Let’s start off by explaining what atheism is, it’s when you don’t believe in any form of an “Intelligent Creator” or God, as usually referred to as. The word atheism comes from the root word “theism”, which is when you believe in a God, or numerous Gods depending on the religion, and the prefix “a”, which means “not”. There are no set practices of atheism, or a set list of beliefs. To be an atheist you must believe what you would like and simply live your life without constraints based on what you believe is good or bad, not what you are told is good or bad. There is a constant debate against atheism from the theist side, because both sides’ arguments are polar opposites and each believes their side of the argument is 100% valid. I will state my view on some arguments, and clarify some common atheist stereotypes.
Arguments about religion can get extremely intense, especially when its a devote believer against an atheist. There are a lot of common arguments that are brought up in these debates, one of which is the inevitable, “Then were DID we come from?” argument. Since no atheist is the same as another I can’t say this is 100% true, but a good percent of atheists believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. This puts the origins of humanity into the hands of nature, I believe we evolved and adapted to the species that we are today. Another common debate is the argument of where our morality comes from. “A popular claim among religious theists is that atheists have no basis for morality — that religion and gods are needed for moral values.” (Austin Cline. About.com). As u read, most theists conclude that morals are given to us by a God, because you need a reason to have morals otherwise there is no basis for right and wrong. Atheists believe that an individual’s morality comes from the brain, where feelings and emotions are made and felt. Another inevitable and unanswerable debate is the infamous, “What happens when you die?” This is one of the most common and, in my personal opinion, foolish arguments you can have against anyone whether a theist or atheist. Quite frankly, there isn’t much to say on this topic, every religion has their own beliefs on the afterlife, as well as ranging from atheist to atheist. The bottom line is, nobody knows. There is NO WAY to know what happens after you are dead, so arguing about it as if your side of the argument is 100% valid is completely and utterly foolish, whether from an atheist or a theist.
Now it’s time to bust some myths. A lot of theists argue that without god, you are amoral, can also be immoral depending on the person you are arguing with, which makes you more prone to violence. After the statement one of the 1st things the theist will bring up is an example, primarily Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. This is a direct quote from Hitler himself: “I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator.” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1 Chapter 2)...
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“One of the hardest things as an atheist,” Jordan shares, “is that all of these values, ‘Why am I important? Why should people care about me?’ A lot of those things come from your own performance.”
As the daughter of two atheists, Jordan Monge felt she had a lot to prove.
“You have to understand, my family is very competitive,” she says. “There's always been a high priority on being the best. So much of my identity was founded on ‘I'm the smartest one in the room. I'm not the prettiest, I'm not the most athletic, I'm the smartest.’"
At eleven years old, Jordan decided there was no God and began openly challenging her Christian classmates.
“I would bring the Bible to school,” she remembers, “with post-it notes where all the contradictions were, and then I would say, ‘Tell me why this isn't a contradiction?’ And they couldn't really do it.”
But in high school, Jordan started to see a contradiction in her own beliefs. She considered herself a “good person,” but that raised a question she couldn’t answer – where does morality come from, if not from God?
“Why is something right or wrong? Why do I believe in human rights? I don't believe in a God, so where are these things coming from? I had gone and asked all of these other people, and nobody had a good answer. And I just had this epiphany where I said, ‘I'm going to wait until college to explore those questions, when I can get into a good school.’ And that worked out pretty well, cause I got into Harvard.”
There, she quickly discovered she was no longer at the top of the class.
“And so now,” Jordan explains, “being surrounded by people, with whom I'm no longer the smartest person in the room 95% of the time, it destroys that sense of identity and makes you wonder, ‘Who really am I? And what makes me valuable?’”
As Jordan began to question her worth, she became friends with Joseph Porter, a Christian conservative who gave her even more questions to think about.
She shares, “He really started pressing me on ‘Where does your morality come from? Why do you believe in it? You're saying it kind of emerges from nowhere?’ I started seeing these cracks in my own intellectual framework.”
Jordan enrolled into a meta-ethics class, hoping to find answers that would strengthen her argument. Instead, she was assigned a short reading assignment, an essay by C. S. Lewis.
She remembers, “Essentially, what C.S. Lewis says is, ‘God is goodness.’ God is the good and then our lives are good when we strive to imitate God. It was mind-blowing.”
Jordan wanted to explore this idea further, so she decided to read the Bible again. This time she would try to understand it, not critique it. And when she read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, she was struck by what he said about what it means to be “good.”
“As an atheist,” she says, “I was living life better according to a Christian ethic than a lot of Christians were. I wasn't sleeping around. I wasn't doing drugs, I wasn't drinking, I was a good student. So it was very easy for me to think of myself as a good person. It was only when I went back to the words of Jesus and I saw, ‘No, you're an angry person. You may not be sleeping around, but you experience lust. You are very arrogant, you think too highly of yourself.’ Seeing those things made me realize that I wasn't really a good person. Maybe there's some truth here that I haven't figured out yet. Maybe I don't know the best way to run my life.”
Jordan kept reading until she came to John 19.
I had finally made it to the crucifixion scene. And as I was reading it, I had this moment where I just said, "No, Aslan, no.”
For years, Jordan believed C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was just a story. But now as she read of Jesus’ crucifixion, she realized her favorite tale from Narnia was more than a work of fiction. Aslan the great lion of Lewis’ story was Jesus. And she was just like Edmond, arrogant but redeemed.
“It just immediately clicked like, ‘I am Edmund, Jesus is Aslan, and he is dying for my sake,’” Jordan shares. “Seeing it now with me in the story was a totally radically new way of looking at it, realizing my own sinfulness in that moment and my own need for healing from that sense made all the difference in how I read it. And so I started just crying, thinking about Aslan, but thinking about Jesus through that process. Realizing in that moment that you're Edmund is to realize like ‘I'm powerless. I need help.’ I recognized my own incurable need for forgiveness and that could only come from Jesus Christ.”
Still that wasn’t enough to break Jordan’s deeply rooted need for intellectual evidence of God. So she poured over every scientific argument, analyzed every prominent religion, and all the evidence pointed her back to Jesus Christ.
According to Jordan, “One of the things that helped me the most to eliminate my pride was having to admit that I had been wrong all of those years as an atheist.”
Ultimately, it came down to a profound yet simple truth.
“As I thought about what love really was,” she explains, “I could see how Jesus' death on the cross was the perfect embodiment of that. God is love. And God is truth, so God is goodness. It was at that point when I realized, ‘If I want to try this Christianity business, I can't do it half-heartedly, I have to be fully committed.’”
On April 12, 2009, Jordan gave her life to Jesus. Since then, she has grown even stronger in her faith. She graduated from Harvard in 2012, recently married, and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. But she says none of that determines her value.
"’What is man that thou art mindful of him?’” She asks, “What am I that I have value?’ So long my value had come from the things that I had done, so moving to a framework where instead the reason I knew I was valuable was because Christ had died for me, that he loved me regardless of what I would ever do, it's immensely freeing.”