There is a atheist forum online which used to have a useful historical forum. Unfortunately it has been invaded by the “Jesus never existed” crowd, and is rapidly becoming useless.
Most of the posters are atheists. Most of these atheists seem to live and talk as if convenience was their guiding principle. They tend not to be very sceptical of things that they would like to believe, in common with most people. Naturally self-knowledge tends not to result. Few of them are very educated.
If we imagine making the claim “Jesus never existed – prove otherwise”, it looks very easy to make, requiring no special learning. It also seems very convenient polemically to those who find Christianity inconvenient. What effort is required to make it, other than to find excuses to ignore whatever reply is given? It seems, from my reading, that too many atheists have no real defence against an argument which is that convenient. Which of them can resist? So they tend to adopt it. Of course this makes them ridiculous.
Sometimes you can see the judgement of God at work. Atheists talk much about reason. This, I suspect, is the judgement on God on their pride and folly; to make them into what they condemn.
Not all atheists have too little education to realise that the idea must be rubbish. Some I see with enough self-command — but for how long? — to resist the fact that it would be convenient.
A debate was taking place between some of these holdouts, and some of those who had been assimilated. It reminded me uncomfortably of a saying in Lucian’s Life of Demonax, a second century AD philosopher.
The philosopher came across two illiterate men, each calling themselves a philosopher, arguing with each other using crooked words and tricky arguments. He commented that one of them was milking a billy-goat, and the other was holding a sieve underneath.