How to Debate a Christian

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Dear Gary,

 
I was reading through some of your posts this morning and wanted to reach out to you personally. I saw the bio at the top of each blog that says that you use to be a fundamentalist Christian, but that you’ve since turned to science and reason.  
 
A bit about me: I was raised Catholic but left the church at 16 to become a fundamentalist baptist after debating the bible for 6 months with a friend. I stayed baptist for several years before migrating to non-denominational and moderate churches when I started grad school.
 
My interpretation of the bible has slowly been shifting throughout for the past few years… Since I’m a researcher by profession, it’s hard not to carry that same mindset to all aspects of my life. I recently started examining my faith through my science / reason lens and have shifted a lot of “literal” texts to non-literal as a result. I considered leaving the church and being more of a deist, but wanted to thoroughly investigating my issues with the bible first. 
 
Cue my old friend who is a fundamentalist baptist. He’s offered to debate me on whatever I want in the bible. He’s confident I’ll come out a fundamentalist baptist again. We originally started in Genesis. He said 6 days / 6000 year old Earth, I gave him tons of evidence that the Earth is millions / billions of years old. He then shifted to days can mean periods of time and the Earth was made to appear old just like animals and humans originally were. It’s frustrating because he says at the end of the day the bible must always be right and that you must use it to interpret everything not everything to interpret it, yet he just conceded that his initial reading could be faulty and that based on the science the earth may be old. We decided to discuss the infallibility and inerrancy of the bible next, which is what led me to your blog. 

As foolish as it is, part of me wants to win our debates. He’s an accountant by training and claims to be a “professional skeptic” but his skepticism isn’t the same as my scientific / reason-based skepticism. He was raised in a fundamentalist baptist household and all of his family continues to be incredibly devout Christians. Basically, it’s ingrained in him. Any suggestions on how to walk someone through the bible to show them it’s not literal, not infallible, etc? How would you describe your own journey? Was there a core piece that changed your mind? I’m printing out some of your blog posts to help frame arguments I’m trying to make, but I was wondering if you had any tips or pointers for my upcoming discussion with my friend. 

All the best,

C.

Image result for image of deconversionGary

Since my deconversion from Christianity in June of 2014 I have debated many Christians regarding the validity of their Christian Faith.  I have debated the evidence for a Six Day Creation, the Age of the Universe, Noah’s Flood, the Exodus from Egypt, the Conquest of Canaan, the (fraudulent) prophecies of the Book of Daniel, the alleged prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament (about which Jewish scholars can give very convincing evidence that none of these prophecies talk about Jesus), and, the many discrepancies in the six Resurrection accounts in the Gospels, Acts, and First Corinthians.  Here are my thoughts regarding these discussions:

As long as a person believes that an invisible being lives “in his or her heart”; speaks to them daily in an inaudible voice; “moves” them, “leads” them to make decisions on every aspect of their life; and, performs “miracles” (rare, random events which non-believers believe are simply coincidences) in their lives and the lives of other believers, no discrepancy, regardless of how blatant it may be, is going to convince them that the Bible/Christianity/Jesus Christ is false.

So my suggestion is to not debate most Christians on alleged discrepancies in the Bible.  It is a futile effort.  You won’t get anywhere.  Their belief in the “presence” within them is too strong for them to accept even the possibility of a serious, disqualifying discrepancy in their Holy Book.

So how would I debate them?  Well, it depends on whether the Christian I am debating is a fundamentalist, moderate, or liberal.  Let’s start in reverse order. 

Image result for image of liberal christianDebating the Liberal Christian 

My definition of a liberal Christian:  He (or she) is a universalist.  He believes that all persons will go to heaven to be with God.  God would never eternally punish anyone and would absolutely never torture anyone in “Hell”.  The Liberal does not believe in Hell.  The Liberal does not believe in biblical inerrancy.  The Bible is a man-made document about God.  It contains truths about God.  It contains God’s message of love to humankind, but it has plenty of historical and scientific errors.  The Liberal believes that science is never in conflict with God.  The Liberal doubts most of the supernatural claims in the Bible such as talking donkeys, parting seas, etc.; he/she believes that these stories were never meant to be taken literally.  He questions or doubts the Virgin Birth and even the bodily resurrection of Jesus.  For the liberal Christian, a spiritual resurrection of Jesus is sufficient evidence for him/her to believe.

