Internet Atheism

“All atheistic blogs & social networks are intelligent while all sites representing religion are dimwitted.”

Ever get that vibe from reading opinion after opinion on the internet? I do. And so does Tom Gilson, who, a little over a year ago, wrote a wonderful blog on the topic. (link is provided at the bottom.)

Have a teen in your house? Have them read the blog. Better yet – as their parent, read it with them and discuss it afterward.

Internet debate is tricky. RARELY – if ever – does it change someone’s convictions about something as important as the existence of God. However, if entertained long enough (in place of the study of Scripture), Satan will use it to plant and water seeds of doubt. This strategy of the enemy is no different than his strategy in Eden.

Ever entered into a religious debate and quickly felt like you were thrown to the wolves? Me too. Note Gilson’s observation below:

“Social theorists know that the collective intelligence of a group is often lower than that of any of its members. ‘Groupthink’ is a familiar manifestation of that effect. Less well-known is the polarization effect, in which social pressure, selective presentation of information, and seeing others as outsiders can lead a group to adopt extreme positions that no one person would take up on his or her own.”

To illustrate, let’s say you decide to comment on the topic of evolution. The original poster is clearly pro-evolution/anti-creationism. While you may have a very intelligent comment, a “mob mentality” quickly erupts and you likely find yourself “thrown to the lions”, i.e. being vilified by all of the poster’s friends. That’s ok. Don’t lose your temper. I guarantee – someone is taking note of your intelligent response. And never – never – become defensive or ugly. Stay cool. Love deeply. The ones calling you names and making fun of you are NOT your primary enemies. Remember what Paul told the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (6:12) The LAST thing satan wants is for a Child of the King to bring light into darkness. (But the enemy can’t stop it – Light can dispel darkness, but darkness cannot dispel light. And this is exactly why Jesus used this metaphor.)

Gilson continues: “It seems to me that it’s this kind of group effect, operating through blogs and social networks, that makes Internet Atheism different from other forms of disbelief. It’s what makes it a uniquely Internet-based phenomenon, and justifies giving it the name ‘Internet Atheism.’ They convey a common message; they live in one world. In that world, atheists can think. Christians cannot. Atheists build their knowledge upon science. Religious people build their beliefs on blind faith.”

Satan’s always embodied hubris. So, it’s no wonder that those that deny Christ (in light of compelling evidence for Christ being exactly who He said He was) would be known by the same.

Personal note: Within the first hours of finding my son’s body after he’d taken his life I was honestly considering the possibility that there was no God….that the Bible is a book of fairy tales, and that Christianity is an emotional crutch for the weak-minded. However, it was due to my questioning everything about God – weighing the overwhelming evidence for His existence, the reliability of His Word, etc – that brought me to the following, thought-out decision: “The Bible is true; Jesus is exactly who He said He was; the resurrection happened. I don’t understand you, God. But, by faith, I will trust you. Even in light of the senseless death of my son, nothing else on this planet makes sense in light of You and Your Word.”

Gilson goes on to site, “Time and again, atheists on the Internet have said of my ‘Thinking Christian’ blog, “Thinking Christian? What a joke! There’s no such thing! If he were thinking, he’d be an atheist.”

To say a “thinking Christian is a joke” is, itself, an arrogant, self-serving, UNthinking statement. This is why God is, at this moment, re-assigning me….adjusting my “role” within the Body of Christ to help believers better know how to know & use their Bible, know why they believe what they believe, and encourage and witness to others.

Within academia, you will find something common: a fear of truth,…a sense of panic that maybe – just perhaps – the resident “experts” may be wrong, in part, or altogether. Read on from Gilman: “Internet Atheism is a frontal attack on Christianity, operating on many levels. Recently Jerry Coyne mounted a blog-based campaign to have a Ball State University astronomy professor barred from teaching a course on the “borders of science,” because it has implications that could support Intelligent Design theory. The university has undertaken an ‘investigation,’ the results of which remain to be seen.”

My position, based on Gilson’s story immediately above, is this: professors & teachers should present the entire spectrum of truth. To refuse to do this more resembles indoctrination. (They don’t even need to mention God. The book of Esther doesn’t :)) Simply present what can be proven empirically (scientifically) and allow the student to arrive at their own conclusions based on the evidence. I am certainly not afraid of this teaching strategy. But, apparently those hostile to Christ are – and for good reason. The evidence for God is not only compelling, it’s overwhelming. Renowned British atheistic philosopher, Antony Flew, was a champion for the atheistic community. Just a few years before his death he stunned the atheistic community by stating that the universe, having an intelligent design, demands a creator. Now, Flew, as far as we know didn’t believe in a “personal God” manifested in Jesus Christ. But, he most certainly changed his longstanding opinion on the creation of the universe. Why? Flew stated, “I must agree with Plato’s Socrates and go where the evidence leads.” Translation: “thinking people” – if they are honest with themselves – upon careful examination of the evidence will, in my opinion, eventually wind up at the truth. Through the prophet, Jeremiah, God said, “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (29:13)

In conclusion, Gilson concludes: “Our best defense is careful study, clear thinking, a presence of our own on the Internet, and quality teaching in our churches. Internet Atheism is too simple to succeed in the long run—provided that we do our part to show it for what it really is.”

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick