Atheists are ‘at war with all mankind’

Atheists are ‘at war with all mankind’

Mark Shea, above, who writes for the National Catholic Register, believes he knows precisely why atheists notch up higher scores than Christians in religious knowledge quizzes. Here’s his theory:

Atheists  … being at war with all mankind about the thing that matters to it most, oppose all theists and are wary of the whole broad spectrum of religious belief (though with a particular focus on Christ, to be sure).

Christians, in contrast, can hold up their end when talking about Christianity, but have never boned up on Jewish, Mormon, Islamic, or Hindu teachings since, well, they’re Christian.

Shea based his piece on a survey carried out five years ago by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

It put out a quiz that revealed that atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons were among the highest-scoring groups, outperforming evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and Catholics on questions about the core teachings, history and leading figures of major world religions.

Shea – “not to be outdone by our atheist cross-town rivals” – thought it a good idea:

To offer our own quiz and see if we can’t increase our batting average with a second try.

However, since the National Catholic Register’s readers are largely Catholic, I thought we should focus on our knowledge of the Catholic Faith and not spend time on Mormonism, Shinto, ancestor worship, Zoroastrianism, or the Seventh Seed in the Spirit Peculiar Baptists. Best to have one’s own house in order before minding others.

Here’s a sample from Shea’s quiz:

 The Incarnation refers to:

A) when Jesus was ‘born again’ at Bethlehem after a previous life in another body

B) when an ordinary man named Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and God chose to adopt him and turn him into the Son of God because of his good character

C) the moment when God the Father turned into God the Son in the womb of Mary

D) the Word of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son taking on human flesh in the womb of the Virgin and being born at Bethlehem.

The answer? D. Naturally!

A, B, and C refer, respectively to Reincarnation, Adoptionism, and Sabellianism – all heresies the Church has long rejected. God the Son became incarnate only once. Jesus is not an ordinary man who was ‘adopted’ and made into the Son of God. And the Son, not the Father, became incarnate.

I am not particularly smug over the fact that I answered all eight of Shea’s questions correctly. Had I got any wrong, I would have been left grimly wondering whether decades spent wallowing this sort of baloney in order to properly fulfill my duties as Freethinker editor had been a woeful waste of time.

By the way, the best comment posted to date under the quiz came from an atheist who also got all the answers right:

Atheists are not ‘at war’ with all mankind about anything.  We just happen to have a different position on the existence of God that in previous centuries had us burned at the stake, but now merely has us blamed for all sorts of societal problems.

As an educated ex-Catholic on numerous occasions I have had to correct Catholics online and in person about what the Catholic Church’s teachings are.  It’s amazing how little some Catholics know about their faith.

28 responses to “Atheists are ‘at war with all mankind’”

  1. AgentCormac says:

    Strange how Mark Shea seems to think we are ‘at war with all mankind’. Can’t remember the last time I read about atheists burning anyone at the stake, stoning them to death, burning them alive in a cage, or hacking away at their genitalia to keep them compliant. Fucking idiot.

  2. Nicholas J Cleere says:

    I find it really odd that people of faith see people without faith as some sort of threat, as offensive or possessed by demons. Most atheists I know are quiet, deep-thinking people that exhibit a very humanitarian approach to life and the living. They are people that would rather not be touched by religion and the hate that many religious people have towards each other. It’s like, if you’re not with me you’re against me.

    I put it down to fear. The fear that their blind hope and the belief system that gives their lives some meaning is being called into question. How could the stakes be any higher for them; why wouldn’t they be tetchy if they see their belief system that relies on the support of fine gossamer threads of hope being poked irreverently by those that live in a godless reality. Atheists, like me, wish to be left alone but when you are very afraid even that seems like a threat to many believers.

  3. L.Long says:

    Beat me to it Agent as I too do not remember cutting anyone’s head off or putting them on the rack, or even just plain old shooting anyone ( can’t anyway–don’t got no gun!! I prefer the battle ax).

  4. Stephen Mynett says:

    This could be nothing more than wide-spread trolling. Why bother to go round posting on various atheist sites, just post the biggest pile of crap you can think of (in the case of a lot of theists that is everything they think of) on your own site then wait to see how many of us respond.

