If Christians Would Listen, What Would You Say to Them?

***Update***: Bjorn compiled a list of what people are saying about Christians in this thread. It’s not looking so good…

My friend Jim Henderson (he who once bought my soul on eBay) has a new book out called The Outsider Interviews.

Jim didn’t ask me to write this (or to promote the book), but I’ll tell you why I like it. There aren’t a lot of books I could give to Christians that would help them understand where I’m coming from as an atheist. I could try and give them one of the New Atheist books, but as soon as I do, their defenses are going to immediately go up.

The Outsider Interviews is a book that they’ll actually read. And like. And want to discuss with you.

Jim and his co-authors visited various cities, sat down with people who were gay, non-religious, religious-but-non-Christian, and even Christians who have problems with the church, and they did interviews with them in front of large church audiences.

What you end up with is an honest glimpse of what Christianity means to people who are “outside” the faith — and those who are on the “inside” but aren’t always proud of it. (Interestingly enough, it’s not always easy to tell which is which.)

The book includes a DVD with all the church interviews along with extended commentary from the participants.

Here’s an idea of what you’re in store for:

I have a few copies of the book to give away to readers, so let me ask the question that Jim asks in the video:

If you thought Christians would listen, what would you say to them?

I’d love to hear your responses to that.

A couple rules if you’d like to win a copy of the book: You MUST live in the U.S. (sorry!) and you MUST put the phrase “Banana” at the end of your comment. (If you don’t do that, I’ll assume you’d like to comment but you’re not interested in the prize.)

One entry per person. I’ll select winners randomly from all eligible responses.

  • Donalbain

    Would you like a nice cup of tea?

    Banana

  • http://darknova.net Ender

    Do you think Christians have more success reaching out to others because they’re willing to send their book to foreign countries, while Atheists will only send books to America?

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Niceness can only take you so far if your faith is incorrect. If you are kind and nonjudgmental and tolerant, I can be tolerant in return and maybe even ally with you on some issues, but I will not join your faith.

    Banana

  • http://www.weaselmark.wordpress.com Thomas

    I want to say that I’d beg them to read Sartre… Honestly, if I could be certain they were paying attention, I’d want to spend a few minutes talking about Bad Faith. Of course, that’s not a conversation I’d only want to have with Christians.

    I can’t really think of anything I’d want to say that wouldn’t have a potentially negative outcome. I mean, I can’t dictate to someone else what they should think the criteria for truth is, and I can’t honestly hope to convince someone who doesn’t already value logic and truth to acquire those values. But I do think that hypocrisy, and avoiding hypocrisy, is a value which anyone who thinks about it would share.

    So, if I could talk to any one Christian, or Christians in general, if I could tell them something I knew they’d really listen to and seriously consider, I’d want to take the time to impress upon them their own personal responsibility for their own beliefs, and their individual power and responsibility not to be hypocritical. In some cases, I think it would probably result in polarizing them all the way to the Fred Phelps end of the spectrum. But for the most part, I think if they took the time to seriously consider everything, and I mean everything, they believe, in every aspect of their life, and made an effort to reconcile it, they’d find their faith unlivable.

    Banana.

  • http://stereoroid.wordpress.com/ brian t

    A couple of things: first, something like “atheists are people too”. We’re not somehow less than human just because we don’t do religion. We are not aliens, or enemies, or “outside society”. All those things that make you human – emotion, imagination, empathy, hope, whatever – atheists have as much of them as you do.

    Secondly: please lose the idea that we’re atheists for negative reasons. We’re not ignorant. We know what your scriptures say, we just don’t believe them to be true or authoritative or “holy” (whatever that is). We’re not “missing something”. We’re not reacting negatively to religion, or something done in religion’s name, or by someone religious. In short: we have heard the arguments, and thought about this stuff, and have decided we can live good, full lives without religion.

  • Parse

    I know about your religion, and I have no interest in joining. Please stop trying to convert me, especially since you act like nobody’s tried that before. I’ve heard all your arguments before, and I’m just not interested. Can’t you talk about something – anything – else?

    Banana!

  • David

    Did anyone notice that they misspelled “Republicans” at time marker 1:40?

  • Ashley

    If they would listen I would tell them that I do not need a spiritual being to cling to and that is ok. No seriously, praying for me kind of offends me in that the christian is assuming I am not perfect without his/her specific beliefs in my life. I probably would go on further and let the christian know that many of their modern beliefs are not very Christ like, and end by asking them to hypothetically put themselves in my shoes.

    While all in good I am sure they would just come back at me with something as idiotic as Ray Comfort and his banana.

  • http://whatpalebluedot.blogspot.com WhatPaleBlueDot

    I think if I thought they’d actually listen, I’d tell them that philosophy, science, postmodernism, movies, or whatever new thing comes up next year isn’t out to get them. The rest of us are just living and more or less pay them and their beliefs no mind. They’re the only ones interested in conversion.

    And I had my stint reading how to better suck them in books. No thanks.

  • Marchelle

    I don’t hate god, I just don’t believe a god exists. To me there is no evidence for a god. I believe the world is a beautiful place, and I don’t need a god to see that.

    Also, I have been religious before. I understand how powerful religion and the feeling of god can be, but I need real explanations that science can provide me. Just telling me to believe in god, have faith, or the bible says so just won’t cut it in my book.

    I will not try to convince you to become an atheist, so I would appreciate you not trying to convert me to your religion.

    Banana!

  • Hitch

    Hehe I was reading comments first and though, hmm, are Christians now using Banana as secret handshake, replacing the ><>? But I get it now! Banana man didn’t win luckily.

    I would say that Christianity contains things that mean well but don’t do well and that the best would be to get rid of those things or move towards something where meaning well and doing well are better aligned. First and foremost stop telling others how to live their lives. Replace judgment with humility, insider/outsider thinking with “love thy neighbor”, replace narrow-mindedness with an inquisitive mind, replace the golden rule with listening and actual empathy.

    And if they actually listened… we’d either get really nice Christians, or really nice non-Christians.

    That seems like a constructive pro-Christian initiative actually.

    Apple.

  • Chaz

    Evolution never happened. Its just not logical to assume that billions of random mutations occurring over a span of millions of years in an environment of reproductive competition would produce sentient beings. Yes, biological evolution has been proven to occur many times over on a small scale (after all, each year there is a new flu virus) and all available evidence points towards a Darwinian explanation of human existence. However, it is just more logical to assume that the entire universe and all life contained therein was created by an omnipresent, all powerful entity in 6 days and also that He* hid dinosaur bones underground in order to test our faith in his existence. THINK!

    *Yes, God is in fact male….I’ve seen his penis.

    Banana

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    I’d ask them to understand that I don’t reject Christianity because I want to live some wild, licentious lifestyle free of moral constraints. I reject Christianity because everything we know about ourselves, our world and the universe around us tells me their religion simply isn’t true. And every time they reject reality in favor of comfortable dogmas, they become (in my eyes) enemies of real, knowable truth.

    Banana

  • Chaz

    This comment isn’t intended to be submitted for competition, just food for thought.

    Christians maintain that God created the heavens and Earth in 6 days, and then set aside the 7th day to rest.

    Why would God use an earthly measurement of time to measure how long it took him to create the Earth???

    Apple

  • TheNP

    I’d tell them that they are worth a lot more than their religion gives them credit for. Nothing irks me more than seeing a genuinely great person continuously talking about how horrible and unworthy they are. And no matter how well a banana fits into a persons hand that won’t change.

  • Kait

    I would tell them that I don’t think they are bad people. I think they have been brainwashed into believing something that makes them intolerant, and hateful…yet they strive to be the opposite. I think they are good people who have been given the wrong set of rules for living a moral life. They are forced to be hateful because they have been brainwashed, and although I believe they should read our arguments and see the evidence for themselves, I understand how doing so is seen as a rejection of themselves. I have a very close Christian friend who refuses to talk to me about her faith, but I do not blame her for being so judgmental towards others. She thinks I feel differently, and feels that I am the one always judging her. Unfortunately, she won’t let me tell her, or explain to her, that I feel the exact opposite. She is a good person, trapped in a Religion that takes advantage of her good intentions.

    Banana!

  • James

    The one thing I would really like to say to them if they were really listening is that it is possible, and quite easy really, to be happy without faith.

    Banana.

  • Christer

    This is a tough one. I think we spend so much time on the defensive that this is a very foreign idea–reversing roles and thinking they might listen to us.

    I wouldn’t try (as they do) to convert anyone. I would simply ask them to be more like their Christ.

    As Gandhi said, “I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians because they are not like your Christ.”

    Whether he existed or not, his ideas about forgiveness, judgement, turning the other cheek, and loving your neighbor as yourself are not things I see in todays Christian faiths.

    I would simply ask them, if nothing else, to try a little harder.

    Banana

  • Sarah TX

    I would tell them that I’m OK – there’s no “god-shaped hole in my heart” – it’s absolutely full-up.

    I would also ask them to read a lot of Vonnegut, and if such a wonderful person was too heathen to get into heaven then I wouldn’t want to be there either.

  • http://corvustristis.wordpress.com Corvus

    I would want, somehow, to express the sheer beauty of a naturalistic view of the world- to show them what they’re missing when they limit their understanding of the whole wide universe to the Bible.

    Banana… mmm.

  • VXbinaca

    @SarahTX:

    I would tell them that I’m OK – there’s no “god-shaped hole in my heart” – it’s absolutely full-up.

    I would also ask them to read a lot of Vonnegut, and if such a wonderful person was too heathen to get into heaven then I wouldn’t want to be there either.

    What a wonderful response.

    I would tell them:

    Stop manipulating my family members to isolate me and reject me because I’m a non-believer.

    Banana phone.

  • gski

    I would say,

    Open your mind and please read your bible as though you don’t know it’s source. If you can do that we can discuss it, if you can’t then we need to move to another subject.

  • Liokae

    Even if you staunchly believe that part of who I am is sinful, it’s not enough for you to claim to love the sinner but hate the sin. Take the time to actually know me. I’d rather you know me and hate me than to love me without bothering to try and learn who I am.

    banana

  • littlejohn

    I would ask (and have asked): Since it is generally the position of Christians that moral behavior is impossible without belief in your particular God, what would happen if you were to lose your faith?
    Would you immediately become a dangerous armed robber, rapist, murderer and child molester? Are you just itching to do those things, but your Christianity is holding you back?

  • ASD

    I would tell them to stop before they open their mouths and talk to someone. Stop and think about what they are going to say. Is it their words, or the Church’s? Their opinion, or the opinion of their pastors? Is that what they *really* think, or have they just been told to think that? And if the answer to any of those is ‘no’, then they should reconsider what they are going to say, or perhaps say nothing at all.
    I would also tell them to do their research. Don’t take people at their word. RESEARCH. Learn more about a topic, and draw your own conclusions from it. And don’t be scared to ask the big question of your friends, family and pastors: why? Why do they think group x are bad people? What reasoning gives them that conclusion? Have they spoken to people from group x? Have they researched them? Never be afraid to ask questions. It’s through asking questions of others that we can learn a great deal.
    I would also tell them that regardless of the person, nobody likes to be judged. I would ask them to partake in an experiment in which they would walk down a street, and be judged negatively by everyone on it. Then I would ask them at the end if they liked being treated that way. If not, I would tell them that they just found out how it feels to be judged, and now that they know how hurtful it is, maybe they will reconsider doing it and actively attempt to stop themselves doing it. (I’m not perfect in that regard – we all judge, conciously or not, but we can try to prevent ourselves from judging through informing ourselves and through leaving our houses in the morning with an open mind.)

  • Ban Ana

    I know this will be difficult for you. But I want you to imagine there is no God. That the universe and life evolved through processes that you do not understand. That humans invented God because of a projection of a transcendant imagination. Even if you do not understand all that, please accept as an experiment that there is no God. And that all the paraphenalia and trappings and ritual and effort gone into the worship of gods throughout history have been fun but pointless. That there is no one and no thing in the sky. No ghosts, no angels, no after death life, no talking to the dead, no souls, no hell, no heaven, no virgins, no telepathy, no premonitions, no healers, no chakras, no amethyst charms, no fairies, no witches. All of it, all of this is made up by people in a search for meaning from the patterns that the mind generates to help some genes reproduce. That is reality. Now, go forth and prosper.
    Banana

  • Michael

    I would like to discuss a related but unrelated topic – scientific method/proof/logic. Something that seems so simple like the definition of “theory” as used in general conversation versus science. And for that matter, the basic structure and purpose behind debate in an academic sense. (“I came here for an argument”, “No you didn’t” {Monty Python}).

    Then we can talk about the perfection of bananas.

    Banana =)

  • Nicole

    Wow, this is tough. I think I would just beg them to realize the line between being faithful to their religion and not stepping on my lack thereof–just ask them to please realize we can cohabitate peacefully and even cooperate on important things if they don’t try to force everyone around them to obey the parts of their behavioral code that come solely from the Bible.

    Banana. (I see what you did thar.)

  • http://leavesandflowers.webs.com Bailey

    If I thought I could get a Christian to listen (let’s say my little sister in particular, who just became a Catholic), I’d tell her that I love her, and I want her to be happy -but that she should step outside of her notions of the world and examine her beliefs critically, in light of all of the huge advances we’ve made in understanding the natural world. Her religion is a crutch, and it’s one that I don’t think she -or anyone -needs.

    Banana!

  • Mej

    If I were to cite the horrible things done in the name of Christianity, you might tell me you weren’t that kind of Christian.

    Prove it every day.

    Banana.

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    I’d tell them to please, please ask for verifiable proof before believing *anything* in their life – even when you read it in science literature! It is a fundamental intelligence fail not to do so, and it’s a shame on our species as a whole that some of us choose to fail so willingly!

  • Jude

    Do you think Christians have more success reaching out to others because they’re willing to send their book to foreign countries, while Atheists will only send books to America?

    Ender’s comment wins the internet!!!

    Banana cream pie with coffee afterwards

  • Annette

    Can you truly grasp the concept that I once believed the same thing as you, that I was a devout, Jesus-loving, Evangelical, zealous to win souls, and that now I truly no longer believe? If not, what makes my past believing any different than your present believing? Basically, why do you think I washed out?

    Knock, knock?
    Who’s there?
    Banana?
    Banana who?
    Banana ex-Christian!

