Entries in an Atheist's Journal
I have just come back from a journalistic tour in Iran. There, I interviewed a Christian pastor facing execution for his beliefs. I asked him why he would rather die than give up his faith in God, as well as leave his wife and children without him.
"Wouldn't it be better," I asked. "To give it up outwardly, and be reunited with the family that needs you, than to go to your death? What is the point? And why would you love a god so much, if he demanded you to do such a thing?"
The pastor sat in silence for a while, and then he looked up at me and said, slowly,
"It all depends on how you look at it, sir. It depends on who holds your love the most. For me, my love is first to Christ, who saved my soul from sin and hell. It is only through loving him that I can truly love my family, though to a lesser degree."
"Wait," I interrupted. "Why? Why would he require that you die, if he loved you?"
"We love him, because he first loved us," replied the pastor. "He died for me. It is the least I can do to stand for him. I cannot deny that I love him, and believe in him, any more than I can deny that I have seen the sun shining in the sky above me, or felt the wind on my face."
"But you can't see him. It is much different than seeing the sun."
"A blind man could say the same to you," said the pastor. "Your eyes are blinded by sin, and you cannot see the sun of righteousness, just as a blind man cannot see the sun in the sky."
As he spoke to me, his whole face was alight with... with something. I can't say what.
These Christians are certainly persuasive. They say things so simply, and with such passion, that you could almost believe that what they are saying is true. Almost. Until you realize that they are dying for an unseen being; it's very much like setting out cookies and milk for Santa Claus. It would be just as absurd to die for the Tooth Fairy, as to die for a god you can't see. And not only that, but a god who is cruel and insensitive, and demands death for someone faithful to him. Humph.
I debated a prominent Creationist yesterday. He brought up the (by now really old and lame) argument that the universe could not exist without a creator anymore than a watch can exist without a watchmaker. First of all, this is absurd. Where did the watchmaker come from?
I then brought up the reality of pain and evil, which always seem to throw them off track a bit as they attempt to insist that it is man's fault, not god's, that there is evil and suffering. I asked him why, then, did little children suffer; little children who have never done anything wrong. I tell you what, these Creationists are so entrenched in their silly ideas of god that they will excuse him for the worst crimes committed, though he could have stopped them all if he wanted. They say that it is men, not god, creating the evil because of their natures, and, well, blah blah blah. All the same stuff I've heard before, over and over. It's not convincing!
Then we had question time, and someone from the audience asked me where we got morals and ethics if we simply evolved. They ask that every time. When will they come up with something original? It's quite easy to see where ethics and morals came from: it's only natural that not killing someone is the right thing to do. We don't have to have a god up there, telling us what right and wrong is. Pshaw.
Someone needs to tell these Christians how to be original and to use their brains a bit more. Most of them don't even have a Master's Degree, and then they presume to question someone who's been in the field and studied it extensively. It's all nonsense to say that a god exists. As Russell said, we might as well believe in a tiny teacup, caught up in the orbit around earth, too small to be observed by any apparatus that we have, and then insist on calling anyone who disbelieves in it a fool and a liar.
Here is basically what a typical exchange between an atheist and a theist looks like:
Theist: There is a god.
Aethist: Prove it.
Theist: Look around you. It's easy to see that someone made everything around us.
Aethist: Why can't we see him then?
Theist: He is a spirit.
Atheist: Then how do you know about him?
Theist: Through his word.
Atheist: How do you know it wasn't just written by men?
Theist: Because it says it is the Word of God.
Atheist: That's hardly proof. Anyways, it's full of errors.
Theist: Well... um... just look around you... you'll see the Bible is true!
Atheist: I've been looking around for a long time, and I still haven't seen that.
Theist: Guess you're going to hell, then.
Atheist: Whatever. I don't have time for this foolishness. I'm going back to real science.
Please tell me what ya'll think about this! There might be more some time, if I get any ideas. I don't know if American journalists are really allowed to interview Christians in prison in Iran (probably not), but I just wrote it as a "Suppose this happened?" And I'm just guessing that this is how atheists think. I really have no idea what they think! They seem quite inscrutable to me :)