The Atheist “Non-Agenda”

It has often been said by many an atheist that there is “no such thing as an atheist agenda.”  Oddly enough, one such statement comes from “The Atheist Missionary” (@AtheistMission).  Apparently the name must be an oxymoron, but under casual scrutiny there is much to be said about regular and insipid attacks against Christianity.

Last night I happened to notice the following tweet, and my suspicions were confirmed when I clicked on the link:

Great article in Washington Post by Richard Dawkins on #Haiti & Hypocrisy of #Christian Theology: http://bit.ly/6z6seR #atheist #atheism (Online Source)

The article is by Richard Dawkins and he specifically addresses the comments of Pat Robertson who charged that the earthquake in Haiti was caused by a pact that the Haitians made with the devil centuries ago when the island was occupied by the French.  Dawkins makes excellent points about how anti-Christian Robertson’s comments are. 

However, this tweet is a prime example of the biased attack.  High-profile atheists like Richard Dawkins enjoy highlighting the most marginal (and unfortunately the most vocal) “Christians” and then claim that they speak for each and every one of us.  On the contrary, people like Pat Robertson have been frantically criticized by hoards of Christians (for example click here, here, and here) for taking steps away from biblical Christianity and cherry-picking Scripture to bolster their own agendas.

Thank you both for continuing to agree with the majority of Christians in these situations.  We applaud criticism of those who claim Christianity but speak against biblical teaching.  My concern here is that you would deliberately take these statements and generalize them to the rest of the faith.  It is irresponsible and it really does make your position look precarious.  In the future I simply ask that you develop arguments that really do challenge Christianity, if that is your intention.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

16 responses to “The Atheist “Non-Agenda”

  • Nathaniel

    While I do agree with you, and I in no way wish to excuse the mistakes of atheists by pointing the following out, but it _is_ a fact that many Christians who attack atheists do so by attacking, for example, Dawkins, and applying his opinions and arguments on every atheist in the world.

    In short, both sides are just as guilty of this.

    Consider your very last sentence, I’m curious: do you mean to say that not a single one of Dawkins’ other arguments “really do challenge Christianity”, or do you just mean this one in particular? Because if we’re talking about Dawkins-the-man, then he has plenty of other arguments that are equally well applied to both extremists as well as “moderates”. This Dawkins-the-argument that you’re discussing isn’t necessarily entirely representable of all he’s capable of.

  • Boz

    I keep hearing that “he doesn’t represent the Christian faith,” but he does. So does Rick Warren with his bigoted stance against gay rights. So does James Dobson with his views on women needing to be subservient to men. So do Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Shane Claiborne and other, more progressive Christians you’ve probably never heard of. They all have their own opinions and people who don’t like them all say they don’t represent Christianity.

    Even though they all do.

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2010/01/14/christians-against-pat-robertson/

  • Terry

    Aaron. I agree with you. Pat Robertson is not all Christians by any stretch. Are there many like him? Yes. But many are not. I find it more useful to discuss scriptures if I want to criticize, because those are (supposedly) the foundation of the religion. Don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into it here!

    But guilt-by-association doesn’t work, IMO.

  • Aaron

    First: welcome back to my atheist followers… I figured you would show up again if I yanked on your chains. Seriously I enjoy our conversations.

    Nathaniel: While I am not as well-studied on Dawkins as I am on “Christian” leaders I critique on my blog, I have been following his blog for nearly a year, have read “The God Delusion” and listened to several lectures/interviews online. He consistently challenges people who do not really know what Christianity is, who confuse Christianity with moralism, and who do not understand his position. I am not saying that he has nothing to say to challenge Christianity, but I do not understand why he would continue to pick on the marginal ones and attempt to generalize those conversations to the rest of us.

    Boz: You are bringing up the fundamental reason for this post. The difference in people who call themselves Christian and those who are actually Christian is not based on what I think or if I like them or not. It is based on how their theology measures up to the teaching of Scripture. All those you mentioned (some more than others) have taken huge steps away from biblical Christianity and so do not represent us any more than Louis XVI represented the French countrymen during the French revolution.

    Terry: I hope you read other posts on this blog. I think you may have the impression that I am an atheist. Most of my other posts do investigate Scripture to help support my position. In this post I simply decided to rely on the other blog posts that I referenced above. Thank you for your comment.

  • WMDkitty

    The issue is that the moderate and progressive Christians just aren’t speaking out against people like Pat Robertson. Their silence implies, therefore, that they agree with him. Speak up!

  • Rich

    @WMDkitty, I’m pretty sure that Aaron provided links to 3 Christians who spoke out against Pat Robinson, as examples of the “hoards of Christians” who have criticized him for his remarks.

  • WMDkitty

    @Rich — okay, that’s three. Any more?

  • EarleyDaysYet

    If you use Twitter, check #patrobertsondoesntspeakforme, or just search for “pat Robertson” in the history. Thousands of people (including myself) objected loudly to his statements, and continue to object loudly to his and others’ misuse of Scripture & defamation of God.

  • Jonathan Sigmon

    Thanks for the post Aaron. It’s hard to be associated with Christianity with people like Pat Robertson around, but it doesn’t change the message of love, peace, hope, and restoration of Jesus’ way. Here is another echo that this picture Robertson paints is awful and not what Jesus came to do.

  • Boz

    Aaron said: but I do not understand why he would continue to pick on the marginal ones [Robertson] and attempt to generalize those conversations to the rest of us.”

    Robertson’s tv show has around 1 million daily viewers. (source http://www.cbn.com/700club/ShowInfo/About/about700club.aspx )

    How many people worldwide share his views about haiti? 5 million? 10 million? 25 million? I don’t know, but I guess it would be several million.

    Robertson is far from a marginal figure – he speaks for millions.

    I suspect that one of the reasons there is such a voiciferous response is because he is so influential. There would not be such a media and blogging storm if a nobody preacher from a backwater town said the same thing.

    aaron said: “All those you mentioned (some more than others) have taken huge steps away from biblical Christianity and so do not represent us any more than Louis XVI represented the French countrymen during the French revolution.”

    Of course, they do not represent your sect, but they do represent large numbers of christians.

  • Rich

    @Boz — Just because 1 million people watch Robertson’s show doesn’t mean they agree with everything he says. They might agree with the 95% of what he says that’s fairly mainstream, and then shake their heads at the 5% that’s off the wall.

    Also, there’s a big difference between “speaking TO millions” and “speaking FOR millions.”

    I’m not saying there aren’t other Christians out there who think like Robertson. I’m sure there are. I just don’t think we can take the 700 Club’s viewership estimates and extrapolate from there to saying “several million” share his views.

  • Boz

    How many do agree with his statement on this issue (haiti)?

    The answer to this question will also answer whether he is or is not a marginal figure.

    I don’t think we can know how many agree, only guess. My previous was an inappropriate extrapolation – I was just guessing.

  • Sabio Lantz

    When criticizing Marxism, Marxist claim to be a unique flavor or Marxism. When atheists are criticized they claim to be different kind of atheist. Christians run from to their own personal (or denomination) theology when atheists attack Christianity in general.

    So, what are the answers? I suggest:

    (1) Declare what type of atheist or christian you are. I made tools for that: A Christian Declaration tool & an Atheist Declaration tool.

    (2) Try not to attack in general ways, criticize the specifics using evidence or logic.

    (Hi, Aaron, long time no see)

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