How do I debate the liberal Christian?

I ask the liberal Christian these questions:

—Explain to me how your loving (universalist) Jesus and the brutul, vindictive, baby-killing God of the Old Testament are one and the same God as all liberal Trinitarian Christian Churches still teach.  And if you are not Trinitarian, why didn’t the loving Jesus condemn the brutal behavior of the God of the Old Testament?  Why did Jesus give a mass-murdering monster a pass?

—I ask them if they believe that Jesus is all-knowing and all-powerful as all liberal Trinitarian Christian Churches still teach.

If they say yes, I then ask them how it is that every day, for thousands of years, the loving Jesus has sat on his throne in heaven watching the massive, horrific suffering here on earth and has done nothing to put an end to it.  Every day 21,000 people die horrible deaths from cancer.  Every day 20,000 people die miserable deaths from starvation, most of them little children.  Every two minutes a woman or child is raped…and yet Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, just sits up there and does nothing to stop it. 

And why does this massive, horrific suffering exist according to Christianity?  Answer:  Because our ancient ancestors ate some damn fruit!

Come on!  Use your brain, Liberal Christian!

Image result for image of moderate christianDebating the Moderate Christian

In my experience, this is the most difficult Christian to debate.  He believes in the cornerstone supernatural claims of the Bible (the Virgin Birth, the Bodily Resurrection of Jesus), but does not believe in biblical inerrancy.  He adjusts his interpretation of the Bible, whether a passage is to be read literally or metaphorically/allegorically, based on the latest scientific consensus.  Scientific discovery is God’s means of clarifying his Holy Word.  So if science reaches a consensus that the universe is billions of years old and that life on earth is millions of years old, the Moderate Christian dumps the literal interpretation of the first two chapters in Genesis.  God never meant us to take those stories literally (all the preceding centuries/millenia of Christian Bible scholars were mistaken).  If geologists reach a consensus that there was no world-wide flood:  it may have been a regional flood of the Euphrates River Valley or it was simply an allegory; it certainly was not a flood of the entire world (those silly, pathetic fundamentalists still believe such an event happened!).  God never meant the Flood Story to mean the entire world.  And so on.

If the Moderate Christian is an evangelical, I would debate him from this angle:  How do you know for a fact that an invisible being lives inside of you?  Isn’t it possible that the “miracles” and answered prayers that you believe that you have experienced are nothing more than rare coincidences?  Even atheists experience rare coincidences.  Can you describe an event which you believe was an answered prayer/miracle which could not be explained as a rare, random, coincidence?  I bet you can’t.  I bet you have never experienced anything for which there cannot be a natural explanation.  So you can give cases of amazing cancer cures after prayers to Jesus?  Maybe, but you can’t prove that the cure was due to Jesus.  It may well have been a rare but natural recovery.  Dear Moderate Christian:  Show me a case where Jesus has answered the prayers of an amputee of a major limb.  Show me a case where Jesus has raised from the dead someone who has been beheaded.

Can’t do it, can you?  Jesus seems incapable or indifferent to the really tough miracle requests for some strange reason. 

imaginary_friendAnd what about that “still, small” voice you hear in your “heart” (head)?  Is it possible that that voice is none other than…YOU?  Dear Moderate Christian:  Is it possible that your “relationship” with an invisible being that you believe lives inside your body is no different than the relationship that an emotionally distraught child has with his invisible friend?  Dear Moderate Christian:  Is it possible that you have created an adult imaginary friend???

