I was recently asked whether it is ever appropriate to mock atheism. To be precise, the questioner should have asked whether it is ever appropriate to mock atheists. The distinction is important to keep in mind, for one does not mock ideas, they mock the people who hold them.
With that in mind, let’s be clear on what “mock” means to ensure we’re not talking past one another: “
This prompts the question: to what end? Surely the point cannot be to win over the atheist since people who are mocked tend not to become more amenable to the perspective of the mocker as a result. (I don’t know if Stockholm syndrome would constitute an exception to the rule, but if so it is the classic example of the exception that proves the rule (where “prove” means “test”).)
Here’s an example that I discuss in my book You’re not as Crazy as I Think. In The Truth Project Del Tackett mocks atheists by caricaturing atheistic accounts of the human person. According to Tackett, Christians believe we are made in the image of God. By contrast, atheists believes we are made in the image of “goo”. So there are your options: imago Dei or imago Goo.
Del Tackett and his audience think this is clever. But it isn’t. It’s just ignorant, offensive and condescending. And it is the perfect match for the new atheists who likewise specialize in mocking those with whom they disagree.
If you have the need to mock other people then you do nothing more than reveal your own emotional immaturity (as mom said, you can’t build yourself up by tearing others down) and your inability to grapple seriously with the ideas of other people. Mockery is little more than a warning flag for insecurity, xenophobia and provincialism.