Christians and Atheists in Communion — in Harmony, I Mean! Now What?

I don’t think it’s going too far to say that my recent posts (“An Honest Question: Atheists, How Do You Process Your Guilt?” and “What the Atheists Taught Me” ) have established utter peace and harmony between Christians and atheists around the world.

Isn’t it just the greatest thing? (Um … down there, in the comments section of “What the Atheists Taught Me.” Are you trying to embarass me?)

I think that what really turned the tide toward complete peace and harmony is when the atheists finally agreed that, unlike Christians, they shouldn’t be allowed to capitalize what they’re called. And that compromise, of course, led we Christians to eventually acquiesce to the atheists’ request that we stop throwing lit matches at them all the time.

Which of course facilitated the Full Belly Accord, in which both sides agreed that, in principal anyway, they like food.

Ah, peace. What a blessing. (Or “great thing”!) No more drive-by leafleting. No more crank phone calls at 3 a.m. (How many times have we Christians answered our ringing phones , heard a voice intoning, “Hello, this is God calling,” gasped back “Really?”, and heard, “No, moron! Grow up!” before the final click. And how many ruses have Christians devised to try and trick atheists to cranking up and keeping up the heat in their house. (A virus in the area you kill by sterilizing your air! And atheists are supposed to be such fans of science!)

Thank God/nobody that’s all behind us now. It was something I was definitely glad to get done.

I think that primarily we owe our newfound contentment with the status quo to my laptop. Before I had a laptop, I was forced to write in my office, which involves sitting up straight. Post-laptop, however, I write so slumped down on my couch that even right now I can’t swallow. I think this casual, relaxed position allows my consciousness to be freed up in a way that just can’t happen when I’m getting enough oxygen to my head.

Anyway, I’d like to congratulate everyone who helped to do so much to achieve peace between those who believe in Jesus Christ, and those who are going to hell don’t.  Ross, Calladus, Marcy, Kimberley, L Palm, Greta, Cragar, Thomas, Gary, the ever-excellent Hjordes … all of you — and so many more I can’t mention because it would involve more scrolling and besides my vision growing blurry my hands are starting to go numb — deserve a share in the spotlight. In fact, each and every one of you should go, right now, and hold your face close to a brightly glowing light bulb. Remove a shade if you have to. You deserve it.

I’ll do the same!

And after we’ve had our moment in the light, let’s all meet again right back here again, shall we, and get to work solving that darn Christian-Muslim problem? Why not! We can do it! World peace is within our grasp!

And we’ll get started making it, just as soon as the burn spot in our vision fades away.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • L Palm

    I had a virgin once (I was a virgin once) not anything to scream about…77? this sounds more like work than heaven.

    I'm waiting for the christian/buddist post…I think I was a passionate, loving, fairminded, atheist scientist (specializing in geothermal and geological sciences) in a past life….God thought I was really close so he sent me back to try again…

    This black smudge swimming in and out of my focus proves that your wit and wisdom lights up my cyberworld…L

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Kim: Mmmmm….delicious sundry dishes…..

    L Palm: "I had a virgin once," and "I was a virgin once" sure does send off two different messages. Excellent! Way to BE both sides of a story!

  • http://calladus.blogspot.com/ Calladus

    (perks up) There's cake here too?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yes — but there's absolutely NO beefcake. Ever. You understand. I only mention it because … well … you know how your kind are.

  • http://assuredscorn.wordpress.com/ -30-

    Cheesecake!? Oh my, we have some common ground after all.

  • lazy

    John an honest question to you (no hidden sarcasm really) :

    You say you are a science freak. And you also are Christian.

    To which extend do you take the words of the Bible litterally ?

    Do you find Genesis for example to be a metaphor ? If yes then how do you decide what's metaphoricall and what is to be taken litterally ?

    And what do you think about physics shich tells us how the universe started with a big bag and then evolved with natural deterministic laws ?

    Ok ok that's not 1 question there are 4 of the but i really wanna know how you think about them.

  • http://watercolorblues.wordpress.com/ Kimberley

    ric,

    Well! I never —-

    No, really. I will concoct anything you want- well, almost – collard greens are out!

  • http://blog.360.yahoo.com/skerrib Kerri B.

