Saturday, April 25, 2009

Christians vs. Atheists in Discussions


In the comment section of this post I have been reading the continuing conversation between Ken McKnight and Gary Baker.

Some of the quips are quite humorous:

Gary asks Ken about:


"being the snarky idiot?"


Ken replies:


"Ta,ta, Gary. I hope you and your ego will be very happy together."


But then returns with:




"BTW Gary,

On at least two separate occasions I have complimented Christine on that very point.

It's not just liberals. I tried commenting on the Miss America controversy on the Alliance Defense Fund site. I was extremely polite, yet my comment was cut because I didn't parrot the party line."


Gary replies:




"I was expecting you to withdraw from the discussion. Generally happens to liberals of your intellectual caliber when repeatedly pressed for facts, evidence, and logic which neither their education nor mentality has prepared them for. I must confess disappointment however. You didn't even try to come up with reasonable replies, so I guess that makes you lazy as well as cowardly. Let me know when you grow a spine."


Of course, these are just small snippets of each comment. However, it brings to mind a question that I have had over the course of several years - both while running my discussion forum and this blog. Are deep, true, solid, non-biased, thoughtful, considerate, intelligent, polite, complimentary, uplifting, kind, inspiring, enthusiastic, acceptance of evangelizing attempts, and non-ridiculing discussions actually possible between atheists and Christians?

I have found that in rare moments, there are some areas of agreement. But oftentimes, the discussions are very confrontational.

Tonight, I was reading a comment written by GMPilot who was answering part of a comment written by Sothenes over at my Talk Wisdom forum and I found what he had written fascinating. Here is a copy of the brief discussion:


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sothenes

As far as fishing is concerned, imagine how the non-believer feels. He throws his hook into the water and doesn't catch anything. Does that mean there are no fish? Does he fish again because he lost faith in there being fish?


GMPilot:


You don't have to imagine how the non-believer feels, Sothenes; just ask one. It doesn't have to be me, but since I'm here...

I'm not trying to catch anything. It's only Christians like yourself that are seeking an ecclesiastic body count. Besides, the fish have been biting for nearly 2000 years. What sort of bait do you use? Fear of death? Awareness of their sin? Promise of eternal life? It would be interesting to know.

But every fisherman I know of has a story about 'the one that got away'. It checked out the lure, even nibbled at it; but once it was hooked, it fought with all its power to get off that hook, and win its life and freedom. Fishermen usually speak of that fish with grudging respect, because it wouldn't succumb to the trap.

Think of the non-believer as that sort of fish.


Take a look at their signature quotes:

Sothenes:


"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."-GK Chesterton


GMPilot:


"Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration--courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth." --H L Mencken

"The next time someone asks you if you're a god, say yes." --"Ghostbusters"


We can see why GMPilot thinks of Christian faith as "succumbing to a trap" because his signature quote states, "Religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I (he) holds in veneration -- courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth."

So, how does one witness and attempt to evangelize someone with such an attitude?

Sothenes' signature quote combats GMPilot's view that "there is no God" with the quote: "If there were no God, there would be no Atheists."-GK Chesterton

Christian faith is courageous.

Christian faith is involved with clear thinking.

Christian faith is honest.

Christian faith is fairness.

Christian faith is, above all, the TRUTH!

However, a non-believer thinks that his "version" of "the truth" is completely opposite the Christian's view of truth.

So, this leads me to ask some questions:

1. Where do such conversations lead?
2. How do they usually end?
3. Are seeds of faith planted as a result?
4. Are seeds of doubt increased?
5. Can you think of more questions to add to this list?

As Christian believers who are involved with Jesus' Great Commission command to share the gospel with everyone we can, it is true that we may not know (this side of heaven) how many people we have positively influenced towards salvation in Christ.

I have found that skeptics/non-believers/atheists/agnostics sometimes tell me that my witnessing efforts have actually driven them further away from faith in Jesus Christ. They claim that my judgmental attitude and (fill in the blank!) have solidified their skepticism.

Should believers be concerned about this?

My opinion?

No.

The reason being that a non-believer is in no better (or worse) position in having heard the gospel shared in a perceived "wrong way" vs. not hearing the gospel at all.

Consider the fact that they were separated from God in the first place, so any additional negative influence does not change their destiny in eternity.

However, a seed planted (even if viewed as being planted poorly by the Christian evangelist according to the skeptic) could still sprout towards belief in Christ as a result in the future. This would change the destiny of the already condemned non-believer towards heaven.

Isaiah 57:15-21 NLT -

Isa 57:15 The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: "I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.


Isa 57:16 For I will not fight against you forever; I will not always show my anger. If I did, all people would pass away--all the souls I have made.


Isa 57:17 I was angry and punished these greedy people. I withdrew myself from them, but they went right on sinning.


Isa 57:18 I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them and comfort those who mourn.


Isa 57:19 Then words of praise will be on their lips. May they have peace, both near and far, for I will heal them all," says the LORD.


Isa 57:20 "But those who still reject me are like the restless sea. It is never still but continually churns up mire and dirt.


