When I was first seeking God, I read a lot of stuff by atheists. I think I was trying to convince myself that He did not exist. I am not the type that likes to be told what to do. At that point in my life, I had no one telling me what to do. I was a stay-at-home mom, so I was the only boss. The idea of there being someone bigger than me was not so appealing.
The fall back line was always the same, though usually not credited, “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.”
I read this the other day on Five Before Chaos, referring to a Sam Harris piece, who credits the line to historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71).
This is often thought to be a clever way to put an end to the discussion, but it is really flawed at its heart.
There is a much bigger difference between me and an atheist than there is between me an someone with different religious beliefs.
If you read the first two posts in this series, I have not yet gotten to why I believe in the God of the Bible. I have only established that I have had very real experiences with a supernatural, seemingly all-knowing being. That right there puts me in the same boat as most other religious adherents, but not with those who profess that there is no god at all.
If I strip away all of the differences between religions that have a god, or even gods, I am still left with the basic belief in a supernatural being, which an atheist does not have.
The claim is: “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
Let me understand, then.
Why do I dismiss all other possible gods? That’s a good question. Actually, I never really dismissed all other possible gods. I never believed in a god before. It was through Christianity that God reached out to me.
I guess the next question would be why do I believe, solely based on my supernatural encounters, that the Bible is true?
I believe it because it works. I believe it because every time I test it, it works.
Does that disprove all other gods? No. At a minimum, to me anyway, it proves what I call the “Joan of Arcadia” theory.
In the show, “Joan of Arcadia,” Joan was surprised when God shows up at her friend Grace’s bat mitzvah. God explained that the different religions are necessary for reaching different people.
If that was true, we are all worshiping the same god, but in different ways because that is how God connects with us individually.
I don’t think that is the case, but I am not really concerned with convincing other people with differently held religious convictions that they are worshiping the wrong god. That is between them and God.
The reason I choose to believe in Christianity can be best explained by tackling another thing atheists say; Religious people are living for the afterlife.
That is in no way true. Eternity starts the minute you accept Jesus Christ, not when you die. Jesus came to earth to redeem us from our sin – our separation from God. Once that bond is restored, one can begin to live with God right then. It does not take death to restore that bond.
The reason I believe in the gospel is because I have experienced transformation from the inside out. Maybe I needed forgiveness. Maybe that is how I needed God to connect with me, but I didn’t just feel magically forgiven because I accepted Jesus. In fact, I didn’t feel any different at all. After praying repeatedly, and almost giving up on feeling any substantial change in me, I just felt this warm feeling that I cannot really describe and I was forever changed.
It took my husband even longer to feel any real change. I don’t want to share his testimony without his permission, but this man who I have loved for eight years is not the same person he was even a year ago. He is a totally new creation in Christ.
He wasn’t a louse or a drug addict or anything. He was just a regular guy with regular pains deep inside that we all carry, but he is now healed and he is a better person for it. He is experiencing the freedom that comes from Jesus Christ.
I don’t care where the Bible came from, who wrote it, when it was written, if there are any truths contained in any other religions, if Jews get to heaven, or Muslims for that matter, both of whom believe in the same God, but reject his Son.
All I know is that the Bible works. The words in it inspire and guide my life into places I never dreamed. The teachings that others derive from it work in my life. And, most importantly, I am enjoying the benefits of a life with God by my side.
Does that tell me why an atheist dismisses all possibility of the existence of God? No. It really doesn’t. That is why I find that line so utterly annoying.
I’ve hit on all of the main irritating and/or untrue things I had in my outline, so in part four, I will discuss whether or not morality can exist outside of religion, at the request of J.D. Ryan.