Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.
Hello Mr. Green,
Below is a copy of an essay that I have written that touches base on the problems that both Christians and atheists make when conversing with one another. I wrote this in hopes that it would open the door to good discussion when members of both sides get into a debate. I hope that this will help you when you get into any future debates with Christians. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me.
On a personal note, I want to say that I am now a born-again Christian who was once a religious skeptic. Because of this conversion of mine, I feel that I have a good understanding of both viewpoints. While I may be a Christian, I intend to look at both sides without bias so that logical points can be made. I truly believe that both the atheist and the Christian can appreciate my arguments, for I know that it can benefit both parties.
As a part of my testimony, I always include a miraculous recovery that I experienced when I was twenty-one years old. At the time, I was working for a freight contractor at Cincinnati/Northen Kentucky International Airport. While I was riding on the passenger side of one of our tugs, I fainted and fell literally head first on the concrete. My skull was chipped on impact and I blacked out. When I arrived at the hospital, they transferred me to a neurological center to see if I had any brain damage. The doctors expected me to be in their care for several months and they also expected me to have permanent brain damage. However, my skull was healed without surgery and there was no permanent damage whatsoever. I was able to continue my career as a college student and I was able to go back to work after only a month of medical leave. I know that this was an act of God, for I felt His divine presence when this all took place.
Proof above all has to be convincing to the unconvinced, otherwise it is impotent. Christians vainly try to convince others by quoting the bible without first establishing it as a reliable authority. They just postulate that the bible is the perfect word of God without giving any reasons for thinking that. Scientists vainly try to convince Christians using scientific arguments, when the Christians they are trying to convince have only a first grader understanding of science and no faith in or understanding of its methods.
In this case, granted you felt something very strange, but to me it seems highly improbable the creator of the universe would go to the effort of pulling such a vicious prank on you. Job was one of the few people reported to be the recipient of such special attention and Job was the most virtuous man of his age. You, presumably are man of ordinary virtue, not even a believer at the time God allegedly visited you. In my experience, people tend to find God when they are feeling unusually insignificant and unworthy. The belief that God singled them out let’s them feel special without actually having to accomplish anything. It can be a first step to rebuilding a broken life.
Whenever I tell this story to skeptics, they always expect one thing from me: scientific data.
I doubt it that is what they are actually asking for. They simply ask for any evidence at all, not absolute scientific proof. You have nothing at all. You had a very strange feeling. You grandiosely presumed it was God singling you out for special attention. God told you nothing. God did nothing. God did not heal you or change you in any way. There was no burning bush. There was no miracle. Even you make no claim to anything other that having a very unusual feeling. This God did nothing more unusual than any number of illegal drugs or minor brain damage will do. You are annoyed with your friends, not for disbelieving in God, but for disbelieving your claim that you are specially favoured by God. This may sound like odd advice, but smoke a little marijuana. It creates a mildly unusual feeling, but one quite different from ordinary waking consciousness. Perhaps that will demonstrate that not every strange feeling is a visit from God. Even Mary, mother of Jesus, reputedly rated only a visitation from an angel and you want me to believe you rated a visit from God himself? Seriously?
Surely you have heard of the God Spot, a section of the brain that when stimulated convinces the subject with absolute certainty they are in the presence of god. It seems most likely your bump had the side effect of stimulating this part of your brain. Show me any evidence your interpretation is more likely.
Devout atheists always limit the believer’s proof of God’s existence to the confines of empirical science. If the Christian cannot do this, they are often labeled as stupid and irrational for believing in the Bible, which is nothing more than mythology to the non-believer. Obviously, this is terribly one-sided. What the atheist often fails to realize is that there are certain experiences that take place in the lives of Christians that science cannot explain in a satisfactory manner. The skeptic needs to understand that science cannot explain all that exists in the mind and body, so it is very unfair for them to expect the Christian give an explanation like this when they can’t even do it themselves (for example, no atheist that has heard my testimony has been able to explain my recovery in a reasonable manner). There is no set of psychological theories that can fully explain the changes that occur in the lives of, not only Christians, but all people.
