Saturday, 21 April 2012

Things Christians say: part 12. You're not sincere in your search!

A weekly series of responses to the things Christians say to atheists, based on the video reproduced here on 30th January 2012.  The aim is to tackle one every weekend, to give both a moderate, polite response to each question ('Piano'), followed by a more forceful rebuttal of the same question ('Forte'). 

I just don't think you're sincere in your search.


Now that you mention the topic of sincerity in searching, I think it would not be too unreasonable to ask about your own search.

My guess is that you have searched for God quite a lot and that you might not even have found him yet.  A few 'proper' Christians claim to have "met the living Jesus" (although I assume that they mean that in a spiritual sense).

Many others have not yet succeeded but they live in hope and they believe that others have.

Maybe it is a virtue to continue with that search.  On the other hand maybe one would be better served by broadening the scope of the search a little to consider the possibility that there is no God, or indeed no gods at all!



When I was a Christian I searched for God.  I didn't know where to search.  Advice about searching my heart was not very helpful.  Searching the bible wasn't much use either.  The more of it you read, the harder it is to know what God is like, but one thing becomes gradually clearer - whatever he is like, there is very little to suggest that he is all-powerful and all-loving.

And then came the challenge from our pseudo-catholic Anglican minister - now retired.   "Read this book called 'The God Delusion'!" he said. (At the time it was virtually unknown and only available in hardback).  "Then after reading it, search your heart for the answer, and consult another much smaller book called "The Dawkins Delusion" to assist you to find the 'right' answer."

It would be hard to describe a more life-changing experience than that.  Aside from my observation that Dawkins was rational and thorough (possibly sometimes too thorough) and that McGrath was virtually incoherent, so many of the standard arguments for faith were totally undermined by a single book.

That's when the search really began.  Not all the arguments that Dawkins made were completely and unambiguously obvious and clear to me at the time, but his writings made me aware of a few other authors.  As you read more work by more people you find that each has found a few topics which (to me) they explain better than all the others, and so the search gets steadily more exciting.  After reading Dawkins, you are introduced to Harris, Dennett and Hitchens, the so-called 'four horsemen'.  Then they introduce you to others from the pantheon of writers against the hypotheses of gods, including Thomas Paine, Bertrand Russell, Victor Stenger, Lawrence Krauss and Carl Sagan.  Add Mark Twain, James Randi, Dan Barker and perhaps even Penn Jillette (who is better on stage than in writing) and the search begins to widen even further.

My challenge to Christians is to be more sincere in your search.  Don't just read the jumbled collection of bronze-age and iron-age fiction, by anonymous ancient authors and expect to learn everything useful that there is to know about life's modern mysteries.

Be more sincere in your own search!


Last week: If there's no god I don't know how anybody would get up in the morning.
Next week: You know, I think deep down you really believe


krissthesexyatheist said...

We can turn it around on them and say the same thing, except we would be correct. Even when (ex) clergy become atheist they still say the same thing. Quite audacious of a lay person to say a priest or pastor was not sincere in their 'search'. Awesome,


AmadeusMop said...

What did you say that minister?