San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains
San Juan Mountains: Grenadier Range

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What Is Wrong With The Word 'Atheist?'

An atheist is a person who asserts that God does not exist.  That is a very interesting assertion for a human being of limited knowledge to make but there are plenty of people who make it nonetheless.  I recall a story, during the peak of the Cold War with Russia, when a Russian cosmonaut was sent into space.  As he was making numerous revolutions around the earth someone asked him if he could see God anywhere.  He proudly announced that God was nowhere to be found.  Apparently that was proof enough for him and his handlers.  I don't know if the story is true or not but it does serve as a good example of the arrogance of the atheist.
A man in Indiana stupidly wanted to give more of his money to the civil government in exchange for the dubious privilege of having a license plate on his car that said "ATHE1ST."  Why people are willing to give up their cold, hard cash in exchange for the opportunity to have a license plate that tells people something about themselves mystifies me.  Don't they know the first Welsh rule of human behavior?  Everyone should know that everyone always thinks only about themselves all of the time.  That means nobody cares about his bumper sticker or what he is saying about himself.
The Associated Press picked up the story of how his request for that particular vanity plate was rejected by the authorities in Indiana's Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  As any reasonable true believer in state power would do, the rejected man contacted the Amerikan Civil Liberties Union about the matter and they decided to appeal to the bureau, asking it to overturn the first decision and grant his right to own and display the license plate of his choice.  Here is how the story was told in the short news article:
"A man who initially was denied an Indiana license plate reading "ATHE1ST" now has the personalized plate.  The state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles denied Chris Bontrager's first request in February without citing a reason.  The bureau's denial letter to Bontrager noted the agency could refuse a personalized plate if it had a connotation offensive to good taste or decency, was misleading or deemed improper.  Bontrager believed the decision was religiously motivated, and he filed an appeal.  He said the ACLU of Indiana helped the appeal process move quickly.  The effort culminated in him receiving the new license plate Monday."
Since Chris' initial request was rejected we are forced to assume that the bureaucrats involved with processing his request considered the word 'atheist' to be offensive to good taste or decency.  At the very least they had to believe that the word was "improper," whatever that means.  There is no way they could have rejected his request based on the other disqualification for a novelty plate, namely that it was "misleading," since Chris is clearly an atheist.  The initial decision of the Indiana BMV got me to thinking.....just what is offensive to good taste, offensive to decency or improper about the word 'atheist?'
I do not see how the word can be considered to be improper since it does precisely what a word is expected to do.  Chris believes with absolute certainty that God does not exist and an atheist is a person who believes with absolute certainty that God does not exist.  That means the proper word to use for a person who believes that God most certainly does not exist is 'atheist.'  Both Chris and the bureaucrat who initially rejected his request are fully aware of this fact so I must also conclude that impropriety was not the reason for the initial rejection.
Chris believed that his request was rejected for "religious" reasons.  That is an interesting thing to believe.  He may be on to something but, at the same time, he is missing something.  Everything in life is religious.  Chris happens to be an adherent to the religion of atheism.  He makes dogmatic statements about non-scientific beliefs in regards to the state of the universe.  He makes faith based claims which are completely unprovable about the nature of  the existence, or non-existence in his case, of spiritual beings with extreme power.  Chris' religion is just like any other religion in that it requires faith in order to believe it since proving a universal negative (God does not exist) is impossible.  So Chris was asking the State for permission to display a religious license plate and, at least at first, the State disapproved.
I don't know why the bureaucrat with the authority to make the decision initially denied his request but I suspect he found Chris' petition to be offensive to good taste and decency entirely because it make the proud assertion that the God of the Bible does not exist.  I would guess that we have a classic case of competing religions here and Chris lost the first round of the fight but ended up winning the second.  I would bet a dollar or two that the bureaucrat rejected Chris' request because he thought he was defending the God of the Bible from this blasphemous man.  If I am right, and I am probably not, then the government employee with good intentions was wasting his time and fighting an unnecessary battle.
God does not need to be defended by us.  He has already weighed in with His opinion on the matter of the religion of atheism.  He has said, "The fool has said in his heart 'there is no God.'"  God realizes that men claim He does not exist.  He goes on to tell us that men engage in atheism quite purposefully as they seek to "suppress the truth in unrighteousness" about Him and His moral claims upon our lives.  God also tells us that unless an atheist repents he will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.  That is God's just punishment for the stubborn refusal of the atheist to acknowledge God and worship Him as He demands.
So should Chris be permitted to display his license plate?  I think so.  I also think he should add a bumper sticker immediately below the license plate.  It should say something like "Hell Bound," or "Future Citizen of the Lake of Fire," or simply "Fool." 

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