An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt Or Deny God

It has been a while since this most commented of posts has received much traffic. When I was read Psalm 53:1 in today’s scripture reading, I thought it might be time for a revisit…

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 53:1

Read: Numbers 14:1 – 15:16, Mark 14:53-72, Psalm 53:1-6, Proverbs 11:4

To The Doubting Christian – If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. – Rene’ Descartes Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith, it is an element of faith. – Paul Tillich

To The Agnostic – Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, He must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear. – Thomas Jefferson

The Militant Atheist – Man is manifestly not the measure of all things. This universe is shot through with mystery. The very fact of its being, and of our own, is a mystery absolute, and the only miracle worthy of the name. – Sam Harris

Relate:

To The Doubting Christian – I get you. I’ve been there. I think the only people who have not had doubts are either liars or fools. Even now I believe God is calling me out to take a step of faith that I just cannot take. I have bills to pay, and if I were to obey, where would the money come from. But that’s a small doubt, that’s not where you’re at. It’s not where I’ve been. When my sister died with her newborn daughter at 24, when my cousin had a fatal heart attack at the same age, when my dad died after bumping his head playing basketball… That brought some real doubts. Doubts if God was real and, if He was, whether He was good. I’ve known moments in my life where blind faith just would not cut it. And I’ve known how difficult it was to express these doubts to my pastor, to my church, to my friends. I’ve been there.

To The Agnostic – I can sympathize with your doubt. We have a cosmic horizon of about 46 billion light years in every direction. This is only a small fraction of the real universe and anything beyond it is, and always be impossibly beyond our understanding. Even within that sphere we know next to nothing about so much of it. 95%, dark matter and dark energy, are at this time simply beyond our understanding. Even on this one small ball rotating one small sun in one small galaxy, there is still so much more for us to discover. There is simply so much more that we simply do not know. How dare we have the audacity to claim to know God?

To The Militant Atheist – That claim to know God has done so much damage. Because I claim to know, and he claims to know a different God. So we fight it out. The institutionalization of religion has done so much damage throughout time. It has been the cause of so many wars, and so much oppression. How can a good God exist if this is how His followers are gonna act?

React: 

To The Militant Atheist – It is in the nature of most of humanity to want to live for something greater than themselves. It is in our nature to be followers. Evil men have used religion to lead many down evil paths. But this is the fault of evil men, not of God. Evil men have led others down evil paths without God just as easily. Just look at Stalin. Look at Pol Pot. Science and humanism are not barriers to oppression. They never have been and never will be. Eradicating this “evil” will not end tyranny. All it will do is eliminate one of the greatest motivators for doing good.

To The Agnostic – We will never be fully sure of anything. There will never be a subject about which we have complete knowledge, but that doesn’t stop us from acting. You sit down assuming the chair will be there. Every now and then you might miss, or some idiot pulls it away, but does that stop you from sitting in the future? Will you ever be standing on the fear that you might fall? Why not put God to the same test? Albert Camus wrote, “I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, and live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.”

To The Christian Doubter – As a lover of, and leader in the Church, I apologize for the environment that has so often been created that discourages doubt. I apologize on behalf of everyone who has pretended that they have it all together when they don’t. I hope you won’t be that same person to someone else who might be having doubts. I would encourage you to express those doubts to a fellow believer. If you have tried and been silenced or given the old, “I’ll pray for you”, know that my (metaphorical) door is open. I promise a judgment free dialogue if you would email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com Respond:

To The Militant Atheist – I don’t want to argue with you but I would love to dialogue. Please respond here or, if you would rather, email me at bj@tworiversassembly.com Greater minds than ours have gone back and forth on the existence of God. What I am more curious in knowing is why you believe that religion must be eradicated. Why have you chosen a fundamentalist approach to your atheist beliefs?

To The Agnostic – Doubting is good. I’m glad you have chosen to withhold judgment on the existence of God until you have more information one way or the other. Some doubts will never be answered and will require a leap of faith. Others, however, might be walked through. I would love to hear from you in comments here or at bj@tworiversassembly.com. Share your doubts. I’ll share a few of my own. Perhaps together we might walk towards a greater understanding.

To The Christian Doubter – 

Advertisements

412 thoughts on “An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt Or Deny God

    • Thinking of the apostles and how they doubted Jesus and then went on to build his church gives me hope. I guess He knew there would always be non-believers and that’s why it it so important for believers to share God’s goodness by teaching and example. Great post!

  1. This is a brilliant approach to reaching such a broad range of unbelievers…Too God be the glory. Some things we can only learn in the struggle, your testimony just changed someones life…God bless you.

  2. I went through a time when God seemed absent when I needed Him most. But now I know that He was truly carrying me through it, just like the poem FOOTPRINTS says. Thanks for talking about doubt. I am closer to God than ever before because I asked questions, studied Job alot, and He answered me with Himself. What a mighty and Precious God we serve

  3. Nothing is ever solved by discourse between the devout and the atheistic. Neither (for obvious reasons) can appeal to reason, it becomes emotive. Each knows that he is right.

    For myself, I hold this in mind always—
    Contradictions do not—because they cannot—exist. Wherever you find an apparent contradiction, look to the premises, one of them at least is wrong.

      • The atheist does need prayer, even if he is not concious of it. There is someone praying for him.
        Supernatural is that which is not subject to the laws of physics, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature.
        Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
        When every thing else is gone, these 3 remain, faith, hope, and love.
        These are both natural and supernatural.
        God is that from which all things come. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the BIG BANG. God is love. His word is truth and in seeing truthfully we understand reality because we see what is really before us piercing the dark glass which hides what really moves this dimension. The mysteries of life.

      • Who? You mean.
        He’s a person you would never regret meeting
        You will see good and you will see life when you finally do meet Him.
        But then you have to believe.
        Paul believed, so there is hope for you.

        FYI I am not offended.

        • Far from it, if Paul believed, you have his word for it, no one else. I wouldn’t want to let you live with such a hope that maybe, just maybe I too would be like him. No, far from it

  4. I was in able to view read this on my iPhone. Your other writing came through. I will revisit on laptop later.
    God I’m glad for believers.

  5. I would forward this to my atheist friends, but they’re not militant atheists who take a fundamentalist approach to atheism. I’m curious whether you omitted non-militant atheists because you haven’t anything to say to them, or because you weren’t aware of their existence.

    • I am very aware that not everyone who considers themselves atheist would be a militant atheist (or neo-atheist). Not all are passionate in their unbelief. I’ve found that most who are intellectual atheists, those who have a a reasoned, thoughtful approach are more of an agnostic even if they classify themselves as atheist. So I have addressed the thoughtful and the passionate. If a person is neither of these, what can I say?

    • The dictionary definition of “militant” is: “vigorously active and aggressive, especially in support of a cause.” A synonym for militant is “activist.” BJ was not wrong in using the term.

