July 12, 2013

One of the Many Reasons Christian Evangelism Fails

Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Evangelical fundamentalist Christians want you to accept Jesus as your "savior" and have a "personal relationship" with him. Never you mind that he's been dead for over 2,000 years (if he existed at all). It is vital that you have a relationship with him. If you fail to do so, you will burn in hell forever. This is what they want you to believe, and they are not shy about telling you all about it.

Staks (Dangerous Talk) recently posted about a common question atheists hear from evangelical Christians:
Is there anything that would tempt you or convince you to believe in God?
I have always liked this question because it reminds me just how little evangelical Christians seem to know about belief. Is there anything that would tempt me to believe? Absolutely! When an evangelical Christian offers me $250,000 or more to believe, I will be extremely tempted.

The problem for the evangelist, however, is that I have no idea how to make myself believe something that I do not believe. Belief is not like a light switch that can be turned on or off at will. I can't simply take the money and suddenly start believing. I could certainly pretend to believe, but that would be about the best I could do. Atheism is not something I have chosen for myself on a whim. In fact, it is not something I have chosen for myself at all. I'm nowhere near that much of a masochist. I live in Mississippi. If there was any way I could believe this Jesus stuff like I did as a child, you better believe I would already have done so!

If the evangelist wants to ask what sort of evidence I might accept of the existence of various supernatural entities, that is one thing. But asking whether anything would tempt me to believe reflects a serious lack of understanding about how belief works. Is there anything that would tempt the evangelist to suddenly renounce his or her faith? Of course not! Belief doesn't work like that.

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