Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Atheists Ignore Islam

Atheists attack Christianity. You look at studies and you see that atheists make up a small percentage of the population. Yet they are everywhere on the internet. That means a high percentage of atheists spend a lot of time on Christian and atheist websites attacking the Christian faith. That is fine. I would prefer they attack it than ignore it. At least it gives me a chance to get to know many of them. Some of them eventually convert.

Yet they almost completely ignore Islam. William Kilpatrick has been doing a ton of writing on the subject of Islam for a long time. From his latest:  

As I say, these assertions about the authenticity of the revelation appear over and over. Far more space is allotted to vouching for the genuine nature of the revelation than to telling what the revelation is. But what sort of author feels compelled to tell us ad nauseum that his word is not a human invention? It’s not likely that the Author of all Creation would be so insecure about what he had written. On the other hand, a man who had invented it all himself would have good reason to be defensive. Muhammad, however, also realized that the best defense is a good offense. Thus, as the Koran repeatedly reminds its readers, the surest path to hell is to doubt “Our revelations.” 
In insisting that the Koran is the verbatim word of God, Muslims are stuck with the task of defending a second-rate literary production as though it were Shakespeare, Homer, and Dante all rolled into one. If they have been largely successful in so defending it, it is because not many want to challenge them on the point.

Fear factor

You wonder why that is. Why don't atheist have the inclination to attack Islam? One reason is fear. Certainly Bart Ehrmans has said vary clearly that the reason he does not attack the Koran the way he does the bible is because he is afraid of Muslim violence. I can see that for a big name scholar who likes to make shocking statements. I don't see it near as much for the typical atheist who does not use his real name and is really not likely to get that much attention. 

If fear is the reason, it is quite ironic. One reason atheists often give for being so energetic in attacking Christianity is that they believe religion can lead to violence. I know there are lots of things that can lead to violence like politics and money and romantic love. They have no issue with those. So it is somewhat inconsistent. It is still more inconsistent to focus on a religion that is not a particularly violent one. It gets even more strange if your focus on the non-violent religion because it is non-violent. 

It shows a weakness in atheism. It does not provide any motive to make sacrifices and take risks for the sake of doing good. So scholars value truth and reason. They will scrutinize anything and everything because it is the right thing to do. Anything worth talking about is worth rationally analyzing. Yet everyone hopes someone else will take up the task of criticizing Islam. It needs to be done but nobody wants to be the guy to do it. The motive to do good is there but just not that strong.

The Islam/Christianity Parallels

Another reason I think atheists don't attack Islam is because they might make Christianity look good by comparison. Almost every good argument for rejecting Islam highlights another way that Islam and Christianity differ. For example, if you talk about how Mohammad benefited directly from his "divine revelations" and thus had a motive to lie then it is likely to be compared to the lack of benefit Jesus and the apostles had and therefore they had no obvious reason to lie. So by attacking Islam they would be implicitly defending Christianity.

This gets worse because many atheists often use this alleged parallel as an argument. They say all religions are basically the same so why would you believe one when they can't all be true? In order to make that argument you need to remain quite ignorant of Islam and basically every other religion. When you examine the major questions surrounding their believability Christianity is very different. 

Common Ground

One other reason that could be put forward why atheists attack Christianity and ignore Islam is because they are still very Christian in their thinking. Christianity is a rational religion. We have many of the same moral sensibilities. You might have an atheist assert that it is wrong to judge other people. You can do that to a Christian and they will accept it. A Muslim won't. 

I think it would be good for many atheists to have to defend their Christian beliefs to a non-Christian. Why is Freedom of Speech something everyone should have? Why should women and men have equal dignity? These questions are never seriously debated in the west. Can they find compelling answers without reference to God? I have not heard them.


I took a peek at an atheist post on this subject a while back. What was mentioned there by atheists was the fear of being labeled intolerant. You could go after Christians aggressively all day and all night but if you attacked a Muslim then you would be compared to a racist. They are a recognized victim group. People are very sensitive to anything that can be construed as anti-woman or anti-gay or anti-black. Anti-Muslim is not quite in that category but it is close. 

People don't want to go there not just because of a fear of a Muslim response but a fear of an atheist response. There are informal rules in the atheist community. When you break them you get shouted down. You can get unofficially excommunicated from the atheist fellowship. 


  1. honesyly this answer my question. as a muslim i know being christian is much more easier, so everytime an atheist complain about their religion i thought : "you have no idea, man (about being muslim)" as a comparation
    islam is force even though they claim they dont. when you born (they adzan in your ear), when you go to school what clothes u wear when you sleep even when you breath must be done in islamic way. goverment keep messeging my cell to pray 5times a day. school keep telling the biography of muhammad (that makes me think war=jihad=holy thing to do). neighbor? worst. even parents, family, the list go on.
    so... this atheist complain about christian is always makes me feel weird. at least christian "could breath"
    it is not that hard (being forced to be christian than muslim) isn't it?

    everytime atheist cricic christian it makes islam growth stronger and then it can not be broke. and major world would became muslim and being muslim is harder than being christian because it would rule every little aspect on your life, even think: khalifa burn down alexandria library because it is not quran ic
    before you commit something, please think twice. because islam is a race: you born with it you die with it (convert=die) so does your grandchild and all of you : had no choice anymore.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. It breaks my heart that you feel such pressure to remain Muslim. At the end of the day we all need to be able to figure out what we believe is true and live according to that truth. It sounds like you don't have that freedom and that stinks.

      You say converting means death. I believe you. Yet Jesus taught us that death does not have to have the last word. If we can love God and love the truth enough to risk our very lives then we become truly free. The reality of the resurrection means violence does not win. Love wins.

      Anyway, you sound like you are in a hard spot. I will pray for you and your family. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. May God richly bless you and yours.