Evangelical Atheism is not New Atheism

One of over 900 Komrik Success Stories; Courtesy of the Courage of the Deconvert

Hi all,

I caught up with an article I apparently missed a couple years ago and it rankled me. The author, Chris Stedman, wrote a piece called “Evangelical Atheists: Pushing for What?” in which he seemed to equate “aggressive”, “extreme” and “actively anti-religious” with Evangelical Atheism. In it another article is quoted in which the Four Horse Clowns are mentioned:

There is, as has often been noted, something peculiarly evangelistic about what has been termed the new atheist movement … It is no exaggeration to describe the movement popularized by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens as a new and particularly zealous form of fundamentalism — an atheist fundamentalism. The parallels with religious fundamentalism are obvious and startling: the conviction that they are in sole possession of truth (scientific or otherwise), the troubling lack of tolerance for the views of their critics (Dawkins has compared creationists to Holocaust deniers), the insistence on a literalist reading of scripture (more literalist, in fact, than one finds among most religious fundamentalists), the simplistic reductionism of the religious phenomenon, and, perhaps most bizarrely, their overwhelming sense of siege: the belief that they have been oppressed and marginalized by Western societies and are just not going to take it anymore.

New Atheists and the Four Horse Clowns are the last group I’d consider Evangelical, for their tact is to alienate adherents, not liberate them. Why is this so hard for people – specifically to include the Four Horse Clowns themselves – to grasp? An Evangelical Atheist is an accomplished deconverter, not a pundit angry with religion because they bought into it for x number of years in their early life and with a bad sense of humor whose sole purpose in life seems to be pouring on the misery to every adherent on the globe. And I don’t label them: You will know them by their fruits as Christians like to say. How many people do you think really deconverted because of some smart arse quip of Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris? When someone of the ilk of the Four Horse Clowns is characterized as being, “… a large and vocal number of atheists …” who “… say that their number one goal is convincing people to abandon their faith, one should remember that a claimant to the title of Evangelical Atheist does not make, especially when we’re talking about people who have done nothing but make deconversion ten times harder for actual, practicing Evangelical Atheists. And that is where my grudge with New Atheism begins. But it ends several more miles down the road, I’m afraid.

And when you’re not a multi-million dollar, well-known public poser and one who actually deconverts I guess you just get slandered in the press without recourse or remedy, much less with a reconciliation of Truth. But I digress. First off, I am disappointed in most atheists precisely because they 1.) don’t really care about deconversion and 2.) don’t understand its importance. A real Evangelical Atheist is not concerned with self, “atheism” or other labels. And those who know many atheists can see where this is coming from: the big secret less discussed amongst our kind, that narcissism is all-too common amongst atheists. And that’s what Evangelical Atheism challenges; the notion of self over the Greater Good. A real Evangelical Atheist is concerned about the adherent; about the harm that belief in gods causes its followers, the fact that followers – being victims of manipulation and brain-washing – are living a life in agonizing and bizarre mental, intellectual and sometimes even physical imprisonment which they themselves usually don’t even recognize or realize is a misery to which they are being subjected. In most cases, where its not overt or especially deplorable, they just chalk it up to, “life”. They think of it in terms of cultural norms, stupid laws, “morals” and “peer pressure”. If they only could see beyond the shaded lenses that their minds captivity puts before them. No, a real Evangelical Atheist understands that the problem and the solution is bigger and wider than what the myopic label “atheist” can capture by itself. Its really about the larger issue of intellectual illumination generally. Its about Illuminatio Ubique.

An Evangelical Atheist, a real one, is someone who is compassionate and empathetic and cares about this crime against humanity; this abuse that’s been going on for over a thousand years and which is camouflaged as so many other things. Real Evangelical Atheists’ attitudes toward the adherent are not much different than most people’s attitude about victims of infamous cults, the only difference being that cults are just the same thing as mainstream “faith” with a far less developed public relations machine. Yea, I guess I am offended by this article because it is so dismissive of such a massive problem inherited from hundreds of years past. Next time you see an article like this do yourself, not me, but yourself, a favor and comment on the article by pointing out what Evangelical Atheism is really about. Okay, I feel better now.

– kk

Whispers of Mental Abuse, a 25 year old American woman:

Losing my faith was a process; it didn’t happen suddenly or overnight. I didn’t mean to become atheist… I just kept asking questions. I felt certain there were satisfying answers to these questions my fellow Christians just kept evading or brushing aside.

For me, my “Christian walk” was a roller-coaster. I totally believed all of it, but… I struggled to overcome sadness and depression, low self esteem, peer pressure, being “good” all the time… and if I wasn’t experiencing inner turmoil, I felt I was doing something wrong because Satan wasn’t testing or paying attention to me. I mean, I really believed that I had to be battling something at all times. If things were too easy it was because I wasn’t a threat to the evil supernatural world. Messed up, right? I put myself through needless turmoil just so I could overcome it and learn some grandiose lesson. If I couldn’t think of a sin I’d committed, I felt the need to dig deep and uncover a sin so I could ask for forgiveness. I made up sins. I over-analyzed myself because I’d been taught to believe I was a sinner and couldn’t possibly get through even one day without sinning. I didn’t take credit for the things I’d accomplished; I “gave all the glory to God.” How could I be a confident person when I couldn’t take credit for what was good about me; if I had to constantly remind myself I was “unworthy”?

~ Anonymous Deconvert


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