I recently watched ta video (embedded at the end of this) titled, Atheists – Never Say THIS. I liked it in general, but I do have to say I had a couple of problems with it, in that at least one of the examples presented – in fact the first – I have almost never heard anyone say. Maybe it’s because I’m not on social media all the time, or that I don’t attend Atheist conferences. I’m not sure, but I do know that what he spends a lot of time on at the beginning, is not something I’ve regularly heard any atheist say.
That example would be that believers are mentally ill. The video actually goes through the American Psychological Association’s definition of what mental illness comprises and I think that’s a bit. much for something that is rarely used. Well, as I said, rarely for me to hear. Maybe he, and others hear this all the time. Maybe I’m an outlier in that I don’t hear this pejorative utilized often and in fact, I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen it used on social media, or have heard it in person.
For anyone with any knowledge or experience with believers of any faith, it’s patently untrue. I may think they are living a fairy tale experience, but that doesn’t mean or imply that anyone of any faith has a mental illness. To me it’s no different than the way some secularists talk, as if the world, without any gods, would suddenly become some sort of utopia where there would be no more wars, starvation, or disease. I aways refer to these as those living in a Star Trek fantasy. It doesn’t, and never has implied that these same people are mentally ill.
I do have a little pushback when he discusses faith. In the video, around 7.5 minutes in, after giving an example of a conversation between a believer and an atheist, he says specifically that “faith means very different things to different people”. Huh? He then goes on to refute that very statement, to an extent, by saying that to many religious people “faith is belief without evidence”. He goes on to say that “other religious people have different definitions”. Really? He actually gives no cogent examples of that statement but provides a clip of an encounter with a religious person which is actually an awful example because the person in the clip basically states that religious faith is belief without any specific knowledge, based on trust, which is what most atheists, at least the ones I know affirm when they’ve asked believers the same question. It’s not about coming to an “agreed upon definition”, because even n the example shown, it’s the same argument.
This is not the same has having faith (trust) in someone, a friend or family member, because usually when the word is used in that context, it is with evidence. Religious faith is belief without evidence and even the New Testament is witness to the definition of faith in John 20:29. Of course, there are those that say this is out of context, but even reading before and after, it is clear that Thomas wanted evidence. We can spin this any way we want, but the message is clear, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed”. That’s the message, at least from Christianity.
I think that overall, there’s a good message here for atheists, and those that would have a negative view of religious belief may be able to apply in encounters with the religious, mostly for those that don’t regularly have these kinds of conversations with believers, but overall, I don’t find this to be particularly helpful, and in fact, meant as scolding a few rather than addressing the many.