I have had even stranger experiences than you and like you, I have no evidence at all God had anything to do with them. You remind my of my friend Phil who as a child shinnied up a pole and had an orgasm as a result. Because of his Catholic indoctrination, he had only one way to explain the experience to himself — he was closer to God. Further, it is highly unlikely this God you experienced was the remotest bit like Yahweh described in the Bible. Why then did you become a Christian rather than say a Muslim, Mormon or Hindu?
I will admit that I used to think that testimonies such as these were illogical. I will also admit that my theories about Christianity in general were based on invalid assumptions that had no real basis whatsoever. It was not until I had this accident that I realized that miracles do happen and that God is real and involved in the lives of those who follow Him. I sincerely hope that others will learn from my past mistakes.
Even though I am now a Christian and have realized that science does not explain everything, I still hold to the fact that science has served us well. In fact, there is much good evidence that shows intelligent design in our world. However, science and logic are not the ultimate truths for all things. For the atheist to limit the playing field to their set of beliefs is not a good way to start a conversation. The atheist will lose credibility and no common ground will be established with the Christian.
Science does not explain everything, but it has been remarkably successful at explaining how the natural world works, how to predict its behaviour. In contrast, Christianity explains nothing. Over and over we have found its stories to be untrue. They don’t fit the observations of the world. It is just a set of made up morality stories.
Science is hard work. Lazy people want the illusion they understand it without the work of studying, particularly the mathematics. One gambit the lazy use is to study the science of 2000 years ago, (as described in the bible). Even a pre-schooler can understand it. That way they can feel superior about dismissing modern science, claiming their ignorance is God’s will, when they are actually just sloth. It is as lame an excuse as a child claiming God told her to skip Physical Education classes and pig out at McDonald’s instead.
I would say the atheists I have talked with understand Christianity, the bible, religious history etc. on average more deeply than any Christian I have ever talked to. Believers lull themselves into a fuzzy dreamlike acceptance. They don’t want to look closely because when you do, the whole thing falls apart like a house of cards. Of course, there are the professional con-Christians like Ernest Angley who have the book memorised.
Let me use an illustration to make my point clear: let us pretend that I have never ridden a horse or owned a pet in my life. Now let us imagine that I come across a man who has ridden a horse for many years. He tells me of the special bond that him and his steed share and that he truly feels as though he has a real connection with his prized companion. Anyone who has a pet, whether it is a horse, a dog, or a cat, can relate to the idea that the pet/master bond can become very strong over time. After he tells me about this great bond, I criticize him for believing this and even say that his relationship with the horse is a sign of insanity on his part. Since I have never ridden a horse, do I have the right to label this man as crazy even though I do not understand what he is talking about? Of course, not. That would be terribly close-minded on my part, for I do not understand the connection they share. Likewise, the atheist who has never experienced the touch of God has no right to label Christians for describing the relationship that they share with Him, for they obviously do not understand what this relationship is all about. Because of my accident, I can now see the folly of my old ways as a skeptic for criticizing Christians for thinking that they truly have a relationship with God.
Christian fundamentalists know less about science than second graders. On the other hand, atheists usually know far more about Christianity that any Christian. So I think you have your argument backwards.
Should I be polite to a con man who has bilked old ladies out of millions? Should Einstein have been polite if some teen who had never studied physics lectured him on the error of his mathematics. Should I be polite to someone who threatens my life (because I am gay or because I am an atheist)? Nazis dedicated their lives to spreading lies about Jews. Christians dedicate their lives to spreading lies about gays, and about science and about the origin and history of the earth and life on earth. Christian behave in these outrageous ways every day and expect people to treat them with respect. It in an unrealistic expectation.
The church was totally in charge for hundreds of years. They were the most miserable centuries in human history. That misery was created by the church, by exalting suffering as a virtue, by ripping off the people, by fomenting religious wars and by the insanity of the inquisition. The misery was a direct result of mistaking superstition for fact. Today, theocracies like the Taliban and the clerics of Iran torment their people. Christians try to tell us if they were in charge again, all would be well. Yet this is a lie. We know exactly what it would be like. It would be like Europe in 1100.
