Monday, November 2, 2009

Atheist or Anti-Theist

I know plenty of atheists. Rolling in the circles I roll in, that's not much of a surprise. The Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith just proves too much for many folks. Unlike many other Jesus-folk, I am sympathetic to that mindset. Atheists are people too, and they can be both entertaining company and good friends.

'Course, they're all going to hell, but there's nothing wrong with enjoying their company before they are eternally immolated in the undying fires of God's unescapable wrath.

Kidding. I? Hmmm.

What strikes me, having gotten to know atheists, is that there are as many different atheisms as there are atheists. Recognizing that continuum, I've noted two polarities of type.

Many atheists are mellow. They don't believe, because they've 1) been burned by faith or 2) they have such a radically empirical view of the world that there's just no room in it for the supernatural. Whatever the cause, they don't have a chip on their shoulder about it. These are the folks who are willing to say, you know, there are many things about the teachings of Jesus that are pretty cool. But the whole package? Nope. Sorry. They just can't get there from here. Theism means...well...nothing to them. Faith is just irrelevant and/or immaterial. Slappin' that "a" prefix onto the front of "theist" means theism shouldn't factor into the equation at all. This is, to my eyes, the most authentically a-theist position, because it is non-theist.

Then there's the atheism that is more "antitheist" than "atheist". For these folks, non-belief expresses itself as a vigorous and normative opposition to all forms and manifestations of faith. It's all up in your business, relentlessly truculent and dismissive. Faith is not irrelevant for these folks. It's the gravitic center of their worldview, the enemy against which they orient their existence, the opposite polarity which they relentlessly reject yet which paradoxically defines them.

I prefer the former, although the latter can be entertaining to have around when you're up for some sparring.