Freddy and M. J.
It is not uncommon for me to interact with Atheists on Facebook, YouTube, or other social media. In the course of many conversations, one particular point repeatedly emerges when we talk about the nature of atheistic belief. Virtually all Atheists assert that Atheism is not a belief, rather it is “disbelief.” By saying this, they think they are able to get around any objection that Christians might be able to muster concerning their atheistic beliefs. Here is one example of a conversation I had with M. J.
… atheism is simply a lack of belief in god, nothing more. it says nothing about morality. … I am an atheist, but also a secular humanist, which does have a code of morality …. This is a common confusion for religious people who try to deomnize (sp) atheists. …
I’m sorry M. J., but your total lack of factual statements is staggering. Your arguments are extremely weak because you have backed up nothing. Basically you have expressed the idea that what you are saying is true because you said it and believe it.
You are factually wrong about the basis for morality. And you are factually wrong about the nature of Atheism.
As for Atheism, you are simply in error that it is “a lack of belief in God.” You have only stated the negative. The positive statement of atheistic belief is that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality. That, my friend, is a positive statement of belief and is a faith statement. You believe it not because there is any science to back it up, but because that is your religion. And the implication of that kind of belief does express itself with a moral sentiment – though it is a sentiment which has nothing to back it up but your assertion.
What is an Ideology?
When people speak of ideology, it seems to usually be in the context of dealing with a person’s political orientation. However, that is a very shallow assessment. It certainly does include political orientation, but it goes much deeper than that. It actually relates to the principles that underlie one’s political orientation. But that is not all. It also underlies one’s approach to morality, belief about God, belief about the nature of human life, and on and on.
The truth is, a person’s ideology is their religion. While most people think of ideology as a secular concept, it actually is not. Though it is generally thought of as a non-religious expression of one’s beliefs, it actually represents their religious faith.
People who do not acknowledge the existence of God typically do not think of their foundational beliefs in religious terms. As we saw in the discussion above, they honestly believe that their beliefs are not religious.
In order to get at this, the first thing we must figure out is what it is that makes a set of beliefs religious. Is religion only related to groups that have churches and rituals? Is religion only something that applies to groups that say they believe in God or a transcendent reality?
The answer to these questions is, “No!” Of course, those who go to church, participate in religious rituals, and believe in God or a transcendent reality are religious, but those who consider themselves “non-religious” are also religious. Religion relates to any belief system that is based on faith (that which cannot be verified using empirical science); which includes every belief system in existence – including those which assert that God does not exist.
Every belief system is based some set of worldview presuppositions; including naturalistic beliefs – which are the ones that are typically touted as not religious. It is not simply that they believe God does not exist, but they affirmatively assert that the natural universe is all that exists, and that all of existence ultimately came into being based on natural processes. The only problem is, there is no natural understanding able to demonstrate how that is even possible. That belief is based on faith in naturalistic presuppositions, not on any kind of science. Naturalism is the basis for this ideology.
How Political Ideology Plays into this Discussion
As was mentioned above, other expressions of people’s beliefs exist besides their beliefs about political issues. The reason for singling out politics here is because so often the term “ideology” is associated with political beliefs, and those who wish to separate ideology and religion tend to believe very strongly that there is nothing religious about their political views. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Every political point of view is an expression of the worldview beliefs that are held by the people who make policy, and worldview beliefs are religious beliefs. So when politicians make policy statements, they are making some kind of moral pronouncement based on their ideology/religion. The reason this is important is because different worldview beliefs lead to entirely different approaches to political ideology, and thus to different beliefs about what kinds of policy positions should take priority.
Naturalism believes there is no such thing as a supernatural reality – thus, no God. Along with that, they believe man is the only animal creature in existence that has a moral sense and the ability to consciously decide on and create a societal structure. And since, to them, the human moral sense has no transcendent basis, the society that ultimately gets created must be based on the beliefs of the people who have the ability to control society.
Typically, people who gain this kind of power have a vested interest in controlling the rest of the people in society in a way that helps them maintain their power. When a society is structured based on naturalistic worldview beliefs, almost without exception you end up with some form of dictatorship: Whether an autocracy where political power is housed in one person occupying a single high office (such as a dictator or king), or an authoritarian oligarchy that is characterized by the absolute rule of a small group of powerful political elites (such as a Communist dictatorship).
The worldview beliefs that provide for the kind of freedom that developed in America is a form of Theism which affirms that God has revealed what is good, has set that ideal as right for society, and where human beings are free-will creatures who choose, as a society, to follow what is good. With that in place, those who rise into leadership lead a societal structure that reflects goodness and freedom for all its citizens.
As we look at American society today, we see both of these worldview beliefs at play and this interaction creates great conflict. The reason for the conflict is that these two worldview systems literally contradict one another. Naturalism sees the expressions of Christian Theism to be narrow-minded, while Christian Theism sees many of the expressions of Naturalism to be immoral. Because of this conflict, we end up with battle in the political arena, as well.
Ideology is Religion
So what can we conclude? The important point to grasp here is that regardless of whether individuals consider their foundational beliefs to be religious or secular, they are based on faith and are religious in nature. It is also essential to realize that every policy decision that anyone makes, whether it be in the arena of politics or some other area, is a moral statement based on their foundational worldview beliefs. The incontrovertible conclusion is that there is no neutral ground; ideology is religion, and every person’s ideology is played out in life.
As Christians, our ideology is our Christian faith, and we ought to be expressing Christian worldview beliefs in every part of life. To the degree we don’t do that, we have bought into some non-Christian ideology and are practicing a different religion. It is critical that we understand not only the basic tenets of our own faith, but also the implications our beliefs have on our lifestyle. Until we are able to do that, we will not have any kind of profound impact for Christ in the world.
© 2018 Freddy Davis