How not to evangelise to an atheist: Secularism is Atheism part five

If you haven’t yet, read this or this post won’t make sense.

Countries that were once Christian have become secular (atheistic) in their public institutions. How has this happened? I think there are several factors:

1. The invention of a creation myth that allowed for aggressive atheism. This is cosmic evolution….

2. This materialistic creation myth took over the universities because it appealed to thee intellectual pride that thrives in such institutions…

From Creation Magazine, Vol. 37 No. 1 2015

When I read that, I am affronted. To claim the generally accepted scientific theories were invented by evil atheists with an agenda, and accepted due to intellectual pride, is to write off thousands of people who devoted their lives to a sincere, honest search for the truth, and were prepared to risk vilification, loathing, and often physical harm for it. It’s to basically defecate on the principle of approaching a question with a heartfelt effort to leave your preconceived notions and biases at the door.

The crowning glory is that this insult is dished out by people who examine the world from the platform of a foregone conclusion, who then twist everything to fit their already made up minds. Continue reading

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How not to evangelise to an atheist

I wondered, as I opened our post box to find an issue of Creation Magazine waiting, how many of these copies are received by creationists, and how many are bought for non-creationists by creationists, to convince them to change their minds. In our case it’s certainly the latter. I am an atheist, this magazine subscription was bought by a creationist relative after my husband, in an exchange of comments on Facebook, offered to buy him a copy of Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker for Christmas.

Reading it gives me an opportunity to try to explain how these kinds of beliefs look to me, with a genuine effort to keep animosity and exasperation out of it. Hopefully it can save someone the trouble of trying to evangelise their neighbourhood atheist with stuff like this. When your atheist friend/family member is confronted with the following, these are the thoughts that go through their mind:

Secularism is Atheism Part One

Secularism is Atheism Part Two

Secularism is Atheism Part Three

Secularism is Atheism Part Four

Secularism is Atheism Part Five

Whale Shark Mystery

Slippery Slope

Focus Section

Amazing Ancient Chinese Treasure Ships

Conclusion

Common ground

Yesterday I visited a dear, treasured friend who happens to be a devoted Christian. We had a lovely time, a fantastic chat, and most of all, something I’ve learned since my convictions changed from Christian faith, was confirmed yet again. Common ground is not necessarily what we think it is.

Think of the term “common ground” in a literal sense. Imagine yourself, therefore, standing on firm earth. The place I picture when I think this way, is a rich green field surrounded by hedges and trees. When I look around me, I see my Christian friend there. I see other friends, too. We are not all bundled together in one spot, because you know, that would be suffocating. Instead, we’re spread out in this mindspace, but close enough yet to see each other, call a greeting, have a conversation.

Common ground gives enough space for different positions. What matters is the foundation under your feet.

Liar, Adulterer

Ray Comfort is a(n in)famous street preacher who has used the same routine in public confrontations for years. First, he asks whatever random stranger agrees to talk to him whether they’ve ever told a lie, then, whether they’ve ever lusted after someone in their hearts. He then asks them what you call someone who tells lies, and what you call someone who commits adultery, aiming to get the answers: “A liar; an adulterer.” He then claims that by their own admission, they are a liar and an adulterer. Ray of course controls the cameras and posts the footage, and we seldom get to see those folks who don’t play the game.

There’s a problem with the liar, adulterer thing. Firstly, a person who has told lies is not a person who tells lies. I occasionally drink wine or beer, that doesn’t make me someone who drinks -> a drinker -> an alcoholic. In fact, I think of myself as someone who doesn’t “drink” because I enjoy a drink so rarely. Ray’s assertion that someone who has told a lie is a liar, is just stupid.

There’s also a problem with the adultery thing, but it’s a bit more complicated, and a bit willfully silly. Yet if Ray insists on taking the tack of pedantic interpretation leading to anyone who has told even one lie is a liar, one has to consider this problem. He can’t use a strict interpretation of the meaning of words in one assertion, then do an about-turn to make the second assertion work.

The heart is an organ that pumps blood. You couldn’t commit adultery with it if you tried, and committing adultery in it would be impossible for the person the heart belongs to. Unless, of course, you perform a heart transplant, preserve the removed heart, and when the patient has recovered, they commit adultery in the midst of the chopped-up pieces of heart. Messy, and not exactly erotic. Also, even then, arguably not possible as “in” would strictly mean inside, and no two human beings are going to be small enough to fit inside a human heart.

So to me, Ray’s spiel doesn’t make sense. No doubt those who find themselves on his side may wish to look at the original Hebrew of the related verses or whatever to argue the point (and many Christians think Ray Comfort is an embarrassment and harmful to their cause), but Ray makes many of his arguments based on the English translation of the bible as we know it today. What’s equally intriguing, watching his videos, is what an angry man Ray is. How sad must you be to go around trying to convince random strangers that you are better than them.

 

For one of the best, clearest explanations of the theory of evolution that I have ever come across, listen to Matt Dillahunty explain it to Ray in this video. It’s really long, but it is extremely interesting and the exchanges are polite and clear. It gives Christians an understanding of the views of most atheists and the workings of science – which are so often misunderstood – so worth watching no matter what your beliefs are.