- Religion and Philosophy
Atheists at Play - The Bait and Bash Game
Inevitably, when one sees this sort of question/challenge posted online, it very quickly reveals itself to be deliberately designed to suck in Christians and make them say there is a God or some such thing. The poster, you can bet, already has a quiver full of what he or she believes are devastating put-downs and witty bits of ridicule, ready to rain down upon the heads of any misguided religionist who has the temerity to respond.
So, it's a trap.
I respond to Austinstar here because, frankly, I'm not limited by space on my personal blog, as I am in the comments section of the original post. Also, if you come to my blog, I make a little money on the ads sometimes. An atheist can hardly blame me for that. It's only hypocrisy if you lie about it.
As to my reason for telling people like Ms. Austinstar that there is a God, the thing is, I don't. Not unless asked or invited to tell them what I believe. Then I answer the question. It's part of what Christians call "The Great Commission". Jesus told us we ought to spread the Good News. So we do. It's that simple. If one, being an atheist, does not want to hear anyone say that there is a God, one should avoid posting questions like the one above or hanging out where there are Christians about.
You are a whole lot less likely to have religious conversation spill over on you and soil your robes of enlightenment if you don't go to places where Christians are likely to be speaking freely. Just a suggestion, although one I'm pretty sure that most militant atheists won't take. I would respond to Ms. Austinstar's question with a question of my own.
When you tell me there is no God, who are YOU trying to convince?
You see it a lot. Militant atheists like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens have been spending as much time with Christians lately as with their fellow atheists debating the whole issue of God and religion. They're making quite a lot of money at being televangelists for atheism. So when you point out that there are some reprehensible folk among Christians, lets leave off the televangelists. You have your own preachers and they are every bit as mercenary and they say things every bit as cruel and unkind as any backwoods snake-handling fundamentalist.
One thing I find among the militant atheists I encounter is that they all have horror stories about how hypocritical and mean-spirited Christians are, as though the presence of a bit of bad behavior by a handful of untransformed sinners in the church thereby taints the whole Christian faith. The Christian faith or "the church", if you will, was never designed as a museum for saints, but, rather, as a hospital for sinners. It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that the place is full of sinners seeking salvation, any more than one should be surprised that a hospital is full of sick people seeking medical treatment. That is, after all, the ultimate purpose of both institutions - to heal the sick.
If you want to visit a museum for saints, run down to your nearest university. The place is chock-a-block with smug, self-important folk who will be glad to tell you how superior they are to ordinary mortals. Perhaps that explains the militant proselytizing atheists have been doing lately. You used to only see that among evangelical Christians, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons. Now we've got ostensibly intelligent people claiming to be scientists running around proclaiming the gospel of atheism to people who are not interested.
Austinstar's supporters claim they don't understand why we would tell others there is a God, while they demonstrating that they have every bit the evangelical fervor of Christians. This is because both Christians and Atheists have powerful world-views that drive their behavior.
Christians view the world as one big disaster and see their job as running around saving people who would otherwise be lost. Everyone has the right of refusal. Jesus told us that if they have no interest in hearing the gospel, to shake off the dust and move along. Some misguided Christians have attempted to frighten folk into the church and even went so far as to borrow ideas about hell from Greek mythology to use as a club to keep the troops in line. This sort of behavior is why the Protestant Reformation happened. Sadly, not every Protestant group remembered why they left in the first place, but it's the sort of thing you'd expect if the devil really did want to take down the church.
So Christians troll the world looking for people to save. If you turn one away, it should come as no surprise if another comes by later wanting to save you. All you have to do is politely turn them down and most will go away - unless they are your mother and then they flat out won't stop praying for you. Get used to it.
The reason Godly people keep coming at you is because there are rather a lot of us and we aren't terribly well organized or communicate well between the various groups of would-be soul rescuers.
The new religion of scientism (and it bears all the earmarks of a religion) is also a faith-based philosophy that places its trust in the reliability of man's honesty, integrity and intelligence, clothed in a kind of sanctioned scientific liturgy as the basis of its beliefs. It also tends to include some troubling attendant beliefs, such as the rather strong political bias among atheists towards progressive socialism, a philosophy that posits that a group of very smart people can plan collective action for their less intelligent fellow citizens in the realms of economics, health care, energy, industry, housing and education. The idea being that science and scientists, smart people and politicians can make people better. This belief is every bit as powerful as the belief that only God can make us better people.
The new religion of scientism appears to be little more than the re-establishment of a nouveau hereditary nobility of the sort that has plagued mankind throughout its history. Only instead of family dynasties, we get genetic dynasties of individuals claiming to have "natural" abilities and intelligences that make them our rightful leaders. Why else would these people be so petulant when someone challenges their right to tell the rest of us what to do and what to believe?
© 2014 by Tom King
Why I Talk About God
I don't know a whole lot of Christians who enjoy shoving Jesus into the faces of people who do not want to hear about him. Other than a few weirdsmobiles among us who get off on confrontation, most of us see ourselves as witnesses. You ask us what we've seen and experienced we will tell you. If you don't want to hear about what we know and have experienced of God, don't ask. It's just that simple.
Personally, here's why you will here me express the idea that God is real.
- It came up in the conversation and you asked me about it. That's not stuffing God down your throat.
- I am writing about my personal experiences or beliefs on the subject. This will be in a book I have written or on one of my weblogs. If you do not wish to see this material, don't go there.
- I am responding to a question you asked. If you don't want it answered with what I believe is the truth, don't ask.
- I am responding to an attack on my faith. This is like throwing down a gauntlet AFTER you've stuck the lance in. It's likely to receive a response. If I were to write about my belief in God and say some things about atheism or scientism that you think are untrue or unfair and you were to respond with an honest offer of debate on the subject, I would not object. So why should you?
- I am out doing good. Whether I am out doing some sort of outreach ministry to the homeless, in a mission setting where we are bringing relief to a disaster area or to poor people or in church to which you are always welcome and invited, you are never, ever required to listen to me and my posse prattle on about God. If you happen to see us doing these things and we are obviously being Christian and talking openly about God, all you have to do is move along till you are out of earshot.
Of course, you may see the odd unwanted advertisement for a Christian charity, for an evangelistic service or the mention of God in some public service ad. That's the hazard of living in a country where free expression is allowed. Hey, we see ads for things we don't want too. You may freely ignore it all. Whether we think you are bound for hell or not is immaterial. You guys certainly make your own judgments about us. Ultimately, the choice is yours as to whether you want to pay attention to people talking about God or not.