Shopping cart Shopping cartLog in / Register | Pressroom
Your shopping cart is empty
Home About Us Study Programs WOF TV WOF Radio Written Word Catholicism Series News Ambassador Store Contact Donate end cap
Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > June 2011 > Why Are So Many Atheists on the CNN Belief Blog?
Current rating: 3.5 (4 ratings)

Why Are So Many Atheists on the CNN Belief Blog?

By Rev. Robert Barron

The CNN Belief Blog, which has graciously featured a few of my pieces, just celebrated its first anniversary, and for the occasion, its editors reflected on ten things that they’ve learned in the course of the year. The one that got my eye was this: that atheists are by far the most fervent commentators on matters religious. This completely coincides with my own experience as an internet commentator and blogger. Every day, my website and YouTube page are inundated with remarks, usually of a sharply negative or dismissive nature, from atheists, agnostics, and critics of religion. In fact, some of my YouTube commentaries have been specifically targeted by atheist webmasters, who urge their followers to flood my site with “dislikes” and crude assessments of what I’ve said. And one of my contributions to the CNN site—what I took to be a benign article urging Christians to pray for Christopher Hitchens—excited literally thousands of angry responses from the haters of religion.

What do we make of this? I think we see, first, that atheists have come rather aggressively out of the closet. Following the prompts of Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, and many others, they have found the confidence to (excuse the word) evangelize for atheism. They are no longer content to hold on to their conviction as a private opinion; they consider religion dangerous and retrograde, and they want religious people to change their minds. This fervor has led them, sadly, to employ a good deal of vitriolic rhetoric, but this is a free country and their advocacy for atheism should not, of course, be censored. But it should be a wake-up call to all of my fellow religionists. We have a fight on our hands, and we have to be prepared, intellectually and morally, to get into the arena.

Most of the new atheists employ variations of the classical arguments of Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud, namely, that religion is a pathetic projection born of suffering, that it is an infantile illusion, that it is de-humanizing, etc. How well do Christians know the theories of our intellectual enemies? Can we identify their blind-spots and the flaws in their logic? Have we read the great Christian apologists—G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Ronald Knox, Fulton Sheen—and can we wield their arguments against those who are coming at us? In my own Catholic Church, we sadly jettisoned much of our rich apologetic tradition in the years after Vatican II, convinced that it would be better to reach out positively to the culture. Well, at least part of that culture has turned pretty hostile, and it is high time to recover the intellectual weapons that we set aside.

Today’s atheists also eagerly use the findings of contempory science—especially in evolutionary biology and quantum physics—to undermine the claims of religion. Are the advocates of the faith ready to meet that challenge? How carefully have we read the scientific critics? And have we bothered to study the works of such deeply religious scientists as Fr. John Polkinghorne, Fr. George Coyne, Fr. Stanley Jaki, and Fr. Georges Le Maitre, colleague of Einstein and the formulator of the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins? We shouldn’t imitate the Internet atheists in their nastiness, but we should certainly imitate them in our willingness to come forward boldy and showing some intellectual teeth.

But the fierce and vocal presence of so many atheists on the CNN Belief Blog and so many other religious sites also speaks to what I call “the Herod principle.” The Gospels tell us that Herod Antipas arrested John the Baptist because the prophet had publicly challenged the King. Herod threw John into prison but then, we are told, the King loved secretly to listen to the prophet, who continued to preach from his cell. St. Augustine formulated an adage that beautifully sums up the essentials of Christian anthropology: “O Lord, you have made us for yourself; therefore our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” A basic assumption of Biblical people is that everyone is hard-wired for God in the measure that everyone seeks a fulfillment that cannot be had through any of the goods of this world. Long before Augustine, the psalmist prayed, “only in God is my soul at rest.” My wager, as a person of faith, is that everyone—at that includes Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, and Richard Dawkins—implicitly wants God and hence remains permanently fascinated by the things of God. Though the fierce atheists of today profess that they would like to eliminate religious speech and religious ideas, secretly they love to listen as people speak of God. This goes a long way, it seems to me, toward explaining their presence in great numbers on religious blogs.

So I say to Christians and other believers: be ready for a good fight, and get some spiritual weapons in your hands. And I say to the atheists: I’ll keep talking—because I know, despite all of your protestations and sputtering, that your hearts are listening.

Posted: 6/17/2011 12:00:00 AM by Word On Fire | with 7 comments
Filed under: atheism

Trying to get unbelievers to hear the word of GOD and to accept it is like trying to get your sick child to eat something, there is no appetite for it not matter how fervently you try to coax them and convince them it is good for their health.
8/22/2011 12:39:24 PM
Report abuse

Dea Mechensky ,SFO
Athetists protest loudly and violently to "defend the undefenable" and deny what all of creation and it's plan and system of order proclaim -that a greater Being exists-God is real and present in the cosmos and in the life of mankind.Please join me and the team at our local catholic Radio station in praying for the success of the Catholism project and for our priests ,and Fr. Barron. Many thanks to those who challenge us in defending our Catholic truths-it will only serve to strengthen our resolve.
8/27/2011 10:05:50 PM
Report abuse