    So what am I going to do with my Bible now that I'm not beating people over the head with it anymore? Oh, wait…nevermind.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Harvey: you said, "…it takes a strong faith and belief system to be an athiest everyday, more so than it does to be a christian." There's a world of truth there, brother. Nice.

    (Kim: Thanks for the kind words up there.)

    –30-: Your "now we have something in common" joke delighted me. I love do be delighted. Being LIGHTED is so … inflammatory. No, but … great one.

    Chris: Go ahead. Sing. Right now. (Actually, I'm just now listening to Bob Marley breaking my heart, for the zillioneth time, with his killer spoken anthem, "War." Remember when … whose that singer, with the extraordinary blue eyes…Sinead O'Connor. Remember when she sang, a capella, "War," on SNL, and then said, "Fight the real enemy," and tore up a picture of the POPE?? Anyone remember that. Chris: Sing, but stop short of that. Really. It'll freak people out. As it should.

    Lazy: Good one (about the priests of atheism).

    Ric: Lactose intolerant. Why? Why must you look down upon the Lactose? Why can't you ACCEPT the Lactose? Learn their ways! Learn their culture! The only reason you're intolerant of the Lactose is because you don't KNOW any Lactose!! COME OUT OF YOUR SHELL!! Please. Join the world. It's not too late.

    Lazy: As to your questions: 1. Too broad to answer. (The "to what extent…" question.) 2. Yes, I find Genesis to be a metaphor. But it's perfect; it contains all the wisdom and clear symbology I could possibly want. It's the perfect story. In that, I know it's MORE truthful than any literal history could ever be. 3.The Holy Spirit–my higher nature, God within me–tells me. 4. I have no problem whatsoever with the Big Bang theory, and "natural deterministic laws." Why would I? How is either in conflict with a divine overseeer? Thanks for actually imagining I might have interesting answers to such interesting questions. That'll teach you.

    Kim: God, I love collard greens. Please reconsider.

    Kerri: You are toooo funny!!!

  • http://watercolorblues.wordpress.com/ Kimberley

    John,

    I am glad to have discovered your blog and will be back! You make me laugh, think and occasionally roll my eyes :)

    You have been the catalyst for our peace and harmony, not to mention the fun we are having eating cheesecake and other sundry dishes together.

    Looking forward to more

  • http://earthking.wordpress.com/ earthking

    Thanks for the blog. Christians should exemplify love, yet so many times we don't. You do your best to be kind towards those who don't believe, for whatever reason they might have. Good job.

  • harvey melton

    Well,

    We all one day will find out the truth behind there is no god thing huh? but by then it will be a little late.I would imagine the key is to let alone and let live, argument only solidifies the concrete already in the athiest heart, Prayer is the key, the Holy Spirit can do all that we cant.The athiest will disbelieve until put in a situation to where they have to make a solid choice, but then it may be too late, but that is where prayer comes in at.You know that being a christian doesn’t make anyone perfect nor being anything makes anyone perfect, but we have to do our best to live the example set forth in the scriptures.The ones that are set against change are the first to use any excuse to hide behind in defense of thier own belief, it takes a strong faith and belief system to be an athiest everyday, more so than it does to be a christian.Athieism is a religion all its own it falls hand in hand with ”humanism” in fact the huminist manifesto could very well be the athiest manifesto, hum……food for thought. thanks-Harv

  • http://themorsecode.blogspot.com/ Chris Morse

    Aww John, I’m touched you feel this way. I’m almost tempted to break into song.

    And I was a choir boy, so that’s not idle threat!

  • lazy

    Harvey ,

    “Athieism is a religion….”

    I m just wondering who the priests are and who the “pope” …

    maybe Dawknis ? or Freud ?

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Thanks John. I always wonder weather or not good posture was somehow related to all the strife in this world. And btw, I’m lactose intolerant so cheesecake is out. That’s right, I’m admitted I am intolerant. There is no way I can be reconciled with a CHEESEcake.

  • http://themorsecode.blogspot.com/ Chris Morse

    I never understood why Sinead O'Connor hated the pope. It didn't anger me, it was just confusing.

    Granted, the current pope does like quite a lot like Emperor Palpatine, but that's no reason to go ripping up pictures!

  • http://www.williamely.name/ William

    I am having a hard time understanding the point about the "atheist belief system". The actual reality is that atheists do not agree on anything except that there is no god.

