Evangelicals Struggle With Marketing and the Definition of Atheism

I recently read an article at The Christian Post titled Atheism Becoming the New Religion, Evangelicals Warned. The article was written by Maria Mackay, a reporter for Christian Today.

Don’t know much about atheism

The title alone was enough to tell me that I probably wouldn’t be in agreement with the ideas expressed there. There is a very simple point that many people seem to be unable to grasp (i.e. Joe Cienkowski). Atheism is not a religion.

a·the·ism
[ey-thee-iz-uhm] /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/

–noun

  1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
  2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Origin:
1580–90; < Gk áthe ( os ) godless + -ism

atheism. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism (accessed: October 20, 2010).

I consider myself to be an atheist. What does that mean? It means that I do not believe that a god or gods exist, have ever existed, or will ever exist, in the Universe we live in. End of definition. There’s nothing more to it than that, folks. I can not say that I know that a god does not exist. I can say that no evidence has yet been presented in any form which would convince me of a god’s existence. Some people say that would put me in the soft atheist classification.

If a person attempts to tie any other beliefs or ideas to atheism, they are doing so out of ignorance or an effort to further their own agenda. I think that the Evangelical Christian leaders are doing so for the second reason, and those that follow them are doing so because of the first reason.

The article at The Christian Post covers some talks given at Cape Town 2010, the Third Lausanne Congress on world evangelization.

Losing their religion

From the article:

Carver Yu, president of the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong, said that “confusing ideologies” were creating emptiness and alienation among people, while indifference to religion was “tightening its grip.”

I find it interesting that Professor Yu claims indifference to religion is somehow “tightening its grip.” It seems to me that it is much more the case that religion is losing its grip on more people with each passing year. Indifference has no need to gain adherents, while that is the express goal of evangelism.

He said the recent advertising campaign by Richard Dawkins and other atheists on London buses was a perfect example of the “enthusiastic zeal” with which atheists were campaigning against Christianity and religion.

Richard Dawkins and the Atheist Bus Campaign

Richard Dawkins and the Atheist Bus Campaign

I fail to see how a sign on the side of a bus stating, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,” is an example of “enthusiastic zeal.” It seems to me to be a rather mild statement from a “soft atheist” viewpoint. I wonder what Professor Yu’s response would be to a sign that read “God is dead and no one cares.”

I find Professor Yu’s own words to be a much better example of “enthusiastic zeal”:

“Atheism is about to become the new religion,” he said. “Christians must preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ fearlessly because he is the way, the truth and the life. Only he can lead us away from the present state of godlessness.”

Professor Yu believes without doubt that his religion is the One True Religion™, yet it is the atheists who are the zealous ones.

Also speaking at the conference is Michael Herbst, Professor of Practical Theology at Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald in Griefswald, Germany. Practical Theology is an interesting term. [The German language article on Praktische Theologie is more thorough. View the English translation by Google.] Let’s just say that it’s the theological equivalent of Marketing. Keep that in mind when you read what Professor Herbst had to say.

Also taking to the podium was Michael Herbst, researcher in evangelism and church development. He warned that the decline of faith among parents was leading to a whole generation of children in Germany growing up with an “atheist mindset” and the belief that “faith doesn’t matter.”

He noted that the idea of a “singular truth” and monotheism had become unpopular and were widely regarded as dangerous, arrogant and potentially violent.

“Everything is relative now except for this one new and ultimate truth – that there is no singular truth,” he said. “All those professing a singular truth should be silent in a tolerant world.”

Evangelicals want to increase (or preserve) their market share, but they find that (in Germany) it is shrinking. They blame it on an “atheist mindset.” [Remember that the next time a Christian tells you that Islam and Sharia Law are taking over the world.]

Professor Herbst notes that people have begun to see it as an affront when someone says that their particular way is the only way. You know; like religions usually do. The “tolerant world,” it seems, would have those professing to be the holders of the ultimate truth and knowledge sit down and shut the fuck up. That must really put a cramp into the style of Evangelical Christianity.

Another speaker was Os Guinness, grandson of famous Dublin brewer Arthur Guinness, and co-founder of the Trinity Forum.

He said that the biblical view of truth had become “obscene to modern minds” and was being taken by many to be exclusive, intolerant and divisive.

The idea that your religion is the One True Religion™ is pretty exclusive. The idea of biblical authority and inerrancy, which indicates that homosexuality is (at least) a sin or (more likely) an abomination, is fairly intolerant. Pitting family members against one another on the basis that one of them doesn’t subscribe to your petty ideology seems quite divisive. Yes, I think the “biblical view of truth” (as seen by the Evangelical Christians) fits the criteria for being all three of those things.

“But on a deeper look the biblical view is profound, timely and urgent for the day, even for those who reject it,” he said.

I’m sorry, Mr. Guinness, but I reject your biblical view, and find it neither profound, timely, nor urgent. You’re simply wrong. You may hold your beliefs the way you wish, but they mean absolutely nothing to me unless they start impacting my life. When your beliefs begin to impact me, you’re going to have a fight on your hands.

Guinness was especially critical of liberal Protestants who he said had been “careless” with the truth. He contended that they were just as “dangerous” as those outside of the church and contributing to a weakening of the faith.

Excuse me for a moment. I have to replace one of the high-capacity fuses in my irony meter. I think I should send a good dictionary to Mr. Guinness so that he can peruse the definitions of “exclusive”, “intolerant”, and “divisive.”

He continued: “Shame on those Western Christians who casually neglect or scornfully deny what the scriptures defend and what many brothers and sisters would rather die [for] than deny — that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

I have no problem with people who would rather die than admit that their beliefs are based on an unsupportable mythology. Let them believe whatever the fuck they want.

I do have a problem with people who want to force others to abide by the rules that are based on that mythology, however. I also have a problem with people like Scott Roeder who murder others in the name of that mythology. Any person who thinks what Roeder did was morally correct is a reprehensible fuck whom I would not even piss on if they were on fire.

The article continues:

Christians were urged to not stay silent about their faith or be content with personal truth only. Herbst encouraged Christians to share their faith “from below” by serving and living out truth in their own lives.
 
“It is not the prevalence of Christendom that empowers the Gospel but the power of the Holy Spirit that brings the truth into the heart of those who listen,” he said.

I find that Evangelical Christians rarely stay silent about their faith. As for “…serving and living out truth in their own lives”: It’s a nice idea, but I don’t see it getting very far. Many Evangelical Christians seem to have a much easier time bitching about what other people do than they have of living the type of life they preach about.

Don’t come around here no more

I would like to remind the Evangelicals that there are a lot of us out here who don’t want to listen. We’ve heard your spiel before. We listened. We heard. We called bullshit.

I've had just about enough of your bullshit

We’ve heard enough. Proselytizing is a good way of pissing people off. Come to my door with the message of your lord and savior and how much he loves me, and I’m likely to tell you to get fucked and get lost. I’m an atheist. That means I don’t give a shit about your god, your savior, or your religion.

You’re simply not that special, even though you’d like to be. The rest of the world doesn’t care if you think your way is the One True Religion™, and we’re pretty fucking tired of hearing you say it. Please go back to your marketing experts and let them know that it’s not really feasible to sell a product that’s already broken when you take it out of the box.

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