Atheists Are People, Too!

Richard Dawkins, Richard Carrier, Barry McGowan, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, Madalyn Murray O’Hair — they all had one thing in common — they are or were people. They also happen to be or were well-known atheists.

I was quite taken with Madalyn Murray O’Hair at one time. I never met her, but had the opportunity to talk with her more than 40 years ago when she was a guest on a radio talk show I produced. I was a young atheist and looked up to her and Bertrand Russell (he was still alive at the time) as examples of what I wanted to be in society — a freethinker who opened the minds of the masses to think for themselves — unhampered by the dictates of religion. I didn’t think of Madalyn or Bertrand as anything other than people speaking their mind.

So, what do I think about them today? They were people speaking their mind. The fact that I became a Christian more than 40 years ago did not change my opinion about the humanity of atheists. Every atheist, past and present, was born as a person. They were human long before they were atheists.

I bring this up because of my personal experience as an atheist and the years since becoming a Christian. I produced and hosted talk shows in the 60s and early 70s and earned the scorn of Christians who listened and called in to the program. It still surprises me as I think back on what many of them said to me. Most were less than cordial and some were even hateful toward me. It didn’t bother me at the time because their hate helped boost the ratings for my shows. However, it bothers me now because Christians haven’t changed much through the years. They still find atheists disgusting. I’ve heard Christians say they hope atheists they know burn in hell. I remember Christians saying that to me on my radio show. Did they really mean that? Did they really hope I would burn in hell? I hope not. I hope that was just their frustration talking.

I was also surprised at what happened after I became a Christian. The man who prayed with me when I was saved was a minister and knew a lot of other ministers in the area. He told them about my conversion and most didn’t believe him. Many ministers told me to my face that I was the one person they didn’t think could be saved. I remember the pastor of one church saying he stopped praying for me because I was such an enemy of the Church. That’s a bit surprising as I think about it now, but that’s what he thought. I shared my testimony in many churches and Christians who came up to me afterward were either crying, laughing or shaking their heads. They just didn’t believe I could be saved. Why was that? I think it’s because they lost sight of the fact that I was just a person — a lost soul looking for answers in all the wrong places.

Atheists are just people, lost souls, looking for answers. Most have not looked in the right places. They don’t know how to find the answers. They need someone to show them the way and that means treating them like people, not like hateful garbage. I can name the Christians who impacted me positively for Christ and each one of them treated me as a person. They all knew I was a mean-mouth, mocking atheist, but that’s not how they saw me. They saw a person, dead in trespasses and sins, blind and bumping into life’s walls searching for answers. They cared about me as a person and that meant something to me. I was not persuaded by the angry words of Christians who saw me as a threat to their family, their church, their town, their way of life. I was persuaded by the love of God’s people for a lost and miserable soul.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, if you really want to reach the hearts and minds of atheists in your family, in your circle of friends, in your neighborhood, at your job, see them as they are — people — people in need — people who can be reached by the Power of God and the love of His people.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

Mark McGee

Faith and Self Defense

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DISCLAIMER: Blog entries made by individual authors reflect the views of the author and not necessarily the view of other CAA authors, or the official position of the group at large.
About Mark McGee

Mark McGee is a career journalist and former atheist. He became a Christian in 1971 after months of investigating the claims of Christianity. He studied Bible and Theology at Luther Rice College and received a Certificate in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. You can follow Mark on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

  • http://deityshmeity.blogspot.com/ Grundy

    Judging from the title, I wasn’t expecting this to be so condescending to atheists.

    • Peter Grice

      Judging from the article, it just isn’t.

    • Mark McGee

      Greetings! My feeling toward atheists is compassion, not condescension. God-believers who have a patronizingly superior behavior or attitude toward non-God believers have missed the clear message of God’s Love and Grace in the Bible. Your thoughts? Thanks!

  • Brian

    Yes it is condescending. Lost souls? What? Maybe you were walking around dead, blind and bumping into life’s walls and were suckered into the nonsense of Christianity Mark. How dare you say that all atheists are doing the same.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mark.mcgee4 Mark McGee

      Telling truth is not condescending. It would be an injustice to know truth and not tell it. I understand atheism because I lived it. I understand Christianity because I’m living it. I choose the better way and invite you to consider it as well.

      • solo_satellite

        You still don’t get it, do you? Your post is full of judgement on non-believers.
        To quote you, “They need someone to show them the way and that means treating them like people, not like hateful garbage”. Thats very Christian of you. Thank you so much for not thinking of us non-believers as hateful garbage!
        You say in your post that you used to be a mean mouthed, mocking atheist.
        I guess old habits die hard.
        Don’t worry, you’ll fit right in with your new Christian friends. There’s plenty of bigots among them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/mark.mcgee4 Mark McGee

          I do get it. God’s Truth set me free from sin and death and He asks that I share that Truth with the world. No judgment. No bigotry. Just Truth. Thoughts?

          • solo_satellite

            Did God ask you personally to share the truth? Through what medium did he contact you? Email? SMS? Telepathy? Or that book the was written during the Bronze Age?

          • solo_satellite

            Did God ask you personally to share the Truth? What medium did he use to contact you? Email, SMS? Instant Messaging? Or through that book written during the Bronze Age?

            • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/ Admin

              Solo satellite, if your comments in the future are not well-reasoned and pertaining to the original post, they will be deleted. –Admin

            • http://www.apologeticalliance.com/blog/ Admin

              solo_satellite, in the future, if your replies are not well-reasoned and do not pertain to the original post, they will be deleted. Thankyou.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mark.mcgee4 Mark McGee

    Having been an atheist I realize how difficult, even impossible, it is to believe in the supernatural. However, that does not change the fact that the supernatural exists. Spiritual (supernatural) things are understood spiritually. God communicates to us in both general revelation (the natural world He created) and special revelation (communication from the supernatural world He created). That includes both His Spoken Word as written and preserved for thousands of years and the Spirit of God Who lives within God’s people. Knowing what God wants is a process of reading/studying His Written Word and following the leading of His Spirit. Prayer is important to that process of hearing God’s Spirit, but what the Holy Spirit tells us to do will never be opposed to what God’s Word tells us to do. That is how I know God wants me to share the Truth.