Evangelical Atheism

Arkentan a frequent visitor to this blog left this comment on my book review post of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.  At first I was going to leave just a short reply, but I decided to turn it into a post, because this is a rather relevant topic as to the purpose of my blog.

“You and Nate are INCREDIBLY tolerant of the apologists that comment on your sites. Meanwhile, they have no real interest other than to surreptitiously espouse their nonsense in a vain attempt to demonstrate that you deconversion is just a little bit silly and maybe entice you back to the loving bosom of Jesus. EeeK!  Like Nate, I too have not read this particular book, and after your excellent review I shall give it a miss.”

 

I really couldn’t tell you how Nate feels about this but as for me, I don’t blog just for myself, but for the doubting christians who have unanswered questions. For the skeptical Christians who are unsatisfied with the traditional lackluster answers they get from their pastors, youth pastors and parents. This is why my blog has the tag line motto, Taking a Scalpel to Faith.  During my de-conversion process, I noticed that there were a lot of atheist blogs targeting and de-bunking dogmatic religion; however not all these sites & blogs were christian friendly.  Many are really designed for other atheist to rant about christians with a slight tendency to mock and ridicule.

Evangelical Atheism

Coming from a Christian Evangelical environment you have to care about the general well-being of people.  And what I mean by christian evangelical environment is not vote republican and be against things like same-sex marriage and abortion.  I’m talking about evangelizing to people, giving them the gospel, passing out tracks, and knocking on doors and praying for people when they need.  In that christian type of environment only those who truly care about people can do that type of ministry work, because Christian ministry is a PEOPLE business.  Because I do care about the general well-being of people, I do desire to see them out of their dogmatic delusion, but not with the tool of ridicule.

In addition to that I don’t mind being challenged in my unbelief, because I know I am more likely to change another’s mind, before they ever convert me.

It is easier to wins someones heart, before you ever win over their mind.

It is easier to reach and change someones heart, than their mind.  As the old proverb goes….”You can catch more flys with honey than with vinegar.”   So coming from that background, here is the thing I noticed and why it does not bother me when a christian (apologist) makes a statement on my blog, because it’s not about what they say or do.  It’s about what I say and how I react.  There is a reason there are so many stories of atheist becoming christians, it is the generally warm loving environment that Christians like to paint.  And the atmosphere of love and community.  Really that is something atheist can’t compete with.  And many don’t care for.  But we all need community and love, more than the we need to be intellectually correct.

“We can be as intellectually correct as much as we want, but if we don’t genuinely care about the wellbeing of a person it means NOTHING.” -(M. Rodriguez, from my guest post on the Confessions of a former Y.E.C. Blog)

Plain in Simple:  How we treat people does have a relative impact on what they believe or not believe.  And kindness is one of the greatest impacts we can have on a person no matter how much evidence we may present.

 

 

*Additional Update 2/16:  As I am not the only atheist who feels this way and recommends this approach with believers.  Camels with Hammers from F.T.B. has two articles into his thoughts on Evangelical Atheism and Can You Really Love Religious People If You Hate Their Religion?
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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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22 Responses to Evangelical Atheism

  1. Arkenaten says:

    Nice post , Marcus.
    Someone has to play the dirty rotter, and I guess that’s me. I can live with it.
    I understand your motivation, and it is an honourable endeavor. Yet Nate didn’t budge, no matter what he was told by unbelievers. (If I understand correctly) It needed something inside him to begin to wonder and this was the beginning of his deconversion: by asking questions.

    Was this different for you?

    • Nate says:

      That’s true, but I also never ran across anyone who presented actual evidence against my beliefs, until I found those articles on the Book of Daniel. Most everyone else I ran across who wasn’t a Christian didn’t know much about the Bible, so I was able to continue to believe it was unassailable. I think if I had run across guys like you years ago, I would have looked into your claims, and my deconversion would have happened sooner.

      That being said, I think Marcus is right that most people are led by the heart a bit more than I am, so a softer approach might work better with them. I don’t know. I kind of put you in that “Christopher Hitchens-type” of category, and we definitely need guys like that. Maybe Marcus and I are more like Daniel Dennett? :)

    • Arkenaten is Christoper Hitchens-type? It more likely Pat Condell-type..

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      for me Me there were many moments leading up to me doubting my faith, and kick starting my de-conversion, but really the most relavent one, Was when I prepareing by studies for the kids at my church, we were doing a chapter by chapter study of Matthew. And I came across several inconsistencies, that I just could not explain. At first I just chalked it up to …..I’ll just never know the answer…After all, gods ways are higher than our ways, but the more I read (and the more I prayed) the more the questions of bible inconsistencies and doubt crept in. So I finally gave in after a few months and started this blog as a way to find REAL answers, and as a way to kind of kindle my doubt. However I got my answers, but not the christian answer.

