Bob and Brian’s Discussion

Lots of people wanted to see what Bob had written, so here it is.  And our running dialog. I will post my responses in blue.

Brian

Having read your and April’s Facebook post, I wanted to also express my sorrow at your decision and ask for clarity on some of the things you said.
First, after knowing sin and the sacrificial redemption of Jesus, It is hard to imagine you would choose to forsake the protection and love of Jesus and the promise of paradise for the company of demons, and eternal punishment—and not only on yourself, but also your children. Sure, they can choose Christ at some point, (that is our prayer) however, with the influence you propose as parents, I don’t think anyone expects that to happen. Again, for your sake and the sake of your family, I beg you to reconsider your decision. This is for real, and the play is for keeps.
 

Second, I’d like you to clarify some of the things you said in your post. At the end of your post you said “Please, please, please stop calling this a choice. I DIDN’T choose it. It happened.” I don’t understand, are you an automaton? Is someone else controlling your will and making choices for you? Earlier you said “I will explain that I used everything I could as a resource to make an informed decision,…” Which is it, Brian? Did you make an informed decision, or did someone highjack your will?
 

Of course faith is a decision.
 

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” (John 1:12)
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:21)
You decide to receive Him as you believe, you hear His voice and decide to follow, you decide to repent (turn toward God) and place faith in Him.
And conversely, disbelieving is a decision to reject Jesus.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3:36
In summary faith is following Jesus and following Jesus is a choice. As in a marriage, you become a husband when you choose a wife and say I do. You become a Christian when you choose to follow Jesus. Both are really acts of faith. You believe then you act upon it, regardless of doubts, or feelings or lack of feelings. And just as when you are married until you decide to divorce, so too you are a Christian until you decide to become an apostate. God and man will hold you responsible, you cannot hide behind the excuse “I had no choice.”
 

At the beginning of your statement, you said “we are agnostics in the sense that no one knows or can know the truth about God’s existence. You cannot prove or disprove that He is real.” However at the end of your statement you say, “I can’t make myself believe something I know to be untrue.” First you say that you cannot know whether God exists or not, then you say you know he doesn’t exist. Again, which is it Brian, you know, or you’re not sure?
 

You said “We are not telling because we want to proselytize for atheism, or because we want to hurt anyone.” And of your list of objections to Christianity you say, “…but I’m not going to post it publically.” But then you proceed to go ahead and post your list:
The problem of evil, the charge of inconsistencies in the Bible record, God’s nature, the Incarnation and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Satan, genocide in the Old Testament,
“…no good cohesive representative branch here on earth.” Scientific Evidence: Statistical analysis of prayer; evolution, age of the earth, age of the universe, size of the universe, DNA evidence, dinosaurs, Noah, biblical/archeological inconsistencies (Wikipedia: Jericho).”
Why did you say you weren’t going to proselytize for atheism, not post your list of objections publically and then post them in the very same post? And why did you list and recommend authors and websites for people to go and receive atheistic propaganda if you aren’t proselytizing?

And since you promoted atheistic author’s and websites, in particular Christopher Hitchens, you might me interested in a video of a debate between your champion of Atheism and apologist, William Lane Craig. It’s less than eight minutes and you can see it at:

Another longer version at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8&feature=related

After viewing Craig and Hitchens, you might understand why another of your atheistic apologists, Richard Dawkins consistently refuses to debate with Craig.
 

From what you said, it seems that the main reason you choose to reject Christ is your assertion that the God of the Bible is not good. You say, “This great moral law giver does some pretty atrocious things,…” (Even though you deny it, it sounds to me like there is some anger and hurt there.) But as a rational atheist, how can you determine what is “atrocious?” On what basis do you judge a God you don’t believe in? If it’s all Darwinian Evolution, then it’s all random chance and the survival of the fittest. You say, “…that society cannot work without a moral code. The golden rule is kind of common sense.” And yet who determines that moral code? Hitler made his society work on principles of totalitarianism, genocide and selective breeding. According to atheism, who can say culling the herd is wrong? Without God, you’ve cut off your moral compass and have lost your ability to make any moral judgment of God’s behaviors. So how can you even say that God is not good?
 