  5. RussellW says:

    The more believers understand about their religion the less they’re likely to believe given the incoherence of, and contradictions in, religious ideologies. The mistake that Protestants made was to let the punters get direct access to the Bible, the apparatchiks in the Catholic Church weren’t so naive.

  6. Broga says:

    The bible, carefully and objectively read, is a great encouragement to become an atheist.

  7. Vanity Unfair says:

    In short:
    Q: How can you be an atheist when you know so much about religion?
    A: Maybe I’m an atheist because I know so much about religion.

  8. barriejohn says:

    Shea is a convert to Catholicism – hence a fanatic – and has featured on this site before. I think we have also looked at his appalling website and blog as well. They are unbelievable (no pun intended!):

    Here is his reply to a correspondent who asks for prayer for an aunt suffering from cancer:

    Father, thank you for this hopeful prognosis. We ask your complete healing for her in body, soul, and spirit. Give her caregivers grace, compassion, wisdom, counsel, knowledge, skill, creativity, insight, and the proper technology to assist in her healing and give her and all who love her grace, peace, consolation, strength, faith, hope, and love. Mother Mary, St. Luke, and St. Peregrine, pray for her. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    St Peregrine – I must remember that one.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Perhaps you would care to make a donation:

  10. Trevor Blake says:

    This atheist has carried out his war on mankind by spending most of the last 20 years working for homeless teenagers and the disabled. What a wicked man I am.

  11. Stephen Mynett says:

    You certainly are Trevor, you are supposed to leave us cripples to the mercy of the faith brigade, who will promise us all sorts of miracle cures and when they fail tell us it is our fault for not praying well enough and not having enough faith. Fancy actually caring for us in a useful way – I look forward to buying you a pint in Hell.

  12. jay says:

    “I find it really odd that people of faith see people without faith as some sort of threat, as offensive or possessed by demons.”

    Actually it does make sense. Anthropologists have observed that part of the human social structure is shared belief and ritual (it makes no difference whether the belief is true or not). Adherence to belief structures, especially demanding ones tends to separate in-group from out-group.

    Instinctively people feel that people who reject the core shared belief are a threat. It really shouldn’t be a surprise that we make people uncomfortable, and there’s not really much we can do about it (other than not being an ass).

    Even within secular groups, there are beliefs that are ‘expected’ to some degree. Even among atheists, there are certain political views (which really have nothing to do with atheism) that tend to be expected. Those of us outside the expected views tend to be viewed askance as well.

  13. JohnMWhite says:

    I think you might have the wrong end of the stick there, jay. While a fear of the out-group has been seen under certain circumstances, humanity is marked by its commonly-held welcoming nature. We adopted other species (cats and dogs) as useful companions and bred with Neanderthals. Even today, an earthquake in a place full of people nothing at all like us sends millions running to donate their money and some their time and bodies for the rescue effort.

    When Europeans popped up in North America, they found people perfectly happy to greet them and trade with them, and even saved the ass of some starving colonists a bit later. The Europeans, meanwhile, thought their new neighbours to be savage and their differing beliefs a threat. I really do not think it is human nature to see the Other as a threat; it is a learned behaviour, because some cultures teach that Others are bad.

  14. dennis says:

    my religious family and friends just tell me “I have FAITH that’s all I need.” so I just start listing inconsistencies. virgin birth, the world is a globe, died for my sins, noah’s ship, ten commandments are for control and many many more and again all I get is “I have FAITH that’s all I need.” Do they have FAITH that waters chemical make up are Hydrogen and Oxygen. yes, because their world is FAITH and not reason logic or science. just regurgitate what the hymn says and use the same trick when learning science. that is so depressing!

  15. barriejohn says:

    Dennis: You won’t win with these people. When I was a young Christian I heard over and over again: “Even the atheists have faith. When they sit on a chair they have FAITH that it is going to support their weight.” They thought that a very clever argument, and I was thinking to myself: “What a load of rubbish!” No wonder they consider that belief in evolutionary theory is “faith” as well.

    OK, now what…? I intellectually believe, by a preponderance of the evidence, that God exists, that the Bible is true, and that Jesus is his Son… How does this affect me? What is faith, as far as it concerns me?

    I love the metaphor of a chair… Find the chair closest to you. Look at it closely. Examine its design. Is it structurally sound? Is it sufficiently engineered? Will the materials chosen by the manufacturer support your weight?

