And This Atheist Was a Walking Christian Tract

Further Reflections on a Day Among Atheists at the Creation Museum

In a sea of T-Shirts bearing scarlet ‘A’s and pictures of Charles Darwin, one man’s garment did not fit.  22786957

Standing in line for our tickets, I noticed him right away.  At first all I really noticed were the words “heaven” and “NOT,” and at that glance figured is was a slam against the idea of an afterlife and pearly gates in the sky somewhere over the rainbow.  Then I became quite surprised: this particular atheist sported excellent Christian theology!  Later when I saw him inside the museum noticed what was written on the back:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God— NOT by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

The irony was amazing!  Here I was, a Christian passing as an atheist, and I end up running into an atheist who decided to wear perfect Christian theology on his shirt.

As I have talked to atheists over the last several years, I have found that there are so many who have such a strong understanding of theology.  This theology is not the kind of regurgitated blind faith that is so prevalent in our churches, but it is a knowledge of the Christian faith that has come from diligent and fervent study of Scripture.  I follow several blogs that are written by atheists and agnostics who maintain a passion for studying the Word of God.

Enter Creation Museum Security

Oh, wait… it gets better!  Toward the end of our visit we happened upon this young man again.  As we were approaching one another in the garden outside the museum I called out to him to ask where he had bought his t-shirt.  But something was different: he had turned it inside out!

“What happened?” I asked.

“Security asked me to turn it inside out,” he replied.

“Uh, you are going to have to explain that one!”

“They told me that my shirt was offensive.  So I just shrugged my shoulders, said ‘okay’ and went to the bathroom and changed it.”

The Creation Museum is all about how what the Bible says is true.  Dr. Jason Lisle explained in his lecture that the Bible is the basis for all truth and that it is fully relevant and reliable.  Here is someone who is on the same premises, wearing a shirt with a perfectly simple explanation of basic Christian theology, who is told that this message is offensive!

We spent some time talking, enjoying conversation, and discussing the absolute irony of the whole day.

Left Scratching My Head

How is this possible?  What we have here is a multi-million dollar “ministry” which claims to be build brick-by-brick on fundamental Christian principles by way of fully embracing the infallible truth from the Bible.  This facility takes every word of the Bible as completely and literally true as evidenced by scene after scene, elaborate artwork, and robotic dinosaurs.  Yet a $15 t-shirt with a basic Christian theological truth is dismissed as offensive.  If the practioners of the Creation Museum do not accept Christian theology, then are they really Christians in the first place?

Another question to ponder: Would the request have been made in the first place if the young man bearing the “good news” was not wearing an SSA name tag?

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

37 responses to “And This Atheist Was a Walking Christian Tract

  • Sabio Lantz

    Indeed, interesting irony. Reading your comment in the previous post, I took a look at your list of how to talk to an atheist. What I find interesting is your conclusion:

    We need to take the bold steps to listen to those with whom we disagree so that we can begin to have a conversation with our friends and neighbors that will make an eternal impact.

    For in the end, you relate to save their eternal soul. You don’t relate because relating in love IS life, but for some theological end. Though I doubt you’d want to typify yourself this way, when you are honest, it seems the real conclusion.
    You also said,

    Really amazing how many atheists are better theologians than many Christians

    It shouldn’t be amazing for a few reasons:
    1) Many atheists are former believers and to get themselves free of their dogma, they had to think
    2) Many atheists are very bright — and theology is not that hard (loving, is, of course — hard, that is)

    I love the comment by one of the Christians:

    Maybe atheists aren’t so bad after all.

    My reaction:
    1) This is great for Christians (many) who feel that non-believers must have some major deficit in their souls.
    2) It is sad because, though they “aren’t so bad”, like the T-Shirt said, they still go to hell. So, as Aaron states, you still need to be patient with them. Not because relationships and love matter, but because eternal destiny matters. Real relationship now means nothing if your friend burns for eternity.