For example, they may use the Crusades or the Inquisition to make their point. They may also point to modern-day atrocities, such as gay bashing, white supremacist movements and many other hateful practices that have been done in the name of Jesus. What they are saying is very true and it would be wrong on the part of the Christian to deny this. However, it is not right for the atheist to label all Christians as dangerous and hateful, as they often do. Also, realistically speaking, people’s actions do not disprove the existence of God. While atheists claim to be logical and rational, they are not following the rules of logic when they make these statements.
For anyone who reads the Bible, we can clearly see that these atrocities are an abomination to God.
So is eating lobster.Matthew 7:20 According to Jesus, you must judge a tree by its fruits and the fruits of the bible is the behaviour of Christian believers. Christians behind the anti-gay violence were also behind the anti-black violence. I personally have fielded thousands of death threats and tens of thousands of abusive phone calls and email from Christians. Christianity lets people feel smug while committing atrocities. Christians form the bulk of the pro-Iraq war movement in the USA. And they feel profoundly virtuous about it. Christianity fuels their hatred of Muslims, even children. You would think Christians on reading the sublime sermon on the mount, would exhibit exemplary behaviour, but they don’t. They read the old testament instead and look for excuses to persecute others. University studies have discovered that becoming Christian for most people, makes them behave worse than before. They become smug, complacent and judgemental.
While it does say that homosexuality is a sin, it does not say that we are to inflict harm upon them for embracing that lifestyle. Instead, we are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a loving and respectable manner so that they will come to accept Him as their savior. The atheist needs to realize that just because someone call themselves a Christian, this does not mean that he/she is truly following what God’s commandments. Jesus even said that many would come commit great atrocities in His name, only for Him to say that He never knew them Matthew 7:21-23. It is amazing to see that many atheists who read the Bible fail to realize this passage when they make their claims. This just goes to show that many atheists fail to look at all the evidence before they reach their conclusions.
There is another problem involved in blaming Christianity for the world’s problems: they point the finger at Christians without realizing that many atheists are contributing to the problems in the world as well. For example, there have been many atheists in the past who have committed great atrocities as well, such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Fidel Castro (in fact, modern communism is based on the evolutionary idea that man is nothing more than an animal). By the atheistic rationale, the Christian can say that atheism is dangerous and false because of the great atrocities that have been done by atheistic tyrants. If skeptics use the atrocities that Christians have committed as a way to discredit Christianity, then it would seem fair for the Christian to use the atrocities that atheists have committed to discredit atheism. This issue should be avoided, for it ultimately proves nothing. It also causes more frustration on both sides, which cause more bridges to be burnt.
I have heard this charge over and over. I say, OK, put the quotation in context then. Quote as big as chunk as you please. It still says exactly what it appears to. My whole bible study guide lets you see the quoted verse in as much context as you please. Dismissing any biblical quotation by claiming the quotation as out of context is a lazy rebuttal. At least you are obligated to explain some other meaning in the bigger context.
If you have made statements like this, your illustration of God is clearly inaccurate, for these are all human characteristics, not the characteristics of being who exists outside of time and space. The Bible even states numerous time that God is not a physical being, but a flawless spirit who is not consumed by passions or weaknesses as we are. Therefore, God does not have self-esteem problems, ego problems, sexual desires, moods, feelings of envy, nor does He need our praise.
You are talking about a different god that the petty tyrant depicted in the bible. You are in love with your imaginary version of the Christian god or the one of pop Christianity. Have you read the bible yet, cover to cover? I can’t imagine anyone doing so and not being grossed out by Christianity.
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
~ Isaac Asimov (1920-01-02 1992-03-06 age:72) Russian-born American scientist and prolific writer
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous, proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.
~ Dr. Richard Dawkins (1941-03-26 age:76), The God Delusion chapter 2, page 31
Everything that God tells us to do in the Bible, whether it involves love, justice, giving, or praying, is for our own well-being, not His.
