15 Things Christians are Tired of Hearing from Ex-Mormon Atheists (Part Two)

Posted: March 29, 2020 in Atheism, Ex-Mormons, Fred Anson, Mormon Studies, Recovery from Mormonism

compiled by Fred W. Anson
A few years ago, the good folks at the Zelph on the Shelf did a fantastic article entitled, “15 Things Ex-Mormons are Tired of Hearing” which was a superb compilation of the bad arguments that Ex-Mormons typically hear from True Believing Mormons (aka “TBMs”). As the author noted in her introduction, these are things that not only don’t facilitate constructive debate, they distract from it.

I loved the article. So did my friends. We ate it up!

Now my friends, like me, are mainly mainstream Christians and most are Ex-Mormons as well. And they suggested that we put together a list of the top 15 things that Christians are tired of hearing from ex-Mormon atheists/agnostics. So I slapped together a crowdsourced poll, posted it on the Internet, and the results will be discussed and considered over this short series of articles.

By the way, if you missed Part One of this series and would like to read it in order, from the beginning, click here.

10)“It’s religious fanatics like you that fly airplanes into skyscrapers!”
Yes, it is true that some religious fanatics do commit violence, there is no denying this. However, what this argument fails to account for is that so do some atheist fanatics. There are bad apples in every bunch. But does that make all the apples bad? Isn’t this, in reality, nothing more than a cherry-picked, broad-brush, guilty by association faulty that either side can use? As Christian Professor and Apologist Alistair McGrath and his wife Joanna noted well of famous Atheist, Richard Dawkins’ use of this argument in his book, “The God Delusion”:

Dawkins treats this as the defining characteristic of religion, airbrushing out of his somewhat skimpy account of violence any suggestion that it might be the result of political fanaticism – or even atheism. He is adamant that he himself, as a good atheist, would never, ever fly airplanes into sky-scrapers, or commit any other outrageous act of violence or oppression. Good for him. Neither would I. Yet there are those in both our constituencies who would. Dawkins and I may both disavow violence, and urge all within our groups to do so. But the harsh reality is that religious and anti-religious violence has occurred and will continue to do so.
(Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, “The Dawkins Delusion?, Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine”, pp.59-60

Later in the same book the McGraths expand this out further:

As someone who grew up in Northern Ireland, I know about religious violence only too well. There is no doubt that religion can generate violence. But it’s not alone in this. The history of the twentieth century has given us a frightening awareness of how political extremism can equally cause violence. In Latin America, millions of people seem to have ‘disappeared’ as a result of ruthless campaigns of violence by right-wing politicians and their militias. In Cambodia, Pol Pot eliminated his millions in the name of socialism.

The rise of the Soviet Union was of particular significance. Lenin regarded the elimination of religion as central to the socialist revolution, and put in place measures designed to eradicate religious beliefs through the ‘protracted use of violence’. One of the greatest tragedies of this dark era in human history was that those who sought to eliminate religious belief through violence and oppression believed they were justified in doing so. They were accountable to no higher authority than the state.

In one of his more bizarre creedal statements as an atheist, Dawkins insists that there is ‘not the smallest evidence’ that atheism systematically influences people to do bad things. It’s an astonishing, naïve and somewhat sad statement. Dawkins is clearly an ivory-tower atheist, disconnected from the real and brutal world of the twentieth century. The facts are otherwise. In their efforts to enforce their atheist idealogy, the Soviet authorities systematically destroyed and eliminated the majority of churches and priests during the period 1918–41. The statistics make for dreadful reading. This violence and repression was undertaken in pursuit of an atheist agenda – the elimination of religion.

This hardly fits in with another of Dawkins’ creedal statements: ‘ I do not believe there is an atheist in the world who would bulldoze Mecca – or Chartres, York Minster, or Notre Dame.’ Sadly, this noble sentiment is a statement about his personal credulity, not the reality of things. The history of the Soviet Union is replete with the burning and dynamiting of huge numbers of churches. His pleading that atheism is innocent of the violence and oppression that he associates with religion is simply untenable, and suggests a significant blind spot.
(Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, “The Dawkins Delusion?, Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine”, pp.78-79

And I think that what can be said of Dawkins’s use of this argument can be said of its use by atheists in general. As the saying goes, “There’s reality, and then there’s your reality. Apparently, never the twain shall meet!”

