Archive for February, 2011
I’m reblogging again. This time I have the pleasure of re-blogging from one of my favorite blogs, Camels With Hammers. Dan has laid out some really good tips for theists looking to reach out to atheists. If you are looking to fulfill the Great Commission, as opposed to just making atheists tune you out, here is a good place to start. There are many issues deterring productive communication between atheists and theists, I am sure I’ll get some tips from my Christian audience in the comments. Numbers 1 through 10 are in response to an open letter that Dan responded to from a Rabbi. Credit goes to Crommunist for #11 and I will add #12 based on my own experience.
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1. Do not “share the Gospel” with us.
I know, I know, you’re really worried we’re going to roast in hell and it’s really urgent to make sure we have heard about Jesus before that happens. But here’s what you can do instead: pretend that we actually know all about the Gospel and that we are not just confused about what Christianity teaches. Because, and I know this may come as a shock: Assuming we come from a country where the dominant religion is Christianity, we actually have heard the Gospel. Many, many times. And (sit down for this one) the odds are pretty good that we once believed it too. Some of us even know the Bible better than many of you do.
The odds are that most atheists you encounter were raised as Christians. And even if we were not, you can bet good money that someone somewhere along the way has told us all about how Jesus died for our sins. We get it. We do not need to hear it again from you and you do not have a way of saying it that’s going to bowl us over with its genius. (Yes, that includes Pascal’s Wager, we have heard that one too, thanks!)
2. Do not lie.
I know, this one sounds vaguely familiar but you cannot quite place where you have heard it. Let me put it a way that might ring a clearer bell: THOU SHALT NOT LIE, EVEN TO ATHEISTS.
Try to persuade us, if you like, but do not try to manipulate us in any way whatsoever. Either reason with us like adults and equals or leave us alone. Do not befriend us with ulterior motives of saving us when you do not really like us, do not try to subvert our reason by appealing to our hopes and fears, do not threaten us with damnation, etc. Do not claim that you have no intentions of changing our minds when you do have intentions of changing our minds. Do not claim not to judge us when you in fact do judge us. Do not make arguments that you already know can be reasonably refuted. Do not raise evidence you know is misleading. And do not try to appeal to our emotions where your reasons fail since doing so is underhanded and dishonest.
If you cannot persuade us with reason to believe, then you have no reason to believe and we will have no reason to believe. If you cannot persuade us with the truth, then you do not believe the truth and those who are interested in the truth will not believe you.
3. Do not assume you are either morally better, spiritually more attuned, or happier than we are simply because you belong to your faith.
This is a nice little graphic illustrating contradictions found in the Bible, the infallible testament of God. Before someone points out that some of them are written twice, I have noticed this as well on two occasions. This graphic still illustrates over 400 contradictions in scripture, which is supposed to be an infallible document according to literalists and those who believe in a plain reading. Given the number of times that contradictions occur it is, I believe, indefensible to assert that the Bible contains no errors.
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