An Open Letter To Atheists

30 Comments

Dear Atheist:

I’ve had many conversations with folks of your persuasion over the years, and from my experience I have gathered a few things which I would like to address. All I ask is that you hear me out on this and consider what I have to say as something genuine and from the heart. This is not an attack on atheism or atheists. I just want to lay this out for you to read.

As a Christian who not only believes in and loves Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but also truly wants to learn about the world around him, I enjoy talking to people of various viewpoints, including viewpoints opposed to mine. Yes, even people who don’t believe in my God, or any other god for that matter.

However, the vast majority of atheists do not make this easy. Most atheists with whom I converse (either in person or via internet) lose no time in sneering at my beliefs and making it clear that they think I’m an imbecile for holding them. I would like to point out that deliberately telling the other person they are stupid is no way to hold an intelligent discussion. Atheists hold intelligence in high regard, but why is it so many of you refuse to observe the most basic guidelines for intelligent debate? Degrading your opponent is no way to win them over to your way of thinking, make your case, or demonstrate your superior intellect. In all honesty, it makes you look immature. It degrades you, not your opponent.

This includes all snide references to “the flying spaghetti monster” and “zombie Jesus”. And what is with the apparently favored epithet by atheists: “F***tard”? Really? Not only is it a pointless and meaningless word, but it makes the user come across as a six-year-old who, for lack of a valid argument, strings together two of the most hurtful words in his emaciated vocabulary and throws them out in a weak attempt to win. Once I hear or see that and similar nonsensical insults, I turn off my ears. I’m done listening. The way I see it, if that’s the best a person can offer, they have nothing at all.

Another thought regarding name calling: How would I come across if I kept calling you “idolater”, “blasphemer”, and “infidel”? You’d chalk me up as a mindless fanatic with nothing more than baseless beliefs and an arsenal of impotent labels, wouldn’t you? Well, guess what: Same goes for you. If you can’t or won’t engage in a respectful, thoughtful discussion, but throw labels, insults, crude epithets, and sneers, you come across as someone who has nothing more to support his atheism than an angry, petulant insistence that because he doesn’t WANT God to exist, God must not be allowed to exist.

Also, the atheists in my experience are champions at interrupting. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in the midst of an explanation, only to be cut off — quite rudely — with a half-cocked counterargument, often laced with the usual vitriol. I get the impression that my opponent wants to overpower me through sheer force of will, rather than examine opposing ideas with fairness and reason. The atheist doesn’t seem to be interested in proving his case so much as winning by any means. This also is hardly an element of intelligent debate. I would have thought people enamored of human intellect and reason would have that down as one of their foundational principles. Even your hero, Voltaire, understood this concept.

And don’t keep telling me I “don’t know s*** about science”. I happen to enjoy science, though I will grant you I haven’t made it my primary topic of study as an atheist might. But you won’t hear me proclaim you “don’t know s*** about the Bible”. I will allow that many atheists have studied the Bible so as to better arm themselves against its believers. But just as the science-centric atheist may have a deeper understanding of theoretical quantum physics than I, you can probably bet your bottom dollar I know more about hermeneutics, exegesis, eschatology, and Biblical Law than that same atheist. And so what? Do we just sit there and rub our superior understanding of our respective topics in each others’ faces? Does it mean one person is more intelligent than the other? Of course not! It’s just a matter of where each person has devoted the majority of his or her study and focus. I could actually learn about quantum physics and so forth from an atheist. I have no problem with that. If nothing else, it helps me understand where the atheist is coming from. Likewise, if the atheist will hold back on the snotty attitude and insults, he as well might figure out where I’m coming from, and maybe even learn something from this dumb Christian. (Unthinkable, I know, but humor me here.) The advantages could be huge.