Isa 57:21 There is no peace for the wicked," says my God.


Readers, what are your thoughts on this topic?

14 comments:

warrenjc said...

Good blog. Visited your site as well. I am a Christian and just started blogging. I often wondered why atheist's fight so hard against something that they don't even think exists. Seems futile to me (and rather ignorant.)

http://jameslindquistswriting.blogspot.com

Ken McKnight said...

It's very simple really. We're not fighting against a non-existent God, we're fighting against the incalculable harm your belief system has inflicted and continues to inflict on children, women, blacks, gays, atheists, and others. Believing that you have a book that tells you Truth makes many Christians impervious to reason (as my exchange with Gary illustrates). Someone who can't be reasoned with is dangerous.

Ken McKnight said...

Christine,

Chesterton's quotation which you so admire is demonstrably nonsense. There is no need for God to exist in order to produce atheists; all that is needed is the concept of God. It is easy to imagine a universe where there is no God but where atheists arise in order to combat the harmful superstitions produced by believers in that non-existent God. Like ours, for example.

BTW, you do know, don't you, that Chesterton was a Catholic, one of those idol-worshipers you are so critical of?

Gary Baker said...

Christine,

I just wanted to let you know that there may be a problem with your website. I get this incessant whining noise from my speaker lately every time I enter the comments section.

Christinewjc said...

Hello Warrenjc,

Thank you for your kind comment! Welcome to my blog. I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote:

I often wondered why atheist's fight so hard against something that they don't even think exists. Seems futile to me (and rather ignorant.)Ken,

As pointed out by the astute gentlemen posting here ...well...you're just being "Ken."

Gary,

Ha ha ha ha haaaaa! Got worried for one second - then burst out laughing!

Happy Sunday!

Ken McKnight said...

Nice one, Gary. That almost qualifies as having a sense of humor. Keep trying.

Now, Christine, don't you have to admit that this clash between Gary and myself is a lot more interesting than the sycophantic banter your site usually draws?

GMpilot said...

If you really want an answer to your question, you only have to look at our past correspondence on TalkWisdom.

Some of it has been very contentious (and I am not one who enjoys confrontation), but some has also been enjoyable, even agreeable.

You hold to one view, and I to another. If Christian faith were all you claim it is, there would be no argument. There is. Not with me, but with believers in other faiths. Labeling them as "false" does not make it so, especially since the same charge could be laid against your own.

No, believers should not be concerned about your efforts at witnessing; only about their own.

It must have been a mighty slow day for you to use me for a blog subject!

Christocentric said...

Good article Christine! You beat me to it as my next article was on the same topic. Got into some discussions on Easter Sunday with atheists on unreasonablefaith.com. I wouldn't have even bothered but the blog was highlighted on Wordpress.com for hot blogs for that day.

In any type of evangelism you can only hope that seeds were planted. I don't like long drawn out discussions that lead to nowhere, so often times with atheists I feel they are only in it to win arguments. But never giving up hope that maybe someone may be convicted enough to believe in God.

Ken, atheism has done more harm to blacks (which I am) than "religion." Atheism, especially when combined with a belief in evolution, has blacks reduced to being some form of lower life compared to the "higher formed" white man.

Christianity is quite the opposite. God created all men as equals and Christ died for us ALL. And as a woman, the bible has been better for us here as well! When left to the world's standards of how to treat women, we are just as sub-human as black people, if not worse!

So no thanks to godlessness! God's standards are always more beneficial than the short-sightedness of atheism.

Christinewjc said...

Ken,

My so-called "sycophantic banter" keeps you coming to this blog. So, what's up with that?

*******

GMPilot,

It appears that people are offering different answers here. I think that is healthy - don't you?

As far as other faiths go, when someone presents an argument for a different faith (e.g. Islam), I refer them to previous posts that shows why they are in error.

Christian faith is different because it is an historical fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Recently, Cleopatra's tomb (it is assumed) was found. A photo showed a skull at the entrance (probably placed there for effect.)

But when the tomb was opened where Christ was laid after the crucifixion, it was empty. No one then and no one now can refute that fact. They can only deny it.

You wrote:

"No, believers should not be concerned about your efforts at witnessing; only about their own."Unfortunately, other believers DO cite concern over other Christians and their witnessing efforts. Some of it is legitimate because the person is commiting heresy and apostasy. At other times, different denominational beliefs can do harm between believers. That is unfortunate.

I recall being scared to witness to my own father when he was ill with cancer. Thought I would "do it wrong." But I found that when I gave my trust to God - he came through for me and gave me the right words to say. It was one of the most awesome experiences of my life!

It wasn't necessarily a "slow day." I just thought that what you wrote in response to Sothenes fit the post really well!

I chuckled a bit when I read:

"Some of it has been very contentious (and I am not one who enjoys confrontation), but some has also been enjoyable, even agreeable."I'd say that MOST of our dialogue has been contentious! lol

I'm glad that you can recall that some have been enjoyable and even "agreeable." So....when was that? j/k

*******

Carlotta!

