Letter to a Christian friend

I was thinking about some content I would like to add to my blog. As I have said in previous posts I am a closet atheist, just a few close friends and some of my family members know how I feel. I have a Facebook account and have many friends from my time growing up in the church. Being in the Midwest my facebook feed is generally filled with pictures like in my last post. I also saw a lot of religious based posts right after the election, seemed many Trump supporters were emboldened by their win (that seems to have died down lately … I wonder why?).

The point is I see those types of posts everyday and I generally don’t mind because many times I asked them to be my Facebook friend. But sometimes it gets to me  because I know I can’t post as freely as they can. I would lose contacts (which maybe I shouldn’t care if I did), some of my Christian friends would see the posts as direct attacks which I am attacking an idea not the people that believe it, and also I have a lot of family that does not know and I would like to keep it that way for now.

Then one evening I saw a post from an old youth minister that lives out of state, he’s not in the ministry anymore though. But I guess for some reason he wanted to share some of his thoughts regarding atheism. Let’s call him Bob…..

So here’s Bob’s post:

Here’s something I’ve been chewing on…. I think that the word ‘atheist’ doesn’t actually apply to anyone. Perhaps a better word might be, ‘Egotheist.’….that the contradiction of insisting there is no God may actually be a claim to personal deity…they have positioned themselves as ‘ultimate knowledge, judgement and sovereignty.’ Just had to put my thoughts down in text.

Most days I would just shake my head and scroll on but for some reason that night I felt it deserved an answer. I really did like this guy growing up so I tried to keep it as polite as possible and of course I couldn’t reply on his wall. This is what I sent him privately through messenger.

Hey Bob,

I just wanted to also give you some of my thoughts concerning your post. If you look into the definition of atheist you may find some contradictions to the description
you are using. Having a lack of belief in a god or gods is different than insisting there is no God.

I am not saying there are no atheist who will insist this but I would term them as gnostic atheists as opposed to the majority I have come across who are agnostic atheists – (there is no current knowledge or way to know if a claim of God is true… simply put lack of evidence).

Could God exist, sure… has this been objectively proven? In most atheists opinions no.  In what other aspects of life would we believe an incredible claim without sufficient evidence other than religion? … this is the basis of faith.
Lumping all atheist together as “egotheists” is the same as saying all Christians believe in transubstantiation, snake handling, the death penalty for homosexuals or magic underwear.

As to the rest of the post:

Ultimate knowledge – I would say most atheist embrace the idea that “I don’t know” is the best answer many times that can be given to a question. “I don’t know” spurs the act of investigation, opening your mind to new and different perspectives.
Science and technology are driven by these questions. In my experience most of the people who claim to have Ultimate Knowledge of how things were, are and will be tend to be quoting whatever is their favorite holy text they grew up with.

Which brings up another question, if one of these religions had a real grasp of ultimate truth wouldn’t we see an overwhelming conversion to that religion?

The number one predictor of what religion you are is where you were born, second would be what religion are your parents…. think about that. Deep down inside do
you believe that this is a decision a 10 year old can make when walking down the aisle on Sunday morning? How many ten year olds say dad, mom I know you are Mormon but I was thinking about becoming Jewish. Isn’t this a decision that God would want to be made using freewill of a mature and informed mind…. why then do we see the push by the church to do the opposite … I think you know that answer.

Judgment – You may ask why I am writing you in a private message rather than a comment? Besides being wordy (sorry about that) having a different belief or non-belief in a portion of the country that refers itself to the bible belt brings with it a stigma that can effect friendships, family, organizational memberships and in some extreme cases employment.

Profanity laden insults and threats of physical harm are not atypical replies on the internet to atheist posts by those claiming to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I see many posts on facebook saying atheists are trying to ban prayer in school or prevent me from worshiping how I want. It’s true there are atheist working to keep government free of the promotion or teaching of any one religion in our public schools or courts. But ask yourself if you lived in areas of Michigan that are quickly becoming majority Muslim wouldn’t you want the same protection for your children’s religious beliefs attending public school? I find it alarming that many fundamentalists are trying to push for exactly
what many of our founders were running from.. theocratic government.

Sovereignty – Far from it. There are many authorities I submit to everyday, the law, my job, duty to my country, family and an overall responsibility to humanity to do my part to leave this world a little better then when I came into it. One of the realizations I had in adulthood could be expressed this way.

When I was really young I thought my parents and adults knew everything. They were my teachers they taught me to walk, to talk, what this world was around me and what to believe was true. They could do no wrong.

When I was a teenager I thought my parents knew nothing. They were out of touch, they didn’t understand me and came from a different time.

I think I finally grew up when I realized I know nothing too. I realized that each of us are born into this world trying to figure out how to navigate it. How to be a parent, a spouse, a citizen and hopefully the desire to do the right thing as we understand it.

I apologize if this comes off negatively that is not my intention. I typically do not respond with such frankness to posts like yours. Maybe I am using you as a sounding board for the one sided posts I see flooding through my Facebook feed from people I love and respect. You seem to be a good and loving person, I respect you. I just know sometimes it helps to hear a side that isn’t typically given or seeked out by the Christian community we grew up in.

I know I don’t have to but I ask that you could keep this message between us, it’s not that I have anything to be ashamed of but I think my beliefs or non beliefs do not define my life, my family is important to me and I would not want anything to come between me and those I love that feel that belief is what is most import in their lives.

I wish you and your family nothing but the best.

So that was the post, I must have spent hours writing and editing. Making sure I don’t come off condescending. Making sure all of my points are clear. And you know what happened?

Nothing – no reply back. He didn’t unfriend me he just chose not to respond. I don’t know what I was expecting though. And looking back now I think I did it more for myself then hoping it would have any effect on him. I think it was for the reason I started this blog, maybe I will be the one to learn from this process. I should always put my money where my mouth is so to speak and continue to question myself and listen to others. I am done with a one sided sounding board that I grew up in.

Well at the very least he can say he knows an atheist and we are not all baby eating demons.