    Doesn’t any of this seem weird to you at all?

  • Boz

    “If the practioners of the Creation Museum do not accept Christian theology, then are they really Christians in the first place?”

    No True Scotsman?

  • Shamelessly Atheist

    Or dishonest, if having a relationship with atheists is all about saving their souls (i.e., all about the apologist).

  • Aaron

    Sabio, You are at it again… challenging me 🙂

    Seriously, I really appreciate your time and energy in reading other posts and finding ways to give excellent feedback.

    You have to remember that I am speaking to people with very different paradigms. If you do believe that there is an afterlife and eternity is at stake, then there is something of value to having those kind of conversations.

    As I said in the scarlet ‘A’ post, the “sinner’s prayer” was constructed in the 20th century, as so many of modern Christianity’s foibles. Conversion was an inheritance from the Spanish Inquisition and when the Catholic church was the face of the Roman empire. Those are all things that are not part of the way of Christ but constructs of later people who were vying for inappropriate power and influence.

    It is not coincidental to me that Jesus never converted anyone!!! Even at the end of the story when he ascends into heaven his disciples are still left scratching their heads. The early church experienced what Christians in North Korea are at this moment: oppression and condemnation to death. Not sure that in that context there was room to build a Creation ‘Museum’ and post billboards with erroneous quotes from God.

    Jesus’ example was to love. That’s really it. And I am sure for some Christians it may be “dishonest” as Shamelessly said. People like myself who befriend others, believing themselves to be following Christ’s example by doing only that, is risking being ostracized by their own community. And no doubt that the more I write the more I am distancing myself from the people who praise the work of Ken Ham’s hands.

  • Aaron

    Btw… did you happen upon this earlier post: https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/post-because-of-un/

    By the definition in the video I included there I was an atheist at the Creation ‘Museum’… so not “incognito” at all!

  • Ted Powell

    “The early church experienced … oppression and condemnation to death.”
    Ironically, much of this arose from the common perception of them as impious atheists.

  • Ed

    That’s actually really funny. While I’m pretty sure he was just an Atheist who didn’t know the specific scripture and didn’t bother to look it up after he bought the shirt, there are two other possibilities that I have in mind. First, that he knew exactly what its meaning was, and he wore it just to try and provoke the Creation Museum staff into making him remove it. And Second, that he was another Christian “infiltrator”, and he was wearing it because it accurately reflected his faith, but he figured that all of the Atheists would mistake it for an anti-Christian statement. Either one of those scenarios would have been wonderfully funny. The fact that you spotted this in the first place is amusing enough though.

  • Aaron

    Oh, no… he knew the theology that he wore! We spent time talking to him specifically about it. Said that it was a shirt that was about 20 years old (he couldn’t have been more than 22 himself) that was handed down to him.

  • MikeTheInfidel

    I’d say it doesn’t apply here. When people define themselves as part of a particular religion, and say they believe everything the book says, but then find part of the book offensive, I’d say that they’re either lying about believing everything the book says or ignorant of what it says.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron
    Thanx for the “Post Because of Un” link. Go there and you will see my response.

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    I absolutely understand about how you are at risk of being ostracized by your own community by reaching beyond the select and encourage your bravery. Your writing is very refreshing !

    You said:

    Jesus’ example was to love. That’s really it.

    Indeed that is how I generously translate most of your writings, but occasionally you slip and let out much more. And then I am compelled to comment. Smile !

  • Aaron

    Keep commenting! I trust you to help me to keep myself on track.

    Again, understand the fine line I am walking here. I am mostly writing to my fellow Christians, and have only recently been having that audience shift to more secularists/agnostics/atheists. I feel compelled to give firm critique to those within the faith (also following Christ’s example) and challenging them to think differently about positions. I have written about things like evangelism, influencing people to change, to help draw a connection to that other way of thinking.

    I appreciate the “generous translation”… it is certainly at the heart of my efforts in speaking about matters of faith and religion. It is also the foundation for my work as a counselor and communicator; people say much more with what they do not say and the way they say what they do rather than what is actually said.

