When I Say, “I Am An Atheist”

Some of you may have read Carol Wimmer‘s 1988 poem “When I Say, ‘I Am a Christian.’

Most likely in a forward from a friend trying to convert you:

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not shouting, “I’ve been saved!”
I’m whispering, “I get lost! That’s why I chose this way”

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t speak with human pride
I’m confessing that I stumble-needing God to be my guide

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not trying to be strong
I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not bragging of success
I’m admitting that I’ve failed and cannot ever pay the debt

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I don’t think I know it all
I submit to my confusion asking humbly to be taught

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are far too visible but God believes I’m worth it

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartache which is why I seek His name

When I say, “I am a Christian,” I do not wish to judge
I have no authority–I only know I’m loved

But have no fear; Dave Mason has written the atheist’s response:

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I’m not saying, “There is no god”
All I’m really getting at is faith is just a fraud

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I’m not criticizing you
I’m critical of bad beliefs — The things that can’t be true

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I sigh and shake my head
I’m the one responsible for things I did and said

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I like what can be proven
My feelings do not dictate me — Emotions aren’t that movin’

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I believe in evolution
To chalk this up to one great dude is not a good solution

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I must treasure every day
This life is all we’ve really got — Can’t let it waste away

When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I’m not saying that I’m bad
The fact that many think we are is really very sad

Feel free to pass Dave’s poem along :)

(Thanks to Andrew for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, poetry[/tags]

  • http://www.mysinglemomlife.com/blog/ kat

    First time commenter, been reading for a few months now.
    I really liked this one.
    You have a great blog,keep it up. ;)

  • Steven Carr

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect

    JESUS in Matthew 5:48
    ‘Be perfect’

    Why do Christians boast about not trying to obey their Lord and Saviour?

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I like what can be proven
    My feelings do not dictate me — Emotions aren’t that movin’

    This line kinda ruins it for me. I always try to point out to religious people that I’m not some cold, hard, fact-obsessed person. I care about what’s true, but I’m pretty damn EMOTIONAL about it! I’m also emotional about a whole lot of other things, such as my boyfriend, my family and how my education is going. I’m an animal, like everyone else, and I think people who think that it’s possible to be completely rational about everything are deluding themselves (or suffer from some odd kind of autism enabling complete emotional detachment).

    And I think this is something we need to point out rather than play down, to make religious people realise that we’re just like them.

  • http://skeptigator.com Skeptigator

    When I say, “I’m an Atheist,” I like what can be proven
    My feelings do not dictate me — Emotions aren’t that movin’

    Not a big fan of this one either. If the Fundies found out about our mechanical cyborg hearts they would call us abominations and condemn us to hell… oh wait.

    Skepti-Resistance-Is-Futile-gator

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    I get what the author is trying to say by that line – feelings aren’t evidence – but I’ll agree it does make him seem like a robot. Personally, I think robots are cool, but it’s not exactly a nice, friendly thing to imply about atheists in general.

  • Dave Mason

    Hello all,

    I appreciate the comments. I actually wrote this poem in about 20 minutes the other morning in a fit of exasperation over having received the preceding poem in a spam email. It wasn’t really intended for wider consumption. I forwarded it to Andrew just because I thought he’d like the sentiment.

    About the emotion line… Most of the people who have read this poem and commented on it seem to have focused on that line. A buddy of mine said it was his favorite. Others… not so much, and I understand why.

    Just to explain it a little, I was raised in a family that taught that we should rely on our gut feelings to determine whether something was true or not. The problem is that my gut is wrong so much, I may as well do the opposite of what it tells me to get better results. Feelings are a terrible benchmark for truth.

    Plus, I’m now a strong believer that I should control my own emotions, not let them control me. This is more of an ideal than anything, since it’s hard to do, but it’s what I think.

    I didn’t mean that I or atheists in general are feeling-devoid robots, but I can certainly anticipate a religious type interpreting it that way. Oh well. What can I do? Most of them are always going to think what they think. Like I said, I wasn’t really doing it to convince theists of anything. I was just exorcising some of the emotion I had at the time, emotion I actually do have.

    ;)

  • Nick

    When I say, “I’m an atheist,” I don’t mean I’m some robot;
    I have emotions too, y’know — poor logic gets ‘em real hot.

    That’s my proposed addendum :)

  • http://biblioblawg.blogspot.com Meg K.

    I join the critique of the “emotions” line, but other than that the response is fantastic. The cadence and rhymes aren’t at all forced as they are in the original. Well done!

  • http://misterjebsblog.blogspot.com Tina B.

    Okay…yeah, ditto on the part of emotions. Other than that I liked it and will pass it on.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I’m not sure why Dave felt the first one needed a response. It seemed like a decent attempt at humility to me – to get past the arrogance and judgementalism that Christians often portray.

    I have to be honest that by contrast the atheist response does come off a little smug. Putting the two side by side doesn’t cast you guys in a very good light IMHO.

    Besides, why would you want to be ripping off cheezy email forwards? I know you all can do better.

  • monkeymind

    My advice to the atheist writer – keep the iambic heptameter of the original version and ditch the rhymed couplets which add nothing but extra cheeze.

  • http://lifebeforedeath.blogsome.com Felicia Gilljam

    Dave, thanks for responding! I think there is probably a way to point out that we prefer evidence-based science to revealed truth without involving emotions, but I perfectly understand if you wrote it quickly. ;)

  • Polly

    I think the responses regarding the “heartless” line were hilarious. I, too, dig robots! :D

    I didn’t even notice anything special about the line, except that I agree that emotions are not what move me…to a conclusion about reality.

    I saw nothing irritating about the original poem, so that alone wouldn’t frustrate me. But, if it came as part of a barrage of conversion attempts, I suppose I might be tempted to take pen in hand (or keyboard).

  • Mriana

    Besides, why would you want to be ripping off cheezy email forwards? I know you all can do better.

    If it makes you feel any better, Mike, I cringed at both of them for various reasons. Then again, even though many Christians get upset with me and label me an atheist, my older son doesn’t see me that way, but rather some where in between- not a Christian, but not quite an atheist either (not an agnostic either), but rather he sees me as a true non-theist. I guess it depends on how one defines non-theist. Even so, both of these “poems”(?) made me cringe.

  • Dave Mason

    Actually, the poem wasn’t what specifically irritated me (although I do find myself repulsed by smarmy religious “art”). It was the fact that a coworker forwarded this to me knowing full well I don’t believe in god or the divinity of Jesus (assuming he actually existed at all) thinking… oh, hmmm… well that’s just it, isn’t it? What *was* she thinking?

    How was she expecting me to react? Did she really think I had some kind of misunderstanding about what Christians should be, and that I’d suddenly become enlightened? Would a light bulb suddenly go on, I’d fall to my knees and thank god that this poem had shown me the light, and that it was OK for me to convert to Christianity?

    If anything, it’s the religious folks that don’t understand what the non-religious are all about, not the other way around.

    That’s what prompted this “cheezy” poem.

    :D

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    Actually, the poem wasn’t what specifically irritated me (although I do find myself repulsed by smarmy religious “art”). It was the fact that a coworker forwarded this to me knowing full well I don’t believe in god or the divinity of Jesus (assuming he actually existed at all) thinking… oh, hmmm… well that’s just it, isn’t it? What *was* she thinking?

    How was she expecting me to react? Did she really think I had some kind of misunderstanding about what Christians should be, and that I’d suddenly become enlightened? Would a light bulb suddenly go on, I’d fall to my knees and thank god that this poem had shown me the light, and that it was OK for me to convert to Christianity?

    Thanks for providing the context in which you wrote this. It does help in understanding what annoyed you. I can see how you might interpret it as an attempt to convert you.

    I wonder though if her intention was actually more to communicate something to you about herself, not to try to change you. Maybe she wanted you to understand what being a Christian meant to her so that you wouldn’t think she was the kind of arrogant and judgmental Christian that we all dislike so much.

    If that was the case then it’s sad that her attempt to communicate this actually produced the opposite reaction in you. My advice would be to simply talk to her about it. Ask her whether she was really trying to convert you or whether she just hoped to help you understand her own approach to faith better.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Hey, I agree with the sentiment that the emotions line is harsh, but I’d like to point out that people with more suppressed emotions aren’t any less human.

  • http://www.cogspace.com/ Katie Molnar

    To suppress one’s emotions in order to prevent looking irrational in public is, actually *quite* human. =) To suppress emotions in the middle of a debate for the purpose of demonstrating rationale is also quite human.

    I think the line works just fine given the context. Perhaps “emotions” could be replaced with “delusions” for perfection =)

    Also, some responses:

    @ King Aardvark:

    …Personally, I think robots are pretty cool…

    Laughed so hard I had to IM a coworker about it! Hilarious. ^^

    @ Steven Caar:

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect

    JESUS in Matthew 5:48
    ‘Be perfect’

    [...]

    That, sir, is the definition of a perfect rebuttal. =P My proverbial hat is off.

  • Steven Carr

    ‘Arrorgant and judgemental Christians that we all dislike so much’

    I know one Christian who was portrayed as extremely judgemental.

    And he was arrogant enough to demand to be worshipped.

    His name begins with a J.

  • Richard Wade

    I thought that guy was Jewish.

  • Steven Carr

    Dave Mason was annoyed about being sent the poem.

    He should remember that many Christians try to reflect the character of Jesus.

    Happily, there are many, many Christians where I cannot see Jesus in them.

    Pastor Mike Clawson is one Christian in whom I cannot recognise Jesus.

    For example. Mike would sooner cut off his right arm than greet somebody who came to him for help with the words ‘O wicked and unbelieving generation. How long must I put up with you?’

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I thought that guy was Jewish.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jesus, by definition, cannot be a Christian.

  • monkeymind

    How long must I put up with you?’

    I can think of at least one person Mike (and others) might be sorely tempted to greet that way.

  • Maria

    If it makes you feel any better, Mike, I cringed at both of them for various reasons. Then again, even though many Christians get upset with me and label me an atheist, my older son doesn’t see me that way, but rather some where in between- not a Christian, but not quite an atheist either (not an agnostic either), but rather he sees me as a true non-theist. I guess it depends on how one defines non-theist. Even so, both of these “poems”(?) made me cringe.

    I agree

  • Steven Carr

    MONKEYMIND
    I can think of at least one person Mike (and others) might be sorely tempted to greet that way.

    CARR
    Well, perhaps there’s a bit of Jesus in all of us.

