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6 Responses to Common Christian Misperceptions (From an Atheist)

Updated on December 7, 2014

"I'm so sorry that Christians were so mean/didn't teach you the right gospel/didn't emphasize grace enough/weren't Christlike/didn't love you enough. I just want you to know, I'm a Christian and I'm not like that/I don't preach that because I love people, and I just want to share the grace of Christ with you in love, man. Because I'm no better than you; when it comes down to it, we're all sinners. It's JESUS who saves us. If someone lied to you and said that Christians are better or didn't tell you enough about God's grace, I'm SO sorry."

First, you should know that, even though you're trying to stand out, nothing you said there is original. You're doing the very thing you're apologizing for, and I've heard it many times before.

Please Don't Do This

Second, you're assuming that I'm wrong, even though I obviously don't agree with you. Rather than engage in honest discourse about Christianity, you just pity me in my assumed wrongness -- without any logic or proof behind your statements; nothing but your tears. I'm very sure I'm not wrong on Christianity, which means that I don't share in your pity for me not being a Christian anymore. So your pity, from my perspective, is a waste of time and it kinda frustrates me and pisses me off if you use it to get me to "return" to Christianity.

I mean, I guess it's a bit better than heartless nothing. But what I REALLY want is for you to LISTEN TO ME instead of having a funeral. Because I'm not attending it. Because I don't care how sorry for me you feel -- it doesn't make you RIGHT. And that's really what I care about. Because if you're gravely wrong, as it seems extremely clear to me you are, it doesn't matter how you frame it or cry about it or apologize for it -- you're still conducting your life and influencing mine based on a profoundly harmful delusion, and you need to change it up.

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"And then I thought ______. Isn't that amazing? I knew that thought had to come from somewhere outside of me -- I mean, I KNOW I didn't think that on my own, because ______. So, I'm really thankful to God for giving me that gracious moment of clarity."

1. You're the person who thinks that the thought is amazing. So, like, that's your own intelligence working to provide that self-compliment to the thought.

Another theory

2. You seem to have a rather limited view of how your brain is allowed to work. I have thoughts dawn on me all the time -- often there will be something I have been thinking about for a long time, and suddenly there's a random breakthrough. Doesn't mean the thought came from God, because often it disagrees with Him. And if you think it came from Satan -- um, how do you know YOUR thoughts didn't come from Satan, too? It's a hypothesis that you can just use to reject thoughts you don't like and accept thoughts you like, without further argument.

3. Um...it sounds like you're saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen, my thought was so GENIUS that it came from GOD. You have your thoughts -- mine come from GOD." In other words, it sounds a lot like you're using God as a trumpet for your own opinion.

Learn a little honest humility and accept the thought as your own, gleaned from your own experience.

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Like this...

"I know God's real, because he's worked in my life in miraculous ways. Let me tell you about what God's done for me..."

OK, great. You got that check in the mail for the EXACT right amount, right after you prayed. Your cancer went away two days after the prayer session. You prayed for someone, and the next day their eczema vanished.

Awesome. You know what? I'm happy for you. Really, I am.

But I've heard from many other religious traditions, like the Christian Science church, where amazing things have happened. I believe it. I've seen their tears and conviction. If you don't believe me, see for yourself. Go to any faith tradition where the people are remotely devout, and you'll hear amazing stories. Like the man in his seventies who doesn't believe in medicine and hasn't taken it a day in his life because he believes that he is a man JUST like Jesus Christ. Tears rolling down his cheeks and overwhelming sincerity. I mean...you'll see it. Guaranteed. Go ahead and try it, or Google it.

So...if I think you're right, I have to believe that all these people are wrong...when they have the same exact evidence you do.

You see the problem here? I can't simultaneously convert to 4200 different religions. I mean, are they ALL right because amazing things happened?

Look, I'll be honest with you. I don't know. A lot of atheists are sure that it's just coincidence. I don't really know what "coincidence" is...all I know is that it happened. The universe is weird -- maybe something weird rearranged itself or something or other and people get what they want every now and again and they call it a miracle. Or maybe it's just coincidence. But it can't be proof that the God who says that people who engage in same-sex sex are sinning is real, or that Buddhists go to hell, or any of the other views. I mean...that's invalidating all the other data from other people of other faith traditions who trumpet the same stories.