  • Sabio Lantz

    Indeed, we all need you walking that “fine line” — thank you.

  • Doc Bill

    Apparently, Mark Looy of the Creation “Museum” had a different take on the t-shirt. Here’s how he describes it in his report (hat tip to YOU for providing a link to Ken Ham’s blog in an earlier posting.)

    “A young man (apparently from Canada) was asked to turn his atheist T-shirt inside out (it had wording on it similar to what was seen on some atheist bus campaigns in some cities, blaring that there is no God—and the words “NO GOD” were in big letters on the shirt).”

    “His atheist T-shirt”?

    I also counted that Looy used the word “mock” 14 times in his report. Mocking seems to be a hot button with Mr. Looy!

  • Aaron

    Actually that was a totally different incident, and occurred before I arrived at the museum. Here is a link to an article form PZ Myers’ blog about it: http://scienceblogs/pharyngula/~3/HtD2xrEm9XU/expelled_from_the_creation_mus.php

    The t-shirt in that earlier incident was, in fact, an atheist t-shirt. Completely different message, but ironic how similar the reaction was!

  • Hjalti Rúnar

    “They told me that my shirt was offensive.”

    And he agreed didn’t he? The whole point of that T-shirt is to point out that sola fide is offensive to our sense of justice. According to Christianity what we call “good people” go to eternal torment if they’re not Christians.

  • Aaron

    Excellent point! Although this did not come up in our conversation… not sure that he would have worn it with the intention of offending other SSA members, though.

  • Nathaniel

    That’s not it at all. This would be more along the lines of an American trying to pretend he’s a Scotsman, but refusing to adopt a proper, Scottish accent or wear his tradition kilt.

    In essence, the No True Scotsman fallacy doesn’t apply if the subject should never have been considered a Scotsman to begin with.

  • John Barbour

    Although Aaron thinks that the t-shirt reflects good theology, I have to disagree. According to the Bible all good people do go to heaven. Major themes of the Bible are righteousness and holiness. Without holiness no one will see God (See Hebrews). The Story of Jesus is how we can be made righteous through faith in Him. (See the book of Romans) This was Job’s big question. How can a man be right with God? Paul wanted a righteousness that came by faith (See Philippians). The Bible teaches that apart from God’s work in our life we are not good. Only God is good in this sense. But when we come to him we are declared righteous and then made good. We were created for good works. (See the next verse in Ephesians after the one on the t-shirt)

    I still have a problem with the two t-shirt theory. Has anyone asked Mark Looy about it?

  • Aaron

    Uh, John, I want to be kind, but I have to say that you are absolutely wrong on this!

    The Bible does NOT teach that all good people go to heaven. In fact that teaching totally removes Christ from the equation and allows for all these good atheists to go to the heaven that they do not believe in. How do you account for Christ’s work of salvation? And if you believe that all good people go to heaven, then what is your issue with atheism anyway? Wouldn’t you be okay with anyone who believes anything they want and be good? The Muslims who ran their planes into the twin towers must have gone to heaven because they thought what they did was good?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am uncomfortable with the idea that not all good people will go to heaven. But to suggest that what we do earns a place for us in heaven, well I think you need to go back to Scripture and decide why we even care about Jesus. Paul talks in detail about how we are none of us righteous, but that it is the righteous of Christ that clothes us and makes us acceptable to God (Romans 3).

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron
    First, the bible is written by many folks with differing opinions and does not present a unified theology — that is why it is easy to make it say so many things by cherry picking verses.
    But then, you don’t believe that. But what is your evidence for not believing that since scholarship even on some Christian sides points toward that?

    Second, there are indeed Christian Universalists. You are just a Christian exclusivist. You need to do verse-arm-wrestling with a good Christian universalist if John is not up to snuff.