  • Hitch

    As if there was no Atheists and Atheist books in other countries and everybody reads amd wrotes in English…

    But any opportunity to make a cheap point really.

  • Sven

    “Which bible have you read?”

    No bananana for me, I’m from Holland.

  • Lore

    I would tell them that they should listen more and convince less and that just because someone doesn’t believe what they believe doesnt mean that person is ignorant or angry or abused or anything but that they believe differing things. I go to a Jesuit University and the idea that at some point there must have been this life changing event that made me not be a christian is overwhelming and a little insulting. Also, i would tell them that condemning my friends or family is not a good way to demonstrate what they believe in.

    Also. banana. :)

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I’ve got a lot of questions for Christians but I think that the important one is that they’ve got this figure who is central to their faith who they have loaded up with all these positive attributes like love, charity, peace and tranquility under pressure. This Jesus character has all that while retaining the backbone to turn against those who say one thing and act in the exact opposite manner even though they have all the social power.

    What is it about so many Christians (and we all know them) who claim the mantle of Christianity but act so differently to their Christ? Do they not see that they are the modern day Pharisees?

    Also why can’t you see when you’re making someone uncomfortable with your preaching? If I’m backing away and making excuses to leave then I’m clearly not interested. More than that you’re actually achieving the exact opposite of the result that you desire. It is embarrassing too.

    Strawberry.

  • Hangnail

    Hello, I’m an atheist. I still know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad. I donate and help people, and I don’t do it to build my magical castle in the sky for when I die. I do it because it’s the right thing to do. I believe I won’t go to another magical place of fire when I die, I will go to the same place I was before I was born. I didn’t fear that time before my birth, it was timeless and painless. How was your time before your birth? Scary? No. Being told I was going to a place that only has good in it would strip me of parts of my personality and I wouldn’t be me anymore. If you preach tolerance, you should practice it. Thank you for your time.
    Banana

  • http://twitter.com/dofang Dofang

    “Just for a moment, suspend belief in the (understandably) feel-good idea of a loving God and an eternal life.   If you do, you’ll find that Christianity describes a God who created us with flaws while insisting that we fix ourselves and ask forgiveness for those very same flaws.”

    To liberal Christians: “If you see God and Jesus as sublime metaphors , you’re really an atheist.”  
    Oh, and:
    Banana
    U

  • Tina in Houston

    First I’d like to ask my mother why she hates me so much and yet my christian sister gets all the love. I don’t understand how a mother can do that.

    Second: why are shellfish OK to eat and yet homosexuals are so terrible?

    Banana.

  • Epiz

    I would tell them that I’m perfectly happy being an atheist. That you can easily be moral despite not being religious. Those two are big ones… I had a long conversation with my fundamentalist brother and it disturbed me that he felt so strongly as an atheist I could be neither of those things despite knowing me for my entire life.

    Oh, and I would also mentioned how condescending it is when Christians (or any religious person) takes the attitude that they are “saving” me from some horrible fate. That they have some sort of amazing insight that I have yet to see. In the same “discussion” I mentioned above I was told that I hadn’t done my research despite my degree in philosophy and hundreds of hours spend studying theology in various forms. Arrogance only pushes people away.

    In fact, if I get this book in the draw I’m probably going to send it to my brother afterwards (after reading it first to make sure it in fact gets across the message I’d like to get across).

    Banana.

  • http://drakim.net Drakm

    I would ask them to reflect more upon themselves and their actions. Even if you do think homosexuality is wrong, does that mean that you can behave in whatever manner you want? Isn’t Christianity supposed to be about loving everybody, including your enemies?

  • Vicki

    I was going to say, “Why do you need to tell them anything?” because I think however someone wants to live their life should be up to them. I mean – as long as they enjoy being a Christian and aren’t hurting anyone – let them be. And if they are being hateful to other people, it’s because they are jerks and they would be atheist jerks if they were atheist.

    But, I really love the first comment because I also don’t ignore people or assume we can’t be friends just because we don’t agree on something. Only, I live in Seattle, so it would be “Would you like a nice cup of coffee?”

    Banana

    Oh, and to all the people who want them to stop converting you — They think you are going to hell. Yes, that is silly. And yes, it is annoying. But aren’t the real jerks the ones who don’t care that you are going to hell?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I would tell them that atheists are not all either
    1. people who have not been properly introduced to religion or
    2. people who are mad at God or at believers in God.

    Some atheists fit these descriptions but I would argue that the real cause of atheism is that our minds are wired such that we subconsciously withhold belief in things (in this case religious claims) without sufficient evidence. We don’t consider bible quoting or arguments from authority as evidence. All the techniques of the evangelist are really only designed to reach those predisposed to be religious.

    I would also add that even if there was a God, why would he make certain people with minds predisposed to withhold belief without evidence and then condemn those people to everlasting torture after death? The whole notion is ridiculous. Religion is (believer) man-made.

    Banana

  • maddogdelta

    I think I would ask them to read their bible. Seriously.

    After all, we can start with this gem from the sermon on the mount..
    Matthew 5:17-20

    5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
    5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
    5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven
    5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

    Then have them continue with…

    Matthew 6:1-7

    1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

    2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

    4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

    5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

  • Ubi Dubium

    “Please don’t recite apologetics at me with logical reasons why your god must exist. Logic only works when your initial premises are sound, and you have failed to establish that. No amount of argument from you is going to persuade me that your god exists. Don’t quote your bible at me either. I’m interested in evidence based in reality. If you have any, I’m listening.”

    I can haz banana?

  • http://yetanotheratheist.net Yet Another Atheist

    “I’m good for the sake of being good. My morality, as does yours, comes from within myself, and has evolved with us through the human race over the past tens of thousands of years. Furthermore, I don’t get my morality from the Bible, and neither do you. If you truly read the entire Bible, as I have, then you would most likely agree with me that it is most definitely not a moral guide. The Bible is riddled with contradictions, as well as things that can never have possibly happened. So how can some parts of the Bible be true, but not others? If the entirety isn’t all true, then isn’t it possible that NONE of it is true?

    “Finally, have you ever truly questioned your faith? Have you ever stepped back and looked at what you actually believe in? Have you ever researched science and tried to truly understand what has already been proven true about our world and the universe? Don’t you realize that all the watchmaker arguments, irreducible complexity arguments, and designed-banana arguments in the world don’t add up to anything? There is nothing you can say that will provide evidence for your God, that hasn’t already been explained (or hypothesized) by scientists.”

    Banana!

  • Ban Ana

    I know this will be difficult for you. But I want you to imagine there is no God. That the universe and life evolved through processes that you do not understand. That humans invented God because of a projection of a transcendant imagination. Even if you do not understand all that, please accept as an experiment that there is no God. And that all the paraphenalia and trappings and ritual and effort gone into the worship of gods throughout history have been fun but pointless. That there is no one and no thing in the sky. No ghosts, no angels, no after death life, no talking to the dead, no souls, no hell, no heaven, no virgins, no telepathy, no premonitions, no healers, no chakras, no amethyst charms, no fairies, no witches. All of it, all of this is made up by people in a search for meaning from the patterns that the mind generates to help some genes reproduce. That is reality.
    Banana

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I would tell them this:
    “I want more than anything to get along with you, but not at any cost. I want to try, however. We are countrymen, neighbors & fellow human beings. Can you tell me what it is that frightens you so much about me as an atheist? Can we talk about your fears and see if there is anything I can do from my side to allay those fears? If I do that for you, will you do the same for me?”

  • Amelia

    I understand your religion, I just don’t subscribe to it – and I’m okay with agreeing to disagree on this. I could be wrong. So could you. Neither of us is going to know who is “right” in her worldview until we’re dead, so there’s really not a lot of sense in trying to convert me or vice versa – I assume you came to your beliefs through reflection on what you believe about the world, the same way I did. I concluded there is no god, and you concluded that there is a Christian God (well, trinity, but let’s not get into that). I would really appreciate it if you would respect that my beliefs are not about hopelessness, or being “angry” at religion, or anything more complex than simply looking at the world and saying, “I don’t think this was created, and I don’t think that there is a god.” You do. That’s okay. But please don’t conflate atheism with anti-theism (eh, I kind of don’t care what anyone else believes), and please don’t presume that if you just tell me this one more thing about Christianity, I’ll join your religion. I know what Christianity proposes. I just don’t believe it.

    Banana.

  • http://nigelpatel.blogspot.com Nigel Patel

    Were I to get one to listen I would mention how monumentally disrespectful it is to assume that they are right and I am wrong so they’re going to the imaginary Nice Room and I’m going to the imaginary Naughty Room.
    I would try to mention that I think evangelism is a predatory behavior, what with trying to score more members for their cult all the time.
    I’d much rather live my life without a master, real or imaginary, and I’m somewhat sorry if that comes off as insulting.
    Banana

  • David

    Asking questions and searching for answers is not a bad thing. It is not a sign of a lack of faith to fact check your pastor/spiritual-leader. They are human too. They make mistakes just like the rest of us. Ask questions and ask those questions of multiple sources. Talk to people. Get many different answers and evaluate them. You have a brain, whether you believe God gave it to you or it evolved from something simpler, so make use of it rather than being spoon fed.

    Banana

  • Drew M

    I would ask them to sit down and watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Seriously. A line from this movie is one of the most beautiful things ever written:

    “Be excellent to each other!” – Ted “Theodore” Logan

    If a dorky kid can do it, everyone can. Life is so much sweeter when you don’t hate people that are different from you.

    Banana

  • http://findingmyfeminism.blogspot.com/ Not Guilty

    Interesting project. Hopefully is teaches a few of them how ridiculous they are. I WANT a banana but I’m being discriminated against cus I’m Canadian. Have I mentioned I’m in law?? j/k! I’d be interested to see a follow up project showing the reactions of Christians.

  • Jake

    Can you live in this Society as if you are the only one going to hell? What I mean by this is- if you meet a gay person- or an atheist or if someone says something that may go against your religion- can you ignore it or not use your religion to judge- simply use your religion to judge yourself.
    Banana

  • http://www.bluefrogdesignstudios.com/thebluefrogsays/ The Big Blue Frog

    Read the Bible. Read it from front to back, and if you don’t understand something, try to find an explanation for it. Don’t gloss over the parts that you don’t feel comfortable with, or parts that you’ve never heard a sermon on. Read it all, and then come back to the table. I’ll be here, waiting. I won’t bite, and if I do, I’ve had my shots. But seriously, I’m a human being just like you, and I’m probably not the only atheist you know. There are probably a few in your church, and there may even be an atheist behind your pulpit. We’re everywhere, and we’re growing and coming out, so you need to come to the table and work out how we’re going to get along in this new century, or you’re going to find yourselves more and more marginalized as science and reason explain more and more about who we are and where we came from.

    Oh, and please tell that goofball Ray Comfort to shut up about the…

    Banana

  • Maliknant

    Isn’t it time for you to get out of your abusive relationship with god?

    Coconut
    Mango
    Dark Chocolate
    Raspberry

  • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leilani

    I would tell them that it gets really annoying when they play ‘victim’. It’s offensive when the majority claim oppression. The non-Christians aren’t out to get them, aren’t waging a war on Christmas, aren’t trying to take away their rights and definitely not trying to eat their babies.

    I’d ask them about all the hypocrisy I see in their religion. Why it’s okay to bash gays while chomping down on shellfish at their local Red Lobster. Why they continue to buy pagan trees to put up at Christmas, when it plainly says in Jeremiah that it’s not okay. Why abortions are so bad when their god kills babies at will…

    I want to tell them that Atheists come from all walks of life and not all of us were born into freethinking families. Some of us were once Christian too. And often it wasn’t a bad preacher or a want to be sinful that drove us away from church, we just started putting the pieces together and found out we didn’t believe.

    I’d also want to tell them that I love the freedom they have to believe in whatever they want. The freedom to go to church, to have personal prayer, to read and study the Bible. Many of the people I love dearly are Christian or Mormon. It would kill me to see them lose their rights. The same way it devastates me to see my gay friends denied their rights. How it pains me that ‘god’ is on my American money. The same frustration I get when I find out there are laws that prevent Atheists from holding government positions.

    I’d ask them why we can’t all sit down and take a moment to make everything fair for everyone. Why some of them fight so hard to make sure their personal beliefs are forced upon everyone else. Why some Christians can’t see how unfair that is in a country that was supposed to be based on freedom and justice.

    I guess the questions I asked are questions I would want them to ask themselves… I was once a believer of sorts (Mormons aren’t exactly Christian)and I know the only reason I was so judgmental was because I was raised to be.

    I would want to tell them that I am a good person too. That I am a mother and a loyal wife. That my children love Christmas and Eostre. All that separates us is a simple belief in whether there is a god or not. And that it’s a real pity that belief becomes a road block in building friendships. I don’t need to be saved from anything, I am not broken or terribly bitter. I actually go to church (not Christian church) and I love to bake, sew, crochet, garden and make taffy. I donate blood every 56 days and I am on the National Bone Marrow registry.

    I’d want to tell them that if they took a second to really look at the non-believing community around them, that they would see we actually share more similarities than we do differences.

    (Banana)

  • Rob

    Why do so many Christians act as though Jews and Muslims are so different even though all three religions worship the same deity?

    Banana

  • JulietEcho

    I’d like to tell Christians – to beg them, actually – to stop indoctrinating their children. It’s one thing to teach them about what you believe, but teaching it as *fact* the way they’re taught math and history and that hot stoves are bad to touch is taking advantage of growing people at their most trusting, vulnerable time, when they’ll believe anything from their parents. If you think your religion is strong enough to stand up to scrutiny, then let your children scrutinize it and decide for themselves when they’re older – don’t force it upon them.

    (banana)

  • John

    I would say:

    “I love you as a fellow human being. No one had to teach me to do that.”

    Banana!

  • http://www.friendfeed.com/basikx Markus Laumann

    Talk to me about your religion and your beliefs. I’ll gladly engage in civil conversations with you about what I think.

    If you get overly emotional and try to steamroll me then the conversation is over.

    If you say there’s no difference between anecdote and proof then the conversation is over.

    I plan on using any conversation we have as a way to improve my thinking. If you aren’t doing the same then this will likely be our last conversation.

    Banana

  • Hermes

    I’d address the priests and preachers that have accredited theology degrees.

