Atheist’s Demeanor


David Hume, 1700’s

Richard Dawkins, 1900’s


Samuel Johnson, 1700’s

Mark Woods, 1900’s


The 18th century equivalent of Richard Dawkins was David Hume, philosopher.   Samuel Johnson was the Christian counterpart and contemporary of David Hume.   Samuel Johnson had many things to say regarding David Hume’s counters to the Gospel of Jesus and Christianity in general.

Samuel Johnson told his biographer Boswell: “Hume and other sceptical innovators are vain men, and will gratify themselves at any expense… Truth, Sir, is a cow which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull.”

Woods: There are dozens of authors today who are busily trying to milk the bull. It’s not fair to say, as Johnson did, that they are all just self-promoters who have hopped on to the atheist bandwagon (though some have), but it’s hard to read their productions without thinking that they’re equally fruitless.

I have a few of them on my bookshelf at home; Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Michael Onfray, Steve Jones…But whenever I read another attack on religion, it’s with a sense of resigned irritation rather than with outrage or fear. The reason is that there is absolutely nothing in anything any of them write that’s news to me.

Johnson also said to Boswell, “Every thing which Hume has advanced against Christianity had passed through my mind long before he wrote.”

Woods:  I should say – though without much expectation of being believed – that I have absolutely nothing against atheists. Some of them are my friends. I believe, they don’t; so what? Atheism in essence isn’t a movement, or a party; it’s just an absence of belief.

But my sense of weary frustration arises when people try to convince me that they’ve discovered things that make atheism right – as though these things have never occurred to people of faith before. To me, it’s like climate change deniers eagerly telling scientists, “But the climate has always changed.”

Woods: “We know.”

Believe me, we know!   So much of what I hear is just noise–clanging in my ears.  As the seer of Ecclesiastes relates: “there is nothing new under the sun.”   Absolutely nothing.

Woods: If I have one plea, it’s for some mutual understanding and respect. Atheists who assume we just haven’t thought things through are lacking in that, just as Christians who assume some sort of moral or intellectual failing in atheists are lacking as well.
For more from Mark Woods, you can visit his insightful article here.
For more on David Hume, please visit.
For more on Samuel Johnson, please visit here and here.
For more on Mark Woods, please visit.
The Dawkins Letters





2 thoughts on “Atheist’s Demeanor

  1. Good point. And the standard responses to these anti-God arguments usually incur simple contempt. The worst I ever heard was a list of all the other arguments which totally undermine the position this person took against Creator, and mock me for not referring to them! I have come to the metaphor of the child who refuses to eat supper because they do not like it, except they have never tasted it before. And even if a parent forces the child to taste it, it is refused because they already decided they hated it. In the end I know of no argument against such irrationality. So we love them, not condemn. In the end that is what shows the difference. Just today I heard the story of a Christian giving an atheist 2 months rent when that student lost their source of funding. The challenge is great.


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