In my recent post on atheism, which can be read here by those who find interest in such things, I received comments from not one but two rather impolite atheists. I will never, most likely, understand why people do that and go out of their way to add in various appeals to the stone and ad hominems. I gave up very soon. I suppose I should feel it the greatest honor to be counted worthy to be ridiculed for Christ’s name, but I am an imperfect human being and a rather young one at that. My grandfather, I am informed, used to tell my mother, “You see the world through rose-colored glasses.” Perhaps I, considering my age, am unreasonably assuming people will be more reasonable.
One of the problems with this, in my view, is that being impolite actually gives the idea to one’s opponent that they cannot come up with a real response. Someone cannot usually think as well for one thing if he is being insulted. Nor is it as easy to call out the errors of a person’s reasoning if his opponent is always being rude and labeling one’s arguments as “nonsense”.
In all fairness, there may be a somewhat more charitable understanding of their actions. They could actually believe that theistic arguments are very weak and write out of frustration. Or they could blame theists for causing all the problems in the world. Whatever is the reason, taking out their frustration on me is in no way just.
Or they may think I am purposely sifting through words and already know atheists are correct. In that case, it is rash judgment (and at any rate, they are wasting their time trying to convert me if I am not even interested in the truth).
If I may be completely fair, I am not only calling out atheists here. There is an Orthodox blogger by the name of Craig Truglia who wrote an article called Top Five Bible Passages Relevant to Orthodox Mariology. The Orthodox generally believe that our Lady was not purified of Original Sin until the Annunciation (a claim, by the way, which I believe I have dealt thoroughly here). To my dismay, I found someone had commented the following:
“The Eastern “Orthodox” are wrong. All your subjective commentaries and opinions are trash. You reason like a Protestant when you appeal to Scripture. Remember, this guy Craig uses his secular name, not his patron saints name (obviously influenced by Modernism), and I saw him in a video wearing a Def Leppard shirt. Give me a break.”
Think about it. A Catholic, in the name of defending the Mother of God, pulls an Ad hominem by a flimsy charge that he was a modernist (completely contrary to the actual definition of modernism, by the way). This commenter labels Mr. Truglia’s arguments “trash”. I really do not think the commenter’s defense of our Lady pleases our Lady.
There is a reason why I think it is so important for us to approach our dialogues with non-Catholics with charity. Our goal as apologists is to save souls, not win arguments (or in atheists’ case, make atheists). When one makes an argument in an uncharitable manner, for one thing, he will not give the impression that he is not listening to his opponent. Now, I expect that atheists (possibly the same atheists) will comment saying I am “making excuses” and cannot actually answer their objections. I can, but I do not have the mental energy to respond to impolite people. I mean this with the upmost respect, but they did not give me the impression that they were willing under the correct circumstances to change their minds.
To show my own open-mindedness, I will explain what it would take me to become an atheist. This is important for any apologist to think about since we need to think about what it would take to change our views as we would expect our opponents to do so.
First, they would have to show me how all things can exist by nature, specifically the existence of absolute goods and the existence of…stuff, in general—something instead of nothing. Second, I must be shown that there is no evidence to miraculous occurrences existing and all alleged such can be explained by science.
I have an argument for atheism which I consider the strongest as well—the existence of suffering. I find that ultimately unconvincing, but I still think this the best argument I have heard.
Again, atheists may say I am making excuses. In that case, try me. Try being polite and see if I am better disposed to talking about it. I would be so glad and relieved to receive from a respectful and polite atheist, or any other form of non-Catholic. I apparently seem to be unlucky, however, since that rarely happens, although I once had a rather fruitful discussion with someone who writes under An Apostolic under this post. There I felt we were both listening to each other, for which reason the discussion actually went somewhere. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for most of these atheists whom I have encountered online. The same can be said of others, including certain sedevacantists and fundamentalists (although not many have so commented on my blog). I am actually more disturbed by them because they should know better and have respect for everyone as children of God.
Still, we need to pray for these less than polite persons. God wills everyone to go to heaven. Maybe I, under their circumstances and background, might have done the same for all I know. There are certainly many atheist apologists out there who are quite reasonable. I might mention Anthony Magnabosco and Alex O’Connor as two rather influential modern atheists who come to mind who might be worth our time since they do not generally seem overly impolite when dialoguing with theists. I wish some atheists who would actually listen to what I had to say would comment on my blog. Unfortunately, they have not come yet.
Bonum Certamen Certemus
I am the Catholic of Honor