    * * *

    When you went to seminary, you probably learned many things that you did not know before and also you had to un-learn some ideas as well.

    With the above in mind, do you generally tell the laity what you learned in seminary?

    As one alternative angle to the above question;

    Do you find that you generally tell the laity the same ideas that you had prior to seminary even though you have learned that those answers are not accurate or may be entirely incorrect?

    Banana

  • Joel Wheeler

    “Christianity has an image problem.”

    They lost me – and the book Unchristian lost me as well – with this faulty assessment of the problem.

    It’s not an image problem. It’s a truth and accuracy problem.

  • http://www.unequally-yoked.com Leah

    I’d say:

    First of all, I understand how high the stakes of your religion are. Although I do find many of your attempts at evangelization to be annoying or condescending, I recognize that you do mean them as an attempt to help, one that is as urgent as plucking a drowning swimmer from the water.

    The most basic reason I cannot heed your call is because it is both in conflict with the evangelical messages of all other faiths and indistinguishable from them. I have read many apologetic works, but I have never seen a person of faith put forward a compelling heuristic that would suggest their own faith is true while ruling out all others. How do you reconcile your beliefs in the necessity of salvation and the perfect justice of god with the impossibility of distinguishing your religion from those of false prophets?

    –Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    banana

  • GodlessProphet

    I’d explain to them that all the lawsuits brought against the government for prayer in schools, pledge of allegiance, in god we trust and so on, have nothing to do with restricting the rights religious citizens. I’d also try to explain the importance of church state separation.

  • http://twitter.com/MikeFunIce Mike

    I feel sad for people who define themselves by their religion, sexual orientation, or diet preference. I try to get my “flag-waving” Christian friends to spend some time without “being Christian” every second of every day. It’s not a contest to outdo the guy to your right or left. See if you can get through a single day without talking about your faith or any of the products associated with Christian worldview.
    Without the social and personality structure, these friends are lost, like a campaigning politician with no babies to kiss.

  • http://sesoron.blogspot.com/ Sesoron

    Hi. I think you should ask yourself why you take the Bible quite as seriously as you do, and yet disregard all the other holy books in the world. I suspect that there are already some parts that you don’t take literally — for example, I don’t think you want to execute people who work on Sunday. Now, think about this. If there are some things in the Bible that you don’t take seriously, can you really think that “It’s in the Bible” is a good enough reason to believe anything else? I’m not asking you to throw out the entire book, but to keep using your own judgment, as you’ve already done in some parts, to evaluate the rest of it. If you do that, I suspect you’ll come to agree with me that, if God is fundamentally good, he wouldn’t send anybody to any place like Hell unless they really deserved it — and even then I doubt a good God could justify sustaining that torture for eternity. Anyway, would you like something to eat? Here, have a
    banana.

  • Jagyr

    I would ask them to stop forcing their beliefs onto others, and I would explain to them what that entails. It doesn’t mean just the extremes like outlawing homosexuality or beheading apostates – it means that you shouldn’t use your faith as the basis of any decision that would affect someone else. No voting for someone just because they’re Christian, no official prayer in public institutions, etc.

    I’d also ask them to condemn religious actions that are extreme, illegal, or in violation of the separation of church and state. By standing idly by, they are lending tacit support to everything wrong with religion.

    I’d hope to show them that their actions and inactions are contributing to many of the major ills the world currently faces.

    “Atheist’s worst nightmare”. Oops, I mean,
    “Banana”.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/gettingfreeftw gettingfree

    This is a comment more for the authors if they are reading this post. I think the concept of what the authors have done here is great. I have a long list of books I want to read that I haven’t gotten to, so I honestly will probably never have time to read this book. However, I would love to see the DVD of the interviews if it were ever made available by itself.

    (no banana :D )

  • andyinsdca

    Read your Bible. EVERY BIT OF IT. Even the part where Lot’s daughters get him drunk and have sex with him, or where the bear eats the kids that make fun of the old man.

    Is THIS really the book you want to use as the foundation for your morality? And if it is, do you get to pick and choose what to follow? If you do get to pick and choose, how do you know what parts are right and which are wrong? Isn’t the Bible the inerrant word of God? If you don’t get to pick and choose, when was the last time you killed a disobedient child?

    Banana

  • Mark C.

    If I thought Christians would listen, I would tell them all about:

    1) The cognitive biases that psychologists have discovered and researched, and give examples of the commission of these biased thought processes in theistic frameworks;

    2) what evidence is in scientific parlance, and why we should proportion our beliefs to the same;

    3) that I deem it immoral to push an ideology on people based on undemonstrable propositions, which their positions tend to be;

    4) the history of the documents in the Bible and why it should be given no more regard than other sets of documents written by ancient peoples;

    5) why theism is nonsensical and that, even if some god were real, that wouldn’t mean we should worship and obey it;

    6) the harms that theisms have committed and continue to commit;

    7) the virtues of having a scientific mindset;

    8 ) that people can live fulfilling lives without following a religion or believing in the supernatural.

    Strangely, I find myself hungering for something right now… maybe a

    Banana

  • Kristin

    I would want them to realize how harmful religion can be to a child growing up. Religion pointlessly promotes ignorance and stifles a child’s natural curiosity about the world around them.
    I would encourage them to allow their children to learn all different views on the world.
    I would ask them to teach and practice skepticism and tolerance with their children.
    I wish that they would be persuaded not to force religion on their children and other people and realize that people can be good without religion.
    Also,
    What’s Beethoven’s favorite fruit?

    BA-NA-NA-NA!

  • http://withoutaclutch.blogspot.com/ Mike

    Don’t think that my rejection of religion is specific to *your* religion, or should be seen as a rejection of you. You wouldn’t feel defensive about my presence or attitudes if I was raised in a different religion or with no religion. So please don’t feel threatened by me because I have left it.

    You don’t have to respect my beliefs, you don’t have to respect the beliefs or lifestyle choices of the people I care about. But I expect you to treat me and the people I care about respectfully, as I do for you. You don’t have to respect my decision to not go to church, you don’t have to respect the sexual orientations of some of my friends, but don’t express that disrespect through your words, your actions, or your votes.

    We are more than labels and categories of “atheist” or “gay.” We are diverse people with full and meaningful lives, rich emotions, and we cherish the same rights and dignities that you do.

    When I’m with you I don’t see a Christian, I see a neighbor/friend/family. So when you’re with me please try to see something more than an atheist.

    banana

  • http://thenaturalbuddhist.blogspot.com JohnFrost

    I assume, by “listen,” you mean would actually think about the things I say and not just nod politely, waiting for their turn to quote the Bible at me?

    I’d describe to them my own journey, then. How I was a dyed-in-the-wool, speaking in tongues, going to school to teach scripture Christian, and about how my very earnest, very honest search deeper towards what I thought was God, actually brought me to atheism.

    banana

  • Pam

    I think i would like to know, who died and made their God any better than anyone else’s? It may sound childish, but I honestly want to know why they think their God is different from the Muslims or any other faith that is out there. True we may worship in different ways or use different names for God, but when it all comes down to it, He still is the Father of Abraham and Isaac and Jesus, and yes Muslims do believe in these men as well.

    BANANA!!

  • Alex

    I’d let them know that “we need to make this work.” We need a way for theists to live productively alongside atheists without discrimination or constant attempts at conversion. I would let them know that there are certain rights that we as humans, and in at least my case, that we as Americans, are entitled to. And more importantly, that when discussing these rights or debating issues in the public realm, religion need not have a say. Finally, I would let them know that no matter how incorrect I find their views to be, I will always respect and work to protect their fundamental rights, as I hope they would do for me.

    bananas?

  • Aaron

    I will do anything for a free book.

    I would say something like this. I am assuming the Christian I was addressing was a protestant (I would have to change it for a Catholic).

    Imagine that you had a Catholic friend, who regularly asked you to come to Catholic mass. This person kept telling you that your beliefs are wrong and that you will go to hell if you do not accept the teachings of the Roman church. They say you must learn the catechism or go to hell, or at least purgatory for a while.
    Any discussions you have about why you are Protestant rather than Catholic are ignored as being anti-Catholic. Your arguments are dismissed out of hand as the words of an ignorant and lost fool who just wants to rebel against the “real” church.
    “Why do you hate God’s chosen emissary to the world (the pope)?” they would say.
    “Is it because you want to have abortions? Is it because you like the death penalty? Is it because you do not like to eat fish on Friday?”
    You would show them the reasons you are not Catholic and reject the teachings of the Catholic church, but in response, all they say is “I will just pray to Saint Anthony that God will open your eyes.”
    People would ask prominent Protestants to come on talk shows and discuss their beliefs, but the host, a Catholic, would belittle what you say and interrupt you while agreeing with everything Father Bob had to say.
    Then the Catholics try to have nuns teach in the public schools and have Catholic prayers lead by these nuns before each class. They try to make sure that Catholic religious teachings are given the same treatment in classes as any other knowledge.
    Also, this Catholic friend would keep going on about how the church is oppressed in America, even though they are the largest single denomination.
    How would that make you feel? Would you feel as if this Catholic was ignoring you? Would you feel like this Catholic did not respect you, or your freedom to have your own beliefs? Would you feel this Catholic was not a terribly good friend? Would you feel this Catholic doesn’t really see you as a person?
    Would you speak out by writing books or posting billboards (which invariably were vandalized)?
    That is how many Atheists feel all the time, because many Christians do this to us all the time.

    Banana

  • carrie W

    What does the lowercase “t” on your necklace stand for?

    Banana, Banana, Banana (this is also a useful saying to ward of sneezes)

  • Carol B

    I would ask:

    If your god is so loving and tolerant, and your Bible is so inerrant and timeless, then why is your religion always on the wrong side of big issues? You’ve used the Bible to justify slavery, segregation, discrimination against blacks, discrimination against women, discrimination against gays. You’ve made war, and tortured others, and fueled the Inquisition, and destroyed cultures with your “missionary” work. You close your eyes to progress and scientific evidence. You’ve wrecked families and ruined lives.

    Yet you say you’re loving and tolerant? It sounds pretty hateful to me…

    Banana.

  • Casey

    I would simply quote Stephen F. Roberts “When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

    banana

  • Greg

    It depends on what type of Christian I’m talking to, really.

    Perhaps (in particular to those who try to evangelise):

    “Are you willing to change your opinion on whether god exists or not? If not, what right have you to expect me to change mine by talking to you?”

    Pineapple.

  • nathan_r

    Read the Bible like you would the Koran. Critically.

    Banana.

  • Jessica

    I would ask them to try to see where other people are coming from. I think a lot of the bigotry and hate come from prejudices that are already there. They just use the bible to justify them. At the same time they ignore what the bible says about say divorce because they don’t want to be bound by them. I think if they took an honest look at themselves and the bible some of this hatred might change.
    Banana

  • Shelley

    I would say to them that though it is respectable that they are so fervent for something, the closed-mindedness and judgmental words that come from their fervent, has scared many people, including myself, from talking directly to them – knowing that there will be no chance for reasoned, beautiful discussions. I see them as afraid of logic, knowing that the truth will prove them wrong, and so they take comfort in thinking that logic is a dangerous thing and must be combated by feelings to the death, literally in some cases. If a fervent Christian would want to talk logically, I would listen and chat back and have a pleasant discussion. And since I work three jobs plus college and yet barely have enough money for bills even with a roommate to split costs, I’d love to with one of those “DVB”s. Soooo…
    Banana!

  • evilspud

    I would apologize to them, friendly atheist I can be, but am not always. It would be nice to get some old friends back, before I alienated them with my earlier enthusiasm.

    I would ask them what they wanted to discuss about their beleifs, and to ask them if they had any questions about their faith that they were interested in ahving answered by someone who didn’t share their beleifs.

  • Joseph R

    I would tell christians to not be so judgmental and try to “put yourself in others’ shoes”. Accept people for who they are and not what you think they should be.
    Banana

  • http://criticallyskeptic.blogspot.com Kevin, Critically Skeptic

    If I thought a Christian would listen, I would tell them that the church’s negative judgmental behavior is responsible for a lot of pain and mental problems with young teenagers. Embrace differences that come with different people, and don’t force teenagers to have to closet themselves for fear of ostracism. You can preach without demonstrating bigotry and homophobic behaviors.

    Banana

  • http://smartmenlovereason.blogspot.com/ ElrictheMad

    There are so many things, and so many questions, but I think the most important for me would be about morality. I would ask them if they think it is truly moral to act in a certain way simply because an authority told them to; or if it is truly moral to act a certain way to gain a reward or avoid a punishment. Further questions would depend on how the conversation progressed of course, but another question I would like to work in is if they knew there was no heaven and no hell, would they conduct their lives differently? I feel confident that if I were to learn definitively that heaven existed and my admission or rejection would be decided by a just and fair arbiter (aka the ideal ‘God’) I would not live my life any differently than I do now. I would be curious if they could honestly say the same in reverse.

    Thank you Gwen Stefani for teaching me the proper spelling of

    banana(s)

  • Justin

    I would ask “Why would it be so bad to view the Bible as simply a book with tales about morals instead of the absolute ‘truth’?”

    Banana

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    What always frustrates me is that many Christians do listen. Indeed, many, in their heart-of-hearts, know that the general atheist and/or humanist argument is the more rational argument, and will even admit it. Many know evolution is true, and that the Bible was not “God breathed.” But, even knowing all that to be the case, they still believe because it’s what they want to do. It’s the identity they want to have. It’s (kinda) like how Hitchens was/is a heavy smoker. Someone of his intellect, who knows about all the hazards of smoking, who acknowledges that the rational thing to do would be to not smoke, still chooses to smoke! Is Hitchen’s “not listening” to the rational arguments against smoking? No. He’s just choosing to make the less rational choice for what we might call “personal reasons.” Ditto many Christians. See, it’s hard for me to believe that someone as educated as Douglas Wilson or Dinesh D’Souza is “not listening.” They both know what the best argument is—they just won’t admit it—and they choose to cling to (and defend!) the less rational argument for their own reasons. (Obviously, I’m talking about the bananaheads who have heard our arguments. Indeed, many Christians have never been exposed to alternative arguments, and don’t wish to be. These are the people who zealously protect their ignorance as if it were something to be proud of.)

