Easy Guide to Becoming an Athiest

I have been reflecting recently on a conversion of a friend from Christianity to atheism.  Not that it is all that surprising that he has given up his Christian faith in the present context.  I’m convinced there isn’t all that much to give up.  The Christian church today reminds me of the story, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.”  Christianity has been gutted of its distinctives including its founder, Jesus Christ.  If you ask the average church goer today about Jesus, they can’t tell you much about who he is or what he did except that he has come to make your life better somehow.  The christian message today is nothing more than a monopoly card suggesting we can get out of hell free if we simply believe in Jesus and apologize for our sins.  The trouble is we don’t believe nor are we all that sorry about our sins because stats show our behavior doesn’t change after “accepting” Jesus.   Another problem is that “believe in Jesus + apologize for your sins = go to heaven,” isn’t actually what Jesus taught at all, but I digress.

I’ve been musing about the rejection of Christianity in favor of atheism and have come up with the following list on how to become an atheist.

1) Attend church (earlier the better)

2) Get “born again” (again the earlier the better but preferably around 5 to 10 years of age)

3) Attend Sunday School (be sure to saturate these years with focusing on developing good Christian character)

4) Go to youth group (begin the process of amusing yourself to death)

5) Switch churches (preferably the biggest church in town with a smoke machine, free coffee, and super comfy seats)

6) Stay your course (Dallas Willard suggests in Renovation of the Heart: “To be forever lost you need only do nothing. Just stay your course”)

7) Read Blue Like Jazz (and experience it as profound… especially the part that suggests we not think too much about our faith because “who can know anything anyway?”

8} Stay your course… continue to attend church (jumbo screens are not optional)

9) Go on a mission trip that exposes you to real terrible issues in our world (starvation/slavery/etc.)

10) Come back with lots of questions and get angry about the present complacency in our comfy, coffee soaked worship environments. (Because it is about everyone else, you are exceptional)

11) Read Love Wins (and question everything that you don’t know a thing about because “who can know anything anyway.”  Become jello and mysterious all at the same time)

12) Become a bullshitter (“Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about.  Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his/her knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic.”  Harry Franfurt)

13) Reject our present ignorant Christian expression and become agnostic.

14) Discover that agnosticism is you simply being mysterious and ridiculously profound.

15) Become an ignorant and angry atheist.  (Begin making lots of “profound” observations about brain washing, cite stats about religion and war,  call all people that believe in God ignorant, begin to believe that you are smarter than everyone else, etc. )

16) Continue to freeload on Christian morality while divorcing morality from its foundation in the judeo-Christian worldview… especially if you live in the west.

17) Read lots of books on self-improvement, self-love, and quasi-scientific bullshit trying to ground ethics in natural order.

And there you have it, seventeen steps on how to become an atheist.  If you are an atheist and happen to read this post, please don’t be a stereotype or cliche.  Take your “faith” in no god seriously and discover serious authors in this worldview (not angry scientists with psuedo-scientific axes to ground).  As a general rule, read the fathers and mothers of your movement.  Most of them are dead.  Try not to read too much by people actually alive today because they often pedal sincerity for lack of substance.  This is the quintessential bullshitter technique.

Friedrich Nietzsche, the guy with the wicked moustache,  is my favorite writer as it relates to atheism.  In fact, if I were to give up my faith in Christ, which I have no plans of doing, I would pursue Nietzsche’s vision of life without God for better and for worse.  As the “father” of the god is dead movement, he writes brilliantly about the type of world we live in if god doesn’t exist.  He paints vivid pictures with words and recognizes that true atheism begins in the heart of the “believer” in god who mentally assents to truth about Him but lives as if He doesn’t exist.  We call this practical atheism, which would be many in the Christian ranks who profess to believe in Jesus (without following him) and live without any thought of Him apart from their Sunday ritual.  It’s not a big jump for any of these individuals to become atheists because they are practically atheists already.  Nietzsche’s greatest contribution to atheism as a way of life is his understanding of internal consistency.  He encourages his reader to move beyond the inherited foundational Christian ethics of our culture and begin to envision life “Beyond good and evil.”  In other words stop freeloading on Christian morality.  Rise above the herd mentality and “Will to Power.”  Become the Ubermansch or overman.  Paraphrasing Dostoevsky’s A Brothers Karamazov, “If god is dead, everything is permissible.”  There is no final judgment of right and wrong simply social construction of reality.  Nietzsche envisioned this world and welcomed it with all of its potential for the overcomers and horrors for the herd.

