sent in by Aaron
I wanted to share my experience. Not so much to convince anybody one way or the other, but to mostly to vent.
My father (married 6x) and his wife are extremely devout born again christians. As part of their faith, they are to evangelize to all the unbelievers they know, which unfortunately for them includes their son, me. I have had an ongoing email debate with my step-mother. I have pasted a portion of it here. You'll see that you are unable to argue/debate with them because they are unable to step outside the box they have chosen. Kim is my fiance. Shirley is my step-mom. Tucker is my 1/2 nephew who has Poland's syndrome (a flipper like left hand). I am a firefighter by profession.
Stepmom - I was thinking about what you said about our not being able to say that what we believe is right...that we cannot prove that what we believe is right. It seems to me that this is kind of like me telling you that what you believe about Kim isn't right. You've seen her, you've heard her voice telling you she loves you, you've experienced the thrill of holding her in your arms.
Me - Well, itÕs a nice thought that YOU feel that relationship with God. The comparison stops there though. I can produce Kim in the flesh, YOU can hear her talk, YOU can hug her. I can tell you what she thinks about something, then you can ask her yourself. While you may have an emotional, even visceral response in regards to your feelings about your belief in God, itÕs not a physical reality. LetÕs be clear, I have no problem with you believing what you believe, but I do have an issue with you telling me that I am missing the ÒtruthÓ. No matter how strong your belief, it is just that, YOUR belief, yes there are many who believe the same as you, but that is not a criteria for something to be ÒtrueÓ.
Stepmom - Experiencing the life of God is no different. In fact, it is even more powerful and impacting. That's why the Apostles never looked back. That's why thousands of committed Christians through the centuries have willingly laid down their lives to preach and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why great musicians and composers like Handel, have written the most glorious and profound sounds that lift up the deity of Jesus Christ. Have you ever heard music like this written about any of the other religious leader? I haven't.
Me - Your comments seem to follow in the tradition of all Christian Apologists. Explaining something that is supposed to be omnipotent. It shouldnÕt need an explanation. The fact that explanation is provided lends credence to the idea that it is created in the mind of man. Thousands of Muslims have died in the name of Allah, does that mean that their God is the one true god? For every brilliant musician, writer, inventor you can name that believes in God, I can name one who does not.
Following the Òintelligent designÓ school of thought, because our world is so complex, so specialized, it had to be created by some super intelligent, all powerful being. Well carry it out.. who created God? Oh, he just is? Sort of like the non-religious explanation for the creation of the universe. Or if the creator is so powerful and intelligent, why did he create diseases that kill his brilliant designs? This goes back to my ÒFree willÓ issue, there is nothing free about being wiped out by a tsunami or being born with a birth defect. Yes, we are free to choose how we deal with that situation if we survive it (whatever situation you want to talk about), but that is the only choice, nobody would choose to loose their family to a drunk driver or hit a child that darted out into the street to get a loose ball.
Stepmom - God visited our world and made relationship with Him possible...not only possible but imperative....for the very reasons He has been impugned....to save us from the devastation of the sin and death that consumes our world. If it weren't so sad, it would be laughable that puny, selfish, and finite human beings would have the audacity to sit in judgment on the Almighty, Eternal God, when He is the only one who can rescue us from the mess we have made of our lives and of this world.
Me - So let me follow this argument, the God that created us in his image, and he is perfect, has to save us from ourselves? Forgive me, that makes no sense to me. What is the point? Why is it necessary for us to suffer? So we can have free will? So letÕs say I ÒFreelyÓ choose to believe in God, then my dad gets murdered or Kim gets raped or you get run over by a car. How could I possibly believe that God loves me if these things happened to those I love? Why would he let that happen? How could I be better off with my family members hurt or killed? How would that make me a better person? How would it make the world better? How is that an expression of his love for me? And bible says that God loves us. Following that logic, the child abuser has the perfect alibi, he loves the child he is abusing. (not calling God to a child abuser, just making a point.)
So the next argument, well ÒthatÕs because they are going to be with God in heaven, where everything is good, and there is no death or sickness or anything bad.Ó Well, why not take me along? I need to suffer a little longer so IÕll appreciate heaven more? I am not being facetious. This is what I think about God and the bible; it seems like an unbelievable story. It doesnÕt have a lot of basic logic to it. It completely disregards the fact that 2/3 of the earthÕs population has different ideas about their existence. (who by the way have been around as long or longer than the bible. There are verses in the bible that Christians will tell you are meant literally, and verses that are meant to be interpreted or used as a metaphor. Who decides these things? I believe that you would tell me that the part of the bible about the crucifixion and resurrection were real events, that had I been around at the time I would have been able to see it happen, touch the cross etc. So that means a literal translation. But the part about his return to earth (Matthew 16:24) is not to be taken literally, since itÕs been 2004 years and he hasnÕt returned yet and the verse says Òson of man will return...Ó before some of the disciples die. Or the fossil record is explained by saying that a day in ÒGod timeÓ might be millions of years, how could we humans question the difference between what is the ÒInspired word of GodÓ and our actual experience that 7 days is a very short time.