Brian, as a former skeptic and atheist, I know there are arguments against God, But in my search for the truth, I found the arguments for God far more compelling. I believe that either owe an explanation, or viable counter argument for most if not all of your objections, because I’ve seen them before. But for others, I’d need clarification. I’m willing to dialogue. However, to avoid any question of proselytizing, grandstanding, getting even, or winning the argument rather than truth seeking, I’d prefer private emails.
Also, you won’t mind if I list a few Christian apologists for whoever reads this to also consider, so they get both sides of the story.
 

William Lane Craig: Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/

Ravi Zacharias Ministries http://www.rzim.org/

Josh McDowell Ministries: http://www.Josh.org/apologetics/

Campus Crusade for Christ Leadership Apologetic Website

http://www.leaderu.com/menus/apologetics.html
 

Again, Brian, I urge you to reverse your course, there is yet time. Humble yourself before God. Repent and seek reconciliation. Then follow Him with all your heart, mind, and strength. You will not regret your decision.
 

In God’s love,
Bob Haggerty


Hi Bob,

You say that you are sorry that I have left the protection… I’m not sure if you understand my position at all. There is and never was any protection. I do not believe it is true.

 

Imagine me telling you to hide under a magical umbrella in order to get money. If you don’t believe that there is any magic in the umbrella, you won’t waste your time. My telling you that it is a lot of money, doesn’t change that fact. My telling you that it is for millions and billions of dollars doesn’t enhance the argument.

You are offering me shelter under the magic umbrella of a God I do not believe is real. The same way that you don’t believe that the umbrella is real. It doesn’t matter if He will help me in this life or the next, or if He is going to punish me now, or forever. I don’t buy it, and I won’t stand under the umbrella.

 

As for faith being a choice, believing being a choice or not.

First I didn’t write that. April did.

But, here is the clearest I can articulate it.

If I tell you that there is an elephant behind you and he is going to eat your hat, do you believe me?

No. But why not? Are you choosing not to?

 

What if you choose to believe me?

Can you force yourself to really believe that there is an elephant behind you ready to devour your hat?

I would hazard that you cannot, no matter how hard you try. (and if you could, the term for that is make-believe.)

Finally, For a long time, I really, genuinely believed that God was real. I based my life on it. Then I stopped believing. It wasn’t a choice to stop believing in the same way that, if you turned around and noticed that there was no elephant behind you, and fearlessly put your hat back on, I would call it a choice for you to stop believing in the elephant.

 

As for agnosticism: No one can prove that unicorns don’t live in the forest somewhere. But no one believes that they are real. I cannot prove that God doesn’t exist, yet, I don’t believe He is real. I am an agnostic, in the sense that I don’t know for sure. I am atheist in the sense that I’m betting against it. Christians should be agnostic in the sense that they accept that their premises cannot be proven. And Theist in the sense that they believe in God. So, to be an agnostic theist, or an agnostic atheist is not a contradiction in the slightest. Ultimately I am an atheist.

 

I didn’t post my list. My list is 10 pages long. I posted several reasons, and I gave a disclaimer, no one was forced to read that list.

Then you proceed to post a bunch of scripture: to which I will reply, JANE AUSTIN.

And list a bunch of books, half of which I have read, (do you know that I have a bachelor’s degree in Bible and a Masters degree in Missions?) many more than once (with the exception of Lee Stomble who I couldn’t stomach as a christian in the same way that I could never stomach Hovind)

Do you know who Francis S. Collins is? He is a Christian, and a well respected scientist. I think he has some interesting things to say about evolution.

I think it is also silly that Christians still rail against evolution and scientific discovery or make scientist recant useful theories. Science works, plain and simple. But I don’t want this to get derailed into science.

 

Have you listened to Christopher Hitchens debate?

Dan Dennent

Richard Dawkins

Sam Harris

I had never listened to them before I decided that it was worth hearing the other side of the argument. For too long I heard Christians put up the paper tiger defense of the counter apologetics or arguments against faith and they sounded silly. But they are by no means silly, they are devastating. Oh, I have heard why atheist don’t accept the cosmological argument… but really, have you? Or have you just heard why atheists don’t accept the cosmological argument from Christians?


