Online Debates

Video Game Time It seems that a lot of my posts here are an overflow of what seems too long to just share on a single Facebook comment stream. I was engaging with a friend who seems to be subscribing to a lot of atheist news feeds that pump out lots of quotes and zingers about how God can’t exist, those who believe in God are stupid, or if God did exist, he could not be worth worshipping, because he does not turn us into a utopian society incapable of harming each other. I normally try to avoid getting into arguments just for the sake of arguing, but this friend has been willing to discuss beliefs in a civil manner in the past, so I feel pretty free to discuss these things with him.

Below is my draft attempt at explaining what I believe to my friend:

God does whatever He wants to do. God is good. God also gets to define what good is. God cares about people, but does not force them to be good. People suffer as a result of each other, and pain that God allows that is a result of our desire for independence. As we depart from God’s protection, we experience things that are not good. God says that he will judge our actions and thoughts one day, then restore his kingdom. For now, we are being tested and challenged to seek his will and do the right thing as a result of His grace to us. If you believe, you strive to think and do what God says, if you don’t believe, you live however you feel like living. I am only confused by those who don’t believe and spend so much time trying to convince others that they are wasting their time trying to please God. At least Jesus focused on hypocrites, because nobody likes hypocrisy, no matter what you believe. Look at charities like Compassion International. Why do they connect people with needy children? I believe it is because a lot of people care about caring for the helpless, and believe it is their responsibility to show God’s love to them, even though they are not obligated legally. I don’t mind engaging in a discussion about honest questions, but I wonder about those who just throw insult after insult just for the sake of criticizing what they seem to not want to learn anything about. Tell me what you are for and why, and maybe we all can understand each other better.

Instead, I cut the text out and simply asked him what he is for. He seems to be against a lot of things. I am opposed to plenty of stuff too, but it helps to have something you are for to get a better understanding of someone. I also wish to get him to articulate what he believes in his own words, rather than cutting and pasting primarily from what others have said.

2 thoughts on “Online Debates

  1. Chad Bercea

    It’s so difficult knowing where to start with this whole concept. So many angles. But the one that stands out in my mind right now is one that we both agree on. Its the remnant of the mob mentality lingering on. We hear some quippy little zinger that we can’t wait to turn around and fling at the next person that opposes us. Whether its religion or anti-religion or something in between. It is very easy to hop on athiest chat boards and post funny things about christians. and honstly the christian counter part is pretty funny sometimes too. Neither, in my opinion, constitutes a foundation for belief or faith.

    I do make a strong distinction between the two and I think many people swap these out for each other all the time. In short, belief is something you do or do not have. There isn’t a choice. You believe, or you do not. Faith is a choice. You choose to have faith, or you choose to not have faith. We can take this in relation to the theory of gravity. Gravity is not proven, nor do we really know how it works. We have a lot of math that tries to “prove” it, but bottom line, its still just a theory, even in 2013. Yet no one challenges it. We all believe it. We operate like its a thing. We have some consistent evidence of it’s effects, but there is really no proof at all. Yet we believe like its knowledge. Saying you have faith in gravity, is a funny thing to say. There isn’t really room for faith in our human, functioning relationship to gravity. But! When the weather person says there will be rain M T W Th F but not Saturday, we put faith in their words. I mean, lets be honest. No one believes the weather person or their silly reporting, but we do assign a certain amount of faith that they have some reason to say these things and we as commoners (I’m positive thats how the weather folk speak of us) have no real idea so we go with it. These are just a couple illustrations and go no further on any metaphoric level.

    I outline the differences in my eyes to say that asking an agnostic or atheist person to have faith in something is not difficult. We put our faith in things everyday. Phone subscriptions, public services, FDA, our own local governments. There is a lot of faith bouncing around. The real problem comes in when you ask one of us to believe something there isn’t a lot of evidence for (except for Newton’s Theory of Gravitation). A bigger problem occurs once we look at the evidence and start to have more problems than we started with. I think this is the foundation for many flaws and holes in logic: The Bible.

    I grew up in the church and worked for the church and performed for the church. I have been involved either directly or indirectly with hundreds if not thousands of people hearing about “the christ” or Jesus or his father or his Casper-like bff. I say this to point out the fact that for 27 years (I’m 31 now) 66% or more of my life’s action was dedicated to telling people about Jesus. I say this to point out the other fact that while I was doing this, I do not now look back and think of myself as stupid or ignorant or anything. So please trust I don’t look down on anyone involved in this conversation. Jeremiah and Brinson continue to be my best friends. You know them both, Ezra. Jeremiah is a scholar and a theologian with a Masters in Divinity and just started going hard on his Forge:Sacramento project. Brinson is The Right Reverend John Ryan Brinson and he’s running a cafe in Berkeley being a pastor to people who would never walk in a church, but who need a friend and guidance.

    If anything, I’d love to provide a clear window into this topic of atheism. My goal is not to convert anyone to subscribe to my way of thinking. My goal is not to be right or prove anyone who doesn’t agree as wrong. I simply want to be as accurate as possible in my pursuit for knowledge, having faith that we all have some rad things to learn from each other.

  2. Matthew Kelly

    I respect your comments here. As for online debates, for the years I was finishing up my schooling, I’ve had learned about people a bit. I can’t just say what I believe, people usually won’t take what you say face value….unless they know you and trust you i.e. make the “choice” to heed your words. It’s why one Christian looks at a sunset and marvels are the amazing colors God made and an atheist sees a sunset, thinks it’s beautiful, and that’s it. Two people can see the same thing and come to a different conclusion about it, unless you make a choice.
    I’m not saying, “we believe in God based purely on our own will,” I’m only saying the key to seeing truth is humility and a choice. If your an atheist, you believe “we” make our own way, “we’re” the only ones to depend on. “We’re” the highest evolved species. If we come with preconceived ideas that we learned about the conception of a sunset , we made a wall for our eyes to not see past any other thing possible. If we humble ourselves, our defenses are lowered, we don’t defend any suggestion. That’s not to say you believe anything, it just means that you become humble enough to say, “I can’t do this” , “I’m not the best,” ” there are other possibilities.” It’s being honest with the truth that is.
    Humility is a key to alot of things. I’ve had alot to learn. I think what you want to cut/paste instead is a wise thing to do. It would bring defenses down so your able to ask him questions and his defenses will stay down because you aren’t forcing him to believe anything, your forcing him to think allowing him to own a solution to who God is.

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