  • ValH

    Is your faith really so weak that you have to actively try to conform the rest of the country’s beliefs and laws to yours, just so you can feel safe? How does an atheist billboard, an open and multicultural holiday display, and not allowing government sanctioned prayer challenge *your* personal beliefs?

    Banana

  • Hermes

    Joel Wheeler: “It’s not an image problem. It’s a truth and accuracy problem.”

    Exactly. The only thing I’d add is that they are marketing. It’s explicit in the video; they even mention demographic information. In the past they didn’t need to market except to rival religious groups (where possible). They just had to be the only show in town.

    As such, truth and accuracy is an annoyance. A distraction. They need to move product and close the deal.

  • Robin

    Why must you hold onto beliefs that are verifiably false?

    Banana!

  • http://www.meetup.com/av-freethinkers/ AndThenSome

    If by listen you mean truly understand, I would say that the religious, and Christians in particular, do not hold a monopoly on feelings of awe or compassion or happiness. That, and the thrill of learning something new about the world, or performing an act of kindness, far exceeds any so-called mystical or divine feeling I ever experienced as a believer.
    Banana?

  • Julie

    I would ask:
    If you could just imagine for a moment that there were no god, what horrible thing would you choose to do? And if you can’t see yourself doing it, why not?

    That’s the thing I find most insulting about many Christians; that given no god, anyone would run riot in the streets.

    Banana (even though I’m allergic. Hey! Why would god make me a banana and then not let me eat it?)

  • Rich Wilson
  • http://beingskeptical.wordpress.com/ skepticalProgrammer

    I would tell them that my lack of belief is in no way related to a lack of morality.

    Banana.

  • http://www.jkjonesthinks.blogspot.com J. K. Jones

    Listening…

  • Jon Moles

    I would ask them to please try and apply some empathy to their worldview. Initially I thought I would ask them to be open-minded, but I think being empathetic is more powerful. Making an honest and concerted attempt to place yourself in someone else’s shoes necessitates being open-minded. I would ask Christians who think homosexuality is a sin and actively work to keep gays second-class citizens to imagine how they would feel if they were denied rights based upon characteristics that are an inherent part of their existence. Or I might ask them to contemplate a society where explicitly non-religious messages were incorporated into pledges, songs, money and generally so ubiquitous that you couldn’t help but feel like an outsider or marginalized citizen. A lack of empathy is how some people find it so easy to back war, noiselessly hand over their civil rights and remain apathetic to any program that doesn’t directly benefit their narrow interests. I won’t say that a sudden influx of empathetic introspection will change hearts and minds, but any increase in tolerance it might promote would certainly be a welcome change from the closed loop of some Christians’ thought processes.

    Banana

  • Rajesh Shenoy

    Become
    A
    Nice
    And
    Naughty
    Atheist

  • liz

    If I could talk about religion with my parents (specific Christians), i would explain to them that the reason we have such a distant relationship and the reason i feel more comfortable staying at my mother-in-laws when i’m in town, is all because of the Catholic way i was raised and the annoyance that my younger siblings are being raised the same. I would ask why they get so angry when i strike a debate, if they aren’t comfortable defending their beliefs then why do they still try to impose them onto me. I would tell them to stop thinking of me as ‘the bad kid’, i was only the bad kid when i was being forced to practice a religion i didn’t believe in twice a week. I was only rebellious because i KNEW i was a good kid and no one could see it, just because i had a different point of view.

    If a Christian would listen I would ask them why they can’t see the beauty of the world for what it is. Why do they have to take a child playing in the sand and say it’s God in disguise….why do they have to take a beautiful sunset or rainbow and pretend it’s God saying hello? Why can’t things just BE.
    My mom had this saying (that she thought was very clever) She came up with it after a trip to Colorado and it goes like this…:”Anyone who claims to be an atheist, has never been to the Rocky Mountains”
    She sent e-mails with this saying and beautiful pictures of Colorado and the Mountains that WE climbed as a family. Some of the most beautiful pictures, taken by me. And i DON’T understand. I would try to explain to a Christian why i see more beauty in these things than they do. If their God is so mighty and powerful then what is surprising about mountains and canyons and never-ending fields? I look at these things and my mind races back millions and billions of years. I think about what used to be in the spot i’m standing on and how much the world had changed purely by chance. They world around me isn’t just a big art project designed by dad…it’s something greater than that,because it’s a mystery. And it’s so exciting to learn about what scientists have discovered about the world. I would ask a Christian why they are okay with a simple answer of God and why they don’t feel like they should still be searching for answers that might never go answered. I would ask a Christian, to look into the woods in my backyard and to imagine all those trees starting as nothing and imagine the animals that roamed around the same places that have been covered by streets now, millions of years ago. And i would tell them that i see these interesting and mysterious things and i question where they came from. I would explain that another mysterious and so obviously made up being couldn’t answer my questions. I would tell them that i’m content with not knowing, because if everything was meant to have an answer, we would live in a very boring place. I don’t want to live in that place, and that’s why i can’t and won’t follow Christianity or any other religion.

    That was too long…

    Banana?

  • JustJay

    I would ask them for their help. A simple understanding needs to be achieved between believers and non-believers. Here’s a comment that easily applies to both sides. “We know that most of you are not the extremist that we always hear about in the news or in the blogs of the internet. Change from within will help bring a better understanding.”
    Banana

  • Roginbe

    I would start by asking them to read the bible, not just particular passages, but the whole book with an open mind. Then afterwards ask themselves,does this sound like the work of a loving god or a bronze age man. Then I would ask them why any loving god would make someone who was automatically marked by what religion they do or don’t practice for eternal suffering.

    Banana

  • http://www.grepchelo.com Chelo

    I would tell them the same thing I’ve told some of my friends and family. If you think I’m going to hell, so be it, it is my choice. I’m not trying to take anything away from you, stop trying to control the lives of others. It’s that simple.

    Banana!

  • Hermes

    Here’s another one. More of a rant.

    I’d ask them to stop addressing things outside of their religion in religious terms. I’m not a Christian. Stop treating the world and everyone in it like it’s your church. It’s just rude.

    If you are not guilty of directly acting like that yourself, then please get your peers to stop. Also, stop giving money to groups that act like that. Till I see enough Christians stand up and confront this arrogance, I’m going to remain totally unimpressed with any assertions by Christians of having the moral high ground.

    So, as I mentioned to the last two people who attempted to corner me and tell me about Jesus; Just stop. Please. I’m fed up being nice about this point.

    If you won’t, and you won’t deal with your peers effectively, or you even actively support this aggressive attitude, then you can’t really blame us uppity atheists for making a fuss. Be impolite or even bigoted, support those who are, and expect a return on that investment.

    Banana

  • David Coneff

    If I could say anything to a Christian, and they were really listening , I would ask:

    “Does your version of Christianity embrace a common sense of empathy? Does it allow you to truly value people, and not judge them for their actions (i.e., has it found a way to really love people, instead of that horrible “hate the sin, love the sinner” doctrine)? If not, how do you reconcile it with Christ’s command that you should love your neighbor as yourself?”

    This is the most contentious issue for me. If a Christian can really say they have a faith that supports true empathy for all people, that should mean (theoretically) that they are accepting of GLBT, other faiths, races, and so on. I’ve met Christians that are like this, and they’re probably the most energetic, happy, caring people I know that really put their time and money where their beliefs are. When people start inventing ways to ‘get around’ not being empathetic towards certain groups of people, it usually leads to a culture that accepts direct abuse of those groups. I’ve never quite understood why Christians are comfortable with this sort of moral framework, and I’d be curious to know how they reconcile that sort of cognitive dissonance.

    Banana!

  • Hitch

    Unfortunately of course “really listening” is a kind of utopia. A good one, but still. I’d pay money for people acquiring the ability to really listen.

    Peach.

  • http://blindlyjumping.blogspot.com allison tannery

    i would say that the biggest, bestest, brightest aspect of christianity is love. i’m with the girl in the clip who hesitates to label herself. i do believe in jesus, as the son of god, who is god, who died on earth to save us from our sins. but i am appalled at what the church, western in particular, has become. i challenge that if as a christian, the person you are dealing with doesn’t feel real acceptance and real love, then you are doing something wrong. and that something wrong is much worse than any wrong, or lifestyle of which you are accusing the other. when the pharisees of his day tried to trip jesus up over the laws to keep, or not keep, and what was most important, he told them. love your lord god, and your neighbor as yourself. above ALL else, that is our charge. how many christians can say they deal with the “outsiders”, or even each other the way they truly wished they would be treated? there is a reason there is a proverb that states getting flies is easier with honey, than vinegar. if, as believers, we were truly more interested in the other, more than our own ego, our entire world would be a different place, whether or not there were “conversions”. i would, and i do, tell other christians that we’re missing the whole thing if we don’t lay down our rights, and wrongs, and shoulds and shouldn’ts, and just express real, willing, loving friendship. even it means we have to share a meal with a *gasp* atheist. ;) the real jesus in his true role never turned his back on someone for being different than he. and those “outsiders” loved hanging with him. why are we so blind to this simple truth? why do we leave out, and even scoff at, the one dominating characteristic of the faith and person in which we claim to believe?

    i’ve love to read this book, and i enjoy your site. came over from stuff christians like. BANANA

  • http://zheshiwoying.blogspot.com/ AwesomeCloud’s Mom

    Oooh. I want this book. I know a bunch of people who want to understand my atheism but can’t stay quiet long enough to actually listen to me.

    I’ve said a lot of things, and I’ll say a lot more. But the thing I’m aching to say now is this:

    “How much more volunteer work do I have to do before you start considering the idea that atheists can be moral and altruistic?

    “It’s not love of God that drives me to donate, rescue, and help out. It’s love of people, animals, the planet. Real things. I love tangible things and I want to save them – so that my son can experience them when he gets older, but also to save them for their own sake.

    “I don’t expect thanks. Nobody expects a wild animal to thank them, not even an endangered one. I don’t expect you to put me on a pedestal as an extraordinarily generous person, because I’m aware that I don’t meet your standards of generosity. I don’t visit shut-ins like you do, and I don’t send thank-you notes, and I totally missed your last anniversary. But I do my own sort of giving, in my own little way.

    “And when you stand right in front of me and tell me that all atheists are amoral and selfish, I’m going to remember you said that next time I get a call for a stranded whale.”

    Banana. Seriously.

    (I guess I needed to vent.)

  • muggle

    That book looks really interesting so here’s my entry:

    All I ask is that you leave judgment to who you are supposed to trust it to and not try to legislate the rules of your sacred text on me. Thank you.

    Banana.

  • Hermes

    allison tannery, what you describe is better than what is in the Bible. (ex: The nasty parts of John 3:16 ==> through ==> John 3:21.)

  • Spurs Fan

    I would focus on the civics aspect. I am fully supportive of you practicing your faith or religion as you see fit, but don’t forget to “render unto Caesar”, as Jesus suggested. Keep in mind that a strong separation of church/religion and state benefits the state AND the religion (keeping it in its purest form and making sure its followers are true ones, not influenced by the government or laws). When you evaluate candidates, make sure their issues line up with yours, no matter what they might say regarding your beliefs. Support a political system in which, were a candidate of a rival faith (or no faith) to be elected, your religion would still be protected and not influenced by said elected leader’s beliefs, nor the elected leader’s banana.

  • goober1223

    What I would tell them are a few lines of thought that I found quite interesting when I was peacefully and slowly shedding my Christianity:

    One definition of the term “Christian” is this: Christ-like. Now, have you ever met a complete stranger who reminded you of another person? Sometimes it was just specific qualities. Sometimes the way they look at you. The way they hold themself. Or, perhaps, the way they laugh. Even if this stranger seems so familiar — so similar — to an old friend of yours, it is likely that those two people have never or will never meet. And yet they are so similar. In this way, I believe a person can be a Christian. Like Christ, but never knowing who he is. If this is possible, that a person being like Christ knows nothing of the man called Jesus, and yet the bible and most Christians would condemn this person for not professing a belief in Jesus, then what use is the Christian religion in defining the proper person. If a person can be Christ-like in all that they do, save for professing their belief in the Judeo-Christian God, what other requirement should there be for salvation?

    On similar line of thought, if God is Love, then it is also true that every manifestation of Love is God manifesting simultaneously. And if that is true, then non-Christians are honoring God at all times that they express love, which does not require a belief in God at all. If non-theists can honor and do good in the eyes of God, then what other requirement should there be for salvation?

    Given this basic reasoning, I find the case for professing a belief in and praising God to be unnecessary. In fact, it has been a hindering and inefficient aspect of society since inception. If all of the time spent focusing on God were instead spent focusing on people, we would be a lot further as a civilization.

    Banana

  • http://thevillageheathen.wordpress.com Matt

    I’m not mad at god, I don’t believe in him. Nobody in the church did anything to hurt me, I just looked at the evidence and concluded that god is imaginary. Just because I’m an atheist doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, we can still agree on alot of other topics. Just because you’ve been raised in the christian religion your whole life doesn’t mean it’s true, maybe you should look into it.

    banana

  • Aaron

    @Pam
    Who died and made their god better than anyone else’s?

    Why Jesus, of course. Duh?

    :)

  • Sellers_as_Quilty

    What would I say if they’d listen?

    “Ask your church to start paying taxes—like everyone else.”

  • Priscilla

    I would not try to offer any arguments for my position, but would simply ask them to humor me and ponder about a few things:

    1) Why are you Christian (or any other religion)? Did you really get to choose your religion? How so? Did you get to shop around for other beliefs or adopted your parents’ (or your country’s, or your peers’) religion? Please humor me and omit Bible quotes, Christian doctrine, and subjective emotional experiences when pondering about these questions.

    2) Where did the Bible come from? How it came about historically? Of all the sacred books that have existed, why is this the One?

    3) Questions for more generic theists: If there’s a god, what makes you think you know its mind? If all religions reflect some of the truth about that god, why are all of them so contradictory? How do you know that the creator of the universe wants to be worshiped? How do you know that it cares about you? What is the difference between a universe allegedly created by an unknowable, unproven, mysterious god and a universe without one?

    One…two…three…Banana!

  • Ginny Forbes

    Stop assuming that since I do not believe in any supernatural god, that I must therefore believe in yet another supernatural entity: Satan. If I do not believe in any god, why would I believe in another equally unsupported mythical entity as Satan? “Satan” is The scapegoat created by ignorant men in order to scare and control people. Don’t threaten me with satan and hellfire.

