Today I was approached by a friend of mine who began a conversation with me with the statement, "I know you're an Atheist, but..." and proceeded to invite me to attend his youth group for a week. Now, knowing full well that he was the son of two missionaries, and is moving to Brazil this summer to learn Portuguese to do so, I expected this. The odd part was I didn't expect to feel as angry as I did with the conversation that followed. I kindly declined his offer, but he persisted, telling me it would be an experience that I wouldn't have to repeat if I didn't enjoy it, ( eating an exotic food?) and telling me that I would come to learn of God in a different perspective, and that my old church(es) were not the true Christian way. All of this, I expected he would say. (He also threw the hilarious phrase of "Give God another chance!" at me.)

But it made me furious after I thought about it. If he honestly thought I would be swayed back into Christianity by a fancy new church, then he was disregarding all of the research and time I spent into trying to figure out who I was and what I believed in. If he thought I would be swindled by the social benefits of belonging to a church ("You said you lost a lot of friends after your de-conversion") then he didn't want or enjoy the fact that I was proud of who I was. And after reminding him carefully about how my Atheism wasn't a light decision and how it took me years to figure myself out, he reminded me that I had never gone to his Presbyterian church, so it could be a new experience and really "open up my eyes". It's honestly arrogant of him to think that a simple "new perspective" could get me to leave everything behind for the thought of friendship and a safety net, isn't it? Or am I overreacting again?

I don't know.

At any rate, I told him I would think about this. Part of me wants to go, for the wonderful opportunity of being able to ask questions about the fallacies of religion and the bible, but I don't want to be a jerk about it, or fuel the stereotype that Atheists are "God-Hating". (How can you hate something you don't believe in?) Another part of me is afraid to go, because I am still new at debating and I really don't want to be boxed into a corner with something I don't know about yet.

I don't think I'll do it, but I know the debate between he and I will surely continue. I'm not dreading the debating part at all. I'm only dreading the anger I'll feel at the arrogance I think the church imposes.

Oh, the life of a public school Atheist.

Views: 48

Comment by B. on February 22, 2010 at 5:22pm
I would go if there's free food.

Ask what they serve at these things -- if it's just donuts & juice say no, but if there's home-baked goodness, why the heck not?

I still participate in the campus catholic church's scavenger hunt because they give free apple cider + cookies after!!!
Comment by Tophertron on February 22, 2010 at 6:05pm
I have a really cute friend I've known since I was 10, and her and I went to the same Baptist school, we hang out every weekend, I would say that part of me is in love with her. That being said, she's still a christian, and invites me to church every sunday morning, usually the night before around 2am when we're both drunk and on the way home together from the bar... Her rebuttal to my obligatory "I don't believe in a magic man in the sky" is always "c'mon it's not like the school we grew up in! You'd really like it!" And I always get repulsed thinking about them saying praise jesus and praying, I feel like if I saw her praying and reading the bible that I would no longer find her attractive! HAHA They don't understand how repulsive we see their superstition!
Comment by Kris on February 22, 2010 at 6:28pm
I've been atheist for a while and I still go to youth meetings, for the free coffee and cookies. :o
Comment by Tophertron on February 22, 2010 at 6:29pm
Lol niiice!
Comment by Kris on February 22, 2010 at 6:36pm
But in all seriousness, if you don't feel like you want to go, don't go. There are 3000 denominations of the Christian church, a maximum of one of them can be the "true" one and since you're atheist, you probably don't even believe that.
There's no point to going to a group where people will most likely discriminate you for having a complete opposite worldview. Not many Christians research the Bible, otherwise there would be a lot more atheists. You've obviously done your research, which means that you know what you believe better than most of the people in that group.
Comment by Kris on February 22, 2010 at 6:36pm
edit: there are 30000* denominations...
Comment by Tophertron on February 22, 2010 at 9:06pm
Haha good point!
Comment by James on February 22, 2010 at 9:44pm
If you don't want to go, then I wouldn't go. Sure, it could be fun to debate the fundies. But like you said, you're new to debating, so it wight be better to forgo it at this time. Get solid on you stuff and on common arguments first. As for his 'different perspective' comment. Well, that just comes off as presumptuous and shortsighted to me. You feel clear in your view, yet he feels that going Presbyterian will change your mind. He feels his way is right, but did he do the due diligence that he is suggesting for you? If he says the same thing to you, I'd ask if he's tried Islam or the Mormon church a try. After all, the different perspective may show him that he was mistaken all along. hehehe :)
Comment by CJoe on February 22, 2010 at 10:16pm
I say don't go. It's just a waste of time. Of course, I don't know how well you know this guy, or how many conversations you've gotten into, but it's not like it'll end once you check his church out and feel the same. I remember what it was like to FINALLY get one of my friends to come to church with me only for the sermon to be really dull or, like, only be "praise and worship" that night. He'll be like, "Oh man, it's usually so much better! Come back next week and it'll be really amazing!"

I dunno. I could just be a bit jaded myself. I'd rather spend $5 to go to the grocery store and buy some cookies and cider than endure a Presbyterian church service. OMG they're sooo boring, too, that denomination! And super duper sexist!

I just wish theists could just get that we don't believe! It doesn't matter how much fun it is to dance around to upbeat music; it doesn't matter that "the message" is inspiring; it doesn't matter that there are cool people there; it doesn't matter that the church is more "in touch" with the world by using giant projector screens and flashy lights! If it was about all that, I'd try a few religions out... like it'd be really cool to become, like, Hindu... because I sort like their garb. Or maybe Buddhist because I love Chinese music!

Why can't they just get that we think it's all really retarded?!
Comment by Galen on February 22, 2010 at 10:20pm
My reply would've been "I know you're a Christian, but why don't you go attend this cool Satanic cult meeting next week? I don't think you've given Satan a fair chance. Going to this could give you a fresh new perspective on him!" etc, etc.

Also, I must very much agree about finding their beliefs and practices repulsive. Whenever I read something religious on Facebook that one of my friends has posted, my immediate reaction is an auditory "UGH!" or "ICK!" or to actually say "disgusting..."

We may not be able to hate God because he doesn't exist, but the CONCEPT and the BELIEF in God is very much real and I most certainly hate that!

"Whether or not God really exists is not as important as whether a belief in God really exists."
-Daniel Jackson, Stargate SG-1


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