September 20, 2010
by Cowboy Bob Sorensen
Buona sera. Ready for some brutal honesty? Good. (I've revised this a bit on March 15, 2015, the original was published on September 20, 2010.)
I have had many discussions with atheists, atheists pretending to be agnostics, agnostics, deists acting like atheists, anti-theists, evolutionists and what have you over the years. Also, I have been involved in drive-by postings, both to and from these groups. Many of these exchanges have been online, whether this Weblog, other peoples' Weblogs, forums, other social media and the like. For the rest of this article, I'm going to stick with the term "atheist", since those are the majority of my encounters, and the rest are not exactly "believers".
I realize that atheist encounters from civil and intelligent people have been good for me.
"Have you gone completely nuts, Uncle Bob?"
Nope. I'm still partly looney, but not all the way yet.
I've learned some things. If people pay attention and use the experiences, they can grow from them.
The encounters with have helped me in several ways.
Sharpening my presentation. There have been times that I did not give enough attention to what I was saying, and they questioned things, such as, "Are you saying such and so?" Wow, it sounded like I said that, and I didn't want to, so I had to clarify.
Making me think. Similar to the above point, I have been asked about some things in the course of exchanges, and had to do some research (as well as make sure for myself what it is that I want to accomplish). And I have been asked some hard questions that were good for me to examine.
Realizing that we agree on some things. That's right! I have posted an article and comments to that effect, too. Neither of us like fake Christians (false converts), Christians that do not know their Bibles very well, and other things.
Civility. There was a time when the trolls would attack and I would send them home bleeding and crying. Yes, I still want to lash out, but I want to act in a manner pleasing to God. I admit that I have work to do. Mind you, some people have ridiculous images in their minds on what a Christian should be. Sorry, Sylvester, I can't match every individual's own concept of what a Christian should be. In addition, we have a right to stand up for ourselves and to point out where you are in the wrong, but we have to do it properly; there's a balance between standing up and being unduly harsh.
Sometimes, I have to rattle your cages to get your attention. You may perceive it as uncivil (sometimes I get excited, and you're right on that score once in a while), but I hope that I can get you to think instead of just react. When it comes to trolls, however, I just let them know that they're not fooling anyone; I've been around the Internet for quite a while.
It's funny when I'm being set up and you get surprised when I'm civil in my responses. Well, if you give a civil comment, that's what you'll receive. In fact, one guy was bragging that he wasn't going to be the first to start mouthing off and he waited for me to start something. The problem is, his first comment was antagonistic. I let it go through, anyway. Then he became recalcitrant and I had to stop discussing things with him.
I've learned how Internet atheists think. Frankly, you have a great deal of work to do. Getting into heavy philosophy strikes me as a way to dodge issues. And you love to play word games! Since my time is valuable and my blood pressure is supposed to be regulated, I'll simply cancel an obnoxious exchange. Also, I have learned that most Internet atheists are far different than the ones I have dealt with in real life. (Except for Scott back in Eighth Grade, who was ranting that "all Christians should be burned at the stake". Never did find out what brought that on.) Of course, when they get unpleasant, it's time to consider moving along.
You helped bring me back to my faith. Gather 'round, gang, it's testimony time. I wandered away from my faith for about fifteen years. There were several reasons. I'm still doing self-examination (a never-ending process), but I see now that I wanted to please myself instead of Jesus Christ. More and more sin entered my life. Although I never renounced the faith that I knew to be true, I put it all on the back burner.
The very second article that I wrote for this Weblog was in response to Internet atheists being obstreperous and illogical. I was defending my faith, even though I was more of a Buddhist than a Christian back then.
These encounters, plus several other factors that are not relevant to this article, helped me to realize where I really belonged, and I recommitted my life to Christ a few months ago. Now, I'm making up for lost time and learning quite a bit.
So, thanks to atheists &c for helping me to come back to Jesus, and the opportunities for growth that you have provided to me. Addendum: Much of the above can be applied to interactions with cultists, liberal Christians, evolutionists of various sorts, and more.