A) Agnostics Vs. Atheists, From a Christian Perspective and B) Is Atheism Technically a Faith-Based Religion?

I’m not trying to convert atheists to Christianity; I’m trying to convert atheists to agnosticism.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am actually not the kind of person who participates in pointless debates.  Granted, I’ll observe them, but I won’t join the heated discussions myself.  One of these classic debates is when Christians try to argue with atheists.  I remember one time on a church mission trip in high school I witnessed one of our youth group’s leaders yell to a guy at Wal-Mart during an emotional exchange: “Well buddy, one day you’re gonna finally meet God and see that He’s real and when you do, I hope you bust hell wide open!”  For what it’s worth, the atheist started it by loudly scoffing at our youth group’s Christian t-shirts which explained we were in that city to help with construction in low-income neighborhoods and also to lead Vacation Bible School at a local church in Phenix City, AL.

But still, that story shows how neither person was there to even defend their own beliefs, but instead to try to prove that the other person was a fool.  Therefore, it’s safe to say they both successfully proved their point.  It was a win-win situation.  Technically.

It has been my observation that agnostics (people who admit they don’t have the answers when it comes to the afterlife or the existence of God or how we all got here, but are willing to admit there’s a chance that just like any explanation out there including atheism, Christianity could be right) are respectful and overall cool people.  Typically, from my experience, agnostics do not have a general attitude that comes across like they are smarter or better than those who do believe in God.  It seems that truly they have no agenda to convert me to a state of doubt or unknowingness.  And I like that.

atheist/agnostic/deist

Generally (but not always), my experience observing atheists typically means they openly mock the “blindness, arrogance, and lack of ability to think freely” of those who do believe in God, specifically Christians.  Of course, this only fuels the emotion of certain Christians who sincerely belief, yet fail to recognize that while Jesus did say to go forth and tell the nations, the Bible also teaches against arguing with a fool– whether that fool is an atheist, another Christian, or the host of a political talk show.

I don’t see how it’s my place to try to convert someone who not only clearly demonstrates they are not interested or are not at all open to the idea, but who also mocks my efforts or even my lifestyle, stereotyping me because I am a Christian.  When it became clear to Jesus that His own people, the Jews (especially the Jewish religious leaders), had officially rejected His claim to be the Son of God, He then focused His time and efforts elsewhere- to the rest of us Gentiles.  Jesus didn’t waste energy on those who wanted to argue with him.  And interestingly, He didn’t waste energy on trying to prove them wrong.  He just simply walked on.  Nice move, Jesus.

Since it’s not a Christian’s place to argue with someone who doesn’t believe or to try to belittle those who belief differently, I would like to expect the same amount of respect from atheists.  It’s this simple: I do not believe I am better than anyone in this world, no matter what they do or do not believe. If I did, I would be contradicting the beliefs of my own religion.  Again, in turn, I would like the same treatment from those who do not believe the same way as me.

It’s pretty clear to me that both Christians and atheists have given themselves a bad reputation in the process of trying to prove each other to be wrong and to be idiots.  For example, there is a facebook group called “f— Jesus Christ” (I am of course censoring the actual name).  Obviously, that group started quite a stir, some Christians started creating groups like“ban the facebook group ‘f— Jesus Christ’”.  Therefore, hundreds of Christians have joined that group and as they have done so, it proclaims on their facebook profile and on the status feed which all of their facebook friends see that “(So-and-so) has joined the group “ban the facebook group ‘f— Jesus Christ’”.

As a Christian, I feel bad enough even typing the censored version of the name of the original facebook group.  So I definitely don’t want it repeated all over facebook.  Again, even though Christians are standing up against some offensive atheists who created the group, they have ended up defeating the purpose by not only bringing attention to their cyber bullies but also by wasting their energy arguing with fools.  No one wins; instead they just get upset.  I guess the thing about this story that makes me the most curious is this: Why would an atheist hate Jesus Christ or curse Him?  How can you hate or curse something that truly doesn’t exist?

Ultimately, the atheist who started the facebook group ended up having his or her wish granted: Christians got upset and in turn may have said some less than nice things towards atheists on facebook.  Because if a Christian can be made to look like an unstable, hate-speaking person, the atheist wins because it in essence shows the Christian to be a hypocrite- since the angry Christian’s  demeanor is not in accordance with how Jesus taught His followers to behave.  But again, this whole thing just goes to show that none of this is even about converting anyway; it’s about proving the other to be wrong, and therefore to be an imbecile.

I just think that if I were an atheist, I truly wouldn’t care what other people believed.  It wouldn’t even be worth talking about.  There wouldn’t be any emotion or passion invoked when I thought about it.  It would be that simple for me.

The problem with my hypothetical example of me being an atheist is this: Being an atheist truly requires having faith in the unseen and in prehistory.  And the way I see it, it takes much more faith to believe in nothing than it does in something.  Not to mention, it has been my experience that atheism is a vehicle (or Trojan Horse) for Evolution and Darwinism.   Therefore, I see atheism as a religion based on faith.

But agnosticism, I respect.  Because I’ve yet to meet an agnostic who mocked me, spoke to me condescendingly, or was passionate about their view.  And they never tried to convert me to Darwinism; because just like they can’t prove or disprove there is no God whom they can not see, it would take faith to firmly believe in Evolution.  I am actually fascinated by agnostics, because they evidently have no faith in the unseen or unknown or physically improvable.  I don’t see how they do it.  It seems that goes against how we were wired as human beings.

