I had a fascinating discussion with a female atheist today, albeit a very brief discussion, that proved to be very thought-provoking for yours truly. She ended the conversation rather abruptly after I proposed a couple of questions to her.
I was discussing "atheism" with a group of people on Twitter, nothing heavy or deep, centered mainly around the news this morning that an atheist had won his fight to remove a Christmas angel from a tree near public property. You can find that story here: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,580959,00.html
One of my statements I related concerning atheists that I have talked with was, "If an atheist admits that there is a chance that there is a god, then that person has been downgraded to an agnostic." And although the atheist responder does not follow me or the others on Twitter I was conversing with, she chimed in, and this is the reply to me from the atheist: "No, it just means he/she is not a fundamentalist in their beliefs like most religious people. Open-mindedness isn't weakness."
Her answer is preposterous. "No, it just means he/she is not a fundamentalist in their beliefs"? Acknowledging that there is a chance there may be a god after all only means that that atheist is not "a fundamentalist in their beliefs?" Really! If one is an atheist, a true atheist, then that atheist is indeed a "fundamentalist." If one, however, admits that there is a chance that their is a god, that one has disqualified himself/herself from the privilege of claiming true atheism. Anything less than fundamentalism for an atheist, as understood by my atheist responder, means that there has been compromise and doubt on the part of that one claiming atheism.
How can there be degrees of atheism; you either are, or you're not. Any atheist who admits that there may be a god is simply not an atheist. After all, an agnostic is the one who isn't sure and therefore not fundamentalist about his/her doubts. I mean, what's there to be fundamentalist about if one is not sure?
Her reference to "fundamentalist" is clearly derogatory and born in ignorance, seeing fundamenatlism and fundamentalists as bad. But fundamentalism is good. Christian fundamentalism originally referred to Christians who held to the "fundamentals" of the Christian faith, i.e., Jesus is the Son of God, was crucified, dead, buried, raised from the dead, is our Substitute, God is love, love your enemies, etc., and not to violent radicals. Fundamentalism, between Jerry Falwell and Islam, has gained a very bad name. But I am a Christian Fundamentalist, holding dearly and consistently to the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Next, I seriously doubt that "most religious people" are fundamentalists about their beliefs. This is a broad generalization (again, springing from wilfull ignorance) that cannot be supported with facts (have you read the latest Barna/Gallup polls on religion in America? Professing Christians are clueless as to what the Christian faith is really about). But her point is a trivial matter.
And finally, the icing on the proverbial cake, and almost comical, she writes, "open-mindedness is not a weakness." Yeah, like atheists are really open-minded. And again, if you come across an atheist who is open-minded toward the possibility of exercising faith in Jesus Christ, or even the existence of any so-called "god," then, my friend, you a looking at a delusional atheist, one who is trying his/her best to maintain the appearance of true atheism in the face of their own disturbing serious doubts and neurotic confusion.
Seriously, what self-respecting atheists would ever make such an admission? Such an admission would open up the flood gates for Christians who would love to "share the Lord" with them.
Perhaps doubting atheists need a refresher course in atheism, beginning with Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion."
"Open-mindedness is not a weakness." Yes it is, if one is talking about one's beliefs.