    I don’t know of any good ones, but a quick google finds:
    Christian Universalist Association
    Universalism Links

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron
    Imagine that Jesus died for EVERYONE’s sins and all go to heaven.
    Wow, Jesus WAS generous !
    I guess that makes you sad because your only advantage of being a Christian, is that you know about it in this life. But geeze, all that hard work, all that effort to keep your theology straight, all those attempts to keep your temple pure and honor god and us heathens can do what we want and still live in heaven.

    Does that make you feel cheated because you figured it out and you get nothing special for it. Don’t worry, you may get an extra jewel in your heavenly crown. But don’t take away selfishly from Jesus’ great atonement. Remember, it is not about YOU.

  • Aaron

    Where have I said that I don’t believe in many different authors of the Bible? I have a degree in Biblical studies and am well versed in biblical scholarship. I have said often that the Bible is a library, and should be read as such.

    I agree that there are Christian universalists. These writings I have also read. On such universalist writing is by Philip Gulley: If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person. No doubt that these camps exist, and I even sympathize with them because it is very uncomfortable for me that there is the exclusive nature to orthodox Christianity.

    Yet my questions remain: if Christianity is intentionally universal, then what is the point of Christ’s sacrifice. Rob Bell gives an answer in his newest book “Drops Like Stars” that I will be posting about this week: “Is the cross God’s way of saying, ‘I know how you feel?'”

    You say at the end of your second comment “it’s not about YOU”… No truer statement! What many Christians advocate is that you have to work for your salvation. Theology is not complicated. It is simply that Christ did EVERYTHING on the cross. There is nothing that we can do to earn it or drive it away. All that God asks is for relationship and acceptance.

    I sincerely hope that the universalists are right! I hope that I have it all wrong. But Jesus says that he is the only way to God, and that is hard to argue with.

  • Aaron

    I am also curious about what John’s reaction will be to an athiest arguing his position 😉

  • Sabio Lantz

    Laughing !! Aaron just had to let John know that a dirty, devil-inspired atheist is supporting John’s arguments and thus how more the untrustworthiness of John’s thoughts.

    Real debate is knowing the strengths and weaknesses of both sides.

    Sure, Aaron, you went to a Bible school, you may believe in many different authors, but do you believe they speak with different theologies (my point)? No, of course you don’t ! For some reason you believe they have a unified theology. You believe the your god’s ghost let them keep their humanity while writing but not enough to mess up the one and only true theology — the correct doctrine — the key to the kingdom. Right or Wrong?

    So, you think the point of Jesus’s death was only to save those who believe the whole story. Indeed, that is bizarre. How narrow, how limited, how human !

    You claim your Christ did EVERYTHING on the cross — wait, he couldn’t help those who can’t buy into the virgin birth, the walking on water, the making pigs commit suicide and so much for. His blood can’t cleanse those who see the gospels as inconsistent with divergent conflicting theologies. His blood was not good enough for them. So apparently he did not do EVERYTHING. It was a limited atonement, limited by the deception of the devil.

    Alas, poor Muslims, poor Hindus, poor, Confucians, poor Shinto, poor Atheists, poor Deists, poor Mystics — all bound for hell for their bumbling thoughts — Jesus could not spill enough blood for them.

    Your god asks for relationship — maybe. But by “acceptance” you only mean buying into the documents supporting your team.

  • Aaron

    Glad that you “appreciated” my joke 🙂

    Sabio, I find myself asking what you are expecting from this conversation. I hope that this does not sound accusatory, but it does appear that you are trying to make a case for “conversion,” though that is certainly not the right word… from your perspective you are attempting to bring me back to sanity.

    My intention is not to convert, and I have openly warned Christian in these forums against that. If your intention is to point out logical areas and inform about science, reason, and the joys of atheism, I am all ears.

    I guess what I am saying is that I am not seeing a conclusion to this dialogue where either of us gains any ground. You have made your position very clear and I have attempted to do the same.

