Friday, May 29, 2015

Atheist Babies Have a God?

Rev. Christopher Benek wrote a piece for The Christian Post titled "Babies Are Not Born Atheist". Seeing as his title is factually false, I don't have high hopes for the contents of his article, but lets have a look anyway...
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It is a popular claim by Atheists that eventually science will somehow eliminate the need for religion. Many even argue that, in our present age of exponentially advancing technology, we are already beginning to see the numerical decline of religious persons in the United States.
It is true that science has been steadily showing that the claims of many religious are false. It has
replaced incorrect religious explanations with ones rooted in fact and backed by evidence. Science has been able to explain happenings that were once assigned to a supernatural deity, and reveal what is actually going on. So yes, as religions and their claims have been show time and time again to quite simply be wrong, it has resulted in some leaving those religions.
This, they claim, is evidenced in such studies as the Pew Research Center's recent Religious Landscape Study. I disagree with such assertions. What we are actually seeing isn't the initial stages of the demise of Christianity. Instead, what we are witnessing is the reoccurring periodic rise of societal arrogance and immaturity.
Already with the name-calling? We don't agree with you so we are automatically arrogant and immature? Personally, I consider that reply rather immature. Furthermore, how can Christian's of Chris' ilk call anyone arrogant. I'm going to go out on a limp and say that he would probably say that there is absolutely no chance he could be wrong about Jesus, or that he would never even consider changing his mind. That is pure arrogance. Yet most atheists (like myself) am always open to being wrong. I don't think that I am, but if you can show that I am, I will listen.

Also, what Chris is arguing can be said of every time people started leaving one faith for another. The Jews probably said that this Christianity will never catch on. The Catholic church would have said that there new Protestants won't go anywhere. While these religions didn't disappear, they were still quite wrong in regards to the new upstarts. But go back further and there are religions that faded completely. Will the same happen with Christianity? Perhaps, but it will take a while if it does. But the fact is that the trend shows that the 'rise of the nones' isn't a trivial one.
American Christians seem to be baffled as to how "nones" - those persons who identify themselves as religiously unaffiliated Atheists, agnostics or "nothing in particular" - have grown in number so rapidly in the United States.
Probably because religions and their claims have often been found to be wrong. The fact that being religious doesn't statistically make one a better person than they already were, or the big fact that there is no proof that these religions are at all rooted in actual verifiable proof.
We are quick to blame politicians, celebrities, technology or even other Christians with whom we disagree theologically for this increasing trend. But as I see it, the problem resides not with the "nones" but with the church universal's growing lack of religious formational training and nurture.
Or maybe because there's no proof! And seriously... Chris is opining that the church isn't being vocal enough? I have churches come to my door pretty regularly, mass-mail cards, hand out papers at events, and basically make themselves seen and heard anytime they get a chance.
At a very rudimentary level we as Christians seem to be growing increasingly dismissive of our children's religious developmental needs.
So you're going to stop forcing kids to go to church and allow them to make up their own mind instead or brainwashing them and asserting that the child is a Christian from birth? That would be awesome!
It might serve us well to remember though that babies are not born atheists. 
Actually that's incorrect. An atheist is a person who lacks a belief in God(s). Babies haven't learned about God yet, so they lack belief. By definition they are atheist. Atheist by default, but still atheist.
Furthermore, if we push the point, there really is no such thing as an atheist because technically everyone has a god.
How can everyone have a god when no god has ever been shown to absolutely exist? And if Chris means 'believe in a god', than that's outright false since atheist don't believe in any gods.
While this may seem an unfamiliar concept to some, by definition, a god is just "a person or thing that is excessively worshiped and admired; an all absorbing passion, pursuit, or hobby - something idolized." Since an excess of anything is simply "an amount or quality greater than is necessary" and worship, in its most basic form, means "to have an ardent devotion, or adoration for something" - one must simply have actual or substantial concern for a passion, pursuit, or hobby that is slightly more than needed for it to be considered a god. It thus quickly becomes evident that, although it may not be personified, everyone has a god.
 Sorry, but this is simply false. A god is defined as...
1) (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.

2) (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.
What Chris is doing here is actually quite dishonest. He's attempting to arbitrarily redefine words to fit his claims as he pleases. That's not the way it works!

But what if we grant Chris' claim. In that case, he's screwed because that would mean that almost everyone would have multiple gods. And God demands that you have no other gods, so Chris' claim would actually damn everyone.
This fact that people aren't born atheists matters when we consider our religious development because it suggests that we are biologically oriented toward embracing religious training and nurture.
Yeah, babies aren't born atheist at all... As long as you have no clue at all what 'atheist' actually means, that is!
When babies are born they understandably worship the source of their basic needs – such things as their mother's milk, their parents, or a maybe even a favorite toy. But as a child grows older, and develops as a human being, their needs evolve and expand and their focus of worship then changes. 
None of this makes babies believers in God though. At that age they can't even consider the concept, let alone conclude that they believe in Jesus. The only way this means what Chris is claiming it means is to dishonestly try to redefine terms on a whim to fit his needs.
Like Chris' definition for 'god'...
Whether or not a child matures into understanding that it is more logical to worship a God who champions love, peace, compassion and justice as opposed to a deficient idol usually has less to do with the child and more to do with how those who are caring for the child model behavior for them.
Wait... So Chris wants children to grow up to believe in a god who 'champions love, peace, compassion and justice'?  It's kind of odd hearing a Christian wanting children to not become Christians. But okay, works for me.
Of course, capital "A", Atheists – those who lack belief in a supernatural or personified God or who, more likely, have critiques of the misappropriations of organized religion - do exist.
Actually, it's 'atheist', not 'Atheist'. The word is not a proper noun. So Chris is now claiming that only miss-spelled atheists exist? Just for the record, all atheist lack belief in God, not just some. Additionally, most atheist do have critiques on religion, but that isn't necessary to be an atheist.
But, divergent from popular opinion, their critiques of the church also are not what ultimately convince persons to leave organized religion.
Yeah, usually it's because there's no proof of religion's claims, or that science has all too often proven religious claims wrong.
To the contrary, it is our failure as Christians to humbly hear and respond to constructive criticism that demonstrates to the younger generation that we aren't really willing to work for Christ's redemptive purposes.
At least he got the 'humbly respond the criticism' part right. All too often I've witnessed religious people simply shout down any criticism or questions. Critiques  that are very valid, yet the believers have no good answer to. This fact alone should raise even more questions.
And often times, instead of repenting from our failure to guide our children into religious maturity as human beings, we shift the blame to others for our irresponsibility and arrogance.
Wait, wait, wait... irresponsible and  arrogant for not doing a better job of blindly brainwashing your kids to think exactly like you instead of for themselves? I think Chris has that backwards.
Put succinctly, it isn't science or technology that is dissuading persons away from God. Nor is it politicians, celebrities, Atheists or persons who hold fringe religious positions.
Its the seemingly wholesale failure of religion.
It is each of us who confesses Jesus with our words and then denies him with our lifestyles. Our large-scale idolatry of self-arrogance and religious immaturity is growing the population of "nones" whose primary hope is simply that there is a better way of living than what we are modeling. Fortunately for them, and us, there is a better way. It is in and through the person of Jesus Christ.
We already have a way better than the horrible book called the Bible. A free secular society that grants the people amazing and oh so valuable rights. A system that could use improvement in some details, sure. But one that is sadly under threat from those that would like to replace it with the terrible and barbaric Bible.

-Brain Hulk

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