The Fear of Atheism

by Luke Nix

apologetics - the atheistLast week an apologist friend of mine posted a fairly common atheist challenge to a private Facebook group. The specific version is this:

"Why are you so AFRAID of atheism? What is it about thinking you have a big daddy in the sky that you need to believe in that you just can’t let go of? Aren’t you arguing because REALLY you are AFRAID it is all just a big lie and you know that all your cherished religious beliefs are false?"

This challenge has three individual questions that need to be addressed on their own. Let’s look at the first one.

Why are you so AFRAID of atheism?

When I first saw this question I wasn’t sure why it was asked. The reason is that it assumes that the theist IS afraid of atheism. Many could put forth reasons for why atheism is nothing to fear. The chief one would be that if God does not exist, then there will be no one to account to after death for the lives we lived. If there is no one to account to, then why not live like you want? Atheism offers a freedom to follow our desires without fear of eternal consequences. As long as we are acting within the confines of the cultural laws, we don’t even have to fear consequences while we’re alive. Further if we don’t like a law, all we have to do is rise against the law, and it will eventually be changed. Cultural relativism rules the day.

But on the other hand, the fact that if God does not exist that cultural relativism DOES rule the day is precisely what IS to be feared of atheism. There is an inherent danger in trying to change cultural laws. When a society has established a law, those who break it will be punished, and those who stand against a law will be stood against. If there is no higher law that the enforcers of the laws of the land are also held to, there is no reason to prevent them from breaking their own laws to ensure the perpetuity of the current laws of the land. I’m referring to suppression of the people who want "reform" by means that go against the laws of the land. Denial of free speech, denial of assembly, or even denial of life (murder) are all examples.

In such a world, if there were enough people who believed there was nothing "wrong" with discrimination and suppression of free speech, all they would have to do is rise against the laws that outlaw those practices and change those laws to allow the behavior. On the more extreme end, rape and murder could even be made legal if enough powerful members of the society desired it. There is a legitimate fear while alive of having no higher moral responsibility just with the first examples, not to mention the second set.

Even though I might say that I don’t really fear atheism because of the absence of an after-life, I have a reason to fear it in this lifeā€¦

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