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If the Moderate Christian is not an evangelical, it gets really tough.  The moderate, non-evangelical Christian (someone like my former Lutheran pastor) doesn’t care if there are a few errors in the Bible.  And you can’t prove to him that Jesus wasn’t born of a virgin.  You can’t prove to him that Jesus did not walk on water.  You can’t prove to him that Jesus did not feed the Five Thousand.  So with this type of Christian I think you are stuck discussing the conflicting stories surrounding the Resurrection of Jesus. 

You won’t prove to him that the bodily Resurrection did not happen, but you may possibly get him to see just how weak the Resurrection evidence really is.  Point out to this type of moderate Christian that the majority of NT scholars no longer believe that Matthew, John Mark, Luke the Physician, and John the Apostle wrote the four Gospels.  Point out to this type of moderate Christian that most New Testament scholars today do not believe that ANY eyewitness wrote the four Gospels.  Also point out to him that there is no proof that any eyewitness was alive at the time of the writing of the first Gospel, Mark.  Point out, that if no eyewitness was alive when the Gospel of Mark was written, it is entirely possible that much of the Resurrection story is legendary. 

Paul and other early Christians may have believed that Jesus was “buried”, but that doesn’t mean that they knew anything about a “Jospeh of Arimathea” or that Jesus was buried in a rock tomb.  In his epistles, Paul never once mentions anything about Joseph of Arimathea or an empty tomb in a garden.   It is therefore quite possible that the earliest Resurrection belief was based solely on appearance claims (ghost sightings) by Jesus’ emotionally distraught, very superstitious followers, not on an empty grave.  If the Romans followed their usual custom, Jesus’ body was tossed into an unmarked, common grave known only to a few Roman soldiers…and forgotten.

Image result for image of fundamentalist christianDebating the Fundamentalist Christian

I would suggest for this type of Christian doing what the person (Bruce Gerencser, former Baptist pastor turned atheist) who initiated my deconversion did with me:  Ask him to read a couple of books by former fundamentalist Christian/now agnostic, New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, starting with “Misquoting Jesus“.  (You can read my initial reaction to Ehrman’s books, while still a Christian, here.) 

Most fundamentalist Christians believe that God has maintained his Word, the Bible, intact ever since the originals were written.  The originals may be lost, but the Greek and Hebrew copies which exist today are 100% accurate copies of the originals.  Like me, I believe that the Fundamentalist Christian will be shocked to discover that all the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts/copies which are still in existence contain numerous man-made (scribal) additions and alterations and some of them, like the Johannine Commae, are whoppers.  God did NOT “preserve” his Word.

The lack of preservation of the original “words of God” in the existing manuscripts should be devastating to most fundamentalist Christians.  Once this fundamental belief has been exposed and accepted as false, I believe that the fundamentalist Christian’s inherent black and white thinking will eventually lead him, kicking and screaming, down the path to deconversion.  It’s either 100% true or 100% false for fundamentalists.  There is no in between.  Moderate Christians hate this kind of thinking, and that is why I believe that it is easier for a fundamentalist to deconvert than for a moderate.

Bottom line:  Regardless of which approach you take in your attempt to use evidence, reason, science, and common sense with Christian believers to expose the improbability of their ancient supernatural tale, Carl Sagan may have hit the nail on the head when he said this:

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 Important:  Very rarely will a Christian, Muslim, or other theist deconvert from his supernatural-based belief system after just one conversation or debate.  Don’t be disappointed or discouraged if your efforts seem to have had no immediate effect.  Deconversion is a process; for most of us who have gone through the process, it took months, if not years to finally realize that our cherished supernatural belief system is no more real than any other superstition.  It is very, very hard to let go of it.  It is a powerful source of security for most theists.

Be patient.

Continue to sow the “seeds” of Truth and hopefully one day those seeds will bear fruit.

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30 thoughts on “How to Debate a Christian

  1. Thank you for the thorough response. I really appreciate you taking time to get back to me. I think breaking down the different approaches was extremely helpful.
    For the fundamentalist, do you recommend going through those books together? Or should I let my friend go through them alone?