I have debated people across the entire spectrum of religious and political affiliation. Liberals and conservatives, Catholics and Presbyterians, Democrats and Republicans, libertarians and anarchists. I have had far better luck in having a calm, intelligent debate — and even parting amicably — with people in these categories than I have with atheists. When an atheist is involved, it becomes a no-holds-barred, gloves-off contest of emotions and anger. What happened to maturity? If you really want to impress me with your superior intellect, stop making yourself odious and try to be civil. Then we might actually get somewhere.

And why is it you are so hellbent on disproving the Christian God? Granted, you say you believe in no god or deity at all, but it seems you have a much bigger bone to pick with the Christian God than with the Jewish god, the Muslim god, the Hindu gods, the Buddhist gods, etc. Atheists in general spend far more time attacking Christianity than any other religion in the world. That’s more of an observation than a complaint, since Christianity has always had its detractors and always will. I’ve come to accept that. But for the sake of consistency one would think you’d be just as eager to attack adherents of other religions, too. Could it be Christianity and its moral laws pose the greatest threat to you? Just a thought.

Now for the disclaimer: I am not saying all atheists fit the above description. I do not mean to offend or anger anyone. What I have described above comes from my own personal experience. I would like to believe I simply have yet to encounter that respectful, calm atheist who can actually debate without resorting to cheap tactics.. But given my experiences to date, I don’t have much hope.

Maybe you’ll read this and rethink the way you handle discussions with us “religious” folks.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Advertisements

Baal Worship In Our Churches

1 Comment

This past Sunday I attended a service at a Baptist church in my area. Not being Baptist myself, I attended strictly in the capacity of a visitor.

It being the Sunday before the Fourth of July, the congregation commenced their service, not with a hymn to God or a prayer, but with all members reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and delivering a powerful, organ-accompanied rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”.

I remained silent during this proceeding, my mind and stomach churning. Here these people were, claiming to be assembled for the worship of God, and yet mingling it with worship and adulation of the State! One hand held a Bible while the other covered the heart, eyes turned adoringly, not to the cross or to heaven, but to the banner that has become the emblem of interventionism, war, oppression, and corruption around the world. While gathered supposedly in the name of Christ, they started their worship by bowing at the altar of Baal, the state that has proclaimed outright warfare against the Lord and His Anointed.

What disturbed me most about this was the realization that most, if not all, of the people there had no idea that they were participating in idolatrous ritual while supposedly meeting in the name of Jesus Christ. They were blissfully unaware that the flag and “the Republic for which it stands” is a golden calf erected in utter defiance of the King of kings. So many of them are convinced that a good Christian must of necessity be fiercely proud and supportive of the United States and everything it does, heedless of the godless actions, rulings, and ideologies it has come to embrace. The paradoxical nature of their position completely escapes them.

Henry David Thoreau pointed out that we are men (humans) first, and being Americans should follow far behind. As men, we must perform the God-given role of judging righteous judgment, discerning evil, and exposing darkness, wherever it may be found, with the light of love. These people have been conditioned to place loyalty to the Baal State on equal footing with loyalty to Christ. What contradiction! How can anyone serve both? How can we serve both God and Satan? Are we really so far gone that we can’t see the difference between the two anymore?

So long as America abides by the laws of integrity, I say by all means support it. But once it falls, as any human government does, into the trap of tyranny and greed, then we should withdraw our support and stand solely for the Kingdom of conscience, freedom, and love.

We are men first, and subjects last.

Until Next Time,
HFT

We’re Handling Racism All Wrong

Leave a comment

In light of the recent events surrounding TV cooking show host Paula Deen, we’ve been given occasion to take a look at, not only how racism affects us, but how our reactions to racism affect us.

Let’s just face it: Racism in all its forms will always be among us. Blacks vs whites, whites vs blacks, Hispanics vs Asians, etc. Each racial group will always have individuals who harbor a deep-seated aversion or superiority issue toward those of other racial groups. There is no way to truly eradicate it. Until the end of time, humanity will have to deal with this problem.