      Although there may be some Wilbur (or Wanda) Wallflower atheists out there who keep their atheism to themselves, I have known a lot of atheists who have been quite strong in their opinions and most of them would qualify as militants (activists) who would join in or give public support to various lawsuits against such things as crosses in the public sphere or who seek the removal of the ten commandments from walls in courtrooms.

      Most of the atheists I have known are sarcastic, angry people who claim to care about social issues and the “little guy” but feel free to refer to others as “stupid,” or refer to the beliefs of others in vile terms while in conversation with their friends, or to bully people in arguments. So . . . what is the definition of hypocrisy? It seems to me that if we are all honest, Christians aren’t the only ones who can say one thing and do another.

      Atheists have as much of a right to believe what they want as Christians (or any other groups) do. But they (as well as the people who call themselves Christians or people in any other group) should be aware that when they seek to silence the voice of opposition,, they will spiral into greater and greater error.

      I dislike mean-spirited exchanges, but I also realize that if something makes me truly ponder what I believe and why . . it’s to my eventual benefit.

      • “Although there may be some Wilbur (or Wanda) Wallflower atheists out there who keep their atheism to themselves…”

        There are. It’s called “passing.”

        Many atheists choose to live in such a way as to pass as theists — sometimes even to the point of joining a Unitarian church so their kids can have an unremarkable answer when asked where they go to church — for the same reason that many gay and lesbian people have over the years chosen to pass as straight: because they are a minority that is generally despised by the majority, and they don’t want to risk the social harassment and/or ostracism to which atheists are frequently subjected.

        A friend of mine describes this as feeling as if, when he meets new people, there’s not much point in trying to make friends, because “they probably hate me: they just don’t know it yet.”

        Think about that, my Christian sisters and brothers, and what that says about our collective failure to love our neighbor, and to especially love the neighbor who is a stranger, an outsider, a person on the margins of our majority-Christian society.

      • gaudetetheology said: “Think about that, my Christian sisters and brothers, and what that says about our collective failure to love our neighbor, and to especially love the neighbor who is a stranger, an outsider, a person on the margins of our majority-Christian society.”

        I agree. Love (in word and deed) is what we are called to. Not an I-am-a-doormat sort of love, but one that is both aware and intentional.

  6. As one raised in the house of a militant atheist and an agnostic, I thank you for making such wise arguments for faith. You said:
    “The Militant Atheist – It is in the nature of most of humanity to want to live for something greater than themselves. It is in our nature to be followers. Evil men have used religion to lead many down evil paths. But this is the fault of evil men, not of God. Evil men have led others down evil paths without God just as easily. Just look at Stalin. Look at Pol Pot. Science and humanism are not barriers to oppression. They never have been and never will be. Eradicating this “evil” will not end tyranny. All it will do is eliminate one of the greatest motivators for doing good.”
    Absolutely. Christians get all tangled up in the “good vs. evil” thing when it’s ultimately about LIFE and DEATH. Knowing good from evil isn’t what saves us, but knowing Life (Jesus) does.

  7. i am not what you’d call a ‘believer’ at all. i doubt many things, and entertain many ideas, but i believe that life is really about the journey, not the destination. i can’t bring myself to say ‘yes, this is the right answer!’ and i don’t know if i ever will. but thank you for being so open-minded and willing to communicate with people of different faiths. there are so many people out there who, once they find what they truly believe to be truth, shut themselves off from any other idea or thought process. i find it very difficult to communicate with these individuals, and i’ve noticed more and more people willing to share ideas and really listen, rather than simply waiting for their turn to speak.

  8. All I am saying is this. If’n he exists all he has to do is prove it. Earlier this week a plane crashed on approach to SF airport. Seems to me, all he had to do was reach out with a visible hand, allowing people to film it, and lower it gently to the ground. Shoot even. Would go to church if I saw that…

    • There’s a series of judgments found in Revelation. End times stuff but the saddest line after nearly every one of these things happen, “yet the people still refused to believe.” No matter what we believe concerning that book the principle that teaches stands true.

      Jesus gives us the same principle. He is telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man dies and goes to hell, after asking and being denied personal relief he asks that someone from the grave go and warn his brothers. He is answered that if they won’t believe Moses and the prophets (basically if they won’t believe scripture) then even if someone was raised from the dead, they wouldn’t believe.

      You gave the grounds for which you would believe but I don’t believe you. If you don’t already believe, even if God did show up just like you asked, you’d be trying to credit it to advanced technology or aliens or something. About 130 people in the room and by a show of hands they were all asked if they had experienced a miracle at some point in their life. Immediately easily 90% of the hands went up. God still moves. He is working all the time. Just too many have their eyes sealed shut refusing to believe.

      You already have everything you need necessary for faith. If you refuse to believe, you have no one to blame but yourself.

      • Awe, but there in is the problem. Heinlein wrote “Faith is mental weakness” it’s WAY to easy to give up and say its ‘gods’ will.

        My analogy is this. God leaving a bible for people to read and figure out, otherwise they burn forever, is like leaving a loaded gun on the table with an owners Manual for a 5 year old.

        Seems to me if he really wanted us all to believe he’d snap his proverbial fingers and it would be so 🙂

        • Well then, let me make sure I do. My apologies, I thought I had.

          I believe what I can see, or what logically makes sense. You mentioned alien life, and with all the stars that could have planets, it make no sense to me that life only evolved here.

          Therefore, all I have ever asked is proof that there is a god (aside for the bible, as any religion has their own version of the truth.). Therefore, if my Dad, who I know is dead and gone, came back, while I was wide awake at work, with others who could see him and said ” pal, I met him, he’s real, it is NOT a myth, then Yep, I would be a staunch supporter.

          I guess I’ve never thought asking for proof or at least the logic behind something as being unreasonable.

        • //I believe what I can see, or what logically makes sense.\\
          God is a logical proposition held by men far more brilliant than you or I throughout time. You believe what makes logical sense, according to your worldview. That’s a big difference.

          //Therefore, all I have ever asked is proof that there is a god\\
          The fact that I am alive is proof. I was in an accident where a car ran a sign and hit my door going about 40 miles an hour. Both the first cop on the scene and the doctor in the ER (where I had no injuries worse than some cuts and bruises) said the fact I was alive proves God. Funny thing, the cop saying that was not a Christian.
          My aunt was dead for minutes after the doctor called it. Without shock, without assistance she came back on her own. Her doctor became a Christian from that event. I knew a professor whose daughter was dead for a day and a half. Same thing.
          When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians he spoke about the hundreds who saw Christ. He told his readers, don’t just believe me, go and ask them for yourself. His letter, written 20 years after Christ rose from the dead was addressed to people who could easily verify his claim.

          God is proving himself over and over again, time after time. You are claiming this isn’t true simply because He hasn’t proven Himself to you the way you would like Him to. I’m saying that even if God did, you would move the bar and ask for something different. Something more. Unbelief is a choice, not a default position.