      If you just check out my first few blog post, you will see how different my mindset compared to now.
      http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/so-it-begins/
      http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/in-my-quest-for-truth/

      And if you would like to see which contradictions did it for me….check out, my first three contradictions in my contradictions/difficulities page.

      Also this following post was one of them……its called “what kind of morality is that? Is god evil?” talking about a specific action of god in the bible, that made no sense to me morally.
      http://bittersweetend.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/what-kind-of-morality-is-that-is-god-evil/

      Really for me what, it was the belief in inerrancy and the bible, that turned me against christianity.

      • Arkenaten says:

        I feel sure that if children were actively encouraged to read the Old Testament they would very quickly arrive at the conclusion that Yahweh was a monstrous nutter, and from there it would be a short hop to realizing it was all a load of baloney.

        “Mummy, just how did God have sex with Mary?”
        or….
        “Is God’s penis the same as Daddy’s?”

        It’s downhill from thereon….

  2. crystalwheel says:

    Hi!
    I’ve been reading your blog with interest for the past few weeks. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head for the success of the Christian community, leaving the beliefs and dogma aside. An accepting community…as long as you believe of course.

    Since my own de-conversion I have struggled to articulate the process to myself so that I could relate it to another person if asked. I do find that the lack of Community is what bothers me most about leaving my church. I never was a Christian that went out and proselytized. I never liked it when someone did that to me, especially a stranger I had never seen before, so it just wasn’t my style. And in being an atheist, it’s still not my style.

    Recently I read a book you might like called Three Simple Steps. The author Trevor Blake outlines a process for living that makes very good sense to me.
    Basically it is this:
    !. Watch how you speak and control the input to your brain
    2. 20 minutes of quiet time a day – focus on breathing in and out – relaxes and inspires creativity
    3. Decide what you are for and speak about that – don’t be against something – that just gathers energy to it – direct your energy into what you want to be or to see happen.

    So, this keeps me away from being confrontational and combative…really, I just want to live my life in peace and happiness. The following I took from a review on the Amazon site…

    1. Think in terms of what you want, not what you don’t. Corollary: avoid negative people and media.
    2. Take at least 20 min a day of quiet time. This is a daily meditative practice to clear your mind and focus on the void, because the void is the wellspring of all creation.
    3. Formulate what you want in life in terms of intentions, not goals: “An intention is a goal but with all doubt about its attainment removed.” In other words, assume the feeling of your goal already attained.

    Hopefully a community will come about…until then…at least I’m not having to suspend my reason on a daily basis… it’s a start.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      hello crystal,

      Glad to see you are enjoying the blog…

      Even though atheism by defintion is not a community, or a world-view, or a philosophy. But in reality we are a minority community. And like any person we all need community, and we all need a sense of purpose, belonging, and love.

      To give you an example about 2-3 months ago, I found out that one of my co-workers was an atheist. There only a few people who know this about him at work. And I thinking about talking to him, and telling my story to him. and you know just making a new friend. But unfortuantley before I ever had the oppurtunity, tragedy struck his family and his father died. He ended up going into a depression, and never coming back. But because he doesn’t have a support group or a community, he is going through something like this virtually by himself. And I can tell you from my christian background, that is the type of oppurtunity Evangelical christians use to jump and give somebody the gospel. And it works, because really in this area of his life…Atheism, does not provide any consoling emotional answers. but christianty does, even if what they say is not true.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Great post. Thank you.

  4. unkleE says:

    Marcus,

    Although we are on opposite sides of the fence on belief, we are in complete agreement on this matter. Well said! I often write comments from the opposite viewpoint to the one you are promoting here, but I continue to be impressed by how you accept my comments without getting upset or being discourteous.

    I think there is one interesting thought that follows from this, where you say “Because I do care about the general well-being of people, I do desire to see them out of their dogmatic delusion,” I have no doubt you care in this way, but I wonder why you do?

    I think if I lost my faith I would still retain my ethics and concern for people, just as you describe here. But I don’t think it would be logical to do so. I would then believe that I only had about 80-90 years, and 80% of that has gone – why not try to squeeze the maximum out of the remainder for myself, why bother trying to help other deluded christians come out from their delusion? Why bother with a blog like this when I could be doing something more selfishly pleasurable?

