Thursday, May 14, 2015

Christianity Terrifies Atheists Because it Reminds Them of Death

I recently read a study which, I believe, improperly concluded that Christians are "terrified" of atheists because they reminded Christians of the grave.
Here: http://www.rawstory.com/2015/05/study-people-dont-like-atheists-because-they-serve-as-a-grim-reminder-of-deaths-finality/
And here: http://www.vice.com/read/atheism-terrifies-people-because-it-makes-us-think-about-death-511?utm_Source=vicetwitterus

Christians are supposedly afraid of death or afraid that there is no afterlife and so atheists, by their very nature of denying the existence of God, remind them of this possibility and its likelihood. From personal experience, I find this conclusion ridiculous and further I find the conclusion non sequitur from the data gathered. It seems about as foolish as concluding that Christianity terrifies atheists for the similar reason of death due to the hell that awaits them though they do not truly believe it exists.

Now, my own anecdotal story is certainly not a scientific study and it is highly likely that, as a Christian, I did not represent the rest of Christendom. In fact, I know that I did not fit much of Christendom with my personal way of living my faith. However, I did live within many flavors of Christian bubbles and I still drank from the many bowls Kool-Aid they did so I have a decent insight into the mindsets of my old peers. My observances as an insider, my own understanding from diligent studying of the Bible, and my own logical understanding of the faith leads me to a vastly different conclusion than a fear of death leading to the terror of atheists. The study, as I understood it, concluded this fear simply due to Christians thinking more about death when discussing atheists or becoming more distrustful of atheists when thinking about death. To me, this is about as obvious as saying that people think of clouds when discussing the sky which proves people are afraid of the clouds (non sequitur), or demonstrating that Jews become more distrustful of Nazis when contemplating their own demise (which is understandable without arguing that they fear death and so hate Germans). Perhaps the articles merely did not explain the study's results well enough, but it seemed entirely unenlightening to me and the conclusion did not appear to follow from the data at all.

First and foremost, back when I was a Christian, I looked forward to meeting with atheists so that I might show them the love of God and convert them. I did not fear any one particular atheist. I mostly feared atheistic movements trying to change policy, rule our nation, and "corrupt" the minds of would-be followers of God. My lack of fear of the single atheist flies in the face of the concept that atheism alone scared me due to the reminder of death. As a Christian, I truly believed in the afterlife and no mere consideration of an atheist was about to rid me of this malformed idea. When was the last time a Christian seemed to be open to the idea that even just "maybe" God did not exist? I was positive. I was sure. Without a shadow of a doubt, I knew that God existed. Atheism did not scare me with death. Further, I subscribed to Pascal's wager: if I am right then I gain everything while if I am wrong then I lose nothing. Death was not to be feared if I was wrong since I would be none the wiser in the end. And yet, it had every potential to be the most perfect event in the history of my life (or death).

And so, I feared atheism mostly as a larger movement. On an individual level I might only have feared if the person did not merely disbelieve but rather subscribed to activism of his or her position and actively spoke against Christianity. Again, not because of the fear of death, but because of the fear of Satan gaining ground. Within the Christian circle and from the very words of the Bible itself, atheism is an evil to contend with. "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" is a theme throughout the book. Atheists are constantly seen trying to legalize "immoral" acts such as adultery and even the "terrible debauchery" of homosexual relations. They were out to destroy all things holy with their lies, their cheating, their stealing, murdering, raping, and so on. The Bible is quite quick to place the unbelieving into a category of evil. People who actively denied God and laughed in his face were understood to be the most evil of all kinds of people which is exactly what professed and proud atheists do.

In the Christian circle, atheists are not believed when they say they do not believe in God. It is understood that they merely deny God and deny the truth residing in their hearts. Saying there is no God is merely a fool talking and denying what he knows to be true by looking around. He denies due to the lustful nature of his eye. He wants abominable sex and money and so he claims that there is no God to remain willfully ignorant and unashamed in his actions. This is the view of many Christians. Christians also fear the repercussions of a sinful country and they expect God might very well punish the nation for its deeds. We saw what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah and now the atheists want to bring back the very sins that wreaked havoc on these two cities into the God-Blessed country of the United States of America. In the Christian's eye, this is nothing to be toyed with. They are not simply hating atheists and homosexuals, they fear the wrath of their God for tolerating it. They must, therefore, take a stand and fear what the atheist desires to do.

And so, I contend that the findings of these articles are mere conjecture and false conclusions from data that could have been expected without a study being done at all. The premise behind the conclusion is about as incomprehensible as the Christian concluding that atheists know God exists and actively choose to deny him. It is saying that Christians know that God does not exist and yet they actively choose to delude themselves such that mentioning death brings about their cognitive dissonance. I am sure some Christians indeed delude themselves, but those who are most active and seemingly "fearful" of the atheists are likely to be those who take their faith more seriously. Those less zealous for their faith tend to be those who are more accepting of atheistic principles and thus are not those who show themselves to be terrified. Then again, such non-zealous Christians are likely the majority and might very well be the ones who lie to themselves about their true beliefs. The data may then have a decent correlation of the not-so-zealous Christians and their particular fear of death, but it is to say little of the zealous Christians who are actively trying to stop atheism and their "evil" humanist ways. To improve upon the data set, I would study activists of Christianity versus ho-hum Christians and better distinguish between a fear of atheism itself and a fear of what they represent and their goals they strive to achieve.


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