        • Now see, I am glad you all are well, but to me, working in a claims department for years, seeing a myriad of accidents, I can tell you sometimes people are lucky and sometimes they aren’t. Never really understood why the person who survived a tornado hitting a house was gods miracle, if you don’t consider a 3year old with cancer as god just being mean and petty.

          Having a concrete example, instead of someone saying “the only way it could have happened was a miracle” just doesn’t work for me

          It’s just the luck of the draw. Sorry if I am monopolizing the thread, I was just answering the open letter. I do appreciate the discussion though, and I. No way mean any offense to those who do believe.

    • Pardon me for butting in here . . . but, since the beginning, God has given people the gift of choosing belief (faith) in Him or not. Just so, when Jesus was taken to the top of the temple and told to throw himself down (to be caught by the angels and float, unharmed, to the ground and prove He was the Son of God), He refused. Just think of the people He could have influenced! But, rather than FORCE their eyes to see what their hearts had refused to believe, He said no.

      Even the most reasoned scholars (admit it or not) let their hearts not their heads choose what they ultimately believe.

      The natural course of this world (even by the standard of physics) is to decay and diminish. (Some quick examples would be: We don’t continue to grow and thrive–we eventually age and die . . . even our mountains will eventually wear down, and our sun will burn itself out one day,) We now have technology (airplanes with computers!) and information . . . but is life BETTER or that much longer than that of ancient peoples?

      So, despite evidence to the contrary, many humanists will tell you that humanity started in chaos (primordial soup) but is headed to perfection. That’s a faith of sorts because it goes against the evidence.

      • Um… no. Not a single Humanist will tell you that life is moving towards “perfection”. The only people that have ever made such claims about evolution are Creationists… who, of course, know pretty much nothing about evolution.

        Evolution has only one goal: survival. Natural selection will “pick” good traits in the sense that neutral mutations (the most common form of mutation, BTW) and good mutations (mutations that confer an advantage in a specific environment) will be passed on, via reproduction, to future generations, while bad mutations (believe it or not, bad mutations are the *least* common form of mutation; they’re just also occasionally the most dramatic, thus making good news stories and scare tactics) usually don’t get passed on because the carrier doesn’t survive long enough to reproduce, and thus pass on their mutated genes.

        That is how evolution works. So unless you’re defining “perfection” as “the most optimum mutation for providing the best survival advantages in a given environment”, no, there is no “move towards perfection”.

        Not naturally, anyways.

        And besides… the overwhelming evidence for evolution means that “faith” is not required to accept it as true.

        As for that whole “gift of ‘choosing’ to believe” thing:
        a) We may not actually have free will… at least, not as it’s traditionally defined.
        b) In 1787, Thomas Jefferson (one of the US’s most important Founding Fathers, BTW) wrote a letter to his nephew. In it he made an extremely important statement: “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”

        The whole letter is very good. You should read it.

        What I want to say is this:

        A rational mind requires evidence to accept something as true. A rational mind expects that evidence to conform to a scientific standard so that any other explanation can first be ruled out, because as all people should know, natural explanations will always be more likely than supernatural ones. And so, as Sherlock Holmes did, one must be willing to rule out all natural explanations first via the scientific method until only one conclusion (the supernatural one) is left.

        I have a close friend who had a Near-Death Experience. I remember the story she told me, about seeing the great-grandmother she never met, about seeing her dog who had been dead for two years… and she even heard God’s voice, telling her it wasn’t her time yet, but there was a place waiting for her in Heaven. Before the NDE finished, she traveled to the room she was getting surgery in (she had breast cancer… at 23). She watched the surgeons performing the surgery.

        Then she woke up.

        She was an atheist before this happened.

        She is still an atheist today.

        Why?

        It started with things she already knew: our brains don’t actually work all that well. When a brain is starved of oxygen, as they usually are when you’re near death, it will hallucinate. What you see in the moment is nothing but nonsense. The images that come up afterwards are a NDE patient’s attempt at making sense of the hallucinatory nonsense the NDE patient experienced while their brain was starved of oxygen.

        My friend was unsure at first. It was the great-grandmother that finally clinched it as nothing more than a hallucination.

        She never heard her great-grandmother’s voice. She also realized she never saw her great-grandmother actually move. She was just there, standing still and smiling. My friend didn’t know why until she saw a picture of her great-grandmother her mother kept along with many other pictures of family. In the picture, my friend’s great-grandmother was standing and smiling. She was wearing the exact same clothes that my friend saw in her NDE, as well. My friend realized that her brain had used that picture of her great-grandmother, which she had actually been exposed to all her life, as part of it’s attempt to make sense of her oxygen-starved brain’s hallucination.

        Of course the dog was the same. She also then realized that the voice of God actually sounded a lot like Morgan Freeman (fancy that!). And finally… she was awake when they went into the surgery room. So she knew what it looked like. She had also researched the surgery she was getting before she got it, and had seen more than one video of the surgery, including two from the very hospital, room, and surgeon she was using.

        In other words, she had an entirely reasonable, perfectly natural explanation for her experience. Why believe it was supernatural when she could easily explain it naturally?

        Neither of us have heard an NDE story that we could not automatically think of entirely natural and reasonable explanations for, including the little boy that book was written about a few years ago.

        As to Jesus refusing to provide evidence: for me personally, refusing to provide evidence for a claim is the ultimate tell of a conman. If they know they can’t prove it under reasonable conditions, they refuse to. See James Randi’s million-dollar challenge, for example. It’s pretty much how I know I’m talking to a liar/snake-oil salesman. If they refuse to show evidence for their claims, then I see no reason to accept their claims as true.

        And I refuse to be part of a religion that says that such demands for evidence are unreasonable. That’s a red flag for me… a HUGE red flag.

    • Nathan Heavenstone said,

      “Um… no. Not a single Humanist will tell you that life is moving towards “perfection”. The only people that have ever made such claims about evolution are Creationists… who, of course, know pretty much nothing about evolution.”

      So . . . if I may take the liberty of summarizing, what you said here is:
      • Humanists are in one accord and none of them think humans are moving toward perfection.
      • Creationists believe “evolution” (I’m assuming you meant life on this planet) is headed for perfection.
      • Creationists know next to nothing about evolution.

      Wow. Those are some pretty sweeping conclusions about a lot of people.

      Firstly, the word “humanist” is actually a rather large term encompassing many different schools of thought. I intentionally picked the word because (in general) it can be said to refer to a group of people who think humans can find the answers to life’s problems, bring true justice, and make the world increasingly better—and many of them believe this will happen without belief in (or help from) God. Many humanists I have known also believe in the “innate goodness” of man.

      While I disagree with their ideas, humanists have the right to believe whatever they want (and so do you). Of course, I would say that’s one of the cool things about God–He lets us pick what we believe–but you can disagree. 🙂

      Secondly, while a militant Evolutionist might also consider him/herself to be a “humanist” to some degree, the two terms are NOT necessarily synonymous. (The anything-to-survive philosophy of extreme evolution would tend to kill the concepts of helping one another or bringing justice, etc. into the picture.) The thing is, most Evolutionists aren’t militant about it . . . they’re more leaning toward it than married to it.

