Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

9 January 2009

My snake is bigger than your snake

It seems like someone's making atheists mad. I'm not sure if something went awry at the last budget meeting or what, but somethings up. And good for them really. If I was an atheist... I'd try to convert you too. Because what you believe about God is the single, most important thing someone can discover about life. Everything else filters through your believe about truth and it's source.

So the atheists are proselytizing. The British Humanist Association is running these ads on 800 buses in London at a cost of $200,000.

So the Christian lobbyists are fighting back! They are protesting, saying it's that it's false advertising.

"There is plenty of evidence for God, from people's personal experience, to the complexity, interdependence, beauty and design of the natural world. "But there is scant evidence on the other side, so I think the advertisers are really going to struggle to show their claim is not an exaggeration or inaccurate, as the ASA code puts it"

Stephen Green, national director of the Christian Voice

Yeah... that'll teach them Godless heathens. But wait... the counter punch. Atheists are suing Rick Warren now. Oh Lord, at least leave him with one Hawaiian shirt! They're trying to block his prayer and other mentions of God during the upcoming inauguration of President-elect Barak Obama.

Warren said he is a Christian pastor and plans to pray “the only kind of prayer I know how to pray,"
Orange County register

That'll teach those brain dead Christians. Lawsuits and plenty of 'um. Squash this Jesus nonsense once and for all. Persecution historically stifles the move of God right? Right???

Take a look at this clip of Penn (from the magic/comedic "Penn and Teller" duo). Penn is a staunch atheist, but you've got to listen to this fascinating story of the night someone at his show gave him a Bible and shared Jesus with him.

"I don't respect those who don't proselytize."
"How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize?"

Wow! Note the qualities that Penn says this Christian man displayed that changed what would have normally been a hostile environment, into an honest exchange where God was released to do his thing.


He says, "With that kind of goodness... it's ok to have that deep of a disagreement". I plan on sharing the goodness and freedom of Christ all the days I walk this earth. I will... and DO proselytize. But when someone like Penn feels compelled to give a list of qualities this Christian displayed that make him listen, it's quite likely that he's encountered angry, jerky, insane, rude, insulting Christians that he's chosen not to listen to in the past. Shocker.

There are ways of being that open doors and allow the love of God to impact someone... and there are ways of being that actually lead those who you're trying to witness to, into deeper entrenchment in their beliefs.

I want to have honest, meaningful... SANE exchanges where everyone is respected. I don't have to be jerk about it, because:

A) That's stupid
B) I believe that "He who is within is greater than he who is in the world".

In Exodus 7, when Aaron's staff and Pharaoh's magicians got into a "my snake is bigger than your snake" fight, Aaron's snake ate Pharaoh's snake. I believe that when I pray... God hears and acts... and will reveal Himself to us. And when people earn each others respect enough to have an honest interaction... the truth will win.

And Penn's right, if I believe there is a heaven and hell, how much would I have to hate you not to tell you.


Jeff said...

Good thoughts Dave, from both you and from Penn. I think you've got atheists pegged all wrong, though. I mean, there are certainly angry atheists, just as there are angry Christians. I think it's more revealing to say that there are just angry people...period. But the atheist bus advertisements are not a result of anger or of trying to "convert" people. I mean, what is there to convert people to? I have read what the people who designed the ads have to say about it, and essentially they are trying to let people who are kind of "non-religious" know that they're not alone in their thoughts. It's a way of connecting with those people. And it's odd that some Christians are getting uptight about a message that says "There's probably no God." How inflammatory is that?

Mind you, the people getting uptight are those angry people that would likely get angry about anything else that they don't agree with. This false advertising business is just kind of ridiculous if you ask me. I read a certain scientist's blog, and he brought up a good point here: http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/01/dont_you_dare_tell_me_that_jes.php
I mean, he's making a joke out of it, but I don't think that some court is going to decide that there is or isn't enough evidence for God.

At the same time, while I don't necessarily agree with the lawsuit against Rick Warren, I think they may have a legitimate claim there. America has a distinct separation of church and state, and they are a multicultural nation. To have their inauguration presided over by a Christian prayer is essentially a way of excluding those of other faiths or of no faith at all. Do I think it needs a lawsuit? No, it's just a dumb prayer. But at the same time, it seems to be a backwards step in tolerance - in living in a multicultural and multi-faith society. If you're a Christian business and want to pray before your board meetings, that's perfectly fine, but this is a public display that impacts all Americans. Why should a Muslim American have to sit through a Christian prayer?

