Four Questions for Atheists and Agnostics

670pxatheism_symbol-svg_

Calling all atheists and agnostics. May I ask you a question?

Okay, maybe four.

What do, or who do, you believe in since you don’t believe in God?

Is it hard to accept the death of a loved one?

Was there ever a time in your life when you believed in God, or in a higher power?

If so, what happened? Did you just grow out of believing, or did something/someone disappoint or hurt you? You may be as specific as you’d like.

Some questions will always remain unanswered. But some questions have never been answered simply because they’ve never been asked.

People allow hurts and disappointment to steal any semblance of hope and faith because they are either afraid to question their feelings, their situation, or the authority figure in their life.

Not asking results in not receiving.

Not seeking ends with not finding.

Don’t knock, and you’ll always stay on the outside.

And if you don’t receive or find, or if you find yourself always on the outside of a relationship with God, it’s not because there is no God.

So let’s talk about it. Would you please, first, ask yourself the above questions?

Then, if you still would like to dialogue with me, please do so in the comment section of this post.

Thanks.

6 Comments

  1. Paul

    Hi, Jan. Our friend Wayne sent me here to be a thorn in your flesh that cannot be removed and to remind you that God’s grace is sufficient. I will try to give short answers to your questions.

    What do, or who do, you believe in since you don’t believe in God?

    We default to the common natural world that we all live in every day and try to apprehend it as carefully as possible, minus the false beliefs. Rather than replace God with a substitute, we simply say there is probably no God – or the benefits and wish fulfillment of positing one – so we need to live within the limits of reality and realize that what he hope and wish for might simply not manifest. We try to accept the world as it is no matter how futile, hopeless, dangerous, disillusioning, or difficult it is rather that try to make our lives more manageable and comfortable with beliefs that might be beneficial, give us hope, and make life more manageable, but we simply cannot justify having them.

    I almost hear this question as my Catholic friend asking me, “How can you be a Christian having given up the pope, the catechism, the priests, the Eucharist, Mary, the saints, purgatory, and having cut books out of the Bible?” The insinuation is, “If you don’t have all of this, what do you replace it with, and how do you live without it?” The answer, as a Protestant evangelical is, “Nothing, we’re just fine, or even better, without all of that.”

    Is it hard to accept the death of a loved one?

    Mourning the loss of loved ones is natural and innate not only for humans of any religion, class, time, or culture, but even among other mammals and primates. Perhaps there are a tiny fraction of hardened sociopaths unmoved by death and even killing, but they are anomalies.

    If you mean is it difficult being a naturalist with the belief that a person is gone forever and not waiting for us in the afterlife, I can’t think of any atheist who wouldn’t want life to continue in a better place and see their loved one’s again. Even when a person isn’t dead, but away, we suffer separation anxiety, so the permanent commitment of death – of never seeing a loved one again – leaves a certain amount of stress, anxiety, trauma and heartbreak that we want immediate relief from. Belief that your loved ones are waiting for you somewhere else in a paradise and that you will see them again in a matter of decades gives us hope, something to look forward to, and comfort, but atheists don’t see any good reason to think our loves ones are alive in a paradise waiting for us. For the most part we simply accept that they are gone and the chances are slim they are alive elsewhere. As an aside, it’s more bearable to think of loved ones as annihilated in the ground rather than burning forever at the hands of a certain God!

    Was there ever a time in your life when you believed in God, or in a higher power?

    I believed in Something More as a child and was born again at fourteen (but not “truly saved” say my Calvinist friends) and had a series of disillusionments and attempts to return in the years since, that finally culminated in reluctantly accepting practical atheism in 2006. (I accepted this a month before Wired Magazine coined the phrase “The New Atheists,” so I was just in time for the birth of that bundle of joy to start crying and pooping on everything. They were like John MacArthur, except not saved.)

    If so, what happened? Did you just grow out of believing, or did something/someone disappoint or hurt you? You may be as specific as you’d like.

