It is humorous to me how atheists prefer to look at theology with the widest lens possible; that is, they prefer to talk about religion, as though all religions were the same. They prefer to talk about Christianity, based upon fringe groups like the snake-handling cults. They prefer to talk about the intersection of faith and politics by exhuming hoary and discredited televangelists. Bright shining in the darkness are their four fears.
One, there seems to be a fear of scrutiny, a fear of looking at the subject matter too closely. By remaining at a distance and dealing with sweeping generalities, they can keep themselves safe and unaffected. It as though they fear being exposed to this subject or know at some level, that their beliefs cannot withstand a battle. This approach is strident in its immaturity and avoidance; it radiates fear. Few atheists will read the books of their enemies; fewer still will take aim at the best that theism has to offer in debates; they content themselves with mocking Christianity through silly intellectual onatism like Pastafarism, by taking down Indian mystics, and by ridiculing evangelicalism’s excesses. They claim to know the truth but they have no appetite for battle. Curious.
Two, when atheists talk about theology, they have a horse in the race. It is very important to them that there be no God, due to their combined shame and fear over what would happen if there were. They fear accountability. They argue from a position of hurt, anger, and confusion. The more mature atheists may subtly sneer at you for any claim of theism, but they are few; nearly all atheists are personally offended that anyone anywhere would claim that God exists, and this is because they are wearing themselves out keeping one step ahead of him. Anyone who reminds them of their futile and exhausting efforts has exposed them and shown the world the atheist’s nakedness. Thus, they have a vendetta against God because they are not escaping him and a vendetta against those who speak of him, because they remind the atheist of this painful fact.
Three, atheists are stuck in an immature pattern of behavior that allows them to mistreat people, using their knowledge as an excuse. When somebody says something that they think is not true, they unload on that person. They view others not as people who need to know the truth, but as enemies to be destroyed. This suggests that their claim upon truth is not nearly as secure as they wish that it were. They justify their ill treatment of people hypocritically, for they themselves are lashing out according to their own pain or are perpetuating a wound that they received long ago; they did not enjoy the initial wound and neither would they care to receive it again, yet they justify giving others what they abhor. In this, the atheist fears responsibility. Responsibility implies a limit to personal behavior, which means that atheists no longer have an ability to act however they choose.
Fourth, atheists fear judgment. Their immature antics and picking on what they think as the “slow kids” are a futile distraction. They feel deep in their bones after midnight the long chime of eternity, and find all of their entertainment lacking. New distractions must be invented. New pleasures must be had. If any of those fail, then more of them will surely soothe their unquiet mind. Yet they know, deep down, somewhere hidden yet still felt, the weight of responsibility and the certainty of judgment. Maybe if they can laugh at theists long enough or make a large enough statue or write enough books then their lives will have counted for something, but even maybe feels weak too often. Reckoning is sure and they fear it, because they see no escape.
I tremendously pity those who make an art of avoidance, of never examining their own lives. Atheists excel at doing this, which is out of all people on earth, they are the most miserable. Their joys are ever evanescent; their happiness is only chemical; their understanding is doomed to nihilism. Worst of all, the things that keep them together, like the spinning balls of anxious energy they are, are these four fears.