    Most likely, you picked a chair that you believe will support you. That’s belief. You applied logic, knowledge and experience to make an informed intellectual decision.

    Now sit in the chair… That’s faith! At one point, intellectual assent only goes so far. True living requires that we put our beliefs into action. Intellectual belief without actionable faith is hollow and meaningless…

    Not a clue!

  16. Har Davids says:

    The only war Atheists are engaged is in the one on stupidity, mysogyny and self-righteousnes. Does that make them bad?

  17. Angelo Ventura says:

    Talk about the pot and the kettle! How many wars were fostered by religion?

  18. Angelo Ventura says:

    Talk about the pot and the kettle! How many wars were fostered by religion?

  19. dennis says:

    @barriejohn, thanks for the support but the link carried me back to may days in the church benches and I was shaking my head saying Rubbish or maybe I used more colorful language.

  20. barriejohn says:

    Dennis: Hahaha!!! And here’s another one:

    “There is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than there is for Julius Caesar.”

    Where do they get such ideas?

  21. barriejohn says:


    “It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a believer.”

  22. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn; It does take a lot of faith to believe that it takes more faith to be an atheists. An awful lot since it’s absolutely not true. Since when does it take faith to not believe in something that doesn’t exist? Where do they get such ideas? Doesn’t matter, they have faith they are true, never mind annoying things like facts that don’t fit their storyline.

    Dennis: Keep shaking your head and using colorful language. Better to live in reality than in their “faith based” delusional world were religion has replaced reality. You are not alone!

    This line is especially silly, “Intellectual belief without actionable faith is hollow and meaningless…” Why? He makes an absurd statement with no explanation or justification like it’s some kind of epiphany. I believe intellectual beliefs have more meaning and are quite fulfilling because they are based on reality. Faith-believing something with no proof or justification is the most hollow belief there is, it’s based on nothing and likewise, has no meaning. And what exactly is “actionable” faith?

  23. barriejohn says:

    Don’t forget that atheists believe that everything sprang from nothing for no apparent reason. It makes much more sense to accept that an old man up in the clouds said some magic words which brought the entire universe into being; that is so much more intellectually satisfying. Also, it’s a well known fact that atheists think that if you put all the parts of a watch in a bag and shake them up a working watch will eventually result. How ridiculous! This idea about atheism requiring enormous leaps of faith allegedly came from C S Lewis. I remember as a young Christian thinking “This is going to be exciting” when I first came across his works, only to say to myself “Is that it?” when I had read them. Schoolboy philosophy, I’m afraid, and I knew that these arguments weren’t going to convince anyone. Here’s a good video from Hemant:

  24. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: Checked out Hemant’s video and I thought he made a calm, logical argument without condescension, name calling or anger for the obvious fact that it takes no faith to not believe something not provable. Then I read the comments and multiple christians complained about exactly that, playing the persecution card. They start from the premise that they are right, regardless of contrary facts or contradictions in their own beliefs and anything that doesn’t fit their storyline must be wrong, no need to even consider it. It’s the authoritarian mindset at work. I recently read an online book by Bob Altemeyer, psycholgy professor from the univ. of Manitoba called The Authoritarians and it explores how people with that mindset can be totally logical about somethings, but totally illogical about others, oblivious to inconsistencies. It’s a scholarly tome, so a bit of slog to read, but quite informative. Here’s the link:

  25. barriejohn says:

    Cali Ron: Some of the more intelligent Brethren used to say, “We’re only asked to believe that the whale swallowed Jonah, not that Jonah swallowed the whale”. Sounds all well and good to a rational believer, doesn’t it, but it’s the very antithesis of faith. Faith means, BELIEVING THE IMPOSSIBLE. You can’t have faith and be rational at the same time.

    Don’t forget, either, that atheists MUST believe in God. By saying that you don’t believe in something you are acknowledging that it does, actually, exist. Simple Christian logic!

  26. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: Indeed. It’s that very logic that first caused me to doubt my faith. So, I guess I was “saved” by my doubt in faith. Logic (the scientific kind, not the christian kind) and humanity are my guiding principles now.

  27. JohnMWhite says:

    Oh the number of times I’ve had people tell me if I am angry at god I must believe in him… No, I’m angry because we’ve spent an hour on a debate you started and your best shot was that we should be glad god lets people get cancer because it is a chance to work together to cure it. Worship that? Never.