My Friend, the Atheist, Didn't Show

A surprising call

Several months ago I got a surprising but very welcome call from an atheist. I had never heard of him, but he had come across some of my hubs and thought he'd ring me up. I had a very pleasant chat with Bob (not his real name) who told me he thought I'd be interested in his proposal. "You seem to be the kind of guy a person can talk to," he said. "How would you like to interview me and write it up as a hub?" I'd never had an offer like that and must admit I wondered if he had some trick up his sleeve. "Let me think about it," I responded. We said good-bye. A few days later I heard from Bob again. He wanted me to understand that he was not just any ordinary atheist. He was the chairman of his state's Atheist Society. I asked what purpose he had for such an interview. "Simply to promote mutual understanding," was his reply. Well, I couldn't quarrel with that. I promised to write up some questions and email them to him. Actually I wrote something of a counter proposal of my own. This is what Bob got from me on or about October 23, 2012.

Source

Agreement on an interview of Bob by Frank - October 21,2012

It is understood that Bob, an atheist, has suggested that Frank, a retired Christian pastor, interview him for the purpose of encouraging mutual understanding between their respective camps. Frank agrees to this suggestion upon the following conditions.

  1. Questions are placed and answered in writing via email.
  2. All communication will reflect our own convictions and be tendered with respect and mutual appreciation.
  3. Frank will write introductory paragraphs which set the table for the interview and concluding paragraphs offering his own take on Bob's answers.
  4. Bob, if he chooses to do so, may write final paragraphs offering his take on the interview and my concluding paragraphs.
  5. Obviously, the above assumes Bob will see the final product before it is published on HubPages.
  6. The final decision as to whether or not to publish is Frank’s

Assuming agreement to the above conditions, I propose the following questions. Be brief and concise as the entire hub should not exceed 1500 words.

  1. What are the main factors which caused you to conclude that there is no God?
  2. How would you define the term “God” as used in your answer to #1?
  3. What do you think of Jesus Christ?
  4. What or who is the final authority in your life? Put differently, by what means do you determine what is true or false?
  5. What is the mission of the atheist movement?
  6. Atheists desire peace and justice and long for personal joy and fulfillment. What brings these about and how do you experience them?
  7. What offers you confidence in the face of the death we shall all experience?

It's been three months

Apparently Bob has lost interest in the project he suggested to me or maybe he's still thinking about the questions. I think you'll agree that they are honest questions that would encourage continued dialogue. I'm not interested in any gotchas going either way.

It's not for me to judge Bob for his no show. But I admit to some disappointment. So I'm writing this up as a hub to see if any atheists or agnostics reading this might want to engage me as Bob had suggested. Same deal applies. Just let me know. Send me an email through the normal HP channels.

Update since first published

Indeed I was pleased to get a response to my proposal within a few days. Olivia, a delightful young woman, offered to take up the challenge. She asked to write an opening paragraph to explain that she wrote for herself, not all atheist. The resulting hub has attracted a bit of attention - "A Christian Pastor Interviews an Atheist... and they like each other"

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Comments - I'm listening 16 comments

Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

It's not really surprising that there are misunderstandings. As you say, Lift & Soar, different people come to conversations with different world views. This can lead to frustration, which shows itself, sometimes, as anger, nastiness or condescension.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 3 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Thanks, my friend from across the pond, Trish_M. Thanks for the clarifications. Within a Christian world and life view what James says is correct. But I'm learning that just as I hate it when atheist consider Christians their intellectual inferiors, atheist/agnostics are put of by our addressing them on Christian assumptions. If there is a God, he'll break through whatever needs to be broken through to show himself to an atheist. We Christians need to learn to listen with understanding, while at the same time holding to our convictions. Methinks that loudness on whatever side betrays deep down insecurities about one's position.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi again, Lift and Soar :)

Hope all's well.

As I said, I'm sure that you know how I feel on many aspects of this subject, but I have to add something in response to James' comments.

James and I have debated issues before, by the way, and we often tend to disagree :)

The thing is, he has assumed that atheists are 'desperate that there be no God', perhaps because of guilt issues. But the truth is much more simple than that. Atheists just believe that there is no god / God. That's the definition.