  • Steven Carr

    MIKE C
    I wonder though if her intention was actually more to communicate something to you about herself…,

    CARR
    But it wasn’t about her. It was about somebody else.

  • Mriana

    Mike C said,

    October 11, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I thought that guy was Jewish.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jesus, by definition, cannot be a Christian.

    OK we agree that Jesus was not a Christian. So why do so many Christians get bent when someone isn’t a Christian? Esp if it’s THEIR definition of a Christian. I’ve seen second one so many times too. It makes no sense if Jesus was not a Christian.

  • Mriana

    Maria said,

    October 11, 2007 at 3:47 am

    If it makes you feel any better, Mike, I cringed at both of them for various reasons. Then again, even though many Christians get upset with me and label me an atheist, my older son doesn’t see me that way, but rather some where in between- not a Christian, but not quite an atheist either (not an agnostic either), but rather he sees me as a true non-theist. I guess it depends on how one defines non-theist. Even so, both of these “poems”(?) made me cringe.

    I agree

    Glad I wasn’t the only one. I was beginning to think I was alone in that feeling.

  • Keith

    Dave Mason was annoyed about being sent the poem.

    He should remember that many Christians try to reflect the character of Jesus.

    Happily, there are many, many Christians where I cannot see Jesus in them.

    Pastor Mike Clawson is one Christian in whom I cannot recognise Jesus.

    For example. Mike would sooner cut off his right arm than greet somebody who came to him for help with the words ‘O wicked and unbelieving generation. How long must I put up with you?’

    Steven Carr,

    Your accusation toward Mike C. refers to somebody “who came to him for help.” In this instance, your accusation only holds if your motivation for coming to him was to receive help, as opposed to engaging in a fight of some type. If your motivation honestly was to receive help, I would try asking him again in a different way, in a different setting, in a fashion that evokes trust. I bet he responds differently to someone who clearly comes for help rather who seems to be coming for another fight.

    When I say, “I am a Christian,” I’m not claiming to be perfect

    JESUS in Matthew 5:48
    ‘Be perfect’

    Why do Christians boast about not trying to obey their Lord and Saviour?

    Carr, there is a difference between a boast and an admission. Boasting that I’m not perfect though I should be is different from admitting I’m not perfect when I’m obviously not. Also, you specifically stated that she was boasting about “not trying to obey.” There is a difference between not trying to obey and not obeying. She is not saying that she does not try to be perfect, rather that she recognizes that she is not perfect yet.

    I have trouble understanding even basic French, because I don’t speak the language. Are you having trouble understanding even basic statements of common humilty?

    P.S. I’m not interested in filling in the pauses in a monologue, so if your response to this indicates that we are having a dialogue (IMO) I will continue in response. If it does not (IMO), I will not continue. I look forward to a productive dialogue, Carr.

  • Mriana

    Happily, there are many, many Christians where I cannot see Jesus in them.

    Pastor Mike Clawson is one Christian in whom I cannot recognise Jesus.

    Steven, if I may play Robert Price (“Now hold on”) for a moment and in defense of Mike C, how can you say that? If there ever was a historical Jesus, we can’t know what he was really like because buried in myth and so many sayings attributed to him are probably not what he said.

    Let’s just say for a moment that John 15:12 (This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.) is what Jesus said. Now don’t ask me how Jesus loved others, but let’s just say honouring someone’s request for help was part of that, then I would have to say, that Mike was showing something that was Jesus like. Now let’s break it down a little, Jesus means “the Saviour”. If one were to help someone requesting help then it would suggest playing the saviour role, as well as showing love. Thus, Mike was showing something attributed to Jesus.

    I would not be so quick to say that Mike was not showing somethng of Jesus until you have a better command of what is in the Bible and realizing where Mike is coming from at the same time.

  • Steven Carr

    I merely meant that Mike C. was not as judgemental and hypocritical as the Jesus of the Bible, and would not term calling his friends ‘Satan’ as ‘love’ (in the way that Peter was allegedly called Satan by Jesus)

  • Steven Carr

    ‘Your accusation toward Mike C. refers to somebody “who came to him for help.” ‘

    I made no accusation against Mike C.

    Somebody came to Jesus for help and was greeted with the words ‘O wicked and unbelieving generation. How long must I put up with you?’

    This is not the behaviour of Mike.

  • Steven Carr

    ‘She is not saying that she does not try to be perfect, rather that she recognizes that she is not perfect yet. ‘

    Yes, Jesus came to give us rules we could not live by.

  • Steven Carr

    ‘She is not saying that she does not try to be perfect, rather that she recognizes that she is not perfect yet. ‘

    Yes, Jesus came to give us rules we could not live by.

    To be fair, some of the rules Jesus gave his followers can be obeyed.

    Such as not praying in public, and putting oil on your head when you fast.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    OK we agree that Jesus was not a Christian. So why do so many Christians get bent when someone isn’t a Christian? Esp if it’s THEIR definition of a Christian. I’ve seen second one so many times too. It makes no sense if Jesus was not a Christian.

    Mriana, I just meant that if the term “Christian” means “follower of Christ” or “imitator of Christ” (more literally “little Christ”), then Christ could not be a follower or imitator of himself.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    I can think of at least one person Mike (and others) might be sorely tempted to greet that way.

    *snicker
    :)

  • monkeymind

    Mriana, Keith, I think you’re missing the point of Steven Carr’s little monologues. He does not think Jesus is a nice person. He thinks that anyone who thinks Jesus is a nice person is sadly misled. So when he says that Mike C. is not like Jesus, he is actually trying to say that he is a nice person, while simultaneously slamming him for being a deluded fool. Neat trick, huh?

    The Bible verse he quotes, “O wicked and unbelieving generation. How long must I put up with you” is meant to show that Jesus was very mean to a family that came to him for help.
    This is the entire passage from Mathew from some Bible site that I already closed the window so sorry no URL:

    14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.
    19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

    So, whatever you think of supernatural cures and faith healing, it’s pretty clear that Jesus was rebuking his disciples for not doing enough to help the boy. The story doesn’t say what the family’s reaction was, but I’m guessing they didn’t spend too much time analyzing the interaction after Jesus said “Bring him here to me.”

    Maybe Jesus could be faulted here for not using best management practices for team leadership. But hey, we already know that he never reached his full earning potential.

  • Steven Carr

    ’17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you?’

    Yes, the term ‘generation’ is written, and Christians automatically change that in the process from book to eye to mouth and it comes out ‘it’s pretty clear that Jesus was rebuking his disciples.’

    Meanwhile, we poor atheists , who do not employ the same word-changing processes as Christians are left unable to dialogue with people who read the Bible very differently.

    Hence the often-experienced feeling of people talking past each other.

  • Polly

    Mike C said,

    October 11, 2007 at 1:35 am

    I thought that guy was Jewish.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure Jesus, by definition, cannot be a Christian.

    This reminds me of a fun little exercise. Mike C, or anyone, go around and ask if King David or Solomon or Moses was a Christian. You’re bound to get some funny replies. :) Or, bonus Q, was Noah or Job Jewish?

    I didn’t interpret anyting negative in what Carr said about Mike C, it sounded like a compliment, albeit a convoluted one. I don’t know where some are getting the idea that he was calling MC “deluded.”

    I can see what Steve Carr is saying:
    I think back to John the Baptist calling the Pharisees vipers and to JC calling that Syro-Phoenician woman who came beggin JC to heal her daughter a DOG and I think most xians today are way better than their leader.

    JC also told a guy who wanted to “bury his father” (I know it’s figurative) to let the dead bury their own dead, and that unless you HATE your mother father, etc. you are unworthy of him. It pains me to say it but I think he was a bit of a mental case, assuming these weren’t all different people saying these things.

  • Steven Carr

    Polly makes a good point about modern day Christians and Jesus.

    Calling people ‘unbelievers’ was a rebuke by Jesus.

    Would Mike ever think that calling somebody an unbeliever was a rebuke, intended to imply something vaguely deficient in their character somewhere?

    Of course not.

  • monkeymind

    Hence the often-experienced feeling of people talking past each other.

    Yeah, I don’t find it hard to believe that you often experience this feeling. I would be surprised if you only experience it with Christians however. I have seen it happen with you and other non-believers on this site.

    It is sad when someone you want to be your friend won’t play the game you want to play. :-( Sometimes though, you just have to let it go.

  • Richard Wade

    Wow, looks like I started something when I said I thought Jesus was Jewish. From what people are saying it seems there’s a good Jesus and a bad Jesus, like good cop and bad cop.

    Good Jesus: “Hey, I’m God in the flesh. The non-flesh part of me I call Dad. Be nice to me and when I’m Dad again I’ll be nice to you. Oh and be nice to each other in the meantime.”

    Bad Jesus: “Get outa my face, bitch.”

    I can see how it could get confusing. Maybe as God in the flesh he might sometimes have a headache or gas or something.

  • Mriana

    All the more reason to suspect that not everything that is attributed to Jesus is what he said, Richard. We don’t really know at this point what he said.

  • Keith

    Carr,

    Sorry I misunderstood your post. I did mistakenly think you were insulting Mike C. I think I get your point now. Thanks for putting up with my error. My apologies.

  • HappyNat

    Maybe as God in the flesh he might sometimes have a headache or gas or something.

    “Was that something I ate or is it just the holy spirit rumbling around again?”

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    Thanks for coming to my defense y’all, but really, none of you should assume what I would or wouldn’t say to others. I’m not always a “nice” guy, and frankly Jesus wasn’t always “nice” either. Sometimes there are more important things to be than “nice”. In fact, sometimes being loving actually requires being the opposite of “nice”. (And if you can’t think of any instances where that might be true, try imagining just a little harder. I’m sure something will come to you.)

  • Steven Carr

    Mike is right.
    Sometimes you have to stop being ‘nice’ and call people ‘unbelievers’, and tell your friends that you love that they are ‘Satans’.

    Mike does that all the time :-)

  • Richard Wade

    Had to spoil it, didn’t you? Do you have a headache, or gas?

  • Mriana

    Mike C said,

    October 12, 2007 at 1:27 am

    Thanks for coming to my defense y’all, but really, none of you should assume what I would or wouldn’t say to others. I’m not always a “nice” guy, and frankly Jesus wasn’t always “nice” either. Sometimes there are more important things to be than “nice”. In fact, sometimes being loving actually requires being the opposite of “nice”. (And if you can’t think of any instances where that might be true, try imagining just a little harder. I’m sure something will come to you.)

