Friday, January 13, 2012

The Truth of Atheism Told!

Right, so, this is continuing my response to Gerie over at Exposing The Darkness and Telling The Truth. Her post, Atheist, The Most Tragic Thing About You - Is That You Have Already "Decided", is a veritable case study in misunderstanding. It is, I think, instructive - particularly as an example of how to be completely unpersuasive in spreading the Gospel. So Christians, go thou and do otherwise... please.

When we left Gerie, she was confusing herself with the "least of these" that the Gospel commands Christians to help. From there, she moves to high-grade condescension:
These lost souls ( let's call them what they are, until they believe they are poor lost souls) have decided in their heart to trust in themselves and to rely solely on what they think instead of the words of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. Who came down from Heaven, who left the presence of God for us. Who just happens to BE Wisdom. All Wisdom and knowledge and understanding comes from Him. He IS God. He knows everything, from the beginning to the end. All things were created FOR HIM and BY HIM.

We, on the other hand, ARE mere HUMAN BEINGS and incomplete in knowledge. We don't have all knowledge like God does. For everything that we DO know or think we understand, there are thousands of things we DON'T know and DON'T understand, to say the least, yet these people, these FOOLISH PEOPLE, and some of them are true Atheists, choose to stake there whole eternal future, on what they can see, feel, hear, taste, touch, smell etc. or think. And that last one (think), by the way - they do with the BRAIN THAT GOD GAVE THEM!

Yet they arrogantly refuse to use it to believe His words? And insist on trusting in their OWN ideas?
Wow. Just... wow.

Pot, meet kettle.

Mote, meet beam.

Glass house? Meet stone.

Here's the thing. Everybody does the best they can with their own judgement. Gerie may claim that following the Bible gives her access to some solid, objective, irrefutable Truth - but she still used her fallible human understanding to decide to follow the Bible. And she still uses her fallible human mind to understand how to follow the Bible.

Gerie is very good at pointing out the limits of other people's understanding; it's a recurrent theme in her writings. But it never seems to occur to her that her own understanding might be equally flawed, albeit in different ways.
And they are SO sure that they're right. I'm amazed at them! How can they be so sure? Because their prayers weren't answered when they were a child? They believe there is no God because their prayers weren't answered 10 or 20 or 30 years ago?
I'm honestly not sure what Gerie's referring to, here. I'm an atheist because I don't see any good reason to think that any sort of gods exist. Part of that is that I've never experienced anything that I might classify as God answering my prayers, true. I'm not a Christian because Christianity doesn't match my understanding of the world - or my experience of the Divine, for that matter. But, okay, fine. Ignore that. Be all contemptuous and dismissive and tell us how we don't believe because God didn't answer our prayers decades ago. That's how Jesus taught, right? He just marched into town and told people How It Was, gave 'em a swift spiritual kick in the bottom.

Or, y'know, not.

For the record: it's quite possible that I might change my mind at some point. Thing is, there would have to be a reason to do so. Just having someone tell me that something is true won't do it, no matter how many times they repeat their claims.

As a result, as far as I'm concerned the entire next section of Gerie's sermon is one long, irrelevant digression:
Do you think that there might be a reason for that? That maybe is going over you're head right now? And mine too? But God knows why, and I know and believe and testify to you, that GOD IS GOOD. If you want to blame Him, then tell me, who in your eyes is good? YOU? You arrogantly think that you can run things better than God? Do you think that He doesn't see the suffering going on? Do you think He doesn't know all about it? If it's this way, then that means, for right now, that it HAS to be this way. He would never have sent His Son to suffer and die, if there had been another way. Can't you give Him the benefit of the doubt, instead of accusing a GOOD GOD?

Whether you want to believe or not, I KNOW THAT GOD IS GOOD AND YOU ARE NOT! How can you be good, if you are still in your sins and are accusing God of botching things up?
Let's take this is a bit at a time. Do I think that there might be one or more gods who exist, but choose for reasons of their own not to answer prayers? Sure, it's possible. It just seems more likely that He, or they, aren't there. Do I blame God for the suffering in the world? No. I don't think He's there. It seems far more likely that there's suffering in the world because the world is the result of impersonal natural processes, than that there's an all-powerful Creator who stands by and lets people get hurt, but is somehow "good" despite this. Shouldn't I give God the benefit of the doubt, instead of accusing him? I can't do either. I can't accuse Him, because I don't think he's there. I can't offer him the benefit of the doubt, for the same reason. If it's this way, then that means, for right now, that it HAS to be this way. Even if that were philosophically defensible, it's irrelevant. The question of how there can be evil if God exists only matters if you have some reason to think that God exists. It's also pure assertion, with nothing concrete to back it up.
Why do they choose to believe that everything is God's fault and that there really is no evil being called Satan, that's doing all of the damage?
Um, what? That's not atheists, that's Christians who believe that sort of thing. Or possibly Gnostics. Again, I know this is hard for you to imagine, but atheists really don't believe that there's anyone - God, Satan, or the entire classical Roman pantheon - running the Big Show.