Hi Brian

Thanks for accepting the post and for your willingness to dialogue. You may post our dialogue publicly if you wish. I see that you deleted my original post then reposted it. I’d appreciate it if you would delete the notes that were inadvertently included in my original, I’m not too good with Internet posting, another reason, for the email preference. You can edit out the beginning down to “Having read your and April’s Facebook post, I wanted to also express my sorrow at your decision and ask for clarity on some of the things you said.”

 

As far as ongoing dialogue, since we both have limited time, I’ll try to stick to the points and avoid veering off too much.

 

Since your original denial that leaving your faith was not a choice was my first point, I’ll start with that. I don’t think the Elephant analogy enhanced your position. You say you believed in the “Elephant” at one time, so it’s not as ridiculous as you try to make it sound. In any case, your following statement seems contradictory, so I’m still not sure of your answer. Could you give me a simple, “yes, it was a choice and I take responsibility.” Or “no it wasn’t a choice, I was compelled to disbelieve.” Since in your original statement you used the term “informed decision” you may as well concede the point. I think it would be more profitable to dispense with obfuscation, I don’t have time for that.

 

As for Agnosticism and Atheism, I think it’s essential to define terms for effective communication. Here are the definitions of these philosophical terms.
Atheism; “The view that God does not exist.”
Agnosticism: “The view that something is not known, and perhaps cannot be known. In theology, the view that the existence or nonexistence of God is not known. Neither theism nor atheism can be justified.” * Reason and Responsibility, Fineberg, (secular basic philosophy text) So in which camp do you reside, Brian? Are you certain there is no god? Or are you unsure, but think the evidence is against and so you choose to live as though there is no God?

 

I respect your education. But I’m sure you’ll agree letters after a person’s name doesn’t necessarily equal truth. And I’m looking for the truth, you said you were too. I’m impressed that you say you’ve read half the books on my list. If you would check off the one’s you’ve read, and let me know, it would facilitate conversation, we’d have a better idea of our common knowledge.

 

Let’s do come back to evolution as you suggest.

The problem with your Chainsaw analogy is that Adam and Eve had the intelligence to name all the animals, and exercise dominion over the earth. They were not only fully grown, responsible adults, it could be argued they had vastly superior intellect. They walked and talked with God face to face! For how long is not recorded. I could have been hundreds of years. No veil. Can you imagine the knowledge they obtained through those encounters? Just because they were good and innocent, doesn’t mean they were stupid. They don’t begin to compare with immature fallen children.

 

Regarding Christopher Hitchens, yes, I have listened to him debate William Lane Craig. Here is the link again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8&feature=related

In summary, Please answer my two questions above about choice and atheism/agnosticism directly without any ineffective analogies. If you are a truth seeker as you say, you should be able to give me a straight answer on two straightforward questions. After that, if you will view the entire debate between Hitchens and Craig, as I have, I think that would produce the most effective talking points and we can take it from there.

 

I’m still praying for you.

Bob Haggerty


Hey Bob,

Hope that makes sense to you and everyone who is trying to follow things. Maybe we could just keep this format. Everything I say can be in blue (so if you want to quote me it will be blue). This is all pretty new to me, and if there is a better way to do it, then someone can write in with suggestions. Thanks.

 

Since your original denial that leaving your faith was not a choice was my first point, I’ll start with that. I don’t think the Elephant analogy enhanced your position. You say you believed in the “Elephant” at one time, so it’s not as ridiculous as you try to make it sound. In any case, your following statement seems contradictory, so I’m still not sure of your answer. Could you give me a simple, “yes, it was a choice and I take responsibility.” Or “no it wasn’t a choice, I was compelled to disbelieve.” Since in your original statement you used the term “informed decision” you may as well concede the point. I think it would be more profitable to dispense with obfuscation, I don’t have time for that.

I have never said that having a belief in God was ridiculous. I held very tightly to this belief for 15 years, I spent thousands of dollars in tithes and education (for which I still owe, I might add.) I left my family and the comforts of home to spread the gospel overseas as a missionary.