    I didn’t say anything about being nice. Who said Jesus was nice? I said helping and love (one not always nice even though they love someone). :lol:

  • monkeymind

    Thanks for coming to my defense y’all, but really, none of you should assume what I would or wouldn’t say to others. I’m not always a “nice” guy,

    OK Mike! (re-orienting trajectory of defensive phaser beams) SC, Mike is not the nice guy you make him out to be! He’s a real Rev. Dirty Harry just waiting for the faithless to make his day! He is assholier than thou!

    (Look Richard I used your word!)

    Seriously, I think MC can take care of himself, I just wrote what I did because I found SC’s comments annoying, esp. in the context of his history of making annoying comments.

    Richard writes:

    Had to spoil it, didn’t you? Do you have a headache, or gas?

    I think SC’s problems are more to do with the 2 P’s – pedantry and perseveration. Richard, I think you have a background in counseling and mental health so you probably know what diagnosis that is consistent with. Not that there isn’t a place for all of us under the broad umbrella of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders…

  • Mriana

    I’m sure Mike can take care of himself and he probably can be Rev Dirty Harry when he wants to be. :lol: I like that. I can see some liberal ministers actually saying that, even Spong, esp if they were debating someone- be they atheists or right-wing theists.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike C

    Seriously, I think MC can take care of himself, I just wrote what I did because I found SC’s comments annoying, esp. in the context of his history of making annoying comments.

    I do appreciate it monkeymind. In fact, I think your analysis above of Carr’s MO was right on the money.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    We live in a universe that is entirely too complex and entirely too precise to not believe in a Divine Creator. Until science comes up with a better theory, the report of Genesis is by far the best one that we have to go by.

    I do not believe that true atheism should result in “I must treasure every day” thinking. I believe that true atheism should result in acute paranoia. If the earth has the precise gravity it has by chance – little enough that we move freely, yet strong enough that we do not float away – then tomorrow it could just as easily change one way or the other.
    And if the precision of the earth’s orbit around the sun is by chance – close enough not to freeze, yet far enough not to burn – then tomorrow we could either be an icycle or roast.

    Human beings are so infinitely complex and precise that evolution cannot explain one millionth of the story.

    And then there is the evidence for Jesus. That so many were willing to die for Him because they witnessed Him raised from the dead. That there were such drastic changes in the lives of the apostle Paul and James the brother of Jesus. That Christianity spread like wild fire in the face of multitudes of martyrs. That every heart today hears the voice of Jesus and the presence of the all-powerful God.

    There are questions that I cannot answer about God. I do not know why He allows the great amount of suffering in this world. I do not know a lot of things about Him and will not know until this body is done with and this life is over. But I would rather live with those unanswered questions than to live ignoring the others I mentioned as I did when I was an atheist and when I was agnostic.

    Once I realized that I was using God-given wisdom to explain away God and wallow in wickedness. Once I realized that there were greater pleasures available both in this life and the next. And once I gave God and His Son Jesus Christ the slightest chance to be true, I was overwhelmed by the evidence everywhere I look in this world that they do rule the universe.

  • Mriana

    I’ll refrain from going into saying that the Bible is just fiction as well as the how and why. Obviously in this case my words would fall on deaf ears and a mind that refuses to understand.

    “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
    “He who has a mind to understand, let him understand.”
    “Those who seek Him will find Him.”

    A REAL education goes a long ways in this, but you might not like what you find when you find it, David, but at the same time you maybe glad you did. Of course, this takes willingness to ask questions, do research, and be open to the real truth of the literature when it glares at you in the face. Of course, I can’t say one appreciates being mislead their whole lives, but who could blame the misleaders when they too were also misled by others.

    “Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” that means finding and studying real evidence, not just “evidence” to support one’s beliefs.

  • Meg

    I do not believe that true atheism should result in “I must treasure every day” thinking. I believe that true atheism should result in acute paranoia.

    As with your theism, just because you believe it should be so, doesn’t mean that’s the way things are. The atheists I know are no more paranoid than anyone else.

    The only other thing I’ll add is that people have always been willing to die in horrific ways for causes, whether that cause be Jesus, their nation, or something else. Remember that at least as many have been killed–also in horrific ways–in the name of Christ as have willingly died for him.

  • Steven Carr

    Goodness me.

    I didn’t realise life was so delicately strung, that I could float into space if the force of gravity was slightly less.

    Why, the escape velocity could come down from 6 kilometers a second to 3 kilometers a second, and I could easily reach that, if I press down real hard on the gas.

    Of course, we get all the usual Christian myths about people dying after seeing a resurrected Jesus.

    Ask Christians for evidence, and you get lies coming back at you.

    Even Paul, who was there, says in Galatians 6:12 that Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, that Christian leaders avoided persecution, and that they did that by compromising on the circumcision isssue.

    Real systematic persecution began in 251 AD.

    Before then, even Christians like Origen could boast about how Christianity had been favoured by God, because the martyrs could be ‘easily numbered’.

  • Steven Carr

    By ‘systematic’ I mean persecution that people could not escape by moving from one part of the Empire to another.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Meg, I never said that my saying something should be so makes it so. I only said that should be the result. If the precision of gravity and our distance from the sun came about by chance, would it not be presumable that they could cease to be any day by that same chance. However, the fact that those precisions have held out as long as they have would cause one to presume that they will continue to do so. The duration also makes it difficult to accept that they either happened or hold by chance.

    Science has not come close to any theory that comes close to being as rational and realistic as a Divine Creator, and until it does I will put my faith in the Bible and the Divine Creator whose predictions have come to pass and are currently at work. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of today, and He has written His law on every heart.

  • Richard Wade

    David,
    Please explain what “true atheism” is. I haven’t encountered false atheism, second-rate atheism or insincere atheism, so I don’t know what you mean. Why this would result in “acute paranoia” is not at all clear. Please explain what you mean by that term as well.

    You should avoid arguments about the Earth being just right in its conditions for life, such as your remarks about gravity and temperature. You’re mixing up cause and effect. To marvel at how the Earth is just right for Earth life forms is like marveling at how neatly the Mississippi River has found its course under all those bridges. You’ve got it backwards. Life was not a pre-existing product on a shelf waiting for a planet with just the right conditions. Life developed on Earth according to the conditions that existed first, and as conditions changed, life adapted through lots and lots of death. If the gravity were greater or less, if the temperature were higher or lower, life might still have developed but it would be very different from what we have today.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Meg, I never said that my saying something should be so makes it so. I only said that should be the result. If the precision of gravity and our distance from the sun came about by chance, would it not be presumable that they could cease to be any day by that same chance. However, the fact that those precisions have held out as long as they have would cause one to presume that they will continue to do so. The duration also makes it difficult to accept that they either happened or hold by chance.

    Science has not come close to any theory that is as rational and realistic as a Divine Creator, and until it does I will put my faith in the Bible and the Divine Creator whose predictions have come to pass and are currently at work. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of today, and He has written His law on every heart.

    Science may be able to tell me how many kilometers per second are necessary for “escape velocity”, but it cannot tell me how gravity came to be, or how the earth was first set in motion around both its own axis and around the sun with such precision to maintain a constant distance for thousands of years. There is only one Scientist who could explain those things to me. The One who said, “let there be,” and there was.

    Mrianna, I humbly accept that I could be wrong and will be open to any information that you say that you have. Enlighten me with how and why the Bible is fiction. I will give what you have to say as much of an honest chance to be true as I am capable.
    Can you do the same? Can you humbly accept that you could be wrong? And can you open your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to the possibility that there is a God and that Jesus really did conquer death?

    In my atheism and agnosticism I only held to my beliefs by outright refusing those things to be true. Are you doing the same thing? I personally welcome the possibility that I could be wrong, and the possibility that I have been misled by things that I believe to be “evidence”. And I could very well have given up on atheism and agnosticism too easily.

    Can you guys do the same? The stakes here are enormous. The ramifications of this issue are that if I am wrong I am mortgaging “pleasures” in this life, with the hopes of blessings in the next. If I am right, then my faith will be rewarded eternally while you will have mortgaged your eternity so that you can live your own life, seek pleasures that will never satisfy you, or cling to whatever it is that you believe.

    It is my honest hope that one side or the other here will be changed. If I am convinced that I am wrong, I will live this life to the fullest with the knowledge that this one life is all I have in all of eternity.

    It is my hope and prayer that you guys will be just as open to the possibility that you are wrong, and that if you are convinced you will realize that the God who created everything big and small in this universe created you also. And as he cares for each animal, bird of the air, and fish of the sea and provides for their needs, He cares for you and will provide for all of your needs both in this life and for all of eternity!

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Richard, thank you for your interest in what I have to say.
    I used “true atheism” because I do not believe that atheists truly live as though they believe there is no God. I wrote a blog on this:

    http://bigham.wordpress.com/2007/08/25/a-world-without-god/

    Also, we have planets that are at both greater and lesser distances from the sun, which consequently have different temperatures and conditions, on which no life develops. Therefore I do not see the need to avoid the argument that the Earth is just right in its conditions for life.

    Perhaps it is not safe to say that slight variations would result in temperatures too hot or too cold to support life, when all we know for sure is that Venus is too close and Mars too far to support life. We cannot know for sure that slight variations would terminate life, but I feel that assumption is safer than yours that life adapts to the environment. Life has not adapted to other environments. There are no effects for the causes present on other planets. So it is at least possible that I did not confuse cause and effect.

  • ash

    David,

    It is my honest hope that one side or the other here will be changed.

    in order for this to be so, you are either admitting your beliefs are so tenuous that they can be swayed easily by an informal debate on the net with some anonymous strangers, or you are inferring that the position that people here hold has not been thought out, reasoned through and judged by the arguments you bring up, through logic and research (which, btw, have been mentioned once or twice to most of us before). either way seems a tad odd at least. perhaps, if you do not hold a strong position, you just haven’t thought about why you believe as you do, and then haven’t researched if your thoughts are valid – be it from an atheist or religious perspective.

    however, to address some of your other points…

    Science has not come close to any theory that is as rational and realistic as a Divine Creator

    i don’t understand how you’re using the words ‘rational’ and ‘realistic’ here? and which version of creation? literal or figurative, first or second genesis account?

