Yesterday I wrote a post titled, “More Evil Than Any Atheist I’ve Confronted.” Both here and on Twitter that caused some raised eyebrows: “What? Are you calling atheists evil?”
I wish I hadn’t worded that headline and post the way I had. It was clumsy. I wanted to focus on the evil of Westboro Church, which I think exceeds just about any other non-violent evil I can think of, and possibly even some that’s violent. That was the point of the post, but through carelessness I caused another question to arise.
It behooves me, then to address that question: do I think atheists are evil?
As I wrote in a comment yesterday, we all have that problem; see Romans 3:9-18. We all start out in opposition to God, self-oriented. The same topic came up in another thread, where I wrote that we’re all deeply flawed, and the only solution is in Jesus Christ—concerning which I have also written recently.
Universal Rebellion Expressed in Multiple Ways
Are atheists evil? It is wrong, and it is an expression of evil, to stand in opposition to God. There are many ways to oppose God: passive indifference, worshiping false gods, worshiping power, money, or prestige, living for personal pleasure rather than to honor God, and many more. Westboro Church is a tragic expression of evil, right up there among the worst, as I’ve already said.
One of the prime ways to oppose God, though, is to take a firm stand for the denial that he exists or that he matters. To deny our creator, to spurn his love and his sacrifice, to turn one’s back toward him intentionally, is a deep violation of the most basic commandment, which is to love him with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.
A Picture of Atheism
Suppose someone cared enough for you to sacrifice his life. Suppose he lived through it regardless. Then suppose you walked into his room in the hospital one day, and while he was greeting you, you turned away and called out, “Hey, is there anything interesting around here, or can I just leave now? I’m not particularly interested in talking with this dude, whoever he is. I can’t imagine what he has to do with me.”
That’s a picture of atheism, especially the sort of atheism that firmly denies the reality of God (or even 6.9/7 atheism).
Are atheists evil? Atheism certainly is.
Are atheists more evil than other groups? We all fall so far short of the glory of God that comparisons are almost meaningless. Viewed from an airplane, is an SUV taller or shorter than a pickup truck? Viewed from the ground, the answer would probably have to be, “which SUV and which truck?” In other words, if asked to compare groups I would decline. Westboro is a small enough group, however, and well-defined enough, that I don’t mind drawing a comparison: more evil than any (individual) athest I’ve confronted.
Good News for Those Who Can Accept It
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for those who can accept bad news. The bad news is that we’re all (watch out: unfamiliar language ahead) sinners. We’re all flawed, we’ve all missed the mark, we all need to be rescued. It is a universal human problem with only one answer. I had to accept that I was marred with evil—evil with which I had cooperated, evil that was in me—before I could be in any position to ask Jesus Christ to lift me out of it.
Are atheists evil? Atheists are human; and a human who has not be likewise lifted out needs to come to that same recognition. They are not evil because they are atheists; rather atheism is one expression among many of the rebellion of which I previously spoke.
I don’t expect that assessment to be very popular. It might just be the best thing you ever heard, though. Do you want good news? Look inside and see whether you recognize how much you need it. Then call on Jesus Christ to bring you what you need: rescue from your rebellion.
I’ve already linked to it here but I want to re-emphasize this post, where I’ve written more on this topic; and also the free ebook What Is Christianity?, where you’ll find more yet.