I see atheism as a passionate, organized religion.  But agnosticism- I just don’t know how to classify it.  The combination of faith and passion is a clear sign of a religion; most atheists I have met in my lifetime clearly possess both.  Agnostics, on the other hand, are not passionate about their non-belief and truly appear to have no faith.  Like Penn said in this candid and honest YouTube video, if a person truly believes in their religion, they should share with it others.  I guess that’s unless you’re an agnostic, because there’s no big idea to prove- not even Evolution.  But it seems to me like atheists want to preach their “nongospel”- and that sounds like religion to me.

Maybe the ultimate irony here is that I realize it could be pretty easy for any blog sniper to come across this article and miss the whole point.  Maybe a reader’s perception could cause them to believe I have found a way to cleverly be condescending towards atheists while ironically preaching that we should Christians and atheists should treat each other with respect.  (But I don’t think so- I’ve made it pretty clear that overzealous Christians have mishandled the situation too and have definitely been in the wrong by being rude and condescending towards atheists.)  I could see how the exact kind of overzealous person I refer to in this post (whether they are a Christian or atheist or political talk show host) could find a way to get upset by the words I’ve said here today and be inspired to leave a three paragraph-long comment using my words (in sarcastic quotation marks and out of context, of course) to try to start a religious debate or character-bashing session.

If that’s the case, I promise this: I will not retaliate.  I will not defend myself.  I will not reply to your comment.  Because then I would without a doubt become my ultimate worst example.

But… if you’re just dying to leave a comment on this one, what I would rather you do is debunk is my claim that because atheism requires faith and has passionate believers (and often has an agenda based on its own bible: the teachings of Evolution), atheism is therefore an unofficial organized religion.  If you want to leave a comment about that, I may be inspired to debate you, with all due respect.



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Rad Web Clips to Watch on a Lazy Saturday

In a world of so many weird and funny Internet clips begging for our attention on YouTube, one that started circulating in the fall of 2008 has officially become my all-time favorite.  I proclaim it my favorite “Clip of My Lifetime”.

I suspect that I’m not introducing this to anyone for the first time ever, but my intentions are to be a guide and companion as we try to squeeze this orange for all it’s worth. Please enjoy “Jesus is My Friend” by a rockin’ band called Sonseed:

Well first of all, it’s from 1983 so automatically how can it not be awesome? The lead singer, Sal (whose wife is the piano player), is quite a cartoon squirrel. His token head nod after every over-pronounced verse is so charming. And the pouty look on his face as he delivers each Vacation-Bible-School-line just warms my heart. It’s almost like watching a 4 year-old boy in the form of a 24 year-old Italian man. (Though he was actually 30 when this was filmed.)

I’ve seen cases of some of today’s popular actors either getting their start in Christian entertainment (or resorting to it once they realize their career is over). One theory is that Sonseed’s snazzy lead guitar player is the young Paul Giamatti. (In reality, the guitar player’s name is Frank Franco. That is stellar in itself.) And the drummer may very well be Will Ferrell’s first cousin. Hard to know for sure.

Depending on what day I’m asked, the back-up singers may be my favorite part of this short film. Having his next-door neighbors jump in at the last minute was a plan that came together after all. The first lady it shows is the answer to anyone who says “what’s the worst that could happen?” when being set on for a blind date. You just know things are bound to get awkward. I’m sure she’s got a heart of gold, but she really looks like she should be a SNL character. Did I see her as an extra on Napoleon Dynamite?

Next is perhaps her husband. I can see him being a youth minister on a weekend retreat in Kentucky.  I would definitely want to be in his raft on the white water rafting. Mainly just because a red plastic vest would befit him. Back home he probably had a Petra poster hanging up in his office so that the kids in his youth group could relate to him more.

Excuse me, John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, but you're kinda standing on the state of New Hampshire... so if you don't mind...

Um, excuse me, John Schlitt, lead singer of Petra, but you're kinda standing on the state of New Hampshire... so if you don't mind...

All I’ve got to say about the next lady is that I’m proud of her for being able to drag her husband out of the house. It takes a positive spirit like hers when being the other half of someone who can’t even memorize one line, “Jesus is a friend of mine”- he’s looking down at the lyric sheet the only time it zooms in on his face.

And then there are the actual lyrics to the song. Universally, the favorite line tends to be “God is like a mounty; He always gets his man”. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly a mounty is and how to spell it. I think it’s a word for a Canadian policeman. But of course the cherry on top of this whole nostalgia-fest is “Zap!!!” That defines the whole video.

When I was first introduced to this video I just watched it repeatedly. The day after I saw it the first time, my wife came home to find me watching it in a trance. There’s just so much to take in. I found a website where I was able to download the whole album. I’ve got it on my iPod now but “Jesus Is My Friend” is the only song of its class, like “Hey There Delilah” on The Plain White T’s CD.

I can’t imagine any YouTube clip ever having more character than Sonseed’s. But I do also highly recommend “The Renewed Mind is the Key” which was recorded from some hokey adult-contemporary Christian musical in Branson, Missouri. That’s only if you want to see a long-haired white guy moonwalk across the stage, then put his hand over his mouth as if he just “passed gas” and is embarrassed by it, the way a 58 year-old woman from Georgia wearing a sundress and matching hat would do. He is accompanied by two women wearing Hillary Clinton pant-suits who have learned a sort of snap-dance from someone who got their degree in “Modern Dance” from a community college.

And here’s the whole song…

And finally, a must-see is the dog that was born without his front legs; yet his owner taught him to walk on his hind legs. If anything ever looked fake but is completely real, it’s Faith, the Hind-Leg Walking Dog.