      Third, I’ve never met a Creationist who thought this planet was headed toward perfection or that men would bring true justice here, or solve the world’s problems (bring about a perfect world). All of the Creationists I’ve known believe the Bible–which states this world will continue to decay (physically and spiritually) and eventually be destroyed. (Creationists may exist with other views, but I haven’t known one.)

      Fourth, how can you presume to know that Creationists know next to nothing about evolution? Could it be that some have the same puzzle pieces and see a different picture? Despite all the talk about “evidence”–neither side has absolute proof. Both sides are operating in a faith that they have chosen correctly.

      Fifth, Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man, but doesn’t make him infallible or kind or in possession of ultimate truth. Brilliance doesn’t guarantee the best use of the mind OR acceptance of truth.

      I was raised in the home of a militant atheist and didn’t become a Christian until I was an adult. My own journey toward God began when I witnessed the crash and burn of a commercial jet liner (in person, not on TV). Many survived but 37 people lost their lives. Just as the San Francisco crash has Mountainstroh (Tony) thinking, what I witnessed brought a lot of questions I about God into focus for me. Soon thereafter, I began an honest quest for answers . . . and God met me there. I realize that what constitutes “evidence” or “a miracle” to me could sound like circumstance or luck or some other thing to someone else. I’m okay with that. I’m happy to say it’s not my job to prove the existence of God. All I CAN say is that I’ve found that God isn’t put off by sincere/honest questions, and that He’s willing to meet people where they’re at.

      My faith doesn’t rest on Creationism or doctrines or intellectual arguments. It rests on Jesus, who has become my brother and my friend.

      Just my two cents

      • 1. I used “humanist” because you did. If you had said “scientist” or “atheist” or “evil bad demon monster”, I would have used that.

        2. Yes. I say that Creationists know nothing about evolution, or if they do, then they are liars. I contend that a person cannot be aware of the overwhelming evidence for evolution and still go on to deny it honestly. Coming from a Jewish family, this is why I was not insulted when Richard Dawkins, in “The Greatest Show on Earth”, compared Creationists to Holocaust-deniers. There is actually more evidence for evolution than the Holocaust, yet Holocaust-deniers are (rightly… and I want to stress that “rightly”) seen as crazy, anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists.

        Do you accept that germs (bacteria, viruses, etc) cause many different kinds of diseases? So do most people (even most Creationists). Yet we have more evidence for evolution than we do the Germ Theory of Disease.

        Do you accept the idea of gravity? Most (even most Creationists) people do. Yet we know more about evolution than we do about gravity.

        Do you use the internet? The vast majority of those in the US (even most Creationists) do. Yet we know more about how evolution works than the internet (we have internet thanks to Quantum Mechanics, a scientific discipline that even Quantum theorists don’t understand).

        Do you accept that it is sperm that fertilizes an egg, producing a fetus (as opposed to, say, the Stork theory)? I would say that the vast majority of people on this planet (even most Creationists), do. Yet we have more of evidence for evolution than we do the sperm theory of reproduction.

        Evolution is quite literally the most well-evidenced theory in all of science. Denying evolution basically means denying the last 2000 years of understanding. Nothing in biology makes any sense without evolution.

        As to your testimony… please understand that I respect your experience, and I have no interest in challenging your faith, but I was actually always offended by stories like that for one reason: what about those people that died?

        It was the worst after 9/11. There were so many “thank you, God, for saving me!” that it made me sick, and at the time, I believed in God! It never made sense to me that God couldn’t lose. In a tragedy, the few people saved are saved by God, yet the dozens or hundreds or thousands of people killed are… what… unchosen? Pariahs? Unlucky? God just didn’t have time to save everyone? He was beaten by Satan?

        Why does he get a free pass in the death of about 99% of the human species throughout the 150,000-200,000 years we’ve been on this planet (the vast majority of whom are killed by disease or catastrophies or other ways that don’t amount to “old age”), but gets praise for the less than 1% he manages to save every once in a while so they can die peacefully of old age?

        I can’t stomach that… at all.

    • It is arrogant to expect that God has to prove anything to anyone! He could do alot of things, but He chooses not do them for a variety of reasons! People blame a God they either ignore or hate most of the time and then when something bad happens they expect He is going to save them from the crisis or disaster! God did more than enough for mankind when He allowed His only Son to die for our sin! We are not guaranteed a miracle or His intervention: that is not the basis for believing God!

  9. *reading*

    I saw the comment above about non-militant atheist .. *raises hand*. I wade into the water here somewhat … tentatively. But I do wish to give another perspective on atheism.

    There are many who do not believe in … for lack of a better way of putting it … do not believe in a ‘higher power.’ Nor do we wish to take down and destroy the beliefs of others. I myself think that the faith that some can feel and take comfort in can be a grand thing.

    That being said, I think there can be exchanges of ideas / philosophies / and even disagreements that we know will not be satisfactorily addressed by the other.

    And oh … because I may not believe in a ‘Higher Being,’ does not rule out that I have faith *smiles* … I would say, that faith in science … that often takes that ‘leap’ as well nod nods *smiles*

    By the way, I have enjoyed the discussion you and that Tony feller have been having…I can see some passion there, and both of you are standing your ground … but I see no harshness in the words. That is nice to see.

  10. All good clean fun, but it will never be resolved no matter what arguments any side can bring to bear—
    —them’s that believe, do, and will … regardless.

    Them’s that disbelieve ever will and no amount of ‘holy’ books or ancient texts, whether flavoured by Jesus, Moses, Mohammad, Rama, Buddha, Odin, Osiris, or anyone else will ever convince.

    I doubt that in so highly emotive an atmosphere anyone has ever been swayed by logic. So to argue for either school (devout, agnostic, or atheist) is nothing more than mental masturbation. It feels good at the time but achieves nothing.

    No?

  11. my prayers are with you, God bless you for your courage in the face of such death around you…. tragic, and you carry on with such strength in the Lord, glory to God! my wife and I lost her mother and 7 year-old niece recently, a sister-in-law, an uncle, aunt, cousin and friend across the street shortly after through the course of 6 months…could not make it without Him! awesome post

    • PS…sorry, forgot to include- i went through EXTREME doubt, too, and you are so right- blind faith would never have carried me through it… i had to really dig deep in prayer and find Him all over again, which i am still doing now… life is tough, surrounded by pain and death, and joyous at the same time, immersed in selfless love and devotion. glory be to God!

  12. Though I’m an atheist (and ex-Christian), I don’t think the adjective ‘militant’ really applies. Even the most vocal atheists (Dawkins and Harris, for example) have not been known to take up arms on behalf of atheism. Neither have I, and nor would I. Christians, on the other hand, have been known to!

