No More Conversations With Craig the christian

funny-pictures-box-cats-are-boredCraig ended our conversations. I guess I offended him which I don't really understand. I tried to be so careful. I never attacked him directly (ad hominem), I was generally exceedingly polite, and never said anything that was untrue. I simply talked about whatever he brought up. I went over all of our emails and I am pretty sure I couldn't have been any more careful or respectful. How that is taken as offensive I just don't understand. And he is the one who came to me to to start the dialogue in the first place.

Anyway, I'm kind of bummed out about it because I felt like I really got to explain things that I was taking for granted, which is the best way of learning: when you try to teach others what you know. Some of the stuff I talked about I had to learn or look up to clarify what I was vague on. That was cool too. So it was good. I thought it was good for both of us because I felt that Craig was getting to clarify his beliefs.

Here is the last quote from his final email:
Thank you for the experience, I did learn a lot. But I think I'll stick to what I know.

I'll let his words speak for themselves. But I think I said something in conversation 5 that addresses this concept:
I said:
...Sure, at some point we have to rely on the findings and authorities of others. For you that’s ministers or religious leaders. For me, it’s scientists that have been peer reviewed. Huge difference. I don’t take gravity on faith. When I let go of something and it falls, I see evidence of gravity, each and every single time I drop something. The common evidence is apparent to every single person on the planet. But still, it took scientists to do careful experiments, then to share those results, then have them verified and checked, and have other scientists to do the same experiments before the law of gravity was considered more or less a given.

Even now it isn’t a solid fact. We understand that more information through further research could always come to light and the law might need tweaking a bit. That’s the beauty of science. It grows and changes as we learn and grow and change. That’s not blind faith.

And that's what I think. I feel I learned and grew by conversing with Craig. He said things that made me say, "what?" and then I had to figure out how to explain why that didn't make any sense. I can't speak for Craig, but maybe he really didn't want to hear what an atheist had to say. Do you think he wanted to change my mind? If anything, I feel my foundation has been strengthened as an atheist by the challenge of trying to share what I held to be accurate.

Anyway, that's that. Maybe someday another christian who really does want to exchange ideas will come along. Until then we'll just have to dance naked around bonfires and celebrate our wicked, heathen ways.

Here are all 5 conversations:

  1. What is atheism to you?

  2. Biblical interpretations and a logical fallacy

  3. More cherry-picking

  4. Interpretation

  5. More interpretations


  1. You may not have directly offended him (ad hominem), but Christians are meeting more opposition these days. They are no longer accustomed to being questioned about their beliefs or being "called out" on their hypocrisy.
    The number of atheists and non-religious are growing in leaps and bounds while their numbers are dwindling. They are losing their grip on person at a time.

  2. Well, that's a good thing. YAY for RATIONAL THINKING! WOOT! :D

  3. Translation: Thank you for showing me how wrong I really am. I am going to pretend that this was a learning experience and then run away and never think about it again.

    That's what usually happens. But, I always like to think that I've planted a seed, however, that may or may not one day grow and blossom. I have seen it happen. A couple years ago an atheist friend of mine and myself had a discussion with a Muslim student at our college. It went well but we parted ways unchanged. Last month I ran into him again and was shocked. For one thing, his beard was gone. But more importantly, he had renounced Islam and is now an atheist. And he credits the conversation we had with him to getting him on the right track.

  4. Thanks, James. That's awesome! Hey, you never know!

  5. "stop making me think about things I don't want to think about!"

    Who knows? You might have started the gradual process towards rationalism. (I also think you were extremely polite and respectful. Far more so than I usually bother to be.)

  6. Thanks, PF. Then it was all good, I guess. :)

  7. Yeah, I agree with PF- You WERE polite and respectful of him. His beliefs, however? Beliefs don't get respect out of the box, unless they can be backed up with facts. And I think Poguemark's on to something- For the first time in American history, religion is not getting a free pass. The media still does- that equal time BS is still around. The bobbleheads on Fox "News" and shows like The View make it seem like it's business as usual, but under the surface, things are changing.

  8. One other thing- this is the way that conversation I mentioned in an earlier comment ended. Although he actually told me he felt like I was attacking him, while I was actually vigorously debating the merits of his beliefs.

  9. Thanks, Steve. Belief by its very definition is not worthy of respect, because by its definition there is no proof. Yay for change and growth and science and THINKING! :D

  10. Well, he probably couldn't tell the difference. Maybe he felt his beliefs were his whole identity. Sigh.. so many people are like that.

  11. I've had two different would-be evangelists (both of whom I knew in real life) show up on my blog and attempt to, for lack of a better word, win me back to the faith. The first one was a horrible little troll in every sense of the word. After I realized all he was going to do was mis-represent everything I said in order to make me in to the bad guy I mocked him and repeatedly told him to leave.

    The second showed up trying to be all buddy-buddy and actually genuinely start a conversation. However, when it became clear that I wasn't going to accept his random Bible quotes and either I or one of the other commenters had an answer for everything he said and a challenge to him, he decided he'd been horribly mis-treated and left in a huff.

    This, I'm coming to realize, is how most such conversations go. The would-be evangelizer gets to feel that he or she has done god's work, planted a seed, what have you. But when they find there's apparently no fertile ground they then disappear with claims that the conversation has sparked them to greater appreciation of their faith.

    I strongly suspect that the disappearance comes when a boundary they're afraid to cross has been reached. I also suspect that it's about 50/50 as to whether that leads to a long-term questioning of beliefs or a re-entrenchment and a promise to do better the next time. It probably depends on the mindset of the evangelist going in. Either way, for someone who has an evangelical bent it's deeply uncomfortable to realize that your cherished beliefs aren't held by another person and that they have good reasons to not hold those beliefs.

    So that's my two cents.

  12. Geds, thanks for your comment. This is definitely food for thought. I hadn't come to this realization, but it makes a lot of sense. I will keep this in mind. Thanks again.

  13. Hello, I was led to your blog from and wanted to share my thoughts. I'm a Christian who grew up going to church and then stopped believing for about seven years, and was led back to Christ just in the past few months.

    "it took scientists to do careful experiments, then to share those results, then have them verified and checked, and have other scientists to do the same experiments before the law of gravity was considered more or less a given."

    Sounds about right. I am an artist, but I have a pretty good understanding of the scientific process, having taken classes in high school and GE's in college. It definitely stimulates the mind, which is a great experience for most people. I have a little scientist in me as well who loves to experiment and observe the world in the spirit of trial and error. We've all learned to trust in evidence.

    Art is different because it's more of a bodily experience. There is a great amount of thinking that goes behind art, but the actual experience has more to do with the body: producing with the hands, consuming with the eyes. It's more about the feeling and less about the thinking. Often we can't pinpoint exactly why we love a work of art- I know that for me I'd rather just listen to a song I love in the time that I could spend analyzing it.

    And then there's the spirit. I believe that to pursue God, whether you knew him in the past or not, you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof. I think the reason art/literature/music is mainly seen as a break from work is because that's when you can sit back relax, and stop thinking. I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't need the occasional break from mental stimulation. The thing with Spirit is, you can't look at God (objectively or subjectively) without thinking. I really don't think it's possible. But spirit is missing that essential element of proof that scientists live by. Instead of proof, we are asked to trust in faith.

    If human beings can accept both art and science despite their natural differences, I believe they can also accept the concept of faith, if they really want to. I myself am still getting used to the feeling of having this faith, since I lived without it for so long.

    I agree that you can be happy without God. But there is a different kind of joy in believing in God that I find completely amazing. The desire to share this joy is really so overwhelming, and that's the reason why we Christians can't leave you guys alone, even if we have the utmost respect for you.

    If you're interested at all I would really love to trade ideas over email and share our experiences. If not, I can only pray that you'll always keep an eye out for God, and that my ultra long ramble made at least a microscopic drop of sense.

  14. "you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof"

    Checkmate. You've clearly got nothing to add to any thoughtful or rational discussion if that is your major selling point.

  15. Assuming of course that nothing in life can exist without scientific proof. The evidence of love is not in the theories of the human body/psyche but in the act of loving. Love can never be a controlled experiment because it is unique to individual experience, yet everyone has the potential to know love. I believe God is the same way.

  16. I didn't say that nothing can exist in life without scientific proof. It is a question of epistemology - what we can claim to know with some semblance of certainty. Love is not like God. Love is a subjective human emotion. A label that we assign to certain feelings and behaviors that are common to all of us and thus easily understood. God is allegedly a being that exists apart from any of us and apart from anything around us.

  17. Ash said: "I believe that to pursue God, whether you knew him in the past or not, you need to be willing to let go of your dependence on proof."

    This is interesting to me, because you also said: "I’m a Christian who grew up going to church and then stopped believing for about seven years, and was led back to Christ just in the past few months."

    So, are you actually a Christian? Or merely a Deist? What, in your personal experience of G-d, led you to choose that particular mythos (that Jesus, who is somehow both G-d and the Son of G-d, died on the cross to obtain forgiveness for our sins) to describe your experience of the divine?

    I guess what I'm getting at is that it's really easy to confuse belief in G-d with Christianity - at least here in North America, where Christianity is so prevalent as to saturate the mainstream culture, and where other religions are less common and rather more difficult to find/notice.

    So... Belief in G-d gives you a unique joy. That's fine, at least for me; I'm perfectly willing to accept subjective personal experience as a basis for faith. But why are you a Christian in particular?

    Editied to add: My reason for quoting you on the need to let go of dependence on proof is that an awful lot of Christians seem to treat the Bible as proof of G-d's existence - and more, as the authoritative description of the nature of the divine. This seems to me a bit limiting, given that we're talking about a being who is supposed to be Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent.

    Michael Mock
    who doesn't mind e-mails
    but would rather have the conversation here

  18. Let's take this to its own post, shall we? :)