Below is a comment posted by one Bedrocktruth (or Bedrock as I call him for short, others go with Brt), who I frequently sparred with over issues like the war in Iraq over at Liberal Avenger, where he functioned as the resident right wing troll. Recently, over at Gordo's blog Appletree, Bedrock complained that his comments over at Liberal Avenger were being held up in the moderation queue and that he wasn't getting a fair shake. I told him he could feel free to visit here sometimes, and I can see not only from the comments he has posted here, but from the number of hits recorded from him on my sitemeter that he has taken up the offer with gusto.
The comment below was posted by Bedrock in the comments thread for the post that linked to Max Blumenthal's video of his visit to the Christians United for Israel conference. Since Bedrock's comments were off thread and I didn't want the thread to be filled with posts responding to him, I though I would use the challenge he lays down as the basis for this post. To all my fellow atheists who frequent here, I invite you submit your comments in response to the points and questions that Bedrock raises. Tell him why we have our atheist blogs, our books and our videos.
And now, for the Bedrock challenge:
"OK, Tommy, just say it loud:"I'm an atheist and I'm proud"!!
It looks like you've created quite a haven here for atheists who want to escape the nasty old Christian world where 90% of the people in this country believe in a higher power.Fine by me, as we've discussed several times I'm a pseudo agnostic, poor excuse for a Christian-if I ever made any pretenses at all about it. But what gets me is why atheists seem to feel the need to apologize for, constantly reinforce and defend their non beliefs by spending their time devouring books, films and other paraphenalia that pound on the "evils" of Christianity and trying to nit pick the Bible and the Christian religion apart piece by piece. It's like some kind of obsessive "Malkin Watch".
All the futile falderal however misses the basic point for most Christians I know , which is a matter of simple faith that no amount of atheist nit picking is going to undermine. Not so much faith in this passage or that passage of the Bible-which is why pointing out contradictions or historical inaccuracies is a waste of perfectly good atheist Bible bashing time-but faith in a higher power unfettered by the constrictions of general human ineptitude in matters of the heart and spirit.
And why do you folks want to do something like that in the first place? After all your friends at the ACLU have just about stripped every vestige of this country's religious heritage from the public arena. What's left, leveling churches or burning Christians in the square as witches?
If you'll allow me to post something that's been on my website for quite awhile I'd at least like to put up another side to the question."Pascal's wager....." Pascal argues that since reason cannot decide the matter we should look at the trade offs. Christianity (specifically Catholicism) offers eternal happiness for believers and eternal misery for non-believers, while atheism offers only the satisfaction of being rational and free time on Sunday mornings.
Since Christ promises a better payout, we should play His game.
"Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is," Pascal instructs us. "If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is...."
jack*'s post brought to mind my encounter with a person who had essentially based his entire life on Pascal's wager although I didn't know what to call it at the time. It's really not very pleasant to recall the incident since I was definitely committed to my questioning, probing, challenging "smartass" position concerning religion at the time.
One of the people I admired and respected greatly in my home town was a gentleman named Bob Herlong, a highly successful businessman and, as I learned that day, a committed Christian. Everyone in our little luncheon group knew that Bob was dying of leukemia and only had a year or so to live.
Everyone, that is, but me. I'd never thought of Bob as sickly. He was energetic, almost effervescent, with a permanent smile and a quick grin. He was also highly intelligent and I guess this fact this had something to do with my little smart assed statement to him that day as he spoke quietly to me of his commitment to Christ.
I said something like, "Bob, you're an intelligent man, a lot smarter than me-how can you possibly believe some of the things you read in the Bible"?
I had no idea that I might be undermining the faith of a dying man and it bothers me every time I think about it. But I needn't have worried. Bob smiled and said "John we all have choices to make in life. And one of them is whether or not to believe in God and the personal redemption of Christ. Whether I'm right or wrong, my belief has given me peace of mind and my life and my family's life have been the better for it. It's going to be leukemia that kills me, John-not ulcers."
Were those the words the result of some kind of battlefield conversion in the face of death? I found out later that Bob's father had been a Methodist minister and that Bob himself had been a leader in his own church for many years.
Almost as long as I'd been a smart ass..."