July 19, 2010

Some Questions for Non-Believers: Don't You Ever Wonder?

Buona sera. I keep wondering about things, trying imagine what some people are thinking and feeling. So, I'm going to get some of these things out there.

Don't you ever wonder if you're wrong? Perhaps you've stated in no uncertain terms that there is no God, or that you hate religion itself, that you hate Christians. And yet, looking up at the stars on a clear night, don't you think that maybe it did not happen by chance after all?

Don't you ever wonder if the Bible is true? You are in a small minority, and there are billions of people that claim to be Christians. I don't care about "majority rules" or anything, but doesn't the huge number of "believers" give you second thoughts?

Don't you ever wonder if Satan exists? Some atheists will say that the existence of evil (or "harm") in the world is proof that God does not exist. Many believers say that the Bible, the Talmud and other books describe a being that wants to destroy the work of the Creator. Doesn't that ever make you think that there is a bad devil that has thrown a spanner into the Creator's works?

Don't you ever wonder if the statements made by Christians are correct after all? Perhaps you think, deep inside, that it's silly after all to believe that everything that someone says is wrong, and that all of the Bible is "fairy tales". Have you considered the truths that you cannot legitimately deny, even if you do not like where they come from?

Don't you ever wonder about the Christians living under persecution, who forgive their torturers and pray for their abusers? I know I have trouble being forgiving, I do have to admit it. It's hard to show love to enemies even under the best of times, but under torture! And sometimes the torturers become converted. How can someone have peace and love, and show forgiveness?

Don't you ever wonder if you should look at things from God's point of view? When we expect the infinite Creator of the universe to fit into our finite ideas instead of trying to understand where he's coming from, we might be limiting our own understanding by our demands and presuppositions.

Don't you ever wonder if you're simply being too proud? Maybe your ideas need to be reconsidered. Perhaps you're basing your ideas not on logic, but on emotional reactions. Maybe starting from a standpoint of being "mad at God, I don't want him to exist" is not the best way to go?

Don't you ever wonder if maybe you haven't been fair to yourself in the way you try to understand God? Or that you haven't been fair to God himself, in that you haven't honestly tried to understand him?

Don't you ever wonder if Christians are right after all, and you're in a world of hurt right now?


I'm just asking.

7 comments:

Chris B said...

Don't you ever wonder if you're wrong?

Of course. It was only by wondering if I was wrong that I came to reject Christianity in the first place. Yes, I often wonder if there isn't some guidance behind the universe, although I don't limit the possibilities I contemplate to any one existing set of beliefs. For what it's worth, I do not assert that God does not exist; I'm probably what you would call agnostic. I don't really feel certain in my lack of beliefs.


Don't you ever wonder if the Bible is true?

Not really, just as I don't wonder if any non-Biblical mythology is true. Granted, I recognize the Bible's historical and cultural relevance, so I don't believe that the entire thing is false, but I see no reason to seriously consider the supernatural bits, regardless of how many believe in it.


Don't you ever wonder if Satan exists?

I'm agnostic about the idea of any supernatural entity existing; whether that entity is Good (God?) or Evil (Satan?) or both is a question I'm not yet prepared to contemplate.


Don't you ever wonder if the statements made by Christians are correct after all?

Well, self-proclaimed Christians say a wide range of things; some of them I agree with, some of them I don't.


Don't you ever wonder about the Christians living under persecution, who forgive their torturers and pray for their abusers?

I do, now and then. It takes a remarkable amount of patience and love to be able to forgive anyone who tortures them; if I ever encountered a person who did such a thing, I would have to seriously consider their beliefs and their lifestyle; even if I was skeptical of their specific theology, I could probably learn a great deal from their philosophy.

Conversely, so-called Christians who can't even forgive relatively innocuous comments directed at them in an internet discussion make me thoughtful; I can't help but feel that someone who gets so outraged at something so minor has some deep problems that their theology can not help. Indeed, it seems odd to me that people like this share any personality traits with the hypothetical Christians who forgive their torturers; it's interesting what a wide range of philosophies Christianity include; were the effect of Christianity more uniform, I might give it more consideration.


Don't you ever wonder if you should look at things from God's point of view?

Even assuming that there is a God, I would not presume to know what His (or Her) point of view was, or even to think that such a point of view could be accurately communicated in man-made texts.


Don't you ever wonder if maybe you haven't been fair to yourself in the way you try to understand God?

Given the time and effort I've dedicated to understanding such things, I'm at a loss for how I could be any more fair.


Don't you ever wonder if Christians are right after all, and you're in a world of hurt right now?

No more or less than I wonder if Muslims or Hindus or Wiccans are right. Given the number of Christians who assert that life is meaningless if God does not exist, I tend to suspect I've contemplated their opinion much more fairly than they've contemplated mine.



Thanks for asking!

Stormbringer said...

Chris, thanks for your response. Naturally, I disagree with your conclusions and think you could investigate further. But then, this was about what goes inside more than about "head knowledge".

Stormbringer said...

By the way, the forgiveness thing about Christians...it happens in all circumstances, that Christians unfortunately act like humans, showing emotions and all. Too many Christians need to work on that. Even when I was strong in my faith (before I rudely put God on the back burner for 15 years until I recently came back to my faith), patience was not my strongest point. I know I have a great deal of growth in Christ to do, and so do many others.

It is a mistake to judge God by the actions of his followers. (If any Christians are reading this, we all need to remember 2 Cor. 5.20 and work on that representation.)

The appeal to have the same mind and attitude that Jesus had is clear in the Bible, and too many of us miss it.

