11. I simply refuse to be a hypocritical, disingenuous Christian. I could go through the motions, attend the churches, shake the hands, follow the rituals of whichever religion or denomination of Christianity I liked the best, sing the songs, and help with the luncheons. That still wouldn’t make me a believer. It would make me a pretender. I am honest with myself and those around me that these things don’t make sense to me. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me an atheist.
I don’t begrudge anyone the desire to live as they see fit. But the key point here seems not to be a reason to be an atheist at all. Rather, it is simply the statement that he wants to be honest about being an atheist.
I’m very much in favor of honesty, but I think that we should also emphasize the importance of being honest with ourselves.
I don’t know Smalley, personally. Perhaps no one was there to point out his misunderstandings of Christianity to him before he wrote his list. Perhaps he’s all but forgotten it. But anyone who actively thinks that this list offers good reason to reject Christianity, let alone all theism, is very naive. It is based on a terrible misunderstanding of Christian beliefs, and attacks strawmen.
So, no. Being an atheist doesn’t make one a bad person. But attacking horrible distortions of an idea in order to justify rejecting it does make one either ignorant or dishonest. I suspect that it is nearly always the former. And, while that is the less repugnant of the two, it is hardly commendable.
While it is good to be open about one’s atheism, a deeper honesty will offer better reasons for one’s position than this list does. The intellectually honest person will either reject Smalley’s list as a horrible distortion of Christianity, or admit to ignorance about what it actually teaches.
What one cannot do is genuinely study theology while accepting these reasons as valid.