    For me it was realizing Christianity is false. It’s as false as Islam, Mormonism, and all of the other religions we pick apart with our apologetics and skepticism. The skeptical case against Christianity, for me, was much sounder than the answers apologists were giving. Our best evidence still didn’t get us anywhere near the level of certainty or truth we were so triumphantly claiming to have. At the end of the day, I realized all religions, including mine, were man-made and false. The new atheists are fond on using the illustration that a Christian is an atheist in regards to all other Gods and religions – he doesn’t believe in them for good reason and can use critical evaluation to show they are false, just like an atheist does. “We just go one God further and say that Christianity also fails the test of critical scrutiny.” The idea here is that it is not moral rebellion, not wanting an authority, loving sin and darkness, being deceived by our hearts, being blinded by Satan, being hurt by the church, being disillusioned by bad Christians, being angry with God for one reason or another, or being ignorant of and not considering Christian apologetics. We find all of these accusations a terrible attempt to change the subject, insult our character (When we critique religions with apologetics, it’s because we’re smart and rational, but when you do, it’s moral depravity), and not listen to the real reasons we don’t believe: That just like you do with other faiths, we thought the evidence through for Christianity and have good reason to doubt it.

    This being said, no one atheist can speak for another, so I would agree that there are many people who are atheists for bad, shallow, and immature reasons who might not have thought anything through at all.

    If you stay in a false belief system, you will often be disappointed and frustrated that reality will not lend itself to your beliefs. Doubt, rather than something that comes from Satan or that needs to be dealt with, might be there to help you see you are on the wrong path and need to correct yourself. Doubt can free you from false beliefs. I listened to the skeptics with an open mind and saw that Christianity did not add up intellectually, and this helped explain why things never added up experientially or existentially either. To sustain my faith, I had to settle for mere faith, empty platitudes meant to encourage, or the endless runaround of conflicting probable answers. I couldn’t do it anymore.

    So after reading my incredible answers, I expect you will be dropping out of ministry and lining your bookshelves with Richard Dawkins? It’s okay, your Christian friends will still let you show up and eat potluck.

    • Thanks for commenting. I must say I’m going to take a day or two to answer. For one reason, I want to take time to choose my words accurately. Second reason, we’re out of town preparing for my mother-in-law’s funeral.

      I’ll pass on the Dawkins books, but I might try some from Nye. Jan

  2. Anonymous

    I’m not sure that you understand the definitions of those two words. An atheist does not hold a belief in a god or deity. An agnostic does not report to know whether or not God exists. You can be a believer and an agnostic. Also, to which god am I an atheist?

  3. Dechha1981

    Okay, maybe four.

    What do, or who do, you believe in since you don’t believe in God?

    Define “believe in”

    Is it hard to accept the death of a loved one?

    Yes. What’s that got to do with anything?

    Was there ever a time in your life when you believed in God, or in a higher power?

    Yep. Believed in Santa longer than God, actually.

    If so, what happened? Did you just grow out of believing, or did something/someone disappoint or hurt you? You may be as specific as you’d like.

    No I just thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that Science is based on evidence whereas Jehovah is no different from any other god.

    Some questions will always remain unanswered. But some questions have never been answered simply because they’ve never been asked.
    People allow hurts and disappointment to steal any semblance of hope and faith because they are either afraid to question their feelings, their situation, or the authority figure in their life.

    What the hell has “feelings” got to do with belief? …oh, I see, this tells me a lot about you.

    Not asking results in not receiving.

    Not seeking ends with not finding.

    Don’t knock, and you’ll always stay on the outside.

    And if you don’t receive or find, or if you find yourself always on the outside of a relationship with God, it’s not because there is no God.

    You… You don’t know anything about Skepticism, do you?

    So let’s talk about it. Would you please, first, ask yourself the above questions?

    Then, if you still would like to dialogue with me, please do so in the comment section of this post.

Comments are closed.