You may or may not know Joshua Feuerstein. Up until recently I had never heard of him either until a friend on Facebook shared one of his videos. The video was titled ‘Dear Mr. Atheist, Allow me to destroy evolution in 3 minutes!’ Yes, that is the full title of this video. I clicked on the link just to see what this man had to say. Immediately, I was bombarded by this backwards-hat wearing gentleman yelling into his iphone. Twenty seconds into his rant, he says that evolution is not a science because it is a theory. While this is obviously already a man who doesn’t really understand scientific theory, I allowed myself to go on. I mean, if someone says he can DESTROY evolution in 3 minutes, I’d like to hear that either way. Not long after this he goes on to use an example of a tornado going through a junk yard of cars and turning the junk into a sports car on the other side. This, my friends, is his reasoning as to why evolution can’t happen. He goes on to say over and over that life couldn’t be an accident, that it must have a creator, and then says that all God had to do was speak one word and ‘Boom’ everything was created. I’ll include the video below if you would like to give this a chance.
If you are planning to ‘destroy’ something, I would imagine you would want to have some evidence to back up your claims. You can’t win an argument by stating ‘God did it’. That is not evidence, nor is it even a good argument. I’m more than willing to hear out an argument, even if it goes against what I believe, if and only if, it is based in some sort of logic or at least well thought out. This video had none of that, but felt like it was made on the spot and meant to be antagonizing. His whole demeanor is one of making himself larger and by practically yelling to shout over any voice of dissent.
I’ve always been one to try and not judge others based on what they believe. I think everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs. I’m not here to try and change anyone’s mind and really I can’t do that alone. It is up to each individual to discern what they choose to believe or not believe. That’s not to say that a good debate isn’t welcome or healthy, but it should honestly come down to each individual.
When this becomes a problem is when someone like Joshua Feuerstein comes along to poke and prod and generally mock a whole group of people because of what they do or do not believe. Since watching that first video, I’ve perused Feuerstein’s public Facebook page. He boasts an almost 1 million follower count and post multiple times a day. While he does post a good many videos and links regarding other aspects of Christianity, he always seems to come back to atheists. He posts many links to articles asking atheists to answer basic questions, stories about how this or that ‘destroys’ atheists, and recently put up a challenge stating he would give 100,000 dollars to any atheist that could disprove god.
He may claim that he loves everyone, but each of his atheist-centered posts comes with an air of smugness and an antagonist attitude. He seems to get off on the idea that he is rubbing something in their faces, but also wants to act as if Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs, which just stirs up his followers.
In his ‘$100,000 Challenge’ he states that atheists don’t have any real feelings, and that they probably do not even feel like the holocaust was a bad thing because of, as he puts it, ‘survival of the fittest’. Not only is this statement wildly insulting, it is also asinine, and proves how little he knows about atheists, or general human emotion. One does not need to follow a deity to have empathy or morals. Morals do not come from god, but from having a higher level of reasoning that we are afforded with our brains (not that everyone uses that). No atheist or non-Christian (without being a sociopath) would not see the holocaust as anything other than one of the greatest human tragedies that we have experienced as a species.
And Joshua knows this. He is not looking for an argument. He rarely steps into the comments to defend his point or to debate. He likes to post these ridiculous claims and then hide from any sort of discourse, as if his word is more than enough. He doesn’t want to debate anyone, lest he end up looking like a fool. He wants to stir up the pot and then leave the house while it is boiling. I could respect the man if he would at least engage with others when he posts these things, but he could care less because he knows he is getting hundreds if not thousands of people to share his rants on a daily basis.
He is one of the many Christians in this society to use ‘gotcha’ tactics and then to think that he has won by stating his belief without any evidence. He is also creating yet another divide between people of differing belief by making this an ‘Us VS Them’ battle. He wants to make it seem like atheists are out to get him and all Christians, and that they are trying to turn the country into some sort of hell on earth. The scary thing is that many Christians believe this lie and some have said that they are willing to fight for their right to believe. I’m not certain where this idea is coming from. There are no atheists trying to come to anyone’s home to force them to not believe in god.
A Gallup poll from 2012 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/159548/identify-christian.aspx) shows that 77% of United States citizens identify as Christian. A whopping 15.6% claim no religious identity, with only 2% of that 15% claiming the title of ‘atheist’. So, where are these vast numbers of atheists out to get the Christians? When have Christians become the minority? Fact is, that it doesn’t exist. Sure, there are plenty of atheists out there that will debate all gods. Not all of them are good spokespeople (just like any other group), but the majority aren’t doing anything other than voicing their own opinion. When your religious affiliation can claim a 77% majority rating, you have little to complain about and when you bring in arguments like the ones above, you are doing nothing more than alienating yourself.
The yelling and the screaming and the persecution complex, does not get you anywhere. You aren’t going to convert any atheists by treating them like idiots or telling them that they are going to hell for not believing in what you do. Try having a discussion with them first, possibly sitting down with someone who is an atheist, and I don’t know, talking to them like an adult. If you want to have your platform to speak on your beliefs, you are more than entitled to that. You can believe in god, or a giant shoe monster, or whatever that makes you feel comfortable or sustained, but don’t assume just because you believe something so strongly, does it make it real.
Without empirical evidence, you can’t prove or disprove anything. Just like I can’t disprove Santa Clause because there is no evidence that he doesn’t exist, you can’t prove or disprove god exists. It is impossible. Just because you feel like its true, again, does not make it so. Joshua has claimed that he knows god exists because he has felt him, but this is not evidence for the idea of a god. This is someone, who in their personal life, thinks that they have had a spiritual encounter. You can feel those things without believing in god. When I look up at the stars and recognize just how big the universe is, it makes me feel awe, but I don’t go around claiming that the stars are a deity and you are wrong if you don’t feel the same way I do.
I am an atheist. I stopped believing in god when I looked at my life and things in it logically and I came to the personal understanding that I do not believe in a creator being. I believe life itself is a never ending entity. It just always was and will always be. I struggled with being an atheist for a long time, because almost all of my family and friends are religious and I didn’t want to have them think less of me because I am. And I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed in the first place. It is my life, it is my belief, and I’m not trying to make anyone stop believing in god. At the same time there are so many others of these preachers that are trying to make myself and others sound like we are out to get them. That we have no feeling, and that we can’t find joy and hope in life.
I try to be a good person, not because of some spiritual reward in the afterlife, but because I feel it is the right way to live. If I wallow in misery and sadness, then that is how my life is going to be. I’m happy just to be alive, and get to experience this journey. I don’t need anything more than that. I love many people and I share in the full joy and love of getting to spend time with them in this life.
My message to Joshua Feuerstein is simple: Instead of trying to prove that you are right, try understanding that just because you think you are right, doesn’t necessarily make that the case. Instead of trying to win, try just talking to atheists with a little civility. Or better yet, don’t talk about them at all. There are many other facets of life that you could focus your attention on. Things that could go toward making life better for someone else. We are not your enemy, but should you continue to post these kinds of things, do expect that people will take you to task for it.
And sometimes, just sometimes, you don’t need to yell and wear a backwards baseball cap. That helps no one.
Bonus: Here are just a few fun tweets to show how some folks like to think of atheists