The service at the Rock yesterday was AWESOME! I hope you will see my post and update on it.

VERY good point about atheism combined with evolution and the awful result it led to "lowering of life" against black people. Thank God that has been corrected for the most part!

Excellent points you made:

" Christianity is quite the opposite. God created all men as equals and Christ died for us ALL. And as a woman, the bible has been better for us here as well! When left to the world's standards of how to treat women, we are just as sub-human as black people, if not worse!

So no thanks to godlessness! God's standards are always more beneficial than the short-sightedness of atheism."
That's why I LOVE going to The Rock. There are people of all ages, skin color, nationalities, race, backgrounds - you name it. This is how I envision heaven some day!

Christocentric said...

Yes, the service at the Rock was great yesterday! I did leave a comment on your post about it.

I'm glad I do go to the Rock with it's myriad of people from all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities! What an example of how Christians should be gathering to worship our Lord.

I left a predominantly black church because I wanted my children to be raised knowing what the real world is like so we left our comfort zone in search of "that church" that would resemble the "world." It took a few before we landed at the Rock and we are so glad we've made this our church home - for five years now!

Atheism is the one "belief system" that is the most far fetched. I guess that's why the word says emphatically that "the fool says in his heart there is no God." (what scripture was that?) It's just so foolish to look at the intrinsic makeup of our own bodies and believe that we don't have a creator? Absolutely foolish to believe that!

Oh well...

Ken McKnight said...

Here's an article from yesterday's New York Times (I know, it's a liberal rag, yada, yada) that is relevant to this post:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/27/us/27atheist.html?em

I'd love to hear what you think of it.

GMpilot said...

Hi again, hostess.

You noted:

"I'd say that MOST of our dialogue has been contentious! lol

I'm glad that you can recall that some have been enjoyable and even 'agreeable'. So....when was that? j/k"
Why, right now, of course. You know you like hearing from me, even though you don't like what I say. Gotta prove worthy of that "favorite nemesis" honor.
You also said to carlotta:

"VERY good point about atheism combined with evolution and the awful result it led to "lowering of life" against black people. Thank God that has been corrected for the most part!"Only 'the MOST part', Christine? You mean the Divine Sense of Justice--after taking nearly nine decades after Emancipation to even acknowledge this 'lowering of life'--hasn't been fully corrected YET? My, my...


Hello again, Christocentric.

You wrote:

"...atheism has done more harm to blacks (which I am) than 'religion.' Atheism, especially when combined with a belief in evolution, has blacks reduced to being some form of lower life compared to the 'higher formed' white man."Really? Slavery was a long-established custom (not only in this country, but elsewhere) long before Darwin had even been born! I believe the "curse of Ham" was the standard Christian excuse.
You do know that the Southern Baptists were formed (in 1847) exclusively to find and support Biblical reasons why slavery was God-ordained...right? Our own Supreme Court declared a black person was only three-fifths of a human being (Dred Scott, 1857) a good two years before The Origin of Species was published. As far as is known, not one of those Justices was an atheist.

It's too bad I couldn't have introduced you to an old acquaintance of mine, who was also black, and an unbeliever. I never asked much about his reasons, but I remember what he told me. He said he disdained Christianity not because it was a "religion of slaves" (an old Nation of Islam claim), but because it was a religion of slavemasters. An interesting point of view, that.

Now, since I know you don't like long drawn out discussions that lead to nowhere, I'll stop here. Just letting you know where I stand.

Christocentric said...

GMPilot, forgive me for not making it clear that I was comparing atheism to true religion. I'm quite familiar with the "Christianity is a religion of the slavemasters" mantra as that belief had even affected my entire family. My sister joined a black cult-like group back in the 70's because of that belief - the US Organization, a group led by the creator of Kwanzaa Dr. Maulana Karenga. If you go to my blog and look up "The Truth About Kwanzaa" you'll see I exposed a bit of that belief in my writings about Kwanzaa. That black holiday was created primarily to get black people away from the "slavemaster's" holiday called Christmas and the religion of Christianity as it was considered a "white man's" religion. I know about that black racist ideology all too well!

I'm also quite familiar of the harm done in the "name" of religion to justify slavery. But I do stand by my original statement about religion being better than atheism - the true religion of Christianity!

Gary Baker said...

"He said he disdained Christianity not because it was a "religion of slaves" (an old Nation of Islam claim), but because it was a religion of slavemasters. An interesting point of view, that."

Equally interesting: That while most every civilization of note in the past had slavery, it took a concerted effort by Christians to bring it to an end. That never seems to get mentioned, along with all of the people that were enslaved under atheist regimes in the 20th century.

The curse of Ham was one Christian excuse. Atheists found their own, and they were usually related to building a "worker's paradise on Earth." By enslaving the people. Yeah, those atheists sure were morally and intellectually superior alright (note dripping sarcasm).



BTW - The comment on Dred Scott did not address whether or not the judges were Christian or atheist, simply whether or not they were literate since that was the law under the Constitution at that time. As for 90 years being a long time