I'll grant, there is an argument that looks a bit like this. It says, basically, that if God is aware of the evil in the world (omniscient) and able to stop it (omnipotent) and chooses not to do so, then He is complicit in that evil and cannot be omnibenevolent. That's not, however, generally meant as a serious argument that "God must be evil." Rather, it's an explanation for why some people, myself included, find the concept of God {as all-knowing, all-powerful, and perfectly good} to be incompatible with a world in which evil exists. (From that angle, it really doesn't matter whether or not Satan exists, or what his role is.)
If He says that things will happen a certain way, then that's the way they will happen! How do I know that for sure?

Because He said so! That's how!
Again, wow. That's not even circular, it's just rampant assertion: "It's true because it's true because it's true because..."

But, okay, I'll spot Gerie this one: she truly believes this. However wonderful that may be for her, it's completely useless to me.
As for me, I know whom I have believed in and I trust Him with my life. Who do you trust in Atheist? Yourself?
To be honest, I'm not sure I "trust in" anyone, in the somewhat specialized sense in which Gerie seems to be using the phrase. But in a more general sense, I trust in those who have given me a reason to trust them. And it's not an all-or-nothing proposition, that trust. There are kinds and degrees of trust.
Wait till you die, then you will finally see clearly and you'll understand all of the mysteries for yourself. The mystery of why God chose to remain hidden all this time, why He allowed evil to destroy without stopping it,

and why He allowed you to mock Him, dear Atheist,  without blasting you right off your chair!
I'd like to just pause for a moment, and admire the sheer magnitude of triumphal hostility contained in that paragraph. Does Gerie have any idea how that sounds? "Someday you'll find out I was right, and then you'll wish you'd listened to me!"

Uh huh. Maybe so. Or maybe I'll die, and cease to exist as any sort of conscious entity. Or maybe I'll die, and the Almighty will tell me just how hilarious it was watching me muddle my way through life without even the sense to realize that He was around. Or maybe I'll die, and Brahma will reincarnate me as a house cat. Cessation of consciousness seems the most likely to me, but I could be wrong.

I also have the Holy Spirit living inside of me who witnesses to me that what I believe about God is the truth.
This is particularly interesting to me, because Gerie said just a few paragraphs earlier that in this age we are to trust in His goodness and WALK BY FAITH. (Emphasis hers.) How much faith do you really need if you've got the Holy Spirit hanging around inside you as a witness of God's existence? Honestly, if I had the Holy Spirit telling me I was right, I'd have a much easier time believing.
Atheists are forced to live their lives all alone inside. Or else the witness that they do have living inside of them is a liar.
So, wait. Gerie says that the witness inside of me is a liar. She knows this, presumably, because the witness inside her says it's true. The witness inside of me thinks that that's exactly the sort of thing that a corruptor spirit would say to someone it was leading astray.

Or, actually, no. There's no witness inside me, and I have no way of checking whether the witness inside of Gerie is good, evil, or non-existent, so this is all completely hypothetical. That means I'm forced to live my life all alone inside. Poor, poor, pitiful me, carrying around this Jesus-shaped hole in my heart... except that I don't have a Jesus-shaped hole in my heart. Or else I'm completely unaware of it, in which case I might as well not have a Jesus-shaped hole in my heart. Whichever, really.
Atheist, is what you believe real enough to you that you are willing to bet your whole life that you're right? Are you willing to die for what you believe?
Depends on how you mean. There are things I value strongly enough to die for; some of them are beliefs.
I have heard some Atheists who act as though they are good and they have no need of a Saviour. 
Have you ever even considered your speech? The mouth that God created to praise Him you use to spew out obscenities and some of them are even directed at Him! This is sin and a great one, in my opinion. The mocking you do of His word, the mocking of His servants, that all matters and it just won't make much of a difference to your case on Judgement Day, when you are being judged, if you say that you gave every single one of your paychecks to feed the poor. It just won't matter and it won't stop Gods righteous judgement from coming against you.
My goodness. (Pun intended.) God is going to punish people for making fun of His servants - you know, like Gerie. That's a... well, from here it looks like a really nice, if slightly petty, revenge fantasy. "Someday those people who made fun of me will get what's coming to them, and then they'll be sorry."

And where does this obsession with the idea of Salvation By Works come from? Gerie sees it everywhere. She frequently attributes it to people who don't actually believe it. It even creeps into passages like this, where's it's only vaguely relevant. What is up with that?

