Debate 013: Ernest and Blair debate ethical Atheism

NOTE: This is a rebuttal and single-response only. Ernest never rebutted my response. He may have just been looking for answers or never expected a response. However, his email title “Another one bites the dust” led me to believe that he was going to be an interesting debate… alas…

Ernest Rebuttal #001:

Thank you for being openly invitive to people e-mailing you. I know that some people who profess to atheists are really stingy in that in whatever gentle manner that I explain my beliefs in Christianity, they still just mock me and throw insults, and sometimes curses. Likewise, there are those people who profess to be Christians, and whenever an atheist tries to gently explain to them their viewpoint, the person professing to be a Christian proves to be nasty. However, I am glad that you are a kind gentleman in that you wouldn’t be nasty to me. You and I may be straightforward with each other, but being nasty is not the way to go.

I first wanted to comment about your statments of atheists being victim of bigotry and prejudice. The truth is, however, that there are by far more Christians who are victim to these attacks than there are atheists. There really aren’t that many cases where atheists are attacked in the liberal media. I see that the persecuted are mainly Christians or conservatives.

Second, I would like to define to you, exactly what a Christian is. A true Christian is one who has been converted by the Holy Spirit to trust in Christ. Therefore, that person has their sins payed for and they can now pass into eternal life, not because they deserve it. The truth is that not one person deserves salvation. We all deserve God’s judgment for rebelling against him. Every single human being is a sinner. If that human being does not trust in Christ as His personal Lord and Savior, that means that the individual will have to pay for their sins themselves in eternal punishment.

To be a true Christian, one also has to be patient, kind, loving, generous, moral, and godly. So, a Christian is not a person who just believes everything he is told because he was born in a Christian-filled area, but one who has been converted by the grace of God. I consider being saved a blessing since it prevents me from paying for my sins as a I deserve. To say that I’m a “victim” of Christianity, would be just like saying that I am a victim to a person who has helped me, regardless of how nasty I was to that person.

I would just like to ask you what is your standard of morality. How can you call anything evil, evil. In an atheistic universe, how can you define what is evil? Besides that, even if what you said was in fact evil, in your universal understanding of the world, it could not be evil, tomorrow. I know that atheists believe in a chance universe. If that is true, then 1+1=2 today, but that may not be that case, tomorrow.

I would plead with you, Mr. Scott to turn to Christ in repentance and except Him as your savior. You must do it now, because after death comes, God offers no second chances.

P.S. I find it hard to believe the contradiction in Islam, when Muslims say that Jesus was a prophet. They then turn around and say that Jesus was not the savior. How can that be when Jesus as a prophet professes to be the savior of the world, and declares Himself, divine.

P.S.S. You told anyone not to send conversation e-mail. I don’t think that mine was conversational, because of the fact that mine is not much longer than many of the others that have been on the debate section of your web page. (I’m pretty sure he meant “conversion email.”)

 

Response to Ernest #001:

Thank you for your comments. To make things easier I will address different parts of your letter individually.

ERNEST: “…they still just mock me and throw insults, and sometimes curses.”

I have witnessed this on several occasions and it bothers me. When I see atheists behaving in this manner I will speak up in defense of the Christian or other religionist. Regardless of the motive of the atheist, this type of behavior is unbecoming and inappropriate. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when mocking and poking fun of others is appropriate, just as any joking is only appropriate in certain times and places.

Appropriateness aside, the motive of such behavior is important to at least understand. After discussing such issues with atheists that have resorted to such behavior, I have found that most of them don’t have a hatred or loathing for Christians, but that they are basically frustrated and that frustration is being taken out on the Christian or other religionist that they were talking to. They are frustrated at being the victims of ignorance and hatred and they are lashing out. They don’t do it out of spite – they do it out of frustration. Unfortunately, this frustration can be vented onto a religionist that would have not been one to resort to such tactics as to cause that frustration in the beginning. You are probably a good example of such a religionist.

You approach in friendship and a search for understanding and you are made the recipient of vented frustrations built up from encounters with your brothers in Christ that were not so friendly and understanding. Your best bet is to not take it personally and understand the reasons for it. Even I have been known to do this when things get really bad. I’ll address that next.

