Friday, January 14, 2011

Maybe the Atheist Have It Right

On January 4, 2011, I saw one of the most fascinating discussions I had seen on television for quite some time. It was on Bill O’Reilly’s nightly television show, The Factor, which airs on the Fox News Channel. O’Reilly was interviewing the President of the American Atheists Association, David Silverman. Silverman’s group had recently launched a billboard campaign in the New York / New Jersey area. The campaign’s main purpose was to reveal all religions as scams. The billboards posed the comment, “You Know They’re All Scams”.

If you know anything about Bill O’Reilly, he wasn’t just going to sit there and take this type of stuff. He was definitely upset and was practically coming unglued. He considered it an insult to all people of faith. Bill O’Reilly believes in God. He asked Silverman why he would launch such a campaign to mock and insult Christians as well as other religions.

As I watched the segment, I had to agree with Bill O’Reilly. On all accounts it seemed to be an insult and unnecessary. Could there be any justification for such a campaign? As the exchange continued between O’Reilly and Silverman, the real truth behind the campaign began to emerge. Silverman stated that he and his group believed that churches are filled with people who are atheists. And the billboard campaign was an attempt to encourage those people to come out of the Church because it was now socially acceptable not to believe in God. It seemed to be a preposterous statement, an outrage to all believers. But, perhaps, from his viewpoint, it makes sense. Perhaps it is a reasonable argument.

Silverman certainly has support for his views. A well-respected Christian researcher, George Barna, stated in his 2004 landmark study that faith seemed to have little or no impact on lifestyle choices. He summarized that the attitudes and behaviors of Christians, nonbelievers, followers of other religions and atheists were similar. Ouch! That’s obviously very troubling.

So what’s going on here? From Mr. Silverman’s perspective, he sees little or no difference between members of his organization and people who attend church. So it makes perfect, logical sense that he would come to the conclusion that they must not really believe there is a God. Obviously, going to church doesn’t make you a person of faith, a Believer or a follower of Christ. But there should be something different about our behaviors and how we live our lives.

Mr. Silverman has picked up an obvious pattern of a disconnected Christian community. Somehow, Christians today are reflecting more of the general culture than they are of the attributes of Christ. The general culture reflects the values of today’s mass media culture, which is the glorification of wealth, power, and materialism. It puts the individual at the center of his or her own universe. We understand this is in direct contrast to the Christian message. What Mr. Silverman and the American Atheists Association don’t see in significant numbers are Christians who reflect the nature of Christ.

The only evidence that is indisputable to the existence of God is the reflection of the nature of God inside the individual. If we do not reflect Christ and are capable of living the life he has called us to, then Christianity is indeed a scam. That’s why Mr. Silverman believes the churches are full of atheists. We might say all the right things, but our actions indicate something entirely different. If enough Christians fully embraced Christ’s teachings, we would have the critical mass necessary to shake the foundations of our society. And, by doing so, David Silverman and the American Atheists Association would have all the evidence necessary to prove the existence of a living God.

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