Brian Kendig May-28-93 08:06AM Subject: Why Christians frustrate me [long] bob@pharaoh.cyb

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Brian Kendig May-28-93 08:06AM Subject: Why Christians frustrate me [long] Organization: Starfleet Headquarters: San Francisco From: bskendig@netcom.com (Brian Kendig) Message-ID: Newsgroups: alt.atheism,talk.religion.misc bob@pharaoh.cyborg.bt.co.uk (Robert) writes: R> "SINNER, YOU TREMBLE AT THIS INCIDENT, BUT BELIEVE ME, YOURS [sic] R> IS A GREATER PERIL. BENEATH YOU YAWNS THE LAKE THAT BURNETH WITH R> FIRE AND BRIMSTONE. Stand still you cannot. Time will force you R> thence. SALVATION IS SET BEFORE YOU. IT IS AS NEAR, PERHAPS R> NEARER NOW, THAN IT WILL EVER BE AGAIN. LAY HOLD OF IT. CLING R> TO IT WITH THE FIRMNESS OF A DEATH GRASP. THIS IS YOUR ONLY R> CHANCE OF SAFETY, AND IT IS NOT A CHANCE ALONE, IT IS A CERTAINTY R> - A GLORIOUS CERTAINTY. THE ONLY DANGER IS THAT, REFUSING TO R> EMBRACE IT, YOU WILL DEFER ESCAPE UNTIL IT BECOMES IMPOSSIBLE. R> R> LET ME URGE YOU TO TAKE THE PLUNGE AT ONCE AND TRUST IN THE LORD R> JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR! If you surrender to Him as Lord R> and Master, and openly confess Him as such before the world, ONLY R> THEN WILL YOU BE SAVED. R> R> IF YOU DESIRE TO KNOW THE LORD JESUS, SEND ME YOUR NAME AND EMAIL R> ADDRESS AND I WILL SEND YOU TEACHINGS OF OUR [sic] SAVIOUR. *sigh* "When a Christian preaches his message to me like this, I am torn. On one hand, I realize that the Christian truly believes that I am in grave danger, and that he wishes to help save me from it, and that he does not know better than to feel pity for me. But on the other hand, *I* can't help but feel pity for *him* -- to see a person so tied to a belief system that is so make-believe, so unnecessary... and yet he invests his entire life in it. Sometimes I feel guilty when I defend myself from these people. I occasionally think that if I just smile at them and shrug them off, they'll go merrily on their way, none the wiser that their words have rolled off me like water off a duck's back. After all, I have nothing to prove to them; arguing with them only tends to make both of us feel bad. But when enough of these well-meaning Christians come to me and try to "save" me, it becomes harder to respond cooly to them, though that's what I always strive to do. How can they believe that atheists are immoral by definition? How can they believe that without their influence we'd start killing each other off? How can they be so naively arrogant in their beliefs? Robert, you posted the original post to which I'm responding; let me try to respond directly to you. Listen to me, because this is not just babbling; this is what I truly believe. You say I'm in grave danger of being condemned to a fate worse than death, and every passing moment brings me closer to this fate, and that it's only my own pride that keeps me from accepting salvation. I say to you: What fate is this? You can point out what your church says, what your priest says, what the apostles and saints said, what the bible says that Jesus said... but you can't *show* me. No, that's not just an excuse. I'm not hiding behind that "proof" argument out of any supposed fear of Christianity. True, I realize that being a Christian would mean leading a difficult life at times -- I used to be a Christian, I used to live such a life. But if I could know for sure that Christianity were *true*, I would gladly accept the challenge of living it. I wish I could know it's true. But the truth is that I *can't* know this. Your religion even says it: you can't be saved without faith, and proof obviates faith. And your god won't show himself to anyone who is insincere enough to ask for his appearance, and we have to learn to accept that. But I don't accept it. I can't bring myself to. On one level we can look at the same spiel in all sorts of religions throughout history -- the Greek gods lived on a mountaintop where no one could get to them, and they would delight in tricking anyone who tried to find them. The Egyptian gods weren't always anthropomorphic and so the Egyptians never knew when they were looking at a god, but their existence could easily be verified: offer sacrifices to the god of the harvest, and you'll have a good crop this year. (Unless the god was dissatisfied with your sacrifice, of course.) Christianity is the same way about that -- pray to God and your prayers will be answered; if it doesn't look like your prayers were answered then obviously God has some larger plan for you in mind. Can you convince me that a devout Christian who plays the lottery is more likely to win it than an atheist who plays? On another level, though, for me to accept this god of yours would mean betraying who and what I am. I am a thinking, living human being; I enjoy life, and I learn to break the limits of what I can do. Life is fun. There is no sign in what I see of any sentient deity watching over me, nor of any fiery hell tempting me, nor of any Divine Interceder who wants to be my friend, although I've spent a lot of time sincerely looking for him. (Yes, I have. Don't believe that the fact I haven't found him means I haven't really tried.) You can beseech me all you want to "follow Jesus". You can try to frighten me by telling me there is a terrible fate before me unless I simply accept your beliefs. You can try to make me feel guilty by telling me that Jesus *so* much wants to be my friend if only I'd let him. You can plead with me that it's for my own good. But the truth of the matter is that if it were not for all the Christians trying to persuade me to accept their religion, I wouldn't be aware of this god at all. I don't believe he's real. Rather, I believe he exists only in the minds of the "God-fearing Christians", who are taught of him when they are young and impressionable, or perhaps come to believe in him when their morale is broken and their resistance is weak; and now they believe in him wholly, because they also believe that they can't *not* believe in him, that any faltering in their belief would be their fault. It's a catch-22 situation. I can not believe in what I don't see, especially when it doesn't grok with what I already understand about the universe I live in. Sure I believe in atoms, because I can use that belief to help explain why matter behaves the way it does. Sure I believe in Abraham Lincoln, because a belief in his existence doesn't conflict in any way with anything that I know about the nineteenth century. But I don't believe in the Christian God, because I have not seen that Jesus "wants to be my friend", and I have not seen that the clergy have any better grip on life than the rest of us, and I can't accept the common rationalizations about why a loving, gentle god would let the world be what it is today. Sure, it might be like a loving mother preferring to let her children learn their own lessons instead of solving all their problems for them... but still, you'd think mom would at least call once in a while, wouldn't you? You may think I'm blind to something obvious, you may think I'm hiding from Jesus, you may think I'm evading Christianity because I want to be a hedonist. I don't care what you think. I have nothing to prove to you. If your life is happier because you believe in a god, then so be it, as long as you let other people alone if they also seem happy in their beliefs. But I will tell you this: Don't think that it's easy to believe that there is no higher power above me. Don't think I'm taking the easy way out.

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