 

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5 Responses to Easy Guide to Becoming an Athiest

  1. Jay says:

    Immense frustration and anger leap out of every word in this blog. I’ll be in prayer for you. I certainly hope that this impression you have of present day “Christianity” doesn’t hinder you from being a light to others.

    • tyler says:

      Jay,
      Frustrated yes… but not angry. I chose to write provocatively and intentionally using words that aren’t typically present in a blog post on Christianity; I’ve also been reading a great book called “On Bullshit.” It seemed to be relevant to the discussion at hand as it relates to truth and facts in public discourse.

      You see I don’t believe the church is the institution. The church is the people. I can write critically about an institution that in my opinion is doing more to harm one’s faith journey than support it. As an industrialized entity, the church has been reduced to economics… bodies and bucks. We have been called to make disciples and sadly, the fact is this isn’t happening. Most pastors I meet can’t even tell me what a disciple is let alone how to make one. It’s easier to pack rooms using lights, smoke machines, celebrities and tv screens… we entertain and the people love us for it. I’m simply questioning the legitimacy of this present experiment. I think it (the present manifestation) needs to be questioned… better yet burned to the ground. We are amusing people to death. This present “model” has little to do with the kingdom of God that Jesus almost exclusively discusses. I long for the kingdom reality in my life and the life of a church that I choose to attend. If you have found this, I’m excited for you. I simply still haven’t found what I’m looking for. (That’s the frustration part).

      As for your prayers, be careful with throwing that around… this statement has become a Christian cliche. We actually beat each other with this statement. It can assume the position of superiority. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt so if you want to pray for me… pray I experience an increasing measure of the kingdom reality in my life.

      Thanks for taking time to respond.

      Tyler

      • Jay says:

        Tyler,

        Thanks for your response. Firstly, I’d like you to know that my prayer for you was from a sincere heart, and if anything I find myself having feelings of inferiority when I read a blog post of this eloquence. Upon reflection I fell prey to a common internet faux pas in that I went immediately to the comment section without a proper time of contemplation. I must apologize, as upon reading it again it came across as smug.

        In all honesty, rightly or wrongly I took this post as an affront to my “Sunday” experience. I do attend a relatively large church with a rock style worship team, screens, (no smoke machine though. . .) While I enjoy the modern touches I certainly don’t build my faith around it. The church I attend is my first ever since becoming an atheist in High School. After being stirred to investigate Christianity I was drawn to this larger “church” because I could slip in without being immediately pointed at and noted as a newbie. I’ll admit I did enjoy the comfy seats, relaxed dress, and music at first, however, it was the solid scriptural teaching that I received that had me coming back until I reached a point of certainty and decided to follow Christ. That is when I realized I was “the church” and my life hasn’t been the same since. I’m not claiming sainthood but my life is drastically different now than it was 18 months ago, and I have to thank my “Sunday experience” in a large church building for helping me reach this point in my faith.

        Maybe I’m inexperienced or naive (probably a mix of both) but the flashier modern efforts to reach the lost (modern music, lights, neat sets, social media) can produce fruit, I know it has in my case. I’d be completely comfortable abandoning the “entertainment” aspects of my Sunday experience for a home church or any other environment that allowed me to help others learn about Christ, enjoy fellowship and receive encouragement with other believers, and to continue learning from sound scriptural teaching (which is what keeps me coming back).

