Coming from a small town, your child has a little bit of trouble making new friends in this new large city and its large college campus. You hear that the college has a chaplain, and so in good faith, you encourage your child to visit the chaplain. After all, you assume that a chaplain on a college campus must be sort of like a youth pastor, and he should be able to help.
We all know what they say about the word “Assume,” don’t we?
As it turns out, the chaplain your child innocently goes to is a professing atheist. To further complicate things, this chaplain is a really nice guy who befriends your child. Unfortunately, being still impressionable, your child soon becomes confused in the faith, and gradually begins to walk away from the church. Now what are you going to do?
Does this sound like a fanciful story? It’s true that I made up the story just now, but it does have a strangely truthful part as well. Apparently there are now chaplains in some schools who are professing atheists. Yes, you heard me right. An article I just read begins with,
“Chaplain John Figdor has a divinity degree from Harvard. He counsels those in need and visits the sick. And he works with Stanford students under the Office of Religious Life. So Figdor is the last guy you'd tag with the "A" word. But, yes. The chaplain is an atheist.” [See full story here]
This begs two big questions.
First, how can you have an atheist chaplain when the term “chaplain” has traditionally been used in a Christian sense, or at the very least, a religious one?
My dictionary defines the word “chaplain” as, “n. a clergyman officially authorized to perform religious functions for a family, court, society, public institution, or unit in the armed forces.” Apparently, if there are now atheistic chaplains, this definition is no longer valid.
Secondly, if this is possible, does it not logically follow that such atheism can also then rightly be called a religion?
I have argued the case of atheism being religious before, such as here in of the Religious Atheist. After reading the article on the Stanford Chaplain, I am even more convinced of the possibility of atheism actually having morphed into a religion of its own. And why not? If atheism and the world wishes to redefine formerly religious terminology for its own purposes, and they’ve done it many times already throughout history, then certainly they shouldn’t balk too much at my suggestion that atheism itself is also evolving into a religion.
That’s the way I see it anyway. Peace.
"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (Psalm 14:1)
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