So the question now becomes, how do we best minimize its effects? How do we best handle something that we can never hope to eradicate? Eliminating racism would be great, don’t get me wrong — it would also be great to eradicate anger, greed, sadness, envy, etc. But we know that will never happen. So how do we deal with it?

I think it’s pretty plain that the way we currently handle it is probably the worst possible. One slip of the tongue in a casual moment and we could lose everything, be ostracized by society, and be blackballed by the media. The result is animosity and bitterness — animosity from the folks who didn’t like what was said and bitterness from the person receiving the blowback.

Think about it: The media feeding frenzy has created a fervor of anger directed at Paula Deen over something said casually to her husband nearly thirty years ago. Now the leftists are screaming for blood. The media has whipped up such a furious response to the topic that Paula Deen has suddenly become anathema. Everyone is angry at her. Meanwhile, Deen is facing career-shattering events. Sponsors have cut her off. Her publishers are dumping her books. The Food Network is dropping her like a hot potato. Her life has been ruined over an isolated comment from her distant past. If I were in Deen’s shoes, it would be very difficult for me not to fall prey to feelings of devastated bitterness and even outright anger.

In other words, enemies have been made that didn’t exist before. Anger, hatred, and hard feelings have risen when they may have actually been easily avoided.

Perhaps a representative of the offended parties could have contacted Deen privately and asked her about the remark in question. She could then have explained herself, apologized, made up for it somehow, whatever. Everyone could have shaken hands at the end and parted friends. No big waves, no hubbub, no hard feelings. The whole issue could have been settled amicably. Then perhaps Deen, had she been truly inclined toward any racist notions, might have seen the rational and respectful response and been compelled to rethink her stance. Peace would have been maintained and perhaps even deepened.

Instead, the reaction was that of a spoiled child who throws a temper tantrum when he or she doesn’t like what someone has said, trashing the room, screaming, rolling on the ground in paroxisms of unbridled rage. The explosion was gargantuan. A career was ruined. And feelings of anger and bitterness distributed generously.

I’ve heard people say things I didn’t like, and I learned at a young age that the best way to respond is to just let it roll off my back. I could throw a fit over a rapper calling me “cracker”, “honkey”, “whitey”, and other uncomplimentary racial terms (and make it an integral part of his musical career), but I know if I raised a fuss I would make conflict when it would do nothing but harm (assuming anyone would listen to the complaints of a white boy from central Wisconsin). I’ve been insulted to my face, but I know if I respond in kind I would only create more anger and bad relations. But if I respond with kindness, I can actually make a difference.

If people really want to do away with racism, they would do well to abandon the smear campaigns and ugly responses, the devastating reactions and the howls of anger. They would see a huge difference if they killed their opponents with kindness, by responding to derogatory words and actions with love and forgiveness. Gentleness and patience has far more power than hate and anger.

Besides, all this is over something said in an offhand moment over a quarter century ago. If any of the people crucifying Paula Dean say they’ve never said or done something regrettable within that period of time, they’re the biggest self-righteous liars on the planet. Pot, meet kettle. If they were truly concerned about justice, they’d be looking to forgive her, not lambast her into oblivion. Honestly, I think far more hate has been displayed in Deen’s skewering, than was ever displayed in her usage of a single word many years ago.

The way we handle racism will only ever make the problem of hate and racism worse. Way, way worse. And until we start acting like grownups we’ll always be baying for each others’ blood, rather than honestly seeking a solution.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Things I’ve Learned From Conservatives And Liberals

Leave a comment

Things I’ve Learned From Liberals

1. Babies aren’t babies until legally recognized as babies by a bureaucratic legislature.
2. Political candidates should never accept donations from corporations. Unless that candidate is a liberal Democrat. Then it’s okay.
3. White, straight, Christian males are inherently cheuvenistic, racist wifebeaters.
4. Anyone other than a white, straight Christian male is owed apologies, catering, and worship from white, straight, Christian males.
5. Women should be liberated to make any career choice they desire — unless that career choice is to be a stay-at-home wife and mother.
6. Absolutes do not exist — despite the fact that this is an absolute statement.
7. If you have more money than me, you need to be taxed out of the difference.
8. Corporations = Capitalism. Thus capitalism is evil.
9. If you don’t like a political statement but can’t refute it, just say it contains “veiled sexism/racism”. Works every time.
10: Communism is dead, and anyone who calls your economic stance “Marxist” is a crazy idiot.
11. Anyone who disagrees with any of the above statements is an evil neocon.