    Please listen carefully, and thoughtfully to what I am telling you about what I really think and believe ; take note and remember that I am doing the same with you. Don’t jump to conclusions. If you do that, you won’t be making the mistake of making wild assertions about what you THINK my beliefs are, and won’t be trying to refute those (made up or false) beliefs which I do not hold….but will instead be addressing my actual position, my own stated thoughts and beliefs. Find out things for yourself….always…and do not rely upon fellow believers or the clergy to tell you what it is exactly a nonbeliever thinks. You wouldn’t go to a gynecologist to ask what is wrong with your car engine, why it won’t run, would you?

    Banana

  • Danny

    I’d say, “What makes you think us, tiny specs of water-based carbon, in a miniscule solar system, of a relatively small galaxy, in a backstreet corner of an infinitely enormous universe, are so special as to be your god’s most prized creations?”

    Banana

  • muggle

    All this talk of bananas and what we’d say to Christians if they were listening makes me think of what I’d say to Ray Comfort if I were ever unfortunate enough to come face to face with him:

    If bananas are such an example of God’s perfection, how come their period of perfect ripeness — during which they are utterly delicious — is so short. Seems you buy green bananas when you do your weekly shopping in vain hope that you will at least have bananas half the week before you go back and in like 2 days they go from green to black and oily and disgusting and you’re danged lucky to catch them for a good snack on that one or two days in between green and brown and spotty.

    Please explain, Mr.

    Since I already entered:

    Hershey’s milk chocolate with almonds

  • http://unreasonablydangerousonionrings.blogspot.com Angus

    I’ve been so focused on trying to get Christians to listen that, if they were to do so, I’d be taken aback. I think the most important thing to tell them is to slow down in their judgments. When you find out your son is gay, take a deep breath and have a conversation with him before cutting off his allowance. When you find out your best friend is an atheist, stop and think back to what you know about that person before branding them immoral. When you find out that Barack Obama’s middle name is Hussein (Muslim), take a second to consider whether someone’s name has any bearing over who they are. We’ll get to the truth of Christianity later, for now let’s just avoid getting angry.

    I want to have a genuine conversation with a Christian (or many) about why they think what they think without them getting defensive. I want to tell them why I think what I think. I want to ask if they genuinely think homosexuals are inferior, and if there’s any reason other than the Bible that they think that. I want to ask how they reconcile the fact that they don’t follow every moral example in the Bible. I want to ask how they reconcile their acceptance of modern science with their rejection (in some cases) of evolution, and if they don’t reject evolution, how they reconcile that with the Bible. I want to know how they think, and I want them to know how I think.

    The biggest question, though, is why can’t the Bible be just another book? It’s got some redeeming literary qualities, and it has some parts that could use some proofreading. It’s got characters to emulate, and characters not to listen to. We can make moral examples of Frodo and Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter and Gatsby and the old man and the sea and any number of fictional characters, and we do not care that those books are not true. Why can’t the Bible be the same?

    Really, all I want is one conversation where no one gets angry, no one gets defensive, no one spouts the usual talking points, and no one accuses me of being incapable of love just because I don’t believe in Jesus. Just one conversation.

    Banana.

  • my.totally.original.name

    I’m Canadian, but I’ll put up my response anyway. I’d ask them to read the Bible, ’cause that is what I did. I read it to become closer to God and ended up becoming an Atheist since it just doesn’t work.

    @Aaron

    I burst out laughing. :)

  • RT

    Have you ever contemplated that you might believe an entirely different deity if you lived in another country in another part of the world?

    Banana.

  • Susi Bocks

    If I really thought they would listen (which I don’t think they will), I would ask that they remove any and all emotion they have about religion, christianity, atheism when having a talk with them and just listen to facts. It would be wonderful if they would sincerely just listen and digest with an open mind rather than go right into “how can I make them see my point of view” convert-mode.

    Banana

  • spacestudent

    OK, so this one time I got really mad at a Christian for saying that life is meaningless without believing in God. And she simply refused to listen to me after she said that.

    Anyway, I would like to take her to a hillside a starry night and say:

    “Look up and see that life has meaning even without belief”

    Since I don’t live in America:

    Pine-cone

  • Sue DeNimme

    I am not an atheist because I’ve somehow never heard about God or Jesus. I live in Indiana. Trust me, I’ve heard.

    I am not an atheist because I have no morals (or vice versa).

    I am not an atheist due to a desire to rebel against anything.

    I am not an atheist because of anything horrible that happened to me or a loved one. Nor am I going to suddenly convert to believing in a deity if I’m in imminent danger of losing my life.

    I am an atheist, simply, because after much thinking on the question of God and the supernatural, I concluded that the universe makes much more sense if such things do not exist than if they do.

    You may think or feel differently, and that’s cool. As long as you don’t (1) assume my life is really a bleak, swirling, sucking black hole of despair, from which you must “save” me, (2) tell me how “oppressed” Christians are in America (spare me!), (3) get offended by the mere fact that I and others like me exist and dare to question your views, or (4) try to further impose your religion onto the government and laws that I live under, we’ll get along just peachy.

    Or should I say… banana-y.

  • Twirlgrl

    I would tell them that I am not an atheist out of ignorance. It is not that I am unaware of their arguments, it’s that I have considered them at length and found them to be incorrect.

    I would also tell them that my morality has actually become stronger since becoming an atheist as I now understand that there are no do-overs. There is no rescue and there is no divine forgiveness. I have to get things right the first time around.

    Banana

  • Kirk59

    I left your faith because I could not imagine a god who favors some of the human race over others, and who set in motion a series of events which would guarantee this kind of petty tribalism between our brothers and sisters. How do you reconcile this god of love with the requirement that you either covert or damn each one of us? Does the answer involve a ripe, juicy Banana or Plantain?

  • Hermes

    Well said Sue. I tend to sum it up like this;

    I am an atheist because no gods that I’ve heard of — the Christian one included — is plausible.

    If any were more likely than not, in that instant I would not be an atheist.

    Since I’ve investigated Christian claims the most, I would want Christians to know that their deity isn’t even in the running it is so implausible. Could there be one Christian that knows something that all the other Christians did not and change that judgment? Certainly. Just don’t bet on it.

    One banana, two banana, three banana … four?

  • christopher

    the one guy said it best, “take a step back from what your were raised/told, read the text for yourself, what does it tell you about that god?, what does it tell you about those who believe that god infallible?

  • L. Foster

    To Drew M.:
    Funny you should mention that. My own laptop’s wallpaper is a faux motivational poster that has a screenshot from the movie and the caption “EXCELLENT – Be It To Each Other.”

    That said…
    I would speak to just one Christian in particular, if I knew that she would really hear me out, think about what I said, and not take it as a personal injury. I would tell her that the political rallies she attends are the very intersection of bigotry, hatred, and willful ignorance. I would tell her that her campaigning to repeal the same-sex marriage law that we briefly had in Maine shows that she hasn’t really listened to or thought about the life experiences of her own children. I might quote I know not whom, who said that you can be sure you made God in your image when he hates all the same people you do. I would remind her that her pastor, whom she takes to be the voice of God himself, is just a guy; and a hateful and spiteful and manipulative one at that, who abuses his position of power to spread his own agenda of intolerance and bigotry. I would observe that she seems to want so desperately to have a group of people tell her she’s a good person that she’s closed her eyes and ears to those of us who knew she was one all along.

    Then I’d offer a banana.

  • Ratpick

    I would ask them to stop with the public preaching – keep their religion a private practice. Public preaching (including bringing religion into politics) is the main cause of problems between Christians and other religions and Christians and non-believers. Stop it and we’ll leave you alone to worship your god in private.

    And I’d show them how a monkey opens a banana.

  • Big Jim

    I cannot claim to have read everything above, so forgive me if this is a duplicate, but:
    I’d ask them if they are SURE of their belief in Christianity. I’d expect to hear that the are. Then, I’d ask what they’d believe if they had been born in a Muslim dominated country. If they said they’d still believe in Jesus, I’d not bother talking with them any more. If they admit that they’d likely believe in Islam, I’d ask how then can they be so sure about Christianity. If that’s not enough to get them to realize that they believe because they WANT to believe, then there’s nothing more I can do.

  • Potco

    If I said only one thing, it would be that you are not nothing without god.

    If I could add a few more, it would be that any explanation must be falsifiable to be accepted, having rules that keep people from persecuting others is not persecution, and Yes, I have read the Bible, CS Lewis, and others, and they were unconvincing at best.

    Uh oh, Banana.

  • Franco

    “Please understand that the people who don’t follow your religion aren’t obligated to follow it’s rules.”

    Banana

  • Hybrid

    I wouldn’t say, but rather I would ask:

    Do you honestly think I deserve eternal torment because I don’t believe something? Would the act of putting me there be a good act or an evil act?

    The affection simply grows over time:
    Like a flower
    Or a mushroom
    Or a guinea pig
    Or a vine
    Or a sponge
    Or bigotry

    …or a banana

  • CatBallou

    I would ask them to contemplate the number of other religions that have existed in this world, each supplanted by another or just fading away, and the number that currently exist. Each adherent to one of those religions felt about it exactly the way you feel about yours. Christianity may very well have unique aspects (though probably not the ones you’re thinking about), but as a sociological phenomenon, it fits a pattern that other religions fit just as well. Stop thinking that your religion is breaking some sort of mold and is therefore the one TRUE religion.
    My mother is upset about my not being a Christian, but I imagine that the mothers of people who turned away from Baal or Jupiter or Odin were just as upset. (And at least I’m not going to be killed for it!) This is not an unprecedented phenomenon.
    And in conclusion, banana.

  • Will

    I would ask that before they continue to spew more vitriol and hate that they examine the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, and compare it to their own lives. I’d ask how they can continue to go around condemning people when they don’t even follow their OWN beliefs. If they said that some parts of the Bible were out of date because of the changing times, I’d want to know what makes them an authority on deciding which parts still apply, and why? If it’s supposed to be God’s word and infallible, and YOU aren’t God, then how do YOU decide what applies? Are you saying that you know more than your own God? Doesn’t that make you a heretic? Don’t you then have no business going around spreading your hate and discontent? Banana.

  • sane

    If they were listening in the first place, there’d be nothing more to say.

  • Trace

    I would say to them that bikinis and speedos are OK.

    Banana

  • http://xbowvsbuddha.blogspot.com Dr Rotwang!

    Look…the bible says not to judge, so don’t judge me because I’m an atheist. In fact, please don’t judge ANY of us; atheists aren’t evil people, cackling, maniacal criminal masterminds. We’re people who want to raise our families, live our lives, go out for chinese and stay out of peoples’ way.

    True, we don’t believe in the things that you do. Most people don’t, really. But while we actively disagree with your beliefs, we don’t want to take them away from you, or from anybody; we just don’t want anyone trying to force their beliefs on us. We don’t want any one faith getting preferential treatment.

    Listen. We can agree on this — we’re all of us here, now, in the flesh. Right? Let’s make the best of it. Lay off us, we’ll lay off of you, and then we can maybe get some chinese and work on making a difference while we’re here. Feed some kids, support a library, clean up a park. At least, we can lead by example by not clashing over our ideals.

    My ideal is peace. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that from someone before.

    Banana, yo.

  • Josha

    I’d say to them that a person who doesn’t believe in a god or supernatural events isn’t any less awed by the world they live in. They feel as deeply affected by the beauty of nature and the significance of life as they do. Atheists are not empty, they are not wanting, and they are not immoral because they lack a god-belief.

    We’d like respect for our beliefs and to not be marginalized or defined by the one aspect of ourselves- that we don’t believe in any god.

    Also, science is awesome.
    Banana

  • http://mysistersfarmhouse.com Rechelle

    Give me the book!

    I think it’s great that they had these conversations in churches. Really good idea. Wonder if it had any impact?

  • bh

    Can I buy you a drink? What should we discuss?

    banana

  • Mike

    It must be very difficult for you, living in the twenty-first century and still believing in a middle ages god.Can I help you understand why there is no god and why it feels so good to be responsible for yourself once you’ve accepted that there is no big mean man in the sky?

    Banana!

  • Chris

    To a Christian who might listen:

    Though I do not share your faith, I am honestly curious about a particular pattern I have noticed: many Christians (perhaps yourself included?) seek to create laws that make activities banned in the Bible illegal. If your God knows everything that any human does, why are you rushing his Judgment? Surely, if you are correct, those who have sinned will be punished in the afterlife, so why do you seek to punish them in this life as well?

    Also,
    Banana

  • Greg

    Hybrid – thumbs up for the Tim Minchin quote! XD

    I’ve already said something, but as I live outside the US it doesn’t matter, anyway, so here’s something else that came to my mind:

    “Imagine the most thoughtful, considerate, kind, moral person you possibly can. Whatever you consider to be ‘good’, he or she should personify it.

    Now: allow me to change just one thing about this person, leaving everything else the same. Imagine that rather than being a follower of your religion, they have openly said they do not believe that your god exists.

    Do you believe this person deserves to be sent to hell?

    Why, or why not?”

    Guava.

  • http://politicsandpucks.blogspot.com Mike Brownstein

    I’d like to ask a Christian the following: ” In the Christian community (from an outsider’s perspective) there seems to be a bit of ‘Christian in Name Only’ hunting. What can we do to prevent this from happening in the atheist community?”

  • http://chunkymonkeymind.blogspot.com/ Palaverer

    I am a practical person. I think we can only work with what we have. Right now we have a system of deeply ingrained religious belief that will by no means disappear overnight no matter how good atheists’ arguments are. I would like nothing more than to work with Christians in peace, to achieve mutual goals of helping other humans with compassion.

    What I am NOT willing to live with is any group of people forcing me to live under their group’s chosen rules, on matters that (a) do not affect them, or (b) take away my equality as a person. As an example of the first point, I accept that you think homosexuality is not okay with God. Fine, then don’t engage in homosexual behavior. I do not serve your god, nor am I subject to his rules; therefore, you have no basis to prevent me from carrying on a contractual, same-sex relationship.

    As for the second point, I have no problem with you praying to your God, so long as it’s done within a private organization or gathering, or silently within a public group. You don’t want to be forced to listen to other religion’s prayers and rituals. Why do insist on forcing others to listen to yours?

