I thought I should make a few comments about the event and I thought about what might be an original angle to take. I didn't want to merely rehash the same points that another 1,000,000 bloggers are making today. Sometimes, when I'm trying to decide what to write, I search Google images to find inspiration. It was there that I came across this gem.
Atheists are such a tiny minority that they qualify as “fringe” by any standard. However, they seem to be louder than their tiny numbers would allow. How? When I see things like this cartoon I see how. It's because they can be some of the most brazen and outrageous liars you could ever find. Is this serious? Almost none of the people on the graphic were atheists. I almost thought this was somehow trying to paint atheism in a bad light by showing some brilliant men who were theists only it didn't quite work; of course, Carl Sagan was a devout atheist and so that doesn't make sense (I'm not sure of the religious leanings of Hemingway or Clemens). So what is the point of the pic? That Lincoln was an atheist? That's absurd! In his proclamation given during the Civil War, Lincoln called people to prayer saying:
It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And what about Ben Franklin? Is he an atheist too? Might I remind you of his call to prayer during the Constitutional Convention where he said:
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel:
Jefferson, Einstein, and even Darwin – though not necessarily born-again Christians – were certainly not atheists. But you know what, so what if they were? I mean, what does it prove? Lincoln was an atheist so then atheism is true? This is a type of an appeal to authority (argumentum ad verecundiam). It's a logical fallacy that attempts to say something like, “This brilliant person believes this so therefore this is true.”
Though the Bible says fools don't believe in God, I believe atheists do a fair job of making themselves look foolish. Why did they attempt to portray several committed theists as though they were atheists? Couldn't they find enough prominent atheists to make the same point? Now that I think about it, who could they get? Dawkins? PZ Myers? Mao Tse-tung? Pol Pot? And even if they could find some truly inspiring atheists, the entire point is a logical fallacy anyway. This graphic, meant to be persuasive, is demonstrative of the foolishness of their arguments.
I think Mark Twain (aka Samuel Clemens – portrayed in the pic as an atheist) said it best: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
I'm tempted to wish everyone a happy Atheists Day but it's really too sad to be celebrating. Maybe we should make this day the National Pray for an Atheist Day!