I Have Faith In My Certainty

Because Mike Seaver is the perfect person to tackle such a weighty issue.
Because Mike Seaver is the perfect person to tackle such a weighty issue.

So, a friend recently shared an older entry from Hemant Mehta’s “Friendly Atheist” blog about one of Kirk Cameron’s films. This one, “Unstoppable“, is Kirk’s attempt to explain why God allows evil to exist, i.e. theodicy. Of course, the film’s Facebook page didn’t put it that way, saying that, “Unstoppable creatively asks—and answers (italics mine)—the age-old question: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?” Are you fucking kidding me?

You’ll have to excuse my language, but if an “f-bomb” has ever been called for anywhere, it’s here. Seriously, a theological lightweight like Cameron has a definitive answer to an issue that theologians have wrestled with for centuries? Well, isn’t that special?  I can’t think of anyone better to explain a weighty matter like theodicy than a man whose religious mentor is Ray Comfort, i.e the guy who claimed the banana’s many user-friendly features are proof of a creator.  And, of course, there are the dreadful “Left Behind” films, which are based on an interpretation of Revelation that would make a great sci-fi/fantasy novel, but has little to do with what that book actually means. But, while all that’s interesting, it’s not really what I wanted to talk about today.

No, beloved, what I want to talk about today is the promo video included in Hemant’s blog post. In it, Cameron says, “Not many people know this, but I am a recovering atheist.” I guess that’s supposed to be a surprise, but I’m not sure how big of one it can be since it’s included on his Wikipedia page. Not to mention that any evangelical worth their salt would never leave such information out of their “testimony”, which means he probably tells that shit to everyone. But, I guess the data is pertinent since he goes on to make a claim about the two things you “must cling to, by faith, to be a good atheist.” This statement reveals two things that Kirk doesn’t understand: atheism and faith.

Let’s start with atheism. While I’m not an atheist, I do know a couple and they are intelligent, open-minded people who are perfectly willing to change their minds about something when presented with satisfying evidence. So, the idea that atheists “cling to” anything is actually pretty fucking ridiculous. If anyone’s clinging to anything, it’s Cameron and his ilk who continue to insist that the creation story in Genesis is literally true, even when confronted with overwhelming evidence of other models. Is someone projecting a little? I think so.

When it comes to faith, Kirk seems to give with one hand while taking away with the other. In claiming that “there are two things you “must cling to, by faith, to be a good atheist”, Cameron couches faith as belief that is not based on proof. While that is the way most Christians would define faith, it has little or nothing to do with way atheists operate. It also has little or nothing to do with the way most Christians navigate their day-to-day, either. Meanwhile, though he never says it in so many words, Kirk’s tone lets us know that he is convinced of God’s existence. Or, as Mehta puts it, “Most Christians will be glad to tell you with 100% certainty that they *know* God exists.” I don’t think I’m on a weak limb to claim that Kirk would fall into that category.

It’s that certainty that sends Christianity off the rails, you know. The idea that you know 100% that God exists, while someone else is “clinging to” a ridiculous idea because they need a little proof is incredibly arrogant. And, it’s that arrogance that atheists are so mad about, not a deity about which they harbor a very healthy amount of doubt.

One of my favorite theological quotes comes from Paul Tillich, who said, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith.” It seems that those who reject faith as part of the way they live their lives have a better handle on the concept than many of us who cling to it.