Gerie can threaten me with Hell all she wants. It doesn't bother me, because I don't see any reason to think that that's the way life - or death - actually works. But if there is a God who will someday pronounce eternal judgement on me, I'm pretty sure that it won't be because I pointed out that Gerie says some silly - and, frankly, unChristian - things.
You are blinded by your own arrogance and you are guilty of fighting against your own soul.
No. No, I'm not. I'm drawing the best conclusions I can from the evidence I have available. I'm not fighting against anything: not my soul; not some secret knowledge that Jesus really, truly exists; not my unwillingness to give up my sins. It doesn't matter at all whether Gerie believes that, or not; or what she says about it. It doesn't change the fact of it.
Repent of your sins and turn to Jesus. He's real! Hes alive! And He has the answers you have been seeking.
If he is real, He can convince me of this in a heartbeat, with no effort at all. (That's what being omnipotent means.) That wouldn't violate my free will; in fact, leaving me in darkness and ignorance seems to limit my ability to choose freely far more than knowledge ever could. Again, I'm not fighting it: I'd love it if Jesus dropped by for a chat. But it doesn't happen.
Everything will make sense to you when His Spirit of truth comes and lives inside of you and opens up your understanding.
And now we're back to that Catch-22 I mentioned earlier. In order to understand, you have to believe; but for me to believe, I have to understand. Since I can't understand, I can't believe, and since I can't believe, I can't understand. There's no way out of that for me. There's simply no way to get there from here.

This would bother me a lot more if I actually thought there was any sort of "there" to get to... but in that case, presumably I'd have more knowledge or better understanding, so I'd probably be more able to believe.
Remember this dear Atheist God loves you, and so do I, very very much.
I don't know about God, but if this is true then Gerie, at least, has a funny way of showing it.


  1. Gerie is the kind of Christian who had me eschewing that same title for several years. Then I figured, why let the jerks get to be the world's example of what a Christian is?

    Michael, you've done well in dissecting all the rampant arrogance and logical fallacies in her reasoning. I know she believes what she posts, and I know she believes she's sharing The!Truth!, but what dear Gerie is missing is the sense to see that, with her limited human understanding, she might have missed out on a few facts about God's plan regarding those who don't believe in her specific, approved manner.

    I figure I can't cram The Almighty into a box, and I'm not even going to try. I could be wrong... but if I am, I'd rather just cease to exist or join my friends in Hell Suite with a view of the Lake of Fire than spend eternity worshiping a deity that would condemn people simply on the basis of belief.

    We do the best we can, and I believe that's all we can ask of each other... and all God can ask of us.

    [Note: I realize not everyone is a Christian. I am, and I speak as if God exists. Please consider this note a blanket "should he exist" insertion after any references to God.]

  2. Oh come now, you know you're just rebelling! If you truly prayed to the great goddess Freyja and opened your heart to you, she would fill you with her joy and passion!

    Remember this dear Atheist God loves you, and so do I, very very much.

    Gerie sounds like every other abuser. "I may tear you down, berate you, and seek to make you feel as ashamed and worthless as possible, but I'm only doing it because I love you."

  3. Gerie may claim that following the Bible gives her access to some solid, objective, irrefutable Truth - but she still used her fallible human understanding to decide to follow the Bible.

    Gerie can't help but follow the Bible. Thanks to Jesus she was born that way, unlike those gay folks who choose to be attracted to members of their own gender.

    Wait, no. That doesn't sound right. Can I try again?

  4. Gerie may claim that following the Bible gives her access to some solid, objective, irrefutable Truth - but she still used her fallible human understanding to decide to follow the Bible.

    Gerie can't help but follow the Bible. Thanks to Jesus she was born that way, unlike those gay folks who choose to be attracted to members of their own gender.

    Wait, no. That doesn't sound right. Can I try again?

  5. Not sure how I double posted there. I blame Satan.

  6. Amanda,

    First of all, welcome and thanks for commenting.

    Second, while I appreciate the courtesy, please don't hesitate to speak as if God exists. I know there are atheists out there who are touchy about that sort of thing, but I'm not one of them. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, having you come here and talk about your experience and understanding of God neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. Rather the opposite, actually: I was raised in a more... graceful, if you'll pardon the pun... version of Christianity, and my departure from it was a lot more gentle and matter-of-fact than most. So I'm always pleased to see Christians demonstrating that you can be explicitly, sincerely, even devoutly Christian without being obnoxious about it.

    Besides, if I wanted to only hear from people who agreed with me about everything, I'd have to go found a cult. And while that might be fun in some ways, I'm pretty sure it would get really boring, really quickly. Plus, my wife would maim me.

  7. Thanks Michael :)

    I already liked your wife from what you've written about her previously. Your last statement just confirms it.


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