a Christian on the Sidelines

Below is a post that I did for an atheist website I contribute for… enjoy.
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Christian Commentary 

Well I have a bit of a confession to make to this website…I have been struggling as of late as to what to contribute (especially since traffic has exploded the past couple weeks). During my time on the sidelines, I have enjoyed reading the various posts and people’s reactions to them. I admit that I have not jumped in as frequently as I once did due to an upcoming move I am preparing for.

It was during my time on the outskirts of this forum that I began to ponder the (for lack of a more sensitive term) “point” of atheist websites such as de-conversion. Now this is not meant to be an insult, but maybe more of a sociological question and hypothesis. To do a comprehensive study on the posts of this blog would take a substantial amount of time. However, in my informal examination, I came a few conclusions.

Agnostic and Atheist contributors/commentors usually come from one of two backgrounds (I apologize for the dichotomy, but the simpler the better). In one camp, there are the individuals who lost their faith because of resentment towards Church establishments. These individuals could not deal with the hypocrisy of their particular religious institution and began to turn away from their faith – and who could blame them? The unfortunate corruption of scripture (through the travesty of strict literalism) has put a big black spot on “religion”. Not too long ago, a post was done on this blog that criticized people for saying they were “spiritual”, not “religious”. I think that this distinction has to made given the nature of “religion” today (particularly by the 20th century Christian fundamentalist movement.) In the effort to avoid digressing too far, I will just say that separating spirituality from religion coincides with Jesus’ irreligion purpose:

“…How terrible it will be for you experts of religious law! For you crush people beneath impossible religious demands and you never lift a finger to ease the burden.” (Luke 11:46)

“How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest part of your income, but you ignore the important things of the law – justice, mercy and faith…” (Matthew 23:23)

It is clear that many Agnostic/Atheists walked away from Christianity (or whatever religion) because they were tainted by the hypocrites, and were burdened with “impossible religious demands” (perhaps aA falls into this category as I recall him once saying how free and clear his conscience felt once he renounced his faith). Sadly, religious fundamentalists tend to avoid the “important things of the law- justice, mercy, and faith”. Agnostic/Atheists in this group are often angry, and their writing/comments reflect their displeasure with corruption.

The second camp of agnostic/atheists are usually individuals who feel that it does not make sense logically, scientifically, etc. for the events that are recorded in say, the Bible, to have occurred. Posts by these contributors tend to create interesting “online debates” in the comments section. Naturally though, there is a distinct flaw within having such “debates” because, in most cases, definitions are improperly defined and there are too many assumptions made on both sides. In other words, the paradigms of the individuals are holding back any real progress in regards to Atheists and Theists. The Agnostic/Atheist is attempting to explain religion through empirical methods while Theists attempt the same by using theology. The mixing of these concepts into the other field is a clear injustice to both disciplines.

If you can recall, the purpose of this post was to try to figure out the point of such forums like this one… it is quite apparent that the main goal is to provide a haven for like-minded (and sometimes “unlike”-minded) individuals to have a community to fall back on…hm, kind of sounds like a Church 🙂 . In other words, everyone wants to know others who believe the same. Yet what is it that Atheists and Agnostics believe? If the “De-Conversion Wager” on the side menu bar is an indicator of anything, then it appears that perhaps Atheists and Theists are not that different. Beyond the corruption, close-mindedness, and ignorance of both the religious and a-religious camps lies a similar desire. Boiled down, it looks as if the only difference that remains is determining where that “desire” comes from…and frankly, it doesn’t matter, because Atheists and Theists alike still have not fully embraced the concepts of love, mercy, compassion, and tolerance.

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One Response

  1. I do not know many agnostics or atheists by name, but I am familiar with Jonathan Wallace. He respects believers but cannot reconcile the idea of a personal God with his own personal freedom or with the suffering in the world. I discovered his e-zine Ethical Spectacle in December 2005 and, though I do not always agree with the views expressed there, have enjoyed reading it ever since.

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