You are speaking about your personal theology, not Christianity. I am unaware of any biblical verse to back you up on that. Consider Jeremiah 6:20, where the sweetness of the sacrifices to God is the issue.
For example, when God commands us to give to others, He instructs us to do this not because He needs us to.
Matthew 7:29 For he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. You are speaking as if you had the authority of Jesus to make up Christine doctrine on the fly, like some TV preacher. You try disguise your megalomania by mimicking the bible by capitalising He.
Rather, He tells us to do this so that we can learn to avoid selfishness and the damage that follows it. If someone does not learn to give, their relationships will fail due to lack of care and compassion. They will receive no joy in this life whatsoever if they do not learn this valuable rule. Any clinical psychologist will agree with this, for giving is more beneficial to our moral development than receiving. Even worship and prayer serves us more than it does God, for it helps us to learn to call upon a higher power so that we may find purpose in life. It also helps us to leave all the cares and frustrations behind so that we may look to something more positive for comfort. Please do not make the mistake of labeling God as a human, for it will lead to a great misunderstanding on your part if you do so.
Another contextual problem that the atheist often makes is the parable problem. When I say this, I mean that they will take a parable from the Bible and misinterpret it so that it makes Christianity look bad. For example, I once heard an atheist make the claim that Jesus was promoting cannibalism when He said that we are to eat His flesh and drink His blood if we are to inherit eternal life.
He is teasing you. He clearly knows that Christians are not cannibals, but he is pointing out the fundamental silliness and psychological disease in the core symbolism of your religion. It is full of sadism and masochism.
Any Christian who hears a statement like this will shake their head and laugh, for the skeptic who makes such a claim obviously does not understand what Jesus meant when He said this. The Bible does require that you think outside the box while reading it, for there are certain passages that are hard to understand. Most atheists fail to hit the mark because they are unwilling to search for the true meaning.
The reason why misinterpretation occurs is because the skeptic already has the intention of finding errors and/or contradictions in the Bible before they even open it.
There almost nothing true in the bible. The latest evidence points away from there even being a historical Jesus. Moses and David were fictional characters. There was no Exodus — not so much as a single shard of pottery to back up the story, even after centuries of searching. Even the locations and dates of cities are wrong. Of course, some of the descriptions of good behaviour are reasonable, but all the huffing and puffing to convince people to accept that advice is just hot air, or more accurately, lies. Christians claim this book is infallible yet it contains almost not a single true fact. It is not as suitable guide for anything. It is in essence a 3000 year old eccentric Emily Post etiquette book that tried to terrify people into compliance with its rules.
It is because of this that many people do not get the message that God intends for us. If you are an atheist who has made this mistake in the past, I ask that you study Scripture with an open mind before you make any bogus claims about God and/or Christianity.
Here are tens of thousands of religions. If indeed there is a god, the odds of the Christian description being the true one are pretty remote. It borrows from Judaism, Mithraism and Zoroastrianism among others. There is not all that much to distinguish them. Like a salesman, you try to imply there are only two alternatives atheism and Christianity. Even if there is a God, he can’t be anything remotely like the Christian description.
If you make an argument that is out of context, any Christian who knows the Bible will tell you that you have no credibility and that your arguments are based on invalid assumptions and/or biased research (most of the time the Christian is correct when they say this). If you any need help in understanding the message of a certain passage, any good Christian will be happy to help you as long as you show no aggression when you ask your question. You will gain more respect from them as a result and you will even make a new friend if you sincerely want to learn.
You don’t give an example of this use out of context, so there is nothing further I can say. I consider that sort of vague accusation an unfair debating trick. It would be like charging someone with wicked deeds without telling him what the alleged deeds were. How can a person defend himself without specific charges?
They are primarily concerned with doing a Church Lady victory dance to prove their moral superiority. This is doubly infuriating when the Christian is an intellectual lightweight who can produce no reasons at all to support his position.
