Unicorns and Unbelief

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Most of us heard of the recent Christmas controversy over the atheist display next to the nativity scene in the Washington State courthouse.  And just this morning I spoke with a college student from a nearby state university who encountered other collegians passing out what he at first thought were Christian tracts only to discover they were actually arguments against God from the atheistic group on campus.  It seems the “new atheism” is evangelistic in its fervor.

I read an interesting analysis regarding this by Dinesh D’Souza  who in response to this growing trend authored a recent book, “What’s So Great About Christianity.”  (www.dineshdsouza.com) See what you think of his humorous analogy:

“Atheists spend a lot of time thinking about the motives for belief. Why do religious people believe these ridiculous things? When you turn the tables on atheists and ask them why they don't believe, they will answer, "Because we don't have enough evidence. We don't believe because there's no proof." But if you think about it, this is an inadequate explanation, because if you truly believe that there is no proof for God, then you're not going to bother with the matter. You're just going to live your life as if God isn't there.

I don't believe in unicorns, so I just go about my life as if there are no unicorns. You'll notice that I haven't written any books called The End of the Unicorn, Unicorns Are Not Great, or The Unicorn Delusion, and I don't spend my time obsessing about unicorns.  What I'm getting at is that you have these people out there who don't believe that God exists,but who are actively attempting to eliminate religion from society, setting up atheist video shows, and having atheist conferences. There has to be more going on here than mere unbelief.”

It sounds a lot like  Romans 1 to me where Paul speaks about those who will not believe suppressing the truth and becoming futile in their thoughts.  Though we need to dialog in respectful ways with those who differ from us, we need not back away from asking them good and thought provoking questions.  D’Souza makes a fun analogy; that is unless you’re more focused on unicorns than I am.

Comments

Sue Bohlin's picture

Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! That is soooooo good!!! That analogy will provide "munching matter" for a whole day, Gwynne! Thanks so much!

Recently Probe (Ministries) provided a book table for an event billed as "The Great Debate," concerning intelligent design. One of the participants, a militant atheist, milled about in the lobby before it started, looking at the books and DVDs on our table. Contempt and sarcasm dripped from every single comment he made.

I found myself thinking of the old adage, "There is none so blind as he who will not see," also thinking about Romans 1. This kind of man will not face his Creator and complain that there wasn't enough evidence to believe. He doesn't like the evidence there IS.

Wait just a second. You don't believe in unicorns?

Okay, so maybe they don't technically exist right now (although, who knows?), but I plan on riding one in the new earth. ;)

...but only the cuddly stuffed animal ones.

GREAT analogy! Of course, now I will go around thinking about unicorns for the rest of the day.

I think pride and the strong desire to be right is what, in part, motivates the fervor of atheists against those who believe in God. That, and, some atheists probably feel threatened and attacked by believers, and wish to strike back.

And why not? There is no higher motivation to "turn the other cheek."

Gwynne Johnson's picture

I agree that feeling attacked is likely part of the motivation to strike out at believers.

I think you're onto something and think the analogy is good one to a point: these folks have to have some reason to be pursuing their agenda. That said, perhaps more people would write such books about unicorns if there were a significant (I mean really significant) number of people who not only fervently believed in unicorns but also proselytized regarding that belief, treated others in a certain way (both negative and positive) because of that belief, and even launched wars based on that belief. My point is that the folks so unabashadly bashing belief do so, in part (I gather), because they *believe* that religious belief is a damaging influence on society (ironic isn't it)?

I think the cross-proselytization (which probably isn't a word) is really interesting. I remember a Crusade friend in college going with the tried and true: "If you knew a plane was going to crash in the ocean, wouldn't you tell everyone on board to wear a life jacket?" as a reason to spread the gospel. The same works the other way too. These folks think we are in trouble and our souls (and society in general) need saving from our wrongly-held beliefs. I'm not sure anyone would really have a problem in a little belief in unicorns.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Acceptance of the very real

Atheists don't respond in the same way to God as D'Souza does to unicorns because the great majority of the world doesn't believe in unicorns. Cute analogy but it doesn't hold to further analysis.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

True the analogy isn't complete.

Blaise Pascal says that God is not provable. I think most Christians would agree with this... because if God were provable, faith would be unnecessary. He further says that both sides will find proof for or against God according to what they already believe. The way they interpret the signs will determine what they prove. Rather, he says, it is knowldge of the heart that displays God to man. Though not infeasible, it is unlikely that one would show an atheist/agnostic that God exists through argument.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Again, encountering the love of God incarnate in a person they know will likely make more difference than all the arguments in the world.

"That said, perhaps more people would write such books about unicorns if there were a significant (I mean really significant) number of people who not only fervently believed in unicorns but also proselytized regarding that belief, treated others in a certain way (both negative and positive) because of that belief, and even launched wars based on that belief. My point is that the folks so unabashadly bashing belief do so, in part (I gather), because they *believe* that religious belief is a damaging influence on society"

Bingo! This analogy is actually extremely poor, in that the two cases are not at all similar.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

Just as the previous post, wonder how many atheists have actually been "damaged" by those claiming the name of Christ and they can extrapolate to society in general?

If atheists and agnostics are constantly searching for proof of a living God, they spend a lot more time thinking about God than a lot of Christians! Sad but true.

My question is, why do atheists care if we believe in God? What difference does it make to them? It matters to us as Christians that they don't believe in God because we have been commanded by God to reach out to unbelievers. However, they don't have anyone telling them to reach out to the Christians and "save" them from their belief in God.
I think most atheists and agnostics are the way they are because they were hurt (physically or emotionally) by someone in or affiliated with the church. This seems to be a common thread among several I have known in the past.

Gwynne Johnson's picture

I agree that most atheists have experienced exactly the opposite of the love of God that we would hope they encounter with believers.

D

The irony here is that you claim to disbelieve unicorns. Unicorns are mentioned in the Bible numerous times (a quick google search will direct you to these passages), and the context makes it clear that it should be understood that they literally exist.

God, like the unicorn, is an imaginary, mythical creature. The reason why there's no reason to spend much time refuting unicorns is that not many people believe in them, nor do many people try to intact bad public policy based upon an edict they supposedly handed down.

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