People become atheists because of hurt, then seek intellectual arguments to validate their desire to live without God.
That’s what esteemed pastor Rick Warren wrote on his Twitter account last night.
Ah, yes, I remember when I became an atheist. It was the night daddy beat me…
Of course, Warren is full of shit. He doesn’t understand atheists but he knows he can say whatever he wants and his followers will simply smile and nod (and retweet).
We become atheists for a variety of reasons — many of us do so because the intellectual arguments against a god’s existence force us to reexamine our religious beliefs and, ultimately, reject them. You don’t reject God first and ask questions later.
Do some people lose their faith because they were hurt? Sure. Sometimes. But even for them, it would be wrong to assume that that was the end of the thought process. The initial loss of faith just makes them question their religious beliefs even harder. Eventually, the notion that gods don’t exist begins to make sense. It’s a long process, though.
In any case, it’s a mistake to generalize about why people are atheists. And it’s complete ignorance to think people become atheists because they want to “live without god,” the implication being that we want to be immoral and we need to find justification for it.
Reader Walker came up with a few similar tweets about Christians — I think the important thing to note is that these statements are ones you might actually hear in the atheist community, but they’re oversimplifications that don’t apply to most Christians, and we’d be wrong to spread them:
People become Christians because their parents made them go to church, then reject intellectual arguments because of social pressure.
People become Christians because they fear death, then embrace the ideas of afterlife and divine sacrifice to excuse their behavior in life.
People become Christians because Rick Warren scams them with his profit-driven new-age spiritual bullshit, then disparage atheists because it’s easier than being intellectually honest.
Actually, I kind of like that last one… but it’s more than 140 characters… 🙂