The Atheist Asshole and Jen P. on 3/9/12

Hi Jen,

I promise I won’t pester. I just wanted to let you know that I was absolutely serious when I said I’d be happy to speak with your pastor. Please feel free to pass my info along to him. I understand he may not have the desire or the time to speak with me, but if he does, I welcome it.

Also, I encourage you to watch the following video. It’s all about “open-mindedness.” Feel free to hate it, but, per you, I encourage you to “keep and open mind.” That, and it’s only a couple of minutes long. In exchange, I’ll happily check out whatever you’d like to pass along.

Best,

Anton.

Open-mindedness
http://www.youtube.com
A look at some of the flawed thinking that prompts people who believe in certain non-scientific concepts to advise others who don’t to be more open-minded. m…

[Jen had made one of those stupid requests which the religious often make, that I keep an open mind about whatever bullshit she was claiming. I don’t recall if I mentioned this in our original conversation, but I really don’t think most people know what the expression means as they almost exclusively apply so-called open-minded thinking only as a suggestion to other-believers or non-believers, but never to themselves. It goes both sways, kiddies!]

I take back my comment about having an open mind. We all have things in our lives that we accept as basic truths, as non-negotiables. My belief in God, in the fact that Jesus died on the cross, that I am His child, created with purpose and on purpose- these are all things that really aren’t up for debate. I respect that you do not share my beliefs. I wonder if you are married or are a parent. To me, if you witness your newborn child come into this world, I don’t understand how you can’t believe in something bigger than yourself, something/someone with a bigger plan for you than you could ever imagine.
Anyway, if you want answers or explanations, then it seems to me that you should be the one to reach out to the Pastor. Otherwise, wouldn’t it just be a waste of his time? If you feel as strongly as I do, then I suspect it would be. Let’s face it, we could both talk until we’re blue in the Facebook but it would make no difference.

[This wasn’t the first time I’d heard the “babies are magic” appeal. To be honest, I can kind of understand it. Life, especially new life, especially new life that we create, is pretty darn cool. I know this not from my own experience (though I did do one of those grow-your-own-plant projects in grade school), but I trust the opinions I’ve heard from parents. At the same time, though, the babies-are-magic appeal is ultimately an argument from ignorance. We don’t fully understand the intricacies of the human brain, of life, so… God did it!

Let’s pretend for a second, though, that the experience Jen mentioned did blow my mind to the degree that I thus concluded that there must be something bigger than me. What, specifically, about that experience would lead me to logically and inevitably conclude all that which Jen claims about God and Jesus? Why couldn’t it be that seeing my first child be born would lead me to Zeus or Quetzalcoatl? Of course there are a great any factors involved: the social, the historical. What I find amazing is religious’ arrogance that the conclusion I’d reach watching the head pop out would be that their religious convictions are the correct ones.

Finally on this point, I was actually rather pleased to see that Jen dropped her bullshit insistence that she had an open mind. I was glad to see that she admitted that she doesn’t. It’s truly quite rare to see any religious drop any bullshit on anything. Go Jen!]

Hi Jen,

I appreciate your reply. I try to keep things as brief as possible.

>I take back my comment about having an open mind. We all have things in our lives that we accept as basic truths, as non-negotiables.

I understand what you mean, of course. There are many things that I accept as basic truths, although I’d make the argument that their basic truth has been demonstrated.

>My belief in God, in the fact that Jesus died on the cross, that I am His child, created with purpose and on purpose- these are all things that really aren’t up for debate.

Were you raised Christian? Did you convert as an adult? I ask because I was raised Christian. I was raised to believe that there was a God, Jesus, that Jesus died on the cross. It wasn’t until my late teens that I wondered how anyone knew any of this. When I asked my parents and pastors, they had no answers. I was expected to take the so-called truth of their statements as given. But if all the claims made of God and Jesus are true, wouldn’t we want to be sure? Wouldn’t we want irrefutable, testable, reproducible evidence? That’s why I asked you about other faiths. They all make absolute claims of reality, don’t we want to make sure the system we follow is the correct one?

>I respect that you do not share my beliefs.

And I respect that you have the right not to share mine.

>I wonder if you are married or are a parent.

I’ve been married and will soon be again. I don’t have kids, though that is the long-term plan.

>To me, if you witness your newborn child come into this world, I don’t understand how you can’t believe in something bigger than yourself, something/someone with a bigger plan for you than you could ever imagine.

