A friend sent me a link to a Denver Post article about atheism this morning. I was glad to see the article for two reasons. First, just to have atheists given space in the local news and second, because I happen to agree with what the author wrote. Here’s an excerpt:
I don’t believe in the supernatural. This includes God (or gods). In the literal sense of the word, that makes me an a-theist (as well as an a-leprechaunist, a-goblinist, and so on).
Being an unbeliever in a predominantly Christian country can be a bit daunting at times, and I certainly understand the desire of my fellow unbelievers to speak out against hate, injustice, cruelty and prejudice, particularly when wrapped in a cocoon of religious rhetoric and passed off as love.
But the way some atheists go about it just makes me shake my head in wonder.
The author goes on to talk about the recent flap in Olympia, Washington, where the Freedom From Religion Foundation, headed by Dan Barker, put up a sign in the holiday display. Here’s their cheerful holiday message:
At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.
With the author of the Denver Post article, I have to ask “What the heck was Dan Barker thinking?” It’s not that I disagree with the sign, per se, but that I think it was entirely out of place for a holiday display. It was rude and grouchy and showed a complete lack of taste. And although religion can and does sometimesÂ harden hearts and enslave minds, that is not always the case.
I’ve read Dan Barker’s book,Â Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists. I could relate to a lot of his story, the insider’s look at Evangelical churches in America. But I was dismayed to see how Dan pretty much went directly from being a fundamentalist preacher to being an atheist preacher. Â He changed his mind about the existence of God and the teachings of religion, but other than that, he didn’t change much at all.
With this latest Christmas fiasco, it seems to me that Dan is still a fundamentalist. Let me explain before you say “there’s no such thing as a fundamentalist atheist.” Dan seems to still suffer from an inability to escape black and white thinking.Â From where I sit, it doesn’t look like he learned very much from leaving his faith behind. He simply changed sides. He still seems to be stuck in an “us versus them” mentality. It’s not just belief in specific doctrines that makes someone a fundamentalist, it’s also this habit of wearing blinders, of having a view that is limited and monochrome, and of always thinking the whole world is against you.Â
Granted, I’m only speaking from what I’ve read. I’ve never met the man. But because I always say that reasonable Christians should speak out against fools like James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Â Rick Warren, I have to speak out against Dan Barker. He does not represent me as an atheist. I don’t want people to think he is a good example of a normal atheist. I am glad that someone else called him out in the media.