Monday, April 19, 2010

Bearing Witness

I've had many, many discussions about Atheism with people both online and face to face. I have often found that facts get in the way to making my point. I am NOT advocating cheap rhetorical tricks to move people (even slightly) in my direction. What I am saying is that it is OK to be emotional. Fear keeps many people enslaved in Faith. It's fear that the floor beneath them will give way if they stop believing. Fear that they will lose their moral compass. Fear that the world won't make sense. Many Atheists are coldly analytical when they reach out to theists. This does not help to assuage the other person's existential fear. When I discuss my Atheism with a stranger I think of myself as Bearing Witness. 

Bearing Witness is a term that many of us ex-Christians may bristle at. It has a bunch of mumbo-jumbo connotations. It is a powerful tactic however, and one that can be divorced from the mumbo and the jumbo. For me it's simply telling my story. It's telling my story that life gets better without God, that I love my children just as much as any believer does, and that Atheists in general are happy well-adjusted people.

I also like to refer to pop culture to make my point. One of my favorite arguments utilizes the movie, The Matrix. At the end of the first act Morpheus offers Neo the choice of seeing the world as it is or staying in illusion. My point is that everyone says they will choose to see the world as it is. However, being serious about that decision means you are willing to jettison everything you believe in. Everything is a lot. A whole lot. What I finish with is that one can not even start the journey of seeing the world as it is if you do not entertain the idea that God will not be part of reality.

Ultimately, (and this may sound strange to people who know me well) I try not to sound like an asshole.

It makes Purgatory a bit more livable.


  1. I agree with everything you said there, but I tend to come off as an asshole A LOT of the time when debating or discussing religion/atheism.
    I don't see the problem with bringing up facts. Facts are evidence. Evidence is proof.
    Stick that in Jesus' pipe and smoke it.

  2. I agree entirely. When I talk about some concept being seen through a naturalistic worldview, I try and breath as much passion into it as I can. Not only does it make for a more convincing argument, it also is almost contagious. Making the other person want to see things with the same level of passion. Which, like you said, is what religious individuals do when they are 'bearing witness'.

  3. You don't need to worry about purgatory; you're going to HELL.

  4. The Random CommenterApril 24, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    I think that's great, then you can keep us company Anonymous.

  5. I think it's funny that the author of the anonymous comment previous was riddled with the number 21....i.e. date and time, and that that number biblically represents the blood of Jesus and the covering for sin. I am sad that your reality is full of deception, but I have peace knowing your sin is covered by the blood. You know in the core of your being , that there is a God who loves you and like teenagers sometimes do, you have rebelled against His authority. I pray that like most teenagers, you will turn from this rebellion and come back home to your family, who loves you.

  6. Susan, I think it's funny that you believe random numbers reveal Jesus and sin and blood. I would call that obsessive and pointless. I mean, you might as well foretell your future based on inspecting the entrails of beasts, or by observing the flight of birds. But I suppose those are no longer in fashion; not that numerology is far behind.

    Perhaps you do not realize how insulting it is to assert that you know non-believers are just pretending or denying whatever god you believe to be true. Or perhaps you are passive-aggressively trying to make the poster feel bad for not believing what you believe. Either way, it achieves the same result. You end up looking like an arrogant fool draped in false piety.

    As hard as this may be for you to believe, there are literally MILLIONS of people who do not believe in whatever cookie-cutter god you've chosen to pin all of your hopes and dreams on, and the non-religious are quite content to accept reality for what it is, both the negatives and positives.

  7. Let me put what you said in perspective for you by stating it a different way:

    "I think it's funny that the author of the anonymous comment previous said you are burning in Hell for eternity. I am sad that you need facts to substantiate your reality, but I have peace knowing that I will pretend my magical sky fairy will make everything okay. You know in the core of your being , that there is a Magical Sky Fairy who loves you and like people who use their frontal lobes sometimes do, you find the Magical Sky Fairy's existence to be utterly ridiculous and insane. I pray that like most people who use their brain, you will turn from those pesky facts of reality and come back home to your family, who loves you- even if they are deluded with whatever virus of the mind is prevalent in their community."

    You see, it doesn't sound so loving and caring when you expose your sentiment for what it is, now does it?

  8. @Susan:
    I find it hilarious that you say the number 21 represents Jesus' blood and covering for sin, while supporting the same post saying the OP is going to hell. :logic aneurysm:


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