Friday, April 15, 2011

On Atheists, Part 3

I got another response:

Wrong. I don't believe because the evidence of the universe does not support the existence of a god.

I was a believer for over 40 years. I began to study for the ministry and it was then that I became an atheist. Because I realized that religion (and everything I thought people "knew" about god) was all manmade. I am hardly alone in this experience; it's quite common for atheists to recognize the vacuity of religious belief when they study religion. In fact, for me (and for many believers), this process is very upsetting and traumatic. It's not easy to lose the god you thought existed and accounted for everything.

I had written a longer post but it disappeared. I suggest Dan Barker's book, "Losing Faith in Faith" as a good place to understand the atheist position.

Another is this post here.

Forgive me, but your story breaks my heart. 

First, I read Richard Carrier's rebuke of Christianity and it basically boils down to this: 1) I choose to see the world as material-only, from which I deduce a material-only theory, which, of course, leads me back to (we'll say "predicts") a material-only world.
2) Some people of faith are not well trained in logic and philosophy, so let's knock down their arguments. Most of Carrier's article vaguely refers to what "Christianity would predict" and then he sets up the worst kind of straw men.  Not arguments by Christian apologists (like C.S. Lewis, which he quotes but doesn't refute) but the kind of half-baked "Christian" ideas which my half-baked neighbor would argue as he shoots from the hip.  All through the article I kept saying to myself, "that's not what I would say as a Christian."

In regard to your personal story I can understand what you went through.  It wasn't my experience but I was fortunate to be trained by earnest, intelligent, men of faith.  My professors were heart-felt believers and good men to boot.  And I've known churches with good, sincere, and intelligent people who truly believed.  On the other hand, I've seen and known a lot of arrogant, devious, and cynical theologians who belong to groups or denominations that are built on nothing more than the guilt-driven manipulation of dim-witted people.  If you jumped into that kind of mess with a sincere, earnest heart, I can imagine how it must have shattered your faith.

But this goes back to my original premise.  Most atheists I know don't decide that God doesn't make sense until after they've already been burned by regular old human beings.  The straw that breaks the camel's back is not a metaphysical argument but a fraudulent faith-healer, a manipulative money-grabber, a lying, self-serving preacher, etc.  These hypocrites hurt us and betray our trust and because we held them up as closer to God or, perhaps, our very image of what God must be like, when they fell, God fell too.

I think that most religion is false.  I think it's man made and mostly lies told by people who've been lied to.  But that doesn't mean God is not real.  Only the god invented by the liars falls when the lie is exposed.  The one real God remains.

In a nutshell, don't throw out the baby with the bath water.

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