    Silly follow ups: Do you miss your faith in Jesus? What was life like after fundamentalism? Since I've been in the moderate boat for a while, I've often debated morals and philosophy apart from the bible. But since my friend is all or nothing, how do you begin to define yourself if your entire identity is built out of something that is false? Is it a good thing to “deconvert” someone – or is there any reason not challenging their beliefs would be more ethical?

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  2. If the fundamentalist Christian is willing to read Bart Ehrman's books, I would definitely read them with him. I believe that even moderate Christians will find the information in Erhman's books fascinating.

    Do I miss my Faith?

    I do miss the social network of my church. I really liked the people in my church. They are good people. But, no, I do not miss my former belief system which I now see as a cult. I feel free.

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  3. “What was life like after fundamentalism?”

    For the first couple of months after I lost my faith it was scary. What was my purpose in life now? What would life be like without my Christian social network of my church?

    As the months passed, I calmed down and began to feel stronger in my conviction that reason and science were a much better guide to life than ancient holy books.

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  4. “How do you begin to define yourself if your entire identity is built out of something that is false?”

    It's a process. You first have to redefine your existence. You can take a negative, pessimistic view and see life as a brief existence in a very dangerous, scary world or you can take the positive view that life is a wonderful, exciting journey. Enjoy every day. Make the most of your life. It is the only one you have. There is no “ever after”.

    I was at first afraid that life would become, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die”, but that is not how I see life at all now. I live for my children. I live to see them grow up as happy, self-confident people who do not live in fear of invisible ghosts, goblins, and gods.

    How about morality? I believe that I am just as moral if not more so as a non-theist. I see the beauty and value of every life. I understand that if we all attempt to be kind to each other we individually benefit. Being kind and compassionate is a win/win for me and society. I don't need to be kind because a god tells me to be.

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  5. “Is it a good thing to “deconvert” someone – or is there any reason not challenging their beliefs would be more ethical?”

    I believe that in most situations regarding supernatural beliefs, including religious ones, we must ask, “What is best for society?” I believe that it is best for society as a whole if all supernatural superstitions are debunked as false.

    Any exceptions? Yes.

    Some people who have been involved in drug addiction, alcoholism, crime, etc.. have turned their lives around—and have become much better people—when they submit to a religious belief system. With these people, I usually tread lightly.

    I recently had a friend (who was formerly involved in drugs and other bad behaviors prior to becoming an evangelical Christian) attempt to “bring me back to Jesus”. I would normally pounce on this situation as I love a good debate about my former belief system. But I didn't. In fact I told my friend, “Are you really sure you want to discuss this issue? Evangelical Christianity has made a better person out of you. I don't want to destroy your life by exposing what I believe are the false assumptions in your belief system.”

    He replied, “I would never change my mind about my Faith” but I decided to not go down that path. There are some people who are better off with their “Jesus delusion”. I believe that the truth of the matter is that many of these people have replaced one addiction with another: an addiction to “God”—an invisible, all-powerful (imaginary) body guard—the best “sponsor” any addict/alcoholic could ask for.

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  6. The social network is huge. In fact, most of my closest friends are Christian. They've seen my changes in faith over the years, so I think they take the intense questioning and skepticism as another phase. Its strange to me that some people never really doubt their faith or examine it from another lens / a world view. If it's what you're devoting your life to, wouldn't you study it and question it the same way you do a degree, or career, or a spouse? My best friend is a moderate Methodist and I have never seen her absolutely tear apart her faith the way I have mine. Likewise, I have a sister who never seems to go through the turmoil I have around faith. Just strange that their are people out there that seem unwavering and then there are people who carefully weigh each assumption. Both of them are in the first boat of people you described. I can honestly say that there isn't a point in engaging them in debate. My fundamentalist friend however has mentioned questioning his beliefs and struggles to live out those beliefs all the time.

    Which brings me to your point about morality… I've heard that from other atheists. They feel more moral than their Christian counterparts. I've log since debated with my Christian friends if they actually belief what they say they do based on their actions. Because if you felt like the consequence of premarital sex / lying / stealing was separation from Gpd, how could you ever do any of those things?

