Are Atheists Easy to Hate?

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jesus or nothingAtheists are easy to hate, until you can’t help but love one.


That’s largely because the highest profile atheists in your community or in our culture tend to be angry, obnoxious people. That’s because it still takes a certain sort of cultural courage to say, “I don’t believe in God.” That’s why the people willing to identify themselves as atheists tends to be the pamphleteers and the ridiculers.


But most of us learn to love atheists not by reading Richard Dawkins, but by talking to someone we love. Maybe it’s a son or daughter or a college roommate. We talk with someone who just can’t believe that at the nub of this swirling universe there’s a Father.


That’s why I’m excited about a short new book by Dan DeWitt: Jesus or Nothing. Dan was a student, sitting there on the second row of Norton Hall 202, in the first class I ever taught at Southern Seminary. he later served with me as Dean of Boyce College. He’s a bright Christian teacher, but this book isn’t a collection of arguments.


Most of us want to slay atheism with a set of “can’t argue with that” syllogisms. But that’s not how people leave atheism for Christ. I have yet to meet someone who says, “Oh! So there’s archeological evidence for the existence of the Hittites? The Bible must be true…what must I do to be saved?”


Instead, most people come to Christ the same way most of us did: by hearing in the gospel story a Voice calling our Name. “Adam, where are you?” “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”


This book shows how the gospel upends everything the atheist wants to be true, and yet fears is true, about the universe. I love the book because it emerged out of what I watched in Dan’s life, a friendship with an atheist that taught him not to caricature, not to ridicule, but to love and to bear witness to the kingdom of God.


This book isn’t just for people with atheists in our lives (although if you don’t have any atheists in your life, you might should wonder why). The book awakens the wonder that the story we find ourselves in is really true. There really is a dynamically alive ex-corpse who is bending all of history to himself. You really are accepted and forgiven and welcome if you’re hidden in him. You have nothing to fear, from your past guilt or your future casket.


But it also will turn your heart toward those around you, those who just can’t find the old, old story to be good, good news.


What are some good resources you’ve used to talk to atheists and agnostics in your life?

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.