Today, a lady made a post on a fundy board. She is a fundamentalist Christian, and her husband is an atheist. I won't comment on them because it's private. Her post made several challenges to atheists. I don't have the thread or the message board anymore, sorry. But Franc does reference some of her questions. She seemed pretty angry. In fact, later on she says she hates atheism more than anything in her life. Below is Franc's response:
First of all, I understand your anger. You have invested a lot of your life towards a religious institution, church, belief system, and you realized that a lot of people think it's hurtful. I realize you want to lash out at us atheists for saying it, but if your goal is to help people, then you should consider whether we're actually right. If what you're doing is not helping people, but in fact hurting them and depriving them of their happiness, wouldn't you want to know it ?
Secondly, I would invite you to read some ex-Christian testimonies, on a page such as : Ex Christian Testimony
This is my wife's testimony. There are many other testimonies on that site. A friend of mine, Lance, has literally turned his life upside-down since he became an atheist. He is now mentally and financially free, and on his way to a great career. This kind of transformation is going on all around the world. Is taking control of your mind and life a bad thing ? I don't think it is. I think it's a wonderful gift.
When you become an atheist, you don't become depressed, hateful or suicidal. Most deconverted atheists live good lives, although they have problems just like Christians do. The only difference is that they deal with problems on their own terms, with full confidence in their own means, instead of using excuses to explain away failure and evil behaviour.
An atheist knows there is only one life to live, and if you don't live it to the fullest, you don't get a second chance. If you commit evil, there is no one to save you - you are responsible for your own actions. And that we must accept people as they are, and deal with other people on our own terms, not on the terms of a book written thousands of years ago.
All that becoming an atheist does is take away the belief systems that keep you away from your compassion and your personal values, and gives you the control and responsibility of your own life. If you love your husband right now, you will love him as an atheist. And he will be there to support you. That's the most important thing. You have friends and people who appreciate you, you have resources, and most importantly you have your own values - all these things are not going away.
Let me answer some other of your points :
* We are not trying to tear away your hope. If you have hope right now, you will still have the same hope when you are an atheist. Whatever you are hoping for, the only way you will get it is by dealing with the real world.
* I don't think it is okay to teach children Santa Claus, unless it is taught as a story. Same for Jesus, God, Zeus, Zarathustra, and any other character. It's good for children to have a healthy imagination, but it shouldn't interfere with the quality of their lives. The doctrines of Hell (being told that they will burn forever if they don't obey) and original sin (being told that they are worthless) are traumatizing to children.
* What would happen if everyone was an atheist ? We would have an entire society of people who deal with life on its own terms, instead of using religious excuses to commit irrational or evil behaviour. People who don't believe things simply because they want them to be true. People who accept other people on their own terms. We would have a tremendous society.
May I assume that you are American for a moment ? Why do you think the United States has the highest incarceration rate of ALL countries in the world, highest crime rates of all developed countries, and close to the highest rates of racism and homophobia (next to Japan) ? Think about it for a minute. If Chrisitanity really did make people better, shouldn't the United States be a country full of moral, upright people ?
* When you become an atheist, you will not become unhappy, suicidal, bitter, depressed and anguished, unless you are right now. And if you are, the love of your husband and doing something about your problems will help you - prayer will not. But first you have to want to solve your problems. On that, I can't help you, and no one else can help you.
* If you love your husband now, you will continue to love him - then why would you leave him ? If you don't love him right now, then you still won't love him - then why should you stay with him ? Right now your personal values are buried in a religious "commitment" which has nothing to do with you. What do YOU want to do with your life ?
* There is a lot for you to look forward to. There are things around you that make you happy right now - these things are not going anywhere. Everything ! All the little pleasures of life ! A good meal, music, nature, family and friends, food, learning new things, doing the kind of things you enjoy, movies, art, parties, birthdays, weddings, books, travel, whatever you want to do. But once you become an atheist, you will be able to do even more, if you want.
What do you have to look forward to ? Everything that this life has to offer. No more limit !
* Christianity is not making you a better person. Christianity teaches horrible things, and people who really follow the rules in the Bible are criminals and psychotics - killing or rejecting people for being who they are, leaving their loved ones, repressing their sexuality, and generally acting against their own values and making themselves and everyone around them unhappy. You are NOT a psychotic, you are already a good person. You have good values. They are still IN THERE, inside you, but your beliefs are pushing them back and make you feel depressed and isolated from your own values.
Aura, I've been turning people away from Christianity for more than ten years. I am not turning them away from "their ultimate motivation in life". I would never want to do that. Their ultimate motivation is in their personal values, whatever they are. All that I'm doing is freeing people from the belief system that is keeping them in bondage and releasing their creative values into the world. We're making a more peaceful and productive world. Isn't that what we all want ?
If you want to talk to me, I'll always be there. My address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
And if you'd prefer not, remember that there are always people out there who will be ready to help you, if you ever need it.
Thanks for listening, diary.