    Science [...] cannot tell me how gravity came to be, or how the earth was first set in motion around both its own axis and around the sun with such precision to maintain a constant distance for thousands of years.

    ok, if we leave aside the implication that the earth was fully formed before either gravity or orbits came to be (please tell me you weren’t?), this is the point where the internet comes in handy. there are plenty of theories out there, and the scientific ones do not rely on magical intervention. no-one’s saying science has all the answers, but it is actively looking for them.

    In my atheism and agnosticism I only held to my beliefs by outright refusing those things to be true. Are you doing the same thing?

    personally, no. but then, i’m happy to go read books, articles, hear speeches etc with a view to fleshing out my knowledge, and less willing to ascribe what i don’t know/understand to an invisible magical being that has no proof of existence. i must admit, i find it odd that you haven’t spoken of personal experience yet, rather seeming to ascribe your belief to the fact that you can’t think of/ haven’t heard of a better explanation for certain things.

    The stakes here are enormous. The ramifications of this issue are that if I am wrong I am mortgaging “pleasures” in this life, with the hopes of blessings in the next. If I am right, then my faith will be rewarded eternally while you will have mortgaged your eternity so that you can live your own life, seek pleasures that will never satisfy you, or cling to whatever it is that you believe.

    pascal’s wager

    and if you’re wrong in your choice of god? pick a hell, any hell……here’s a few you could be damned to if there is a god, but you’re worshipping the wrong one or in the wrong way

  • Mriana

    Mrianna, I humbly accept that I could be wrong and will be open to any information that you say that you have. Enlighten me with how and why the Bible is fiction. I will give what you have to say as much of an honest chance to be true as I am capable.
    Can you do the same? Can you humbly accept that you could be wrong? And can you open your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to the possibility that there is a God and that Jesus really did conquer death?

    David, I don’t have time to go through it all right now, but 1. I have the feeling you don’t know where the first three quotes come from, that I quoted. I will tell you they are religious text quotes. 2. There are many midrashes concerning dying and rising gods (oh yes, I heard all the religious excuses from “the devil did that to confuse us” to “Oh no they aren’t the same.” They don’t have to be word for word to be the same.), but the truth is, they were brought from one culture and adapted to another.

    But if you like, I can debate you tonight on this, but mind you, I have been studying mythology and religious texts for years. I think the more appropriate question is, “Can you handle it?”

    Can you humbly accept that you could be wrong? And can you open your eyes, ears, heart, and mind to the possibility that there is a God and that Jesus really did conquer death?

    You make it sound you already believe you are right and that I should accept your beliefs, no matter what. That what I know and believe is supurfalous. Things is, I’m afraid if you don’t know where the first three quotes came from without trying to hunt them down via a search engine, then you might not be able to handle what I have to say that includes many different sources. Shoot, I can show how the Gospel of Luke and Matthew are literature without even showing they are midrashes from other cultures for that matter, but if you enjoy trying to debunk previous myths from other cultures I can throw that in just for fun.

    Like I said, are you really sure you want to go down that road? Can you handle it?

    And personally, I don’t think you can change my mind about it being literature, but in the immortal words of Clint Eastwood… go ahead, make my day.

  • Richard Wade

    David,
    Thank you for your referral to your blog entry, “A World Without God.” I won’t argue with you about your ideas about the Earth and all that because such discussions are almost invariably a waste of both of our time. But I think it would be worthwhile to respectfully propose to you that you are incorrect in your characterization of atheists, and I think that a better understanding could result.

    It has often been my experience that when most religious people describe what they think atheists would do in a hypothetical situation they use themselves as a model. This is because most of them don’t actually know any atheists in a close and intimate way. You assert that without belief in God there could be no true love, friendship, loyalty, social duty, altruism or sacrifice, that basically people would be utterly self-centered and debased. I think what you have done is to describe how you think you would behave if you didn’t think you have a powerful parental figure looking over your shoulder keeping you in line. Maybe you should give yourself more credit. It is what Lawrence Kohlberg described as the first stage of moral development, the Obedience/Punishment stage. http://faculty.plts.edu/gpence/html/kohlberg.htm There are five stages beyond that, but a large number of people live out their whole lives at the first one. They are completely dependent upon an ever present authority figure such as a physical parent or a heavenly father who threatens them with punishment if they misbehave. They mistakenly assume that all other people operate this way as well, so when they consider an individual or a world without their policing authority, they say that everyone would misbehave the way they think they themselves would.

    The problem with your thesis is that it is not born out in reality. Most atheists don’t behave the way you described. Most are decent, solid citizens who practice honesty, fairness, compassion, love, loyalty and all the virtues you said would not exist without belief in God. Here on this blog you said, “I used (the term) ‘true atheism’ because I do not believe that atheists truly live as though they believe there is no God.” So are you saying that atheists actually do believe in God secretly or perhaps unconsciously as in a Freudian sense? Or are you saying that they are having these virtues imposed into their minds by God against their will? Or what? I mean no disrespect but I really can’t make sense of what you have been saying on this.

    You have mentioned that you were once atheist or agnostic. At that time did you behave in the deeply debased, antisocial manner you described in your blog entry? Somehow I doubt it. Did you get to know several other non-believers intimately? I doubt that as well, since you are making incorrect assumptions about them as a group.

    I think you have another misconception about atheists that is indicated in that same statement, “…because I do not believe that atheists truly live as though they believe there is no God.” The misconception here is that atheists believe there is no god. That type of atheist is extremely rare. The vast majority of atheists do not have a belief in god. That is very, very different from actively believing there is no god. For many believers this is at first hard to differentiate, but it is a very important difference. Having no belief in god is not the same as believing there is no god. Although they have many various stories of how they came to their present points of view, most atheists will say that the reason they have no belief in god is that they simply have not seen any convincing evidence.

    David, I don’t think you have to relinquish any of the beliefs that are important to you if you consider that you are incorrect in your characterization of atheists. The best way to find out about the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of a category of people is to ask them rather than to tell them. Mutual understanding and respect can result, even if you disagree about particular ideas.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    All hail the King of the universe, Jesus Christ!

    quite a few responses… some I will handle, others I will respectfully agree with Richard and leave alone because I feel they will waste all of our time… and whether you believe that there is indeed an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-everything deity who created our universe or not, we would all agree that we should be good stewards of our time on this big round rock.

    I read some of the comments yesterday and a few today, and it is 1:30 am… so I am just going to ramble as things come to me, without any editing or re-reading, and I’m not going to put a lot of time into organizing my thoughts…. not that I did much of any of those things before, I am just leaving them out on purpose this time.

    First, on the question of whether my beliefs are weak because I am willing to humbly accept that I could be wrong. I might not have communicated what I was thinking perfectly, so I will try to be a little more clear this time around.
    I believe that Jesus Christ really was raised from the dead three days after His perfect life ended on the Cross at Calvary. I cannot prove that- it was almost 2000 years ago, for Christ’s sake (you like that?). But the “evidence” that I have seen has convinced me that He really did conquer death.

    I believe that that issue is central to this life, this universe, and the way that you and I live. If he really was raised from the dead, then He really was and is God (along with the Father and the Holy Spirit), and He really is the King of this universe.

    The issue about humbly accepting that I could be wrong arose out of a couple of things. First and foremost that came from my own personal experience.
    My beliefs were very weak when I was an unbeliever. But I clung to them very strongly and believed that they were solid. When I read something that supported my unbelief I delved into it and couldn’t get enough of it. When I read something in opposition of my unbelief, I refused it from the start and never gave it a chance. I clung strongly to weak beliefs, but I would not call that strength.
    I think that a lot of Christians are the same way, and before I made the transformation from believer to atheist about 6 years ago I was one of them. I had doubts, as I believe all Christians – and possibly all atheists – do. But in my devotion to Christianity, and foolishly thinking that I wasn’t supposed to have those doubts, I pushed those doubts to the side and kept pushing forward. Eventually I had a mountain of doubts that I had pushed to the side, and I struggled with temptations and beating myself up everytime I lost a battle. And so that mountain of doubts fell on me like a closet full of toys on a cartoon character.
    And I isolated the mess that I was in from everybody around me, just as I had isolated my doubts and struggles.

    So where is the weakness and where is the strength in those examples, and where do I stand now?
    My “Christian” beliefs when I was young were weak- based mostly on things that I had seen and heard from my parents and siblings and in years of church. But I clung to them with as much strength as I could muster and did the best I could.
    Similarly, my beliefs when I considered myself atheist for a few years, and later when I found out what agnosticism was and considered myself one of those, my beliefs were weak.

    In both- or all three, depending on how you count- my beliefs were based on my personal thoughts and personal experiences, with practically no outside research.

    So I made the assumption that some/most/all atheists probably read things the way that I did when I was on the other side of the debate- eagerly devouring what supports their beliefs and refusing any opposing beliefs from the start.

    And so the question: Are my beliefs weak because I humbly admit that I could be wrong and am willing to allow for that possibility.
    I think not. Why? Because, my beliefs are strong enough that I am willing to doubt them. And I am strong enough in my beliefs to admit that I occasionally do have doubts. And I am willing to read any responses, and give them as much of a chance as I can.

    One more tidbit from my personal experience.
    When I realized these things:

    That I was refusing any opposing beliefs from the outset without giving them any chance to be true, that it was possible that I was using God-given wisdom to explain away God so that I could live in a way that the God of Christianity would not approve, and that if I was wrong and Christianity and the Bible were right I would face God on the day of judgement and be sentenced to an eternity in hell.

    …I stumbled across a book that changed my life. “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.

    I have an amazing brother. He has a masters in Theology and a PhD, teaches seminary, and is a pastor. In conversations about our beliefs, he had shown me that my unbelief was not as strong as I had thought it was.
    The only defense that I had left after our conversations was that the Bible was not the word of God, and that it was not credible- I could always fall back on the “that didn’t really happen” defense. So, “The Case for Christ” convinced me that the Bible is the credible Word of God and that Jesus really did conquer death and consequently is the King of the universe!

    So if you find yourself in a similar position with where I was- realizing that the serious possibility of an eternity in hell if Jesus really did conquer death and really is the king of the world, and that because of that you should not refuse anything that is in opposition to your atheist or agnostic beliefs without giving them a chance, I really think that you should read Strobel’s “The Case for Christ.” I believe that if you simply do not refuse it before you read it and give it any kind of chance to be true, then it will change your life as it has changed mine.