    "Faith" is not involved. It is "Thought" that I subscribe to. I think there is no god because I have not seen anything that supports this supernatural claim. I do not "believe" ANYTHING because belief is unbending. Thought can be changed as new evidence presents itself. Thought and belief are not compatible. I question EVERYTHING I am told.

    I always ask:

    -Where did this information come from?

    -Is the source reliable and qualified to report this information?

    -Has this information been verified, tested, and peer reviewed?

    -Is there supporting evidence?

    I take nothing on faith and truly resent the remark: "it takes a strong faith and belief system to be an athiest"

    It does not require faith to think about the evidence and come to your own conclusion.

    (You did not even spell atheist right! Spell check adds weight to your words.)

    Think, don't believe.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Kim, I had to google collard greens. (hey, admit it, y’all are googling out there! … ok, its prob just me.)

    John, there’s no way I’m chaning for Latose. Latose has to go. Sorry. Ice Cream is bad for you anyways.

  • John Franson

    Will Christians ever quit repeating the tired line that atheists have faith and that atheism is a religion? I don’t believe in the god Thor, because there is no valid evidence for his existence. Does that mean I have to have faith that he doesn’t exist? No, I just don’t believe he exists. In fact, there are potentially an infinite number of things I wouldn’t believe in, because there is no good evidence. Neither would you. If non-belief in something were a religion in and of itself, we’d all sure be walking around with a lot of heavy religious baggage.

    I think this tendency for Christians to call atheists “religious” stems from their own feeling that God must surely exist and that there is good evidence for this. From this perspective, Atheism must seem like denying the obvious. But it is not so obvious. From an intellectual standpoint, all the evidences and arguments for God that the Bible, theologians and apologists have pushed have proven unconvincing to atheists– most of whom, after all, became atheists through an intellectual process, not an emotional one.

    As for the emotional aspect, this “gut feeling” that God exists is one that many atheists do have during the religious phase of their lives (and is, I think, the main reason for most people’s belief in God). There is still an residual gut feeling that occasionally surfaces after becoming atheist, but the intellectual reasons for nonbelief eventually crowd out the old irrational feelings until they vanish entirely.

    Now, atheism is a metaphysical viewpoint, as it has an opinion on religion. As such, it is not religiously neutral and should not be taught in public schools unless it’s in comparative religion class. (And contrary to paranoid Christians, there is no conspiracy to teach atheism or secular humanism in the schools.) But atheism is not, in and of itself, a religion, nor does it require any faith on the part of the atheist.

  • Jesse

    I've really been enjoying your posts and all the commentary these past few days – would be it that there were more thoughtful, open-minded and willing to laugh at their own expense Christians and atheists out there. As an atheist I appreciate your trying to start a respectful dialog and will do my best to respond in kind.

    This is somewhat off topic, but I want to ask you and other Christians a serious hypothetical question. What would you do if you were presented with irrefutable evidence that the person known as Jesus never existed? Maybe you were able to travel back in time and see with your own eyes, or maybe some historical document came to light that could prove this beyond a doubt. And say everything else was the same – you would pray, you would feel (or in your case, KNOW) that God was still there, yet there would still be that irrefutable evidence that in fact, Jesus never existed.

    Would it change what you believe? How?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Lazy: I did answer your questions, in post #14 above.

  • lazy

    John i didn't mean the questions I adressed to you in #11

    I don't remember where i posted it and i am too lazy to search. And it wasn't adressed personally to you but to all Christians. Anyway feel free to answer it now :)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Jesse: Your question isn't … tenable, insofar as manifesting this "proof" you posit would neccessarily entail so much that's now virtually unimaginable that it's impossible to assess what impact it would have on my understanding of reality. You know? If I'm TIME-TRAVELING … then things have so radically changed I'm basically living a life completely different from anything humans have ever known. Trying to predict how I would carry anything from this life into that life is a waste. (And, of course, no such "document" could ever offer the kind of proof upon which your question depends.)

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Lazy: I've looked at everything you've written on my site here, and just don't see the questions you're saying you asked. ?? Anyway, you see above my anwer to Jesses' "What if you traveled through time" question.

  • lazy

    John you argue against the premises of Jesse's question.

