conversations with a born-again atheist: gods, God and clarifying the purpose of these talks

faith and reasonIf you’re new to the party, HERE are the previous posts in this series. If you want to skip the history and prefer the twitter version, I’m having an ongoing conversation with a born-again atheist. When I say “born-again atheist” I mean he was a born again Christian, but is now an atheist.

to read the previous post: “conversations with a born-again atheist: a few definitions

JSM:It’s good that we’re clarifying some terms, but I think I need to clarify my reasons for wanting to continue our conversation.

As long as we’re going back to the beginning of the conversation, I don’t remember professing belief in God. I didn’t need to. I knew you already knew I was a Christian. I already knew you were an atheist. And I had already figured out that you didn’t look down on me or my family because of our beliefs. Rather, I found you to be gracious and respectful. That’s why I was so comfortable talking to you about Christian music even though I knew you were an atheist. I did not, however, know about your extensive background in Christian music! Could have knocked me over with a feather. Then, when you told me that you had prayed to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior when you were younger? I was hooked. How does a born again Christian become an atheist? Seriously. How does that happen!?

So, to clarify –

I’m not looking to learn about atheism in general. I’m a voracious reader, so I can get generic knowledge about atheism from books. I agree with you that lumping all atheists together is wrong. From what I’ve read and learned in the past, there are many, many reasons for a lack of belief in God. I’m interested in which of those reasons resonated with you and were compelling enough to lead you to reject your faith in Christ.

I’m also not interested in a formal debate. I’m not an expert in Christian theology and, as you said, you’re not an expert in atheism. Besides, given our strong convictions and our individual commitments to holding them, I’m fairly certain a debate would be an exercise in futility.

Your statements in our initial conversation sparked my interest in two ways:

1. How did you – a self-professed born again Christian – become an atheist? You said you made an informed decision, on your own, when you asked Christ to become your Lord and Savior. You even quoted scripture [to support your claim that you understood the decision you were making]. (Not something I expected an atheist to do, by the way.) You said you weren’t coerced or manipulated in any way when you made your decision for Christ. I really, really want to know – how in the world did you come to abandon that faith? I’m interested in reading the book you’ve recommended because you’ve said it helps to explain why you became an atheist. I understand that I’ll be learning more about atheism in the process of learning your story, but it’s your story I’m interested in. There are lots of atheists in the world, it’s your story that is unique.

2. Why do you view faith in God as unreasonable, illogical and irrational? As polite as you are about respecting my right to believe what I want to believe (and I appreciate that), the fact is that you personally don’t respect the belief itself. Logically, here’s how I see it:

1. You’ve stated that you don’t find faith in Christ to be reasonable, logical or rational.
2. My faith in Jesus Christ is at the central core of my life.
3. Therefore, you don’t find my faith to be reasonable, logical or rational.

Logically, there’s no sugar coating that. It is what it is. No need to smooth it over or apologize for it. I promise you, it doesn’t hurt my feelings. But as polite as you are about respecting my right to believe what I want to believe, you are correct when you say people often take these things personally. In our conversation so far, you’ve compared belief in God to belief in UFOs, guardian angels, Santa Claus and most recently, fairies. You do see why some people might be offended, right? (and again, I promise you, I’m not.)

On to your questions…

What is my definition of a god?
I’ll answer, but I’d rather cut to the chase. You don’t believe in any god and I only believe in the Christian God. If it’s okay with you, I’d like to pass on discussion of gods with lower case “g” – unless talking about gods in general will help me understand how you lost/rejected your faith in the Christian God? Besides, you’ve already given me so many reasons and examples of why you don’t find belief in Christ to be (I’ll just pick one) reasonable, we may never get through them all. [in additional emails we haven’t gotten to yet] The last thing I want to do is add more. Especially irrelevant more.

That said….

What is my definition of a god?
Because I’m impatient, I’m going to dumb this one way down: “a transcendent entity.”

transcendent: adjective “Beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience.

entity: noun “A thing with distinct and independent existence.”

What are the attributes of the Christian God?
I’ll start what I’m sure is an incomplete listing of attributes that I reserve the right to add to later:

(in no particular order)
transcendent entity (obviously)
The three O’s:
Omniscient (all knowing – infinite awareness, understanding, and insight)
Omnipotent (all powerful – unlimited authority)
Omnipresent (everywhere, all the time)
Holy (worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness)
Sovereign (supreme authority)
Just (guided by truth, reason and justice)
Compassionate (sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it)
Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control)
and finally,

If I’m going to be posting these conversations on my blog, you’re going to need a pseudonym. Everybody on my blog gets one. You want to pick it? (my family members are referred to as FirstHusband (sometimes upgraded to FavoriteHusband), FavoriteSon and PinkGirl. My personal trainer was TinyPowerHouse, daughter’s bully was TheBully and my bully is Narcissa. You get the idea) [note to bloggers: obviously, he picked AtypicalAtheist]

And, while I’ll send you previews of the posts for approval before they go live, I’d prefer to only edit out personal details that might give away your identity. I realize we both run the risk of lookinlikafool every once in a while, but I don’t want to hide behind what could easily morph into an unauthentic script.

If at any time, you become bored with this and want to quit, just say so.


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