Things I’ve Learned From Conservatives

1. Capitalism = corporations. Thus corporations are wonderful.
2. Jesus loves war.
3. Anyone who questions the legitimacy of “Israel” is a Jihadist sympathizer.
4. Political candidates have every right to receive donations from corporations. Unless that candidate is a liberal Democrat. Then it’s unacceptable.
5. Love the Bible . . . unless it conflicts with Republican policy. Then twist it to fit. Failing that, ignore it.
6. Glenn Beck makes oodles and oodles of money by telling nothing but God’s own truth.
7. Crazy radical Muslims are out to kill us all. So do what any sane, levelheaded Christian would do — kill them all.
8. Obama is a smoking, drinking, abortion-backing, gay-supporting radical Muslim.
9. Our liberties are in danger. Thank God for the Patriot Act and the NSA!
10. Socialism is bad. Just don’t take away my Medicare or my Social Security.
11. Anyone who disagrees with any of the above points is an unpatriotic, godless ingrate.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Wasting Our Lives

Leave a comment

The Sugarland song, “There’s Gotta be Something More” has been running through my head lately.

Our society has gone crazy in its neverending quest to work, work, work, to get ahead, to make ends meet. It’s gotten to the point where making a living takes up the majority of a person’s existence, and thinking and worrying about it takes up even more. There’s barely any time to stop and really ponder things, enjoy the good things in life, or simply rest. How often have you said, or heard someone say, “I don’t have the time for that” or “I wish I had the time”? We don’t have time for anything because earning money has become our Number One priority.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m as big an admirer of hard work as the next guy. I believe in earning my way through life. But when our jobs have superseded furthering our education, spending time with family, helping other people, and getting closer to God, there’s something seriously wrong.

We weren’t meant to frantically work to pay our bills, fill savings accounts, and maybe earn a higher position in the company. We were meant for much more meaningful and rewarding things. We were meant to forge relationships, to be an asset to our communities, to help people in need, to invest quality time with our families and friends, to make the world around us a better place a little bit at a time. Our addiction to a comfortable lifestyle and the demands of society have set us on a hamster wheel that keeps us running, running, running, but accomplishing nothing.

The work we were designed for was not the 9 to 5, 40 (or more)-hour-a-week struggle for money that vanishes as quickly as we make it. The work meant for us was that of stewardship to our world and our fellow man — work in the Kingdom of Christ, rather than the domain of money.

“Finding the meaning of life” has become a joke in our conversation, but sadly most people really have absolutely no idea that life does have meaning. Some waste it on drugs and alcohol, some on a life of crime, some in watching TV and playing video games, and most in pursuing careers that mean nothing to anyone else and only have a very inflated value in their own eyes. All because they don’t know the meaning and purpose of life, they throw their lives away.

I earnestly believe that if we were all just content to live within our means, were willing to give help to and receive help from others, and lived in our purposes rather than wasting our lives on the so-called “American Dream”, everyone, even the poorest among us, would be much better off. The answer to societal issues such as hunger, unemployment, etc is not scrambling for more jobs and money, but love. As long as we sacrifice working for love in favor of working for money, our world will continue to collapse.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Democrats, Republicans, and Jesus

Leave a comment

I recently had an epiphany. It may be old news to some folks out there, but for me it was an exciting revelation.