At any rate, since my comment is getting long now, let me just say that I agree with what you said about Penn. There are legitimately nice Christians out there, and although Penn and I might say that they would be nice even in the absence of religion, the idea that two people of different beliefs can have a respectful and honest discussion about such things is great. I think what drives some atheists (or those of different faiths) up the wall is when Christians simply get too pushy. If they're not interested, they're not interested, and the level of respect has to be mutual. As long as we all keep shooting for respect, though, I think we're on the right track.

Dave Carrol said...

Yeah it's true that respect has to be the common vein. Without it,you can't even begin to delve into... well... pretty much anything. The angry bit was more tongue in cheek... but it's also not isolated.

I get what you're saying but that's the thing about believing in nothing. It's still believing in something. It's still a philosophy about truth through which you filter life choices through... and (maybe just my perception) but more groups are attempting to share this point of view with others and show them a better(which is very much like Christian evangelism).

Agreed on how getting mad about the buses is dumb.

And as far as Rick Warren... I think the reason why God is included...is that most Americans DO believe in the God of the Bible (in some way shape or form) and it's important to them to have it as a part of things that are important to them. And yeah it is divisive. But believe about truth is too. I don't think you can get around it. SOMETHING is right and something isn't.

It doesn't mean that we can't respect, be kind, be friends etc (quite the opposite) but I think society is fooling itself to think that we can rationally accept "we'll all just believe whatever we think and don't bug each other" because life is short and intense... and we're all scouring for meaning.

Just my thoughts... dang you're a good blog conversationalist

Anonymous said...

I love that there is still an inkling of doubt of Gods existence in that photo.

Anonymous said...

"There's probably no..." is just another way of saying "there probably is...". Right?

Anyway, I like this post.


Jeff said...

Cody, I'd just like to point out that it's logically impossible to prove a negative. You can't prove that invisible unicorns don't exist. That's why most atheists would say something like "there is no evidence that a God exists" rather than "God does not exist." It's a fine distinction, but an important misconception.

Dave, I do agree with you that atheist/agnostic/humanist organizations are starting to do this sort of "evangelism" thing. Typically, though, I think it's a little different than Christian evangelism. There's no dogmatic motivation in the case of the atheist to tell everyone around them - after all, if there's no heaven or hell, then why bother people? I think most of it is a reaction to religious fundamentalism - some have started to see the dangers of letting everyone do their thing. Whether you're a radical Muslim flying a plane into the WTC, or a radical Christian bombing an abortion clinic, it's undeniable that religion has the potential to incite great harm. Not saying that all religion is bad, but it's important that boundaries are respected. I think most of the "atheist evangelism" is just trying to say "Hey, we're all in this together. Let's try to at least be reasonable about this."

And well, with the whole Rick Warren thing, I still disagree with you, but that's okay. I see it in the same light as having a communal prayer over the intercom in the public schools. Should the children brought up Muslim or Buddhist or non-religious or whatever else be forced to listen to it? Nobody's trying to ban prayer, but we've got to respect each others' beliefs as well. It's like a family - if someone's playing their music too loud and it's getting on another person's nerves, the thing that keeps conflict to a minimum is for the person to turn their music down.

At any rate, you may still not agree with me there, but oh well. At least we're being civil :P

lyn's lyrics and lifenotes said...

I like Mr. Penn. He called it like he saw it and he'd make a great Christian one day. I don't say this critically - I find it curious that atheists devote so much time talking about something they don't find any evidence for to believe. I mean, I don't endlessly talk about invisible unicorns (thanks for that picture Jeff :-)) or martians... As for the Rick Warren issue, I believe I read that Mr Obama chose Warren on purpose to open the door to tolerance amongst all because Christians are not being tolerated at all - though they are required to be tolerant to others. I just look forward to the day when more people who eventually find the deepest part of themselves very empty, actually start to desire God because of a genuine Christian who just loved them for who they are, and the probability of God's existence starts to be believable because of God's Spirit living and breathing in that Christian. I agree Dave - it will come through prayer and respect for others. And I agree Jeff - no room for pushiness, bashing or anger!

Paul said...

"How much do you have to hate someone to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that."

One of the most profound and challenging things I have EVER heard.

God forgive us.

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