Conversation with an Atheist, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 1, 2016 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Here we will take a look at a third statement by my high school friend who is an atheist (the first and second statements are here and here). He makes a couple of interesting comments that I will likely only be able to briefly overview.

The statement we'll be looking at today: “I do not want to paint you and all other devout Christians with a thick brush, but getting so worked up over something so minor and acting like every little honest critique of your faith or pointing out that, just maybe, the American system is stacked a little unfairly toward the New Testament crowd, is a full-frontal assault on your precious faith. THAT is where outsiders see such Christians as having a persecution complex!”

It's always something to see when someone says, “I don't want to (do this thing we all know is wrong) but...” Something that this atheist does that is really bad form is the fact that he says he wants to avoid painting with a thick brush right before he goes ahead and paints with a thick brush. He is actually using an interaction with a single person that he's interpreted in a negative way to make generalized statements about all Christians. This is rarely a good way to communicate as it almost always means you're incorrect. His interaction with me and the fact that I had something to say concerning his illegitimate claims about Christianity made him believe I was “getting so worked up.” I wasn't worked up at all, but he's trying to shift the discussion from a factual, reality-based discussion to an emotional discussion.

Actually, he's trying to make it appear that he's taking the high road of sticking to the topic and being calm and cool while he's accusing me of being irrational, basically. He's making the discussion personal rather than objective. That is the attempt often made by someone who is losing ground in a discussion. They will shift the focus towards something else. What I find very curious here is he refers to “every little honest critique of your faith.” I'm not sure how frequently you've been in discussions with atheists about Christianity, but it is very rare in my experience (perhaps it's never happened but I feel that there was probably at least once) that an atheist will honestly and accurately represent Christianity when discussing his or her particular issues with it or with the Bible. This is frequently a strawman. People do this quite often. I've done it as well. It's not always something done with malicious intent. It could be an accident or misunderstanding. However, if an atheist such as this—one who calls himself a “Catholic atheist”—who knows a little bit about the Christian faith makes strawman arguments, it's very likely intentional, although there could be an exception.

Very common arguments atheists put forth include nonsense like, “You think women are inferior.” “You think slavery is okay because the Bible says so.” “You say Jesus was a zombie who was the Son of Himself Who sent Himself to die to Himself to satisfy His own need for blood.” “You think rape and murdering children is good because the Bible says so.” “You think Noah kept 6 million different species of animals on the ark.” Foolish things like this and so many others have often been touted by atheists. These are all absolutely ridiculous claims and easy to knock down. However, taking the time to do so is often frustrating because the person making such claims is rarely interested in the truth. They are interested in denying God and trashing Christianity and the Bible. They will knowingly lie to win an argument simply because they don't care if they're right. An atheist actually told me this and it seems clear from my interactions with others it's true to a degree. They only care if they can satisfy their need to hate God. The point here is that he is claiming to have given an “honest critique” of Christianity when he did no such thing.

He then gets into a subject that I could write for months on but will save you the misery. He claims the American system is stacked in favor of Christianity! I know, I know. It's hard to take someone seriously when they say such things, but he said it and he was totally serious. I will address this statement today and will get into what he expounds on further at a later date.

The “system” as he calls it is not biased towards anyone and, in fact, he later will comment on how the “system” is not for Christians or is concerned with Christians. So he's actually talking out of both sides of his mouth here. His claim is that the government is biased towards Christianity, which I find hilarious. Christianity has been assaulted for decades by both society and the government. The moral decay of our nation supports this. The demonization of anyone who resists that moral decay or speaks out in favor of morality shows quite clearly, to me, that the nation is most certainly not biased towards Christians. Prayer was taken out of school over 50 years ago. Saying the Pledge of Allegiance has been under attack because of the phrase “one nation under God” as well as for other reasons. The nation has slowly turned its back on the God that was instrumental in its founding. The result? Well, does anyone think this place is better than it was just 20 or 30 years ago? I don't want to get too wrapped up in it, but my childhood (which wasn't THAT long ago) was very different than the childhood my kids will enjoy. The America I grew up in was safer, nicer, and, in general, just better. I don't mean that to sound like an old curmudgeon or anything other than what my opinion is on where we are versus where we were, but it's obvious to me that America has made drastic changes in the last 20-30 years (truly the last 100 years) that are not good.

It is true that this nation was founded by predominantly Christian people who structured the government based on predominantly Christian principles to govern a predominantly Christian people. There's really no way around that. I hope to get into that some more next week since this atheist brought it up. But the record is fairly clear—we are a Christian nation. That is not to be confused with a Christian state, i.e. a theocracy or a state ruled by a particular church. But we are quite clearly a nation of Christian-principled people. Those principles are assaulted almost daily and they've eroded significantly, but that doesn't change the history of our country at all. I'll leave the rest of that discussion for next time. Let's take a look at the last remarks here.

My friend complains that pointing out that the nation is clearly not friendly towards Christianity any longer but was once a nation built on Biblical principles is the same as having a persecution complex. This, I thought, was really strange. While it is true that Christianity around America is being attacked from a variety of angles and sources as well as for a variety of reasons, I don't think most of us have a persecution complex. There are those who sort of ask for it, if you know what I mean. Those people that say, “Well, I was sharing the Gospel with the heathens at the factory and they started persecuting me.” When they say “sharing the Gospel” they are referring to telling their coworkers that they're going to hell or that they lectured them on why they shouldn't cuss or drink or whatever. That's not “sharing the Gospel” and I don't blame their coworkers for fighting back. This isn't “persecution” but is simply the result of being stupid. If you've “shared the Gospel” like this and have been attacked for it, perhaps you want to rethink your strategy and how you view their response.

This isn't what the person is talking about, however. Again, he’s making broad statements about all or most Christians because of how he's interpreted one interaction. I think most Christians probably feel the world is against them in one way or another. I don't believe this qualifies as a complex or some such thing. One reason for this is that the Bible tells us the world will hate us. Jesus talked about that here and the same quote can be found here. Jesus further talks about that here. All of these things are good reason to believe we will be hated by the world. I'm okay with that, though. It's because the world’s system is antagonistic towards God and His people and hates the light. That doesn't mean I'll sit back and accept unjust treatment, false accusation, misrepresentation, or the like without speaking up on occasion. One of the reasons I feel it's important to indicate if someone is misrepresenting Christianity, which is most likely the case in these situations, is to correct the person who is in the wrong for their benefit and/or the benefit of others. I think this is important for 2 reasons: 1) they need to know (but most likely already do know) that they are arguing against something that is not a true representation of the faith, and 2) if there are witnesses who are either hearing or seeing the conversation, I would like for them to understand that the mischaracterization of Christianity is certainly not a reason to complain about Christianity.

I've run out of space and need to pause until next week. I hope you stick with me during this series and thank you for reading.

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