Disillusioned with Atheism
a young college professor I became an atheist, partly due to my
father’s influence. As I became more involved in atheism I published
many articles in their journals. Also as I became more involved I
became increasingly disenchanted with the movement, especially with
atheist scholarship. Common claims such as Galileo was jailed due
to his science and Bruno was burned at the stake for the same reason,
were false.1 I knew enough about science, history, and
religion to recognize that many of their often poorly informed
arguments against Christianity were terribly distorted and
one-sided. It was often implied in their literature that most all
of the world’s problems were due to Christianity.
God hating compatriots believed, or inferred, that if only Christianity
did not exist, the world would be a wonderful place. Wealthy atheist
James H. Johnson wrote that, when atheists rule the world, which he was
sure would occur someday, Christianity will be dead and "there will be
no wars, no crime, no sickness and no unhappiness."2
Christopher Hitchens titled his latest book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons
Everything. Not just some things, but everything! Hitchens
preached that if we got rid of God and religion, the earth will be a
paradise, or close to it.3
was also surprised to learn that personality conflicts were rampant in
the atheist movement. An example is Garry DeYoung was strongly
condemned in print by certain other atheists. I did not agree
with all of his eccentricities, such as his determination to persist in
fighting losing court battles long after it became very obvious that
they could not be won, but felt sympathy for him because of what he
went through due to tenaciously holding on to his ideals. A very
intelligent, well-read, and hard working gentleman, he was determined
to do things his own way, which was not always the way that other
atheists thought was best. To me, he was a true friend. My
atheist friends also often expressed frustration about the problems of
organizing atheists, noting that they were often not joiners and tended
to be an independent lot that did their own thing. This
stereotype fit Garry very well.
problem with the Witnesses, as a whole, was not with the people, but
with doctrine and leadership, especially the lawyers who ran the
Society. Most Witnesses were wonderful, kind, and concerned
friends, which made leaving the organization very difficult for me, and
often most other people as well.
pushing our atheistic agenda — first to get all evidence of theistic
religion out of the public square, then out of society (a long term
goal) — we had enthusiastic Methodist, Congregationalist, and Jewish
clergy doing a marvelous job in court for us. We viewed them as "useful
idiots," and knew full well that they were ignorantly working toward
their own demise, but we felt they were far too stupid to realize this
fact. Our favorite word for religious believers was "stupid" although
we often used words like ignorant and delusional as well, especially to
attack those persons who took their religion seriously. These persons
we, in general, derisively called "fundamentalists." An example is the
well-known head of the atheist organization called The Truth Seeker, James Harvey
Johnson noted above. He wrote in a 192-page book titled Superior Men (a term he used to
refer to Atheists) that the great masses of people are very stupid.
They are kept in stupidity by their rulers, priests, and preachers. All
they know is to eat, … work when they have to, procreate, repeat what
they hear like parrots, have their childish pastimes and die after a
life of exploitation by grafting rulers, politicians, preachers,
priests, and parasites. … stupid people multiply just as fast as
intelligent people and under present conditions much faster.4
book continued along the same vein in chapters with titles such as,
"Religious Customs Are Amazingly Stupid."5 Johnson openly
recognized Darwinism was lethal to theism or, at the very least, it put
God out of a job.6 When I knew Johnson he was a wealthy, but
a very bitter, often crusty, elderly man. He uncritically lumped
together all religions except his own (atheism). In one sentence he
discussed the Aztec religion ritual murders, and in the next sentence
Christianity, ignoring the major differences between them, and rarely,
if ever, admitted the good that resulted from theistic belief
religion bashers, such as Sam Harris, faithfully continue this now holy
tradition. Although Harris, a Stanford Ph.D., are more sophisticated in
their bashing than Johnson, he bashes just the same, using wild, often
unsupported over generalizations in an attempt to argue his case.7
The same problem that turned me off to Watchtower "scholarship" was
rapidly turning me off to atheist "scholarship," much of which was
worse. In my experience, many, but clearly not all, atheist writings
were as irresponsible, often worse, than much Watchtower literature. I
lasted 20 years as a Witness, and only a few years as an atheist before
I left the movement in disgust.
also became very concerned about the general goals atheist’s had for
society that included a world without theism. This was my goal then as
well, but how they wanted to achieve this goal bothered me greatly.
They genuinely believed that their new world would be a better place
without religion, and many were determined to produce that world by
suppressing, then destroying, all theistic religion by government
power, first from the public square, then from our private lives.
I saw their tactics as very similar to the communists that so many of
my compatriots admired.
rid of all religious public display’s was a major first step toward
their goal of achieving a solid atheist-socialist society, a first step
which so-far they have been enormously successful. They wanted
information favorable to all religion, especially Christianity, out of
the schools by law because they knew how the schools go is how the
country goes. The ACLU and the courts were powerful allies with the
atheists, many who preferred to be labeled the kinder and gentler term
"secular humanists." In addition to their efforts to suppress religion,
they often had the support of the liberal churches—the "useful idiots"
as my atheistic friends called them.
also knew the key to achieve an atheist society was indoctrination in
evolution, and for this reason most were very active proselytizers of
Darwinism. And, as time has shown, atheists have been very successful
in academia by using indoctrination in evolution to achieve converts.
They wanted to force society to accept their worldview, not only by the
use of legal means and court rulings, but by indoctrination as well.
contrast, I advocated achieving our goals by convincing, not forcing,
and this area was a major point of conflict between me and many of my
atheist friends. I felt using objective education, not force,
indoctrination or inaccurate polemics, would be the best and most
humane approach. I saw their approach as not only inhuman but naive, to
say the least; I took more of a "live and let live" approach. In
short, eventually I left atheism.
See Ronald Numbers 2009. Galileo
Goes to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
See Johnson. Superior Men. San Diego, CA: The Truth Seeker, 1949, p. 113
He died in 2011 from throat cancer at age 63 due to heavy drinking,
smoking, and in general a life of debauchery.
James Harvey Johnson. Superior Men San Diego, CA. The Truth Seeker. 1949. p. 19.
Johnson, 1949, chapter 20.
Johnson, 1949, pages 54-56.
Sam Harris. The End of Faith:
Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.
168, 2016 May)
Dozens of articles by
Dr Jerry Bergman on this website: