Why I hate atheists
Confessing and overcoming hatred.
Sometimes I sympathize with Christians of earlier ages:
The Christians who held trials and inquisitions and condemned heretics, the Christians who launched Crusades, the Christians who banded together against oppressive regimes and kings.
Why? Because I hate atheists. I often dislike heretics too, but that’s not the focus of this article.
Now, this is not without inner conflict. There is a certain breed of atheists I can respect. But it is difficult to describe just the gravity of my loathing towards slandering atheists who show unforgivable ineptitude at philosophy and complete ignorance of their Christian historical heritage.
Recently, I have read some of the writings of the New Atheists (not just the popular ones). One of them was a walk through the history of thought, and it was so despicably unappreciative towards Christianity, I actually felt like destroying the book right then and there, even though it was someone else’s property. I have also looked at a few new apologias for atheism. They were so unreflective and dishonest about history and ethical philosophy that I very nearly devoted months of my life to writing a vituperative, condemning retort.
Some of you might be mildly nodding your head in a silent “Amen.” To such readers I want to re-emphasize that my repulsion to such atheists is downright visceral. My eyebrows narrow, I begin to quiver, and I experience an intense, irrational rage.
This has only begun to happen quite recently.
I know that my revulsion for militant atheists is poisonous. Yet all the clichés of tolerance and humanity have been completely ineffective at dulling my severe hatred. I speculate that this is because I feel threatened by them. Their insistence on the inexistence of God resonates with my experience of God’s absence in my own life. I feel their bitterness and hurt, and yet I have not chosen to abandon my belief or the community of God, but have continued in faith that God will indeed reveal Himself.
It is curious that those who seem to be more spiritually attuned, the saints who have devoted themselves to God’s work most heartily, are the ones who seem to have no fear or hatred towards atheists. In The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky, there is an elder named Zosima who counsels his loved ones to show universal forgiveness to all people. This is his exhortation to you and I:
When one knows “that he is not only worse than all those in the world, but is also guilty before all people, on behalf of all and for all, for all human sins, the world’s and each person’s, only then will the goal of our unity be achieved. . . . Do not hate those who reject you, disgrace you, revile you, and slander you. Do not hate atheists, teachers of evil, materialists, not even those among them who are wicked, nor those who are good, for many of them are good. . . . Remember them thus is in your prayers: save, Lord, those whom there is no one to pray for, save also those who not want to pray to you” (164).
As Dostoevsky shows us, my only hope for any kind of change in my disposition towards atheists rests in the theological reality of them being created in the image of God.