    • I have also been looking for the addresses of fundamental and militant atheists and so far have not met any. I think we should be told where such atheists can be found

  13. I’m not quite sure where you’re going with this post, as it leads to some very weak arguments and a few strange conclusions. Now, I’m not militant per se, but I am an atheist, and as much as I search for answers, the only ones I find compelling are those that do not resort to arguments of incredulity, ignorance or special pleading. The fact our universe is incredible isn’t enough to demand god, for example, and claiming to have special, personal, private knowledge of god isn’t persuasive. I can find people who talk to animals, rocks, spirits and ancient other-worldly creatures, how am I to differentiate between these? All of them will plead their special case, and all of them with precisely as much to show for it.

    Likewise, saying those who do evil acts under the banner of their god do not act for their god (whatever it may be) is also weak. It is the “no true scotsman” argument, especially since they will usually have snippets and passages from their holy books to back up their behaviour. Once again, I am wondering whether since there is no apparent difference between the evil done by men for their own sake, and the evil done by men for some higher power, that maybe there is no difference? And all act according to their own internal voice?

    And this, really, is why some atheists want to dismantle organized religion. Not faith, not belief, but religion. Religion says “we are right, we are justified, we will do this and you will be rewarded”. Religion can be used to shun the nay-sayers, to cast doubt upon their calls for peace and to crush dissent. It is used as a tool of oppression, and as a wedge to force out critical thought and drive in ignorance, because religion has all the answers already. They’re in whichever holy book or books said religion adheres to, and anything which doesn’t fit in those books can and should be ignored as a test of ones own faith.

    Casting off such certainty of thought, shedding that comforting pablum of superiority and moral, righteous indignation, reveals room for compassion because compassion is good, not because some sky-being dictates it. It offers the chance to be kind because being kind increases happiness and improves lives for everyone, not as some sort of ridiculous, petty notch on a token held up to some vast, silent authority.

    Saying “I will improve the lot of my fellow man, because I choose to” shows much greater depth of spirit, and shows more true a nature, than “I will do this because I’m told I should”.

    • “The fact our universe is incredible isn’t enough to demand god, for example, and claiming to have special, personal, private knowledge of god isn’t persuasive.”

      That’s like saying the fact that a painting is beautiful isn’t enough to demand an artist. You’re right on the second half, though. You have a neighbor. The fact that you know him isn’t enough for me to believe that he exists. But no matter how firm my denial, it *is* enough for you. You know him. I don’t.

      “Once again, I am wondering whether since there is no apparent difference between the evil done by men for their own sake, and the evil done by men for some higher power, that maybe there is no difference? And all act according to their own internal voice?”

      I agree. The evil done in the world, no matter what the justification, is (nearly) always done for selfish, personal reasons. It is a grasp for power, or vengeance, or an act of bigotry, or… It is a focus on self with no concern for the other.

      “Religion can be used to shun the nay-sayers, to cast doubt upon their calls for peace and to crush dissent.”

      Religion is a tool for good. It forces oneself to look beyond the individual, to live for something beyond themselves. It causes us to recognize that there is more to this life than me, to seek out and to love the “other”. Religion is the primary motivator for acts of compassion and self sacrifice. It is the strongest inhibitor to the very acts of cruelty just mentioned above.

      “Casting off such certainty of thought, shedding that comforting pablum of superiority and moral, righteous indignation, reveals room for compassion because compassion is good, not because some sky-being dictates it.”

      Certainty of thought is the product of laziness and a lack of self discipline. It crosses lines of demarcation between religions and between the religious and non religious. Intellectual laziness comes in all shapes and sizes and shunned whatever form it takes.

      • That’s like saying the fact that a painting is beautiful isn’t enough to demand an artist.

        I have to comment on this because it is mystifying to me. Why do y’all believe that natural and artificial are somehow analogous to each other? What makes you think that the rules that apply to artificial (read: man-made) objects somehow also apply to nature?

        The fact is, they are not analogous. Natural and artificial cannot be compared in any sense whatsoever. I really don’t care if a building implies a builder, a painting implies a painter, a watch implies a watch-maker… none of that has any bearing whatsoever on how the natural world works. It very simply doesn’t.

        So to use artificial objects like paintings and buildings and watches and whatever to try and explain why a natural thing, like a leaf, “must” have been created is fallacious at best. The two just aren’t comparable in any meaningful sense.

  14. Pingback: An open letter to a Christian trope | atheist, polyamorous skeptics

  15. BJ,

    Thank you for the love, understanding, patience, and compassion towards this topic. I have very close friends in all three categories, and all they are really looking for is love and someone to listen and love them…and for a person of faith who doesn’t check their brain at the door.

    I appreciate your perspective!

    Be well,
    Steve

  16. Pingback: An Open Letter To Those Who Doubt or Deny God | Good Reads Worth Sharing

  17. First I would like to know where Albert Camus says those words. I have read a number of his books and those words sound more than strange to have cone from him unless you just went to the internet for quote mining.

    I don’t know how someone can be a fundamental unbeliever/ atheist or militant for that matter. Are there atheists knocking on doors in your neighbourhood asking you to use reason, to let go of superstition?

    • Now, Dorcas that is a bad argument, the conclusion you make does not follow from the premises. The groups mentioned are reading not because they is a god but because they are mentioned, whether there is a god is another matter that you nor the OP has not defined sufficiently nor offered sufficient proof to warrant a belief in any such thing, if indeed, it is a thing.

  18. Interesting . . . But you confuse a few things . . .

    . . . one, atheism is not a belief. If you cannot differentiate that minor point, there really is no reason debating anything as you’ve not done even the most basic of research, and lack the understanding necessary to enter in a debate.

    . . . two, god . . . by definition, unknowable. It’s great that you choose to believe, but the two question I have are “why?” and “why must I give any more credence to your understanding of the world and your place in it, than you give me and my understanding of the world and my place in it?”. Beyond that, shouldn’t your first order of business be to argue with believers in different gods?

    . . . three, religion . . . every religion I have ever studied can be traced back to human origin. Of those, the two major religions (Islam and Christianity) have followers who know the least about the origins of their religion (they stop at the bible). Obviously, not all . . . some are very learned, but those struggle with many questions for which there are no answers other than accepting a made-up answer, and calling it “faith”. From my point of view, religions are harmful for exactly the same reason you think they are not.

    Finally, having read the comments above, and your responses, I am not going to subscribe to the topic. You decry certain behaviors and attitudes without seeing the mirror of them in yourself. And yes, there is a part of me that automatically adjusts my measure of a person when I hear of their faith. You think you have excellent arguments for your faith, but I just don’t see it that way (please, do not presume to have a “new” argument that will convince me; you don’t). All I see is someone who has blinders on, even as they declare they can see clearly. For me to consider someone as an honest and honorable debater, they must first start from an unbiased position; something you clearly cannot do.

    . . . are you as open to the idea of there being no god(s) as you want me to be open to the idea there being gods? If you say “yes”, then you cannot be a christian (or at best you are a doubting christian), so right off the bat you lied in your introduction. I you say “no”, we are done, as there is nothing to debate; you just want to convert others.

