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.
The part that sounded as though you suspected creationism?
I suspect cognitive bias. However, I forgive it, because it's only human to oppose ideas that fundamentally oppose your own. At the same time, everyone needs to realise that each side is strengthened by the other, so Dr Bob may not realise it, but these ideas prove that large parts of religion are fundamentally correct, logical and rational. And therefore, accessible, powerful and influential, and worthy of respect by everyone. Also it will almost certainly bring Jesus right back into fashion in all relevant circles.
@Simon, you should try this:
"a lot of vague spiritual terms that don't correspond to how any of us theists (or atheists) really use them."
- quite possibly; however, my ideas are functionally the same as those of my favourite Christian hippy, R. Keith Whitt, so I think you're wrong on at least one count, and I assume that he represents many other people.
@Davis - taking it up to the top level.
- I don't actually mean this: as an atheist, I don't believe in God full stop. What I mean is that what I believe religious people mean by God's love, its primary meaning, is a property of nature that is explainable by looking at evolution.
"How is that loves transmitted?"
- this is one of the crucial fundamental questions - how do you access it?
Like I say, it's not "transmitted" from God, since in our world view, there is no God. Instead, it's an inherent property of the living world, and what the living world consists of is lots and lots of individual organisms, so this is an inherent property of all organisms.
My favourite metaphor is of watering a flower. You put on the water, the flower does the rest. The way to access this biological force or power is to put the right conditions in place for a living thing (e.g. yourself, someone else) to flourish. A simple idea, but very powerful.
Flowers (flowing plants) evolved to use rain...the rain came first.
So did proto-bees.
The things adapted to the place...oxygen was toxic, some critters mutated and could eventually not die from the exposure, and then were able to, eventually, break it down as a fuel source.
So all this "gods love" stuff is just a euphemism for evolution?
For the puddle of water being the exact same shape as the hole it was in?
"So all this "gods love" stuff is just a euphemism for evolution?"
- you could almost say that, since it's such a fundamental property of nature and a straightforward consequence of natural selection and evolution.
What it's a euphemism for is the tendency of all organisms to protect their own survival and to take active steps, the entire time, to maintain fitness and stay alive. The further point is that you can take advantage of this general tendency by nurturing it (a key word) - putting the right conditions in place for this tendency to do its magical natural work. It's a very simple idea but very powerful and very easy to overlook. Try putting it to work, as an explicit principle, in your own life. It can work wonders for your day. "Jesus saves."
It can work wonders for your day. "Jesus saves."
At one point the devil and Jesus were arguing over who was the better programmer, and decided to have a programming contest.
The devil was coding away at a blistering pace, creating an elaborate and violent wargame with fantastic features...
Jesus, meanwhile, was coding more slowly and subtly, with beautiful images and music, but without the same flash and pizazz.
As the end of the contest approached, some minion or another tripped over the power cord, knocking out power to both machines, and causing Jesus to win the programming contest outright because
Part of my work involves implementing disaster recovery plans for my corporate clients IT data. I call the master copies of the offline data the “Jesus Tapes” because even Jesus saves……………..and for you IT purists out there, No, I no longer back up to tape :-).
Wait...didn't you claim that love was a teleological phenomena?
"didn't you claim that love was a teleological phenomena?"
- what do you mean by this?