We should all keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes from time to time, including atheists. In fact, if the Christian is willing to admit his/her errors in discussion, the atheist will have more respect for them, which certainly goes a long way when you are witnessing to them. For the Christian, I will say this: if an atheist causes you to stumble, this does not mean that they have proven that God is nonexistent, so admitting that you are wrong is something that you should not be afraid to do. You can even do research on a particular topic after the conversation and get back to them when you think you have a good point to make.
Especially since the data shows that Christianity makes most people behave worse. They get so smug about being saved or belonging to the right church. They get so excited about condmning sinners and making evil doers’ lives miserable, they forget totally about behaving well themselves.
The fact of the matter is that many atheists in our society are nice, caring, loving, patient and are fine citizens. For the Christian, or anyone for that matter, to make derogatory statements like this is wrong. Any Christian who does this is no different than the condescending atheist who calls the believer an irrational fool. Once again, the Christian should know that they are to show people with respect when they witness to those who are atheists or to those who are of a different religion. To be a true Christian, we must follow the example of Jesus Christ, who showed respect for everyone he came across, even when he was correcting those who had done wrong.
The Christian must also realize that atheists are not stupid, generally speaking. In fact, most atheists believe what they believe as a result of much personal thought. Some were raised in atheistic homes, while others were raised in Christian homes and have rejected God as a result of something that has changed his/her life for the worse. Many atheists have also reached their conclusions because they feel that they lack evidence for God’s existence (in fact, many skeptics have presented some very strong arguments for the nonexistence of God, which is something that any Christian should look into if they want to truly understand their viewpoint). Atheists come in all shapes and sizes, so the Christian should not be stereotypical. While atheists may have incorrect conclusions about the nature of God, that does not give us the right to label them.
The word is condescending or patronising.
As a Christian myself, I know that anyone who prays for others means well. However, atheists do not see it this way. As I stated before, we must do what we can to avoid condescension when we debate with skeptics. While it is good for the Christian to pray for the welfare of others, sometimes it is best that they keep their prayers between themselves and God so as not to build a wall that is too high between them and the skeptic. Not all atheists will view this statement as arrogant, but most that I have encountered will, so we must be careful in how we share the Gospel with others.
Respect is the first thing that you must earn from them if you are hoping for any success. It is sad to say that there is much hypocrisy in the Church, which is one of the biggest arguments that people make against Christianity. In fact, many people who call themselves Christians only give true Christians a bad name (example: gay bashing). Those who are unfamiliar with the Bible will get a very bad impression of Christianity as a result of these actions. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must try to cut back on hypocrisy to the best of our abilities so that we can take away one of the primary weapons in the atheist’s arsenal.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
At one point in my life I would have gone for reconciliation too, but now I see Christianity as both a mental disease and a crime. Christianity is harming the world is so many ways (overpopulation, war, environmental degradation) because it is based on untruths and because it is so incredibly arrogant. It believes it does not have to show reasons for its assertions. It simply has to go. The constitution protects all religions, no matter how silly or how morally degenerate. The fight with Christianity has to be fought with persuasion, ridicule and humour, not force and certainly not censorship.
Christians are afraid of God. They pretend to love him, but the evil bastard described in the Bible and the fact he allows AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) orphans to starve to death in Africa means nobody could really love this guy. I suspect many Christians are 90% sure that God is just a story to frighten children, a sort of sophisticated bogey man. However, they are still too afraid to take the chance and act on what they think is most likely true. Christians are like abused children who have been viciously terrorised. They need help to overcome their irrational fear of a man in the sky watching their genitals. In the meantime, they try desperately to convince themselves God exists and that all this silliness they put themselves through is worthwhile. The main way to do that is to convince others. Their zeal is certainly not fuelled by any mass of evidence.
When I was younger I thought religious tolerance and ecumenism would be the best route. Now the more I have seen how hollow all religions are, the more contempt I have for them and figure they deserve to be tossed on the ash heap of history, along with a belief in witches and magick. So long as each religion insists on its own private core of untruth, they can never reconcile and religion will just be a source of friction and violence. The problem is, the core of every religion is a knotted mass of lies, so it has a lot to give up.
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