ERNEST: “Likewise, there are those people who profess to be Christians, and whenever an atheist tries to gently explain to them their viewpoint, the person professing to be a Christian proves to be nasty.”

This is exactly what I was referring to above. This type of behavior is what causes the frustration. To try to compare the two is a little unfair however. The Christians clearly outnumber atheists in this country (and other religions, as well) and the number of offenders that are your brethren in Christ are certainly greater than any offending atheists. While I certainly condemn such behavior, a small part of me wants to applaud them for restraining themselves to mocking and ridiculing in speech and type.

There are many other things they could do, such as violent acts, which they do not resort to. They vent their frustrations in a healthy manner, healthy in the sense that it doesn’t cause physical harm, but unhealthy in other social aspects. Because the atheist is the minority it is imperative that he or she maintain the highest standards at all time and remain above the constant squabble and quibble that we see in the religionists around the world.

Perhaps I can make this a bit more personal so you understand why I see their mocking behavior as restraining, regardless of whether the behavior is good or bad. The religionists in my area, Southern Baptists in particular, have been very nasty to me. I have had a cross planted in my yard. I have received death threats via email. I have had death threats and other warnings drawn and written on paper and placed under my windshields. My car has been bashed in twice. My bumper stickers have been stolen on numerous occasions. My children have been harassed at school. I was threatened to be fired over my atheism and only retained my job at the threat of a religious discrimination lawsuit.

All this happened BEFORE I became an activist. It was BECAUSE of this behavior that I felt Atheism Awareness was necessary. I also formed an atheist group in my city and started writing articles for a freethought newspaper. As expected, my activism only made it worse.

I have yet to hear of a group of atheists committing such atrocities. They may mock you, they may tease you and they may call you “brainwashed” or any other adjective – but they are not doing any physical harm. If I had it my way, they wouldn’t mock you or tease you, either, but I have to at least commend them for not resorting to the often-violent behavior we see coming from the religionists’ side. There are no atheist suicide bombers. There are no atheists blowing up abortion clinics. There are no atheist shooters taking out doctors. There are no atheists calling for war against the Muslims.

I hope you understand what I’m trying to say. I deplore violence and commend atheists for not resorting to it like religionists have. At the same time, I want to go beyond such and elevate beyond the mocking and ridicule as well. Until that time arrives, when atheists behave in a 100% exemplary manner, we can be appreciative that atheists are not violent like religionists.

ERNEST: “…that there are by far more Christians who are victim to these attacks than there are atheists.”

To be frank, that statement is absolute nonsense. The only cases where I see Christians being victims of bigotry and severe prejudice is in cases where the perpetrator is a fellow Christian or practitioner of another religion. Christians are victims of such in India. Atheists aren’t doing it – Hindus are. Christians are victims of such in the Middle East. Atheists aren’t doing it – Muslims are.

What is the atheist going through in those countries? He or she is getting it from both sides. Atheists in India and Pakistan are tried for treason and beheaded. Atheists in the Middle East are tried for blasphemy with the mandatory sentence of death. In the United States atheists are supposed to be protected, but they are constantly victims of harassment and brutality. Not just atheists, either. Any religious minority in the United States can be the victim of such.

Four atheist high school students in my area were the victims of constant torment and physical abuse. During lunch at the school the captain of the football team would stand up and begin a prayer. Everyone stood up except the four atheists. They were respectful and remained quiet during the prayer. They didn’t tease or mock – they remained quiet in respect for the religion of others. What did they get in return? They got food thrown at them. They got beat up. They got kicked and punched in the halls by your brethren in Christ.

A Jewish family in Troy, Alabama asked that a prayer given at school be generic in order to appeal to all religionists and not just Christians. What did this bring on them? Constant harassment, death threats, the kids beaten up at school, the father losing his job and no one willing to hire them. They were forced to move.

An atheist in the Wiregrass area complained about the teachers sending their kids home with religiously oriented materials. What did this bring them? They were ostracized and ridiculed by the entire community. The kids were threatened at school. The principle even pulled a stunt by keeping the school bus from picking up the kids and then trying to get the parent in trouble for truancy. The family was forced to move.