I understand the desire for a purpose. We’re human. We have feelings. We witness cause and effect. But in fact, my best friend and his wife are both atheists, have been for years, and they two years ago had their son. No conversions. They accept reality on the evidence. It’s true that their son is a beautiful, bright, happy little boy, but the necessary link between those adjectives and some sort of supernatural plan would have to be proved. Why can’t we make our own purpose, have our own plan?

>Anyway, if you want answers or explanations, then it seems to me that you should be the one to reach out to the Pastor.

That’s fair. Please feel free to pass his information on to me. Or at least a clue as to what church you attend. There are quite a few.

>Otherwise, wouldn’t it just be a waste of his time?

I guess that depends on how seriously he takes his duty as a pastor. Is his job solely to preach to the choir? My understanding is that it’s every Christian’s obligation to not only alert people to the gospel, but convince them to follow it.

>If you feel as strongly as I do, then I suspect it would be.

I understand what you’re saying, but again, the difference between us is that you fully admit that you will not change your mind under any circumstances. I’ve admitted that I’m always willing to change my mind given evidence.

> Let’s face it, we could both talk until we’re blue in the Facebook but it would make no difference.

I understand what you’re suggesting and, to some degree, I agree with you. If you are absolutely unwilling to consider even the slightest possibility that you might be wrong, then you obviously won’t ever examine your beliefs and why you have them; however, if you’re willing to be honest about your beliefs, I could at least learn a thing or two about them if you were willing to share. Not a theological debate, more a sincere, curious discussion.

For example, you said you believed in Satan and demons. Do you also, then, believe in demonic possession? If so, do you find it odd that only Christians ever claim to be possessed, never atheists or Buddhists?

I’ll leave you with two things. The second is another video below. Feel free to hate it. The first is, as I mentioned on Ben’s thread, I wonder what the value is of teaching children to fear Hell. My friend was raised Southern Baptist and understood from her church that if she didn’t pray every night, she’d go to Hell. The church also gave plenty of explicit detail of what it’d be like. Her parents validated the church’s teachings. Not one piece of objectively verifiable evidence was ever provided. My friend was terrified that if she missed even one night of prayer, she’d end up in Hell. To this day, she can’t watch movies about demons for, even though she’s left her faith, she can’t help but cringe at the fear that had been instilled in her. I wonder how her experience wasn’t socially acceptable psychological child abuse. It scared her to death when she was a child and still affects her as an adult. How is that good?

Best,

Anton.

Free Will – “God” style: a gift?
http://www.youtube.com
We are always reminded by Christians that God gave us free will. Indeed, the wrongful exercise of free will back in the Garden of Eden was what stuffed up al…

[I totally forgot that Jen admitted to believing in Satan and demons. I really should’ve stopped the conversation there. Even though I think she’s full of shit, I don’t think anyone really believes in Satan, if someone’s willing to publicly assert that, well, the conversation simply can’t go vey far. What can I say? I was dumb.]

I go to Community Baptist Church in Rancho Cucamonga. You can look up their podcasts on iTunes.
I’m very sorry that your friend was brought up with that kind of fear. God is not about fear. He is love. He is forgiveness. I hope she gives Christ another chance to fill her heart!
To go to Heaven, it takes 3 things: Admit that you are a sinner in need of God. Believe that Jesus died and rose again for your sins. Confess Jesus is Lord of your life and turn away from your sin. Batta-boom, batta-bing you’re in! Simple stuff. Simple, though, to someone like me who accepts the concept of faith as something real. I agree that I’m, in some way, supposed to change your mind, heart. Because our conversation came up on the newsfeed, I received a very nice email from an old high school friend, a non-Christian actually. She paid me the nice compliment of saying that, while it was obvious I am passionate about my faith, I was kind and non-condemning during our discussion. So while I may be unable to change your mind, maybe I opened the door for someone else who read our conversation. That makes me happy.
This summer a friend’s teen son hung himself. I don’t understand why God “let” this happen. I continue to look for answers and guidance. As awful as it is, I can’t begin to imagine how much worse it would be if I did not have my faith to find peace within.
It is ultimately your choice to go through this life without God. But I’ll pray for you anyway, just for the Hell of it.
Sincerely,
Jen

[Jen was right on this one. She was definitely one of the more pleasant religious I’ve ever dealt with. But man, a fucking Baptist church?? Those guys drive me nuts. And don’t forget that the Southern Baptist Convention specifically, explicitly, publicly endorsed slavery on biblical grounds for over a century!

And seriously, what the fuck is up with this faith horseshit? If faith means believing something either with no supporting evidence or with evidence to the contrary, why i that a virtue? And if we switch out the word for the definition, we get this: “I’m very passionate about my belief in something with no supporting evidence.” See how stupid that reads? KNow why? Because it is. Were it not for the social acceptance of such a sentiment, we’d laugh at it like we laugh at anything that’s ridiculous.

