Monday, March 11, 2019

Two types of apostates

There are roughly two kinds of people who lose their faith over the problem of evil. On the one hand are apostates for whom this is an intellectual problem. That may include "offensive" passages or "offensive" doctrines in Scripture, as well as the usual assortment of natural and moral evils in the world around us. 

They robotically repeat all the tropes about God and evil. They stop thinking after they lose faith in God. They show no awareness for the evil of atheism. They reprobate the perceived implications of Christian theism but never think far enough to seriously consider the implications of naturalism (e.g. moral, existential, and epistemic nihilism). They remain cocooned in the residual idealism of their former faith. Their apostasy is an intellectual affectation. I have no sympathy for apostates like that.

On the other hand are apostates for whom this is an existential problem. It's not about ideas. Rather, they've been crushed by life. Or they've seen a loved one crushed by life. They don't become crusaders for atheism. They don't turn this into their new cause in life. Rather, they withdraw in quiet resignation and despair, defeated by life. They haven't simply given up on faith, but given up on life. Too beaten down to care about anything anymore. They dare not hope for something better. They don't get the attention that ostentatious apostates do because they don't seek attention. They'd rather disappear. Be forgotten.  

I have more respect and sympathy for them. Not intellectual sympathy, but compassion and empathy. Although their position is tragically mistaken, it's not for show. I suspect apostates like that are easier to reach and reclaim. 

1 comment:

  1. //(e.g. moral, epistemic, and epistemological nihilism).//

    Steve, you presumably meant to list the three varieties of nihilism you listed in your blog on Feb. 27th. which included 1. Moral nihilism; 2. Existential nihilism; 3. Epistemic nihilism.