    . . .I suggest you catch a few episodes of The Atheist Experience (podcasts, live streaming, or YouTube). A number of the hosts are ex-fundamental Christians, so they can actually quote chapter and verse, understand the viewpoints, and are willing to engage what are, sadly, very unfit examples of christians trying to defend their views and their faith (some are literally painful to listen to . . . and a little sad).

    If you are serious about wanting to engage atheists in serious discourse, perhaps you can be the one weekly caller who actually sounds coherent, informed, and can debate the points relating to belief in god in general, and specifically to your version of god.

    Some may wonder why I bothered to comment . . . it said “open letter” . . . consider this an open response.

    • One:
      Atheist – One who believes there is no deity http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist
      Atheism – b. The doctrine that there is no deity http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism?show=0&t=1374725223
      Atheism is a belief. If you cannot agree with that, throw away your dictionary. You’re speaking a different language then the rest of those speaking English here.

      Two:
      Unknowable is not a part of the definition here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/god
      But to be fair, I will grant the point that God can be known only to the point He choses to reveal Himself. Fortunately He has and He does. Creation reveals, Jesus is a living walking revelation, scripture is a written record of His revelation, He is found by any who truly wish to seek.

      Three:
      Religion, of any shape or form is an attempt to initiate interaction between god and man. Obviously man must be involved in it from the start. God interacting with Himself is not religion. I am fairly certain I have a stronger background in the history of religion than you do. Feel free to look through what I’ve read on goodreads. I’d love to dialogue with you on anything written by Karen Armstrong, JD Crossan, Stephen Prothero, or any of the many other religious historians/scholars I’ve read. That said, your presumption to know what the learned struggle with is the height of arrogance.

      Finally:
      Feel free to measure me however you want. Any judgment says as much or more about the one judging as it does about their subject. What you call blinders I call lenses. We have different worldviews from which we see and interpret the world. The point of debate/discussion/dialogue in my opinion is for two people with different worldviews to better understand worldviews beyond their own. Greater understanding leads to greater respect. One who is unwilling to engage in dialogue demonstrates an unwillingness to respect others.
      You say an honest debater must start from an unbiased position. If that is true, there is and never will be an honest debater. Any serious thinker will tell you that to completely eliminate bias is impossible. Many would claim it is undesirable. The best we can do is to recognize what exactly our biases are and how they influence our worldview. “Objectivity is an impossible goal, fairness, however, is not.” – Pollan “The ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but truth.” – Deutsch

      • One:
        Atheist – One who believes there is no deity http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheist
        Atheism – b. The doctrine that there is no deity http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism?show=0&t=1374725223
        Atheism is a belief. If you cannot agree with that, throw away your dictionary. You’re speaking a different language then the rest of those speaking English here.

        BJ… I’m going to say something that will probably cause a double-take:

        Merriam-Webster is wrong.

        Yes, I did just type that. You did read it. Go ahead and read it again: Merriam-Webster is wrong.

        How?

        Simple.

        Dictionaries are not end-all be-all word bibles. They are repositories of popular definitions for words. The definitions of “atheism” and “atheist” have changed immensely over time, as they were originally used as insults, as opposed to labels, for a very long time. I want to see the definition changed again to one that is more inclusive, and more accurate to the two words contained within it: “a”, meaning “without” or “the lack of”, and “theism” meaning “the belief in a higher power or powers”.

        The best definition for “atheism” that I’ve seen so far comes from the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, which defines atheism thusly:

        Either the lack of belief that there exists a god, or the belief that there exists none. Sometimes thought itself …

        Note the part I bolded. That is the definition that most atheists refer to when they say they are atheists. Very, very few atheists claim to actually “know” or “believe” that gods do not exist, mainly because your god is not the only god postulated by humans throughout the 200,000 or so years we’ve been on this planet, and your god was not the last god postulated by humans, either. Further, humans will possibly continue to postulate the existence of new gods well into the future. On top of that, scientists still haven’t figured out what caused the Big Bang, or the inflation event (whichever happens to be true).

        I posted a link to a blog post I wrote on this very subject. You let it through, but never commented on it. I was hoping that you would…

        • Thank you for your responses. You have a right to disagree with Webster’s or any other definition you choose. The other poster was not right in claiming that because I do agree with them, that I have not done my research. Can we agree that even if atheism is not a “belief” it is still a “worldview”?

          I don’t necessarily comment on everything here for two reasons: 1) I simply do not have the time. There’s already over 145 comments here and they keep coming at a steady rate. I do have other responsibilities beyond this blog that demand my attention as well. 2) I do not want to dominate the conversation. I’ve tried my best to keep this an respectful, open and free discussion where anyone from any view can contribute. If I were to respond to every comment some who might have responded do not.

      • The other poster was not right in claiming that because I do agree with them, that I have not done my research.

        I think what he was trying to say is that atheists are better informed on who we are than people who are not atheists, and so if you want to know what I, for example, mean when I say I’m an atheist, it’s better to consult me than a dictionary… just like, if you want to know what it’s like to be a woman, you should ask a woman, and if you want to know what it’s like to be gay, you should ask someone who’s gay, and if you want to know what it’s like to be trans*, you should ask someone who’s trans*, and if you want to know what it’s like to be a person of color, you should ask a person of color, and if you want to know what it’s like to be [insert something here] you should ask someone who is [that something].

        I most certainly do not know for a fact that gods do not exist, and so I’m agnostic. But I also do not believe in them, and so I’m an atheist.

        Can we agree that even if atheism is not a “belief” it is still a “worldview”?

        Depends on what you mean by “worldview”.

        You have to understand that, for me, the only reason I’m vocal and argumentative about my atheism is because of how we atheists are treated in the US and the rest of the world (yes, I do use Merriam-Webster there, because I think Merriam-Webster got that one right). If atheism were one of those things that nobody cared about, then I wouldn’t be talking about it at all. I wouldn’t rant about religion on my blog or on Facebook or on Twitter or in meatspace. I wouldn’t buy atheist shirts and hats and pins. I wouldn’t attend atheist conferences. I wouldn’t advocate for the separation of church and state, or participate in activism and lawsuits against violations of that, like forcing prayer in public schools, and forcing creationism into the science classroom, and legislating sexuality.

        In places like Sweden and the Netherlands and the some countries in the UK, atheism is no big deal. Nobody cares that there are people who don’t believe in gods, and believers respect the cultural (if not legal/constitutional) separation of Church and State. My goal is simply to take the US to that point. I don’t want to live in a Christian nation, and as our Founding Fathers were mainly deists and some of them were even antitheists, I know, for a fact, that the US was not founded as a Christian nation… and I want the US to stay wholly secular.

        I’m fighting for the day when people don’t care that I’m an atheist. I’m fighting for the day when you, for example, don’t write posts like this because it doesn’t matter. You believe, I don’t, and that should be enough. But for some Conservative Christians (mostly Christians in the US, and we’re only talking about the US right now), that isn’t enough. To them, everybody has to be Christian; and not just Christian, but their particular brand of Christian.

