Randal Rauser, associate professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary, Edmonton, Canada, has penned an interesting blog on the foundations of the widespread Christian distrust of atheists. The popular notion that Christians regard atheists as immoral is wrong, he says. Making note of the now familiar study in which atheists were rated by Americans as the least trustworthy group — below Muslims — Rauser supposes that it’s not morality but the nature of the worldview itself.
Citing a passage from an epistle of Paul, Rauser compares atheists who deny the “obvious” evidence for god’s existence to (ironically) a medieval bishop denying the clear telescopic evidence that the earth revolves around the sun. Atheists are viewed by Christians the same way, he proposes. “In short, this means that atheists who deny the knowledge which is generally available to everyone are wickedly suppressing evidence that is available to them.”
So it’s not really about morality, at least not directly. Instead, Christians distrust anyone who is either so evil or so dumb that they can’t see and accept the obvious. How can someone who makes such an elementary error be trusted with more “nuanced” decisions, especially the kind that dominate politics? Or morality?
- Christian Responses: ‘Can atheists be trusted?’ (irreligion.org)
- More curiosity about atheists? | Gene Expression (blogs.discovermagazine.com)