Or just how to annoy an atheist.
Actually, surprisingly enough I really quite like this link. It’s a whole lot better than I expected when I clicked on it. Rather than a strict guide for how to convert an atheist it reads more like a guide to have honest and open debate with an atheist. The advice and guidance this piece gives are genuinely good. It also is incredibly respectful of atheism: it point’s out to the reader that it is likely that an atheist will have excellent knowledge of the bible, and it tells the reader to “allow the atheist to try and convert you”. Obviously many atheists wouldn’t see debate as attempted conversion, but at least this encourages the other party to actually listen and respond to counter arguments. It also advices against using obviously false evidence, and cites irreducible complexity, and advises the Christian to properly understand what atheism is via atheistic sources, rather than just what they hear from the pulpit.
Obviously very few atheists enjoy people trying to convert them, it is not a pleasant experience. But I get that some people will always try and convert people anyway and in all honesty if people trying to convert me followed this guide I would not mind it nearly so much, in fact I would welcome the discussion. This is respectful and non-patronising (an incredible rarity) and encourages healthy and respectful debate.
My one addition though would be consent. If you are trying to ‘convert’ [read: open debate with] someone and it makes them uncomfortable or they aren’t interested, then just stop. Debate and discussion is great, but if only one of you is participating then that’s just harassment.
I understand the desire from a human perspective; by having other people pray for you it feels like you are getting extra assistance, and it reassures you that there are other people who care about or love you. Likewise, by praying for other people it lets you feel as though you are helping someone, and that you are giving them your support.
But what about from a theological perspective? If someone is already praying for something themselves, why would another person praying for the same thing help? Aren’t gods all knowing? So it’s not as though another person praying would give God some new insight into the situation which might convince him to respond.
Or is there a certain number of prayers you have to make before your god can hear you?
Or is it like a raffle, where the more times you pray the better odds you get for him answering you this time?
I often see people requesting prayers here on tumblr, normally from complete strangers and anonymously. Is a prayer from someone who doesn’t know you, doesn’t even know your name or a thing about you, really going to persuade your god more than your own prayers?
This is something which I am genuinely curious about, so if someone has an answer please let me know.
From an external perspective it seems that if any theistic god were to actually exist then that god would have to be intentionally misleading and deceiving the vast majority of those that seek him. Within every religion there are countless denominations, and nearly every one of these denominations believes that they are the only ‘true believers’; they are the only ones who have got it right. All of these people, from every denomination of every religion, have a genuine love for their God, and would gladly do anything for his sake. But of all these denominations of all these religions, only one can be right. Only one can be correct about which God it real, what God wants, what his desires and demands are, what you must do to get into heaven. From observing the vast range of conflicting beliefs, and the certainty with which these beliefs are held, it seems clear that if this God exists then he must be doing nothing to try and lead all those incorrect men and women of God to the correct denomination. No, if he exists then he must actually be encouraging them to stay where they are; he encourages them to believe something which is completely untrue. He, in his omniscience, would know what events they would interpret as miracles, he would know what emotions they would believe to be signs of God’s power and love, he would know what stimuli would cause them to speak in tongues; but he must be giving them these miracles, he must be giving them these signs. He must be giving them everything they need for them to be assured of their faith, for their beliefs to be confirmed. Every deeply religious person you will ever meet will be able to tell you about a moment in their lives in which God confirmed his existence to them beyond any doubt, but that person must, by necessity, also believe that every other deeply religious person with a similar story has been deliberately and maliciously misled by that very same god.
It’s funny how some religious people insist the teachers “teach the controversy” over certain areas of science in schools, while I have never seen a preacher “teach the controversy” over areas of faith in church or Sunday school.
They assure us that children deserve the right to choose for themselves on matters of science, but they are never to be extended that same right when it comes to matters of faith.
Even if we accept the basic premises of the cosmological argument it still does no more to support the Christian faith than it does to support the Islamic faith or the ancient Norse faith. In fact it does no more to support a theistic faith than a deistic faith. In fact it does no more to support a deistic faith than a belief in any non-deistic first cause, such as an unknowable conscious power, or even an unknown unconscious force, or even, just maybe, an unknown insentient particle.
The only thing we can know is that a first cause must be something outside of our current understanding of the universe. Which means that the only real conclusion which can be drawn from the argument is that, assuming that something cannot come from nothing, the universe came from something. But that something could be literally anything, and is no more likely to be an eternal omnipotent deity than an eternal mindless cosmic jellyfish, or an eternal unconscious speck of anti-matter.