    And I think I know the answer. It is something I have observed in many people over many years. Someone was brought up a christian, then they depart from their belief. But most times, they retain the ethics of christianity, even though it has no logical basis. But their children tend to give up on the ethics as well – not suggesting they become moral monsters or anything, but they become a little more self-focused, a little less caring, a little more inclined to cut legal and moral corners, etc. And perhaps a little more inclined to be nasty to believers. This is not something I am just saying now, but something I have observed many, many times over years.

    So my feeling is that you will always retain some of the sensitivity and ethics of your former faith, and hence will always care about us poor deluded christians, but the next generation won’t feel the same. You care because you are first generation non-believer.

    (Just in case you think I am being unfair, let me say that I think the same things happens often in the opposite direction. A person becomes christian out of a non-believing background, and they have great enthusiasm and commitment to their new faith, but their children often have a more mechanical or less committed belief, and their children are likely to be the ones who leave, starting the cycle all over again.)

    But thanks again for what you say here, I really appreciate it! Best wishes.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      really to answer this question, I might as well write another post on it, but I probably won’t. Let me come back to it in a lil bit.

    • Arkenaten says:

      “But their children tend to give up on the ethics as well – not suggesting they become moral monsters or anything, but they become a little more self-focused, a little less caring, a little more inclined to cut legal and moral corners, etc. And perhaps a little more inclined to be nasty to believers. This is not something I am just saying now, but something I have observed many, many times over years.”

      What a load of utter hogwash!
      My two children were initially raised in the Catholic faith and have ditched Christianity. They do not consider themselves religious in any form or atheist, but you would have to walk a long way to find two more generous, tolerant socially conscience people.
      And this is not merely a dad going on about his kids.They wouldn’t thank me for writing about what they do so I’ll leave it at that.

      Your pithy, pompous moralizing about supposed lost virtues of ditching Christianity…or any religion for that matter demonstrate exactly what I conveyed in the previous post and what prompted this one.
      Ethics and morality are neither the creation of or sole preserve of the religious.
      In fact based on history, the least moral and the least ethical have been individuals and societies that claim some sort of religious affiliation. And this is well documented.

      Sometimes, Unklee you write such trite.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      hi unklee, I do apologize it always takes so long to get back to some of your comments, but this is one I wanted to take my time and write.

      I continue to be impressed by how you accept my comments without getting upset or being discourteous.
      Really the comments you make pale in comparision to some of the things I have heard (From those who know I have de-converted and those who don’t know) (i.e.: unbelief and doubt is the worst of all sins, that I believe in nothing, don’t have any morals becuase I don’t believe in God). So anything you have said even if you were trying to be offense, I probably wouldn’t even notice. really you are one of the kindest of (evangelical) christians I have come across in character and words, since my own de-conversion.

      Even after my deconversion I’ve sent emails to the pastor and the elder about their message.

      I have no doubt you care in this way, but I wonder why you do?

      I think if I lost my faith I would still retain my ethics and concern for people, just as you describe here. But I don’t think it would be logical to do so. I would then believe that I only had about 80-90 years, and 80% of that has gone – why not try to squeeze the maximum out of the remainder for myself, why bother trying to help other deluded christians come out from their delusion? Why bother with a blog like this when I could be doing something more selfishly pleasurable?

      There are many reasons for the answer why I care, some logical some not. some are emotional and some are because of my former evangelical mindset. As to it be logical; really the idea of caring for someone is not a logical thing. It’s emotional. It could probably be logical, but for me the emotional part has a driving effect.

      like I said many reasons
      1. When you care for people you care about their well-being
      2. I think it can be emotional harmful, if one de-converts from christianity, especially a fundamentalist christianity. so I hope my blog could help in that transition.
      3. a radical/fundamentalist religous belief can be self damaging. So I wish not to see people in that form of religion.
      4. I hope I can answer some common question or concerns that cannot always be found on other atheist blogs that would never be visited by a believer.

      these are just the few that come to mind. and are the ones that stick out to me the most.

      • unkleE says:

        Thanks Marcus. I can understand all that, and would maybe think similarly if I were in your shoes, though I don’t think I would feel I was being rigorous in my thinking. Sometimes kindness trumps rigour I guess!
        Best wishes.

  5. Don Hartness says:

    …and this is why I continue to read and engage with you and Nate, even though I have to endure dirty-rotters like Ark. :-D

  6. Josh the IPU says:

    I think there is room for all different approaches to the discussions. Some people need to be shocked out of their comfort zone before they will entertain new ideas and others need to be lead down the path gently. Just as some preachers preach fire and brimstone while others preach the “love” of Christ. Different strokes…

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