Economics 101

Conversations about Atheism in America

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Editor’s note: Dr. Anne Bradley was featured in an interview with Praxis Circle. Below are a few highlights of that conversation centered around business and economics from a Christian perspective. You can watch the interview in full here.

Conversations about Atheism in America

Most of my interaction is when I’m asked to go interact on Christian college campuses. So I would say in some ways my exposure to atheists on the ground, in terms of actually interacting, is limited. Now, just because you’re on a Christian campus doesn’t mean there are no atheists there. 

But I think that there are a couple of categories I can talk about just in terms of observing the conversations that people are having more broadly, outside of the classroom perhaps. 

I think one is just this idea of materialism, which is that there is no agency that’s divine. We’re Imago Dei, created in the image of God. If that’s true, then there are profound implications for the value of the human person. Which in a weird way is anti-materialist, right? Because material stuff can fade away, but the non-material stuff for a Christian is important—maybe it’s the most important thing. 

When you go down the path of atheism (that is profoundly obsessed with materialism, I would say), then that’s all the human person is about. And that gets us into these weird policy conversations which have to do with income redistribution because a person’s worth is only revealed perhaps by their income. Because of your status, your value—there’s no dignity.

So I think that’s one aspect of it. I think another aspect is really just a postmodern claim that truth is inherently relative, “there is no truth.” When we talk about it now, people say, “I’m going to speak my truth.” And this is a phrase that drives me crazy because there is no “my truth.” There is the truth. I think postmodern atheism is really butting up against that and trying to make the claim that your truth is your truth, my truth is my truth. And what that means is that anything goes, there are no rules. 

(Watch this part of the interview here.)

Common Issues Between Christians & Atheists

The question is: how do we come into society and live amongst each other if we’re all self-interested (which is a principle of economics, but an observation of people) when there’s no doing any wrong when anything goes? It’s very hard to live amongst each other that way.

These are the strains that I find very dangerous, and here’s why. They’re very attractive to, perhaps, the next generation. Because it sounds good to create your own rules. And it almost sounds tempting to say, “I’m a Christian, but if I could just kinda soften some of these rules, then I could have my version of Christianity.”

So I think it’s that atheists don’t just stay in atheism, and Christians stay in Christianity. That’s not what God wanted. He wants us to be salt and light and interact. But what we have to do is be careful that we’re not adopting these ideas of postmodernism and atheism and incorporating them into a “softer” Christianity that kind of just lets us do what we want. 

These are some of the biggest concerns that I have that could be the most damaging.

(Watch this part of the interview here.)

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