A high school senior challenged the Christ-laden graduation prayer that was supposed to be generic. He was beat up, ostracized, ridiculed and ultimately forced out of his home. Ultimately the stigma of the event led him to leave the state.

When I hear about Christians that are victims of similar hatred I ask where the hatred was coming from. What I always hear, at least in the United States, is that the hatred was coming from other Christians. The Baptists hate the Catholics, the Methodists hate the Assembly of God, the Adventists hate the Lutherans and everyone hates the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Criticism of the dogma, rites and rituals is not harassment. Criticism of policy and procedure is not harassment. Criticism of texts and claims of historicity is not harassment. Harassment is the continued threat of physical or emotional violence. I only see harassment coming from the Christian side here in the United States. Just look at the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and how that violence has carried over a couple of times into Boston.

The Muslim community is learning first-hand what it means to be a victim of Christian love. And Christians wonder why they hate them…

ERNEST: “There really aren’t that many cases where atheists are attacked in the liberal media.”

Absolute nonsense. Every talk show I’ve watched where an atheist was the guest, the atheist was berated and called names. Of course Christ called people names, too, so I guess calling people names is a Christian behavior (…ye Vipers!). The only time I see Christians berated in the “liberal media” is when they are covering a Christian that has done physical damage or harm to someone or something, such as an abortion clinic.

Most of the talk shows have a left and right representative, one who berates and one who defends. The media, in the talk show sense, cannot be considered as a source of “harassment” of anyone. Talk shows are meant to be aggressive and create a scene that gets people’s attention.

Just last night I watched Crossfire with Jerry Falwell on it. They were talking about how Graham had called Islam an “evil and wicked religion”. No one harassed Falwell or called him names. They did question him on a few things he said that were not true or were over-exaggerated to his benefit, but they were respectful. Even the lefty on the show treated him respectfully.

Perhaps the biggest reason that we see Christians getting a bad name in the press is because the most vocal Christians, the ones that love the media, are the biggest asses that speak out in the name of Christ. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others like them are media hogs that go out of their way to get on talk shows. If Christianity doesn’t get better spokesmen for the media then they will continue to be snickered at from the sidelines. The talk show host doesn’t have to say anything most of them time – the Christian guest usually digs his or her own hole.

About two months ago an atheist was the guest on Crossfire. What happened then? Did the left defend and the right berate? Nope – they both berated. Why? Because neither wanted to be seen by the public as supporting an atheist. People in high public places have often made statements against atheists that have astounded me. Statements have been made, that if made by replacing atheist with the word black, would have caused national uproar. Statements like, “Atheists should not hold public office” or “Atheists should not be considered citizens of this country” or “I’d never let an atheist baby-sit my children”. Those are actual statements made by celebrities and politicians, by the way.

Could you imagine if Star Jones had said, “I’d never let a Hispanic baby-sit my children. You can’t trust them.” No one seems to care when the atheists is the victim of discrimination. It was odd hearing Jones’ anti-atheist comments on the air. It was odd because as an overweight black woman you’d think she’d know a thing or two about discrimination.

ERNEST: “I see that the persecuted are mainly Christians or conservatives.”

I’d like you to clarify this statement about persecution. How do you persecute someone on TV?

ERNEST: “Second, I would like to define to you, exactly what a Christian is. […]”

The entire paragraph that you wrote is irrelevant. A Christian is easy to define. “Christ” denotes “the anointed one” and -ian denotes “a follower of”. Therefore a Christian is “a follower of the anointed one”. What that means is that a True Christian (TM) is one that has accepted Jesus as the Christ and all the baggage that comes with it. That’s it.

If someone says they accept Christ as their savior then they are a True Christian. This thing lately about trying to say that Christianity’s offenders were not “True Christians” (TM) is absolutely bogus. If they believed that Jesus was the Christ then they were True Christians. If they didn’t believe Jesus was the Christ then they were Jesusians (followers of Jesus).

