When You Claim to be a Christian

The following is a response one of my “blogger friends” gave to a person who visited his blog. I felt it deemed a wider audience as I think what he wrote speaks for many who have left “the faith.” Yes, it’s long … but it contains a LOT of good thoughts.

Okay, let’s step back. Let’s take a breath and review a few things. You said that you don’t know if the Bible is true or not. You said that it’s not your job to lead anyone to truth. You also said that it doesn’t matter if the Bible is factually correct because it’s not meant to be read that way. I apologize for presuming you believed in these things. I think what led me to believe them was the fact that you said you were a Christian. I assumed you believed in these things as a Christian because these things are found in the “statements of faith” for EVERY SINGLE branch of Christianity. With of course the one exception (Catholicism) which relies on church over the Bible and the Nicene Creed over doing works for Christ. But, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Pentecostals and even Mormons believe in the truth of the Bible and the fact that our purpose here is to do good works for Christ and lead people to him by spreading “the Good News.” Praying to Mary, confessing to priests instead of to God directly and calling priests “father” all go against biblical teaching so I can see why the Bible is not part of the Catholic “statement of faith.”

If you are suggesting that all of the things that Christians agree upon don’t matter then you are going against all Christian doctrine and instead are adopting a “buffet-style” religion. Picking and choosing which parts to cling to and which parts to ignore. Again, you are more than entitled to believe whatever you want to and live your life any way you want. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s no one’s business but your own. But when you claim to be a Christian and then say the basic tenets of Christianity do not matter, people get a bit confused, myself included. Please, by all means do what makes you happy in life, but be prepared for anyone who knows what Christianity (not to be confused with just a belief in Jesus or being a fan of Jesus) is supposed to be about, to question you.

Now as far as me getting a “pass”, I’m not sure if I should laugh that comment off or address it. I guess I’ll address it. If you say you are a Christian, that usually means (with of course that one exception called Catholicism) that you believe in the Bible as fact (or at least containing facts) and believe that our purpose is to spread the Gospel to all people by being good disciples. If you say that’s not what you believe, then an explanation is necessary or else you are the one getting the pass. If I say I do not agree with Christianity as a religion built on truth and I find evidence for it lacking, that doesn’t mean I have to come up with a better, more believable alternative. Let me explain with a fictitious scenario with two people discussing Aurora Borealis. You know, the northern lights? Let’s call these two people Bill and Sally:

Bill: “Isn’t this beautiful Sally?”
Sally: “It sure is Bill.”
Bill: “Do you know what causes these lights to appear?”
Sally: “No, what?”
Bill: “Magic. 100% magic.”
Sally: “No, that cannot possibly be correct. You can’t back that up.”
Bill: “Do you have a better explanation for why these lights appear?”
Sally: “Well no. I never really thought about it and I never took the time to do research on the subject.”
Bill: “Well, if you have nothing better to offer as an alternative, then magic it is.”

Do you see the flaw in this logic? Is Bill right because Sally couldn’t offer an alternative? Of course not. Just because someone is unconvinced by someone’s beliefs DOES NOT mean that they have a better explanation or need to come up with one. I do not believe in the Christian story because there is no evidence to back it up. I don’t know enough about evolution or the Big Bang or any other scientific theory to say I know what the alternative is. If I say 2+2=7 to someone who has no clue how to do math and they say “I don’t think that’s right” but can’t come up with the answer for themselves, does that mean my math is right? No. It just means that the other person disagrees. Asking for a better alternative is called deflection. It is what people do when they can’t adequately defend their position.

You mentioned that giving up my “childish faith” shouldn’t mean making the leap to “no faith.” What are you suggesting? Believe in something just to say you believe in something? If you had been following my blog for the last 3 years or so you would know that I am always searching for truth. I am always learning and trying to figure things out. But, since I still don’t know what the actual truth is and what our purpose is I will not just jump to faith as a default response. I do not consider myself an atheist because I DO NOT KNOW enough to rule God out. But I also DO NOT SEE enough evidence to say I believe. So yes, in my case, “I don’t know” is the appropriate response. It’s not a pass, but my response to not being convinced by religion. I don’t need to say what we all should believe in to know what I DON’T believe in.