    Ok you are right time travel isn't such a good idea and one could question any document that claims Jesus didn't exist.

    But again what if he was mortal and didn't resurrect ?

    Remember last year the hype about his Tomb being found in Jerusalem ?
    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,159
    I am of course sceptical about the whole story cause it's not solid proof yet but in any case it made me think.

    What about you ? did you think about it when you heard the story (this goes to all Christians not just John)

    I mean if this is actually Jesus Tomb then one should reconsider everything about Christianity ? If it is true how would it change your faith ?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Again: Any means by which it was irrefutably proven that Christ wasn't who Christians believe him to be would neccessarily have attached TO it so much stuff we can't even imagine now that it's not reasonable to wonder in what ways EVERYBODY'S ideas about all KINDS of things would change. It's like asking, "What if you were born on MARS? THEN how would you feel about apple dumplings?" I have no idea. Because I'm not a Martian. Just like I don't, right now, live in a world in which it's possible to ascertain stuff like whether or not that tomb was REALLY Jesus'. The ONLY thought I had when that story broke was, "Oh, another dumbass bit of media hype around something about Christ that won't in any way be definitive."

    So, in a final bit of recapping: I have no idea what I would think or believe if every single thing we currently understand about reality were altered to the unimaginable degree it would all HAVE to be in order for there to exist the kinds of proofs for the kinds of things you're here postulating.

  • lazy

    Well OK you are right. It is a highly speculative question although not so speculative as "what if you were a Martian ?" and I understand that you don't wish to answer it.

    Now a question to myself and all other atheists :

    What if we are wrong God exists and Jesus also…

    It's highly speculative BUT i will get to know the answer when I die.

    So if at the moment of my death I "see" God then I 'll say sorry God but you really made a good job hiding yourself from me. Then he 'll send me to hell where i 'll hang around with Jim Morison and Keith Richards (I do hope to outlive him).

    On the other hand if there is nothing i guess my last thought will be something like "ahhh i was right all the time".

  • lazy

    John i didn't want to continue this issue but you force me.

    Of course it is possible to answer the question and i will prove it to you. When i was 17 a read many books of Carlos Castaneda. He described his encounters with a yaqui indian named Don Juan who introduced him to a kind of shamanism and trained him to be his succesor. Maybe you have heard of Castaneda. Back then I was fascinated because his teachings were great from a philosophical point of view and i actually found myself BELIEVING that Don Juan existed and everything good Carlos wrote was true and not fictitious. I read every single book. Some years later I discovered the massive criticism against Castaneda. I read studies of people who actually showed in a clear way that Castanedas work was full of inconsistencies and that it was probably all made up. Castaneda turned out to be a notorious story teller, liar and one interested in making money with his tails. I was shocked and sad. But after a while I thought Ok this guy actually did a good job writing fiction which has some fundamental truths in it. And it would all be fine if he had admitted that it was fiction. But he didn't. So I felt betrayed by Castaneda but kept all the good and interesting "teachings" of "Don Juan" about life and death. if I was a Christian and someone showed me a Tomb in Jerusalem with the inscript "here lies Jesus son of Joseph and Mary" I would be shocked, I would be devastated but after a while I would try and keep the core of his teaching namely Love and compassion and forgiveness and after a while it wouldn't matter at all that he wasn't God.

    See it is possible to answer the question I just did.

    Why is it so hard for you ?

  • Tom

    Palm, when I see posts like this from Harvey, I can't help but debate it.

    Harv…now pay attention.

    "Well,

    We all one day will find out the truth behind there is no god thing huh? but by then it will be a little late."

    I think a rational, omnipotent God would be more offended by someone who professes a hollow faith, or believes just enough to be "saved" over an atheist who is simply being honest. Don't you think?

    "I would imagine the key is to let alone and let live, argument only solidifies the concrete already in the athiest heart,"

    Conrete in my heart? A little harsh, don't you think? I don't call you naive or brainwashed for believing in an all-knowing all-powerful bearded, cloud-dwelling Caucasian in the sky who created the world as it is, rewards the good, punishes the wicked, and most importantly, promises ever-lasting life to the faithful.

    "Prayer is the key, the Holy Spirit can do all that we cant."