    Our conversations were much more civil when you assumed that I was a liberal Christian, an impression which you likely got from my interest in atheism. It is quite the anomaly among Christians who ascribe to conservative theology.

    I am sincerely sorry that orthodoxy offends… it offends me, too! Perhaps that is something that we can agree on?

  • Boz

    “I am sincerely sorry that orthodoxy offends… it offends me, too!”
    .
    What a strange thing to say. I have never heard a person say that their view offends themselves. Very unique 🙂

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Boz — I think Aaron is using “offend” in two ways — it appears his theme in this thread.

    @ Aaron — When I started out talking about logic, I was simply discussing the logic you used in your argument. I was not discussing “the logic of Christianity”. I think many Christians use logic well — they may make assumptions I disagree with but they can manipulate the assumptions with logic well. I think many Atheists use logic poorly — I write of this on my site often. So again, you are using logic in two ways and you still don’t see how.

    You used the word exclusive in two ways and equivocated them to make your point — that is a breach of logic in debate. And now you probably are using “offend” differently so that you can make a paradoxical statement, as Boz points out.

    I was simply trying to illustrate logical principles used in debate. But you jumped into religious defensiveness and thus the conversation when that way. Again, I suggest you ask friends to explain equivocation as a logical error. I don’t think I can type it all out. Or maybe sometime I will do a post on it since it is such a common logical mistake that ALL people make.

  • John Barbour

    Aaron; Because atheists, like all people are not good in an absolute sense. That is in relation to God. You ask about Christ; Christ is made unto us righteousness. On the cross, he took on our sins and gave us His righteousness in exchange. All those who look to Him are declared righteous and sanctified by him. Look at Romans: He starts out with “there is none righteous, there is none who does good” “all have sinned” (chapter 3) But then at the end of the letter he says this amazing thing;, ” I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness”. (15:14) What happened? The difference is Christ. He makes us new creations. This answers the man in the orange shirt on the video when he asked why God didn’t make Adam differently so he wouldn’t sin. The answer is: He does – in Christ. The story of the Bible is not ultimately about the first Adam who sinned but about the last Adam who did not and how He is bringing many sons to glory.

    I am not against atheists. I can understand why they could think the way they do. I see the same world. It’s just that the position itself does not help and does not answer anything. If you follow the atheistic logic out, all things are permissible – nothing is good, nothing is bad. there is no meaning – no purpose, no love, no beauty. There is no difference between helping a beggar and killing him.

    We have no excuse. The Soviet gulags, the Chinese laogai, and the killing fields of Cambodia are all testimony to what an atheistic worldview ultimately brings. Atheists can protest all they want about how good they are but they have no philosophical basis for this boast. If atheism is true there is no goodness.

  • Aaron

    @ John

    I did answer your question about the two t-shirt incidents on the other post. I left this link: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/08/expelled_from_the_creation_mus.php which also contains comments from Mark Looey himself and his perception of the event along with a video depicting the other man.

    I personally spoke to the young man that I write about in this post both when I first arrived and later when he had turned his shirt inside out. Is it hearsay if I witnessed a before and after? Why else would someone turn their shirt inside out? For laughs? He did not approach me, I asked him about it. This story contains as much hearsay as the gospel accounts do about the life of Jesus! Your determined search for unquestionable verification of the event seems to express your bias and general suspecious attitude toward atheists, which you say that you do not ascribe to.

    What you find at fault with the atheists (“if you follow the atheist logic out, all things are permissible”) is actually directly from 1 Corinthians 6:12. Are you having issue with atheists who follow the teaching of Scripture?

    Perhaps Sabio can verify that I am making this argument well, because in your last comment I am detecting an equivocation. I do not think that Romans 15 uses “goodness” in the same way that the t-shirt is meant to be read. For Paul “goodness” is a fruit of the Spirit, something that comes from being in Christ. As Christians we believe that the fruit of the Spirit comes from the work of the Spirit, not anything to do with us. The t-shirt is referring to “being good” or “doing good things,” which I am sure you would agree does not cut it. Again, Paul tells us in in Romans 3 that none are righteous… which is “good” in the “t-shirt sense.”

