One thing that has sometimes bothered me about atheists is just how fundamentalist they can be. That’s not to excuse all the saints on the other side of the fence who are just as rigid. But to me, they often seem like two sides of the same coin.
There is a piece on NPR about a minister who recently lost her faith and subsequently converts to atheism. There was a bit of time where she would go about her duties as a minister, while inwardly, she had lost her Christian belief.
Here’s how she describes her conversion:
I just kind of realized—I mean just a eureka moment, not an epiphany, a eureka moment—I’m an atheist.
The article goes on to include that this realization “just felt right.”
I’ve talked to many religious folks who describe their conversion to Christianity in almost the exact way, except substituting the word “Christian” for “atheist.” This is not to take away from Teresa MacBain’s experience, but my point being that at least from that description, her decision seems to be very much subjective.
The article does note a few tangible issues that MacBain had with her previous faith, but they seem hardly substantive and informed. (One of her questions was: “Is there any evidence of God at all?”—that is a very speculative and subjective question to begin with.)
MacBain recorded herself one Sunday morning as she drove to church (she chronicled her journey via recorded messages on her phone):
Sometimes, I think to myself, If I could just go back a few years and not ask the questions and just be one of those sheep and blindly follow and not know the truth, it would be much easier.
Not know the truth? Not know the truth? So now, she knows the truth?
Which brings me back to where I started. Most fundamental atheists are fully convinced that they know the truth, and that those on the other side are ignorant of it, and mentally or spiritually unable to see the error of their ways.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Isn’t that what fundamentalist Christians have been saying about the ungodly for… thousands of years?
I happen to think that there are brilliant scholars, scientist, philosophers, and (gasp) ordinary people on both sides of that fence. And at some point, every person has to trust that their own experience and logic will lead them down the right path. But is that enough?
All belief requires a measure of faith, and an ability to admit that you might be wrong. Otherwise, there can never be any room for growth, learning, and ultimately progressing (or evolving, if you prefer that word).