    To an atheist, prayer is self-meditation. We rely on action as opposed to words. Those actions have been translated into the nice, cozy, modern, lifesytle you enjoy, courtesy of those heathen scientists, secular humanists, and intellectuals. Imagine if people stopped praying, and started acting. Wow. What a difference.

    "The athiest will disbelieve until put in a situation to where they have to make a solid choice, but then it may be too late, but that is where prayer comes in at."

    Again – if God exists and is all-knowing, he'd probably be more offended by deceptive belief rather than total disbelief.

    "You know that being a christian doesn’t make anyone perfect nor being anything makes anyone perfect, but we have to do our best to live the example set forth in the scriptures."

    Ah yes – set forth in the Scriptures. This must mean you accept the Bible in its entirety. Abstain from eating pork and shellfish, stone those who break the Ten Commandments, kill anyone who tells you to worship other Gods, and tell the current slaves of Sudan, Chad, and Niger to accept their permanent servitude, as it is written.

    "The ones that are set against change are the first to use any excuse to hide behind in defense of thier own belief, it takes a strong faith and belief system to be an athiest everyday, more so than it does to be a christian."

    Yes it is difficult and thank you for noticing. We've gone over this. It's certainly more heart-warming and easier to envision an all-knowing all-powerful God in the sky who created the world as it is, rewards the good, punishes the wicked, and most importantly, promises ever-lasting life to the faithful. Who wants to die?

    Athieism is a religion all its own it falls hand in hand with ”humanism” in fact the huminist manifesto could very well be the athiest manifesto, hum……food for thought. thanks-Harv"

    Atheism is not a religion, Harv. Its simply stating the obvious. There is no proof of God. Conversely, there is no proof there is no God either. But why ask that question Harv? I also can't prove that Pluto was once colonized by pink unicorns or that pigs speak fluent Chinese went left completely alone. It doesn't do any real good to even question whether or not God exists, does it? Atheists live for the here and now because it's all we know for sure.

  • lazy

    Jesse nice question although the time travel thing has been proven not to work (by Kip Thorne). I posted a similar one some time ago here and got no answer. My question was what if Jesus lived but was an mortal (alhtough exceptional) human like everyone else…

    Would it change a Christians belief ?

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, one more time: It’s not that I don’t “wish” to answer that question. It’s that, as I’ve said now two or three times, it’s not POSSIBLE to answer that question. Explaining why that’s true WAS my answer.

  • Jesse

    John, by getting hung up on the time travel aspect, it seems clear to me that you don’t wish to answer it, which is OK. Of course it’s possible to answer. Of course it would be a speculative answer to a speculative question, but it’s one that you should be able to answer honestly. I think that in a philisophical / religious discussion like this, we should be willing to engage in a little speculation.

    lazy – What if we are wrong God exists and Jesus also – I have to agree here that if we are wrong on this point, then we’re certainly doomed to hell. And of course, there’s a possibility, however remote, that we could be wrong, along with billions of other hindus, muslims, scientologists, and others throughout history who either chose not to believe in the right god or never had the opportunity. Unfortunately I have no way of verifying which, if any of these religions is the one true one, so picking any one seems to offer only a marginally higher chance of salvation than not believing in any at all (and provides additional benefits here on earth, imo).

    But that’s not really the precise counterpart to my question for John, which is this: What if you were, while alive and able to still decide one way or another, presented with irrefutable proof of God’s existence? I really can’t imagine what this would be, and yes it is HIGHLY speculative, but presumably if I did receive such proof, I’d convert. I’d start believing. It wouldn’t be a choice, I suppose I’d have to believe because I would just know that a god existed. I suppose that I would have to ignore all the carefully reasoned arguments against the likelihood of any particular God’s existence.

    On another note, I don’t think I’ve ever really really taken that thought seriously, and it actually helps me understand the mind of the faithful a lot better than I did previously.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    Jesse and Lazy,

    You are asking the wrong question(s). That question cannot be answered. Even speculatively. There are speculative questions for which there is no credible response.

    BTW Lazy, You were surprise at my lack of interest in debating creation vs evolution (being the logical/mathematical type) a few days back. I posted my explanation on my blog earlier today.

  • L Palm

    woohoo John…go get ‘em

    Some one needed to remind people this is not a debate forum…it’s a comment posting area where those who love, admire and adore John Shore and his witty repertory can come and read, laugh and share.


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