 

In my analogy, I did believe that there was a God (the elephant behind me). I was very convicted of it. I acted accordingly, shared the gospel, fasted, prayed, was a part of a church body and tithed (I didn’t wear my hat). I am saying that when I began to sincerely investigate, and found no God there, (the elephant wasn’t behind me, wasn’t in the trees, there were no elephant tracks, no peanut shells) I could no longer believe. I couldn’t force myself to believe that God was still there, even though both April and I wanted to very much to believe (something I think you will find with most Christians turned Atheists). I didn’t want to leave the Church or the church, I enjoyed what I was doing, was good at it, and was well paid for it. But, I simply couldn’t force myself to believe that there was still an elephant behind me (or a God watching over me).

 

So I believed there was an elephant and that had tangible ramifications behind me, when I stopped believing in the elephant, I acted accordingly. I believed there was a God, acted accordingly; stopped believing and acted accordingly.

The choice I did make was to walk away from the church, stop calling myself a Christian, and now to make a public statement (I put my hat on and walk away from the imaginary elephant.) Yes, I will gladly take responsibility for that part of it.

 

I think it is worth mentioning, that one of the most intellectually dishonest thing one can do is to act like something is true until they believe it. Advice I have heard countless times from Christians… Just pray until you believe. Just X (x being pray, come to church, listen to scripture, read the Bible) until you believe.

 

As for Agnosticism and Atheism, I think it’s essential to define terms for effective communication. Here are the definitions of these philosophical terms.
Atheism; “The view that God does not exist.”
Agnosticism: “The view that something is not known, and perhaps cannot be known. In theology, the view that the existence or nonexistence of God is not known. Neither theism nor atheism can be justified.”…

I addressed this question twice. Once with unicorns, once with a definition of both terms. I am very aware of what the terms mean. Perhaps it is not me who needs the refresher on what words mean. I am an atheist because I don’t believe that God exists. I am an agnostic because no one can know either way. They are not mutually exclusive and I’m not sure why there is confusion about it.

I will not point again to the unicorn, since I received hate mail from people who think they were real. Imagine that there is a monster out there that created the earth, I don’t know, let’s call him the spaghetti monster. Can you prove that this monster does exist or doesn’t? No. Therefore, you are agnostic towards the claim. Do you believe in Him? No, you are atheist toward Him.

This is my boat.

 

I respect your education. But I’m sure you’ll agree letters after a person’s name doesn’t necessarily equal truth. And I’m looking for the truth, you said you were too.

I agree completely.

 

I’m impressed that you say you’ve read half the books on my list. If you would check off the one’s you’ve read, and let me know, it would facilitate conversation, we’d have a better idea of our common knowledge…

I will help this along with this: Let’s just assume that we are on equal footing in regards to the arguments. You don’t really think that I am going to make a tick list or write book reports to prove that I have read the books or even start reading a bunch of books to appease you or for this debate? Are you planning on reading bunch of atheist book? Let it suffice to say that I feel well equipped to discuss the different apologetical arguments, their merits and flaws. I hope that you don’t feel like I need to read a bunch of books in order to get up to your level. If you say something that I don’t understand, I will either figure it out, or stammer all over myself (and you are free to make me look like a fool).

 

The problem with your Chainsaw analogy is that Adam and Eve had the intelligence to name all the animals, and exercise dominion over the earth. They were not only fully grown, responsible adults, it could be argued they had vastly superior intellect. They walked and talked with God face to face! For how long is not recorded. It could have been hundreds of years. No veil. Can you imagine the knowledge they obtained through those encounters? Just because they were good and innocent, doesn’t mean they were stupid. They don’t begin to compare with immature fallen children.

I am glad that you brought up the chainsaw analogy. Your first objection, that Adam and Eve were not children. I was not claiming that they were children, only that they understood like children (the same claim that Christians now love to make in our relationship with God.) They really didn’t understand the ramifications of what would happen. The major point was God placed them in a room with a loaded gun, told them not to mess with it, and they shot each other despite their 300 plus IQs. Not only did they shoot each other, but they shot every member of the human race, all the animals and the plants. It seems like a very careless God who would leave such power in the hands of a couple of adults. The analogy is only strengthen by the realization that God knew they were going to do it and that they had walked with God for many years before it happened.

 

An omnipotent, omnipresent being does not have wishes or make mistakes. He only has actions. If He wants an cake, He has a cake. If He doesn’t want a cake, there is no cake. If there is a cake present, and He wants it to go away, it is gone. If there is a cake present, and it isn’t gone, it is because He has chosen to allow it to stay. He doesn’t accidently make a cake when He is trying to make a carrot.

 

God chose to put the tree there. He knew they were going to eat from it (which is even worse) and He allowed it to happen. He is ultimately responsible for the fall of man. He could have chosen to put the tree elsewhere, or to make man not want to eat from the tree. (After all, no one would just pull off a fruit that was repulsive and eat it.) He could have done a million things to keep that tree safe, but didn’t.

 

The chainsaw analogy further plays itself out by the way He “chooses” to redeem mankind. He made up all the rules, He created the sacrificial system to appease Himself. This is His doing. Hell didn’t exist before He created it. This is all His choice. Satan was not an accident. God created Him with full knowledge that He would rebel and cause havoc. God does what He wants to do, at His pleasure. Even if Satan does some things that God does not want him to do, it is only because God chooses not to stop him that he can continue. I would say, God chooses to do/allow some pretty horrible things that are not consistent with a good and loving father. The particular system we have is better answered by the lack of a God than because “God is good, I just don’t understand what he is doing.” Also, I will note, the real reason no one understands what God is doing is because it doesn’t make sense.

 

I have already explained why I think that “I don’t understand why God does things, but He is good” Is a very bad answer. But a very strong objection to it is: An answer that answers every objection to any action, for any of God’s behaviors (good or bad) really answers nothing.

Why did God ask you to fly your plane into the building? Why did you go on the crusades? Why do you sacrifice your children to the volcano? Why do you believe these things even though there is science that disagrees? Why does God allow priests to rape? Why does that kid have cancer? Why does God allow Satan to run rampant? Why is there evil? Why is there a Hell? Ad nauseam. “I don’t understand why God does things, but He is good.”

 

God should have made us smarter or dumber if He really wanted us to believe in Him. Not only does the majority of humanity fail to believe in this God (narrow is the path…), but even some of those who think they do, will not make the cut (sheep and the goats).

 

Also, I take offenses to your calling my analogies ineffective. Keep in mind, these are my arguments, I created them. The chainsaw analogy isn’t something I read on the internet. I happen think it is quite useful and good. Either it doesn’t make my point understood or it does. In one case it can be called ineffective, in the other case it is not my fault. Perhaps a good reread is required before you decide they are ineffective.

 

Here are my questions for you: How are we supposed to determine if what the Bible says is true or not? Is there some standard by which we can judge the Bible? And what is it? And when the Bible doesn’t measure up to the standard, what happens? If the standard takes the back seat, was it ever a standard at all? If there is no standard, or if the standard is the Bible itself: if you applied this logic to any other holy book, what would happen?

 

And how many things in the Bible or in biblical history can you point to and say, “I don’t understand why God did it, but I know He is good.” And if He does something that doesn’t look good, who has the final word on it? Do you believe that God is good because of what He says about Himself or because of His actions?

 

Regarding Christopher Hitchens, yes, I have listened to him debate William Lane Craig. Here is the link again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBx4vvlbZ8&feature=related
In summary, Please answer my two questions above about choice and atheism/agnosticism directly without any ineffective analogies. If you are a truth seeker as you say, you should be able to give me a straight answer on two straightforward questions. After that, if you will view the entire debate between Hitchens and Craig, as I have, I think that would produce the most effective talking points and we can take it from there.

I have watched the Craig/Hitchens debate and have no desire to rehash why Hitchen’s doesn’t believe, he is much more eloquent, well spoken and has a far greater accent than do I. He can speak for himself. Also, for those of you who don’t have 2 hours to sit through the debate, SPOILER: Hitchens murders Craig (read the comments, look at the likes, I’m really surprised you chose this debate to link to). If you want to see Hitch (pick something small and watchable http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=078s5bCXBS4) or Craig debate, there are much better way to hear what they have to say than sitting through this… Also, there is a movie called Collision (I think it is pretty fair, where Hitchens debates Wilson in a movie format. It’s a million times easier to watch than watching a sit-down debate, also Wilson does a better job than Craig, he’s less dry, has a better range of arguments, and is more personable than Craig, you can find it in the library or on Netflix.) If you want to point people to Hitchens vs. Anyone in the effort that they might be swayed one way or the other I absolutely welcome this. Let them listen to what he says about Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, the Catholic Church and agree whole heartily. I am sure there isn’t a Christian reading this who would disagree with him, until he turns upon them.

