armed with a degree in theology, over the years i have come up with specific questions to ask of christians.
indeed i even attend "alpha courses" (introductory courses to becoming a christian) and put these questions to the hosts (usually under the guise of "well i'm thinking of becoming a christian but i have some questions...)
confrontation and causing offense gets you nowhere. also being impolite just reinforces their smug assertion that atheists are angry.
the question i have had most success with at putting people on the spot goes like this...
"a priest rapes a choirboy. the choirboy becomes depressed and traumatized, rejects jesus and the church (understandably), turns to drugs, dies young and spends an eternity in hell, unsaved and condemned by god.
the priest repents on his deathbed, embraces christ, is forgiven and spends forever in heaven.
by what measure can we consider this to be justice?"
i'm hoping that this question might one day become a meme, so that anyone who brings up the subject of christianity is immediately reminded of this question and has an answer demanded of them.
i have many other questions like this that cannot be simply swatted away with theology, mystery or dogma.
i'd be happy to share them with anyone who is interested.
thanks for reading, let me know if it has an impact on anyone you ask.
Of course it can be proved. If any god wants us to believe, just appear to us all in an undeniable way. Give everyone one wish and make it come true. Not hard for a god, is it? Tell us you are about to make all cars blue and do it.
The thing is Simon, it is only the theists that talk of proof. I keep asking them for “just a small shred” of something that could be considered evidence. They keep refusing to supply any. I am not asking them to get their God to appear to me, I am only asking for something that will give their statement that “God exists” some credibility. Something that could start me on a journey to discover God. Telling me it is true because they believe it is not helpful.
…all this atheist versus religious stuff can never be proved either way.
I, the atheist am not making any claims. I have not asserted any of my “beliefs”. Therefore I do not need to prove or defend anything. If someone claims they are immortal or can talk to the Creator of the Universe then they are making a claim that puts the onus of proof on them.
If they would admit that they just believe it “on faith” then that is fine. But they don’t. They claim it is the Truth. I want to know of this God they are talking about and making all these claims about but they KEEP REFUSING to explain themselves. Who is this God? Where is He?
I “believe” this is because they have no evidence apart from their own subjective experiences. I am forced or compelled to dismiss their extraordinary claims because they will not explain them to me. I cannot even get them to describe their God to me in any meaningful way. How many times do I have to say that I will convert to Christianity if they will only help me to do so?
No it isnt a good point...its a useless point. Of course no ultimate metaphysical framework can be proven....that does not mean anything goes. Thats no reason to hop on some bandwagon or believe whatever your parents tell you. We are quite capable of working these things out for ourselves.
Fairy tales, delusions, superstitions and fantastical explanations behind the phenomena around us...lead to thought control, suspicion, paranoia, a dangerous lack of medical knowledge and human psychology, unsafe behaviour, unbearable cruelty, inquisitions, human sacrafices, accusations of devil posession and fear of the unknown...as well as a drive to invent rediculous explanations for everything. If thats the kind of frame work you want...go for it...no one in the western world will stop you as long as you dont bring me down with you.
Or you can rise out of the cycle of human ignorance and delusions and try out empirical knowledge, reason, respect for personal autonomy, equality and tollerance of world views.
You can't prove either of these metaphisical frameworks...but you can choose which game to play. I personally have seen endless horrors while traveling to countries where people are all for the game of superstitious delusion and not just the theist version but the hindu one and the animist one. Look past the colourful exotic customs and there is a world of ignorance and human disrespect and indifference to mass suffering. Western theists get to have their cake and eat it too...enjoying the comforts of the reason game while still holding onto the dirty stains of the first one.
What I mean is, when Trevor was active in the site a few years ago, he was talking about his experience of being born again, and it had the classic hallmarks of the well-recognised psychological phenomenon called a spiritual awakening.
I wouldn't say he has a sense of personal superiority, beyond thinking that everyone who doesn't agree with him is a sinner - that seems to come with the territory of being an evangelical. Or a hardline muslim. Or ISIS. :-/
He was saying that after being born again, he had this profound sense of well being settle over him, and everything looks brighter and more colourful. These are classic signs of a spiritual awakening. On the other hand, you would expect this person to become more easy-going about their beliefs, and not so intransigent - but again, if you're an evangelical you buy into all that, and apparently, you have to leave your brain at the door, otherwise you're a - guess what - sinner. These beliefs are pretty powerful and fundamental to the world view so it's difficult to give them up or be easy going.
We can ask him about it, if he ever wants to come back and tell me exactly why I'm wrong.
The main proponent of this idea, Steve Taylor, says that a religious spiritual awakening is necessarily false, because you're just swapping one ego (your own) for another (the church's), instead of radically overhauling the one you've got. But in Trevor's case, those things can't be faked, or rather, I trust that he's sincere, so Steve Taylor might need to think again about that.
Can you give me an example of a “religious spiritual awakening”? To me it is a “woo” term that Deepak Chopra would start a sentence with before he used the word “quantum” to render the remainder of whatever he spoke of to be facile and meaningless.
I still of no idea of what people mean by “spiritual”. There are “retreats” where religious hermits go to in order to become more spiritual. Retreat is the correct word. They have retreated from the real world because they are overwhelmed by their delusion of thinking some god is directing them. They may sincerely believe that they are in communication with the Creator of the Universe but they are not. They eventually have no more stimuli entering their mind except their (Plato’s) cave walls and call this “an awakening”. It is not. It is a brain deadening slumber. That is all they have achieved. They think this has set them free. What a waste.
Well said Reg. I know a few who have replaced alcoholic "spirits" with "spirituality." No accident booze is call spirit. Usually it's a temporary fix.
The only one I've heard of is Trevor's, if that's what it is.
"Spiritual" means a lot of different things at different times, but in this context it's referring to some kind of massive ego-busting experience - going up into space is a good example, as Steve Taylor says that's a guaranteed way to get one. After this experience, or alternatively, gradually over a length of time, the person is freed from the prison and oppression of the ego and therefore feels a sense of the here and now, of well being, of being connected to the world, and often, that everything in the universe is connected by some kind of shared consciousness. This last one I can't get my head around, I'm just saying what people report.
@Robert, according to Steve Taylor, there are quite a few ex-alcoholics who have had spiritual awakenings - hitting rock bottom and losing everything is the ego-busting experience in this case.
….there are quite a few ex-alcoholics who have had spiritual awakenings
No, alcoholics have a moment of clarity where they realise that they are being deluded by “the spirit” they use to create their reality. Like any hermit that engages in a mind numbing activity they were blocking out the real world with a form of “opium”. If they act upon that moment of clarity and stop taking the opium they soon become strong enough without it to realise it was a delusion. They eventually become more mature people and take control of their own lives without the props of alcohol (or religion).They had their egos busted long before their moment of clarity arrived.
You guys are so funny, you crack me up.
Trevor, do you ever think it strange that you believe you can communicate directly with the Creator of the Universe or is just a normal everyday experience?
@Reg, do you ever think it strange that you believe you can discern the Laws that Govern the Universe?
We assume that the physical laws we discover on this tiny planet in a corner of a small-ish spiral galaxy apply everywhere.
If there's a Creator who made the whole thing and holds it together with laws that apply everywhere, it seems like the Creator should, like those laws, be accessible from everywhere. It's no more of a stretch to believe in a universally accessible Creator than it is to believe in universally applicable laws.
Yes I do. Not in the same way you do, but in a awestruck, gobsmacked way. The only reason you do not know or experience or communicate with God is that you are cut off from Him by your sin. If you became a christian and had your sin problem removed that would change.