A friend sent an e-mail telling me that a relative had posted online a strongly worded internet article by an atheist decrying the hypocrisy of supposed “tolerant” Christians for their true intolerance of those who think and believe differently than they do and giving reasons why atheism is a fact based, empirically proven belief system unlike systems of superstition.
The relative was promoting the article and my friend wondered how to communicate with this relative, if necessary, and what effect the post might have on my friend’s daughter who will surely read the post. The daughter is a recent college graduate.
The following was my response with some editing:
Well, in a democratic society with first amendment guarantees, the author certainly is free to express her opinion and that she certainly has done. And that freedom goes for your relative, also.
I might quibble with some of the writer’s assumptions and have a nice discussion with her about the scientific unprovability of faith, either religious or atheistic faith (atheism is a faith); I might wonder about the intensity of and anger beneath her words and I might feel sorry that she was insulted by angry, hostile debaters.
Definitely, I would agree wholeheartedly that horrific harm has been done in the name of the world’s major religions the caveat to that being that horrific harm has been done in the world by atheists, also — millions upon millions killed by Lenin, Stalin and Mao to mention only the 20th Century.
No one is innocent.
The purpose of Christianity, it seems to me, is not to convince anyone of anything (although apologetics certainly is a valid enterprise) but rather to live the life of selfless love guided by the teachings of Jesus and empowered to do so by the Spirit of Christ, the universally present Christ of the Jesus who lived the love shown to him by the God in whom he believed and with whom he believed he was one as that love.
I write the above on faith not on scientific fact (although science can trace and document the behavior of self-sacrificial love along with the other forms of love), because I believe that there are “truths” alongside and deeper even than “demonstrable, empirically verifiable data.”
For instance, there is the truth found in fiction and poetry, in visual art, in music, in theater, in dance, in opera, etc.
There is the truth revealed in nature.
And there is the truth in the conviction that love is the source of all life and that that love transforms death into life and that death is not the last word and that love is the first and last word, the Alpha and Omega.
And there is the truth found in the following four sentences:
The four sentences that matter most according to Dr. Ira Byock:
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
I love you.
Your daughter has a really good head and heart and she will discern these things for herself. Perhaps, she will assume positions and try them out for a while to see how they fit. Good for her. I would expect that of someone raised in a liberated household such as yours.
She may even decide to become an atheist. And, in your heart, regardless of whatever belief system she might adopt, she will always be your beautiful girl and God’s precious child and all you need to do is love her and affirm her as God loves her.
All the best, always,