Click on the click above to watch Rod Liddle’s 2006 documentary in which he investigates and debates whether atheists can be considered as intolerant and fanatical as some established religious groups.

9) “If you consistently applied your standards you would be just as critical of Christianity as you are Mormonism.”
I absolutely agree – and thankfully I’m not alone. This is probably why you see so much loyal dissent, debate, and disagreement within Christianity. If you doubt me I would encourage you to pick up just about any issue of Christianity Today magazine and start reading. If there’s anything that Christians have demonstrated well over the millennia is what a bunch of cranky, cantankerous, contentious, navel-gazing, critical thinkers and self-critics they are. One need only consider William D. Hendricks’ book “Exit Interviews: Revealing Stories of Why People are Leaving the Church” or Ron Enroth’s book, “Churches That Abuse” to see this.

Candidly, whenever I hear this argument from Ex-Mormon Atheists I can’t help but wonder if they’re projecting Mormonism onto Christianity. After all, in Mormonism, critical thinking in regard to the religion isn’t just discouraged, it’s militantly suppressed. As the Ostler’s said so well in their classic work, “Mormon America”:

The thin-skinned and image-conscious Mormon can display immature, isolationist, and defensive reactions to outsiders, perhaps because there is no substantive debate and no “loyal opposition” within their kingdom. With some, it almost seems that the wilderness is still untamed, the federal “polyg” police are on the prowl, and the Illinois lynch mob is still oiling muskets and preparing to raid Carthage Jail. All too often Saints use the label “anti-Mormon” as a tactic to forestall serious discussion.
(Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, “Mormon America: The Power and the Promise” (2007 Edition), p. 115)

So, I suspect, though I could be wrong, that whenever an Ex-Mormon Atheist sees a mainstream Christian playing the persecution card, as candidly some do, they assume that the entire religion is Mormonism all over again – and it ain’t.

8) “Live and let live – stop harassing my Mormon family and friends will ya? Stop trying to disabuse them of their chosen lifestyle! Move on with your life, get over it!”
Fair enough.
You first!

Of all the Double Standards that we’ll see in this series this one, to me, is the most glaring. I’ve always found it fascinating that Atheist Ex-Mormons get their knickers in a twist over others – especially Evangelicals – attempting to disabuse their Mormon family and friends of their faith, but think nothing of attempting to do the same themselves.

So, Kettle, meet Pot.

Further, I’m grateful for the Atheists who understand why Christians are only being consistent with their worldview and values when they evangelize. Take, for example, the famous magician and outspoken Atheist, Penn Jilette (of Penn & Teller) who probably said it best when he said:

I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a heaven and a hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life, and you think that it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward—and atheists who think people shouldn’t proselytize and who say just leave me along and keep your religion to yourself—how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?

I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.
(Penn Jilette, YouTube video, Nov 13, 2009)

My Ex-Mormon Atheist friends, we don’t begrudge you all for behaving in ways consistent with your worldview. Heck, we don’t even begrudge you all attempting to proselytize and persuade us of the superiority of the atheist worldview and/or disabuse us of what you see as our false beliefs, values, and misguided point of view. And we don’t criticize and condemn you for doing so with our Mormon family members and friends. So why do you begrudge, criticize, and condemn us for behaving in ways consistent with ours?

7) “Moses was a cult leader, Jesus was a cult leader, Mohammed was a cult leader, and Joseph Smith was a cult leader – so what’s the difference? A cult is a cult.”
If you’re using the dictionary definition of, “great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (such as a film or book)” (the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary definition of “cult”)? Sure, I agree. However, if we use that definition shouldn’t we add names like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Bill Maher to the list too? After all, we see the same kind of dogmatic devotion to them in some Atheist circles that we see from Muslims, Christians, and Mormons in theirs, don’t we?

