An Atheist Life: Matthew’s story (kinda)
Matthew wanted to write in to share a story about a close friend of his while also taking the time to write in a question that I’ll try to answer next podcast.
Hi. First let me say I really enjoy your podcast.
I have a friend who is an atheist but has reasonably fundamentalist parents. (fairly unusual here in Australia) He has very strong views against religion like I do but he hasn’t come out to his parents and probably never will. He’s even sat with them while filling out a national census and allowed them to put him down as a christian because he doesn’t want them to know his true views. If he does that, you wonder how many other people have done that. According to the last census here, nominally 70% of people are christian but I think a lot of people just pay lip service to it and aren’t all that serious about it in their day to day lives. From my experience it seems that, with young people at least, that about 90% of them aren’t religious or if they are they don’t say it or act like it. It’s a very secular country but people like my friend are still afraid to come out so I think the true number of atheists is even higher than what the census says. That might be the case even more in America as people would face much more discrimination over there for being an out atheist. The Pew forum said about 16% of Americans weren’t religious but hopefully it’s even higher than that in reality. As for my story, my parents are both Anglican and took me to church when I was younger, along with my two sisters. I always found church to be boring and pathetic and I don’t think I ever really believed in a god, although my indoctrination was much lighter than for some people. I stopped going to church when I was about 15 and my parents were disappointed but didn’t make too big a deal out of it. Neither of my sisters are religious at all either. I can’t even remember when they stopped going to church. Neither of my sisters are at all interested in the topic of atheism or religion. They are more like apatheists than atheists but don’t like to use any particular label for themselves whereas I’m happy to call myself an atheist and skeptic and secular humanist. Most of my knowledge about freethought has come from American podcasts on the topic and atheist books. No one seems to care much about religion or atheism over here but I’ve become a lot more militant in my views after all I’ve read and heard. I’ve even joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get their FreeThought Today newspaper and I’m thinking about subscribing to CFI’s Free Inquiry magazine too.
My question is about a Word doc my Mum sent me with supposed evidence for the existence of Jesus and the truth of the new testament. I’m going to email her a response to it but I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Tacitus (and possibly other historians) mentioning Jesus (although I remember hearing there wasn’t much to it and I have a few ideas on counter arguments to other things mentioned) so I was wondering what you thought about the “evidence”? I’ve included the text below but I don’t know whether you can be bothered reading it as it is fairly long. I’ve heard elsewhere that sometimes a tactic of Christians is to spend a few seconds copying and pasting a slab of text by someone else that they agree with, and that it takes a lot of time and effort to counter all the points in it, and yet the person themselves would be unable to articulate the arguments without referring back to the text, which I think might apply in this case.