By: Phil Porvaznik Re: Dear Christian DEAR CHRISTIAN, I have heard the message of salvatio
By: Phil Porvaznik
Re: Dear Christian
I have heard the message of salvation many times: we are all sinners,
and we can have forgiveness and eternal life if we confess and accept
Jesus as Savior and Lord. I have heard that there can be no morality
outside of God's laws, and that no one can be truly good without being
transformed by the Spirit. I have also heard that there is no peace,
love, joy, or meaning without Christ. Christians feel that unbelievers
are empty slaves to carnality and selfish pride, unable to grasp truth,
and must humble themselves before God's plan.
I have heard that the bible contains the "inspired word of God" --
a message of ultimate importance -- and that many scholars claim to
have proven its uniqueness and reliability. Some Christians say
that they have verified the truth by personal experience.
This is all very interesting. I want the best for my life. If there
is an eternal paradise, I would hate to miss it; and I definitely would
not want to roast in a literal hell. It would be unwise to ignore
something like a god, especially one who takes interest in my life. I
would ask a thousand questions of an all-knowing mind.
You and I breathe the air of the same planet, and truth should be the
same for us both. The basic question which should be asked about any
religion is: is it TRUE? If the basic claims of theism, sin, miracles,
and revelation are true, then maybe your "good news" is truly good.
However, I am an unbeliever. It's not that I particularly want to
doubt; it's just that I have no choice. I have examined your claims and
I am not convinced that they are true. I may even wish them to be true
(or I may not) -- but I am not so naive to think that something can be
true or false just because I desire it. There must be some REASON,
beyond wishful thinking.
I'm sure you agree. You certainly doubt that thunder is caused by the
anger of Zeus, or that Allah is the one true god. Like myself, you see
them as myths created to explain the unknown, to give life some kind of
meaning, to enhance culture, or to empower the ruling caste. They are
born in human imagination, and can be explained without reference to a
There are many gods which Christians reject. I just believe in one
less god than you do. The reasons that you might give for your atheism
toward the Roman gods are likely the same reasons I would give for not
believing in Jesus.
You and I are alike. We have minds which perceive, analyze, integrate,
and react. Our only difference in this regard is that you have judged
(or assumed) the premises of your religion to be factual, while I have
not. You would not want to commit yourself to an idea of which you were
not convinced, would you?
You are welcome to try to convince me that Christianity is true, but you
should know that I am not going to "just believe" by faith. I will
demand substantiation. If you say that the bible is reliable, I will
ask you to prove it. I may ask why the bible contains so many errors
and contradictions. If you are not familiar with the findings of
critical bible scholars with diverse points of view, I will view your
conclusions with suspicion.
Neither will I believe because millions of others do. Truth is not
determined by vote. If it were, the earth would still be flat.
I will ask if your conclusions are logical. If you want me to consider
your beliefs, then be ready to tackle questions like these:
1) Is there a higher judge of truth than reason?
2) After centuries of bitter religious fighting, why is YOUR mind
suddenly blessed with the true way of thinking?
3) What is morality, and is it possible without a deity?
4) Is the violent history of the Church consistent with a message
5) What is a contradiction, and what would the bible have to say
in order to be discrepant?
6) Why did your god [according to the bible] create evil (Isa 45:7)?
7) Is there anything wrong with skepticism?
8) Why should inner religious experience point to anything outside
9) Historians must assume natural regularity over time, so how can
the bible be completely historical when it contains miracles,
which violate nature?
10) What is a god, exactly, and why do you think one exists?
What could be said about Christianity which, if true, would make it
false? If you can't answer that question, then your conclusions
may be based on something other than honesty. You can't expect me
to respectfully listen to you if you are closed to a full, honest
inquiry -- if you are unwilling to allow, theoretically, that
YOU MIGHT BE WRONG [emphasis in original]. I am openminded and
willing to change my position, if warranted. Can you also be fair
enough to follow the facts, wherever they lead?
Many unbelievers have carefully considered these questions, perhaps
even more deeply than you have. And some of us were at one time just
as religious as you are now. After honest examination, I am convinced
that the bible is primitive mythology, that there is no evidence for a
god, that Christians are not more moral or tolerant than atheists, and
that religion has caused more harm than good. Why should my conclusions
be less valid than yours?
You feel that the complexity of life demands a designer; but the mind
of such a creature would be at least as complex as the rest of nature,
requiring a designer itself, wouldn't it? If everything needs a cause,
then there can be no first cause; and if you nonetheless assert a First
Cause, I will ask how you know (assume) that there can be an uncaused
cause. If a deity can be thought eternal, so can the universe.
God-belief does not answer any questions; it just replaces a mystery
with another mystery: if god made everything, who made god?
If the mind of a god is the measure for morality, then there is
no way to measure if god's actions are "good." The murderous, sexist,
intolerant activities of the biblical deity and the presence of chaos,
ugliness and pain in the universe portray your "supreme" god as
supremely immoral, by my standards. I could invent a nicer god
than that, and so could you.
If you have new concrete evidences or rational arguments, then I will be
glad to hear them. But PLEASE DON'T WASTE MY TIME [emphasis original]
preaching the same old sermons I have been hearing for years.
I am quite happy with life. I have purpose and peace of mind -- I
prefer goodwill over repentance. I don't want to die, but I accept
death as natural. I sense no need to worship, confess, or apologize
to anyone. I feel no guilt, and therefore no desire to be "saved"
from anything: SIN is a primitive idea, and SALVATION is religion's
offer to solve a problem of its own making.
I happily admit I am a skeptic; and I am proud of the way I think.
Although humans are not perfect, I respect the human mind and I am
optimistic about our abilities to continue to solve life's problems,
with reason and kindness.
I don't claim to have all the answers; but if you want me to hear your
message then I will ask you to listen to mine. There is a wealth of
scholarly and informative freethought material on the bible, Jesus,
morality, freethought heritage, atheism, agnosticism, and rationality.
For a booklist, or a brochure on freethought, you may send a self-
addressed, stamped envelope to the
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION
P.O. BOX 750
Madison, WI 53701
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank