9 Signs That You Might Be An Intellectually Dishonest Atheist

CVM Demolition Squad

“Reality is a cocktail of fantasy” Micah Purnell.

We lie to ourselves all the time. I lie to myself about how good-looking I am. I like to imagine that ‘I’ve still got it’. And then I walk past a reflection of myself that I wasn’t expecting to see, and before my brain has chance to readjust to my idealised view, I catch a glimpse of what I actually look like – how other people see me. And it hurts; so I blot it out as quickly as possible.

We all construct our own truth. It’s our way of getting through life. And when a lie gets told and retold, eventually the real truth gets suppressed and our constructed truth becomes our reality.

A great example of this is the film Shutter Island (Spoilers ahead). In this film, Leonardo di Caprio is a man driven insane by the death of his children and murdering of his own wife. Unable to cope with the truth, he constructs his own reality where he is a renowned detective. The doctors at the mental asylum where he is housed decide to use this constructed reality in their favour, and set up a false trail of clues for “Det. Teddy Daniels” to follow – which ultimately lead to the uncomfortable truth that he is not in fact a detective, but is the asylum’s most dangerous patient. At the climax of the film, he rejects the real story in favour of his created universe – and is lobotomised!

So what about you? What if the worldview you’ve constructed is false? And what if you’re missing a greater truth – and, unlike in Shutter Island, a better truth? Here are some signs that you might be intellectually dishonest when it comes to the question of God.

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1. You only read/watch what you already agree with.  The books/blogs you read – or videos you watch – fit in with your existing worldview and serve simply to confirm your own prejudices. You deliberately stay away from anything that might challenge you. You start to unfollow people who post things on Twitter and Facebook that you disagree with. This is telling. When we truly feel comfortable with what we believe, we can happily imbibe contrasting or conflicting views. If you’re so sure you’re right, then why do you shy away? There’s a chance that you’re strengthening the foundations of a belief that you’ve built upon the sand.

2. “People who disagree with me are stupid!” That’s why you don’t read or watch anything Christian – they’re so obviously deluded. But it’s not that, is it? Psychologically, when we don’t want to be challenged by something, we need to convince ourselves that it is ridiculous. We need to alienate it and dispose of it. So we start using extreme words like stupid or irrational, which help us distance ourselves from the challenge. This is where terms like Magic Sky Clown and Jewish Zombie come from. By reducing Christianity ‘ad absurdum’, we don’t need to worry about its potential truth. We wrap ourselves in protective labels.

3. You get angry with those who disagree. You swear at or shout down people in conversation, or walk away from a discussion. You convince yourself that your anger is righteous at how immoral their viewpoint is, but is that really true? Anger is what happens when we don’t feel in control and try to re-exert our own power in a situation. Think of any scenario where you’ve lost your temper and you’ll see it follows that process. It’s an emotional response, not an intellectual one. It’s a sign that you’re out of your depth, that you don’t know everything. People sure of what they believe and confident of its truthfulness tend to remain calm in conversation. “I get angry ‘cos they’re stupid!” you might say. See bullet point 2.

If you’re getting angry when talking to Christians, maybe you’re not quite as clued up as you thought you were. That’s OK – just follow the path where it leads.

4. You use words like ‘rational’ and ‘logical’ and ‘free-thinking’ to describe yourself. These words are like verbal placebos. They create a pleasant feeling of security in us without actually proving us to be any of those things. However, calling yourself logical and rational doesn’t somehow magically transform all your ideas into logical, rational ideas…

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9 Signs That You Might Be An Intellectually Dishonest Atheist | The CVM Blog