        Homosexuality is evil. Atheism is heresy. Safe-sex education, including “yes means yes” and “consent is sexy”, are abominations. Birth control is murder. Zygotes are fully autonomous human beings. Global warming is a hoax. Evolution is a lie from Satan. Women are, by default, sinners because of Eve. Everyone is a worthless sinner without Jesus. Jesus will return this time.

        I have heard and read all of these things from the Conservative Christian Right and I am not okay with them. And as long as this particular group of right-wing Conservative Dominionist Christians continue to try and tear down the wall between Church and State, and force Christianity on the whole US, I will continue to scream and shout about my atheism (and my feminism, and my liberalism, and so on), and make it a big deal.

        I don’t want to do it. I don’t like to do it. I would much rather be an activist for other things, like Led Zeppelin reuniting one more time with Jason Bonham, or incorporating torrenting and other peer-to-peer file-sharing services into a better music business model, or getting rid of the Recording Industry Association of America.

        Instead I have to focus my time on protecting my own rights and autonomy as an atheist, because there are people in this country who don’t like me because I’m an atheist, and want to make me illegal.

        Most of us Activist Atheists are the same. We would not be vocal about it if it wasn’t an issue.

        But it is an issue, and therein lies the problem.

        So Activist Atheism is defensive… because what other choice do we have in the climate in which we live?

  19. Reading the Bible for yourself, enlightens you and helps you to answer any questions you might have or any ideas you need to understand. Christ through His Holy Spirit is willing to share His Understanding and His Wisdom with all who seek Him. God Bless You.

    • I’ve read the Bible.

      Different versions.

      More than once.

      The only thing it convinced me of is that there is simply no possible way Christians (and Jews and Muslims) could be right, and here is no possible way I would ever worship the god of the Bible if he were real.

  20. Nathan. I hope you live in a wide open space because you have a chip on your shoulder the size of Texas. And several perceptional challenges.

    You said: “if you want to know what I, for example, mean when I say I’m an atheist, it’s better to consult me than a dictionary… just like, if you want to know what it’s like to be a woman, you should ask a woman, and if you want to know what it’s like to be gay, you should ask someone who’s gay, . . .” etc.

    Um . . . perhaps then you should take your own advice and be OPENminded enough to consult a variety of Christians before you go on and on about them, and painting entire people groups with one broad stroke and claiming how uninformed Christians, Jews, and Muslims are.

    I grew up in the house of a vocal, Christian bashing, atheist. In fact, many of his opinions about them would need to be bleeped to put them in a public forum. Our home was a continual feast of his grievances against people of any faith–but Christians in particular. He could give you lists of offenses that “Christians”–whom he didn’t know– had committed. What I never saw was a single Christian being disrespectful or rude to him. (Both of which you have bordered on here in your opinions about my God and my brothers and sisters in Christ around the whole world.) He lived to be 86 and I NEVER (and I seriously mean that) saw anybody “persecute” him for his atheism. Thousands of times, however, I DID see the gracious behavior of Christians (of MANY different denominations) in the face of his venom–allowing him to believe what he wanted. He did become a Christian in the last part of his life . . . but I guarantee you wasn’t because anybody wrestled him to the floor and stuffed a tract in his mouth.

    I am sure that there have been some atheists (especially in times past) who were truly “persecuted.” But in nearly six decades of life, knowing, loving, befriending people who were atheists, I’ve not seen it. Now, if you want to call not agreeing with somebody “persecuting” them or willingness to state an opposing view “persecuting” them, then I guess everyone in the planet could claim they’ve been persecuted.

    As a woman and as someone who spent decades living where I was in the vast MINORITY I have truly been persecuted at times, From experience, I can tell you that WHOMEVER is in a position of power generally lords it over those who aren’t. But that behavior is the result of (I’d say fallen) human nature.

    You can live your life as an angry victim of (real or perceived) circumstances or let your choices in those circumstances determine what sort of person you will be. You can choose to become what you claim to hate . . . or set the example.

    I seriously doubt that you’ve read the whole Bible in multiple versions. Sounds like something I would have said before I became a Christian–to make them stop talking to me. 🙂

    I doubt that you could prove evolution through your own hands-on research or even that you’ve entirely studied the works of others on this subject. So . . . what is the definition of “belief?”

    You are just a young man. I hope (and yes, pray) that in five years, ten years, twenty years you will revisit the opinions you so gladly shout today. I hope you will have learned more about real life by then (I mean more real experiences of your own, not just taking on the opinions and offenses of others). I hope you will have found a gracious life.

    • Did you read my post? If you had, you would have noticed that I deliberately single out Conservative Dominionist Christians. In fact, I even say, very specifically:

      And as long as this particular group of right-wing Conservative Dominionist Christians continue to try and tear down the wall between Church and State, and force Christianity on the whole US, I will continue to scream and shout about my atheism (and my feminism, and my liberalism, and so on), and make it a big deal.

      So I’m quite clearly not speaking about “all Christians everywhere”, am I?

      Also, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’m a 26-year-old white man (thanks, BTW, for the ageism). I only recently became actually aware of racism on the part of white people towards people of color. Being white myself, I obviously don’t get that directed towards me at all. Yet I know for a fact that not only does it happen, but it happens a hell of a lot. And I don’t think my experiences translate to the rest of the world. I’m privileged. I acknowledge it, except it, and do everything in my power to not add add to the racism directed towards people of color, and try to raise awareness to it whenever I can.
      Read my blog post. Once you’re aware of it, trust me… you’ll see it.

      I’m sorry you grew up with an asshole, but it seems like they’d have been an asshole whether or not they were an atheist.

  21. As an atheist, or militant atheist as you would certainly call me, let me tell you this: you can believe in whatever you want: god, Santa Claus, Jesus, the Easter bunny, big foot and flying tea cups. What you cannot do is try to impose your belief in whatever fairy tale or fictitious character you want onto others. And that is the problem with religion. It is rarely confined to a person;s personal realm. am tired of this country having fallen into a stupor of anti scientific ideologies and anti intellectual mentalities under the guise of fair play and equality. Religious people, and religious people alone, are solely responsible for the decline in education and knowledge.

    While I strongly believe in the “live and let live” mantra and that everyone is entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe in I feel that I can no longer just sit by idly and politely nod, thus giving credence to the misinformation, ignorance, and lies of religious people and their followers, because there is an inherent and palpable danger in doing that. Religion harms people.

    If my actions allow for the truth to be suppressed and for fallacies to take its place and influence everyone else’s life, then my actions in that regard need to change, which means speaking up against religion.

    And your analogy about Stalin being an atheist is a false one too: Stalin’s actions were not informed by atheism. He was not a genocidal murderer and dictator because atheism told him so. In fact, the only reason he was an atheist was because for the totalitarian regime he had in mind, religion was just another competing institution which he wanted eliminated. It was in the way but atheism in no way, informed his actions. He didn’t think “gee, I dont believe in god, let me be a dictator.” Unlike religious people who constantly allow their beliefs in their gods and messiahs influence their actions; just look at marriage equality, abortion, stem cell research, teaching creationism in schools, and a host of other policies that exist solely and and only because of someone’s religious beliefs.

