Christians say a whole lot about atheists, attempting to ascribe motivations or penalties to a worldview that scares and baffles them. That’s to be expected; we are pattern-seeking creatures by nature. The funny thing is that these assumptions usually say a whole lot more about Christians than about atheists. Let’s take several of the more common assumptions about atheists as posited by theists.
Assumption #1: You just want to “sin”
Occasionally sin encompasses things like violence, rape, or murder. A lot of the time, though, “sin” is a code word for “sex.” Interesting. So, presumably, these Christians would jump headfirst into an orgy if they somehow lost their belief in a disapproving God. Says a lot about what they would do without God, but not a whole lot about me. It also speaks volumes to the obsession with sex that pervades a lot of Christianity.
Assumption #2: You must hate religious people
I don’t hate anyone. I don’t have to, because I don’t have a God telling me what I should consider wicked/outcast/other/etc. But the fact that Christians assume right off the bat that hatred is the natural response to religious disagreement is really sad and kind of awful. It also is kind of damning on their part. Why would they assume that hatred was even an option unless that was at the forefront of their own minds?
Assumption #3: You must be terrified of death
Christians insist theirs is not a religion based around the fear of mortality. However, this is the question most frequently asked when they are confronted by atheism: “Aren’t you afraid of dying?” Of course they assume I’d be terrified of death: the terror of death is the biggest motivator for staying “saved”! The correlation between Christianity and the fear of dying is even more apparent if you do research into Medieval church history and tradition.
Assumption #4: You can’t have a life purpose
When Christians make this assumption, it only indicates one thing: that they couldn’t imagine forging their own path, giving their own life meaning without the dictates of someone else. We’ve all met the medical student or law student who is in school just to please Dad. They’ve fully bought into the family business, and can’t imagine straying from the rule book or finding validation outside their Parent. Being an artist feels like an irresponsible, wasteful, even disrespectful thing to be.
Again, we can’t blame Christians for reaching for explanations when faced with something as culturally counter-intuitive as atheism. Nor can we blame them for missing the mark: after all, we ascribe motives to others that mirror our own. We can only hope that one day they realize that in pointing out our “symptoms,” they are diagnosing their own disease.
What are some other assumptions that Christians make about atheists? Comment to add to the list!
“What happened to make you so angry with God?”
“The same thing that happened to make you angry with Zeus.”
“You know God exists, but are just denying him.”