Embracing Christ… and other bad ideas.

I got this e-mail the other day from a reader. I don’t normally post reader e-mails (although we do state on our site that we reserve the right to do so). I am posting this one because it is very reflective of several “middle-ground” e-mails we get from believers. They agree with some of what we say, but have problems with other things, and just can’t let go of their god beliefs. It isn’t “fan” mail and it isn’t “hate” mail. Below is what Andrew Wakelam sent me… and my response.

"Mmm, Jesus, do you work out?"

“Read several articles on your site and I gotta say, you guys have some compelling evidence to back up your claims about Jesus, the bible, and religion in general.  (I’ll have to do some more research to see how reliable some of those claims really are.)  Anyway, I have a question.  If I don’t get an answer that’s fine, but if I did it would be greatly appreciated. (I am not trying to rope you guys into a debate; I would genuinely appreciate an honest answer.)

Here goes:  As atheists, you believe that religion is one of the core reasons for war and death in the world.  For the world to truly become a place of peace and tranquility, you claim we must seek and attain personal enlightenment beyond the realms of mere faith and religious practice.  This automatcially excludes the idea of God.  My question is, if this is the case, then why is the world becoming an increasingly crapppier place?  I am the first to admit that believers (christians as well as other denominations) are just as responsible for this as anyone.  Alienation, hate, wars, etc.  All are a result of intolerance.  But that is not Jesus’ fault.  His was a message of love to all peoples.  Self-proclaimed christians have followed your advice.  We have embraced the selfish idea of doing whatever feels good, and thrown the servant’s attitude which we are supposed to have out the window(except, of course, on Sundays).  Most of the people in this world, including christians, are following your creed of ‘do whatever you feel is right and are compelled by science to do.’  So again I ask the question, if your way is supposed to work, then why is the world growing worse and worse by the minute?  (By the way, that evidence is concrete.  Go to any archive and you’ll see that divorce, rape, murders, kidnappings, wars, etc. are all on the rise in almost every region globally.  Over 28 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking alone.)

You probably don’t care, but here is something to think about.  If we as a people sincerely made an effort to die to ourselves, pick up our cross daily, and actually follow Jesus and what he said (Luke 9:23), just imagine what kind of world we would be living in right now.  I actually agree with you guys on one point.  Holding onto religious practice is futile; instead, we need to embrace Christ.

Thank you for your time.”

My response…

First of all, our premise is that Jesus never existed at all. There is substantial evidence to support this (start here: http://www.atheismresource.com/the-bible – buy the book). The world isn’t “getting worse”. Society is adjusting, but the happiest countries on the planet (and the ones with the lowest crime) have the lowest amount of religion: http://www.atheismresource.com/2010/the-happiest-countries-have-the-lowest-rates-of-religiosity The news covers the world now more than ever before and we are more accurate with our statistics, but, with advances in medical and scientific knowledge, humans are better off today than they have ever been in the past. Many people think the US would be better if us atheists left. Watch this video for some disturbing (backed up) facts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbef07aQtB8&feature=player_embedded

I never claim the the atheist community has the answers and should be emulated. I simply claim that the religious community is leading us blindly down an alley to nowhere. The moral compass associated with the bible has many errors. That doesn’t mean we can’t take good from it… but it was written by man, not any god. Humans are amazing creatures and have the ability to do amazing things. Focusing on some unprovable afterlife and 2,000 rules set up in a book that has been soooo revised, edited, and changed over the centuries simply takes focus off of advancing humanity and helping one another.

I hope this give you some look into how we believe. Secular Humanism is about using science and human ingenuity to fix the world’s problems… instead of praying about them. There are over 5,000 gods that have been created over human history. You are an atheist to all of them minus one. We just go one god further than you. What makes your god unique? Honestly, there isn’t anything. And, there is ZERO proof for his existence. If you want to live based on the “good” parts of the bible, fine. That doesn’t hurt anyone. But, if you are one of the 20% of fundamentalists in this country that feels that the earth is only 6,000 years old, prayer heals, Jesus is coming back soon, men are superior to women, gays are evil, evolution is a myth, and the bible is the unalterable word of god, then I have a problem with you. If not, no problems here… your beliefs don’t hurt me.

I always tell Christians, “If you use your religion as a crutch, I won’t come up and knock it out from underneath your arm. But, if you beat me or anyone else I love over the head with it, then I reserve the right to smash it into a million pieces.”

  • Nutmeg

    That was a brilliant response. Well done.

  • http://www.arekphotography.com arek

    My response would be that even tough the world, in general, is getting worse it's usually focused in the areas where religions are dominant.

    You don't have many wars, rapes or murders in highly secular countries such of western Europe (exuding those that took too many of immigrants form muslim countries).

    Now think of the countries that really have it bad… what is the role of religion there? (include USA there too)

  • Luis F. Prieto

    I guess that the xtian writer has not read one of my favorite bible quotes: Mathew 10:34 "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword". If there was such a guy as Jesus, he said black & white over and over. In reality, the “good” god, the “loving” god is just a product of propaganda; once people take time to read the bible, it is expected to find criminal acts being ordered and justified by the same god. I agree with Adam, the world is getting better, and for that we need to check statistics regarding human development, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, economic liberties, and a huge long list. Now, compare those with societies ruled by religious theocrats. Jianism is in fact the only one true religion that can show off how peaceful its adherents are; the rest? Well, just read the news.

    Happy reading.

    Luis F. Prieto

    luisfelipeprieto@yahoo.com

  • john

    I am a hardcore atheist. that is, I don't follow any beliefs, but I absolutely do not believe any religion or gods. I would like to point out that a lot of atheists are forced to react, negatively, against christianity because of the onslaught from christians. but there are some good things about religion. the first one being that it was from day one the glue that held civilization together. nations, cultures, societies, tribes, clans, families. yes, the degradation we are seeing lately is due to less God. but not exactly "God", it's a common purpose, a common decency that's lacking. that's what role "God" played- a nation of atheists just aren't glued together like christians are. so it's a two-edged sword: lots of God and a healthy society OF christians, at war with all other nonbelievers on the planet, or little God and an incongruent society. need a balance. the balance is called "tolerance". really, we need you, and you need us. can't have all of one or all of the other.

    no, it isn't Jesus' fault (fictional or not) because you may notice, christians do NOT follow Jesus' teachings. none of them. if they did christians would be less obnoxious, less warlike, more friendly, more tolerant. but less involved in society, and that's what christianity was and is all about.

    christians are terrified of others "doing what they feel like" because they only think of the bad things, and don't trust people. there is some merit to that, there are evil people around. but that ignores the good people, and christians forget that if there weren't good people too, there wouldn't be christianity! they put the cart before the horse. good people came first, allowing christianity to spread. and there are leftover people who are still good without christianity. when you say "pick up a cross" every day, what's the difference between that and "feeling like being a good person" every day? an excuse for yourself, that's all. you don't NEED christianity. you will find that a good person, trying to be a good person, will, all by themself, sound a lot like Jesus.

    • Adam

      Good comment, John… thanks for sharing.

  • Mario Melendez

    Greetings to all of you. As a "theist", I do wonder if most of our problems (when "theists" and "non-theists" talk to each other) come to: 1) Do we argue because we truly want to solve a problem, or 2) Do we argue simply to prove we are "better" than the "other"…

  • Joshua Fisher

    John, you make a lot of assertions there, but you don't really back them up. What is this degradation we are seeing? What evidence do you have to support your assertion that it is due to less God? You assert that a nation of atheists isn't glued together like a christian nation. What is your support for this claim? From everything I have ever read, the more secular the nation, the better off everyone is. The USA has a high percentage of people who believe in God, and I do not think it is a good example of a congruent society. It is rife with internal conflict. Bald assertions just don't go far with skeptics. Sorry.

    Mario, Most of the atheists I know argue because we want to solve a problem. We do not think we are better than theists, just more "correct".

  • Mark

    For what its worth, it seems to me that if there really were a god, or gods, that it would be completely unambiguous and that there would be no question about it and no other religions. In other words, if it were true then the pure "truthiness" of it would be so overwhelming that it would just be accepted as another fact of life, the same way that we accept gravity, or thermodynamics. It would just be a simple fact. But such is not the case. Thousands of years and 30 thousand gods later and we're still killing each other over the "One True God". The fact of the matter is that there are only two possibilities when we die. Either there is something, or there is nothing. If there is, as I expect, nothing, then it doesn't matter. If, however, there is something after we pass then the possibilities are absolutely endless and completely beyond speculation. So enjoy your life, have fun, love, and be happy.