A continued correspondence
A few days ago, I posted a letter I sent to my Christian counterpart. Here is his reply, and my answer to him:
Thanks for replying.
I just read everything you said and I agree on some issues with you.
I also can understand why you became an atheist. If I was probably in your position I would become one too because of the bad experience and of the education the Greek Mythology class.
I also bet that after that you did many reasearch [sic] on the issue of faith and religion and that bullet proof you beleif[sic].
Many people believe in God by faith only and their hardcore evidence is the miracles and their spiritual testimony.
That’s fair enough for me, but I do believe that there is more evidence than just having faith and feeling somethings, in fact, we have to be careful and test our beleifs [sic] by also studying the facts and not just by feelings, I agree with you on that. For me it’s a balance. And the going only by feeling and emotion issue has created many different religions and beleif [sic] system, some of them factual and some of them erroneous.
Now. Here’s my claim.
I don’t believe in religion. I believe that religion is man made and can become a bondage just like any addiction.
But I also can’t come to the conclusion that God doesn’t exist, because as I already studied, it takes much more faith to believe in evolution and atheism than to believe in God.
I do believe in the Bible.
I’m a Chrisitan [sic], I don’t use is as a religon [sic] but as a lifestyle, and I do not take it by faith only.
I believe there has to be a balance of faith and reason and as I have discovered Christianity fits them both.
I like to study the facts answer logical questions and come to conclusions.
Now, when I ask a logical simple question to many atheist and I see that all of them instead of answering it they begin getting mad at me and even insulting me, that’s one of the proof that I have for not to believe in atheism because they just can’t answer my simple question. Or questions I should say. Now I hope you don’t take any offense in this, on the contrary I hope you understand me.
Now, if you want and are willing we can discuss this issue of faith and reason. Seeing and reading what you wrote and how you wrote your screenname I can see that you are a very nice person. That’s the reason I wish to take this discussion further.
Oh, here’s a book I recomend [sic] you to read.
The Case for Christ – by Lee Strobel
This guy was a profecional [sic] journalist and atheist who used to ask many of the questions many atheists ask today and how he found the answers by investigating the facts through reliable sources.
Now here was my reply:
Well, I’d like to first say that I appreciate your kind words, and your willingness to have an open debate with me. You may not, of course, like some of my answers to your queries, but I will try to answer and respond to them as best as I can.
Undoubtedly, you may have talked to a number of atheists that expressed frustration at your belief. They probably automatically assumed that you must not be educated, or perhaps are ignorant. I cannot make such a claim, as I’m sure there are people that are vastly more intelligent than I who are believers. It’s true there are many atheists that are ‘rebels without a religion’. Their decision not to believe is a response to the overwhelming frustration and abuse they may have suffered at the hands of a church.
With that said, you must understand that a large number of atheists are not rebels without a religion, but rather are people with open minds who have examined the evidence and have become convinced there is none regarding the issue of god. You mentioned that it takes ‘faith’ to believe in evolution. This may be for two reasons: #1. You may not have a good idea of what evolution is. Do you know what punctuated equilibrium is? Are you aware of how mitochondrial DNA works? Are you familiar with how inheritance works, and how speciation occurs? My guess is that you do not. It’s true that others who believe in evolution may do so out of blind belief. They may hold a reverence for people in lab coats and assume these people as their chaplains. But you must understand this very important point: That the evidence of evolution is there for you to discover. This process is not one where faith is needed at all. If you study how evolution works, your belief in its accuracy is no more a leap of faith than if you carefully examine a car and determine that it is in good shape. Its existence is manifest in that understanding.
#2. You believe life is too complex to have originated by chance. This is a fairly common fallacy, since people are generally confused about how evolution works. Natural selection is not the product of chance. Although there is an element of randomness involved, only those traits that allow the organism a slight advantage over its competitors are carried over. This is due to the unique way genes work.
There are many common examples where we can see evolution at work. Since the agrarian revolution roughly 10,000 years ago, human beings have been selectively breeding plants and animals to serve their purpose. Different strands of wheat, rice, and corn still exist in the wild, but the version we eat now was crafted out of millions of different generation. Each time a yield increased, human being made the selection and continued the lineage. The same is true for dogs. In roughly the same amount of time, particular traits, such as aggressiveness, speed, and size have all been bread for. This is how evolution works.
It has also occurred to me that you may believe in the Bible without actually having read it. If you believe in the Bible, you must take the position that it is the infallible word of God. But doing so puts you in a very precarious situation. Why? Because the Bible is filled, not only with countless contradictions, but also with many elements that we find morally repugnant today. In Deuteronomy, God commands that any person that tries to divert you from God, be it your sister, friend, or even parents, are to be stoned to death.
Now you can say the Bible is sometimes the word of God, and sometimes simply the human interpretation of his words. However, this creates a new dilemma: which parts are we to believe? It’s convenient and easy to simply ignore the elements of the Bible we feel no longer serves our lives, but which ones must you discard, and which ones should you keep? You could say the 10 commandments are a good start, but only 2 really deal with laws we find useful today (for murder and thievery). It is also, quite clearly written in the Bible that these things apply between Jews, and were not to be applied to other tribes. This is why Joshua was so easily incensed to commit genocide to the Canaanites and Hittites.
As for the existence of Jesus, the story of the messiah comes as a direct consequence of the death of King David. It was prophesied one of his descendants would come back and reinstate the kingdom of Zion. But even Mark and Mathew cannot agree on the actual lineage of Jesus. In any case, both believed that Joseph was of David’s lineage, but ‘immaculate’ conception places Jesus outside such a lineage anyhow. It now begs the question: why would Mark and Mathew need to create a lineage that had no merit?
The answer, and the very answer I have regarding the existence and history of Jesus, can be answered during the council of Nicea, in the 5th century. This is when the books that comprise the Bible were gathered, translated, and made into the contemporary Bible you know of today. However, these books were translated from ancient Greek, and in Greek, the word for young maiden translates to young VIRGIN. By doing so, the council of Nicea initiated a drastic change in the mythology of Jesus, and cemented the legend of his birth forever…
You may not in actual fact be aware of just how knowledgeable I am regarding both the Bible, and many other religions. It is this knowledge that has given me the clarity of mind to realize the need to believe is sometimes more powerful than the need to know the truth. I can fully appreciate that wanting to believe in God is a natural human need, but this need does not describe objective reality. The balance that you seek, between rationalism and faith, exists because issues of faith are never open to discussion. As such, no real balance exists. Instead, you live the majority of your life using reason (such as when you buy a used car, or when you solve a math problem). But when you are faced with an important decision where you do not know what to do, you would rely on faith to tell you the answer. I would much rather admit I don’t know the answer to a question than automatically assume that I knew the answers to the most pertinent questions in the universe.