In a bizarre conversation in which both participants have no clue what they’re talking about, conservative activist Charlie Kirk and Christian author Eric Metaxas talked about atheism while building all kinds of men made out of straw.
You can hear it around the 50:32 mark:
KIRK: … I go as far to say that atheism, in certain senses, can be a religion, and people disagree at this. They say, “Well, Charlie they have no theology.” I say, “Hold on a second. Atheists have a agreed upon belief in afterlife: nothing. They have agreed upon belief in a deity: nothing. And they proselytize and evangelize moreso than Christians do.”
I get more people approaching me to try to convert to atheism than almost any Christian does. And there’s a lot of different reasons for this, but I always challenge the atheist, I say, “If you actually believed what you say you believe, why does it matter? You got like 38 years and five days left, and then you’re just a clump of cells, dust, and then you’re gonna deteriorate into the abyss. You should live it up. You should do as much drugs and indulgence as you possibly can.”
And atheists are divided into two different buckets. There’s agnostics who call themself atheist because they think it’s punk rock. Then there’s deeply unhappy people that have been scarred by religion, and they think they’re too smart for religion, and I say there, I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. I think it takes unbelievable philosophical calisthenics to believe this is all just an act of randomness. In fact, I think it’s actually rooted in hubris.
METAXAS: Actually, I have been talking about this a lot lately. I actually believe it’s… Let’s put it this way: If God created the universe — which He did — and if He created us in His image — which He did — it is effectively, demonstrably impossible to live as though He didn’t exist. So when people talk about that, it’s a lot of words. There is no one who has the ability to actually live that way… When you have people talking about that, and… they’re implying that everything is random, life has no meaning, there is no good and evil, they don’t live that way, and they don’t dare live that way…
Their mistakes are so obvious, you would find good rebuttals on the first link in any Google search of their arguments.
But just to state the obvious, atheism isn’t a religion any more than “off” is a TV channel. Being a fan of your local sports team is far more “religious” than atheism is. We’re not nihilists either. Many atheists have personal philosophies about why they want to make the world a better place and why they want to do good — hurting other people and hurting ourselves would get in the way of all that. You don’t need fear of the supernatural to be a decent person.
To pretend life is only “randomness,” or to equate atheism with cockiness, or to assume atheists have nothing to live for means Kirk has never actually read about or spoken to them. He just makes up his own reality, then shares it like it’s gospel.
A lot of atheists are vocal because we have to be. As white evangelical Christians control the government and right-wing conservatives push idiotic arguments for public policy that hurt many Americans, it’s important to speak out about the harm both groups cause.
Metaxas, of course, believes everything Kirk is saying, and then proceeds to use that straw man to suggest real atheists don’t exist because they can’t possibly live that way. (It’s true. Those atheists don’t exist because the two guys just conjured them up out of nowhere.)
It’s not the first time Metaxas has perpetuated these myths about atheists.
He once wrote a book about “miracles” — which included things like the fine-tuning argument and the improbability of life, which have been countered and rebutted many times over — and then said of his critics that they exhibited a “real intolerance and a lack of open-mindedness.” More recently, he claimed that a solar eclipse was proof of God.
But evangelical Christians, who treat him like a supposed intellectual, rarely push back on any of this. Like Kirk, they just accept the lies because listening to actual atheists is apparently never an option.