By the way, there is nothing at all "hypothetical" about Christians undergoing torture. That article is forthcoming, probably this week.

Chris B said...

Stormbringer: Chris, thanks for your response. Naturally, I disagree with your conclusions and think you could investigate further.


Could you elaborate, please? What parts of my conclusions do you disagree with, specifically? What do you think I should investigate?


The appeal to have the same mind and attitude that Jesus had is clear in the Bible, and too many of us miss it.


Unfortunately, yes. My point was that, if you were offering these scenarios of patient and loving torture victims as evidence of Christianity's validity (which it seemed you were doing, I apologize if I misunderstood), surely you must likewise accept the opposite behavior as evidence to the contrary.

That is, if two people possess the same quality (Christianity), and one possesses traits that the other does not (patience & love), it does not seem logical to me to suppose that the shared quality is a factor in causing the traits; if they have different traits, surely we should look for some difference between them to explain the different traits.


By the way, there is nothing at all "hypothetical" about Christians undergoing torture. That article is forthcoming, probably this week.

Fair enough; I used the term only because, to the best of my knowledge, we were not discussing any specific case that had occurred. I will concede that such things do happen, unfortunately.

Stormbringer said...

I have to stop responding from the workplace, and do it from home when I'm less pressured. Then there's a better chance of giving a decent response.

Chris, I would like (I would like? As if that's a point for consideration) you, or anyone else who has not closed off all consideration that maybe, just perhaps, God does exist after all, to investigate further. That is why I put up links for apologetics in the side column. There are many people who have studied for years so that they can explain scientific reasons for the existence of God, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, validity of trusting the Bible, difficulties people have with the Bible, and more.

However, it is somewhat of an emotional appeal as well. I do not know if you read my other material, but I wrote that nobody is completely unbiased. My bias is that, on a "feelings" level, that if people disbelieve in God, they must not have investigated enough, or rejected valid evidence out of hand based on their own biases. I freely admit that I would love to have you come to know God in a personal way through Jesus. If satisfying intellectual needs is essential, so be it, the links are available. I can answer some things, but I will not engage in deep philosophical methods.

You did understand me correctly on the patience under torture item. The flaw that I perceive in your reasoning is human nature. Yes, Christ changes people. But only to the extent that they will let him. There are psychological, society, sociological and yes, spiritual matters happening. Christians in Communist and Muslim countries are tortured and pray for their captors. Mediocre Christians in the United States will curse out the driver that cut them off in traffic. Perhaps duress produces deeper spirituality? It would take a greater mind than mine to answer that one. But I know of Christians in the USA that exhibit the qualities of oppressed Christians when they are receiving one-on-one persecution.

Sorry these answers are so long. You're a decent sort, and have been civil here and in other places. Somehow, I feel (I know, I know, that's being subjective) that it's not over for you.

I would like (heh, there's that non-point again) for you to consider Jesus, to ask God to make himself real to you. You just may hear something deep inside.

Chris B said...

Stormbringer: Chris, I would like...you, or anyone else who has not closed off all consideration that maybe, just perhaps, God does exist after all, to investigate further.


Suppose I do investigate further. How do I know that I'm heading down the right path by investigating Christianity and apologetics? Who's to say that I shouldn't be looking into Islam to find God, or Hinduism or Wicca or Buddhism something else entirely?

Are you asking me to consider that God may exist...or to consider that your understanding of God is correct?


There are many people who have studied for years so that they can explain scientific reasons for the existence of God, the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead, validity of trusting the Bible, difficulties people have with the Bible, and more.

I understand that. However, people who go hunting for evidence that supports what they want to believe will never be as persuasive or reliable as people who examine all the evidence and base their conclusions on the facts, rather than their biases.

Sufficiently clever and motivated people can always find plausible-sounding reasons to believe what they've already decided they want to believe.


My bias is that, on a "feelings" level, that if people disbelieve in God, they must not have investigated enough, or rejected valid evidence out of hand based on their own biases.

Respectfully, you don't know what my past experiences have been, what I've contemplated or investigated or believed, or why I've rejected what I've rejected.


The flaw that I perceive in your reasoning is human nature. Yes, Christ changes people. But only to the extent that they will let him.

This actually kind of agrees with my notion that there is something other than Christianity at work in those who pray for their tormentors. What you see as the ability to let Christ change them, I see as a personal quality fully responsible for the love and forgiveness you attribute to Christianity.


But I know of Christians in the USA that exhibit the qualities of oppressed Christians when they are receiving one-on-one persecution.

I'm sure you do. However, we both know of "Christians" who exhibit no such qualities; furthermore, I know of non-Christians who exhibit the same qualities you mention; hopefully you can understand why I'm not quite convinced that Christianity is what causes such qualities.


You're a decent sort, and have been civil here and in other places.

Thanks for noticing. :) Please think of this the next time you're tempted to make a sweeping statement about atheists; we're not all the same.

Stormbringer said...

No, I do not presume to know anyone else's experiences. Sometimes, I can get general ideas and use generalities, but that only goes so far. Just like few people know that I lived like a basic heathen for several years before returning to my faith last April; now some people don't know what to do with me lol!

At any rate, I can hope, and pray, that you will come to know Jesus. It's a process that I'm growing in, and would like to share with you, and with others. My motivation is not to "be right" or "win" an argument. Instead, it is sharing because of my concern for your ultimate destination. Even if you and others reject this, people like me have that concern for eternity in mind.

Thanks for hearing me out. Now I have to get back to work. It's soooo difficult to resist giving a reply...

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