Finally! This is just what I was looinkg for.
9/3/2011 4:59:50 PM
Report abuse

greg hipkins
I love the comment that we are more interested in settled untruth than unsettled truth. This seems to apply to both believers and athiests alike; giving us common ground.
9/4/2011 10:23:39 PM
Report abuse

Beautiful article. I believe, you Fr, have received so many religion haters because people in our society, just like Russia in 1917, wish to be their own god. These atheists see all religion as man made, will not tolerate being told that they are wrong, will only "hear" when told they are right, and cry foul because there are groups,"in the name of God," kill/murder others ie terrorists. These same atheists refuse to acknowledge the atrocities committed by atheistic regimes. Why? Because they want to be god.
9/7/2011 12:22:46 PM
Report abuse

Gary Ney
"They are no longer content to hold on to their conviction as a private opinion; they consider religion dangerous and retrograde, and they want religious people to change their minds. This fervor has led them, sadly, to employ a good deal of vitriolic rhetoric, but this is a free country and their advocacy for atheism should not, of course, be censored." We are all Children Of God, we are created by Him in His image and likeness, therefore the fundamental idea of God is in us, we are born with it and of it.Being of God, we are also born with free will, to choose. We choose every day weather we turn to God or away from God. When we turn away from God we are turning to Satan. People only think they depend on themselves, their will and their self-sufficency, but as we know, Satan is a deceiver, the father of all lies, he speaks in character. People who live their lives on self are playing God, they think they know what is best for themselves. But deep down inside they have a soul, and this very tiny whisper comes into consciousness to let them know they are indeed living the lie, that there is no God. Driven by fear of the truth, they exert themselves all the more, raising the vitrolic rhetoric to mask what is really going on inside them. They run, they hide, but they can't stop the whisper. That is why we pray for them, that some day they surrender to the whipser and then begin to road back to redemption. One soul at a time. God Bless
9/10/2011 2:43:24 PM
Report abuse

"..secretly they love to listen as people speak of God.." I was one of those people. While always counting myself as a believer, I nonetheless wished all those God-talkers would go away, or at least go underground with their rhetoric. Then one day, God called me home to his Church, and my life has never been the same (thank God!). I can tell you from personal experience that many of these detractors "doth protest too much" and many will hear the Word and find themselves changed forever. Keep talking, Father!
10/2/2011 11:39:59 PM
Report abuse

Share with your friends

Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to Yahoo MyWebAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to StumbleUponAdd to Google BookmarksAdd to MySpace


Click on the title of any of Fr. Barron's Articles on the left to view the full article.  Please feel free to provide your own comments and feedback. Clicking any of the Tags below will show you a listing of articles and commentaries that relate to the word you click. Click on the RSS link to sign up to be notified of each new item that is published here. Past articles can be found in the archive.

WOF Blog RSS Feed SubscriptionSubscribe to our RSS Feed to receive new articles


2012 A Man For All Seasons A Serious Man abortion Adjustment Bureau Adolph Eichmann advent agnostic Agora Alister angels and deomons apocalypse apologetics Archdiocese of Chicago Ascension atheism Audacity of Hope baptism Barack Obama big bang theory Bin Laden Bob Dylan book Book of Job Brad Caritas in Veritate Carol Marin Catholic Universities celibacy Charles Lwanga Chicago childfree marriages children Christopher Hitchens Civilta Cattolica Coen Brothers commentariat confession conscience contraception devil District 9 dysfunctional Eckhart Tolle Einstein Elijah Emmaus encyclical encyclicals ends and means Evangelization exorcism Father Andrew Greeley Father Barron films financial Fr. Paul Murray Genesis Georgetown golf Hannah Hannah Arendt Hell heresies holocaust interviews Ireland Judge Judy judgement Julia Roberts Kenneth Clark Kierkegaard Laurie Brink Liberal Catholicism Libya lord of the world Lumen Fidei Man of Steel marriage McGrath Mother Teresa movie review muslim nazi nones Notre Dame Nuns Of Gods and Men Palm Sunday PBS Pentecost Peter Snow Pew Forum philosophy Pitt Political Corruption Pope Benedict Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Pope Francis Pope John Paul II priest pro life prosperity gospel protestantism Purgatory Ralph Grimston Richard McBrien robert hugh benson sacraments Samuel science scientism Sears Tower September 11th sex abuse sexuality Shari’a Law Simon Cowell spiritual St. Irenaeus St. John St. Patrick St. Thomas Aquinas St. Thomas More Superman Ted Kennedy The Hunger Games The Ides of March the shack The Stoning of Soraya M. theologian Time Magazine Timothy Dolan tolerance True Grit Twilight vampires Vatican Willis Tower Woody Allen World War Z World Youth Day YouTube


WORD ON FIRE CATHOLIC MINISTRIES | 5215 Old Orchard Road Suite 410 | Skokie, IL 60077
Add to DeliciousAdd to DiggAdd to NewsvineAdd to RedditAdd to Yahoo MyWebAdd to FarkAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to StumbleUponAdd to Google BookmarksAdd to MySpace
Copyright © 2010