I confess, I am always a bit surprised by the reaction of some Christians to the “New Atheists” (such as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and PZ Meyers). Some Christians react tremendously put off by the “abrasive” approach.
Of course, their approaches are no more abrasive than, say the average Christian who is “Fired up for Jesus.” They are confident in their beliefs and are willing to share them. And they are confident to say that people who think differently are wrong.
Christians of all stripes are more than willing to share negative opinions of people in that regards. Look at the responses to Undercover’s Ojo Taylor for reassessing his faith. Sure, there are those that welcome him…but I have seen plenty more Christians who question if he was really a Christian during the years of Undercover, if he was just in Christian music for the money (HA!) and fame… I have seen some pretty harsh judgements doled out against Ojo.
It seems like critics of the New Atheism want respect for their confidence in their faith enough to be public about it, but have a problem with people exhibiting the same confidence to express their own (sometimes opposing)messages publically. I’ve even seen people try and spin the New Atheists as persecuting Christians by their bold confidence.
Yet, we live in a country where every major political candidate has to at the very least, pay lip service to Christian faith. Few, if any, attempt to hide their faith. Yet, when a person loses faith, or finds their understandings of “Truth” to change…many would like them to keep quiet. And many presume to make judgement about why said faith was lost.
Chesterton has a famous quote:
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”
Chesterton has many wise and witty quotes*. This is not one of them. It certainly is convenient, as it suggests that people who re-assessed their faith are somehow just losers that could not hack it. It leaves no room for those who investigated and thought it through. Or for those who walked the walk in sincere dedication. Chesterton’s quote is from the same mindset that drives Dawkins and Hitchens. It’s the same confidence of his own rightness.
But here is the thing. Christians may not like these “New Atheists”… or Bill Maher or whomever. But the stone cold truth is, they still gotta love these guys. Jesus didn’t say “love people you like” or “Love people that say nice things about you!” He said to love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemy.
*this one for example:
“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”