Reasonfest gets email.

Since I’ve been kicking it in Lawrence I’ve gotten to watch the organizers of Reasonfest doing their last week of organizing before the event (coming to Reasonfest?  Don’t forget to register at the link above and to declare your attendance on the facebook event page!).  One of the organizers sent an email out to all the organizations on campus inviting them to Reasonfest, and I was lucky enough to get to look at some of the email responses they received.  Get ready for a heaping dose of Kansas…

Dear [organizer],

I appreciate your invite to have an open dialogue. While I won’t be able to attend I hope I could share one quick thing with you about myself: I was an abused as a child. One time, my father beat my mother 4 days before my tenth Christmas. I won’t go into any more details. For many years I lived as an incredibly angry, confused, broken and dark person. Then I came to know Christ and everything changed. I cannot tell you how lucky I am. Music is sweeter! The sky is bluer! And I have loved deeper than I ever thought possible. This story is not easy to tell with strangers but it is my responsibility to tell you of the kind of life waiting for you if you just accept Christ.

“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”- Romans 1:19-20

P.S. If any of you are interested in getting to know God better, there is a great bible study at Christian Garrett’s house! (#21 on the men’s basketball team) email me if you want more details.

God Bless everyone of you!  :)

Because Christians are never depressed and atheists are never happy.  This would be a spectacular argument if not for the fact that Christians are often depressed and that atheists are often happy.  So…it’s actually kind of a shit argument.

And look!  A bible verse!  God’s existence is obvious by looking at nature like the earth and the sky.  Well, we know how the earth formed (it wasn’t god, just gravity and matter).  And the sky, well, what about it suggests god?  We know why it’s blue, we know how stars formed, we know why clouds form and why it rains, and none of it requires an appeal to god.  What, exactly, has god made and how do you know?  I look at nature and I see mindless forces acting upon inanimate objects to produce order.  For everything humankind has explained, this has been found to be the explanation.  God is kind of batting .000 on this one.

Oh and how sweet!  The emailer loves open dialogue, but can’t be bothered to come listen to our message.  But at the end they extend the invite to attend their meeting.  I asked the organizer to get me the details on the bible study.  I’d love to go and talk about whether or not nature reveals the existence of god while I’m here in town, and they were nice enough to invite me (I assume I’m covered under “any of you”).  This will be fun.

Here’s another email they got:

God’s Thinking Is Not Man’s Thinking

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.–Colossians 2:8

There is a subtle temptation that encourages Christians to be “practical.” that is, they try to do God’s work in man’s way. “getting results” becomes the primary focus. It almost seems that we believe that the end justifies the means. Do not be led away by the world’s reasoning. An examination of God’s Word shows that the means are sometimes even more important than the results. The world tries to convince you that as long as you can accomplish something for the kingdom of God, that’s all that matters. For example, Ananias and Sapphira gave an offering to their church, which was a good thing, but they did it deceitfully. God judges them immediately, not for what they did, but for how they did it (Acts 5:1-11).

Satan tries to trap Jesus with this same temptation. Satan did not question the worthiness of Jesus’ task, but simply offered “practical” solutions to accomplish Jesus’ goal more quickly and at lesser cost. God’s ways are not like man’s ways. “Efficiecny” from man’s perspective is not prized by God. It did not seem efficient to have the children of Israel march around Jericho thirteen times and then blow their trumpets, but it brought the walls down (Josh. 6). It did not appear wise to select the youngest of Jesse’s sons to become the next king, but God saw a man after His own heart (1 Sam. 16:11). At first glance, it does not seem logical for Jesus to have picked the twelve disciples He did, yet through them God dramatically affected their world.

It is never wise to attempt to do God’s work (or any for that matter) in man’s way. It is an age-old temptation that seems to make sense on the surface but often is at variance with the purposes of God.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.–Romans 12:2

I will continue to pray for you. No response required

I see a lot of assertions…but not any evidence.  And “Getting results” as a focus is a problem?  How so?  Do you know why we prefer medicine over prayer?  Medicine gets results.  If you’re not getting results, then you have a big problem.

And the “god’s thinking is not our thinking” line is probably one of the most immoral things I’ve ever heard.  It absolves god of any behavior no matter how evil or capricious.  Watching while million of children starve to death, through the mechanic of starvation that he created, even though it would be trivially easy for god to feed them?  Meh, there must be some compassionate reason (compassion being the will to stop suffering) that god would create the concept of agony and then let children suffer, even as they pray to god for mercy with more fervor than any American ever prayed for anything.  Entire massacres of the innocent, like during the Holocaust?  Meh, god’s ways are inscrutable.

The moment you accept that you’d feed a child when god wouldn’t, you admit…no, you assert that you can make better calls than god.  The minute you would alleviate the suffering that god engineered, you are unmaking consequences that god implemented.  Yeah, if god exists, his thinking is not our thinking.  Ours is clearly better.  Even if god did exist (which, thankfully, he doesn’t) stop worshiping him because you think the creator of cancer must be an unparalleled cosmic genius.

