Monday, May 21, 2007

Intermission Time

I have presented my understanding of the Christian concept of hope and as well as my view of hope. I have done so without comparing the one to the other which I plan to do shortly. Before I get into the comparisons, I would like to share a quick conversation with a friend of mine.

I have friend, we’ll call him The Kiwi. The short version of how I came to know His Kiwiness is that I sold him a TV two years ago and have not been able to get rid of him ever since. The Kiwi and I don’t hang out as much as we used to because we both have little ones at home. Every so often, during the work day, we have little IM exchanges. This happens a few times a week. The Kiwi pinged me the other day to show me this article. I eventually got around to reading it and got a good laugh. He then asked for the URL to this blog. I gave it to him and there was no immediate response. That is the nature of these conversations. They start but the end point is ill defined. One of us usually gets interrupted by real work and all communication abruptly ends. That’s what I thought had happened.

Several minutes later, my IM window popped up again and The Kiwi quoted from the comments section of my blog, “Yes, for an atheist, you have written a pretty good synopsis of the idea of the hope Christians have.”

I proceeded to tell The Kiwi that I was actually disappointed by that comment. The general indication I got was that my little synopsis of Christian hope was accurate. I really do understand it and that kind of bummed me out. The Kiwi got a laugh as he had the same thoughts as well. We discussed for a while it’s not our lack of understanding that drove us away from religion; it’s actually our understanding that makes us atheists.

The Christian notion of hope, to me anyway, seems to be based on having low self-esteem and belief in the supernatural. Really, that’s all that’s being “offered”.


zilch said...

I too have encountered similar responses from Christians. Apparently many find it hard to believe that one can read the Bible, go to church, talk to Christians, and still be an atheist, or become an atheist after having believed in God.

Typical rationalizations for our lack of belief include:

"you were never a real Christian"

"you are too proud to accept a Higher Power"

"you have been brainwashed by the Devil (in the form of Darwin, secular humanism, materialism, etc.)"

The gist of these seems to be: "if you really understand the Bible (or really accept that Christ died for our sins), you can't fail to be a Christian. If you're not a Christian, that proves that you don't really understand (or accept)."

In other words- heads I'm right, tails you're wrong.

Bible student said...

On the Christian Hope page, I said, “I would agree that you have a pretty good take on what taught in the church today.”

There is something more that I noticed missing, in my early life in the RC Church. I also noticed it missing from your synopsis of Christian hope.

It’s God.

The gist of the Bible's message, is not personal salvation through Christ, but God’s sovereignty. From the choices of Adam and Eve to the final verses of Revelation. (Rev. 22:8,9)

Christ is the road, but God is the destination.

How God works this out, is quite unbelievable to some, but the invitation is still there.

robustyoungsoul said...

Agreed, I was almost stunned that people agreed so readily with your summary, AW. The fact that folks seem to miss how unbelievably depressing that notion of living a life must be makes me depressed.

zilch said...

"How God works this out, is quite unbelievable to some, but the invitation is still there."

Where's the invitation, bible student? I never got it. Guess I'm going to hell.

Well, at least I'll have me some fun first...

Warren said...


you're starting to sound like a broken record with this invitation business. Where exactly is this invitation? If it's plainly there and clear as day then really you out to be able to explain it. If however your idea is that the invitation is different for each person, or that only those ready to believe can see the invitation, or that if you can't see it you're too dense then what you're really spouting in unquantifiable nonsense.

Bible student said...

The Bible is full of invitations, just one:
at the “last supper” Jesus prayed to his father,

“You are the only true God. If they know you, and Jesus Christ whom you sent, they will live for ever.” --John 17:3 (Worldwide English (New Testament))

Developing a better appreciation of God and his son, leads to great reward.

In Yiddish this is known as “such a deal,” take it or leave it, you’re invited.

zilch said...

Yes, bible student- given the choice, I would take playing a harp for eternity (even if I have to tune it, something I know about intimately) over slowly grilling forever. Probably most would. Trouble is, there's no good reason to believe that this offer is any different from, say, the offer to spend eternity in Valhalla if I die gloriously in battle, or the seventy-two virgins I get if I bow to Mecca five times a day. It's all just stories.

Bible student said...

O.K. zilch we'll put you down as a "doubtful"

Anybody else?

Vanessa Clark said...

"Anybody else?"

Proof or no proof - why would I want to spend an eternity singing the praises of a malevolent deity? The bible is full of stories about God's wrath, and I just can't see a reason to praise someone or something so vengeful.

Ilja said...

@ Vanessa

Because, unlike what religions state themselves, they are all based on fear. Fear of not making it into heaven, fear of being smitten for "doing wrong", fear of that there's nothing more to life than what there seems to be on first sight and death being the ultimate end.

And you need a deity that's capable of really kicking the ass of your enemies to feel safe, therefore it must be malevolent, but of course, only to the bad guys. To the believers, it's of course overflowing with love and already warming up their seat in heaven…

zilch said...

@ vanessa- not only what ilja said, but a lot of the music praising God is pretty cool...

Atheistwager said...

Either you are being sarcastic or we are going to disagree for the first time. I had an MP3 player modulator installed in my car, the channel that it uses receives a weak Christian muscic station. The music on there is horrible!

Bible student said...

@ AW

Years back, I promised God that I would serve him as long as I didn’t have to listen to the awful music.

zilch said...

@ AW- Darwin forfend that we ever disagree! You mean to say that you don't like such finger-snapping hits as "My Uncle is no Monkey"?

Actually, what I meant was oldies, such as Bach's St. Matthew Passion. If you don't think too much about the text, the music is sublime.