On Providence and Atheism: Part II


In a recent post, I mentioned how my friend from church went to visit an atheist meeting at a local restaurant. This last Sunday, he went again - and took me with him. What follows is I suppose more of a commentary than a presentation of the "evidence" (although discussions about science and logic did occur). Far more interesting were some of the viewpoints of the particular people in attendance at the meeting.

Although there seemed to be no real cohesion regarding specific points that had lead the group members to their atheistic tendencies, it was clear that they all shared a few things in common. 1.) Separation of Church and State, 2.) the belief that there is no God, and 3.) most were not very open to ideas supporting Christ or the church. None of these things are a surprise really. What struck me though was in addition and aside from these things, was the frustration and anger just below the surface.

It occurred to me about halfway through the meeting that though they were unified in a belief against God, all of them still wanted the following things: acceptance, social networking, friendships, and regular meetings for encouragement. These are the same things churches provide. When we try to exist without and apart from our creator, we are left with the same "hole" or void that I think many of these folks had. I suspect many had been hurt personally by members of the church itself, or simply been force fed Christianity in a way they didn't appreciate.

What I came away from this event with (in addition to meeting some new people and hearing some different ideas), was that Christ didn't fail them... people did. God will accept them back, if they ever desire Him. So must we as living, breathing representations of the real Jesus. We must remember one of the greatest commandments we are to follow as Christians: To love people!

Comments

  1. ALL humans want to be "part" of something...it is instinctually written into our DNA. No "god" is needed to provide that.

    Church not only provides this, but it also provides an unhealthy dependence on a "group" or "family" where "outsiders" are looked down upon and demonized.

    Looking over history, and in the present, it seems to me religion has separated people more than bringing people together, a while, the reason why there is so much blood-shed.

    More "secular" countries have better educated people, health care for all people and higher education for all those who want it, have stricter animal welfare and environmental standards, and are less apt to invade other countries.

    Huummmm....come to think of it, the USA is far down the list for countries in all those things I mentioned.

    Corey Mondello
    Boston, Massachusetts
    7-14-09

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  2. Thanks for the input Corey. I will grant you that religion can be abused. If we are talking about the Quaran (Islaam), then there is plenty of this "violence" within those pages. If we are talking about the Bible, then the old testament at least frames that bloodshed into a 3-fold form: 1.) we are warned by God of our sins, 2.) we are given a chance to change, 3.) judgement or forgiveness follow. Humans in general though are much like rusty containers carrying spiritual truths - we get it wrong a lot!

    Being instinctively hardwired to be social I can agree with, but not that we are hardwired to love and need love. That stands alone... evolution can't touch that one. For example, being altruistic (accepting a bad consequence in favor of someone else) doesn't reinforce the self preservation instinct, etc.

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  3. Both altruism and accepting a cost for someone else are important to a society. Since we are social creatures such attributes are very useful to us and they actually fit in quite nicely with evolution. On the surface these attributes may seem to be unhelpful to the individual demonstrating them, however, in a societal environment selfless and generous actions can have very beneficial reciprocations. Even if it isn't beneficial to the individual it can be beneficial to the group or society as a whole.

    Even if none of that were the case there would still be a problem with the idea that altruism and other such attributes, god-given or not, make us distinctly human and different from animals because many animals show altruistic behavior as well.

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  4. The Humanistic elements of religion are what are to be commended. But it the HUMANIST which is the commendable part. The supernatural component adds nothing to the conversation. While I agree there tends tobe a great deal of apparent anger below the surface of many atheists, we must understand what that anger is truly in response to. My thoughts are that atheistic anger is at the almost total hijacking religion has performed on humankind, and our cognition. rarely do I meet a fellow atheist who is truly mad at the adherents of any particular faith, rather, they are inscensed that nay and all faiths have duped humanity so completely. It has instituted a condition of stockholm syndrome where the captors don't view themselves as captives, but as willing participants in the subservience. If you'd like to read more stuff please visit my blog at www.thetruthofrationalthought.blogspot.com

    Dan Spencer

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  5. This (at least the first post) borders on a discussion about morality - see my older post on the Universal Moral Law. Even more interesting than the fact that altruistic behavior may benefit societies as a whole, is the reason why it benefits them at all - but not the individual being. Does evolution here need to make up it's mind: "which way is it going to go?" type of a thing...

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  6. I'm not quite certain what it is that you're saying. Can you elaborate on your last post? In the mean time I'll check out that post of yours on Universal Moral Law.

    -Cryptospiza

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  7. Corey,

    To say that all churches provide unhealthy relationships makes me wonder what your experiences with churches has been. Although there are the Jim Jones "Kool Aid" drinkers out there these fanatics are definitely the extreme. Many others are not only supportive of each other but supportive of their community. I know in the community we live in our church is called on regularly by the mayor to help those down on their luck. We end up helping them in a way that many other's can't whether it be repairing and contructing or helping people move.

    We are definitely not the only church that does helps the community. There are many bigger chruches that dwarf our efforts. Catholic Charities for instance helps hundreds of refugees recloate in the Des Moines area alone, helping them with everything from food to housing. When your combine this with the positive fellowship that is shared between members it is difficult to compare any other orgniazation to the "church".

    Kirk

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  8. Dan,

    Using the same logic in your post, shouldn't most Christians be angry with atheists? I mean when you think about atheists along with the majority of our pop culture and even some of "elite" thinkers have dismissed the most important thing in our lives, our God. I can give you one answer as to why:

    Chritians are suppose to forgive and pray for those who don't believe. For those who resort to anger, it is against God's will and all attempts will be futile. We must trust him to provide and with that trust comes a sense of peace for those that are solidly rooted in him. I wish this sense for every backsliding christian and comtemplating atheist along with every unsaved soul.

    Kirk

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