    On that note, the main point I’d like to get across is that you and I have one very big common basis: treat others as you want to be treated. Jesus made a pretty big deal of this, and it’s one thing we can agree on. But when you eschew this command in favor of a bunch of arbitrary rules that even Jesus didn’t place emphasis on, I have zero respect for you.

    I know that there are many Christians out there that DO live this command. These people include my friends, my family, and my significant other. Just because we don’t have the same belief about the existence of God, doesn’t mean we can’t get along or pursue similar goals on this planet.

    But these are not the Christians who run for office. It takes a personality with a desire to control the lives and choices of others to get involved in politics. It’s the Christians who hate other groups, the Christians who want to force everyone else to obey their god and live by their interpretation of the Bible who run for office, make policy decisions for us all, and make Christianity as a whole look like a bunch of raving, evil, lunatics.

    Please, do not mistake these people for your “brethren” just because they carry the name Christian. Compassionate Christians have a lot more in common with atheists than with fundamentalist evangelicals. The former generally wish to do live in harmony with their fellow humans; the latter generally wish to dominate their fellow humans. Which group sounds more Christlike?

    Please, do not vote for or support anyone who wishes to supress freedom of choice, expression, or religion, even if their religious views are similar to yours. That hurts all of us.

    Banana

  • Jamie

    Aside from the usual “atheists are people too” and “stop with the ‘Not a True Christian’ BS and start acting like Jesus did” comments, I’d want to throw in the following:

    “Look, I was raised in a Christian family, went to a Christian church on weekends, went to a Christian school on weekdays, studied the Bible, did all those sorts of things to the point that I really understood the Christian viewpoint, yet I’m an atheist today. Your faith isn’t new to me, so talking to me about what you believe isn’t going to surprise or sway me. You know what might surprise or sway me? If a Christian spent a lot of time with an atheist family, went to SSA meetings occasionally, visited an entirely secular school to see how those of different (or no) religions think, studied the scientific backing of evolution and sociology, and did all those sorts of things to the point that they really understood the atheist viewpoint. If you’re going to walk up to someone who has experienced both sides of the issue and start preaching, the least you can do is experience both sides of the issue too.”

    Banana.

  • http://www.jono46.wordpress.com Jono

    Though I would understand if this never got put up here, as this is a place for like-minded people, I would like to say that I, a Christian, am listening, and do understand. I often struggle with the difficult things in the bible, and I love listening to these replies. So you are reaching one of us :0)

    Banana

  • Hermes

    Jono, thanks for listening.

    Keep in mind that I, as a non-Christian, do not struggle with the Christian Bible any more than I struggle with other ancient texts.

  • TMJ

    I’d have to ask them “if you are a ‘Christian’ why don’t you follow the teachings of Christ? Christ Jesus taught us to love others and to love them as you would love yourself; Christ was not judgmental and surrounded himself with people that others would condemn. Why don’t you?”.

  • http://www.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    Stop trying to push your lifestyle choice on us, stop trying to convert us and stop trying to legislate your beliefs into law. In short, please leave us alone.

    Banana

  • Kyle

    Most atheists I know have read the Bible (that’s why they’re atheists). Have you? the whole thing with all the begats and ugly stories? Have you read any other mythologies? Do you allow yourself to doubt? Do you fear that if you do, precious afterlife rewards would be withheld and torture would ensue? If given proof, I would believe in your god. If given proof would you give up your faith? What, if true, would falsify your claims of an omnipotent god that you’d accept?
    Banana

  • Christoph

    I would say that there is a reason that politics were separated from religion. Please stop trying to mix the two together again.

    More importantly, I would ask them to consider jumping off the bandwagon. When I was religious and attended church regularly, I noticed that there was a prominent group think. Everybody thought similar things, expressed similar views, asked the similar questions, gave similar answers. Going to another church, and they were different questions, different answers when compared to the first church, but all of the congregents were still of like mind with respect to each other.

    Take a step back, look at the world, look at your scriptures, read and study them for yourself, with nobody else inserting their interpretations into your head. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, because chances are, there are others in your congregation who have the same questions, but are too afraid to ask.

    Also, Don’t pay any attention to the banana man behind the curtain.

  • Aj

    Don’t belittle Christianity’s problems by saying it’s only the impression of outsiders that’s the problem.

  • Sarah

    I would have three main things to say:

    1. Please don’t assume that whoever you are talking to believes in God. Some of us do not, and it’s quite uncomfortable when you act as though belief is a given.

    2. Please don’t assume that I am living a wild, party lifestyle because I am not a Christian. I live a very quiet life – I go to work, I’m starting a family and I spend a lot of my free time reading or watching tv. Just like most people.

    3. Please don’t assume that you have the upper hand regarding morality. I have a very strong sense of right and wrong. The choices I’ve made – including to walk away from the church – have been rooted in fairness, justice and what is right. It’s insulting to assume that it is just a random decision when I have taken so many different things into account. I had to weigh the social cost of leaving the church and the stereotypes of being an atheist versus what I see as right. Please don’t just dismiss that.

    banana.

  • Claudia

    159 comments?! I’m impressed. Because of Hemants raging anti-foreigner bigotry (kidding!) I can’t opt for the bvd, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

    Key is that the Christian would listen, and not merely dismiss the statement because it challenges their worldview.

    I would ask them to consider taking a course on world religions, especially one that delves into the history of the religions. I think little could be a better cure for theism or at least for the more unpleasant and judgemental version of theism than frontally confronting the undeniable human origins of religions and realizing that your own borrows from older religions and is rife with contradictions and edits.

    Barring that I’d ask them to take the time to get to know, really know, people of other faiths and especially of no faith and then ask themselves if they really believe such people deserve eternity of torture for their beliefs.

  • Alexius

    It’s not that I don’t want to hear your advice, it’s that your worldview is honestly alien to me. What you take for granted as being true, I never even think about until someone mentions it, and then it’s so startling that you might as well have pulled a perch out of your shirt pocket and started chewing on it.

    Banana.

  • http://anotherguy.us/ Tim Stiffler-Dean

    How can you push your subjective beliefs onto somebody about something that cannot ever be proven objectively? How can you say that what you believe is 100% Truth when they are based on your own interpretation of what ‘true’ means? How do you know you’re not Schizophrenic and everything is just a figment of your imagination? Since you can’t prove the existence of a pineapple to me, why do you slam others when they say they don’t believe in God?

    And lastly, do you still think I am a Christian even though I debate with religious folks about the fallacies found in their answers to those questions?

    Banana.

  • http://annainca.blogspot.com Anna

    I’ve said it before, but I don’t trust the kinds of evangelicals who write books like this. If they’re listening to us, they’re listening because they have an ulterior motive. They’re only interested in atheists as a means to an end. They want to understand us in order to increase their chances of changing us. They don’t accept us or respect us the way we are. That’s why they’re conducting these interviews. I doubt they’re engaging in two-way dialogue out of a sincere desire to learn about nonbelievers. It’s all about changing Christianity’s “image problem” (which is not the problem at all) so that people will be more receptive to the religion itself. It’s not about changing or reforming the problematic beliefs themselves. And any information they gather is going to be taken and used to form new techniques in order to “reach” us and “save” us.

    If I thought Christians would listen, what would I say to them? I’d ask them to please stop assuming that I’m steeped in the same worldview they are. I have no emotional connection to their religion. I have never believed in any deity, and I really couldn’t care less about Christianity. Whatever they believe is up to them, but I’m not interested in joining their religion, and it’s got nothing to do with their “image problem.” It’s not because I think their church services are boring or because I think Christians are hypocritical. It’s not because some religious person hurt me or because I’m mad at their god. It’s because I have never seen a shred of evidence that would indicate a supernatural realm, let alone convince me that the specific deity of a specific religion happens to exist.

  • jl7947

    I’d tell the Christians the same thing I would tell the atheists, or the believers in any other faith including my own. Please remember that the other side believes in their beliefs just as deeply, and profoundly and with no better then reason then you believe in yours.

    Then we’d go out for banana splits, my treat.

  • gra’ma Banana

    Having passed the first hurdle for a Christian, listening rather than preaching, I would say Thank You. Additionally I would recommend they listen to Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and members of other belief systems with which they differ. I find myself being defensive around Christians awaiting the eventual proselytizing and cyclical arguments. I don’t mind explaining my beliefs. I do mind judgment.

    I am Gra’ma Banana to my grandchildren.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com Sharmin

    If Christians would listen, I would say:

    Please realize being a member of one particular religion is not a prerequisite for morality. Just look around you. You probably have coworkers, neighbors, and fellow classmates who are members of different faiths and no faith. They are regular people, just trying to live their lives. If you want to be pro-family, then don’t encourage people to be hateful towards family members and friends who convert or deconvert away from Christianity.

    Before deciding to support a religious law or Christian organization, please imagine yourself in the other person’s position. Imagine that you’re living in a country where Christians are the minority and where another religious group is doing a lot of the same things which some Christians are doing. Imagine that your kids are going to a school where another religion’s creation story is being taught as science, that your tax money is going to organizations that discriminate against you, and that there are organizations doing biased fake science research to “prove” that discrimination against you is okay. Would you be okay with that? If not, then don’t support it when your religion does it to other people.

    Lastly, on a more personal note, don’t assume that I only dislike religion because I’m from a Muslim family and that I would change my mind if I learned about Christianity. I actually considered Christianity and found that I disagree with it as well. I’m an atheist because I don’t see evidence for God; if I saw the evidence, I would believe in God.

    Banana.

  • http://reallivenerd.wordpress.com Jeff

    If I knew Christians would listen, I would ask them: How would you treat me if I were a god-loving Christian who just didn’t talk about it much? In return, I try to treat all Christians the same way I would treat anybody else; the label “Christian” means as much as the label “Atheist” these days in that it encompasses so many kinds of people that it’s mostly worthless when trying to form first impressions (the word “fundamentalist” is, of course, excluded from that generalization).

    Banana

  • Moq

    If you thought Christians would listen, what would you say to them?

    Make me coffee and biscuits or I’ll convert you to atheism with my Darwinian raygun!

    Perhaps I’m overly antagonistic towards this enterprise, but that looks and sounds like an absolutely awful DVB (as they call it).

  • Emily

    I have to say that I would ask them to look past religious identity or non-identity and to simply treat people with respect, with honesty and on merit, and not just give lip service to those ideals. We all share so many aspects of life, simply by accident of being human, that surely we can get through or get around being libertarian or homosexual or black or atheist by listening and being empathetic. It’s a lot less difficult that people think.

    Banana!

  • Lynne

    I would try to get them to understand that their faith is not what they think it is. That their faith is in the people who told them about about God rather than actually in God. They have faith that these people were telling the truth; their faith is in the people.

    Banana.

  • Meredith

    If they would listen, I would tell them that I don’t really give a shit how they try to change their church and I don’t want them to approach me to try to join it. Even if they’re nice about it, or whatever it is that this guy recommends they change in order to make their evangelism more effective. Lipstick on a pig and all.

  • http://www.themetaskeptic.blogspot.com Kai

    I would ask them how they would feel if they found out, for certain, that there was no God. Would they be sad at the loss of eternal life? Relieved that their loved ones wouldn’t go to hell? Also, how would their views on issues like homosexuality and euthanasia change? How would they want to live the rest of their life, knowing that we’re not guarded by a supernatural protector?

    Banana

  • Brittney

    I would definitely repeat something I read by Christopher Hitchens. He said this….(this is not an exact quote, but it is the same idea)
    In the dark ages, when people could not see, they followed the blind man. Who else would know his way around as well as the blind man? Now, as new age brings light, why are people still following the blind man?

    Edited to add the banana. : )

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  • Noodly1

    Why?

    Aren’t you glad I didn’t say…

    banana!

  • http://www.twitter.com/tntotten Tim

    As a Christian, I want to have this kind of impact on the lives of others.

    God will bring the increase.

    Christians, be real. Be genuine. You are not perfect. No one is. Love like Jesus loves. Care like Jesus cares.

    Banana

  • phlebas

    Interesting. Do a lot of people think that non-Christians are non-Christians because Christians are bad at PR?

    My reasons for not being a Christian are not related to how friendly or not other Christians are. I’m not a Christian for exactly the same reasons I’m not a Zoroastrian.

    If a book like this can get even one fire’n'brimstone fundy to tone it down a notch and talk like a grownup, then it’ll be a success. But I think there’s a risk a lot of Christians will try to reverse-engineer it into a sales pitch. That’s not going to address any of the many, many fundamental problems I have with all Christians

    But if I’m in the minority, and there are a lot of non-believers out there who left the church because of the quality of churchgoer, then maybe books like this will make their lives better, which is good.

    Having said all that: banana :)

  • JClark

    I am a Christian college minister and this stuff is very intriguing…I have to say…a lot of the conversations I have with non-Christians is very much like a bit of these interviews and…to some degree, I have to agree.

    banana

  • The Other Tom

    I would tell them about all the pain and suffering their bigoted, hateful religion has caused in the lives of my gay and lesbian friends.

    I would tell them about all the pain and suffering their bigoted, hateful religion has caused in the life of my gay self.

    I would tell them about children whose families deny them medical care in favor of letting Jesus take care of it, and how he never does. I would point out that not one single amputee has ever been healed by Jesus.

    I would point out in the bible where Jesus says they should only pray quietly in private where no one can hear them, and that every time they pray in church or in public they are violating the instructions of their alleged savior.

    I would point out that if their church has an american flag in the sanctuary, they are violating the bible’s prohibition against idolatry, and also that they must be incredibly self centered to think that a being that allegedly created the universe would favor one nation over another.

    I wold explain that threatening me with hell is as effective as threatening me with sending me to munchkinland, as I have equal levels of belief in both.

    I would point out that every time they try to tell me about their religion over my objections that I’ve heard it all before and insist that if I don’t believe in it I just don’t understand it, they are grievously insulting me, as I’m very well educated about their religion, possibly more so than they are, and that with an IQ of 170 I am no fool.

    I would tell them about the time I lost my job and my home and faced imminent homelessness, how the christians in my life all said “oh dear what a shame,” and how the homosexual atheists in my life said nothing but fed, clothed, and housed me until I got a job and put together enough money to get a new home.