What convictions “guide my life”? I don’t have any right now. I did, for most of my life. Then I investigated the doubt I had for years and found that I don’t really believe in it. Religion isn’t always the answer. It’s not, “well Christianity didn’t work out so what are my other religious options?” It’s more of, “I don’t believe in Christianity any longer so I will just live my life the best I can.” What drives me? What keeps me going? My family. My wife. My kids. My friends. The people in my life that are always there for me drive me more than an absent god ever did. Is there more to life than what we can see? Maybe. Should I devote myself to religion “just in case”? The old “Pascal’s Wager” way of life? If God was watching me live that way, he would not be fooled. I can’t just believe to say I believe or have some kind of faith because it’s “better than nothing.”

I think that you think because you have a belief system and a “faith” that guides your life, then everyone must have one. If not Christianity, then some other belief system. Some people (whether they want to or not) just live their lives. It may sound bleak to people who believe in eternity. But without proof, eternity is just a nice thought that is more comforting than just having life end and then have nothing more. I’m not going to pretend I have an alternative just to say I have one. I’m also not going to say that because I don’t have a better belief system than Christianity, that Christianity is right. That’s absurd.

Look, we can just keep going around and around or we can just be honest. You believe in something that I don’t. You don’t know for sure you are right and I don’t see any reason to try to come up with an alternative answer. I will always be searching. I will always be striving to find truth wherever it is. No matter where truth leads me, I will follow. I can’t, and won’t, ever follow something I do not believe in, even if that means living a life that simply ends when I die. You are free to believe whatever you want to and I am free to say I disagree with it, but let people do what they wish. I don’t write blog posts to stir up trouble or to make enemies. I also don’t feel that I need to come up with “something” when I do not know the answer. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to either. I will leave it at that and I wish you the best. Take care.

Go here to read the original post and additional comments.

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Atheists Are People Too

The following are direct quotes from a blog conversation between an atheist and a believer. I’m not providing names as I prefer readers who are familiar with the dialogue focus (and comment) on the message rather than the messengers. (I will delete names if necessary.)

Believer:

Atheists hold no religious convictions. That’s pretty straight forward. And that’s why people don’t trust atheists.

Atheist:

So, you are claiming that people who do hold religious convictions are automatically trustworthy?

Believer:

I’m saying that atheism makes people suspicious because it makes no statements of belief. It offers no values, virtues, codes, rules or laws. A lack of belief is also a lack of substance. On atheism, right and wrong are matters of public opinion.

While not an atheist myself , I find these comments to consist of pure rhetoric. In other words, they are nothing more than tired, worn-out, meaningless, and oft-repeated words that Christian leaders use to brainwash (yes, I said brainwash) their congregations about anyone that doesn’t “profess Christ.”

Atheists are no different than anyone else EXCEPT they reject the idea/belief/persuasion that gods (any gods) exist. (As related to the above conversation, they specifically reject the Christian God.)

To say that atheists have no values, virtues, codes, rules or laws is nonsense to the nth degree. Truth be known, many are FAR more virtue-driven than those who sit in a pew every Sunday, pray before meals, cross their chests in public, display their bible on the living room table, place Christian stickers on their cars, carry placards to reject freedom of choice, etc., etc.

In other words, Christians do not have a monopoly on being a “good person.”

In fact, truth be known, many who wear a Christian badge are often far less caring and compassionate and kind towards others than those who possess no affinity to religious principles. Case in point — Christians bloggers who berate, insult, use sarcasm, and totally disrespect those who disagree with them.

Bottom line? Atheists are people too. They’re not monsters or ogres. They are not out to destroy religion (well, maybe some of them are), but they will — and do — stand up for their personal perspective on life. And it’s their right and privilege (at least in this country) to do so just as believers can express their affection and attraction to their deity.

Now in the Ring: Theist vs. Atheist

Following is a question that was asked on another blog …

Why is it that so many comment sections [on theist blogs] can devolve into a nasty attack on those who disagree?

I think I may have some answers.

Consider …

  • Most of the information Christians share has come from what they’ve been told by their church leaders — and it’s not always accurate. When called on it … they become angry.
  • Some Christians believe “God’s Word” is all it takes to win their case so the entire conversation revolves around scripture. When this approach doesn’t seem to have any effect … they become angry.
  • Many believers feel Christian apologists have all the answers. When a non-believer disputes this and offers opposing sources … they become angry.
  • Christian bloggers tend to use the same arguments over and over, believing this time it will “take.” When it doesn’t … they become angry.
  • There are some Christians who are simply not open to opposing information. It’s their way or the highway and if you disagree … they become angry.

