I've been pondering some things in Canadian Atheist's comment on my previous post. He was generally gracious but disagreed with me on one point. He begins his disagreement by quoting me:
Bill said: So parents, if your children have rejected God, if they claim that they do not believe in Him, my advice is to love them.
Then he continues:
It's the word 'rejected'. I find many Christians use these terms for some odd reason. Atheism isn't always a rejection of anything. It's a lack of evidence. It would be like me saying you reject Zeus or some other figure someone else believes in. For example, in Iceland, some people believe in Elves and they will change building codes to accommodate that belief. I doubt you 'reject' the belief in elves, you simply see no evidence that elves exist. Until such evidence arrives, you don't believe. You're essentially an elf atheist.
I'm glad he did use the word "always." That leaves open the possibility that Atheism may sometimes be a rejection of something and gives me a foot in the door. We've covered similar ground before. (See: ATHEIST FAITH.)
I'll stick with my word "rejected" because I think it is a fitting word. This is especially so when God is perceived as one of the family, as He is in many Christian homes.
People who turn to Atheism do not necessarily make their choices due to "a lack (or perceived lack) of evidence." Perhaps Canadian Atheist did, but as with Christian believers there are varieties of conversion (or un-conversion) experiences and varieties of motives. I've heard or heard of a few.
· There are those who reject a belief in God due to conscious choice; they say they cannot reconcile the idea of a loving God with the suffering they see around them or experience themselves. I suppose they would argue not that there's a lack of evidence for God, but that the evidence is stacked against Him. And so they reject God, often with a statement such as, "I can't believe in a God like that!" While I greatly sympathize, I have to say that I disagree, God's existence is not contingent on my approval or disapproval of His behavior.
· There are those who reject the Bible, especially as it is often presented, and see it as a book of myths. The conclusion seems to follow that its purported Author and main Character is also a myth.
· And for young people raised in religiously rigid homes, I suspect that a professed Atheism can be a position chosen simply in order to close off arguments.
· And while I am not saying (as Christians are often accused of saying) that Atheists are immoral or even less moral, a rejection of God can give one the freedom to reject or reinvent his moral code. As Dostoevsky said, "If there is no God everything is permissible."
· Now to this so-called "lack of evidence." Pardon me, but I find claims such as these, not only condescending, but a convenient excuse for not considering the evidence that is there. To claim that one has examined the evidence and come to the conclusion that there is no God is one matter, but to totally disregard any evidence that points to a Creator or Designer is another. To compare belief in a Creator God with a belief in elves is simply a dodge, a red herring. (by the way, wouldn't one who doesn't believe in elves be an A-elfist?)
When one bases his arguments for the non-existence of God solely on materialistic, neo-Darwinian concepts, he is really begging the question. He is saying: Nothing exists except the material world -- that which can be perceived with the senses. God is not part of the material world. Therefore God does not exist. Commitment to this view is a matter of choice and a rejection of the alternative. Or to put it in different words, it is a faith commitment.