It's difficult to even imagine, much less know, what to do about people like this and their gaucherie. If someone has already started out from a position of asserting that they know you, your mind, your motives, your emotions, and your ideas better than you do, then they are basically denying the possibility that they will ever take you or your arguments seriously enough to even contemplate the possibility of being wrong. The entire universe now revolves around their ideology: whatever doesn't appear to fit is rejected as unreal, including whatever objections you think to raise. We might plausibly label this a form of Religious Narcissism or Religious Solipsism.
Father Stephen Freeman, a bumptious Orthodox Priest in Tennessee, asserts that most people don't know why they don't believe in his god and so doesn't seem to think that believers need to listen to what atheists have to say about themselves. In place of sincerely listening to what atheists have to say, Father Stephen Freeman offers what he regards as the "real" reasons atheists don't believe in his god. Notice that he keeps using "we," indicating that he is presuming to speak for atheists as if he were one himself:
1. We do not believe in God because we are under delusion. We do not see the world as it truly is. We do not see ourselves as we truly are. Most importantly we do not see God as He truly is. ...Our hardness of heart makes our own knowledge poor and frequently deluded. We need to hear and learn from the knowledge of others.
We could replace "God" here with: fairies, elves, Thor, Odin, Apollo, Zeus, Bigfoot, etc. What would the difference be? The argument would be the same: people disbelieve because they don't see the truth. It's a tautology dressed up in a cheap suit so as to appear to sound like something insightful. It would be bad enough for Father Stephen Freeman to make such accusations about atheists in the third person, but by using the first person he is attributing to atheists a personal admission. This makes his statement hard to distinguish from a lie.
2. We do not believe in God because we have substituted false definitions for the true revelation of God.
If we do not believe in any gods, don't apply any definitions to "God". Atheists let believers define what they mean when they use the "god" label and, if it's coherent, we can explain why it's unreasonable to believe that such a thing exists. In the absence of any substantive and serious definitions, we don't need to think about it at all. Note once again that Freeman is writing in a manner that makes it look like atheists are saying that they have "substituted false definitions," which is itself a false statement.
3. We do not believe in God because we hate our enemies and are consumed with anger about the world.
It probably shouldn't be surprising that Father Stephen Freeman would trot out the old canard about people being atheists because they are hateful and angry. It seems that it is just too much to imagine that a person could be kind, decent, and loving without believing in one god or another. As noted above, it's a failure of moral imagination: some people make their god so important in their lives that they cannot get their minds around the possibility of anyone living well and decently without the same beliefs.
4. We do not believe in God because such belief would cost too much.
I never know how to judge this in the life of another. I can only speak from personal experience. In this case there are points and times in my life that I find it more convenient not to know God but to talk about God, to discuss religious questions.
If atheists are going to be accused of not believing in gods because they are angry and hateful, why not also accuse them of not believing because they would prefer to be free from the restrictions that a god might impose. This is typically accompanied by the accusation that atheists are not moral, cannot be moral, and/or have no reason to live moral lives. It's no different or better than saying Jews and Muslims cannot be moral because they don't believe Jesus is the son of God. People who say such things are bigots who are trying to build up their own group by tearing down others.
5. We do not believe in God because of pain and misconception. ...These are fequently the victims of those who falsely claim to know God. By the same token, in God’s mercy, their very rejection of the false God that has been offered to them, is an act of grace, enabled by the true God. Such persons are far closer to the Kingdom of God than those who have inflicted their false religious views on them.
Finally, we get another common myth: atheists don't believe because they were hurt by someone who claimed to be a Christian or a theist. Once again, it's a failure of moral imagination to think that a person could sincerely reject claims that a god exists even after generally positive interactions with believers. Being a good person doesn’t mean that everything that person believes is true. On the contrary, it should be accepted as a truism that we all believe at least some false things and some true things. Every good person has false beliefs; every evil person has true beliefs. Thus the goodness or badness of a person has no bearing on whether their beliefs should be accepted or rejected.
It is doubtless possible for me to expand this posting. Perhaps I will at a later date. For the present, it is all that I have within me.
Father Stephen Freeman is, I believe, an exceptionally arrogant man whose self-righteous posturing I have commented on before. As bad as his prior writing have been, though, this is far worse. I don't doubt that Father Stephen Freeman can expand on his bigoted, false, and defamatory accusations about atheists and am happy that this was all he had within him at the time.
I hope that he doesn't find it within him to continue such risible diatribes because he doesn't have the slightest idea what he is talking about. He should of course feel free to speak for himself and speak on behalf of Orthodox Christianity, but he has absolutely no business speaking for atheists or presuming to instruct others what the "real" reasons for atheism might be.