Hey everyone. A bit ago, I posted Here We Go Again which was from a comment from a christian named Ash. I heard from him again. This is the opening of his email:
I'm not too interested in argument, since I'm sure we'll get to a point where everything becomes circular. I'm wondering if we could share our personal experiences and philosophies and discuss their effects on our differing beliefs. For example, the church I attended until I was 13 never talked about "burning in hell," but focused more on New Testament teachings. Fear of hell has never been a big reason for me to believe in God.
I also remember asking a lot of questions. After reading one of those Kid's encyclopedia for science books I asked my youth pastor how God could have created man when man evolved from monkeys. He said that nobody can know the exact time frame or manner in which God created the universe. I was confused since, didn't Genesis say He spent six days and made Adam from dust? Now that I know the meaning of figurative language I think I understand what my pastor was trying to say.
Interesting stuff here. I meant to ask him, what brand of christianity were you in until you were 13 that never mentioned burning in hell? Jesus was big on using hell as a threat, and it's mentioned quite frequently in the new testament, so what church would skip all those bits? Of course, I've made it clear that I find cherry-picking bits and pieces of the bible to be a weak apologetic way to use the bible for your own gain. But hey, that's just me.
He goes on:
Some questions I want to present:
What do you think about the worth of human life?
My reply: I think life is pretty damned precious. I think human life is important, mainly because I’m human, but I think animals and plants are really important too. We’re all on this planet together, and I think we need to cherish all life. Except mosquitoes. Ok, even mosquitoes because they feed birds. But I don’t have to like them.
We only get one try at this life, so I think we need to always try our best to get it right, be a good person, learn as much as possible, and make the world a better place if we can.
The "problem" of tolerance: In America, we're all encouraged to practice tolerance towards any race, religion, belief system. However, the Christian doctrine tells us to spread God's word across the world. This is a very important part of Christianity. Do you think this factor of Christianity is reason enough to label Christians as "intolerant," and would you support rendering evangelism illegal in this country?
Me again: Honestly, I don’t think you can legislate or force tolerance. It’s something that can only come through education and experience. Indoctrination can lead to intolerance by instilling hateful beliefs in people. I don’t think you can outlaw evangelism or fundamentalism. We have the Bill of Rights for a reason. I do think we could better educate people, and maybe find a way to make the media more accountable to how they cover stuff. If they were accountable like they used to be, if they had to get their facts straight, and if schools taught critical thinking, I think that would fix a lot of problems over time.
Unfortunately I don’t think we’ve hit bottom yet, and I don’t see anything like those ideas being talked about. I think it will get worse, more polarized to the extremes long before it gets better. As long as people aren’t taught how to think critically, I think the general population is pretty much doomed to be sheep. They will simply be led in whatever direction the media and the extremists prod them to go.
Have you ever read any well-written, thorough Christian apologetics, and if so, did any of it sound valid? Or is Christianity completely insensible? Aside from the whole faith thing, can you give me one specific thing about Christianity that doesn't make any sense to you? I'd appreciate it if you gave me one personal example instead of pointing me to an atheist list of everything that's wrong with Christianity, as I've read those before.
Me again: I think the idea of christianity is, like all religions, nonsensical. I think christianity is even worse with the pieced-together myths and stories they stole from previous religions. Personally the very idea of christian apologetics is hypocritical and desperate. They try desperately to make sense out of a bunch of books that were written in different languages in ancient times, under totally foreign circumstances. And now they are trying to shoehorn that one big book, the bible, to fit into how to live today.
Instead of making a conclusion – that christianity can be taken at face value, and that it’s all completely true – and then trying to fit the bible and any other information scrounged together to make it all work, I think the best way to go is to say, wait a minute... let’s look at all the information, and see what is based in reality, with supporting evidence. Of course, for most people, if you do it right, that leads to atheism, like it did for me.
What doesn’t make sense in christianity? The miracles. Why would anyone seriously believe that Jesus walked on water based on hearsay? Or that he raised Lazarus from the dead? If you take a bit of fact, that the gospels were written 50-80 years after Jesus was crucified, that no one who wrote the new testament ever laid eyes on Jesus, and then another bit of fact that the Romans at the time were meticulous record keepers who documented everything and never made any mention EVER of this troublesome Jew named Jesus, or anyone by any name that told that story, then you go back to the stories and read them over, noting how even those 4 books (the gospels) contradict each other, what do you have? Not much. (See below for my EDIT)
The bible is one contradiction after another. It was written by men over many years, in different languages, for different reasons. So, why do christians just pick and choose passages and chapters to fit their message of today? Because the rest of the bible contradicts it.
Ok.. you wanted something more personal. What I wrote is basically my personal journey to atheism. I don’t know what else I can say. Nothing about christianity seems logical or sensible to me. Most of the people who call themselves christian that I deal with in my life (family members) are the most intolerant, nasty people I know. They love to talk about praying and god’s plan, to belittle anyone who doesn’t believe exactly like they believe and worship in the same church as they do. 99% of them are hypocrites*. 99% of them are very bitter and unhappy*. It is incredibly unappealing to be around them. They talk of nothing but church and god and how no one else is as good as they are. I find it disgusting. ("I know one christian and her 2 awesome kids that keep religion to themselves, basically. They walk the walk by being good people and not seeming to judge others' beliefs as inherently wrong, while keeping the talk pretty much to themselves, which is refreshing. But that's 3 christians who actually seem to try to be good people and who don't shove christianity in my face, against many more hypocritical, bitter christians who talk the talk but that's where it ends).
Would you ever consider re-learning the Bible, or are you not even slightly interested?
More Neece: Funny you should ask me that. I read the bible and refer to it often. To me, if you read the bible thoroughly, it will lead you to atheism. My experience is that almost all atheists I know or deal with, know more about the bible and can quote it more accurately than any christian. I myself am not one to quote it, as I can never remember all the chapter and verse stuff, but I am able to find what I need pretty easily, because I have a good working knowledge of it.
That's the end of the email exchange so far. I think this makes more sense, instead of making it an argument, we are really having a discussion. :)
EDIT: I just read Michael Mock's comment and I have to say, the whole idea of jesus dying for everyone else's sins is pretty preposterous, too. This comic explains the crazy "logic":
Dead Person: But I'm forgiven! You died on the cross for the world's sins! I believe in you! Jesus Saves!
Jesus on the throne: That's absurd. Why would I need to sacrifice myself to myself to allow me to change a rule... I made myself!
Seriously, why do christians just accept that circular nonsense without question? Oh, right, because the bible says it's true. Wait, it still doesn't make a bit of sense.