    Once I was convinced, I was totally reluctant. I was ashamed at the way that I had lived for roughly 5 years of unbelief, and I was very much aware of a lot of things that I would have to give up if I was to submit to Jesus as the King of the universe.
    Now I see that it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It turns out that the things that I have given up (even though I still occasionally stumble) are only distortions of gifts from God. And giving up those sinful distortions is necessary to enjoy the gifts the way God intended for us to use them. Acknowledging God as the Creator of all things and the Giver of all good and perfect gifts is the only road to true happiness.

    I delight in the law of the Lord, and in His law I long to meditate day and night. I come before my God a sinner in need of His help. I know that I am guilty of adultery against God. For I know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. And I pray that God will continue to forgive me and continue to show me the grace that He has shown me all along. The Bible says that the effective prayer of the righteous man can accomplish much. I know that there is no righteousness in me, but I pray that God will credit me with the righteousness of Jesus once again, and through the filter of the blood of Jesus that washes my sins away He will consider me righteous, that my prayers may be effective.
    And I pray that God will move and open eyes and ears that they may see and hear. And I pray that God will soften hearts, and that all who read these words will understand that they are sick, and they will come to Him and be healed.
    I know that without the movement of the Holy Spirit these are just empty words, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will move through these words and save souls.

    Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
    As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end,
    amen, amen.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    just clarification… I don’t say that those responses will waste our time because they are unworthy by some measure… only that they are not central to the issue.

    also… Richard, I agree with you…
    I definitely went to the extreme on the “World Without God” blog… but that was at least somewhat intentional…

  • Mriana

    But the “evidence” that I have seen has convinced me that He really did conquer death.

    And what might that evidence be? I don’t see anything by way of evidence in what you just said. So your brother showed you something in the Bible and you delighted in the law of God, that’s not evidence.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    cut me a little slack… I posted that at 2:46 am.

    My brother encouraged me to read the Bible all the way through in a year when I was in about 8th grade, give or take a year or so.
    Two or three years later I had made it from Genesis to Micah.
    So I had read that much of the Bible, along with other parts here and there. And I knew pretty much the gist of the Bible as a whole, though I had not read the whole thing.

    And when I read “The Case for Christ”- with an open mind to the possibility that it was true, with the ramifications of being wrong in my unbelief in mind, and giving it as much of an honest chance as I could, even though I think I really only gave it a slight chance from the start- I was convinced first of the credibility of the Bible.
    Some things that my brother had told me would have been life changing, if true. But I had clung to the defense that those things didn’t really happen, because the Bible was not credible.

    One thing that supported my stance there- I’m not sure if I got this from the Da Vinci Code or somewhere else- was that the gospels were written a long time after the events they portray.
    The first chapter of “The Case for Christ” convinced me that, although they were written several years after those events, they were written by compainions of Jesus or companions of companions of Jesus- Matthew and John were disciples, Mark and Luke were companions of Peter and Paul, not sure if it was Mark and Peter or Mark and Paul right now, I would have to look. And that they were written soon enough not to be considered lacking credibility on that basis.

    Also, I thought of one thing that I meant to say and didn’t last night:
    I think that my beliefs are strong enough that I don’t have to guard them. That is why I am completely comfortable writing a long, rambling semi-”argument” about my beliefs on an atheist website, which I am pretty sure is full of holes (my argument, not the website).
    The great part is, I believe that Jesus is the King of the universe whether or not I can make a great argument that He is.

    But we are straying from the center.
    Lets go simple:

    Forget everything that I have said to this point. If it helps you to do that, then for the sake of this we can say that everything I have said to this point is false. (I don’t think its false, but if we agree for the sake of this that its false, there is no need for anybody to pick out things that I have said and try to find holes in things I have said, etc.) So everything that I have said to this point is false. Just answer these questions for me.

    Do you agree that the center of the issue is whether Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross? Do you agree that if you were convinced that Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, your beliefs and your life would have to change? Do you agree that the ramifications of this are huge? Do you agree that if Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, and you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?

  • monkeymind

    Do you agree that [...] you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?

    No, I don’t. Also, people who threaten me with bodily harm scare me.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    monkeymind…
    I think that you and I would agree that the threat of hell alone is not enough of a reason to change your beliefs. That wasn’t enough for me to change my beliefs, and I don’t expect it to change yours.

    But, let me try to expand on where I was going with that:
    If Christians are right, which I believe hinges on the central issue of whether or not Jesus conquered death, then their belief that those who refuse to believe that Jesus is the King of the universe and the only way we can be reconciled with God will be sentanced to an eternity in hell is also right.

    If Jesus conquered death, Christians are right (if a, then b).
    Christians believe that unbelievers will suffer eternity in hell (b=c).
    If Jesus conquered death, unbelievers will suffer eternity in hell (substitution principle of mathematics- if a, then c).
    (did I really just bust out “proofs” from my 10th grade geometry class?)

    Like I said, I do not think it reasonable to expect anybody to change their beliefs on the basis of the fear of hell. But I don’t think it unreasonable for the fear of hell to warrant giving Christianity a realistic chance to be true.

  • monkeymind

    David, let me preface this by saying that I will not get into a big long discussion of whether God exists or whether Jesus was God. These discussions bore me because they seem so sterile.

    But I would like to point out that when you say “I don’t think it unreasonable for the fear of hell to warrant giving Christianity a realistic chance to be true,” you’re using one thing you assume to be true to support another thing you assume to be true. That’s called circular reasoning.

    My approach is pretty much the one presented in the Budhhist Kalama Sutra:

    Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias towards a notion pondered over, nor upon another’s seeming ability, nor upon the consideration ‘The monk is our teacher.’ When you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them. When you yourselves know: ‘These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

  • HappyNat

    I thought Heman was King of the Universe?

  • Richard Wade

    David,
    Thank you for your response, in part, to my remarks, and for your willingness to make a couple of acknowledgments. You acknowledged that during the period of your atheism and agnosticism you were isolated and did not get to know any other atheists or agnostics. You also acknowledged that your characterization of atheists as being devoid of morality and debased in your blog entry “A World Without God” was extreme and intentional.

    Since intentionally publishing false and extremely negative remarks about a group of people about whom you know nothing could at least on a moral level be called slander are you, after an appropriate period of time of actually getting to know atheists and agnostics on a close and intimate basis, willing to publish a retraction? As I said before, I don’t think you have to relinquish the beliefs that are important to you by repudiating a hateful and hurtful stereotype of us.

    The reason this issue is important to me is because your characterizations were not new. We’ve heard them and even worse things oh so many times before from religious people who don’t seem to mind bearing false witness in order to further their own agenda or merely bolster their own self-righteous egos. Challenging them on their bigotry usually proves to be futile, but once in a while we meet someone who has the courage to see that they were incorrect and to begin positive dialogues with us, actually getting to know us.

    I had to face my own blanket negative attitudes and assumptions about believers and now that I respond to them as individuals, I enjoy enriching dialogues with several. I also get in the faces of atheists who demonstrate the same kind of bigotry. This mutual prejudice hurts all of us. I hope you can experience the same benefit of moving beyond your assumptions.

  • Richard Wade

    If Jesus conquered death, Christians are right (if a, then b).
    Christians believe that unbelievers will suffer eternity in hell (b=c).
    If Jesus conquered death, unbelievers will suffer eternity in hell (substitution principle of mathematics- if a, then c).

    David, in your model you are assuming that if Christians are correct in one belief then they must be correct in all their beliefs. In other words if they are correct in belief “a” then they must be correct in “a through z and all numbers thereafter.” That is absurd and does not logically follow. Conversely, your assumption implies that if any one, tiny belief of Christians, say, q-39 is false, then all their beliefs must therefore be false. That is also absurd and does not logically follow, and puts you at risk to have to abandon all your beliefs because one little bitty one is false.

    There are plenty of Christians for instance who do not share your creationist beliefs based on Genesis but do believe in the divinity of Christ, accept his teachings and do their best to live a Christ-like life. By your monolithic, “a through z ad infinitum” approach, you seem to be condemning these good Christians to hell.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Richard,
    I will even blanket that blog in my statement that everything I said before here I will consider false. But, a couple of things:
    I believe that I used the word “should” early and often in that blog, which I don’t think necessitates slander.
    I could just as easily post a blog about a plethora of things that I think Christians “should” do but don’t.

    But I do, as you say, acknowledge that those things are untrue and extreme. And if you mean that you would like for me post a blog retracting the things that I said in that blog, I will do so on two conditions:

    If you will answer the questions that I posed as central to the issue of the Christianity versus Atheism debate, and agree to read the book “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel with as much of an open mind as your beliefs allow (no offense, just acknowledging that your beliefs are going to prevent you from wholehartedly agreeing with what you read there… I only ask that you do not outright reject what is there before reading it) and with those questions in mind. I realize that I am making a 2 for 1 proposition, and I am willing to read a book that you would suggest, with as much of an open mind as my beliefs will allow, if you wish.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Richard… we are once again straying from the center.
    yes, I oversimplified, but if Jesus conquered death, He was and is divine. If He was and is divine, His teachings- including that He is the only way to the Father- are teachings directly from the mouth of the Son of God. Therefore, rejecting Him and His teachings is punishable by an eternity in hell.

    Once again, all hinges on whether or not He was and is divine.
    Which for me hinges on whether or not He really conquered death three days after the brutal, yet glorious, Death on the Cross.

  • Steven Carr

    David appears to think we don’t know what is in Strobel’s book. Such naivety….

    We are perfectly familiar with Sttobel. It has all been busted.

    I pay Christians to try to defend their beliefs.

    But even when you offer to pay them, they don’t do very well.

    see my debates on http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/mirc1.htm

  • Steven Carr

    DAVID (about the distance of the Earth from the Sun)
    We cannot know for sure that slight variations would terminate life, but I feel that assumption is safer than yours that life adapts to the environment

    CARR
    The Earth is about to get 2 million miles closer to the Sun. I think Al Gore is making a film about it.

    Scientists have come up with a name for this phenomonen. It is called ‘winter’.

    Naturally scientists do not agree about this. Some Australian scientists call it ‘summer’. That’s scientists for you. Unlike the Bible, they always contradict each other.

    Still, they assure us that moving 2 million miles closer to the Sun will not terminate life.

    However, I’m sure David will be on his knees praying to his god to avert this catastrophe.

    After all, God made sure we got through ‘winter’ last year. Proof that he exists, as we moved closer to the sun, and life continued! Praise the Lord!

  • Steven Carr

    Does David really think the Earth has been at a constant distance from the Sun for thousands of years?

    Why does he think that sheer ignorance is a defense against unbelief?

