As a long time atheist activist, I have talked to a lot of Christians over the years. Many use similar arguments. One avenue many Christians take is to ask personal questions of atheists. Their view is that it is obvious that Jesus was the physical incarnation of the magic man in the sky, therefore there must be some personal reason why atheists don’t believe it to be true.
My friends Andrew Hall over at Laughing In Disbelief and Neil Carter over at Godless in Dixie have answered ten questions from a Christian. These questions are the types of questions that I have been asked over and over again by Christians throughout my life. So here is what I am going to do. I am going to answer them too, but I also am going to address why they are being asked in the first place because I love answering these types of questions, but I also want to add something more to the conversation.
Here we go:
1. Have you ever been to church?
I grew up Jewish so I was never a regular church goer. However, I have been to a church service here and there with Christian friends and have also been to church for the various life events like weddings and funerals.
This question sets the theme that I mentioned above. Maybe the atheist is an atheist because they have never been exposed to Christianity in a church setting. The fact is that most atheists were raised religious. Some have even been devoutly religious.
2. Do you have any Christian friends or family members? If so, what do you think of their faith?
Yes, I have both Christian friends and family members. I love them, but I think they have been indoctrinated from near birth to believe the ridiculous and have not yet been able to break free of that indoctrination.
Again, maybe the atheist has never met a Christian. Maybe there has never been a Christian who they have been close to. Maybe atheists just have not been exposed to good Christian people. Yeah, because in a country where 80% of the people confess their believe in the supernatural, atheists just might have never met a Christian before. lol.
3. What do I think of Christians?
It depends on the Christian. Some Christians are awesome and caring individuals who have been indoctrinated at near birth or who have been converted for other reasons. Others are people who allow the worst aspects of their religion override their sense of empathy and compassion.
This question is an attempt to expand on the last question. Maybe atheists have had bad experiences with individual Christians and have therefore been turned off to Christianity as a result. It couldn’t possibly be that Christianity is a ridiculous belief system with zero evidence supporting it and a mountain of evidence working against it, right?
4. What do you think about Jesus?
I think Jesus probably didn’t actually exist. There is zero valid evidence supporting his existence and a few pieces of evidence which suggest that he didn’t. For one thing, no one actually wrote about Jesus until at least 30 years after he died. If he was bringing people back from the dead and if his crucifixion brought forth zombies and earthquakes, I think some contemporary historian would have mentioned it.
This is actually a better question than the one I usually get. Usually I am asked by Christians if I have ever heard of Jesus. This one at least realizes that everyone in America has heard of Jesus. Now let’s move on to what atheists think about Jesus. That is a good setup for the ridiculously poor Lord, Liar, Lunatic argument.
5. What do you think of the Bible?
The Bible is a collection of 66 books by different authors at different times for different reasons. There is no single narrative tying them all together and many of the books contradict the other books. We don’t have the original Bible and there might not have even been an original Bible. In short, I think the same of the Bible as Christians think of the Book of Mormon or the Quran.
Maybe atheists just haven’t read the Bible and that is why they are atheists. Maybe they haven’t read the carefully cherry-picked verses that the Christian pastor, Bible study leader, or religious guru used to convince me. If atheists just read the Bible cover-to-cover like I haven’t, then they would be totally convinced. Oh wait, most atheists have read the Bible cover-to-cover, oops.
6. Has anyone ever preached to you personally?
Yes, many times… a day.
Again, maybe the atheist had a bad experience with a particular Christian’s preaching style. Or maybe the atheist just never heard the “good news.” What is more likely however is that it is the Christian who has never really heard the rational arguments against his or her indoctrinated religious beliefs while living in their religious bubble. Thank Zeus we have the internet now and they can just Google this stuff.
7. How would you feel if someone tried to persuade you to believe in Jesus?
I’m with Penn Gillette on this one. If you really believe this nonsense is true and you have discovered what no other Christian on the planet in the last 2000 years has discovered (i.e. solid evidence to support your claim or at least a decent argument), then hell yea I want you to try to persuade me. Give it your best shot.
This question follows from the last question and we have seen this line of thought before. Maybe the atheist had a bad experience with a particular preacher or doesn’t like to be preached to in a direct manner because it couldn’t possibly be that the ridiculous claims of Christianity don’t make any logical sense, right?
8. What are your biggest objections to Christianity?
The list is a long. For starters, the claims are ridiculous and without valid evidence. But that merely addresses my lack of belief. As I have often said, it isn’t just my lack of belief. Even if I believed that the Bible was real and that the God of the Bible was real, I would still not be a Christian. I find the God of the Bible to be without empathy or compassion. In short, he is an immoral being who either actively eternally tortures those who don’t worship him or who through his inaction allows people to be eternally tortured for not worshiping him. Christianity is an immoral belief system. Which one of those is my biggest objection: A. the ridiculousness of the claims without valid evidence or B. the complete immorality of the system of belief? It’s hard to say.
This is the direct approach. Maybe we can find what is blocking the atheist from believing this completely ridiculous story so that we can address that particular issue and explain it all away. For example, a Christian might use my answer to talk about the First Cause argument or the Argument by Design. He or she might also bring up that Jesus talked about turning the other cheek and being redeemed in Christ.
Of course a quick Google search will reveal that all these arguments for the existence of God have been refuted… some (like the First Cause) were even refuted before Christianity even started. And yes, Jesus did say to turn the other cheek, but that was because he believed that those people would be tortured for all eternity in Hell. Judaism doesn’t have a Hell. Christianity popularized that shit. Jesus talked about cutting off your hands and plucking out your eyes if they are a risk to your eternal soul. He also said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but instead came with a sword and that one must hate his or her entire family in order to follow him. That’s nice.
9. Hypothetically speaking, if the claims of the Christian faith were proven true beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you become a Christian?
No. As I said before, if the claims of the Christian faith were proven to be true I would of course no longer be an atheist. I would of course believe God was real, but I would stand up against any god who either actively or passively through inaction tortures people for all eternity for finite transgressions.
This question is designed to show that atheists are closed minded. The view is that atheists wouldn’t become Christians even if the Christian faith (which ever one of the countless Christian sects this particular Christian believes to be the one true Christian faith) was proven “beyond a shadow of a doubt.” It would be rather simple for an all-powerful deity to prove his existence beyond a shadow of a doubt and yet no prove and no evidence. Nothing.
10. Describe your beliefs about God, salvation, the afterlife, etc.
God is imaginary. Salvation comes from actually atoning for your wrong doing to the people you have wronged. It is hard work and isn’t something that happens just by making a seemingly sincere promise to some imaginary deity. If you want forgiveness, you have to earn it the hard way. That is how the heroes journey begins. The afterlife? It’s a lot like the beforebirth.
This is the final pitch, a multi-leveled attack. First the Christian reinforces the whole all-powerful God thing. Then, since everyone wants to be forgiven for something the Christian reminds the atheist that Christianity makes it easy. You don’t have to work hard to earn the forgiveness of other when you can just ask the magic man in the sky to forgive you and assume he grants you salvation. And finally, the Christian plays the trump card of reminded the atheist that we all die, but then remind us that there is some snake oil that will cure us of death. It’s called, “Jesus.”
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