    I would tell them about how abusive it is to threaten a child with hell, and that if they love their children they will never attempt to indoctrinate them into such horrifying beliefs.

    I would tell them that any accusations they may make that I hate christians would make my friends the three methodist ministers, the southern baptist minister, the orthodox priest, and the conservative rabbi laugh at them.

    I would tell them that any accusations they may make that I hate god would make me laugh at them, because it would be like accusing me of hating Smurfs; I can not hate things I don’t believe exist.

    I would point out to them that we could be friends if they treat me with the same respect with which I treat them – to let me live my life as I want, not fight my civil rights, and to accept any relationship I may have as valid – but that if they insist on fighting my civil rights or treating me as a second class person, I will fight them tooth and nail, and they risk alienating me to the point where I may decide to actively work toward an end to christianity rather than passively treating it as a mere irritant.

    Banana na (bop bee dee beep eep!)

  • Laura Lou

    I would tell them that it is perfectly legitimate for people to dislike Christianity.
    And that it is bad practice to try to change their minds before you understand why they dislike it.

  • ff42

    My dear Wife,

    After decades of church worship, attendance, and tithes I desired to learn the truth. After a year of intense study I have found what I sought. I am sad that you are uninterested in understanding my struggles, my fears and my joys.

    Love always,
    Your husband, whom you probably think is Bananas.

  • Dan W

    There are a lot of things I’d tell Christians if I thought they’d listen. For starters, I’d tell them to stop trying to convert me, because I’ve heard those old tired arguments for God’s existence way too many times, and all the other things they might say to convert me won’t work. I need evidence that your deity exists, not useless arguments, anecdotes of personal experience, and so forth.

    I would also tell them of some of the ways Christianity could become far less bigoted and hateful overall. And I would make sure they know the definition of atheism, and try to dispell other misconceptions that theists believe about atheists.

    Banana (makes me think of that moronic Ray Comfort video)

  • Kandy

    I would tell them to stop being afraid.

    Banana

  • Chelsea Spaulding

    Depends on what type of christian. The typical run of the mill christian I meet and work with every day, I would ask them how they can call themselves christians when they know that the christians we both hate read the same book and claim to be christians themselves. How can you affiliate with people who kill doctors and claim they were doing god’s work. (And I wouldn’t let them get away with saying that they read the bible wrong, or they are not listening to what god REALLY wants.)

    As for the extreme christian, I would say that I have lived a very happy and fulfilling life (this far in my 18 year life) and I have never credited it to a god, and I would appreciate if they would respect my right to that. I would even tell them that I plan on raising a family more tolerant than they are, and a god won’t be given credit. That is the best I can do in that sense.

    Banana

  • Geek Gazette

    I would probably tell them the same things I always try to tell them, but they never hear me:

    1) I’m not trying to destroy your religion or prevent you from believing as you wish. I just don’t want your religion forced upon me. I also don’t hate people because of their religion. I try to find the good in everyone and I find the world hate to be distasteful.

    2)Being an atheist does not mean I don’t understand your religion or beliefs. It does not mean I have “lost” my faith/way or that I’m somehow a lesser person because I don’t share your belief. I am happier now that I ever was while growing up in a Christian home.

    3)Atheism is not a belief system and it is not simply the lack of a belief system. Atheism is the state you reach when you develop a better understanding of the truth behind religions and then move beyond belief in the supernatural and religion to the truth. Being an atheist means you finally accept the real world for what it is and do not require magic and superstition to make life worth living.

    4) I don’t eat babies! Unless they are marinated overnight and then cooked slowly on a charcoal grill ;-)

  • Loulou

    Listening.. Right. I would warn of mixing politics and religion.

    I’m Canadian, so banana with maple syrup!

  • Chakolate

    I’d be torn between asking them to read the Bible with a critical eye (maybe read it with them!) and explaining the mind-brain dualism fallacy. After all, what difference does it make if there’s a god if there’s no afterlife? Banana, please.

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  • JimboB

    I would remind them that when we put aside the God issue, there is bound to be a lot we have in common. And just because we can’t reach an agreement about the existence of a supernatural deity doesn’t mean we have to be bitter rivals. Some of my closest friends are the people who passionately disagree with me!

    Banana.

  • Hannah C

    Please don’t mix up my lack of respect or love towards Christianity as a lack of those things towards Christians.
    Because, while I despise the institution, I cherish many individuals who belong to it.

    Banana.

  • KM

    I would tell them they should go and listen to many more non christians in order to understand.

  • BLynam

    i would ask them what it means to be good? why do they think they have the answer to good? do they think they’re good? why did Jesus really come to earth?

  • Becky

    I’m a believer and I’m listening.

    Banana

  • Min

    If bananas were designed by God for us, why is my wife deathly allergic to them? She’s allergic to lots of raw fruits, for that matter, but bananas are bad whether they’re cooked or raw.

    Fortunately, I don’t like the taste of them much anyway. Ugh, banana.

  • plutosdad

    I would say “leave us alone”

  • Ana

    If they would actually listen, there wouldn’t be the need to ask them anything. They would have realized already that there is a world outside their religion that needs to be respected.

    I would like to ask some of my religious friends if they could describe their lives without god. That is, how would their lives be assuming there is no god.

  • Atheist Martyr

    What has religion really done for you except holds its hand out and ask you for something? It offers little to nothing that common sense will secure. There are obviously parts in the bible that don’t make sense. If you can not believe in part of it. Why believe in any of it?

    banana

  • Megan A.

    Stop being so hypocritical!

    Banana

  • http://rtnc.me Robert T

    Show me a christian, other than a professional theologian that would really listen to anything an atheist has to say, and I’ll sell you some beachfront property in Arizona.

    banana

  • Angie

    1) Do you have any idea how condescending, irritating, and futile it is to proselytize to non-Christians? We’re willing to respect your beliefs, so why do you refuse to respect ours?

    2) Why do you have such a problem accepting the full humanity of women, LGBT people, and non-Christians? Why do you relegate us to second class status when we are every bit as human as you?

    Bananarama

  • http://bob-kowalski.blogspot.com Bob Kowalski

    If I thought a Christian would really listen to what I said, & not run it through their Iphone App for quick and inane responses?

    Many atheists evaluate & take the claims and beliefs of Christians far more seriously than most Christians ever do.

  • http://bob-kowalski.blogspot.com Bob Kowalski

    And in a more militantly atheist mood, I would want them to grasp 1) that proselytising is intrinsic to Christianity, that is if their Good News is really, & truly so important; 2) when proselytisers bear an uncanny resemblance to used car salesmen: they are invested socially, at least, in making a sale: if they are a minister, their livelihood depends on the number of completed sales (= growing the flock) and are they really going to do anything that might cost them friendships (long-term & short-term)? Are they willing to do things that would almost certainly adversely impact their social life? And why should I put myself at risk to change my beliefs & opinions when there is very little reason to believe that Christians will? This inequality speaks strongly of bad faith on their part.

    I would want them to see that it is perfectly reasonable to have serious qualms about the equation of Christianity = Truth.

  • Michael

    I would want to tell them the following:

    Christians, your organizations strike me too much like gimmiky for-profit companies. Like Disney tries to convince you they control the “Happiest place on Earth,” and you need to give them your money to experience it.
    Unlike Disney, it may not be money that is demanded of us. It may be our pride in ourselves, or time, or our individuality. Try to see how participating in your group can feel like getting ripped off by a large, soul-less organization, and then maybe you can find a way to stop that feeling from happening.

    That’s what I would say to them, because I personally believe that with enough work, the process I described would result in at least an unorganized religion.
    Banana

  • http://www.devmorgan.com/blog Dave Morgan

    If I knew Christians would listen, I would tell them that we aren’t all that different. We care about each other. We don’t want to inflict pain. We have fundamental human traits that they may attribute to a deity, but we don’t. We all wish to be moral.

    Don’t be a dick.

    Reject hatred and bigotry always – even when defended by a book, a person, or an organization.

    Banana

  • http://secularttu.com Drew

    I’d simply quote the familiar to them… They’re Bible is their inspiration for bigotry, so quoting from the bible. Leaving the idea of the contradictions of the bible behind. John 8:7 – (For those unfamiliar, an adulterous woman is about to be stoned) When they kept on questioning him, he [Jesus] straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” And Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

    It’s not great but starting with the familiar is the best way to approach Christians.

    Banana.

  • absent sway

    Consider for a moment all those people you are pleased to welcome into the fold: ex-Muslims, ex-atheists, ex-Mormons, ex-Buddhists, ex-Hindus, ex-pagans, etc. You take them seriously when they tell you about the challenges they faced in their old religions or ways of life and are strengthened in your faith that God brought them to the truth–to the way you think, that is. You twist yourselves into pretzels in the meantime trying to explain away the existence of ex-Christians. We’re all around you, and you cannot bring yourselves to listen to our Christian horror stories or even simple, respectful doubts for fear you would have to take them seriously and challenge your beliefs. I know because I have been there. It’s not just casual believers who are walking away and you do yourselves a disservice to dismiss them as such and put your heads in the sand.

    Sit down, play some soft music, nibble a banana, and let it sink in.

  • Sarah

    If Christians would listen, I would ask them to convince me there is a deity, without the use of their bible, which was written by a human anyway. And then I would listen while eating a banana.
    Just for giggles:
    GO BANANA!

  • absent sway

    Also, if you are still listening, I’d like to say that I understand how difficult it is to try to live up to the teachings of Christ and to make the best sense you can out of some really confusing biblical passages. I know how hard you are on yourselves when you inevitably fail and I still respect you for trying. I know that many of you get as much harsh treatment from your fellow believers as any of you shows to outsiders, and genuinely want to change the negative parts of church participation. I hope you succeed.

  • http://neosnowqueen.wordpress.com/ neosnowqueen

    If I thought they would listen?

    I’d tell them that I don’t think they’re stupid or delusional for interpreting the world the way that they do. Stupid and intelligent people alike believe in God and believe that Jesus existed, etc.

    And I’d tell them that I would appreciate the same courtesy: do not assume that I am stupid, naive, or gullible just to make my interpretation of the evidence fit your worldview. I’m none of those things. I didn’t just wake up and decide to be an atheist. I didn’t decide at all. I’m not an atheist because I hated God, wanted to run away from him, or wanted to do rebellious things. I just simply couldn’t believe anymore, no matter how hard I tried – and believe me, I tried and continue to try. Nothing works.

    Banana.

  • Brett

    As a “doubting Thomas”, I would ask a Christian:

    Why do you worship a zombie named Jesus?’

    How does believing there are three personalities in God’s head make you a better person?

    Why do you want to be a zombie on Earth after life in heaven?

    Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet when he said “soon” according to your scriptures and, hence, delayed the writing of said scriptures?

    Why did your man-god only have three years to proclaim the “word of god” from his father god when he lived to 33 or 54 depending on your early Church Fathers?

    Why did this man-god die before two lowly humans on the cross?

    I have more, but you catch my drift…

    Banana

  • Frink

    What would I say? I’ve thought about this quite a bit. I would tell them exactly this:

    “I don’t care what you believe. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way, I mean that whatever you believe is your business, and I have no problem with you believing it. John Stuart Mill argued that we ought to be free to do as we wish, even to the point where we harm ourselves, and the only instances in which we should not be free are those in which we harm another. He called it the harm principle.

    To this end, what you believe about God is your business and I have no motivation to convince you otherwise. I certainly have no place and no right to command that you stop believing, or that you live according to my rules. No, no, I’m a Kantian in that regard, in pursuit of the categorical imperative. I try to live by the rules I’d like to see everyone live by, and try to judge others to be ends in themselves, not a means to an end. I have no interest in commandments, what I’m interested in is clarification of authority.

    As I’ve said before, I have no business telling you what to do, but I often wonder whether Christians are aware that this essential principle of liberty is a two way street. That is why I think clarification is necessary. Here it is:

    When it comes to me, your right to practice your religion does not supersede my right not to. When it comes to people your religion disagrees with or disapproves of, it is not your right to deny their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on the authority of your personal beliefs. When it comes to science, you do not have the authority to stifle the pursuit of knowledge only because it doesn’t stem from your favorite book. When it comes to my children, your rights DO NOT outweigh mine. When it comes to your children, you’d be wise to realize they have at least as much mental autonomy as you.

    What I’m saying is that I’m aware of the limits of my personal authority. All I ask is that you recognize yours.”

    Banana.

  • http://www.miceandmanticores.blogspot.com Stevie

    This might be too late but here is mine none the less.

    When I look up into the sky, I see god. Not the God you are used to, but the creating force of the Universe. When I drive my car early in the morning with my ten month old in tow, I see god in the mackeral clouds speckled along the sun rise. I see god in the face of my daughter as each individual tooth breaks through the sensitive skin of her gums. I see god in the scab that heals over my paper cut.

    Just because you’re god has a consciousness, does not mean mine is any less amazing. To wake up in the middle of the night and to understand I am alive because of random, biological events is just as amazing, if not more than the idea of being formed out of clay or a rib. To understand that I have a consciousness, and that a mere 28 years ago I did not, sends the chills of wonder up my spine.

    The world will continue after I am gone and I will not be here or anywhere else to witness it but this does not make me sad. Every little piece of me will form another body, another blade of grass or another breath of fresh air. To know that people will continue to have children and continue to laugh and sing and cry and love — that is enough for me. Eventually my turn will be over, and anothers will come. It is my job not to be greedy. I am grateful that I am part of this tiny, lonely planet in the middle of a huge ocean of uncertainty. How lucky am I to even be writing this to you? I don’t need God to give me purpose. My purpose is to enjoy this wonderful, random gift of consciousness. To enjoy every waking moment and to enjoy the people around me. I look at the world without a God and I see something so unique, so amazing and so awe inspiring that my heart jumps in my chest and I feel so large and so small all in the same breath. My life without God is not empty, it’s full of adventure and questions begging to be answered and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    Banana hammock ;-)

  • Hermes

    Another banana from the bunch;

    In all sincerity, I do not think Christianity is credible.

    That’s not a challenge to you. It’s an observation.

    Now, I could say why Christianity is not credible. I could go into detail and I could probably do so for days if not weeks without repeating many of the reasons why I think it is not credible. I stand by my words, humbly. When I am fortunate enough to discover my mistakes, I do change my mind so that I can stop being mistaken.