And again with the “Here, I expect you to listen to me dump my position on you, but don’t bother responding.”  So much for do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.  What an asshole.  What are the odds that his assholery is amplified, not inhibited, by the cross he wears?  Pretty damn good I’d say.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Glodson

    This story is not easy to tell with strangers but it is my responsibility to tell you of the kind of life waiting for you if you just accept Christ.

    Been there, done that, got the backlog of stupid guilt which I never needed. No thanks. It is horrible that this person had a traumatic childhood. That’s heartrending. But the faith is an illusion.

    God’s Thinking Is Not Man’s Thinking

    I guess that excuses genocide.

  • Art Vandelay

    Oh, please go…that will be the greatest bible study ever. Take video if they let you!

  • Rain

    I love the Romans one because it’s the only “ergo Jesus” that I know of in the entire Bible. That’s assuming that Jesus and “God” are the same thing. So yeah it’s a leap because technically it’s actually “ergo God”. But still it’s hilarious how Paul thinks his specific “God” is just so obviously the only true god because just because.

    • Rain

      Actually I shouldn’t say he actually believes any of it because he sounds like a con artist, what with his bit about Jesus appearing to the apostles, and then lastly appearing to lil’ ol’ unworthy Paul. Mr. unworthy and modest Paul that yells at everyone and tells everyone what to do all the time.

      • Randomfactor

        Paul is his century’s equivalent to a used-car salesman. “Have I got a Messiah for YOU!”

  • Taylor

    I just want to point out that J.T. said “assholery”, and that one word made my day.

    • David Hart

      You can, of course, do that with a lot of insults. Personally I quite enjoy ‘douchebaggery’, though ‘dumbassery’ is asking to be mispronounced :-)

      As a UK resident, I also need to put in a vote for ‘wazzockry’, the act or habit of being a wazzock. But I don’t see that one catching on Stateside any time soon.

      • Zed

        I’m going to have to start using wazzock in my repertoire

        Because that is a fun word.

  • IslandBrewer

    ” Music is sweeter! The sky is bluer! And I have loved deeper than I ever thought possible.”

    Was there a trail effect, too? Because that sounds like either X or LSD, to me.

    Or maybe it could just be getting away from an abusive asshole.

  • Jasper

    Strange – my life has improved since I stopped believing. I no longer have to waste time with, and by frustrated by, trying to make sense out of a massive supernatural conspiracy theory playing out in my head when it came to random events in my life.

    I just accept life as it is, and it’s a lot less frustrating, and a lot more manageable that way… after all, knowing is half the battle.

    • Loqi

      It’s almost as if there’s no significant relationship between how happy someone is and whether or not the things they believe are true. Man, wouldn’t that be weird.

  • Andrew Kohler

    “Music is sweeter.”

    Giuseppe Verdi was an atheist, or at very most a deist. Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Stephen Sondheim, Paul Dessau, Alban Berg, and Hanns Eisler are/were all Jews, and several also had Communist leanings. Arnold Schoenberg was a Jew who converted to Christianity and then converted back, largely in defiance of Nazi anti-Semitism. Gustav Mahler was a Jew who unenthusiastically converted to Christianity (saying it was like changing coats) for the sake of his career (he was working in a terribly anti-Semitic environment) and derided religious dogma in one of his letters. I’ve heard Richard Strauss claimed as an atheist but need to do more research into that (I can think of no reason to doubt it, however). When applying for conscientious objector status during WWII, Benjamin Britten testified that he did not accept the “divinity of Christ” but believed in Christ’s principles. (Britten wasn’t given full exemption right away and had to appeal, ultimately successfully–his statements indicate that he believed his apparently insufficiently religious reasoning was part of the problem, and I am inclined to agree.) Carl Orff’s daughter (Godela, who I regret to tell you died on April 6 at 92) reported that her father left Catholicism following the suicide of one of his classmates who’d left the faith. Orff’s last stage work, De Temporum Fine Comoedia (“Play on the End of Times,” premiere 1973) replaces salvation through Jesus with Lucifer’s confession, which has the effect of erasing the concept of sin (Origen’s teaching of apokatastasis). And, of course, we have Tim Minchin :-)

    That is but a partial listing of composers who were/are not Christian (although some may have identified as Christian when asked). There are many other great musicians (for example, a large number of famous pianists are Jewish) who also are/were not Christian. I am willing to venture that the author of the letter above does not have a more meaningful experience with music than Mahler, Orff, or Britten. Nor do I think that there is a difference between their experiences and those of great musicians who are/were devout Christians –this is one instance in which there is no causal link with religiosity. (By the way, even though Olivier Messiaen was a devout Catholic, he was a member of a left-leaning sect with some mystic leanings.)

    • David Hart

      Just try picking apart what Karlheinz Stockhausen’s religious affiliations were (for those who don’t know the name, he was one of the pioneers of electronic music, and one of the leading avant-garde composers of the second half of the 20th Century).

      Eve, Michael, Lucifer, the Urantia Book, astrology, you name it…

  • iknklast

    Kansas? I have only one county between me and Kansas. Which might be why answers to essay questions in my science class often read very much like those e-mails. When I moved from Oklahoma to Nebraska, I had to drive through Kansas. I had hoped I’d leave all the Oklahoma nonsense in some oil stain on the Kansas highway, but it appears that it continues to extend its grip northward.

    See you in Kansas, J.T.