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Evangelical Bill Muehlenberg’s Dishonest View of Atheism

outspoken atheists

Every study I have read in the past decade suggests that atheism and agnosticism are on the rise; that nones — those who are indifferent towards religion are on the rise; that Christianity in the United States is in decline, as evidenced by shrinking membership, Sunday attendance, and income. As it stands today, non-believers are the largest religious demographic in the U.S. Christianity is on its way to becoming a minority religion.

Bill Muehlenberg, an Evangelical Christian who blogs at Culture Watch, is ignorantly or deliberately oblivious to these facts. According to him, atheism has lost its luster and is in decline. Worse, an increasing number of atheists are converting to Christianity, or, at the very least, confessing belief in God.

Who are these atheists who have left godlessness for religion?

  • Albert Henry Ross (1881-1950)
  • John Warwick Montgomery (1931-)
  • Josh McDowell (1939-)
  • Antony Flew (1923-2010)
  • C. S. Lewis (1898-1963)
  • Whittaker Chambers (1901-1961)
  • Malcolm Muggeridge (1902-1990)
  • Peter Hitchens (1951-)
  • Mortimer J. Adler (1902-2001)
  • William J. Murray (1946-)
  • Lee Strobel (1952-)
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969-)
  • Alister McGrath (1953-)
  • Rosaria Butterfield (1962-)
  • Josh Timonen (formerly worked for Richard Dawkins)

Color me grossly underwhelmed. What we have here is a list of Christian apologists (some of whom have sketchy conversion stories, alleged conversion stories that contradict Muhlenberg’s Evangelical Christianity, and people who lived using the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Where are all the present-day atheists who converted to Christianity? I guarantee you that there are a lot more notable, public theists deconverting than atheists are becoming Christians. It happens, but not often, and when it does, those who embrace Christianity do so for emotional, and not intellectual reasons.

Muhlenberg stated:

As can be seen, most of these folks were/are noted public figures. Not only were they all either atheists or agnostics, but quite a few were also Marxists, Communists or socialists as well. I might add that I too was once not only a firm agnostic but a young revolutionary and socialist.


The list I have offered in this piece is very short indeed. Many more names could have been mentioned. And I also could have discussed some leading public figures who all seem quite close to becoming Christians – or perhaps already have – people such as Jordan Peterson, Tom Holland, Douglas Murray, Russell Brand and many more.

God is clearly not dead. Many atheists are however. Or they have seen the light and left their former darkness.

Muhlenberg intimates that Christopher Hitchens was “open” to Christianity before he died and may even converted, relying on Alex Taunton’s screed, The Faith of Christopher Hitchens.

Wikipedia has this to say, about Taunton’s book:

Taunton’s book attracted some media attention and Taunton was interviewed on Newsnight on BBC Two alongside Lawrence Krauss who strongly criticized the book and alleged Taunton was a “paid associate” and not a friend of Hitchens. He also suggested Hitchens’ widow was “disgusted” by the book. The Faith of Christopher Hitchens received a mixed critical reception. Nick Cohen, a friend of Hitchens, was strongly critical of the book in The Guardian. Cohen described it as “strange, spiteful”, the “work of a true fanatic”. Cohen is critical of the several attacks made by Taunton on friends of Hitchens. Cohen also wrote that “In a section that is tasteless even by his low standards, he ridicules Christopher’s father, Eric, as a weak man, because his failure to discipline his children ‘contributed to his son’s unbelief'” and wrote that the “willingness of believers to go further and invent conversions where none existed satisfies their infantile need for fairytale endings…they move from the extremely seedy to the outright creepy: from vultures to vampires.”

Also in The Guardian Matthew d’Ancona depicted the book as “meretricious” and as the latest example of falsified deathbed conversion stories. He also wrote that whilst it is “tempting to write off this book as outburst of epic self-deception” d’Ancona wrote that “its craven purpose – to claim Hitchens posthumously for evangelical Christianity – is to defame a man who was a champion of the Enlightenment” and an enemy of all religion. David Frum, writing in The Atlantic, stated that “In the months before he died, Hitchens repeatedly and emphatically warned that claims like Taunton’s would be forthcoming and should be disbelieved.” and that “Taunton mistakes curiosity for assent.”

Keep drinking the Kool-Aid, Bill. What atheism may yet become is unknown, but it is clear that atheists are not going away or dying off. Atheism, as a movement, is evolving and maturing. The field has been cleared of theist arguments for the existence of God, so atheists have moved on to more pressing issues such as the separation of church and state, Christian nationalism, and other assaults on liberty and freedom. Talking about the Kalam argument, the argument from design, the ontological argument, and others is passé these days. Been there, done that, these arguments fail every time.

Try harder, Bill, try harder.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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      Mr Rallelson, respectfully, others will say this much more eloquently than I’m going to. It’s not compulsory to read the wisdom that is contained in each of Bruce’s well-observed blog posts. I mean, I dislike sports, cooking, tiddlywinks and many more things, so I don’t read blogs about them…..your comment truly baffles me! Others will say too that I think Bruce and many of us here would be only too happy to debate seriously with you about our atheism versus your x-tianity – flinging out an insult as you’ve done does nothing to enhance the credibility of your beliefs.

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      You sound nice. 🙂

      Seriously, attacks on this blog without substance or supporting evidence only add to the perception that Christianity is hostile, unable to respond to evidence-based questioning of its claims, and richly deserves the decline it is currently experiencing.

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    Missi Montana

    One of the reasons I became lukewarm to Christianity was the wonderful stories that never stood up to scrutiny. So-called conversion stories (of people I had never heard of), stories of angel sightings (not proven), to stories of God blessing people with wealth (I live in a building filled with devout Christians, in Public Housing because we’re all poor.)
    I remember when Carl Sagan died. His wife wrote in their last book about their last few hours together. He was an unbeliever to the end. And, dispite this, she was dismayed by Fundamentalists claiming he made a deathbed conversion. She said, even if he wanted religion at the end, he would have chosen Judaism. He was culturally Jewish his whole life.
    Like Norman Vincent Peale, Christians never let facts get in the way of a good story. The athieism is dead story is a symptom of Christianity’s last dying gasp.

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    As a former evangelical who was able to reason my way out of religious superstition I can’t imagine any new arguments that would lead me to believe these claims again. Like other atheists all I ask for is proof which is what I demand of any other claim. Without this proof all that is left are the same old weak arguments that used to work but no longer have any power over me.

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    “Everything written on this blog is bullcrap. Thank you.” – Ben Rarrelson

    Mr. R, that’s your opinion, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. What particularly struck you as bullcrap-worthy? Do you have a favorite part?

    There are a lot of people who find this blog interesting and informative.

    As for the claim that a lot of people are converting to Christianity, I don’t care. Everyone has their own particular life journey. For some people, diving into a religion is part of their journey. For others, it’s deconstructing from a religion. Polls from various sources do indicate that there is a mass exodus from organized religions, and denying those polls is willful. Denial does not negate the evidence.

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