Stepmom - Aaron, I have, perhaps unwisely, shared with you about actually hearing the voice of God speak to me, seeing Him heal, miraculously, and other very personal things that have happened since I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I know Him just as surely as you know Kim...personally and intimately. Knowing what I know....not only from history, scripture and the testimony of countless others who have given their lives to Jesus Christ, but from his own involvement in my life....I would be a fool to deny him or do anything less than follow him with all my heart and everything that is in me. And...it's true that I see you as someone that I love dearly, who is missing out on what life is all about....someone who is lost in the morass of a culture and belief system that is robbing you, and lying to you about your responsibility to God. But I have confidence that you will one day find out that the fragile things of life, such as love, marriage, job security, etc. is not what gives peace of heart and security. It can all be taken away in a moment of time. I have confidence that you will one day bow your heart to the God that gave you life and surrender yourself to His love. That is the only thing that can never be taken away from you.
Me - I have no wish to insult or disrespect you or your beliefs and I hope that my responses have done not that. Dad sends me letters telling me the Ògreat newsÓ about Rosemary and Chuck E. and Grandma JeanÕs conversions. I barely know how to respond. I donÕt wish to cause bad feelings with you or him. But, my honest personal gut reaction is Òso whatÓ. George W. Bush waves the Christian flag at every opportunity, and even leaving out the invasion of Iraq (which is debatable at best, in regards as to whether he should have lead us there) he put people to death as the governor of Texas, yet the bible commands us to not kill and to love thy enemy, love them with lethal injections? You know the What Would Jesus Do? bumper stickers you see? Try this one, Who Would Jesus Bomb? This week 80,000-100,000 of mostly Hindus, Muslims perished in a devastating tsunami. Where was God for them? If I literally believe the bible, they are in hell right now because they didnÕt believe in Jesus. Not exactly the actions of a loving god.
You know, Jesus performed miracles all the time to convince the disciples of his power. How about a miracle for the doubting Aaron? The bible says that if you have true faith, God will answer your prayers. I donÕt have faith, so perhaps that is why the times I have prayed nothing happened. I believe you have faith, you have proclaimed it to me. You claim to have heard his voice and seen miraculously healings. While I doubt the existence of God, I have no doubt of your faith or belief in God. Pray for TuckerÕs hand to be normal. Pray for him to have 4 normal fingers and a thumb instead of the deformed, surgically scarred flipper he has. The bible verse about getting prayers answered doesnÕt say Òask and ye shall receive, except if I donÕt think you really need itÓ it doesnÕt say Òsometimes youÕll receive and sometimes not.Ó It says if you have true faith and pray, your prayers will be answered. If TuckerÕs hand suddenly becomes normal, you have my word, I will become a believer. I can guess your response. God has his plan, it is not for us humans to know, God gives us what we really need, not what WE think we need etc. Well, since he knows all, he knows what I need experience to believe that he exists. Perhaps since he knows all, he knows that I am not destined for the kingdom of heaven and this is all part of the plan. I donÕt know.
There is more, but I have edited for clarity and privacy.
Here is her reply to the above exchange.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my email in such detail and thoughtfulness. I appreciate the fact that you don't just skim over the things I say and write me off without an answer. I appreciate that a lot.
If I thought it would make a difference I would answer your objections. I've gone through the exact same patterns of thoughts about God that you have described and I think I understand how you feel. I haven't always had faith in God. I've been where you are. I've felt the intense emotions of anger against God (if there is one)because of the evil in the world.
I doubt that you would believe even if Tucker's hand grew out into a normal hand. I've watched people who have seen miracles happen and they manage to find a way of explaining them away. If miracles could persuade people, Jesus would not have been crucified. According to the account of scripture, many people who watched the raising of Lazarus from the dead (he had been dead and buried for four days) scoffed and rejected Christ. Only some believed.
I love you and will continue to pray daily for you and Kim. Perhaps....if God is really out there....you will find Him. If He is not...then we will come to the end of our lives with the horror of nothingless left. No hope, no love, no future, no rights made wrong, no justice meted out, no meaning for our existence.....all of it a tragic joke.
If you are interested in hearing the answer to the objections you brought up...let met know.
I think I have convinced her that she can't convince me! For now.
Anyway, thanks for your time. Great website.
City: San Diego
Became a Christian: 16 or so
Ceased being a Christian: 20
Labels before: non denominational born-again
Labels now: Skeptic, agnostic
Why I joined: my father became "Born again" and I wanted to fit in, he pushed me to attend church.
Why I left: witness to many tragedies to believe that if there is a God, he/shes is not what is descibed in the bible.
Email Address: sdfirefighters at hotmail dot com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)