        My initial reaction to your blog was also probably because I read so much about how the church in North America is absolutely in the doldrums. Any institution made up of human beings is going to be imperfect, but I don’t think you can throw the baby out with the bathwater.

        Again, I apologize for the knee jerk reply, and I will certainly pray that you find an abundance of kingdom reality in your life!

        Jay

  2. Tony says:

    Tyler- Not one to parse words are we :) . If it is not for anger in those moments that we show we truly love, where is our passion for truth. I agree with your point about Jesus. If it were not for Jesus and only Jesus I myself would be walking a very foreign path from that path I journey today. Jesus makes the difference. It doesn’t matter what side of the religious fence you perceive that you’ve planted your stake in the ground, because the fence is an illusion and we’re looking at the wrong thing if we aren’t looking toward Jesus.

    Secular moralism, which an Atheist would passionately defend, says that it really doesn’t matter if God exists, which god exists, how many gods exist, or if no gods at all exist. All that really matters is living a moral life with morality grounded in empathy and compassion for others…This is the quintessential argument that speeds toward an Evil Kenevil style ramp launching oneself into the Grand Canyon of delusion. Fun to watch metaphorically? Maybe, in a twisted sort of way, but wait until you have to try to explain the consequences to your kids because Daddy waited “metaphorically” just a little too long to change the channel.

    John Chrysostom said he that is angry without cause, sins and he that is not angry with cause also sins, for unreasonable patience is the hotbed of many vices. Patience for the ultimate con, that there is no God, is unacceptable when you love someone enough to care about their eternal place with our creator…it does make me angry. Life is fleeting, life is precious, and life lived with bullshit is pretentious. A life lived without pretense is a life lived without fear.

    I really appreciate your thoughts Tyler.

    Tony

    • tyler says:

      Hey Tony,
      Thanks for your thoughts. Believe it or not, I wasn’t angry writing this post, but I’m fed up with Christianity lite and the open invitation it provides for people to leave a non-substantive faith and reject it as what Jesus said and did. Unfortunately, Christianity has become a bad caricature of what Jesus said and did. I challenge anyone to do what Jesus says and to live how he did and see if that doesn’t produce the kind of life he promised… a life to the full. Our present consumer, smoke infested worship environments are pointing to a straw Jesus that is easily forgettable and most certainly to be rejected.
      Ah, and yes secular moralism… Nietzsche would call this a plague of true atheism. Secular moralism is simply “freeloading on Christian ethics.” If God doesn’t exist, there is simply no concept of good except what we as a society agree upon. That works fine if everyone is in agreement… if not… all hell breaks loose literally. Simply ask the Jews in Nazi occupied Europe during WWII. There is no grounding of good and evil in an atheistic worldview because nothing exists to determine what is good and evil. Arguments from science, regarding moral evolution and its utility in a “survival of the fittest” worldview has more holes than swiss cheese. Nietzsche again would repudiate “living a moral life grounded in empathy and compassion for others.” Who gives a shit about people suffering. Simply rise above the herd morality and crush those who get in your way of self-actualization. I’m not saying atheists can’t be good people because many are, but I am saying there is no reason or standard to judge a “despicable” person. A serial killer is as moral as mother Teresa. They are simply pursuing different paths to self-actualization. There is no standard to judge. Why compassion and empathy? Why not the opposite. Moral atheists also have to come to terms with more people being killed in the 20th century by atheistic regimes than all other regimes religious and secular combined. The problem for moral atheists is that these atheist leaders lived consistently within their worldview. There is no moral ground to make a different judgment. What is justice? It demands a referent. Moral atheists are struggling to find one and the best quasi-scientific theories haven’t provided much ground here to stand on. Be good for good’s sake isn’t much of a moral theory when one can’t even define what is good and what is evil. It would seem what one determines (picks out of the air) becomes the modus operandi. And once again we have our feet firmly planted in mid-air.

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