  • John Barbour

    I looked at the video and the site but it didn’t clarify anything. Yes, I am suspicious. And you should check out all sides of a story before you publish it. PZ Myers on the very website you sent me to, is slandering your fellow Christians calling it Ken Ham’s house of lies and you take the side of the atheist. It seems like you’ve succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome.

    You are also taking 1 Corinthians 6:12 out of context and you know it. Goodness is a fruit of the Spirit yes, but it is also something we do. It is not a good thing to deny the One who made you and redeemed you and that is what atheists do. They are fools who have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worship the creation rather than the Creator who is blessed forever. (Romans 1)

    You are so eager to buddy up with atheists that you are being unkind and unfair to your fellow Christians. You still never answered whether you contacted Mark Looy personally to get his side before you published. I do not need an answer. That is between you and God and Mark. I’m signing off and using your motto from Nehemiah 6:3.

  • Aaron

    After you watched the video did you then scroll down and read Mark Looy’s own comments, or are you concerned that it is not really Mark Looy who wrote them? The incident that I report here did not, to my knowledge, even involve Mr. Looy.

    It may be helpful for you to know that most atheists have either been raised in Christian homes or were formerly Christians themselves. When you are suspicious of them all you are doing is reinforcing why they are no longer part of our faith community.

    Yes, I did take 1 Corinthians 6:12 out of context. I did so intentionally as a way of saying that you are also making these comments without having the context of really understanding who these people are that you are standing against. I would challenge you to sit down with an atheist sometime and listen to their story. If you are able to set aside yourself then no doubt you will able to find compassion for them and begin to understand the damage that I see.

    The issue regarding “goodness” is not an issue of context (as I have studied this using my commentaries and I hold a degree on in biblical studies), but it is a theological issue. If you believe that you are good on your own merit, then be my guest. I, on the other hand, see nothing good within myself that Christ has not put there. I believe the words of Romans 3 when it says that not one had met the standard that God has set for us.

    I am not “eager to buddy up with atheists” but I am eager to reach out to people who are no longer Christians because of the damage that has been done to them by other Christians. It is this damage that I am seeking out and writing about on this blog. The damage done to the Christian faith is desperately in need of repair. It is that work that is referred to in Nehemiah 6:3 – seeking out where the damage is and making the much needed repair.

  • Aaron

    On last thing: John, if you spend time looking at other posts and conversations on this blog you will see that I am all but siding with atheists. In particular there are very challenging conversations on the following posts:

    https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/how-stuck-on-god-are-you/
    https://lunchboxsw.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/rob-bells-christianity/

  • pedleyj

    John:
    I agree with Aaron – he is far from siding with atheists. Read the rest of his posts. I fear you risk amplifying the negative attitudes towards Christians that are easily formed and hard to dispel. Yes, atheists have rejected God/declared Him non-existent. But (as, for example, marriage statistics will support) Christians are no ‘better’ than them. We are simply blessed with the hope of salvation through grace. It is terrible when Christians behave like the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18)

  • Sabio Lantz

    This may appear just a linguist thing, but I think it is actually meaningful:
    @ Ped the science guy:

    It is almost better that you call your god by his name: Jehovah, or Yahweh or whatever, when discussing atheists.
    Why?
    Well, as you have heard before, but it is actually important, I can change your sentence to say:

    “Yes, atheists have rejected Yahweh/ declared Him non-existent.”

    but remember, you and John would agree with us in saying:

    “Yes, we have rejected Shiva/ declared Him non-existent.”

    “Yes, we have rejected Izanagi-no-Mikoto/ declared Him non-existent.”

    “Yes, we have rejected Amitabha/ declared Him non-existent.”