And why is it that the religious talk about faith as if it were a publicly traded commodity? “I share my faith,” “Strengthen your faith,” “…if I did not have my faith to find peace within.”

Lastly, I’ve never understood the (liberal) Christian’s instance that God is love. Certainly, the Bible contains passages that would lend themselves to this notion, like John 3:16, but there are also plenty that tell us, in often gruesome detail, how angry God is, how he has to punish us, how he commits acts of genocide (worldwide flood anyone?) to rather discount this whole God-is-love thing.]

Following is Jen’s church:

logo.png

Here’s her delightful pastor:

RobRedo2.jpg
Hey Jen,

Thanks for getting back to me. And again, I don’t expect you to answer any of my questions.

>I go to Community Baptist Church in Rancho Cucamonga. You can look up their podcasts on iTunes.

I’ll have to look up Community Baptist. Not sure yet about the podcasts.

>I’m very sorry that your friend was brought up with that kind of fear. God is not about fear. He is love. He is forgiveness.

I have no intention of starting a debate on Hell, but every single Christian who was born-again or fundamentalist, someone who buys the whole kit and kabootle, swears that Hell is literal and we should fear going there. Thus, how is that not about fear?

Do you teach your children that Hell is a literal place where people like me go? Or Salman Rushdie? Or my Hindu friend Mahesh? Or my gay, Buddhist brother? Or my best friend who, other than not being born-again, leads a good life?

>I hope she gives Christ another chance to fill her heart!

She actually became a full-fledged, self-identifying atheist a few months ago after she pronounced that Jesus was a real, historical figure, I asked her how she knew, she investigated of her own accord, found no evidence at all, and let it go. She in fact reports that she’s ecstatic to know that there’s nothing to fear, not Satan, not demons, not Hell.

>To go to Heaven, it takes 3 things: Admit that you are a sinner in need of God. Believe that Jesus died and rose again for your sins. Confess Jesus is Lord of your life and turn away from your sin. Batta-boom, batta-bing you’re in!

Does this mean that, per God, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to commit any number of crimes or atrocities, but, just as long as I ask forgiveness, it’s all forgiven? I ask because every Christian I’ve ever talked to has said that yes, this is the case.

>Simple stuff. Simple, though, to someone like me who accepts the concept of faith as something real. I agree that I’m, in some way, supposed to change your mind, heart.

I really wonder if we define “faith” the same way. What does the word mean to you?

>Because our conversation came up on the newsfeed, I received a very nice email from an old high school friend, a non-Christian actually. She paid me the nice compliment of saying that, while it was obvious I am passionate about my faith, I was kind and non-condemning during our discussion.

I generally agree and appreciate that.

>So while I may be unable to change your mind, maybe I opened the door for someone else who read our conversation. That makes me happy.

As I said before, you’re completely able to change my mind. All you have to do is provide objectively verifiable evidence of your claims or point me to a source that can. My mind has been changed on all kinds of things once evidence is provided. It’s really not rocket science.

For example, if you’re willing, I can point you to any number of sources that explain evolution plainly and clearly. Same with Bible history. Same with linguistics. I don’t even think any of these would be a threat to your faith.

>This summer a friend’s teen son hung himself. I don’t understand why God “let” this happen. I continue to look for answers and guidance.

I’ve witnessed a few tragedies myself, like a former work colleague whose eight-year-old daughter died of Chron’s (sp?) disease. Unfortunately, life simply isn’t fair, no matter what people tell or sell us.

I wonder what led to your friend’s son’s death, if it was anything obvious like those gay teens who killed themselves recently. And if this boy wasn’t “saved”, doesn’t that mean he went to Hell?

>As awful as it is, I can’t begin to imagine how much worse it would be if I did not have my faith to find peace within.

Speaking as someone who’s experienced tragedy without faith, I can tell you that it is extremely difficult, but I prefer living a life based on evidence than one in which I tell myself something to give myself temporary reprieve only to be left with unresolved questions and issues.

>It is ultimately your choice to go through this life without God. But I’ll pray for you anyway, just for the Hell of it.

Since de-converting at age 19, I have felt highs and lows. I’ve experienced heartbreak and disappointment, but I’ve also cherished that my life is what I make it. I’m not beholden to ancient rules or rationalizations for which there’s not one lick of evidence.

But thanks anyway.

Best,

Anton.

%d bloggers like this: