(If you are just joining this discussion, you can read part one here.)

Another thing that atheists say often is that religion relies on a “blind faith” and a lack of questioning and skepticism.

Ha!

I have to laugh when I read that. Let me repeat, I was raised by my mother to distrust and avoid religion. Anytime I had a question about Christianity, I was given a half-answer and told that was the best she could do because it doesn’t make sense to her.

When God spoke to my heart, you can be darn sure He was met with a great deal of skepticism. I thought that God has spoken to me, but I did not believe in God. I wanted to, but I had years of doubt planted in my mind by both my upbringing and my years of studying science.

I did make the effort to earnestly seek God out with an open heart and open mind, but I was full of skepticism and doubts.

Even as I saw God working in my life and had prayers answered, sometimes instantly, I still wrote it off as a possible coincidence.

There comes a point when one can no longer deny the truth and can no longer dismiss the divine as a mere coincidence. Once I committed my life to Jesus, it was for keeps. I know He is there. He has done things in my life that removed all doubt as to His existence. That is why I have faith. It is not a blind faith rooted in ignorance and lack of reason. It is a faith rooted in truth and knowledge, that I stand by even when my emotions betray me.

Whether or not God is real is not based on how I feel on any given day. On those days when I wake up feeling like my life sucks and God does not rush in with His tingly cosmic love to warm and comfort me during my self-centered conniptions, I have to rely on my faith. As I grow as a Christian and God’s answers for my life no longer come to me as instantly or as clearly as they did when I was first seeking, I have to rely on my faith. Those times when I think I might have a better or more exciting life if I ignored what God wants me to do and did things my way, I rely on my faith in God’s plan. That faith was forged through experience that God’s plans really do work out better than my own.

Let me put it another way, we all rely on our faith when our emotions betray us. There are some morning that I wake up and cannot stand to be around my husband. I don’t mean that he is some kind of jerk – actually my husband is the best husband any woman could wish for. I mean that I am in such a bad mood that all he has to do is breath the same air I do and I am ready to go off on him. In those moments, I have to rely on my faith that no matter how I feel at that moment, I really love my husband.

Sometimes we go through a period of a couple days where we really don’t seem to connect for whatever reason. I rely on my faith in our love during those times, too. Even two people as madly in love as my husband and I are have times when their thoughts and emotions are deceptive. In those times, it is faith that keeps us grounded.

That is what is meant by faith – clinging to something more concrete and steadfast than our emotions.

I don’t expect my personal experiences to serve as proof to anyone else that God does exist, but I also find it irritating when my beliefs are dismissed as “blind faith” and I am accused of lacking the intellectual capacity to question what I am told.

That brings me to another thing that atheists say that is untrue or otherwise irritating: that religion discourages people to think for themselves. I totally disagree. I have always been encouraged to prayerfully reflect on whatever I am told or taught even by the pastors in our church.

Men are fallible, but that fact does not take away anything from the existence or character of God. There are plenty of bad teachings out there and I do not doubt that there are religious leaders that don’t want to be questioned, but that is not required, or even desired, by God. God does not ask us to put our faith in men, but in Him alone.

My husband and I regularly discuss what is taught at our church. We do not accept that the teachings there will always be correct without question.

I have put a tremendous deal of time and thought into my beliefs, which is why I find it extremely irritating when my beliefs are summarily dismissed as the product of blind faith and an absence of questioning.

That is no more convincing than it would be for me to claim that atheists don’t believe in God because they have blind faith in what they were taught, they have not really questioned what other atheists say, or they somehow lack the intellectual capacity to realize that they are wrong. Whether or not I think that is true does not make it a convincing argument.

In part three, I will discuss that famous line that just won’t die, “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

6 Responses to “Things Said by Atheists That Are Untrue or Otherwise Irritating (part two)”

  1. You covered a lot of ground in this one, it might take me a few posts to respond in full.

    It does sound like you’ve really thought through your conversion. It’s hard to talk about things that go on in one’s own mind, because we all visualize and think differently.

    I guess the first thing, regarding questioning and skepticism. There are two different issues here I’d like to comment on, but I need some more information from you first, in order to get this right. Although you didn’t mention it specifically, first let’s talk about skepticism in regards to biblical literalism, because from what I can gather, I assume you’re a literalist, as you have once said (at least I think you did).

    I know ‘tone’ is hard to read in the written word, but as I ask you these questions, please picture me asking them with a sincere, respectful, genuinely inquisitive tone, not a condescending or confrontational one. Iknow I can be quite a harsh S.O.B. on my blog, but I’m very different in actual discussion.

    As you went through your journey to where you are, did you reach a point where you believe the Bible is the inspired word of God to be taken metaphorically, or do you believe that everything it says is true and actually happened, and is how things are supposed to be?

    In your search for truth, did you read up on the actual history of the Bible, and how it was put together? Are you aware that there are other gospels (Thomas, Judas and the gnostic Gospels) that were not included when the Bible was put together, that paint a very different view of Christ and the message he taught? That all of the gospels were written long after the death of Christ, an were passed on from oral tradition, often with several authors, many of which had never witnessed any of the events described within?