  • Richard Wade

    David, your mentioning of the word “should” in your blog entry does not in any way disqualify your hateful, hurtful and ignorant portrayal of atheists. What you are attempting now is a squirming equivocation. When you repented of your transgressions when you returned to your Christian beliefs did you accept such lawyer-like rationalizations in your own defense, or did you simply own up to it?

    A sincere making of amends for a false, offensive statement should not require as a condition something you want in return from the person you have offended. That is a transaction, not an amend. Whatever bias you assume (once again assuming) I have about your religious beliefs is irrelevant to you fixing what you have broken. So I have no interest in “buying” your amend. Saying “I’ll own up to the lies I have told about you IF you do such and such” shows that you are not actually willing to take the responsibility for your action.

    You sure use that word “if” a lot. It’s in so many of your statements about your faith and such, smelling very strongly of Pascal’s wager, which I don’t accept as a valid argument and which discredits Christians who use it, making them look like gamblers trying to hedge their bet.

  • Mriana

    David, I read the Bible in less than a year at least twice and studied it with other theologians more than once as well as the Gnostic gospels and a few other religious texts and mythologies. There are so many midrashes in the Bible, that I would not know where to begin unless you asked me.

    1. Do you agree that the center of the issue is whether Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross? 2. Do you agree that if you were convinced that Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, your beliefs and your life would have to change? 3. Do you agree that the ramifications of this are huge? 4. Do you agree that if Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, and you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?

    I added numbers for convience: 1. No, because while some say, like Bishop John Shelby Spong in Resurrection: Myth or Reality, it was a spiritual resurrection and not at all literal. Some of them will add that it is also similar to other dying and rising god stories and no more real than they are. 2. Again, no, because I could point out to you other dying and rising god stories that are taken as myth now (see Acharya S and Robert Price for starters). 3. Again, no because the story comes in many versions, not just Christianity. 4. Finally, no again, because hell is a human concept. The feiry hell most people refer to came from a garbage dumped that burned constantly- it’s in the Bible, see Gehennah- but hell itself is not a real place. It was basically an incenerator for garbage and dead bodies. Also Sheol in Hebrew means the grave, not hell, and quite often in translating from Hebrew to English hell replaced the words “the grave” or “the place of the dead”.

    The story of Christ death is part of the Hebrew Litergical calendar- in this case Passover (this Spong also mentions) in either Why Christianity Must Change or Die or A New Christianity for a New World. It is a midrash of previous myths- Horus, Osiris and more, including stories in the OT (pick any of the previous sources plus Tom Harpur, Victor H. Matthews (who I studied directly under, even more closely than Spong), plus other scholars). Even Krishna is an incarnation of God (Vishnu) and he is the beginning, middle, and end.

    The crucifixion story is a pagan tradition, not just Jewish, but it was also a punishment for many criminals at the time. In the pagan tradition as well as other religious traditions, a sacrifice could be animal or human (preferably unblemished) which they offered to the god(s). After the sacrifice, in order to be part of that which was sacrifice, the people actually did drink the blood and ate the body. Now we call it communion and use either wine or grape juice and wafer/bread. This practice is called theophagy and is a purely paganistic ritual.

    Now if you want me to continue or even start at the beginning with the Gospels say, I can explain further how it is nothing but literature.

  • monkeymind

    Why does Steven Carr still think that referring to himself and other people in the third person is a good way to conduct a conversation? Monkeymind does not know.

  • Steven Carr

    It is a little trick I learned from Jesus (Son of Man) Christ, who often referred to himself in the third person. Who said he had no good ideas?

    It also helps with context and search engines.

    Searching for ‘you’ and ‘he’ on Google gets more hits than searching for Monkeymind.

  • monkeymind

    Who knew that of Nazareth would have such great search engine optimization tips?

    Steven Carr’s explanation does nothing to cause Monkeymind to re-assess her opinion of him.

  • Jen

    1. Do you agree that the center of the issue is whether Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross? 2. Do you agree that if you were convinced that Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, your beliefs and your life would have to change? 3. Do you agree that the ramifications of this are huge? 4. Do you agree that if Jesus conquered death three days after dying on the cross, and you do not acknowledge Him as the King of this universe and put your faith in Him and treasure Him, you will sentance yourself to an eternity in hell?

    1. No.
    2. No.
    3. No.
    4. No.

    Ok, why not, I will explain myself a bit here.

    1. No, because I don’t care if Jesus (assuming he existed) came back to life- it has no effect on my life. If your belief has an effect on your life- good for you! Don’t become a lawmaker, and try to stay out of the voter’s box if you are in a swing state (assuming you are American).
    2. Mostly no. If I suddenly believed in Jesus, my beliefs would change insofar as I would have to check off “Christian” instead of “Baby-eating atheist”, But would my day-to-day life change much? I might pray or go to church, but I can’t imagine I would change my morals, cause my atheist morals are awesome.
    3. No, unless I start voting for Republicans.
    4. No. Zombies have very little to do with Hell. If Jesus came back from the dead, and there is somehow proof that happened, it still doesn’t prove why. Maybe he was bitten by a vampire. It doesn’t neceassily have to do with a God.

    I also agree with Mriana’s answers, but I don’t like to crib notes off of others.

    Also, the Case for Christ is a shit premise. I thought it was terribly convincing when I was in tenth grade, but now? No.

    And today is my day off and I am bored and also drinking, so here goes:

    We live in a universe that is entirely too complex and entirely too precise to not believe in a Divine Creator. Until science comes up with a better theory, the report of Genesis is by far the best one that we have to go by.

    What? “Science” cannot do anything. And you really think that the idea that “God did it” is somehow more presise than the Big Bang Theory?

    I do not believe that true atheism should result in “I must treasure every day” thinking.

    Good for you. It works for me. I am not going to say I treasure every day- I get stressed too. But I try. Your method of “true atheism” is stupid and not based on actual atheist behavior.

    believe that true atheism should result in acute paranoia.

    I am only paranoid of Christians, really. Some of them are batshit crazy.

    Human beings are so infinitely complex and precise that evolution cannot explain one millionth of the story.

    “God did it” is not exactly complex. And can you ask god to make things a little less complex? I hate wearing glasses.

    And then there is the evidence for Jesus. That so many were willing to die for Him because they witnessed Him raised from the dead. That there were such drastic changes in the lives of the apostle Paul and James the brother of Jesus. That Christianity spread like wild fire in the face of multitudes of martyrs. That every heart today hears the voice of Jesus and the presence of the all-powerful God.

    None of that is exidence. You have written about martyrs, who are willing to die for many causes that turned out to be false. You are writting abotu two men who may or may not be real. You have written about the rate of converts, which proves nothing- look at how many people wear Crocs, and those things are ugly as Hell. And then you write about your personal belief about singing in your heart, which is not my experience and probably isn’t in the hearts of all Christians either.

  • Mriana

    What are you drinking, Jen? Share with all of us? :lol:

  • monkeymind

    look at how many people wear Crocs, and those things are ugly as Hell.

    ROTFLMBO! They are comfy though! If you do not convert to Croc-ianity, you will sentence yourself to a hell of bunions and hammertoes!

  • Polly

    look at how many people wear Crocs, and those things are ugly as Hell.

    Someone else is finally saying it! :D

    Polly is getting confused by all the 3rd person voices.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Well, what does David have to say to all of this?
    David says, first of all, that he really doesn’t think that anything he has to say matters. I started off writing in the third person just to have some fun, as you guys were, but I learned something rather quickly.
    Who am I to tell you people anything. You people are obviously extremely inteligent and, although we would disagree about right and wrong, you all have obviously put a lot of thought into defending your beliefs.
    I made the assumption that I had something to say on this topic because I made the journey from semi-Christian (long story), to atheist/agnostic, to Christian. Who do I think I am, that something I have to say will change anybody’s beliefs or they way they look at the world?

    Its funny that it took the obsurdity of my speaking in the third person to make me realize that.

    At the same time, I really believe that I am right. And I am really happy with what I have. And I am genuinely concerned. I don’t believe that I deserve anything better than any of you deserve. I am more than likely taller than most if not all of you, but who cares about that? And, I believe that I am obviously dwarfed here when it comes to inteligence.
    All of you seem, to me at least, to be smarter, better writers (except maybe the drunk person), and better wordsmiths than I.

    So what do I do with that tension? Its actually kind of a two-fold tension. First, that I believe that you are smarter than I am, but I also believe you are wrong about God and Christianity. And secondly, I do not believe that my words alone can convince you of anything, but I desperately want you to be convinced and avoid an eternity in hell, especially since I also believe that I deserve hell just as much, if not more, than anybody else does.
    I believe that it is only by God’s grace, through faith alone, in Christ alone that I can be reconciled with God.
    If God was only a God of justice, I would be undoubtedly heading to hell. Praise God that He is also a God of love.

    I’m open to any suggestions…

  • Mriana

    You people are obviously extremely inteligent and, although we would disagree about right and wrong, you all have obviously put a lot of thought into defending your beliefs.

    I don’t know about more intelligent, but well educated in various areas might be more like it.

    First, that I believe that you are smarter than I am, but I also believe you are wrong about God and Christianity.

    If you have studied it, as I have, you might think differently. However, I have spent years studying under various professors of religion and theologians- albeit secular and Episcopalain, but still that doesn’t mean I know it all though. I would not want to debate MikeC, but I would dare to question him.

    And secondly, I do not believe that my words alone can convince you of anything, but I desperately want you to be convinced and avoid an eternity in hell, especially since I also believe that I deserve hell just as much, if not more, than anybody else does.

    My dear, I already explained part of what is behind the human concept of hell. I’m not at all worried about it. If I’m lucky, I’ll come back as a rose, esp if my sons scatter my ashes in a rose garden. :lol:

    I’m open to any suggestions…

    Find a well educated, non-Evangelical Fundamentalist theologian and see what you can learn from him. Read John Shelby Spong, Robert Price, Karen Armstrong, Don Cupitt, or even Morcus Borg. I would even suggest Acharya S., Tom Harpur, and Earl Doherty. Plus, go to Westar Institute’s website: http://www.westarinstitute.org/ and check out the theologians (under ‘Fellows’) there to find out about some of their books (You’ll find Price, Spong, Borg, and Armstrong there, just to name a few, as well as some I did not list). Even Robert Funk, who was on the Jesus Seminar until he died, has a few good books. You could learn a lot just by reading some of their books.

    Don’t be afraid to compare other myths to the Christ myth either.

  • Steven Carr

    Monkeymind lies about me referring to myself in the third person.