And if you’re using the sociological definition as determined by something like, say, the BITE Model, then yes, some Christian groups are indeed cults, but not all. For example, one can think of Westboro Baptist Church which clearly qualifies as such according to that criteria.

However, if you’re using the theological definition of, “Christian cults are new religious movements which have a Christian background but are considered to be theologically deviant by members of other Christian churches”? (see the Wikipedia article on the word “Cult“) No, I don’t agree. Unlike Mormonism, mainstream Christianity has boundaries, and if a group or a leader falls outside of those boundaries, as far as we’re concerned they’re a cult. Period. For example, we consider Shawn McCraney and his McCraneyism movement to be just as much a cult as the Mormon Church is according to this criterion.

So tell us, Mr. Ex-Mormon Atheist, exactly why are standard boundary definition and maintenance problems here? After all, if someone claims to believe in a deity then they’re no longer an Atheist, are they? And if someone denounces Joseph Smith as a true prophet, then they’re no longer Mormon, are they? Why are others allowed to maintain boundaries around their group or culture, but mainstream Christians aren’t? I find this puzzling.

Click the link above to see Whiteboard Animation explaining the BITE Model.

6) “No one listens to Mormon Critics! When I was a Mormon I hated and ignored people like you!”
And yet here you are! Are you seriously going to tell me that the work of Mormon Critics had no influence on your decision to leave? Would you prefer that the Tanners hadn’t have put pressure so much pressure on the LdS Church that it had no choice but to acknowledge and release previously suppressed manuscripts like the 1832 handwritten Joseph Smith, First Vision account? Would you prefer that Wesley Walters (a Presbyterian minister) hadn’t tracked down and published the Joseph Smith 1826 Bainbridge, New York Trial Record? Or that he hadn’t encouraged well known Mormon Historians like Michael Marquardt, Dan Vogel, Will Bagley, and others and helped get them established in the discipline? Or perhaps you would prefer that Christian Mormon Critics hadn’t pressured the LdS Church to give up polygamy in the 19th Century, or racial discrimination in the 20th?

Would you prefer that the Joseph Smith Papers Project – which was to a large part a reaction to the common refrain that the LdS Church wasn’t open and transparent with its archives – didn’t exist? Or perhaps the Mormon Think website, which would be impossible without the body of evidence from Mormon Critics that makes it possible? And can you honestly say that if you hadn’t been confronted by all this evidence and the arguments that flow out of it from the Mormon Critics that you used to hate you wouldn’t be free of Mormonism now?  Apparently, you didn’t do as good a job of ignoring as you seem to think you did, did you? And can you honestly say that you aren’t glad that Christian Mormon Critics like me persisted despite your “in yer face” hatred and attempts to ignore us back in the day?

So Mr. Atheist . . . you’re welcome. It was our pleasure. Really! We’re just glad to see that you’re out, aren’t you?

In the next installment of this series, we will cover the next set of things that Christians are tired of hearing from Ex-Mormon Atheists.

Click on the above link to see Mormon Apologist Mike Ash’s 2002 FAIRMormon presentation on how and why the body of work from Mormon Critics has improved the quality of Mormon Scholarship over the years.

Again, if you missed the prior article in this series and would like to read it in order, from the beginning, click here for Part One.

Comments
  1. “However, what this argument fails to account for is that so do some atheist fanatics. ”

    who are these atheists? When has this happened?

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    • I’m not understanding what was unclear about the supporting evidence that was presented immediately after this assertion – up to and including the Rod Liddle, Real Story 2006 documentary in which he validated and confirmed this thesis in detail.

      The answer to your question is right in the article, isn’t it?