For those who believe that the Christian God exists, they must surely also believe God is desperate not to be believed in. There is an extraordinary lack of evidence for God’s existence, far beyond the lack of evidence you would expect from an invisible and undetectable deity. There is a lack of evidence that shows that if he truly did exist, not only did God not leave any sign of his presence behind, he actually must have planted and manipulated evidence specifically to cover his tracks. Let us take the example of the evidence for evolution. The evidence implies one of two possibilities must be true. Either a) God created the universe using the big bang and evolution, even though he could have done it in 7 days (or 1 day for that matter), purely to hide his existence from future scientists, or b) God created the earth in 7 days, but then intentionally planted all the evidence for evolution, fully knowing how it would be interpreted, purely to hide his existence from future scientists. It’s not as if had he chosen not to plant all this evidence that it would then prove his existence, thus denying the need for faith. For centuries established science didn’t know how humans might have appeared, but there were still atheists. Looking through the bible gives us many more examples of how God seems to be intentionally hiding himself from us. Either Noah’s flood never happened or God went to considerable lengths to alter the geology of the entire planet to cover it up. The same can be said of the stories of the tower of babel, the walls of Jericho, the exodus, and many others. One would think that if an omnipotent deity, desperate for worship, was to guide the hands of hundreds of men to create a single document which was to become the foundation and sole guidance for the one true religion, he might have at least ensured half of the events described weren’t demonstrably false.
When pressed with the question of why God allows evil, most religious people will point to free will. Why didn’t God stop this murder? Because that would be interfering with free will. However, what about all the times God is praised for doing exactly that? For implicitly interfering with free will? A single survivor is found after a suicide bombing; “praise God for saving him!” A bullet just misses a man’s heart and he survives; “praise God for guiding the bullet!” A policeman happens to walk past an attempted rape and stops it; “Praise God for leading him to her!” If saving one person does not interfere with a bomber’s free will, why not save more? If guiding a bullet to save a man does not interfere with the shooter’s free will, why not deflect all bullets? If positioning a policeman to stop a rape does not interfere with the rapist’s free will then why not do that with all rapes? If a man can be ‘led’ by God to prevent a crime, could not the criminal be ‘led’ to never committing it? Throughout this, a simple fact remains; those who praise God for giving us free will are often the very same who praise God when he takes it away.
Maybe though you don’t believe God is responsible for these actions, maybe you believe these acts are due to either random chance, or the actions of other humans. However, if the avoidance of evil is the result of people’s actions rather than God’s, then surely these people are interfering with each other’s free will? If interfering with free will is so terrible that even God must not do it, then who are we to attempt fix evils that God chooses to permit? And if God is not affecting the outcome of these tragedies then what do you believe God does? If you don’t believe God ever intervenes with humanity what stops you from believing that God has abandoned us completely?
Ultimately we are left with a simple decision; either God is able and willing to affect free will, but chooses not to in many instances, or God truly does not affect free will and has never answered a single prayer or performed a single miracle.
I have often heard it said that the “militant” secularists trying to force their beliefs on people are just as bad as the religious fundamentalists that they oppose. I have heard this from the most moderate of Christians, and even from some atheists who pay too much attention to right wing news stories. For secularism to be ‘just as bad’ as religiously run governments it would have to be proposing an equivalent set of laws, but from the opposite end of the spectrum. The opposite of a law banning homosexual marriages would be one enforcing them, or at least banning heterosexual ones; the opposite of a law banning abortions would be one forcing people to have them. These laws would obviously be ridiculous, and of course they are not the goals of secularism. What many religious people appear to miss is the idea that secularism is about freedom of choice; it would give people the choice of having a homosexual marriage, and the choice of an abortion. In my opinion the most important principle of secularism is this: secularism forces no one to adhere to any religious code that they do not believe in; if you believe homosexual marriages are sinful then you don’t have to have one, likewise with regards to abortion. Secularism is also often accused of ‘repressing religious freedom’. This is untrue, in fact secularism promotes religious freedom; if you believe not wearing a burka is sin then you can choose to wear a burka, if you believe that you will go to hell unless you worship your god every Sunday then that’s fine. Secularism promotes equality, true freedom of religion and protection from religious oppression, the very things that republicans and conservatives claim to value so highly.
What so many republicans miss is the fact that the religion based law they seek to impose is becoming a Christian equivalent of the Sharia law they so vocally fear.