conversations with a born-again atheist: comparing belief in God to belief in Santa. and faires. and WibbleFoo.

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.

Note: This started as my brief reply to what I fondly refer to AtypicalAtheist’s “shotgun email” (because it spread out and hit so many points at once, I couldn’t possibly address everything in one email response).

Before I could reply to the rest of the shotgun email, he asked me for my thoughts on his “Santa Comparison.” So. Santa tangent ahead.

JSM: AtypicalAtheist,

I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten back to you yet. It was a whirlwind family weekend and I have to work on client site today, but I have been thinking (a LOT) about your emails and I have some thoughts I’d like to get to you either tonight or tomorrow.

Just wanted to let you know you haven’t scared me off, I’m not blowing you off and that I’ve been thinking intently about all that’s been said/written so far.

I will respond to the first request in your “Shotgun Email” – I’ve definitely included myself in praying for an open heart and mind. I should have stated that directly. I realize now that by not mentioning it, you might think I hadn’t. (I’ve been praying that for myself since you compared faith to belief in fairies.)

Have a great day!

AtypicalAtheist: Hey Julie,

No problem. I was trying to be really careful not to be inflammatory, but I realize that this topic can, by it’s very nature, be inflammatory.

Could you answer this question from the heart/gut?

A few back-and-forth correspondences between us has made something clear – you were touched (irritated / annoyed / pissed) by my equation of ‘Belief in God’ with ‘Belief in ‘. The reason I’m drilling into this reaction is because of a similar reaction that my wife had when we had the aforementioned conversation while we circumnavigated the neighborhood Park. I’ll describe how that conversation went:

Wife: Of course God (or at least some gods) has to exist. Look at the shear number of people that believe in God (or gods) – they clearly can’t all be wrong…

Me: (somewhat smugly) Well – consider this. There’s a whole population of little people in the world that believe in Santa Clause. In fact, their observations are that Santa Clause delivers gifts to them every Christmas morning. There are television commercials with Santa Clause, books about Santa Clause. Santa Clause visits with them at the mall. Indeed, on Christmas Eve, you can get onto an American government web site, and track Santa’s progress as he delivers gifts to all the children of the world. There are millions of little people that have plenty of evidence that Santa Clause exists, and can rationally demonstrate the existence of Santa Clause. However, we as adults know that there really is no Santa Clause. So – just because millions of people believe that something is real, doesn’t in any way mean that it is real.

So – what does my wife recollect from that conversation, even today? Not that I had a really good point, but that she was injured by my equation of “belief in God” with “belief in Santa Clause.”

This injured her sensibilities in a way I’ll never understand, and she heard nothing of the logic of the matter (regardless of my attempts to explain). I suspect something similar has happened with you.

If I’ve insulted your faith or the object of your faith, it was unintentional. However, if I get into a similar conversation in the future, I’d really like to have a less insulting allegory… Would you mind rating the following from least insulting to most insulting?

‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Isis’ (Egyptian God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Buddha’ (Indian God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in UFOs’ (Concept, not a God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Fairies’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Thor’ (Norse God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Krishna’ (Hindu God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Magic Elves’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Santa Clause’ (No comment required)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in WibbleFoo’ (WibbleFoo is a nonsensical nothing)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Zeus’ (Greek God)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Leprechauns’ (Irish Fairy)
‘belief in God’ … blah blah … like ‘belief in Hercules’ (Roman God)

Also, do you have a suggestion of better language or terms that I could use, knowing how I feel about the topic, and how you feel about having your beliefs seemingly trivialized?


Click HERE to see all “conversations with a born-again atheist” posts.

NOTE: All comments will be held for approval. This blog is a no-hate zone.

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