An atheist reader of this blog and fellow blogger responds to Pastor Bill, a fundamentalist Baptist pastor who has been discussing my loss of faith with me and my readers over the last couple of weeks.
Thanks for the reply. I appreciate your honesty in saying that the Bible is your ultimate authority and can’t be questioned. Unfortunately, this kind of position leaves us little to discuss.
The Bible claims that Jesus wants all men to be saved, right? He wants all of them to come to Christianity. But if that’s true, how can it be okay to cling to a belief without question?
Your position is that it’s perfectly fine for you to hold onto the Bible without question. But what if a Muslim feels the same way about the Qur’an? How can you reach him if he’s unwilling to question his sacred text? If God expects everyone to just keep the beliefs they’re born with, then it would be immoral for him to punish anyone for that.
The thing is, there’s no difference between you and the Muslim. There’s no guarantee that you’re right just because you’re you. You are a fallible human, just like the rest of us. So if you honestly want to find truth, you have to be willing to question the things you’ve always held to be true. So far, you’re saying that you aren’t willing to do that, so there’s really nothing for us to discuss.
However, since you asked, I will answer one more of your questions:
So, Nate, what are you using for your final authority? While some would say that we are simply following something we were taught or something we learned……isn’t that what everyone does? We may choose to begin in a different place but we all begin somewhere with some belief system and go and hopefully grow from there.
Yes, we all begin with a set of beliefs that have been passed on to us by our parents (typically). But growth requires a willingness to learn more and a willingness to change our position. So my final authority is reason. It may not be perfect — but it’s simply the best any of us can do. If there is a God, and if he requires anything of us, then he’s requiring us to use our reason. It’s all that we have. It’s what we use to make any decision. Even your decision to hold to Christianity without question springs from your ability to reason.
So if I run across some claims, I try to investigate them. If they don’t make sense to me, then I don’t accept them. I think that’s the proper approach to any issue, including religion. This doesn’t mean I have to understand every aspect of a particular thing — just that the parts I can understand fit together rationally.
If you plan to discuss religion with any non-Christians, you’re going to run into this same problem. If you want us to change our position, it means you expect us to be open-minded. Yet you aren’t willing to be open-minded, yourself. That’s just not going to get you very far. If you ever change your mind about your approach, I’d be happy to discuss things with you further. But until then, I just don’t see the point.
Regardless, thanks for the discussion. And take care!