Rick Warren recently tweeted this drivel:
“People become atheists because of hurt, then seek intellectual arguments to validate their desire to live without God.”
From the heights of solipsistic arrogance, Warren has performed the verbal equivalent of pulling his pants down and wagging his bare butt at the entire atheist community. Allow me to pull his pants the rest of the way down.
For starters, he is dead wrong. Most atheists are atheists primarily for intellectual reasons. End of story. Even a casual relationship with a few atheists will make this fact obvious.
Second, consider the plausibility of what Warren really believes: an invisible being who created the universe by speaking a few words also revealed himself to an obscure Middle Eastern sect by causing a virgin to conceive a son that was 100% himself and also 100% not himself, and then that son died, un-died, saved all of humanity and flew back into heaven. And it’s supposed to be hard to see why people might disagree for purely intellectual reasons?
Warren’s sentiments represent the worst of Christian xenophobia. Even Christian theologians–the category we reserve for those crazy enough to devote their lives to the study of the invisible and confusing–understand that there are plenty of intellectual reasons to abandon the brand of faith Warren traffics. Sure, they might not do so themselves, but their exposure to the pressing intellectual problems of Christianity makes them much more circumspect and far less apt to accuse atheists of believing the way they do for no other reason except being hurt.
I myself have heard some Christian friends and family parrot Warren’s idiocy to me, and it’s insulting. First, how dare anyone tell me why I made the decision I made? I was the one making it(!), and I assure you it was for intellectual reasons. Second, why would anyone think that the mere moral failure of a few Christians would motivate me to reject the faith altogether? I wasn’t hurt–I actually had a pretty good Christian experience–but even if I was, how dare someone insinuate that I would sacrifice my intellectually integrity to an emotional response? That’s just downright rude, and even I, an atheist, grant my intellectual opponents more respect than that.
Finally, it is only from the apogee of blind faith that people believe there can be no purely intellectual motivation to disagree with them. The hideously effective belief encoded in many strains of the Christian meme is that it affords literally no space for the possibility of its untruth. Those infected are so convinced that they cannot be persuaded otherwise by evidence or logic. At least us atheists usually acknowledge the possibility of being wrong.
No doubt Warren will continue spouting his nonsense to the cheap applause of some Christians. But the rest of us will just laugh at him flailing about with his pants down.