    “Yes, we have rejected The Jade Emperor/ declared Him non-existent.”

    and many more, I am sure you get my point. We just disagree on this one statement:

    “Yes, we have rejected Yahweh/ declared Him non-existent.”

    Yet, most likely, neither you or John know very much about these other deities which you have rejected — not to mention all the thousands of others.

    You see, we share much in common.

    Thus, it is probably better to call your god by his name since he has particular traits, a personality and a history. Then we can keep him separate from all the others. By saying “atheists reject God”, it sounds like we made a very small decision — come on, give us more credit !

    Smile. (btw, it took lots of work to put those links in, thought you’d like to look into some of the salvations you have rejected).

  • Sabio Lantz

    @ Aaron

    It is interesting to think that many Atheists come were Christians (like myself) or came from Christian homes. I doubt that is true in Europe where you already have generations of majority non-believers. I wonder what the stats are in the States — do you have data on that? I am just curious.

    Anyway, that is not what I came to type tonight:

    I found interesting your idea of repairing the hurt of bad Christianity to either bring Atheists back into the fold or stop loosing Christians to Atheism.

    I see you doing it doctrinally by getting away from self-righteous guys like those you chastise (which we atheists agree with), but you also chastise those who are pluralists and inclusivists and that just pushes us away. So your efforts will only work so far. Not that you mind, of course.

    But here is my main insight to pass on to you: Once an ex-Christian atheist (like me) stops believing, they stop mass hallucinating and realize they never were talking to any spirit who ever talked back to them; they always did have amazing doubts about all those silly bible stories; they did have doubts about Christianity’s flip answers to suffering and miracles. And once we stop seeing that, the illusion is almost impossible to turn on again.

    I know that won’t change your thoughts, but I thought you’d like my impression. It is hard to re-convert atheists because they stopped lying to themselves. Once you stop lying to yourself, it is hard to start it up again with any sincerity.

    But indeed, if you make Christianity more palatable, you may not loose as many folks to atheism as science wakes them up from their stupor. But by rejecting some of the liberal Christians, you will loose that chance, I think.

    But to you, correct doctrine is very important — I get that, I use to think like you — it was essential to salvation. But then, like you, I started meeting lots of folks (I hitched from Europe to Asia without money and it took me a year), and started seeing the hearts of fine people in other faiths and who had no religion (atheists) and I began to realize that beliefs were just tools of the heart and not substantive. But it took me a full 2 years to deconvert – it took time to let go of friends and identity. I think as you criticize John, you are seeing how he is using his beliefs — and it ain’t pretty.

  • Boz

    Sabio said:

    I found interesting your[Aaron] idea of repairing the hurt of bad Christianity to either bring Atheists back into the fold or stop loosing Christians to Atheism.

    I see you doing it doctrinally by getting away from self-righteous guys like those you chastise (which we atheists agree with), but you also chastise those who are pluralists and inclusivists and that just pushes us away. So your efforts will only work so far. Not that you mind, of course.

    But here is my main insight to pass on to you: Once an ex-Christian atheist (like me) stops believing, they stop mass hallucinating and realize they never were talking to any spirit who ever talked back to them; they always did have amazing doubts about all those silly bible stories; they did have doubts about Christianity’s flip answers to suffering and miracles. And once we stop seeing that, the illusion is almost impossible to turn on again.

    .

    Aaron, if your one of your intentions is to bring back atheists in to the fold (I don’t know if it is), you might want to consider demonstrating that some events from the bible are objectively true.
    .
    For example, a skeptical atheist (such as myself) might hold the position:
    “A christian is required to believe that the virgin birth was a real event. Current evidence very strongly suggests that this did not occur. I cannot force myself to believe something that I know is false, so I cannot be a christian.”
    .
    This is the type of barrier that must be removed by a person (you, aaron?) wanting to bring an atheist into the theist camp. This can be done by either: (1) arguing that acceptance of a real virgin birth is not a required belief, or (2) objectively demonstrating that the weight of evidence leans towards acceptance of the claim.

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