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  7. Well, if your friends are Protestants, they believe that all they have to do to set things right with their invisible Friend is to say a quick “I'm sorry” prayer. In addition, evangelicals believe in “Once Saved, Always Saved” so they have their “Get into Heaven Free card”.

    Regarding questioning your faith: If you believe that you talk every day to a Being who lives inside your body, and, you have experienced amazing “miracles” after prayer to this Being, why would you question your belief system.

    I never felt or heard Jesus inside of me, therefore it was easier for me to begin questioning.

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  8. Dear “C”:

    I have asked former Baptist pastor/now atheist blogger, Bruce Gerencser, if he has any advice for you in your upcoming debate with a fundamentalist Christian. Hopefully he will post his comment here or on his blog and I will copy it to this blog.

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  9. Early today I received this email from “C”. It seems she is having problems posting comments to this blog. Is anyone else having this problem? If so, email me at:

    lutheranblogger@yahoo.com

    Here is “C's” email:

    Thanks for the link! I tried to respond on the website, but I will hit publish on my comment and then the whole comment will disappear and not be published. Quite frustrating. I might try commenting again later.

    I'm scared that my friend might have a similar reaction to what you conclude at the end of this blog post…. It's that perpetually explaining the bible syndrome. I started into the general discussion today about inerrancy and infallibility. We laid out terms and everything, but by the end of the discussion when I was mentioned th additions and alterations in later editions by scribes, he literally said “well if they are truthful then I have less of an issue with them.” So despite saying that the bible is without error, we are now saying the bible has errors, but it's okay because the errors are truthful ones. But if you acknowledge it has errors, how can you then in other arguments “go back to the original greek” for wording and sentence structure an such and place such high importance on it if when you discuss the inerrancy you're saying the specifics don't matter!?!?!?! Sorry, just got really frustrated today.

    Thank you so much for all your help and insight so far. Your blog really has a lot to offer.

    C

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  10. “C” is referring to the link in the above post which links to my original review of Bart Ehrman's books which had been recommended to me by former fundamentalist Baptist pastor/turned atheist, Bruce Gerencser, in the very early stages of my loss of faith/deconversion. These books were a bombshell to my fundamentalist Christian faith. I abandoned my fundamentalist view of the Bible after reading Ehrman's books and adopted a moderate Christian view of the Bible. My stint as a moderate Christian only lasted four months until I was a non-believer.

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  11. C said, “I started into the general discussion today about inerrancy and infallibility. We laid out terms and everything, but by the end of the discussion when I was mentioning the additions and alterations in later editions by scribes, he literally said “well if they are truthful then I have less of an issue with them.” So despite saying that the bible is without error, we are now saying the bible has errors, but it's okay because the errors are truthful ones.”

    And thus begins the…SLIPPERY SLOPE!

    Ok, so your fundamentalist Christian friend is willing to accept that ALL the existing copies of the Bible, written in the original languages of Greek and Hebrew, contain human additions and alterations—words that God never said. Make sure he repeats that out loud to you:

    “All existing copies of the Bible, in the original languages of Greek and Hebrew, contain human additions and alterations. An unadulterated copy of the Bible, in the original languages, as transmitted by God to the authors, does NOT exist.”

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  12. Now, ask your fundamentalist friend how he squares the above statement with this Bible passage:

    Psalm 12:6-7 “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

    I'm sure he will come up with some (feeble) harmonization of these two opposing statements, but don't accept it. These two statements cannot be reconciled. Either God preserved his “WORDS” or he didn't.

    I would then require your friend to agree to the following: You will both read two of Bart Ehrman's books, “Misquoting Jesus” and “Jesus, Interrupted”, chapter by chapter, discussing each chapter as you go through the books.

    Let me know that he says at the end of reading the books, and we will go from there. If he refuses to do the reading with you, I would NOT agree to debating him.

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  13. I just took a look at your page. I'll admit that it reads like the same arguments that we have taken to task here many times. Maybe you have some nuance to your position, but the basic arguments are old hat which have long ago been answered.

