What Is A Christian Atheist?
So, I’m still looking for an explanation as to why the vast majority of atheists specifically reject the Christian god, but rarely the gods of other religions. I refer to these people as Christian atheists. Yes, it seems like a very strange designation, but let me explain.
As a follow-up to my original survey on the topic, I have had further discussion with some of the participants in that survey (see my post Who’s the Real Atheist?) to try to understand what was behind the survey numbers. Some helpful data also came from the website of Atheist Alliance International which has information on some 275,000 atheists worldwide, including the following:
- The vast majority of atheists used to be Christians.
- Less than 20% of atheists had a religious background other than Christianity.
- Only about 5% of atheists had a religious background other than the Abrahamic faiths.
It appears that the vast majority of atheists, especially those in western civilization, were Christians when they were children since that was the religion of their parents. Over time, they developed different belief systems separate and apart from their parents. For some, their experience within Christianity played a role in shaping their opinion about the existence of a creator god; in this case, their negative experience helped to shape their world view that a creator god did not exist. Eventually, they left Christianity and from then on considered themselves to be atheists. Thus, my reference to them as Christian atheists.
Aside: I was a bit surprised to learn this, although in retrospect it closely follows my own personal religious experience.
Interestingly enough, Christian atheists all claim to have rejected God, however, the only religious experience/concept that they have had in their life was that of a Christian god, at a time when they, themselves, were Christians. They were taught, as most Christians were, to believe that the Christian god was the Creator who was responsible for all life. He(God) was the one and only god. There were no others.
However, atheism, by definition, is the rejection of any sort of god. The thing is that there are 4,200 religions in the world, most of which have creator gods. Yes, 4,200. Having rejected the Christian god (the one and only god), Christian atheists apparently don’t seem to feel that it’s even necessary to learn about any other possible gods, or consider them at all for that matter. Only the Christian god is relevant and they have already rejected him.
The reason why I find this phenomena more than a bit curious is that if a blind man says that he sees nothing, he is obviously speaking the truth. However, if he says that there is nothing to see… well, that’s a horse of a different color. So, when the Christian atheist says that there is no creator god to be found anywhere, I compare him to the blind man who says that there is nothing to see. The problem is, how would you know unless you looked.
And that’s why I call them Christian atheists… simply because they have really only rejected the Christian concept of a creator god… as if Christianity has a monopoly on God.
All the bickering and name calling between atheists and Christianity has all the earmarks of an internecine feud, in many respects between certain Christians and certain former Christians. Some of the comments about Christianity actually feel more like an attack on Christianity, itself, rather than a referendum on a creator god. Maybe, that explains why Christian atheists can’t stand Christianity, since they were once Christians themselves.
“When I was a kid I had an imaginary friend and I used to think that he went everywhere with me, and that I could talk to him and that he could hear me, and that he could grant me wishes and stuff. And then I grew up, and I stopped going to church.” – Jimmy Carr