If
atheism ever disappears from the face of the earth, the world will react not
with unrestrained jubilance but yawning indifference.

I came to
this conclusion after watching Edwin Kagin, national legal director of American
Atheists Inc recently on ABC’s Nightline. Apparently he is offering
“de-baptisms” at the annual American Atheists Convention in Newark,
New Jersey. The process involves applying a hairdryer, labelled “Reason
and Truth”, to atheists in order to dry up the remnants of the water used
during their baptism. He told the interviewer that the ceremony had “as
much merit as the original baptism”.

This
might upset some people but all I could think of was, “Is this the best
they can do?” No clear-headed thinking? No iron-clad logical arguments? No
empirical evidence? No attempt at acting rationally? Whatever happened to the sceptics
of yore who sincerely sought God only to genuinely feel they hadn’t found Him?
Their honest and intelligent assessment of the evidence believers hold dear
simply didn’t lead them to the same conclusion.

For those
too young to remember, American Atheists Inc. is the same organization started
by the scheming, backstabbing and vindictive Madalyn O’Hair, who was murdered
by one of her many disgruntled atheist employees.

I make a
distinction between reasonable atheists and the fundamentalist sort. There are
many reasons to be an atheist. One could have grown up in a family that never
much thought of religion, or one might have grown up in a country that punished
with imprisonment or death any sign of religious conviction, as was common in
atheist regimes throughout the 20th century. Maybe the death of a loved one or
other personal tragedy has distanced the person from his creator or maybe one’s
lifestyle does not give much room for God. Either way, these people don’t
believe in God because they can’t.

Fundamentalist
atheists, on the other hand, don’t believe in God because they don’t want to. But
they aren’t satisfied with simply not believing; they want to make sure that no
one dare disagree with them.

Truth be
told, we have been witnessing the demise of fundamentalist atheism for years.
When Christopher Hitchens insisted, against all the evidence, that Mother
Teresa was “a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud”, you knew something was wrong.
It was a bit odd that he did not include a bit of supporting evidence or even a
single footnote in his potboiler. When Sam Harris insisted that 90 percent of
Swedes were atheists and therefore the rest of the world should follow suit,
most rational people were taken aback, as also when Stephen Fry insisted that
the Poles used the Nazi invasion of their country as an excuse to build
concentration camps to kill their Jewish compatriots.

The most
recent nail in modern atheism’s coffin was the discovery of God by Antony Flew
(1923 – 2010), the famed British atheist and philosopher. Flew was the last,
most civil and most intelligent feather in their collective cap. And now, even
though he is dead, he’s all ours.

Kagin
should take a break from attacking Christianity to put his own community’s
behaviour under the microscope. Aside from the pain that atheist philosophies
have afflicted upon the world — through objectivism, communist
totalitarianism, social Darwinism, eugenics, positivism, individualism,
scientism, Freudian pseudo-science and materialism — they should worry about
the kind of people they attract to their community when they mock religion. Generous,
kind and forgiving people will not be attracted to a group which mocks others.

I have
been a Catholic for a long time and I have never heard the words
“atheism” or “atheist” ever mentioned in church. An atheist
prior to converting to Catholicism, I can assure you that that community
is obsessed with the Church and incapable of discussing anything but the most
recent reason for hating us. They never talk about the wonders and glories of
atheism. They never raise virtuous atheists as models for themselves and their
children. They never organize themselves to help the unfortunate. Frankly,
after a couple of years, I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I left atheism
behind because it was snarky, sniping and moribund, revelling in its bitterness
and denial. It is amazing that anyone survives the wholesale rejection of logic
and reality, never mind hope, as they cherrypick data to uphold their opinions.

If
fundamentalist atheists wish to promote a mocking, judgmental attitude aimed at
hurting others, they must give up their pretence of being more compassionate
than Christians, which is one of their more cherished fantasies. For all their
self-vaunted intelligence, none of them have ever figured out what the Golden
Rule means. Despite this lacuna, they believe themselves to be
“tolerant” and theists to be intolerant, which is odd considering
Catholics don’t meet weekly to lambast atheists or rally to limit the latter’s
civil rights.

Kagin
even claims that parents who teach their children any religious values are
engaging in child abuse: “It is teaching children that the world works in
other ways than it does. This can be extremely dangerous.” If this wasn’t
petty enough, he also believes that all religious people are violent: “In
my opinion, they are engaged in terrorism by weakening our nation and our
understanding of science and things with which we can defend ourselves and
progress. If it had not been for these fools we could have been at the stars
2,000 years ago.”

By that
insane “logic” we should hold Kagin and his cohorts accountable for
all of the crimes of atheism’s inglorious history including Ho Chi Minh, Yet
Samrin, Pol Pot, Josip Broz Tito, Kim Il-sung, Benito Mussolini, Fidel Castro,
Che Guevara, Nicolae Ceauşescu, Mao Zedong, Mengistu Haile Mariam, Béla Kun,
Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin and Mátyás Rákosi — genocidal monsters and
coincidently, atheists, all of them. (Though Mussolini converted to
Catholicism, it was done only after he came into power and clearly as a
political move to consolidate power. His parents were atheists, he was raised
an atheist and he died an atheist.)

If
atheists could live virtuous lives full of compassion and generosity which drove
them to build hospitals, universities, social service centers (all three are
Catholic innovations, by the way,) soup kitchens, elderly care centers and
schools for poor children — all without recourse to God’s love to inspire them
— we would be in trouble indeed. But the best, the irrefutable proof of God’s
existence is that atheists seem incapable of this kind of generosity. If God does
not really exist and inspire those who believe in him, how are Christians
capable of doing that which eludes the atheist community?

As
Teilhard de Chardin reminds us, “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s
presence.” Mockery is the result of bitterness and lack of charity. Or, in
other words, whoever hates, loses.

It is not
at all odd that fundamentalist atheists would chose to mock those who disagree
with them as they don’t have a rational leg to stand on. If they can prove that
God doesn’t exist, they are welcome to present that proof. However, as it is
impossible to prove a negative proposition (God’s non-existence) it is odd that
people who claim to be “rational” would insist on this point. It is
as if atheists live by faith, believing in things that cannot be seen, let
alone proved. And in this regard, atheists have much in common with us. What
they lack is acknowledgment of God’s love in their lives.


Angelo Stagnaro is a journalist for the
Catholic News Service (USCCB) and for several Catholic journals in the US and
Europe.

Angelo Stagnaro performs as a stage magician and mentalist and is the editor of "Smoke & Mirrors," the Net's largest e-zine for professional magicians. Angelo has published articles...