So, Christian, I'm not necessarily trying to take your beautiful story away. But I don't see why it compels me to think that my neighbor, with his amazing story, is going to spend eternity in hell, and it doesn't seem proof that your particular God is real. Weird things occur and happen in the universe all the time, and "I don't know" is a better conclusion than an irrational one that simply ignores what people claim they went through.

My two cents.

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Kirk Cameron Doing It

One mistake a lot of Christians make is that Atheists have to have a kind of really strong faith that there is no God. Having faith in God takes a lot of effort, so Christians think that being an atheist would require the same effort.

It doesn't. It's like...if you believe really, really, really hard about something tremendously impossible, and then you find out it's not true. Like Santa Claus -- you see your Dad putting the presents under the tree, and that's it. It doesn't take a lot of effort, at least after you get used to the idea, to give up the belief Santa Claus doesn't exist. Same with God.

And then you learn something. You learn that if Santa Claus doesn't exist, maybe other things fantastical things don't exist, either. You learn it's healthy to be skeptical. It doesn't take a lot of closing your eyes and trying; it's just a natural thing you learn through trial and error. Kinda same thing with disbelief in God. It's not something you necessarily have to hold onto tightly; faith in fantastic things simply loses its virtue.

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I often get told by Christians that my problem is that I focused too much on Christians, and not enough on God.

What they don't know is that I really, really, really tried to focus more on God than on people.

But the more I focused on God, the more I realized how much people had to do with propping up Christianity, and the more I realized that if I didn’t focus on people and instead focused on God, I didn’t need the picture of God that people were trying so hard to sell me.

When I least needed that picture, I became an atheist. So I guess you could say that God deconverted me.

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I've noticed, nowadays, that when someone says, "God said so and so, and if you don't obey God, XYZ will happen," I hear "God" as "my imaginary friend." No sense in getting offended; that's my honest reaction, and if you want to talk about offense, I'm probably equally offended that you call your imaginary friend "God" -- not just as a name, but as a title -- and seek to make demands on me.


Just so you know. I mean, the phrases don't have the same ring to them.

"Prove my imaginary friend doesn't exist."
"My imaginary friend says gay marriage is wrong."
"You are lost if you don't worship my imaginary friend."
"Why do you hate my imaginary friend so much?"
"My imaginary friend deserves respect."
"If you don't believe in my imaginary friend, why does it matter to you that I do?"
"I love my imaginary friend more than you."
"What is wrong with your heart that you don't love my imaginary friend?"
"I'm going to talk to my imaginary friend about you."
"You need to stop rebelling against my imaginary friend."
"My imaginary friend loves you! Give him your life...or you'll be tormented forever."

And so on. I'm not just putting you on or trying to be offensive (although if I am, that would be a happy accident, because some times that's what it takes for sense to break through). It really sounds like that to me. Might explain some of my reactions.

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Which of the short discussions did you find most helpful?

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    • profile image

      Tim Carroll 3 years ago

      Very well put.

    • profile image

      James orcutt 3 years ago

      Thoughtful , Believer in God, yes, faith, yes. Someone's interpretation of it, no. Whether Atoms or Adam. wouldn't it be .....to explore it together on the same team. What a learning adventure.

    • profile image

      Stevarious 3 years ago

      There are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. There's an average of a hundred billion stars in each of these galaxies.

      Is it POSSIBLE that a magical being created this massive, complex universe? Sure, it's possible. I haven't seen any compelling evidence to convince me this is true, so I call myself an atheist.

      The idea that such a being exists - is capable of creating the massive universe and all it's tens of quadrillions of stars - and yet somehow is capable of caring about whether or not I asked his permission before putting my penis inside another human for a few minutes, is an idea completely incomprehensible to me. How could a being so vast, so powerful, possibly care about something so trivial? And how could such a being be so stupid as to rely on the written word - that is, the bible - to communicate this desire?

      No, it's not possible for me to believe that a being that smart could be so stupid and petty. The vastness and grandness of the universe may not disprove all gods. But it certainly disproves the god that christians believe in.

    • Kukata Kali profile image

      Kukata Kali 3 years ago

      Enjoyed the expression!

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