Monday, 15 April 2013

Dear Christians, from Ben Evans

In November last year an open letter was posted on directed as Atheists (or more correctly addressed to atheists but directed and other religionists seeking to feel superior).

I wrote a response letter almost immediately and apologise that it sat in my draft tray for so long before being posted

Dear Christians (C/o Bodie Hodge)

[An open letter in response to Dear Atheists]

Tired? Not at all...

I am happy to say the only people who associate evil with atheism are those who thoughtlessly misinterpret history and who conveniently disown christianity's own violent, bigoted history, claiming all the negative actions are taken by not "true" christians. Thankfully modern atheist societies deriving their morality from humanism, have far fewer murderers, tyrants, rapists and crime in general than christian societies, and we manage it on our own recognisance. It looks like "true Christ followers" lack the self control expected in polite society... or perhaps you are just taking advantage of all that forgiveness you've been promised?

Do you feel conflicted that your morality is defined by religious edict? That human values of compassion and tolerance can only be expressed if they comply with religious dogma? Of course it could be your worldview getting in the way of your own moral judgment. Being given a set of badly written laws set down over three thousand years ago doesn't give you much scope for developing a truly moral set of human values based on mutual respect. If someone stabs you in the back, treats you like nothing, steals from you, or lies to you, it doesn’t ultimately matter in an christian worldview as long as they pray for forgiveness, right? If they are truly repentent they can be forgiven by Jesus even if you are still suffering from their acts. After all - if you accept the infinite suffering of hell as the same punishment for all crimes then all crimes are the same regardless of how many people got hurt, right? That must be disheartening...

I don't get tired of atheism providing no basis for logic or reason because logic and reason are basis for atheism... you're putting the cart before the horse if you accept a moral and ethical framework before you have the tools to determine if it's claims are true... although, that would explain a lot. Luckily I do believe in facts that can be seen in nature, that rationality can help me understand them and that claims of truth must prove their veracity. This cycle of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis and verification is called "science", you should give it a go sometime as it's far better at finding laws like E=MC2 and F=MA than a book that gives a manifestly wrong figure for a basic geometric value like Pi.

I do like to take a weekend off once in a while, after dealing with the insane people of the world, and I try to spare a thought for the people first broke the calendar down into weeks... the babylonian civilisation from which we also get the 24 hour day and 60 minute hour that predate both christianity and judaism. I am, however, very worried that without the word of god and the urging of the bible that you think you would never take a respite... are you sure you are looking after yourself properly?

For professing christians these issues must be overwhelming. Forcing yourself to believe a collection of mis-translated creation myths and parables, living under the threat of eternal punishment and having to assume the position that there is a single, all powerful god and that you personally know what he wants... Being an atheist I can only make up my own mind, I cannot claim to know the mind of god. I am forced to look at the unsupported claims, the contradictions, the blatant horrors committed in the name of your "loving" god and the total lack of evidence for his existence. Being an atheist I am forced to deal with truth and reality and must see jesus and the christian god in the same light as unicorns, hobbits, leprechauns, the Loch Ness moster, and other fanciful creatures, although I cannot prove absolutely that they do not exist, I can assume so beyond reasonable doubt and relegate them all to the realm of fiction until some actual evidence or even consistent rationality can be presented on their behalf.

Do you feel conflicted having to work so hard to explain and defend a story that is so obviously wrong? If god exists and wrote his laws in the hearts of all men why would anyone need to be told about it? Why would there need to be a book? Lets face it, life seems tough enough as a christian if, as you claim, you need the bible to tell you dress when it is cold. If you cant see good and practical reasons to keep yourself clean than I am glad you have that book to make up for your lack of basic common sense. However if you do not love someone enough to want to commit to them, to want to spend your life with them, if you think that the commitment of marriage flows from a book, then I would suggest that you avoid it altogether. People marrying for biblical reasons instead of considered personal emotional commitment (like you get from any normal heterosexual or homosexual couple) would simply be watering down the institution, so perhaps christians should not be allowed to marry if they do so only breed for jesus.

Are you weary of grasping at straws to defend the biblical creation story? Tired of closing your eyes to avoid seeing the mountain of evidence contradicting the literal claims of the bible? Tired of repeating the same flawed arguments in support of the unsupportable? Or perhaps the constant fear has finally gotten to you... the knowledge that you only cling to a literal interpretation of the bible because you lack the strength to be moral on your own, to make a good decision without threat or reward.