Naturally, these aren’t the only reasons, but I feel they are the more common ones. Feel free to share your perspectives.

In closing, here is some advice I came across. It behooves ALL of us (on both sides) to keep it in mind when discussing religious matters in the blogosphere.

To win arguments, be prepared to use evidence to show why you’re right. When gathering this evidence, be sure to find credible sources that give you access to solid facts and relevant examples. Remember that getting emotional during an argument is a surefire way to lose! Always strive to keep your cool.

Church on Sunday


I rarely go out on Sunday as it’s my self-designated day for washing and cleaning. And besides, most stores are closed. But yesterday was different because I needed a couple of ingredients for our Sunday dinner so I hopped in the car and headed for the grocery store. As it so happened, my chosen route took me past a church.

On my first pass-by, I didn’t think much about it except to notice the parking lot was only semi-full (it was still early). However, on my way back, things had changed and cars were everywhere and anywhere that a parking spot was allowed.

As I continued my way towards home, I thought back to my “church-going” days. It took a bit of digging through my memory banks as it’s been a very long time since I walked through the doors of a church. And even as memories came to the surface, they were fuzzy and ill-defined. Mostly I remembered greeting my “brothers and sisters” before service started (which I always enjoyed).

But the songs … prayers … sermons? None of those memories ever materialized. Perhaps because they no longer hold any significance for me. Perhaps because I now find such things irrelevant and unnecessary.

Then my thoughts turned to the idea of a “God.” And I mused over why so many people feel a belief in same is so important. I looked up at the sky and thought to myself … what is the need behind the idea that some unseen entity exists somewhere “up there?”

Then I took my thoughts a bit further and asked myself … could “something” really exist somewhere in the cosmos? Is there truly some kind of invisible force that interacts with humans? And more specifically … at their request?

It didn’t take but a moment or two for me to answer my self-imposed questions. 🙂

The Ugly Atheist

I want to begin this post by stating clearly and unequivocally  …
I AM NOT AN ATHEIST.

I most definitely do not believe in the Christian god — and I highly doubt the existence of any other type of god. However, to my thinking, this, in itself, does not give an individual (who has never met me) the right to label me an atheist based entirely on comments or thoughts I’ve expressed in public.

Yet people do … simply because I disagree with their perspectives on the god represented in the bible.

Further … while many of my blogger friends have openly stated they are atheists, many others have never made this claim. They are simply deconverts from the Christian religion. They may describe themselves as deists, anti-theists, gnostics, agnostics — or any other word they feel best fits their theological position. ( NOTE: None of these identifying titles hold the same meaning as atheist. Suggest you look them up if you disagree.)

Yet they too are branded as “atheist” simply because they disagree with a person who claims the title of Christian.

The incentive that finally moved me to write this post was the following comment recorded on a blog owned by a Christian:

Aetheism (sic) is the highest level of ignorance. Full of arguments. Carnal. Judgemental (sic) and believe that all and sundry should be dragged into mundane ways of thinking by philosophy, science, myths or ancient facts. It’s a pity.

IMO, the “pity” is the individual who wrote this.

Comments like this are (unfortunately) extremely common among believers. Any and all individuals who do not “profess Jesus” and/or who happen to see life from a non-religious perspective are “ATHEISTS!”

From a personal standpoint, I’ve found it difficult to understand why such anger exists within the hearts of those who claim to believe in a man who (is said to have) made the following comment in Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV):

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Even in the Hebrew Bible, there are similar words found in Leviticus 19:17-18 (ESV):

You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall … love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Yet behind the cloak of anonymity — or simply because it’s not face-to-face conversation — believers apparently seem to feel they possess divine impunity and can strike out at any and all who disagree with their faith perspective. Even those who serve as their god’s ambassadors are guilty.

I’m well aware of the “Great Commission” given to Christians to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Matthew 16:15, KJV). But there is also another scripture they seem to often overlook which states: And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet (Matthew 10:14, ESV). It doesn’t say call them “atheists” or other derogatory names as you leave.

The diversity of human beliefs about life is immeasurable — primarily because we are each individuals with our own backgrounds and experiences. As has been repeated innumerable times … No Two People Are Alike. Thus, when it comes to religious matters, it would far better serve all of us to keep this in mind and cease and desist placing (often incorrect) labels on other people.