    Religion is nothing but an emotional pacifier, a cosmic security blanket, a huge delusion for people who cannot get their head around the idea that some big, wise, loving guy is not sitting up there pulling the strings in mysterious ways.

    I want to point out that there is absolutely no incumbency upon, say, an Unicornist to provide evidence that Unicorns do not exist, or even to make a case that the assumption that Unicorns do not exist is more reasonable than the assumption that they do. A Theist accepts this arrangement in regards to literally every single mythical creature and fairy tale character they do not happen to believe in (Superman, Easter Bunny, Big Foot, Leprechauns, Fairies…) but is quick to muddy the waters and sling burden of proof about, when discussing their own personal fantasy. I mean come on, a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead is ridiculous, but a talking snake is real and if not then symbolic, don’t you know…

  22. Just what I needed to read this morning…thank you! Doubt is the essence of faith, for me it causes me to “keep coming back”; to continue to re-start and re-form my faith on a daily basis, and make it new. Talents buried in the ground do not grow…talents used only grow stronger.

  23. I am an Atheist,

    I have no problem in others having a faith. If it helps you to live the life that you want then that’s cool.

    I started to write to explain my feelings then it occurred to me that by doing so I am intruding on something you hold dear.

    Please enjoy your God, your faith and I wish you success and happiness in your lives.

    I am an Atheist, and I’m cool with that too.

  24. I love reading thoughtful considerations of faith. I was raised Presbyterian, came to believe in God on my own, and transitioned to atheism a few years ago (not of the militant variety, however). Although I do not believe in God, I still defend belief to those who don’t seriously consider it. There are fabulous arguments for both sides, and whether there’s a God or not, one of the greatest aspects of humanity is our ability to reason and discourse with one another. I look forward to reading more of your blog!

  25. I find your “Respond” video for the Christian doubter unnerving – while the poem is passionate it doesn’t actually address any sort of doubts or acknowledge their existence at all – it just says “Believe! because of all the awesome reasons I told you to. This is how you’re supposed to feel. This is how you’re supposed to talk about g-d. Let me tell you how/who he is, in case you forgot all the christian mumbojumbo you were taught growing up.” The closest it even gets is the “mystery” part of g-d, but it does it in a way that assumes all doubts can be summed up by “g-d is too big for you to understand, so don’t try and just accept”. No, thank you. I’d rather wrestle with it than just take it how the church tells me. It does not leave room for the doubter any longer. The language speaks of it like the person might lose their faith, not all doubters are teetering on the edge. This was a disappointing read, though I know you were just trying to encourage those in a crisis of faith.
    I think maybe this comes from your misunderstanding of a doubters faith – you said you’d been there, at one point where everything was in question. There are a lot of doubter Christians who live in that as a perpetual state, not something that can be escaped from. There are great examples of this in the Bible, which you’ve just ignored completely – Job, Jacob, Gideon, Thomas, Peter etc. I’d rather be intellectually engaged in working through differences in theology, the advances of science, than just accept the great mystery of g-d and be disengaged in my faith and experience dissociation between my faith and life. Emotional rollercoastering stories, spoken-word poems and worship music do not get rid of doubt. And doubt should not be something to be getting rid of, it is a very necessary part of having a deep faith and interacting with real people in ones day to day life, unless of course, you only interact with church folk. To them, I’d say, just because you’re questioning and considering what you’ve been taught does not mean you are unbelieving – it means you are engaging. Take out the language of struggle, and insert respect, hope, and acceptance of the intellectual mind that is causing you to think about what you’ve been taught.

  26. I had to read this even though you said true believers needn’t. I have known Jesus since I was very young. He was a comfort all through my childhood, helping me get through the rough times. I never doubted him when I was little; it was when I reached my teen years and older that I wondered why bad things happened to good people.
    All the answers are in the Bible. Satan often causes problems, but God is blamed. God permits some problems to test our faith, like with Job. God knew Job would remain faithful, so he allowed Satan to test him.
    As a teenager, my friends and I would often discuss whether there was a God or not. Was ESP of the devil or divine intervention? How was the Bible decided on? And dozens of other things.
    There are days I doubt that my faith is strong enough, and I wonder if God is really listening; maybe He’s tired of my constant whining and complaining. I know our prayers are supposed to include praise, finding forgiveness for ourselves and others, and thanks; along with asking for what we need. I feel that I’m always asking and doing a lot less of the other.
    I remember a Bible story that the angels were delayed helping someone because they were too weak to get there. We were told prayer was like charging their batteries! I try to do more praising because I want God to be fully charged to help me and others.
    This was a very well-written piece.

  27. Can there truly be an atheist? I can see that the agnostics are doubters and anyone can doubt, but how can any man say with confidence there is no God? Has he been everywhere and seen everything to know assuredly that God does not exist? How does he know what he is looking for?

  28. ‘There will never be a subject about which we have complete knowledge’ – very true.Goldsmith wrote, ‘like reptiles in a corner of a stupendous palace, we peep in, look about us, wonder at all we see, but are ignorant of the great architect’s design.’

  29. As a “militant atheist” (still not so sure how I feel about this description) I would really like to respond to this when I have a think, and have some more time. Thanks for asking questions.

  30. Thanks for the inspiration… if I may, I will use/ refer folk to this post!
    As a believe, not the best child of God on the planet but still a believer… I’m often quoting one of my own…

    True Faith heals! Religion, dogma and disbelief kills!!

    God bless! 😉

  31. Religion–one definition is man trying to describe and relate to that which he does not understand. The Word of God known to some as the Bible, is not a religion but a source of truth inspired by a God who desired to reveal himself to those of His creation who wanted to know Him. Alas parts of it have been used through the centuries that it has been around to be the foundation of many religions. Thus great things and events have been laid at the feet of those who think they are following what it says, when if it is examined it would not support positions that some have taken through the years in the name of religion. I am a semester away from having a major in Biology, I find it wrong that someone above thinks that there is more evidence for evolution than anything else in the realm of science. The only thing we have evidence for is evolutuion within a genus of the creation. The rest is and remains a theory. Those that find hate is somehow taught in the Word for anything but evil are just wrong. Wish I had time for more but I will have to to invite those who would like to learn more to my wordpress blog. But whether you who believe in atheism agree to acknowledge it or not atheism is a religion, for some evolution is a religion, the big bang is a religion for it tries to explain that which we do not know. selah

  32. why ‘militant’ atheist instead of just “atheist” – one who simply does not believe ?
    none of the atheists I’ve met are ‘militant’

  33. I like what you are putting down here. I would love to talk with you in the future. Gary, I think he earlier mentioned something about feeling that many who would classify as atheist often fit in his understanding of agnostic.

Join the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s