If the atheists in Bulloch County know that there is no god, then why do they care when and where I pray? And why are they rankled by a nativity scene in downtown Statesboro? If I choose to enslave my mind, as indicated on their banner on the courthouse lawn, then why does that bother them so much?
As a pastor of a local church, I am saddened by the intellectual dishonesty of atheists who insist that they know there is no god. Can any person truly “know” all of the facts of the universe since the beginning of time? And can a person truly comprehend every dimension of time and space for all eternity? Of course not, so the bold declaration of atheists that they “know” there is no god is a supercilious claim, marked by hubris and pretension.
If atheists were to be intellectually honest, they would admit that they just “believe” there is no god, which makes them really nothing more than garden variety agnostics, not true atheists.
I am also saddened that our local, self-proclaimed atheists chose to express their dismissive views during a sacred time for Christians, which is the celebration of Christmas. Their insulting and provocative banner on the courthouse lawn is nothing more than a thumb-in-the-eye offense to thousands of Bulloch County citizens who believe in the existence of God, uniquely and historically revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
Stated simply, their banner is in bad taste and bad form, intended to taunt people of faith for their beliefs. They claim that religion “hardens hearts” and “enslaves minds,” but their combative and truculent language speaks more of their own enslavement to the god of human reason, revealing their personal disgust and disdain toward people of faith. If there is a “hardened heart” at play here, then it beats within the chests of atheists.
As I have stated to my congregation many times, faith is very personal, but it is not private. And that is why no person doubts the right of these agnostics/atheists to display publically their beliefs. But why choose to insult Christians in the process? And why take the disgraceful route of belittling and demeaning the deeply held beliefs of fellow citizens? From those who purportedly want reason to prevail, I would have expected more.
To my fellow citizens who claim to be atheists, I would ask that you choose less condescending language as you promote your beliefs. Churches have learned that vitriolic and caustic language tends to hurt your cause instead of help it, so perhaps you can tone it down a little.
Further, I would ask that you acknowledge the intellectual dishonesty of your avowed atheism, admitting you are really agnostics masquerading as atheists who merely “believe” things to be as they are. You may believe differently than I, but you have a process of belief just like I do.
After all, doesn’t it take a greater suspension of disbelief to be an atheist than it does to be a believer in God?
Dr. John Waters is lead pastor at First Baptist Church Statesboro.