October 16, 2013

The Prerequisites of Christian Belief Atheists Are Missing

Vasily Perov's painting illustrates clandestin...
Vasily Perov's painting illustrates clandestine meetings of Christians in pagan Kiev. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many of us, atheists and theists alike, understand that early childhood indoctrination is vitally important to sustaining world religions. Most people believe in the gods in which their parents believed and which their culture promoted. But not everyone grasps this. Some Christians, in fact, appear to overlook this and focus almost exclusively on the acquisition of religious beliefs later in life.

It also appears, at least according to some of these Christians, that we atheists do not worship the Christian god primarily because we have not met the prerequisites for Christian faith. That is, we have not had the sort of experiences that are required before we can become true Christians. Never mind that many of us were previously Christians before coming to our senses; this is deemed irrelevant, explained away by insisting that we were never really "true Christians," or simply ignored.

What are these prerequisites for being a true Christian? Join me in taking a look at a comment left by a Christian a couple weeks ago on this post, and we'll see if we can figure it out. It begins:
Dear precious readers, as an explorer for truth I have discovered that you can't worship the giver of life before you have had a number of experiences. My first challenge was to become interested in him. When our interest solidifies then its possible that we can become thankful, thereafter praise has a chance to develop and at the summit of this journey true worship can follow. Psalm 100:4 brings out this observation more elegantly than I can express it.
You have to love that opening, don't you? I may have to start every post with "dear precious readers" from now on!

I am going to assume that "giver of life" is Christianspeak for the god in which this particular Christian believes, and so the first sentence appears to be claiming that one must have certain experiences before one is able to worship this particular god. From the second sentence, it seems that becoming interested in this particular god might be one of these required experiences. We have to infer this since it is not clearly stated, but this seems to be what the author is suggesting. Moreover, the third sentence suggests that one cannot become thankful until one is first interested. From that sentence, it would appear to work something like this:

interest --> thankful --> praise --> true worship

We will just have to overlook the fact that these terms are not defined here and likely mean different things to different people. And as noted above, we also need to ignore the fact that many atheists are former Christians who were extremely interested in the god in which they used to believe, thankful to this god for all sorts of imagined benefits, spent considerable time and energy praising this god, and worshiped it in the same ways many current Christians do today. And yet, we are considered lost in some respects because we no longer cling to these beliefs. At least we are not totally hopeless.
So there is always considerable hope of making good progress in finding the Giver of life provided we become sufficiently interested in exploring for him. If someone for example is indifferent they can't be truly thankful to him from that starting point.
This paragraph almost sounds like the author is saying that one cannot believe until one believes. One cannot be a true Christian without first being…a true Christian. Fascinating!
When praise is in our heart the word praise flows more frequently from our lips. If on the otherhand indifference to or criticism of the Creator is in our heart critical words about him will flow out of our mouth.
I'll have to defer to those of you with a better mastery of Christianspeak on deciphering this. It seems to be saying something like we tend to say what we feel, but I suspect the author was hoping for something more profound.

The author shows his hand in the last paragraph - he's hoping you damned heathens will see the light.
May many readers here dig deep this year and in 2014 so that they become interested to explore the words of Jesus, in order to be in a better position to decide whether they think he is worthy praise or unworthy of praise.
He does not appear to realize just how many of you have read the Christian bible from cover to cover, how many of you spent decades of your lives as believing Christians, or how much better many of you know the words of Jesus than many Christians. The only reason you don't believe everything this author believes is that you haven't sufficiently explored Jesus due to your lack of interest.

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