    The Sagan quote at the bottom of the page is, in my opinion, actually more fit for non-believers. It should read: “You can't convince an atheist of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to not believe.”

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  14. I jotted down a summary of your tactics. Does this accurate summarize your post?

    Liberal Christian: Since the person tries to craft an ideology around a God who won't embarrass them, confront them with the violence in the Old Testament and the problem of evil.

    Moderate Christian: Challenge the person to disprove the metaphysical naturalist worldview. Ask for examples of spectacular miracles in that person's life and demand an explanation to unanswered prayers. Present the person with conflicts within the resurrection narratives and the modern secular scholars' point of view on the authorship of the Gospels. Present the idea that the resurrection is a ghost citing and God is an imaginary friend.

    Fundamentalist Christian: Undermine the person's belief in the inerrancy of Scripture using modern textual criticism of the Bible and modern science.

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  15. If you don't mind, let me amend your summary:

    Liberal Christian: Since the person tries to craft an ideology around a God who is inherently loving, kind, good, and merciful, confront him with the violence in the Old Testament and the problem of evil.

    Moderate Christian: Challenge the person to prove the existence of a super-naturalist worldview. Ask for examples of spectacular miracles in that person's life that cannot be explained as rare coincidences. Have they ever seen Jesus heal an amputee? Have they ever seen Jesus physically move a mountain or just levitate a lamp, when asked for confirmation of his existence. Ask him to present evidence that prayers to the Christian god are any more effectual than prayers to other gods or not praying at all. Ask for statistical proof that Christians experience more inexplicable healings compared to persons of other religions and compared to atheists. Present the person with conflicts within the resurrection narratives and the majority positions of New Testament scholars' (Christian and non-Christian)on the authorship of the Gospels. Present the idea that the early resurrection belief was quite possibly based on appearance claims alone (ghost sightings) and suggest the possibility that their perception that God lives inside of them is no different than a child's belief in an imaginary friend.

    Fundamentalist Christian: Undermine the person's belief in the inerrancy of Scripture using modern textual criticism of the Bible and modern science. Demonstrate to the fundamentalist that not one copy of the Bible, in the original languages, exists today which does not contain human error, alterations, and additions. How is this consistent with God's promise to “preserve” his Word?

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  16. Well, your take on Liberal Christianity is about right.

    As for Fundamentalists, I've never met one who was actually bothered the fact that we don't have the original autographs of the New Testament books. So I'm not sure how much traction one will find there. However, the issues with modern science does tend to be a sore point in this group.

    As for “moderate Christianity”, this is a group which is so large and varied that it is difficult to say anything of worth. Although many of the things you listed are somewhat absurd parodies of actual Christian beliefs. So I would say one rule of thumb would be to listen to the person, assume he is intelligent, and be prepared for an answer which requires something more than a glib comeback to handle adequately.

    One thing of note is the burden of proof in any discussion depends on who is making a positive assertion. If a Christian is trying to his case to a Metaphysical Naturalist, it behooves the Christian to provide good reasons to move to a worldview which includes the supernatural. If a Metaphysical Naturalist is trying to assert his worldview, he has to provide good reasons to believe in his perspective.

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  17. Here is your article:

    DENVER, CO—At a Friday local chapter meeting of anti-religion group Atheist Friends United, skeptic and freethinker Michelle Newberry reportedly delivered a powerful, inspiring testimony, recounting her journey from hoping in God to finally realizing that she is nothing but a carbon-based cosmic accident whose existence is of utterly zero consequence.

    “At one time, I foolishly believed I was here for a reason, that there was a higher purpose and plan for me in the midst of joy and even suffering,” Newberry told her fellow atheist and agnostic brothers and sisters in the entirely non-religious meeting. “I am humbled and so grateful that I finally came to believe the soul-crushing idea that my existence is a complete accident with absolutely no ultimate meaning.”

    Witnesses say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Newberry thoughtfully told the touching story of how she finally “saw the light,” when she realized at long last that her existence is the result of an impossibly complex series of inexplicable, incalculable errors, and that she is nothing but a carbon robot devoid of any hope or meaning, barreling toward the absolute nothingness whence she originated.