 

I would also like to reiterate my point, or rather allow you to reiterate my point for me. The Hitchens Clip you linked to earlier, is a clip that is edited by Christians to present the Christian view. I believe I made the obfuscating ineffective analogy about listening to Christians make the case for atheism being akin to going to a Mercedes Dealership to hear the benefits of a BMW. Also, you are correct that Dawkin’s won’t debate Craig… But the real question is: Why? I would suggest a quick google search… something along the lines of “why won’t dawkins debate craig?” You can read Dawkins’ in his own words.
 

I am a huge fan of the marketplace of ideas. Let us bring out all the ideas into the light and see which makes more sense, something the church is notorious for opposing.


Brian

First my apologies, for the delay, I didn’t know that you had moved the blog or even responded to my last post until yesterday.

 

My motivation in dialoging with you was primarily to protect the faith of our church members who looked up to you as an authority figure, spiritual guide and clergy. Often people in business and professionals have fiduciary responsibility to those charged to their care. For example counselers must protect the privacy of their clients and act in their best interests, even at personal cost to the themselves. In my view, you have if not a fiduciary responsibility, something like it to the Church that gave you pastoral authority and trust, and particularly to the people entrusted to your spiritual care. Fiduciary relationships extend beyond periods of employment. You had no good reason to publically declare your atheism, use social networks and set up a blog that attacks the core values and faith of the people of your former church. This behavior may serve your agenda, but in my view, at the expense of betraying the people previously in your care.

 

My secondary motivation was to try to convince you of the grave error I believe you’ve made, and encourage you to return to the faith. If you truly listened to the entire Craig vs Hitchens debate, and if you truly believe that Hitchens “murdered” Craig, then you are totally closed minded and hardened to the point where nothing I could say would make a difference. Concluding arguments are the most important part of a debate where the debaters summarize their strong points as forcefully as they can. In Craig vs Hitchens, didn’t you notice that Hitchens declined to even give a concluding argument? It seems he offered no concluding argument because even he recognized he had no points. Zero. Craig defeated every single argument against the existence of God and Hitchens had no positive arguments for atheism. Hence, your interpretation of the debate tells me that dialoging with you would be pointless.

 

Moreover, I’m feeling a little exploited, like you want to use me to give you a platform to promote your atheistic agenda, or provide you with entertainment or whatever. This is not a game, I don’t have the time, and I don’t want to encourage your endevor in any way. Besides, neither you or I are bringing the “A” game in these matters. Therefore if you or someone viewing this wants to observe a debate on these issues I suggest that he or she can visit William Lane Craig’s website, or Paul Copan http://www.paulcopan.com/blogs/.

 

I will not continue to participate in any online blog or dialogue with you.

 

If you demonstrated any openness to Jesus Christ, I might consider dialoguing with you privately, so that you can explore these issues without the public pressure to win the argument, and without the grandstanding. If you like that sort of thing, there are plenty of blogs already out there in which you may participate.

 

You may post this email. And if anyone viewing this is a sincere seeker, or a Christian who wants answers, I’d be happy to dialogue with you personally and privately. My email is grhaggertyjr@gmail.com As previously stated, I’m convinced there are adequate, and reasonable answers to the charges that Brian has leveled or may level against Jesus Christ, God and the Bible.

 

Sincerely,

Bob Haggerty


Bob,
Thanks for taking the time to write, I believe I understand your position. I will consider the debate closed, and I will post our final remarks on the page to explain why the debate is ending. I must say, I am disappointed in the way this turned out.
 