    Labelling my comments so that people know what are my words and what are other words is ‘not referring to myself in the third person’.

    Still, I get used to people reading my posts, being unable to handle the arguments and resorting to abuse.

    It kind of makes you think you are right.

    David thinks we all deserve to go to Hell.

    Well, he knows himself better than I do.

    As for me, I don’t deserve to burn in Hell for all eternity.

    That is just a plain fact, and all David’s lies about me being a wicked person remain lies.

    I mean, it is not even as though I had struck somebody dead for not handing over all their money , as God did to people in Acts.

  • Steven Carr

    David believes he is right with his proofs of God.

    Well, he also believed he was right with his proof of God in that the Earth was a constant distance from the Sun.

    On Internet Infidels, Christians have pretty much given up trying to get Strobel’s ‘proofs’ to work.

    The book is totally busted.

  • Richard Wade

    Hey David,
    Now you’re speaking from the heart in an open-hearted and genuine way. It’s refreshing and very likable. When you talk about your own feelings it’s nice to hear. When you revert into parroting stuff you heard in church it’s like you disappear and a poster drops down in front of you. I think you’re obviously a good, decent person, and while these discussions can be frustrating, I wouldn’t want you to get discouraged. Coming to one of these websites takes quite a lot of courage. You’re going to be outnumbered and if you’re new to such discussions you can’t know ahead of time that your arguments are not new to us. Some of the people here have black belts in argument. They’re fierce. I generally agree with them but I have the scars to prove how fierce they can be.

    I personally wouldn’t want you to lose your faith in the essential parts of Christianity, because it obviously has benefitted you. The main change I’d like to see is for you to lighten up on that awfully low opinion you have about your own worth and that of people in general.

    I have gotten to know, without exaggeration, several thousand people on an intimate basis and they have been every type you could imagine. Some are kind, some are stern, some are virtuous and some are nasty. But consider this: I have never met a person so stern nor a person so nasty that the stern one would condemn the nasty one to an eternity of suffering. The toughest ones are still far more compassionate and forgiving than your concept of God. How can that be? There are other concepts of God that don’t compare so poorly to human virtues.

    Take Mriana’s recommendations for study and look into the authors she listed. Seek out Christians who concern themselves with practicing a daily life of compassion, tolerance and charity, and who don’t really concern themselves with whether someone is condemned or saved. There are a few who visit this website and I admire them very much because they live their faith in simple, loving and very human ways. Make no mistake, they’re not vapid or silly or child-like; they’re very adult and very focused. Though I don’t share their religious beliefs, I am often inspired to imitate their behaviors.

    Imagine that, a dyed-in-the-wool atheist learning from the virtues of some Christians, without converting. Could the reverse happen as well?

  • HappyNat

    I have gotten to know, without exaggeration, several thousand people on an intimate basis and they have been every type you could imagine.

    HappyNat did not know Richard was a slut. :)

  • monkeymind

    David, what Richard said. Sorry if you felt like comments were piling on.

    Steven Carr – you are absolutely right, I was incorrect in stating that you refer to yourself in the third person. What I was thinking of was the labelling thing, which is not the same as using the 3rd person, but it comes off as stilted. When you explained that it was to help your search engine rankings, I’m sorry but that was fair game for mockery in my book. Talk to the Googlebot, Steven!

    You do however refer to others in the 3rd person instead of addressing them directly, which is really off-putting, even if it is a disinterested attempt to help out their Google results. If that is the case, you can dispense with it in talking to me, since I have no investment in the Monkeymind keyword.

    I’m beginning to think you could benefit from some work with a speech or cogntive-behavioral therapist, to work on your pragmatics (the aspects of language that have to do with social interaction.)

    Also, I am not “unable to handle your arguments.” I am not a Christian. When I have an issue with the content of your comments, I address it. Most of the time however, I just find your style off-putting.

  • ash

    David, i don’t have much to add as Richard Wade already made a fantastic post, but…i’ve had a few points from Strobel’s book ‘the case for a creator’ quoted at me before, and as i was able to undermine/dispute/disprove every point given with minimal scientific knowledge and a decent search engine, i can’t say i’m inclined to go through a whole book of his (much less pay for the privilege!). however, i think Mriana’s suggestions are great, and would recommend Kenneth Miller if you want to start understanding modern science from a christian standpoint.

  • Karen

    you all have obviously put a lot of thought into defending your beliefs.

    Thank you for that acknowledgment, David. You may think it’s a small thing on your part, but I have to tell you that it’s exceedingly rare for atheists to hear and it’s very refreshing. Best of luck on your journey!

  • Richard Wade

    HappyNat did not know Richard was a slut.

    LOL! Ah yes, the unfortunate sexualizing of the word “intimate” in the last few years. I guess I set myself up for that one. (sigh) Would that it had been that kind of intimacy, rather than counseling.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    all of that sounds great, but what if there is a God who disagrees with your measures, as well as those of the non-evangelical fundamentalists?

    I admit wholeheartedly that there are a lot of things that I could learn from you all.

    and Richard, I have decided that, although I don’t necessarily like the way you suggested that I should humbly ask forgiveness for transgressions towards atheists the way that I do for those towards my God, I will post a retraction for “A World Without God.”

    also, I had a thought today. somebody made a joke about me praying…
    however, I do believe in the power of prayer, and I would love to pray for any or all of you.

    so how can I pray for you?

  • Richard Wade

    Hi David, I’m glad you’re still here and you sound okay. I was a little worried.

    One thing we can all learn from each other is to have more of a sense of humor. You asked,

    all of that sounds great, but what if there is a God who disagrees with your measures, as well as those of the non-evangelical fundamentalists?

    If you’re going to ask “what if” questions about God, there are a little over a hundred quadrillion of them and they all have the same face value. For instance, number 22,791,088,382,145,901 is: What if there is a God who really likes atheists the best because they’re not constantly pestering him with “please, thank you, sorry, you’re so great, I’m no good, help, save me, screw them, gimme, if you do that I promise, you said this, you want that, you intended such and such, what are you, who are you, why are you, what, who and why am I,” and the most annoying of all to any father, earthly or heavenly, “are we there yet?” I mean, if prayer propagates through the universe at the speed of light He may have moved a really long way off just to get a little peace. :)

    About the retraction, I wasn’t suggesting an abject, groveling apology. I was suggesting just an amend without trading for something. I’m sorry if I sounded harsh. An amend means “to mend, to fix it.” Something like, “Oops, I’ve realized I didn’t understand something I was talking about and I’ve found some new information, blah blah blah.” That’s all. Also, the amend or whatever is not for helping atheists, it’s for helping you. Atheists are beat up all the time and I know Christians are too. When we make amends for our errors, we’re mending ourselves, because we injure ourselves when we injure others.

    also, I had a thought today. somebody made a joke about me praying…
    however, I do believe in the power of prayer, and I would love to pray for any or all of you.
    so how can I pray for you?

    That’s very nice of you, sincerely. Asking atheists how to pray for them sounds kind of funny in a way, but I would suggest that you pray for us in whatever way that heals your bruises, soothes your hurt, calms your anger and relaxes your tension. Maybe like the amend, praying for other’s benefit benefits you, and I’d like that very much.

  • Mriana

    I don’t know how to answer you about prayer. That is up to you, but consider these things:

    It’s those “what if”s that keep us from living life to it’s fullest. I truly believe that if you were to study the subject throroughly, some of those “what if”s will deminish. I won’t say you will rid yourself of a god concept, but you maybe less anxious about it all.

    Something to think about, esp if you consider all the different religions and previous god myths- God is a human concept.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    Richard, as a parent, would you rather have all that “pestering” or a child who acts like you don’t exist?

    …but I do totally agree that people often pray wrong. As “James the Just” said, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.” (James 4:2-3)

    something that I have thought about, and try to stick to with my prayer life…
    I think that praying to God is like calling a friend. If you only call when you need something, you are going to be an annoying friend. But if you call just to talk, even when you don’t need anything or to see if your friend needs anything, your calls (or prayers) will not be annoying, and your friend will be glad to help.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David
  • Mriana

    What I want to know, David, is why you feel the need to explain who James the Just is to us? Do you really believe that we know nothing about the Bible and the characters therein? Now, I maybe wrong, but I think the majority of us know that character and that he is the brother of Jesus. We are not Biblically illiterate.

  • Richard Wade

    It’s okay Mriana. Remember I’m the one who was born in the Natural History Museum and I’m very ignorant about the Bible. I think David understands that you and others here have remarkable knowledge about the Bible and other important Christian works. You deeply understand things I never even heard of. You guys have had the much harder, longer journey, passing through, out of and away from your Christian upbringing, and your encyclopedic command of scripture was hard won with bitter tears I’m sure. That’s why I admire you so much. I was just sitting here on my lazy butt when you arrived only because it’s where I was in the first place. I was raised on art and science, but biblically I’m a bumpkin.

  • Richard Wade

    David, you have a good point about the pestering child, but then you and I are both attributing human emotions, needs and limitations to God, which may not apply. I hope my perverse, irreverent humor is not too offensive. I tease my fellow atheists sometimes too. I like what you said about talking as if to a friend.

  • Mriana

    It’s okay Mriana. Remember I’m the one who was born in the Natural History Museum and I’m very ignorant about the Bible. I think David understands that you and others here have remarkable knowledge about the Bible and other important Christian works. You deeply understand things I never even heard of. You guys have had the much harder, longer journey, passing through, out of and away from your Christian upbringing, and your encyclopedic command of scripture was hard won with bitter tears I’m sure. That’s why I admire you so much. I was just sitting here on my lazy butt when you arrived only because it’s where I was in the first place. I was raised on art and science, but biblically I’m a bumpkin.

    You’re joking, right Richard? If you’re not, I’ll refrain from laughing. :( If you are joking, thank you so very much for the laugh. :)

    I wouldn’t say I have an encyclopedic command of scripture, but I can out do many who are Bible Thumpers. Bitter tears is right, because what you’re told you discover is a lie or more precise a misconception of what is really there. :(

  • Richard Wade

    Mriana, have you ever said something at which people laughed and you wondered if you should pretend that you intended for it to be funny? I don’t mind making people laugh, but I usually like to be in control of it. :) I said several things so I’m not sure what of all that was funny. The born in the museum part is figurative not literal, kind of like Judy Garland being “born in a trunk in the Princess Theatre.” If the description of the scope of your knowledge is overstated, well I guess that’s a relative thing anyway. Mine is close to zero, so from my viewpoint I’m correct. The admiration is real and accurately based. Sorry if it’s embarrassing but I think you should just say “thank you” and let people admire something that is real. Nobody’s going to expect you to be as authoritative as Bishop Spong if that’s worrying you, but you are an important resource here.

