I discussed a while back several reasons why I was hesitant to abandon my Christian faith, but somehow I managed to leave out one of the key issues that hindered my eventual de-conversion. Growing up I knew many non-religious people. No one in my immediate family is a Christian and few of my friends were more than culturally Christian. But although many of the people I was raised around where non-religious, I can’t think of a single adamant atheist—there is a very real distinction. Naturally, since I entered college at a conservative evangelical university, I have known few atheists.
But there is a recurring theme in some of the few atheists I have known that is rather disheartening: a severe sense of misanthropy. It seemed to me that there was some kind of natural progression from rejecting the existence of God to rejecting the value of humanity. This is troubling at best, and frightening at worst. My de-conversion from Christianity brought with it an entirely new and fresh perspective on the human race. Thoughts of the original sin of the past were replaced by a focus on the progress of the future. Distress at a seemingly inborn nature of aggressiveness and egoism are mediated by an appreciation for displays of restraint and altruism.