I am disappointed by your final verdict that I am close-minded, hard-hearted and a betrayer of people because of my beliefs. I am incredibly disappointed in your failure to address my analogies or criticisms of the faith, namely, The Chainsaw Analogy, the questions of the standard that we judge religions on and the idea that faith should take precidence over reason when things don’t make sense. All these questions I asked in my posts. Not only did you fail to address one single topic that I brought up, (and at best misunderstood my analogies and only picked at flaws you created through your own misunderstandings,) but you dragged the Hitchen’s debate into the mix and called me names because I paid it little attention. It is as if we had a car accident and when we began talking about the events that precipitated the accident, you started talking about the tax rates in Wisconsin. I am still very interested in hearing where the chainsaw analogy is flawed…
 

To point out that I have some sort of responsibility to keep quiet on facebook or my private blog simply looks like a weak case for censorship, to which I will simply reiterate a point I have made several times, Christians like to think that they are open minded and have listened to what the opposing side says, but they will only listen if it comes from a Christian who is recounting what an atheist believes. By telling me that I shouldn’t publicly proclaim what I believe on my blog or on facebook, you simply end up looking like you are afraid of the marketplace of ideas. Besides, there are hundreds of posts every day proclaiming the wonder and beauty of God, why shouldn’t one person be allowed to say that the wonder and beauty is just as real without God, not to mention makes more sense.
 

We all know that Christianity is losing the battle for people, either because it is genuinely weak or because God designed it that way (Narrow is the path and few will enter says the same person who claims that they are not willing for any to perish.) I either have the fiduciary responsibility to teach and preach what I believe to be true, or I do not. Why you think I had no good reason to declare my atheism is absolutely beyond me. Would you say the same to a Muslim who left Islam for Christianity? If not, I believe that you are being intellectually dishonest. Beside the fact that I explained why I left quietly, and why I disclosed my atheism: either I tell the story of why I left the Church (the real reason) or other people will tell it. The cost was too dear for me to allow others to tell it, and when I found out it was being told, I acted accordingly.
 

As for betraying the people in my care, that is a pretty narrow view. Let’s just for a minute assume that atheism is right, if you can. Am I still betraying them?


I explained why the Hitchens/Craig debate wasn’t important to me. It is not why I left the church. And I agree, my interpretation of the debate should tell you that dialoging about it would be pointless, because it doesn’t matter to me.
 


Also, as for neither of us bringing an A game to this… This is a question that every person must answer for themselves, and no one I personally know has an A game, but we are all responsible to answer the question the best we can. I am of the opinion that if a good and just God exists, It would honor a genuine/careful search for truth that ends in a mistake over mindless faith (even when that faith comes to the correct conclusion) every day. But we both know that is not how the God of the Bible works.

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3 comments

  1. Praying for you Brian and April. I am not a theologian at all but God is very real in my own life. I nearly lost my oldest son to a near drowning. He was almost 8 years old and I cried out to God and He answered my prayer and the prayers of many others who were there that day. He is a grown man and married now. It was 20 years ago. That is only one of many incidents of God working in my life I have known God most of my life and have had times when I ventured on my own but couldn’t fathom my life without God.. You are too young to give up on God. He is real but I cannot make you believe. That is where Faith comes in. Faith is very real more real to me than any discussions on proving God’s existence. Man cannot prove or disprove God – but Jesus can speak to your heart if you would open up to Him and really Listen. Jesus does not force you to believe or force you to have faith in Him. He gives you choice.

    I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you and your family. You sound like you are hurting. My heart breaks for you and I pray that you find your way home.

    Sincerely,

    Pam (Ryan’s mom)

  2. “I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I’m a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”
    –Isaac Asimov
    http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/asimov.htm#SCI_BIBLE
    Bob seems fearful and defensive. I don’t think it has as much to do, with what he believes, as to how he believes it. Why so serious, people? God has a sense of humor! Wheels in the sky, turning Nebuchadnez’zar into a wild beast, The Tower of Babel…
    When Asimov said “emotion”, he was talking about “faith”. There is no way to prove in this world, what lies in the next one. So whatever you want to believe, that’s what’s real for you. It’s not, as Bob says, “both sides of the story”, either. There are as many different ways of being Christian, as there are of being Muslim, heretic or atheist. Why not consider all sides of the story?

  3. Brian, I have a question. When you were a believer, would you have considered yourself Calvanist or Arminian? I ask because I’m trying to understand the chainsaw analogy. I would guess based on the analogy that you were more Arminian than Calvinistic but I’m not sure. I’m wondering, where you believe choice came into the picture of Adam and Eve? Do you believe they had a choice to pick up the chainsaw or was this “predestined” in some way? Thanks for answering!

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