    Saying any of that could be seen as a challenge to you. Yet, I’m not challenging you. I am stating what I think is well founded; Christianity is not credible.

    Yet, most of the reasons why you probably do find Christianity credible or even compelling are not because of details you could recite or discuss with me for minutes to hours or months on end. You are probably a Christian for a short number of reasons or for no other reason than you believe it to be true.

    In my case, I was about 8 or 10 or 12 years old. Very simply, when I thought about the larger Christian claims, they didn’t seem to be grounded in reality. So, I changed my mind so that I could stop being mistaken.

    At that point, while I still called myself a Christian and identified with much of Christianity, I seriously did not think that anyone besides very young kids really thought that the more incredible claims were real.

    So, being a non-theist was a non-event. So much so that I can’t remember when exactly I came to that realization.

    Is it still a non-event? Does my realization mean anything? Yes. It is my honest assessment, and it would be unethical for me to lie and say I agree with what I don’t believe is even a part of reality. Yet, I don’t make a big deal about it even when I know I probably should.

    I should? Why should I?

    There are people who do not want honest comments that do not agree with their own honest comments. They consider that kind of honesty to be a challenge. When it’s not a challenge to them. Worse, there are people who wish me not only to be silent, but to be punished for not actively promoting what they themselves think.

    In my country, the USA, there are two phrases that inspire me to the point of tears;

    * E pluribus unum – “Out of many, one” (In a word, pluralism.)

    * One nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

    Many Americans here have abandoned those wise comments in preference to a slash and burn campaign on our good nature. They want unity to be replaced by divisiveness, subservience, and obedience. They even speak in royal terms; of kings and kingdoms and of divine rights.

    Returning to our indivisible yet pluralistic beginnings, we can conserve much of what makes us great. Ignoring them creates more animosity — between many them-s and many us-es. Our differences are what make us great. That we share in them is what makes us a country worthy of the title of a nation — and not just geographic numbers to be manipulated by the cynical.

    * * *

    Banana

  • goober1223

    neosnowqueen @ July 7th, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    >Winnar<

  • Hermes

    [ tips hat ]

  • an unexpected commenter

    As a Christ follower, I apologize. For the times you were:

    *accused of being stupid or uneducated

    *assumed to have been abused or otherwise tainted against Christianity

    *the recipient of violent and ignorant acts which were perpetrated against you wrongfully in the alleged name of Christ
    *abandoned by family members, friends or loved ones

    Sometimes people are foolish – no matter their belief system.

    I will listen. As long as there remains a mutual respect of each others beliefs. I won’t bash your atheism, please don’t bash my Christianity.

    Remember, when you label all Christians as hateful, judgmental and unwilling to listen, you’ve done the very thing you accuse us of…

    I sure would like to view/read this DVB – with or without the banana.

  • Karen

    Man, if there’s anything to say, it’s that Jim Henderson is fearless.

    Good on ya, Jim! Keep on doing what you’re doing. You are a breath of fresh air and though I’m no longer religious, I wish you the best.

    Your insights and illuminations can only help all of us get along better.

  • Chris

    I would like to ask christians to let others live their own lives. To be more open minded and quit shoving religion down our throats. Banana

  • Brian Macker

    Want to live forever. What could be more greedy.

  • Hermes

    Unexpected Commenter, if you are effective in moderating the worst impulses of your fellow Christians — even if you share little with them beyond a belief in Christ — then I can ask no more of you. The key word, though, is effective.

    I do not ask you, though, to address the excesses of your fellow theists who are not Christians. Your responsibility for religious excesses stops at your own chosen religion.

    If enough Christians would step up, I would not mention a thing about Christianity and may even support the nobler impulses offered by various Christians.

  • ABinMN

    Late to the party, but…
    I would ask why they hold their god up to a different standard than they hold their husbands and fathers. ie. I often hear them say, in times of troubles, that God is testing them. If their husband *allowed* one of their children to die and used the excuse that they would be stronger for it, I’m sure we know what would happen. But their god just seems to get a “get out of jail free” card on all that…

    I would also ask why they persist in saying their message to their children is one of love and not of punishment. It seems to me that kids *get* the unspoken corollary that follows passages such as John 3:16 “and God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life”. If kids didn’t get that, there would be no dropped jaws and gasps when they hear that other kids are not believers.

    I live in the States, but out of empathy for my fellow Canadians…apple.

  • http://www.myspace.com/boost58 Boost

    I, for one, appreciate the opportunity given to express what I’d like to communicate to Christians willing to listen. My concern with such a question and a forum to respond is that my reactionary comments would come off as judgmental and critical. Two things that are constantly labeled on people of faith and I’d prefer not to be hypocritical.
    The issue isn’t what you would say to Christians if they were willing to listen but in fact should be to get these Christians or any one who believes in faith or religion to listen to themselves on why they believe what they believe. It’s amazing the results I get from conversing with people regarding religion. When they speak aloud what they’re thoughts, ideas and beliefs are, they tend to have a moment; one moment where they catch themselves thinking “wow, did I just say that” or “do I really believe that”?

    I feel that to believe in a religion is to choose to reject reason (at times). I feel people do so based on tradition or history, pressure or simply programmed to repeat and remember what’s been told to them many times. As an adult, speaking openly & candidly to another adult who is giving THEM the opportunity to discuss what & why they believe in what they believe, more is gained on what they are hearing from their own mouths than what I could ever say to them.
    My suggestion to everone here is giving people of faith the opportunity to hear themselves state what & why they believe and simply listen and ask questions. By doing so in a respectful, open-minded way, I feel more & more people will see for themselves that old ideals and fantasies might not be factual at all.
    For what’s it worth, I’d like to end by saying : BANANA

    Thank you!

  • Pingback: All Apologies | Unreasonable Faith

  • Aaron

    If you thought Christians would listen, what would you say to them?

    Please, please, please, just let me live in peace. I’m happy, I don’t need saving.

  • Lynn

    Hi, I am a Christian and I also realize that you must have a great faith in order to live your life stating there is no God or gods. I am sure that you have already picked out the winners of the book, however, I would love to know more about the book and would actually read it.
    And regardless of what many Atheists think not all Christians hate them, nor do we think they should convert.
    To Bailey: Be happy that your sister has embraced a faith in something. You may not agree with it, but if you truly want her to be happy, then you need to be happy for her and show her support as I am sure she does for you.

  • Jesus Saves, not Christianity

    I would ask Christians to start sharing the love that they confess, possessing the peace they claim to have, living for others as they claim they should do, living by the spirit rather than the word, and follow Jesus rather than a church or pastor….As a follower of Christ, I get pretty ashamed of what “Christians” say, do, and argue. But I urge all of us to consider that a) Christians aren’t the only theists out there b) Not all “Christians” are Christians and c) A religion or idea is not based on those who follow them but on the one who founded it, so take a look at Jesus, see what he’s about.
    I love you all, atheist or not.

  • Cindy

    If a Christian would listen, I would ask them if they think Jesus would be happy or sad to see how some of them have acted towards their fellow human beings. I know not every Christian is the same (though unsurprisingly, the ones that have done the most damage are sure they don’t fall in this category), but the most I’ve encountered seem to be extremely nice up until the point they find out you’re atheist. All religions have some good ideas but humans twist them so much. Honestly, I want to be friends with people and like everyone (my closest friends are of all religions) but it’s kinda hard when you get blocked out after you get asked “where do you go to church?” No matter how tactful I am in answering, most of the time I feel like I’m judged despite the forced smile I’m getting. Well, I guess this wasn’t as bad when I lived outside of Texas…

    I am usually a peace keeper so I don’t want to provoke anyone but I am curious if Christians (or any other group) ever critically examine their religion. Just how is it more accurate than other faiths/denominations? And no one worships Zeus anymore, so will the idea of Jesus be any different in 5000 years? It seems most of the more aggressive Christians I’ve met are rather obviously uneducated in religions and cultures outside of theirs. They’re just sure you’re going to this place called hell, which to me doesn’t sound like somewhere a gracious god would send his creations to. I feel like most are afraid to critically examine their ideas (or perhaps their parents’ ideas) because they might end up realizing some faults to religion and be shunned by the rest of their religious community that they grew up with. It’s sad, and I’m just tired of all the negative feelings towards anyone really, religious or not. I just hope Christians will let go of the whole “holier-than-thou” and give me – and anyone else – the same respect I give them.

    Banana.

  • collin

    well i am a christian and i really think jesus is sad about what alot of christians do they judge i mean i probly have given the wrong impression before and im sorry but i am human i have atheistic friends but i am deeply troubled to see them telling others there belifs when they have no basis and i mean if you get into a heated conversation with alot of christians at my church alot will sounds offensve but thats just gunna happen you cant take it as a personal attack and i am not trying to start anything i am just sharing my thoughts like many of you ahve but what i am about to say may sound offense but i do not mean it to be at all and i am just wondering what is your basis for not belive so he can have a talk im not gunna pressure you i just want to talk like to people i will respect you either way and one more thing (again sorry dont mean to offend) if god isnt real (atheism) then i will spend my life believing in a lie and die and it will be over but if he is real then i will go to heaven and will be rewarded for my faith think about that liek i said i would love to talk about it as two regular people

  • sherry

    I would say that three things.
    1. The bible contains around 456 contradictions. If you don’t believe me, google it yourself, get out the word and begin to study. It is true. For example, Paul himself gives three different accounts of his converstion to Christianity in the new testament.

    ACTS 9:7 Those present at Paul’s conversion heard the voice but saw no one. Then later, in ACTS 22:9 it states that those present saw a light but did not hear a voice. (So which was it, did they hear the voice or see the light? Probably never saw this, eh?)

    ACTS 9:7 Those present at Paul’s conversion stood. Then later in ACTS 26:14 those present fell to the ground. (So did they fall or were they standing?)

    ACTS 9:19-28 Shortly after his conversion, Paul went to Damascus, then Jerusalem where he was introduced to the Apostles by Barnabas, and there spent some time with them. But in GALATIONS 1:15-20 He made the trip to Jerusalem three years later after the conversion, then saw only Peter and James. (Which was it. Did he meet the apostles shortly after the conversion or three years later?)

    This is one example of MANY exaples of contraditions I found during my personal study. Look at when Moses spends 40 years in the desert and passes by the descendants of Esau. One scripture tells you the group of people let Moses pass by peacefully and another tells them to get away otherwise they will take up arms. If the bible is the infallible word of God, it would not contain so many mistakes. Don’t be brain washed by what people have told you for so long, do your own study and see for yourself. It was the most eye opening experince for me.

    2. Using common sense, can you really say that a God would dam someone to eternal hell if they didn’t accept Jesus and convert? Think about it for a moment… Christians tell me that God gives a person time, chances, ect. But using common sense, there would be a lot of people who would be in hell. I just can’t buy this. I can’t see how one God would do that to people. However, this philosophy would be great to control the public into entering into one belief system. More control for organized religions.

    3. Read the book, Conversations with God, with an open mind. It is the closest thing to religion that makes sense and brings things into the right perspective.

    Banana

  • Jef with one ‘f’

    One brother is a preacher, another a deacon and I am atheist. The last time we saw each other was at my father’s funeral in 2009. I fear the next time will be at our mother’s.

    And it is not because I judge them.

  • Jacq

    As a person raised by a mother who told me I was an Atheist, explaining why at every given chance. Ultimately deciding I have faith, but not calling myself a christian or any other denominational title. I can look over a Bible in its varying forms and take it for the allegory it is. Written and translated (often incorrectly) by questionable people over centuries. Acknowledging sections of its content to be somewhat disturbing but having the common sense not to forget how times have evolved (yes I used the word ‘evolved’) and said interpretations left stale and misused.
    Unfortunately the sad thing is more how many people like to lump all people who have faith in anything, into one basket and purely make umbrella statements about them to this end.

    I also have faith in the justice system, but know it is fallible and often abused. I have faith in the medical field but know that what often can be proven successful to cure or aid, has just as often been wrong depending on the unique individual it has tried to service.

    People are ‘unique’ and entitled to believe whatever hopefully makes them decent to those around them. The whole point being belief. As you believe there is no such thing as a God by any name or form, not every person believing the opposite is desperate to call you on that. Some people are actually just comfortable in their faith and have enough sensible capacity to know what is not rightly conveyed in written form and literal interpretation, will harm or effect others to their detriment.
    The very same people find it unnecessary to go around shoving their belief system down anyone’s throats and don’t feel they are hard done to victims just because others may disagree.
    The urgent desire for some to cause doubt in anyone’s life must be time consuming (that is aimed at fundamentalist people of every faith and Atheists, who just fester in the urgency to prove that people cannot have a thought process that might diverge from their one track “you are wrong and I am right because my science or my Bible/or book of guidance, say so”).

    Am so glad I came across this blog, snack banana time. Cheap at half the price.

  • http://inkd.blogspot.com julie :)

    Wow. I just want to say first of all I am a christian. And all these comments saying “they” don’t listen are just untrue. Christians – if they truly are christians- will listen to you. Christianity is not a religion its a relationship- yes, I know in your minds you are saying wooww, I’ve heard that one before

    But here me out. please.

    Like I allready stated -i am a christian. And I believe the bible – not evolution. Because there’s no way we came by chance- even if all the pieces are there.

    Listen.

    If you take a watch apart and put all of the pieces in a bag you can keep shaking it over and over but there is no way you will ever get a watch. Because a watch has a maker. Just like we have a creator. God. I’m not saying take up my “religion but do not say you don’t have one because you do. Your religion is having no religion. Your religion is atheism .

    • Anon

      I have to disagree that my atheism is a religion.  I don’t have faith that there is no god(s).  I don’t believe it 100%, no matter the evidence presented to me that there is a supernatural.  In other words, “there is no god” is not an article of faith to me but rather an artifact of logic.  I haven’t ever seen any actual evidence for anything outside of natural law.  No miracles, no auras, no one rising from the dead, nothing.  While the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, I’m quite sure that if an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibeneficent god-figure existed there would be evidence of it.  Find me the proof of supernatural existence and I’ll change my mind.

      As for your argument from complexity- no.  Just no.  In order to avoid duplicating the arguments that have been made before, I shall point you to Greta Christina, who has boiled down why that argument is invalid far better than I ever could.   http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2010/05/04/argument-from-design/


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