inherently more frivolous intellectually and reckless morally than you are. You reek of bigoted contempt for us when you act as though we don't come to our beliefs or values conscientiously and talk like it's some kind of obvious fact that our opinions come out of selfishness, thoughtlessness, childish rebelliousness, or moral laziness.

Atheists exist. They're not just rebellious, sinful, hateful, selfish, amoral god-haters in denial about how they really believe in Christianity.

If you don't respect this basic fact and let your acknowledgment of our existence and our moral equality filter naturally into the things you say to us, don't be surprised when you alienate us, make us angry, or even lose us from your lives.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on April 1, 2015 9:01 AM.

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