In fact, why would a christian care to live one moment longer in a fallen universe where even your very existence is considered an expression of sin and all you have to look forward to is another day trying to avoid any minor transgression that could get you cast into hell for a punishment so cruel and long that 467 trillion years would feel like just the beginning... A universe where your entire life is nothing but a test and you are nothing but a sinner born of a sinful act and cursed for the crimes of your ancestors in the christian worldview. Of course as an atheist I disagree, while atheists share not a single worldview, I see you as a valuable person able to make their own moral decisions and able to live a good life without threats or rewards. A life that can have its own meaning, made all the more precious because it is transient.


I invite you to reconsider that the fictitious god of your holy book is simply that. I'm here to tell you that christianity is a lie. As an Atheist, I understand that truth exists because things can be proven to be true, not because we would like them be. Unlike a christian whose worldview is given to him in a form that denies any critical evaluation and demands belief without reason, the atheist starts with logic, with rational thought and uses these tools to see lies from truth, fact from fiction, and reality from dogma. This is because believers in god and his word have no authority on the subject, they simply make claims to justify false beliefs.

There is no god and our image has been shaped by our environment. This means you have value. Whereas consistent christians teach that you are fallen, I see you differently. I see you as kin, as a relative no matter how distant. I see you as one who (like all life on this planet) stands at the front line of the long march of evolution, and stands now able to see the wonder of their own existence and to strive to live, to love, to learn, to build and to be something even better. Without the constant claim of sin, the assumption that you are imperfect that the creator blames the creation for it's faults like a painter blaming the paint for his inability to make a straight line. Our society sees you differently too, it will not punish you for the crimes of your parents, it will not punish anyone for the crimes of another and it gives you the freedom and opportunity to make amends and reconcile with anyone you may wrong without denying them the chance to forgive.

Christians are commanded to proselytise their faith to spread a story that people would never believe without arguments, threats, and as little as two hundred years ago physical violence and murder. Atheists do not have a worldview, we do not hate christianity or any other faith, we simply see it as wrong. We do not claim devine knowledge or holy guidance, we use the same tools of science and rationality that creates cures for the sick, makes it possible to build houses and improve crops to feed the poor. We only give you the tools and point out the chains we cannot break the shackles of someone who does not want to be free.

Where christians reject logic and reason in favor of shallow dogma (for anything in the world that contradicts the teaching of the bible must be wrong for the bible to be true), Atheists can understand that mankind is a thinking being having achieved a higher level of cognitive ability than any other creature on this world. Hense atheists seek to make sense of things instead of assuming that knowledge is "hidden" in a work of fiction. Atheists also have a basis to understand why people sometimes dont think logically due to their fears and emotion weaknesses. The most logical response is to give up christianity and accept responsibility for your own actions, to be moral by choice not edict. Instead of a life of servitude Atheism offers you the choice to give your life meaning, to choose how to spend your precious time in this life, to be human and to be proud that you chose your ethics and morality and contributed to the ethics and morality of others through thought and example.

Atheists wear clothes because we need to, we express our social modesty but understand that simply having a body under our clothes does not make us sinners. Atheists uphold marriage because it is a valuable and good social commitment, an expression of the love two people share for one another, and not the expression of an order to breed. Atheists keep clean because we understand the benefits for our health and happiness and are able to do so without unnecessary practices like forced genital mutilation. As Atheists we have a strong foundation in humanistic morals for saying that back-stabbing, theft, lies, and the enforced adoption of dogma are all wrong and we can do so without flawed systems like the ten commandments.

I invite you to leave the false beliefs of christianity and it's various forms and return to humanity with logic and reason. To know that all the people who have died across the centuries fighting over whose god was strongest, or whose belief was purest, or even who was reading the bible correctly, to know that all of them died because they sentenced themselves, finding it easier to accept a morally flawed absolute belief than to take responsibility for seeking to correct it.

The day is coming when people will have the moral strength to see the crimes committed in the name of christian dogma, the hatred it spreads under the banner of love and the suffering it gives under the claim of salvation. When humans understand their dignity, that slavery was never acceptable, that sacrificing another for your sins is never acceptable and that wanting something to be true does not make it so. I invite you personally to become an ex-christian, to join the growing ranks of people who accept their own moral responsibility, who see the beauty and awe of our transient life, who seize the opportunity to make life better now with the limited time they have advancing humanity in the truth and peace that only rationality can provide.

Yours factually,

No comments:

Post a Comment