ERNEST: “…that means that the individual will have to pay for their sins themselves in eternal punishment.”

This is moral how? Basically what you are saying is that Jesus said, “Worship me or I’ll torture you forever.” Even if Jesus did exist he would not be worthy of worship just for that alone. You don’t force people to follow you and worship you by threatening to burn them for eternity. It’s immoral and it’s a good example of what we’ve been talking about. Jesus would persecute me just for not believing in him – giving credence to the same behavior by your brethren in Christ.

ERNEST: “So, a Christian is not a person who just believes everything he is told because he was born in a Christian-filled area…”

Correct. A Christian is someone that accepts Jesus as The Christ. You missed the point I was making with the “victim of geography” statement that I made on the web page. You are Christian not because of any truth to what you have accepted. You are a Christian because you were raised in a predominantly Christian area. If you had been raised in India we would be arguing over the dogma of Hinduism and the historicity of Vishnu. If you had been raised in Iran we would be arguing over the dogma of Islam and the historicity of Muhammad.

The only reason we are discussing Christianity is not because of any “revealed truth”, but because you were born and raised in a predominantly Christian area. You are a victim of geography and demographics.

ERNEST: “I would just like to ask you what is your standard of morality. How can you call anything evil, evil.”

My standard of morality is easy. Each human being has only one life to live and that’s it. That means each human life should be respected. The key to morality is happiness. Happiness for everyone involved – not just on an individual basis. For example, a rapist is “happy” when he’s raping, but because his actions cause unhappiness to someone else, then his action is therefore immoral. The happiness must not be at the expense of the happiness of others. The greatest amount of happiness for all involved without being at the expense of the happiness of others is the path to good morality.

Atheists are more moral than most Christians. This is not just some abstract statement that I’m making, either. This is obvious in every form of statistic and accumulated data concerning morality. Atheists have the lowest divorce rate in the nation. 1 out of 4 Christians is likely to be a perpetrator of domestic abuse against their wives. This number increases to 1 out of 3 when talking about Christian Fundamentalists. The murder rate in the Bible Belt is the highest in the nation per capita. Christians occupy 85% of the prison population and roughly 70% of the national population. Atheists occupy .01% of the prison population and roughly 14% of the national population.

If morality was a religious issue then one would expect to find a greater number of non-religious in the prisons, a greater number of non-religious in the divorce courts and a greater number of non-religious in the domestic abuse courts. What we have seen historically and statistically is that religion is a greater path to immorality. That doesn’t mean that all religionists are immoral – that is certainly not the case. What it does mean is that a religionist is up to twenty times more likely to be immoral.

ERNEST: “In an atheistic universe, how can you define what is evil?”

Evil is a religious concept – so it would need no definition in an atheistic universe. If the religious concept of evil where an issue that I was forced to decide on then I would have to say that evil is what is done to prevent happiness on the parts of others.

ERNEST: “I know that atheists believe in a chance universe. If that is true, then 1+1=2 today, but that may not be that case, tomorrow.”

Why not? A constant is a constant – regardless of anyone’s worldview. Perhaps you can come up with a better analogy to make your point? I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

ERNEST: “I would plead with you, Mr. Scott to turn to Christ in repentance and except Him as your savior. You must do it now, because after death comes, God offers no second chances.”

Been there, done that – nothing happened. I hope you didn’t assume that I was never a Christian. If your Bible-God exists then he is not worthy of worship. Anyone with a sense of morality that has read the Bible would understand that the Bible-God is unworthy of worship.

ERNEST: “I find it hard to believe the contradiction in Islam, when Muslims say that Jesus was a prophet. They then turn around and say that Jesus was not the savior. How can that be when Jesus as a prophet professes to be the savior of the world, and declares Himself, divine.”

Perhaps you should read the Qu’ran then – so you can believe it. Remember that the Muslims think that the Bible is a bunch of bologna, just like me. They think that the Christian sect of Judaism is a lost cause because they believe that Jesus never died on the cross. The Surah is explicit when it says, “They think that he died and resurrected unto Allah. He did not die. He lived on and continued his work as a prophet for Allah.”

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