    I was just trying to quell what seemed like an unintended irritation between David and you, because I think he was offering to me specifically a reference to something in scripture. I took the opportunity to add something that I’d wanted to say to you for a long time.

  • Mriana

    I meant should I laugh about your lack of knowledge concerning the Bible, Richard. However, I do think comparing my knowledge to an encyclopedia is a bit of an overstatement. I do make mistakes sometimes because I’m only human, so I wouldn’t take everything I say as gospel. (cue laughter) Such praise is rather shocking when most of the time one is called a heretic and have you. Even, I do thank you for the compliment. No one has given me such high praise in that area of knowledge before. That makes three people today who have complimented me on my religious texts knowledge. :)

  • Richard Wade

    Okay Mriana, so the funny part was the only part I didn’t guess, but what is so laughable about my lack of biblical knowledge? I’m not offended or anything. I mean I’m not ashamed or proud of it, it’s just what’s so. My sweet old grandma gave me a bible with my name stamped in gold on the cover for my 18th birthday. I didn’t have much interest in it nor any feeling against it, and I hadn’t heard much about it pro or con but I started reading it from the beginning only because she was my sweet old grandma. Not far into it I started thinking this is the most bizarre collection of nonsense I’d ever read. I thought this has to be very symbolic and very garbled in multiple translations or something, so even as symbolism it didn’t do much for me and of course there was no way I could believe it as literal truth. I had heard that some people did, and I just couldn’t fathom how they could. So I skipped ahead, looked over various parts and soon put it on my bookshelf where it has sat for the last 39 years. There was just too much oyster to pick through for any pearls of wisdom. I would have given it away to someone who might like it but it has my name stamped in gold on the cover, so I don’t know what to do with it.

    I expect that my reaction may seem glib to some who have devoted much time and love (or time and frustration) to biblical study, but that’s the natural way I reacted, and I don’t see any reason to force that stuff down my throat.

    I think I may have said this before but while my non-religious background is kind of rare among us here, isn’t that what we would expect will be more the norm in a couple of generations?

  • Mriana

    but what is so laughable about my lack of biblical knowledge?

    Nothing, but it was how you said it that was funny, yet I tried to refrain from laughing because it’s not really funny. I’m just wondering how you manage when attacked by Evangelical Fundamentalists. I find having the knowledge I have is a means of fighting fire with fire.

    I think I may have said this before but while my non-religious background is kind of rare among us here, isn’t that what we would expect will be more the norm in a couple of generations?

    Sadly, given that I live in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt, I think it will take more than a couple generations. I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime unless I manage to move out of dodge.

  • Richard Wade

    I’m just wondering how you manage when attacked by Evangelical Fundamentalists.

    Well you and I have different specialties, so that doesn’t really happen very often to me. Maybe it’s because of the kind of comments that I respond to and the kind I ignore. I usually respond to people’s misunderstanding or stereotyping of us, trying to build a bridge of respect where a wall of prejudice used to be. I have no interest in changing their beliefs about God and all that, only their beliefs about us. Once they realize that they relax. The bible babble is just that to me, babble. I don’t respond to it so they stop using it. It’s like when somebody sneezes during a conversation. I don’t say, “I disagree with that” because it has no meaning for me.

    I like to interact with the unique person and often, though not always the bible stuff seems like a mask or a disguise they’re holding up in front of them. It often has a mechanical or automatic quality. So I ignore it and ask about them. Maybe that disguise is up because they feel at risk or insecure so I try to make the tone amiable and non-disapproving. Once in a while I meet someone who is so fortified behind their quoting chapters and verses that after a few attempts to appeal to the person way back in there somewhere I finally give up.

  • Mriana

    You must live somewhere in the U.S. :lol: I have even heard people who visit here say, “They are rude, rude, rude.” That would be putting it mildly of course.

    Of course, I’m with you, roughly 50% in this area who profess to be a Christian maybe using it as a mask because they are afraid of those who are the Religious Reich.

    However, I didn’t learn what I’ve learned about the Bible to change their beliefs about God- part of it was no choice, the other part was to be able to show them a non-theist isn’t totally ignorant and could probably out do them concerning it all. Of course, learning Hinduism is out of curiousity. :lol:

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    First of all, the reference to “James the Just” and pointing out that he was the brother of the King of the Universe and the Annointed Messiah of God was merely to distinguish him from other James’. I think there are four different James’ in the New Testament…. And calling him “James the Just” was not from the Bible (if its in the Bible, I don’t know about it). I got that from “The Church History of Eusebius”.

    I don’t know if any of you clicked on the link after my last comment, but that was a blog I did on “James the Just”.

    Also, I was thinking about the comments that a couple of you made about looking into “non-Evangelical Fundamentalist” resources, and bouncing some things around in my head.
    Have you thought about what a “non-Evangelical Fundamentalist” is saying to you by being “non-Evangelical”? I believe that they say a lot of things in that, but there are two big things they are saying that hopefully will show you guys that their stance is as foolish as I find it.

    The two big things are:
    a) they don’t care about what they have, and
    b) they don’t care about you.

    a) If they really felt that their beliefs have value, then they would want to spread the good news. So by being “non-Evangelical”, they imply that their beliefs are good enough for them, but wouldn’t do anybody else any good. The problem is that we praise everything we value. If we are a big fan of a sports team, people who know us know that. If we enjoy a meal, we praise the meal and or the chef. If we enjoy a person’s physical appearance or personal traits, we praise those.
    b) If they truly believe that unbelievers are going to hell, then what are they saying by being “non-Evangelical”? By not wanting to share their pardon with you, they are implying that they don’t care enough about you to give you the opportunity to avoid the hell that they believe you are headed to.

    So, although you might rather that I be “non-Evangelical” so that I would keep my beliefs to myself and leave you alone with yours, I can do neither.
    That is why I stumbled across this site to begin with, why I posted my first comment, and why I have continued to interact with you guys, even at the risk of opening myself and my beliefs up to people who oppose them.

    Because I value what I have, and want to share it. And because I believe that you are all going to hell if you do not acknowledge that there is a God who created this universe, and submit to His authority, and accept the pardon that is only availabe through Jesus Christ. And because I care enough about your soul that I do not want you to suffer eternal damnation because you chose to live a life that you incorrectly thought was better than the one Christianity offers.

    A few years ago, my brother bought me a Bible for my birthday. I was an atheist at the time, and I was offended at first by the gift. “He doesn’t know anything about me. If he did, he would not have bought me that,” I thought. After thinking it over, however, I realized that he believed that was what I needed. And to him, that was the greatest gift that he could have given me, because it was an eternal gift from his perspective.

    So, even though I thought he was “misled” at the time, I realized that his gift was a gift a great love. And although it didn’t have much value to me at the time, I knew that to him it was the most valuable gift that he could have given me.

    My greatest hope is that you all will avoid hell. My second greatest hope is that you realize about me what I realized about my brother. That any offense you take or any discussions/arguments/disagreements/whatever that we have here are not intended to offend anybody.

    My intention is to give you the most valuable gift that I have to offer.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    And Richard, about the Bible…

    One of the great things about the Bible is its honesty, especially with things that you really wouldn’t expect it to be honest about.

    I think you should dust that old Bible off and read 1st and 2nd Samuel.
    You will see one of the greatest figures in the Bible, King David, commit adultery that leads to murder. You will see his firstborn son rape one of his daugters, and another of David’s sons murder David’s firstborn out of revenge. You will see the son that murdered David’s firstborn attempt to usurp David’s throne. You will see several lies from all parties.

    Does that sound like your expectations of the Bible?

    My brother is preaching through 2nd Samuel right now, and it is amazing! They have several of the sermons online at http://www.bcredeemer.org that you can listen to or download for free. Today’s was awesome, and I definitely would recommend that as soon as they have it on the site.

  • Mriana

    That is why I stumbled across this site to begin with, why I posted my first comment, and why I have continued to interact with you guys, even at the risk of opening myself and my beliefs up to people who oppose them.

    :lol: And I suppose you believe God sent you here?

    My greatest hope is that you all will avoid hell. My second greatest hope is that you realize about me what I realized about my brother. That any offense you take or any discussions/arguments/disagreements/whatever that we have here are not intended to offend anybody.

    1. Once again, Hell is a human concept. But Ok I’m going to be nice and warm because I’m going to be cremated. Now, I guess that means I’m going to be burning in the fires of hell. :lol: Cool! Then my ashes can be buried in a rose garden and I’ll come back as a beautiful rose. ;)

    2. No, I’m not offended. I get a good laugh from you though.

  • ash

    Have you thought about what a “non-Evangelical Fundamentalist” is saying to you by being “non-Evangelical”?…

    a) they don’t care about what they have, and
    b) they don’t care about you.

    i know a few christians, and can describe their stance thus –
    a) they may believe in their choice of religion so strongly that they think people will come round to it by themselves (which suggests a stronger faith than that of evangelicals). they may believe it is up to god to convert, not them (a position which smacks strongly of arrogance). they may believe in my intelligence, ability to reason and right to disagree with them, whilst also valueing our relationship enough to not have it based on continuous conversion attempts by either/both sides. which leads nicely onto…

    b) they care about me far more than some arsehole who will spend the entire time they know me blatantly disrespecting my opinions by calling me damned/ignorant/stupid until such point where i feel compelled to walk away. please tell me again how one can regard the evangelical as the more compassionate?!

    i would also add that you seem to have confused ‘evangelical’ with ‘fundamentalist’, the two do not necessarily have any bearing on each other. as such, a non-fundie may not even hold a hell concept as you understand it*, which reduces the need for evangelicism even further.

    *i’ve heard hell being described as ‘seperation from god’, which, as another commentator rightly pointed out, i would fully expect as an atheist, and would therefore find it no more disturbing than discovering the chicken i ordered for dinner actually turned out to be turkey. obviously, if said turkey had been roasted to charcoal by eternal hellfire, i would be slightly peeved.

  • http://bigham.wordpress.com David

    What do you guys think is the best thing that Christianity has to offer?

    http://bigham.wordpress.com

  • Pingback: A Possible Center of the Christian/Atheism debate? « Eyes That See


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X