    Does the fact that men assembled the Bible as they saw fit (and that many of these men were in positions that would benefit from a particular perspective being shown) cast any doubt at all as to it’s validity? And that various things are changed in the many translations it went through (for example, the original Hebrew text of Genesis says ‘In a beginning’, not ‘in the beginning’- that one word makes a big difference in meaning).

    Does the fact that it was written in a prescientific era not sway you at all? When Jesus helped the boy who was possesed, did they not know about epilepsy? When Saul had the visions on the road, or many of the other spectacular visions and such that happen throughout the book, did you not consider that people didn’t know about mental illness and psychoactive substances back then?

    There are many themes in the Bible that are similar archetypes to many other ancient religions – a creation from a being, a virgin birth, some important figure rising from the dead, etc. Is it possible it was just another spin on what other people were believing at the time or in times past? Or at least that it may have been heavily influenced by it?

    In case you’re wondering, here’s where I’m coming from. You say, as do many, that they have really thought this through. But did you do any substantial research that would even give you a background on the text you were taking so seriously? As I see it, it’s not necessarily just about ‘questioning’, it’s about the depth of it. I know so many Christians that know so little of the book they hold so high. Because reading it at face value is one thing, knowing the stories behind it really puts it in a different light.

    More later…

  2. I was very skeptical of the Bible itself because I was always raised to believe that it was written by men and not the word of God, or even inspired by God.

    I spent a lot of time researching the Bible’s origins. Most of the sources were anti-Christian or “unbiased” (like Religious Tolerance.org, which is actually anti-(conservative)Christian. I even convinced them to correct something once that was biased).

    I found out that it depends on who you ask as to when the gospels were written with respect to Jesus’ death. More conservative Biblical scholars think the first was written within a span of time consistent with it being a word-of-mouth account by someone who was Jesus’ contemporary.

    I do know that there are other books that were not included. I also know that the understanding of the meaning of the words has changed as more documents from that time period have been discovered. That’s why we own several different translations and, in fact, I just bought two more for my husband for Christmas.

    I don’t take every word to be literal because there are many things that are not literal. There is a great deal of imagery and metaphor in the Bible. I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

    As for Paul’s visions, I do not think he was mentally ill. I know people who have had visions and people who have heard God’s voice. I have had messages from God come to me in dreams, heard a voice, and even once felt a hand on my shoulder. I could be mentally ill, as could all of the people I know who have heard God, had visions, dreams, or other experiences. I think that is a very unlikely explanation. It seems to me a more obvious explanation that we are all experiencing a supernatural being (or beings, I suppose). (I’ll get into why I chose this God to believe in in another post.)

    Come to think of it, there were several times when I was seeking that I did think I must be mentally ill because of the things I was experiencing.

  3. I don’t know why, but I keep feeling like I should expand on the “hand on my shoulder” thing. Maybe I’m afraid that I haven’t sufficiently convinced everyone that I am crazy.

    I hated the woman in the apartment next to mine for the longest time. We are pretty much keep-to-ourselves people, but this woman would come over and just start yelling at me for no reason. And she would blast her music all of the time and refuse to turn it down. I couldn’t stand her.

    One day, she was yelling at me about something totally unrelated to me and I had this urge to offer her my help. It was kind of like a voice in my head. So, the other voice in my head – my real voice – said to myself, there is no way I am going to help this woman. Then I felt like a hand on my shoulder pushing me toward her. It was so real, I turned around to see if it was my husband, but no one was there.

    I was so freaked out, I did offer her my help and she immediately broke down in tears and told me about some problems she was having with her family. Since then, we have an amicable relationship and I have had no more problems with her coming over and yelling at me.

    I suppose that could have been my imagination, but I had been praying about the situation with this woman for a while, mostly asking for patience. It goes against every fiber of my being to offer help to someone who has been nothing but a complete bitch to me from day one to the point that I wanted to move, so I have a hard time believing that this came from my own head.

  4. Good story about your relationship change with that woman. I guess the only thing I would ask is about this…after ‘to offer help to someone who has been nothing but a complete bitch to me from day one to the point that I wanted to move, so I have a hard time believing that this came from my own head.’

    Why is it so hard to believe it came from your own head? Are you not capable of making dynamic changes in your life? You seem to be a person to whom growth is very important. I surprise myself often, yet I don’t seem to feel that it’s coming from any other place but myself.

    I believe you felt a hand… I have been in states of consciousness where i have ‘felt’ touches two, which tended to manifest when I was thinking or feeling about something very intensely. It is something thoroughly within the realm of the possibility of being brain induced.

  5. “It is something thoroughly within the realm of the possibility of being brain induced.”

    It is possible, but no more possible than it being God induced.

    I am capable of making changes, but I had no desire to be nice to this woman. I wanted to remain patient for my own sake, but I had no desire to go beyond that. And any other time, I would have yelled right back, which is what I started to do that time. I find it an amazing “coincidence” that she had just had a falling out with some family members and needed a shoulder to cry on the exact moment I decided to tell myself to reach out to her.

  6. But can you not accept that it just might have been that, a coincidence and nothing more?

    I have to disagree,though. I’m not a logician philosopher type, but his particular example definitely can fit in with what is known as Occam’s Razor, i.e. the simplest solution tends to be the best one. If there were great holes in the brain science argument, it would be logical to move on to the God hypothesis. But the brain science method DOES answer the question and has objective evidence to back it up, whereas the God hypothesis is purely subjective.