It's possible that some atheists might even feel desperate for the existence of a helpful god ~ but wanting it, or not wanting it, is irrelevant, if one feels certain that god / God doesn't exist.

Of course, each atheist, like each believer, may have other issues, but that is irrelevant to what atheism is. The fact that the two camps argue, or even 'lash out' at each other, is more of a human issue than a theological one.

It's also important to remind some believers that humans believe in / have believed in more than one god. There is an assumption that atheists have rejected the Biblical 'God', but no; they don't believe in any god. Just as many believers don't believe in Zeus or Odin, etc. In that respect, believers are atheists, too.

I consider myself agnostic, rather than atheist, because there are mysteries, which I do not have answers for. God may be somewhere within those mysteries. What that 'God' may be like, if that God exists, I have no idea.

Maybe there is a God; maybe not. I do not believe that God, if God exists, is as described in the Biblical myths, though. And I doubt very much that Jesus was God incarnate. But not believing in the legends of Hebrew tribes does not me an atheist make. It simply means that I do not believe their version of the matter.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 3 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Funny you should ask, James. Just yesterday I published a hub titled "A Christian Pastor interviews an Atheist... and they like each other" I'd love your take on it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 3 years ago from Chicago

You know, it seems that many atheists are desperate that there be no God. Why, do you suppose, is it so important to them that God be not there?

I think much of it has to do with the habitual behaviors they are trapped in, that they do not want to give up. I also think some of them are guilt-ridden and want to lash out at Christians to make themselves feel better. I mean, if there is no God, why are they so passionate about it? Look at the HubPages forums. Things are said in there ad nauseum by atheists, who then rush to congratulate each other on how "smart" and "advanced" they are, that are downright nasty and hateful toward God and those who love Him.

Anyway, I love your Hub and it really got me to thinking, which I suppose you can tell. Did anything ever come of it?

God Bless You Pastor!

James


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 3 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

Ha, Trish, so good to hear from you. I wondered if you'd come across this. Well, you have taught me well how to understand and respect atheists. Am looking forward to an exchange with nenfea.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 3 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi liftandsoar :)

Those are some interesting questions.

I'm guessing that I've probably already given you my thoughts on most of them :)

All the best :)


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

I love your approach. I think your response shows divine wisdom. God be with you if anyone takes up your challenge.


Paladin_ profile image

Paladin_ 3 years ago from Michigan, USA

It's a shame this fellow Bob didn't follow through with his own idea. Even if circumstances arose that prevented him from completing the project, I think at least a quick note of explanation would be in order -- unless something happened to him that made this impossible. Let's hope your friend Bob is okay.

Voted up for posing what appear to be sincere and interesting questions. I hope they get answered to your satisfaction.


aguasilver profile image

aguasilver 3 years ago from Malaga, Spain

Good questions, good hub, I shall follow with interest!


Michele Travis profile image

Michele Travis 3 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

Sounds interesting. I also look forward to reading it.


liftandsoar profile image

liftandsoar 3 years ago from Richmond, VA Author

nenfea, thanks for your quick response. I've read some of your hubs. Appreciate your perspective and also how you express yourself. If you haven't already, it might be a good idea to read some of mine. Kinda like, let's get to know each other. I'll be in touch with you via email. Then we can go "public" when the piece is ready. k?


Caleb DRC profile image

Caleb DRC 3 years ago

You are right; I found it intriguing. I also find it brilliant! I hope you will be taken up on your offer. I'll be keeping track.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

Very good questions indeed. I look forward to seeing if he will take part. I know God puts Himself out there for atheists as much as anyone so it is hard for me to take pity on them although some think I should not feel that way. Just hard to me to open my eyes or ears and not know everyone does see or hear God. And then He died for them...what more do they want? They are so mean spirited too; about someone they don't believe exists! I guess they are my thorn in the side.


Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Interesting approach. I will be listening also.


nenfea profile image

nenfea 3 years ago

I would love to answer these questions for you, but I will have to add the disclaimer before I answer anything that I can only speak for myself, not for any other atheists, because there is a wide variety of beliefs within the atheist/agnostic community.

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