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      • You wrote this “Yes, it is true that some religious fanatics do commit violence, there is no denying this. However, what this argument fails to account for is that so do some atheist fanatics. There are bad apples in every bunch. But does that make all the apples bad? Isn’t this, in reality, nothing more than a cherry-picked, broad-brush, guilty by association faulty that either side can use? As Christian Professor and Apologist Alistair McGrath and his wife Joanna noted well of famous Atheist, Richard Dawkins’ use of this argument in his book, “The God Delusion”:”

        I asked my questions: “who are these atheists? When has this happened?

        and no, the answer to my question is not in the article at all nor in the documentary. But you may cut and paste what you think is the answer.

        What you have presented is that some megalomaniacs who may or may not be atheists are responsible for doing certain things. Please do show how the lack of belief in a god caused these events.

        If you have nothing more than “some of you are as bad as some of us”, exactly what difference does your god make?

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      • @clubschadenfreude wrote, “What you have presented is that some megalomaniacs who may or may not be atheists are responsible for doing certain things.”

        Yes, and the Atheist argument is that some megalomaniacs who are theists are responsible for doing certain things, isn’t it? So what’s your point? Hasn’t the same standard simply been applied equally to both sides here and nothing more?

        And as for the “may or may not be atheists”, no sir, they WERE atheists, there is no “may”, they were. Period. How was your argument not a “No True Scotsman” fallacy, sir?

        You wrote, “Please do show how the lack of belief in a god caused these events.”

        So you’re telling us that the persecution of theists for their belief in a god, by those who not only so didn’t believe in a god but militantly didn’t believe in a god – to the point that they persecuted those who did – DIDN’T cause those events? Exactly how is there NOT a direct and clear correlation with atheism, sir?

        And if the lack of a belief in god wasn’t a causal factor here then why are these alleged, “megalomaniacs who may or may not be atheists” expressly and explicitly targeting theists, sir? How is atheism not the direct causation and/or primary motivation for their behavior? Sir, how do we not have both correlation and causation here?

        You wrote, “If you have nothing more than “some of you are as bad as some of us”, exactly what difference does your god make?”

        I would pose the same question to you, sir, implicit in the thesis of the atheist argument is that the lack of a belief in a god makes atheists morally superior people to theists because they don’t do these things. However, the evidence doesn’t support that claim, does it?

        No, atheists haven’t fly airplanes into buildings yet. However, there’s nothing to suggest, based on the historical evidence, that they can’t or won’t. Rather, and apparently, they prefer to use their political power and influence to bulldoze, blow them up, shutter, or vandalize theist property and take theist lives instead, don’t they? In fact, one needs to go no further than recent events in China to see this playing out before our very eyes, does one? Here you go, sir, from a secular, non-partisan source:

        “The government this year banned online sales of the Bible, burned crosses, demolished churches and forced at least a half-dozen places of worship to close. The campaign comes as Mr. Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, has worked to more aggressively control religion across China, including the detention of thousands of Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang.”
        (Javier C. Hernández, “As China Cracks Down on Churches, Christians Declare ‘We Will Not Forfeit Our Faith’”, The NY Times, Dec 25, 2018; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/25/world/asia/china-christmas-church-crackdown.html)

        I am sorry that you don’t like the body of evidence that discredits this bad atheist argument that, “It’s religious fanatics like you that fly airplanes into skyscrapers!” but the fact remains that when the same standard is applied to atheism that is applied to theism in forming this argument, atheism fares no bear, does it?

        It is, in fact, a hypocritical, beam-in-eye argument that ignores both historical and present reality, isn’t it, sir?

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      • “Yes, and the Atheist argument is that some megalomaniacs who are theists are responsible for doing certain things, isn’t it? “

        Nope. I can point to the chapter and verse in your supposed holy book that says that the theist should do horrible things and thus the leaders who did those things are Christians *and* perhaps megalomaniacs. Atheism is nothing more than the conclusion that there are no gods, no worldview, no actions required of it.

        No, Fred, the megalomaniacs you cited weren’t necessarily atheists. They may have been they may have not. Most seem to be and that seems ot be part of their megalomania, since what megalomaniac wants a god over them. Since most atheists aren’t megalomaniacs, that fear of a god over us doesn’t work since we don’t believe it exists. So many theists want to claim that atheists “really do” believe in their god but don’t want it as a supervisor and thus are just ‘rebels’. Nope, that’s wrong too.
        Again, how does a lack of belief in some god cause people to want to commit genocide? Megalomania makes one want to be the sole leader, so that causes persecution of those who have some other leader, supernatural or not. That’s why atheists are persecuted because megalomaniacs don’t like people who think for themselves. As expected, you have not shown any correlation *or* causation at all, Fred. Using caps doesn’t make your baseless claims any more true. And, if it matters, I’m not a “sir”, I’m a madam.

        Your ignorance of history is again in view. Megalomaniacs don’t only persecute theists. That’s a lie that theists tell themselves to support their need to feel like martyrs. You fail again.

        Unsurprisingly, you try to create yet one more strawman to attack. No, atheists do not claim that the conclusion that gods don’t exist makes one innately morally superior. Since you are an atheist too, to every god you are sure that doesn’t exist except your own, there is nothing about your atheism that makes you morally superior. I, as an atheist, do think that having no religion to lie and claim is objective morality does make one a potentially better person since Voltaire was quite right in his observation: ”Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

        Yep, atheists haven’t flown airplanes into buildings because of their not believing in a god or gods. No evidence that they will in the future either. And no atheists don’t blow up theist property or shutter them or vandalize them. That’s what theists do to each other and again what megalomaniacs do. Again, China is ruled by megalomaniacs who don’t want a challenger, so they attack *some* Christians, Muslims, etc. Reality isn’t helping you, Fred, with your false claims. It’s always curious too that your god is so impotent when it comes to earthly powers. I do love that you cited the NYT though. Yep, what it says is true, as opposed to the lies that conservative Christians speak that claim it publishes false stories. “Many in the party believe Christianity, which by some estimates is China’s fastest-growing religion, promotes Western values and ideals like human rights that conflict with the aims of China’s authoritarian government and Mr. Xi’s embrace of traditional Chinese culture and Confucian teachings that emphasize obedience and order.” – just like how other religions act when a new religion comes in.
        That there is no “Body of evidence” that shows that religious fanatics don’t do horrible things, your ‘sorrow’ is just another baseless claim. And there is no ‘fact’ that atheism is anything like the hate and bigotry that religions and their holy books espouse. So, no, Fred, there is no fact that the same standard can be applied to atheism and it is true that atheism fares much better than theism.

        Nope, it isn’t a hypocritical argument at all, my dear Fred, when your bible and your god say that genocide is fine, slavery is fine, killing children for the actions of others is fine, murdering all non-christians is fine, etc.

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      • Excellent goalpost move! So now we’re moving past modern case studies into Bronze Age culture in which violence was the norm, not the exception. Respectfully, Mr. clubschadenfreude, we’re not in the Bronze Age anymore, but thank you.

        And excellent Doubling Down on your No True Scotsman fallacy. So, we’re to believe that Atheists in governments that mandate and teach atheism aren’t atheists?

        Are we really to believe this?
        Seriously?

        Respectfully, you’ll have to forgive my skepticism.

        And when they explicitly and specifically target theists, their property, and their teachings for their theism, they’re not being motivated or driven by their Atheism? Again, seriously?

        And how does the fact that they’re alleged “megalomaniacs” somehow negate the fact that they are also Atheists?

        While I appreciate the work that you put into your Gish Gallop, clubschadenfreude, your arguments are self-discrediting. They simply don’t make any sense logically or rationally.

        However, the Confirmation Bias and Cherry Picking are rather obvious in them, as demonstrated above.

        Again, thank you for your time and effort. It’s noted and appreciated.

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      • LOL. Oh my, such a classic false claim by a Christian. No, dear, I moved no goalposts. But nice try.

        Your god was invented in the Bronze/Iron Age. Your god reflects those ideals, of the tyrant, needing wars, needing genocide, needing slavery, and having no concern for children. Your god is written to support and approve all of these things. Yep, we aren’t in the Bronze Age anymore despite the need for Christians to follow the ignorance and laws of people who were.

        Again, where are these non-megalomaniac atheists in these mysterious governments that supposedly mandate and teach atheism, Fred? It’s always fun to see a Christian accuse me of fallacies when he makes up strawmen to attack. You still try to claim that all atheists are trying to control Christians and that is not the case. You’ve failed again. Since you have yet to show any evidence for your lies, Fred, and I’ve shown facts, yep, you should believe that you are wrong, Fred. Your personal need to disbelieve things that you don’t like doesn’t make them not true. It just makes you look rather silly. And there is nothing respectful about a liar like you, Fred. I’m always bemused that Christians like you who claim to believe in your god don’t care that your god hates liars even if they think they are lying *for* it.
        No, they are not being motivated by atheism, since I am an atheist and have no desire to target theists if they are not bothering anyone else. These gov’ts are motivated by control. Again, Fred, you still keep whining but not producing any evidence to contradict me.

        People can do things for different reasons, and since not all atheists are trying to do anything to Christians, but all megalomaniacs are, it’s not that hard to see the causation. Nothing about being a megalomaniac negates the fact that they might also be an atheist. The actions of megalomaniacs are what is being discussed here. Again, you are an atheist just like me, Fred, so how does that negate the fact that you are a Christian? It doesn’t. You don’t want to persecute Christians (or at least not your own version), so atheism doesn’t lead to the persecution of Christians.

        Alas, Fred, you choose to lie again. No Gish gallop, just poor Fred who can’t answer questions and needs an excuse why he fails somuch. You can’t show any evidence to support your false claims that somehow my arguments are “self-discrediting” and that my arguments don’t make sense logically or rationally. You dare not even mention them since you know you are lying.

        And wow, you have no idea what confirmation bias or cherry picking are since you cannot show one instance of me using them. How not surprising again. Just baseless claims repeated from other websites you’ve seen thrown out to hope some of them stick.

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      • I see. So now you’re moving into Ad-Hominems, Fallacy by Ridicule (reductio ad ridiculum), baseless accusations, presumption of your debate opponent’s motives, the vilification of your debate opponent and other forms of personalized arguments?

        I think that it speaks for itself. After all, as the saying goes:

        “Ad-hominems simply mean that logic and reason have prevailed over irrationality.”

        So on that note, clubschadenfreude, I want to thank you for your time.

        We have both presented our cases, and we have both had our say haven’t we? I think that we’re done here, don’t you?

        Why don’t we just shake hands like gentlemen and leave this in the marketplace of ideas at this point? I trust our readers to make their own judgments on the evidence and arguments that have been presented, don’t you?

        Again, and in closing, I thank you for your time, I recognize and appreciate your passion and dedication to this discussion, it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

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      • So, Fred, where are these “ad hominem” fallacies? And where are the fallacy by ridicule, baseless accusations, presumption of your motives, etc?

        I’m waiting. It’s wonderful to see you make more intentionally false claims. I guess you are quite sure your god can’t notice them.

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      • So, Fred, where are these “ad hominem” fallacies? And where are the fallacy by ridicule, baseless accusations, presumption of your motives, etc?

        I’m waiting.
        It’s also great to see you try to invent a “saying” that no one uses.

        I’ve shown that your claims are false and have nothing to support them. You have done nothing more than make false accusations to try to excuse your failure. No, we aren’t done here, and you are still wrong. I would not shake hands with an incompetent liar like you, Fred, especially one who either hasn’t read my posts or has abysmally poor reading comprehension.

        You are trying to make believe your position is the equal of mine which it is not. All you have is “please please agree not to show me wrong anymore”.

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      • Fred W Anson says:

        Again, thank you for your time, clubschadenfreude.

        As I said, this discussion is over. Your time investment is noted and appreciated.

        However, I am going to do for you what my Atheist friends have so kindly done for me in the past: I’m to give you a book recommendation that may help you improve your arguments and make your audience more amenable to your words and ideas.

        This is a great book that was written by two Atheists. I have also recommended it to many of my Theist friends who have loved it as much as I did. I am now recommending it to you, I’m sure that you will enjoy it and find it of value in your future engagements. It’s quite engaging and enlightening.

        How to Have Impossible Conversations: A Very Practical Guide Kindle Edition
        by Peter Boghossian (Author), James Lindsay (Author)

        That’s the link to the Kindle edition, but Audible, and paper editions are also available if you prefer those formats.

        Thank you again, for your time and thoughts, and I hope that you enjoy the book as much as I did.

        Like

  2. Seraphim Hamilton says:

    “No, they are not being motivated by atheism, since I am an atheist and have no desire to target theists if they are not bothering anyone else.”

    Cringe. Do you actually believe that this is a sound argument? Since you are an atheist and have no desire to target theists, therefore state-enforced atheism does not exist? Do you hear yourself? There’s no connection at all between your premise and conclusion! I’m not motivated to “target atheists”, therefore Christian governments who persecute non-Christians are not “motivated by Christianity.”

    You asked for “non-megalomaniacal” atheist states who do what they are being accused of. Give me a break. Since the behaviors they are being accused of are megalomaniacal behaviors, it’s a meaningless statement. Any atheist government which persecutes religious people is therefore excluded from guilt by definition. It’s like asking for an example of “one single nonviolent serial killer.” Your comments are historically a joke. Nobody who has studied Soviet or Chinese Communist history could say that with a straight face. Persecution of the Church in Russia began under Lenin, and Lenin was certainly “motivated by atheism” as his extensive published writing and speeches state clearly. His atheism was part of a larger political philosophy which entailed that religion needed to be stamped out in order for history to develop according to dialectical materialism. Religion was understood to drain the proletariat of the motivation necessary to move from a capitalist to a socialist society. In China, Christianity has been persecuted for both nationalist and ideological reasons. Christianity is understood to challenge the unified Han identity upon which the stability of the state is predicated. These are broader ideologies of which atheism is an intrinsic part, and your comment manifests a profound historical ignorance.

    One could just as easily use your logic to excuse any atrocity committed by Christians. The New Testament teaches against bloodthirst and violence, so a person can easily say that those who engage in it are not “true Christians.” If you say that your understanding of atheism is not part of the broader ideological marices which constitute Chinese and Soviet philosophy, I believe you. Christians say the exact same thing- those Christian governments which have engaged in atrocities profess a larger ideology which is not shared by most Christians.

    In the end, why do you even care? Atheists will endlessly complain about being grouped together as if atheism is a unified religious movement analogous to Christianity or Mormonism. Yet you evince a peculiar loyalty to the title and group which shows otherwise. Your desire to clear the name of atheism demonstrates that the structure of your loyalty to that philosophy (and naturalism, as a positive statement about what constitutes the underlying basis of existence *is* a positive statement and *not* a mere lack of belief) is essentially that of any religious person relative to their religious profession.

    There is one question and only one question which ought to concern us: is Christianity/Mormonism/naturalism *true* or is it *false*? All of these other issues are completely irrelevant to that question. Look, abandoning your childhood religion might make you feel like you are a critical thinker since you changed something significant in response to criticism. But it doesn’t. In reality, it is a sort of “step one” in the process of becoming a truly critical thinker. As the first worldview which you *selected* after deliberation, it is your first real shot at giving an interpretation of the world around you. Most people experience at least one major ideological change during their lifetime. What would set you apart for real is if you chose to prudently remain silent for several years as you attempted to develop sound intellectual habits. Having come to the conclusion that one has been talking nonsense one’s whole life ought to lead you to stop talking instead of just saying different words. You are *not* as well-educated as you think you are. I say this in the genuine hope that you will take it to heart. Being publicly humiliated repeatedly in rational argument is therapeutic. It gradually teaches you to stop spouting off about complex disciplines concerning which you’ve read maybe one or two books written for a popular audience.

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