    “I’m here as a witness to the power of atheism—the only reasonable worldview,” she declared. “Things like right and wrong, love and beauty, passion and empathy, ecstasy and heartbreak—these are but leftover, superfluous, physiological baggage from our completely naturalistic journey to being. They don’t mean anything.”

    “We should not even exist. Nothing matters. Literally nothing matters at all,” she added with a smile, to the crowd’s enthusiastic applause.

    After Newberry finished telling the moving tale of her lack of faith, she reportedly invited anyone who felt called to commit their lives to the void of nothingness to raise their hand, “with every eye closed and every head bowed.” According to Newberry, the group was ecstatic to learn that four new converts were won over to the idea that life is meaningless.

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  18. Sounds like a joke, but even if it isn't, here is my take:

    If YOUR only purpose in life to attain enough stars in your crown to merit the biggest mansion, on the most popular gold-lined street in heaven…and…to rescue as many “sinners” as possible from a non-existent torture chamber at the center of the earth…and that gives you purpose in life…go for it!

    I personally have a full life raising my children, enjoying the beauty of every day, and helping my fellow man when I can…just because it feels good.

    My (atheist/agnostic) life is NOT meaningless.

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  19. “We should not even exist. Nothing matters. Literally nothing matters at all,” she added with a smile, to the crowd’s enthusiastic applause.

    “I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism's] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength! — Friedrich Nietzsche

    St Paul agrees with you, Gary.

    “Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

    But then his agreement with you ends:

    … But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. ~1 Corinthians 15

    Without Christ's resurrection — and our subsequent resurrection — nothing indeed matters. Nothing at all. Love doesn't exist. Values don't exist. Good and evil don't exist. There is no meaning in this life. That is the depth to which the great atheist Nietzsche descended.

    Ultimately that is where you are leading people when you encourage them to lose their faith in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ.

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  20. Dear Gary,

    I am just peeking in on your blog and am surprised that you are still fervently evangelizing for your new faith. I'm not judging you with my statement, but acknowledging understanding. I was an atheist for 18 years and I get why you are pounding the drums so hard. Evangelical atheism is all about self assurance. You want to answer the question of whether or not you have done the right thing in turning your back against God. Blogging concerning your lack of faith in Jesus is cathartic. I certainly had moments of exhilaration when I deconverted Christians who bothered to listen to the evil pouring out of my mouth.

    Gary, I am thankful that our Lord brings with Him the forgiveness of sins. He even forgave a blasphemer such as I was.

    I am still praying for you.

    Jim Pierce

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  21. “No, “where I am leading people” is to a life free of invisible devils, ghosts, gods, and other imaginary Boogeymen.”

    No, where you think you are leading people is to freedom, except you're just like the Israelites who wanted to go back to Egypt. You have drank the cool-aid and bought the great lie of the devil, thinking you're now “free” when in fact you're enslaved to sin.

    Jim Pierce

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  22. Hi Jim. Nice to hear from you and I very much appreciate your concern for my well-being.

    Hey. I have a suggestion: How about you and I have a discussion, here on my blog, about what convinced you that atheism is false and that Christianity is the truth. Maybe you can convince me, and maybe other skeptics, that we have made a mistake. I am always willing to keep an open mind.

    If you are interested, I will start a new post in which you and I can carry on a conversation. All I ask is this: I won't ask you to read any books and I ask that you not ask me to read any books. Let's discuss the evidence to answer this question:

    “Is there sufficient evidence for the average, educated person who has never heard of Christianity to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God, the Creator of the Universe.”

    What do you say?

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  23. I agree 100%. I believe we all have been given the freedom to choose. What toasts my buns is when atheists think they have facts to support their unbelief. They dont. Theirs is faith based just as a believer. Mark

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  24. Is there sufficient evidence for anyone to believe the entire universe came into being without a cause, or that it never had a beginning at all? What does “educated” have to do with it? There are educated Christians and educated atheists and yet someone's wrong…

    Mark

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