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.
I'm sure that's true, but according to the literature, there are a sizeable number of people who, furthermore, have a spiritual awakening and end up happy-clappy for the rest of their lives.
Once again Simon, I still do not call that a "spiritual awakening". I call it becoming deluded. They ingest the opium of religion and get all starry eyed. They never get all “happy-clappy” in their own kitchen at 2:00 in the morning. This only happens when they gather in groups with similarly deluded people and get the trance going. They end up thinking that some supernatural entity loves them. Fine, if that gets them through the dark nights but it is still all based on the delusion of some god they cannot even describe actually existing. And for believing in this god they think they are going to become immortal? Is that not a sign of being deluded?
Not wishing to get dragged in, as I do not agree with Simon. However, what you say here is just not true. My profoundest experiences of God and of joy in Him have always been on my own, at any time of the day or night. I enjoy meeting with other christians too and would never give that up. And we describe God all the time.
On the immortal issue, you have been corrected before. Christians believe that all people are immortal, regardless of faith or no faith. You don't have a soul, you are a soul and have a body.
I have nothing against reasoned argument, its a good thing. But thats not what your doing.
I'm sure that's true a lot of the time, however, it is easily conceivable that being born again can provoke a spiritual awakening in some people. Again, it would be nice to get Trevor's input on this, as I'm just talking second-hand and don't have any up-close experience of it. I am guessing that there are two key components: submitting to God's will (ego-busting); being filled with the Holy Spirit (realising God's love, which I have demonstrated is real, and you can either agree with me or not; universal compassion, more ego-busting).
I have a "guru" in London, a lady in her 70s who gives me a lot of ideas. She was a schizophrenic for 12 years and was a patient of RD Laing in the 60s. She had a spiritual awakening - a turning point after which she fundamentally changed as a person - in which she realised the presence of a "cosmic mother" of some kind, and this has stayed with her ever since. I put this down to realising God's love. At that point she also realised that truth is where it's at. If you meet her, you would say she is buzzing with energy and joy the whole time, and she sees into you with an intensity that is startling the first time you meet her.
I would say I've had a spiritual awakening, an initial thing followed by years of development, and I'm buzzing the whole time, and I don't seem to get lonely or bored. So I can get what people say about it.
A "Cosmic Mother" can get in line with the 1000's of other gods. Our species is evolved to cooperate through common beliefs.We evolved an imagination. We have conquered the planet because we work together.... flexibly and in numbers unlike any other primate or species. We invent these gods, that's why they feel so powerful and satisfying..
All I can say is it's very real to her and it works. She calls it a "great mother". I can see a plausible link to reality. She is nominally a Catholic, however she never mentions God, but talks about Jesus a lot. She's more into Jah Shaka. I think she likes Catholicism because of Mother Mary. She's a very clear example of someone who's had a spiritual awakening.
They eventually become more mature people and take control of their own lives without the props of alcohol (or religion).
Except that quite often it is the "prop" of religion that helps them take control of their life and give up alcohol. After all, the Higher Power is a prominent feature of successful treatment programs like AA.
We don't have spirits Simon. There is no such thing. It's a human invention.
Yes, but "spiritual", however you define it, isn't related to "spirits".
Are you being serious?
Yes, if you mean "spirits" as in "ghosts". Spirituality is usually meant to mean some kind of transcendent psychology.
Spirit...in it's broadest definition is the non-corporeal part of a human being (and perhaps animals, plants even rocks). Call that a ghost or a special substance or your continuity-identity if you will.
Spirituality...in it's broadest definition...is believing that there is more to the universe than matter (almost always meaning there is a greater consciousness or non-random force at play). That would certainly include your spirit...and whatever nonsense or religious babble or "one with the consciousness of the universe" you like.
Is transcendent psychology (whatever that is) is a part of your physical (matter) part of you or your non-corporeal part?
When Sam Harris talks about spirituality...it has nothing to do with those two definitions above and I seriously wish atheists would stop using that term.