When Jesus was walking among us in the flesh, He incurred the hatred of the two predominant political parties of Judea. These parties were known as the Pharisees and the Herodians. The two parties were bitter enemies, but when Jesus came on the scene and started threatening to overturn their power base, they quickly set aside their differences and and started working in alliance against Him.

The Pharisees were the conservatives of their era. They were hardcore law-abiders, sticking to the law of Moses with ferocious tenacity, even going so far as to add several hundred more laws to it just to make sure the Jews abided completely within those parameters. They turned what was originally a law of peace and prosperity into a heavy, oppressive burden.

The Herodians were the liberals of their time. They believed in the Mosaic Law, but were willing to make generous allowances for the changes of the times. For example, while the Pharisees would accept no ruler save an Israelite from the tribe of Judah and the line of David, the Herodians were okay with Rome setting an Edomite ruler over them (namely, Herod, from who they derived their name). They were fine with letting a lot of things slide.

But then along came Jesus, and all those differences became insignificant in the face of this mutual threat. In the end, they were even so desperate to get rid of him that the Herodians helped charge Him with violating the law and the Pharisees shouted, “We have no king but Caesar!” They were willing to even drop their party standards just to fight Jesus.

Here’s my epiphany: Jesus, being hard center, incurred the wrath of both the left and the right, the Republicans and the Democrats! His message of liberty ticked them all off!

Suddenly I feel A LOT better about not agreeing with either of the major political parties in contemporary America. The way I see it, I’m thinking in a good direction. Is that what the Bible means when it says not to stray to the left or to the right? I’m considering the possibility.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Success

Leave a comment

When we hear someone described as successful, usually wealth comes to mind. By the standards of our culture, if you aren’t rich, you haven’t achieved success. You haven’t “made it”.

I’ve been giving that some thought. Based on the current economic path we’re taking, I’ve pretty much given up the remotest notion that someday I might be rich. (Read, “Given up on success” if you choose to translate it through the lens of career-obsessed America.)

But if that’s success, I honestly don’t want it. I’ve seen people desperately scale the golden stair that points so promisingly to wealth and status. In the process of pursuing the “American Dream”, they end up paying a dear price: Their soul.

If that’s what it takes, I’m not interested in the least.

Think about it. Even if I did achieve “success”, I’d be working nonstop to gain it. I’d miss out on seeing my kids grow up. I wouldn’t get to have heartfelt conversations with my wife. I’d be giving up time with my family and other meaningful opportunities for a goal I may or may not reach.

And once I got there, so what? I’d have a huge summer home in Wisconsin and a huge winter home in Florida. Three BMW’s. A yacht. Jacuzzis and hot tubs. A huge motorcoach. A membership at the country club. Prestige. Influence. Power. I’d hang out with my yuppy pals, eating caviar. I’d have all the toys and gadgets and status symbols that made the Joneses envious.

And then I’d die.

Way to go, Skippy. Whatcha got to show for all your “success” now?

Honestly, I think today’s general concept of “success” is way off the mark. I’ve seen a lot of rich people, and very few of them are truly happy. That kind of misery isn’t success. If their entire lives have revolved around climbing the corporate ladder and sweating over investments and earning the next promotion, all so they could be “successful”, then there’s no way to be happy. Tired, burned out, cynical, self-absorbed, and avaricious, perhaps. But not happy.

No, I don’t want that kind of success. I want the kind of success where I can look back on my life and say, “Wow, those were the days.” I want the kind of success where my kids see me as the dad who was always there for them no matter how tough things got. I want the success that means I took the time to live meaningfully with my wife and build a relationship of love and trust. I want the success that leaves a legacy of good deeds, hard work, love, edification, and kids who’ve grown up to be responsible, strong adults. I want the success that invests me fully in my God-given purpose of being a blessing to everyone and everything I touch.

And when I die, I’ll know I succeeded in leaving a good, deep, positive mark on the world.

That’s what I call success. If I do that, and never have a full bank account, I’ll have “made it”.

Until Next Time,
HFT

Older Entries