On Reading Atheist Blogs

This will be somewhat of a rambling post.

I was reading a blog post by Rebecca Hamilton recently, Why Don’t Christian Bashers Ever Get Tired of Themselves?, in which she criticizes atheist blogs.  I like Rebecca because (well) she reads and likes a number of my posts, but also because she is a Democrat who takes progressive stances, yet also is pro-life.  Here is a sample from the post:

Why don’t Christian bashers ever get tired of themselves?  I don’t read atheist blogs. But I am aware that at least some of them appear to have no purpose except Christian bashing.  Based on the topics I see posted, it appears that all they do, day after day, post after post, is churn out one attack on Christ, Christianity and Christians after another. I don’t claim or want to be an expert on atheist blogs, but from what I see of these, they are negative to the point of implosion…When you get past the constant attacking and tearing down and destroying of Christianity and Christian social structures and morality, all you have is … nothing. You cannot sustain a society or a person on nihilism and negativity. It’s like trying to stay healthy by eating styrofoam.”

I’ve read enough atheist blogs over the years to know how a number of atheists would respond to that.  They’d say that they have to speak against Christianity because it is so prominent in American culture, and that its influence has been deleterious to human well-being.  They would also say that their lives are not a mess of nihilism and negativity, for they have found ways to be inspired and to live a meaningful, moral life: they just don’t feel that they have to believe in God to have those things.

I used to read atheist blogs more than I do now.  When I was more of an evangelical, I read them for a variety of reasons: because I wanted to know what sorts of people I’d be witnessing to, because I wanted to prove to myself that I could believe in God even after reading challenges to my faith, and because I enjoyed reading people’s stories.  Later on, when I was more hostile to organized religion, I read atheist blogs because I could identify with what they were saying, even though I myself never made the leap into atheism.  Organized religion, in my opinion, has quite a few people who bully others with their interpretations of the Bible.  I tended to get a sense of satisfaction when I read atheists respond to that bullying with “Oh yeah?  Says who?  How do we know that your Bible is true?  How do we know that your God is even real, for that matter?”

I still read atheist blogs sometimes, for that reason: I like reading the stories of people who have had bad experiences with organized religion, for they resonate with me.  But, nowadays, I tend to gravitate towards the blogs of religious people who have problems with organized religion, yet are still pursuing some spiritual path.  It’s not because I agree with them more than I do with the atheists.  Actually, when liberal or moderate Christians seek to preserve their faith amidst the challenges to it, their attempts strike me as rather contorted, to be honest.  I can somewhat understand why atheists respond to the challenges to the Christian faith by simply repudiating Christianity altogether!  Maybe the Bible reflects the negative elements of its historical contexts and has contradictions within it because it was written and put together by human beings, rather than being some way that God is trying to speak to us!  I’m not saying that I’ve taken that step in my own belief-system.  I’m just saying that atheism appears to me to be the most reasonable response to the problems in the Bible and in Christianity, at least when I look at how a number of Christians (conservative and liberal) have addressed those problems.

But I don’t go the atheist route for the reason that I believe that there very well could be a supernatural.  People tell stories about it.  I know that many atheists express problems with anecdotal evidence.  Fine.  I’m not really trying to persuade them to believe the same way that I do, to tell you the truth.  But, in my eyes, one way that we learn about real life is by listening to people’s experiences.  People tell about their experiences with the supernatural, so I don’t rule the supernatural out.

I’ll also add that I, like Rebecca, see value in not being negative on a continual basis.  I need something positive in my life.  I can only read so much bashing of Christianity, or Republicans, or Democrats.  There is a place for criticism.  There are injustices in the world that should be criticized.  Atheist bloggers have a point in saying that there are problems that religion itself has perpetrated that should be criticized.  But criticizing day-in and day-out?  I don’t want to do that.  But I can’t tell others what to do.

Anyway, I’ve probably managed to offend more than one person in this post, while trying not to offend anybody!  That often happens!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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