There’s a lot of misinformation flying around out there on the internet. You might even call it “fake news.” Angry Christians get mad at angry atheists, angry atheists respond in kind, making for more angry Christians. It doesn’t help that the most celebrated atheists are of a particularly judgmental variety. Hell, I admire and agree with Christopher Hitchens, and I still feel judged every time I listen to him talk!
To clear the air a bit, here are six of the most common misconceptions that Christians have about atheists (at least, the ones who aren’t Hitchens).
Misconception 1: Atheists hate God
This is a categorical impossibility. Atheists can’t hate God, because they don’t believe God exists. They’re called atheists, not antitheists. They have no emotions for or against a divine being, they simply don’t care.
Misconception 2: Atheists hate Christians
False. I have so many people in my life who are Christians who I love and would die for. Some of them are even mentors and role models. I’ll bet most atheists have Christians in their lives that they care about (and vice versa).
Misconception 3: Atheists want to take away your faith
Most atheists don’t care one bit what your personal faith is. In fact, many respect the concept of faith (as long as that faith has been critically evaluated and consciously adopted). Issues only arise when faith is given a political or social pedestal not offered to other groups.
Misconception 4: Atheists can’t be spiritual
Atheism is the disbelief in God as an origin source and instigator of events in the universe. I am a very spiritual person and acknowledge the inherent divinity and untapped power of nature. In fact, I identify as a neopagan witch as well as an atheist.
Misconception 5: Atheists are smug know-it-alls
Watching Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens will convince you of this, but it’s not true for the majority of atheists. We like debate, sure, and we’re not going to concede to make you happy. But we certainly aren’t know-it-alls. Our entire premise hinges on the honest admission that “we can never know” what’s out there. We are mostly baffled at why Christians feel like they know it all.
Misconception 6: Atheists are amoral
Morality isn’t contingent upon religion. In fact, I’d argue that the opposite is true: religion is contingent upon morality. Religions offer structure designed to explain or regulate the natural, inherent byproduct of heightened intelligence: morality. It’s a “chicken-or-the-egg” situation, really. I won’t fault you for saying “chicken” if you don’t fault me for saying “egg.”
These are just six of the misconceptions Christians have about atheists. But these false assumptions don’t just run one way. Since I grew up in the church, I also know there are some misconceptions atheists have about Christians, so stay tuned for part two!
Originally published on Medium in December 2017.