There’s a new thing making the Christian circuit, a book and website called “The Doubter’s Club” which is intended to convert non-christian, especially atheists it seems. I’ve listened to an interview with the author and leader, Preston Ulmer, here, and below is my response.
as an atheist, I have some suggestions for Christians who find they need to bother us about their religion.
Christians are indeed certain about a lot of things. They try to claim they are not, but they cannot function as Christians if they do doubt. Even the bible states this, with JC talking to Thomas. This god did give evidence in that case, so the claims from Christians that no one should ask for evidence, e.g. “test” this god is based on apologetics that know that no evidence would be forthcoming.
When a Christian does claim he doesn’t understand something, it is usually when something is an embarrassing point in the bible, like when this god is seen to do something ignorant and violent, where god’s “mysterious” ways are invoked. That is an obvious dodge to an atheist.
It seems that Preston assumes that atheists are dishonest. That is unfortunate. Theists often want to claim that they know why people are atheists, when they ignore what atheists actually say. Don’t do this. You’ll almost always be wrong.
To consider us as prey in a “long play” is also obvious. We aren’t stupid. You want more people in your “tribe” for validation. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just human.
Most of us do know that Christians disagree in the most basic things, so insisting your version is the one truth doesn’t work. We also know that you try to convert each other. A lot of us also know that a Christian, C.S. Lewis, said to hide the divisions from potential Christians (Mere Christianity, preface).
Many of us are former Christians and have read the bible. We are often more familiar with than most Christians. If you try to claim we don’t “correctly” understand it, often sheathed in the claim that we don’t know about sophisticated theologians or Christianity, we will ask you how you can show your version is the “right” one.
Most of us also know that Jesus isn’t all warm and fuzzy. This character kills every non Christian in the end times stories. Luke 19, the parable of the minas, isn’t a great thing either.
If you assume that we are on a “spiritual” journey, you are likely wrong. That is an assumption that we aren’t complete as we are.
Acting like you are doing us a favor is also obvious. We aren’t the “unclean” that you can feel virtuous by daring to associate with. We know you have ulterior motives. We have friends and we do deserve friends, no god or Christian needed.
The “invitation to imitate Christ” bit is probably the most ridiculous and verging on offensive. This assumes that your version of Christ is the true one, that Christ existed, and that we aren’t humane, empathetic people. We know that Christianity, at its base, says that anyone who disagrees with this god deserves death or worse. That isn’t love and that isn’t something a friend would wish for their friend. This ignorance assumes that only Christians are good people. They aren’t.
For me, the whole thing comes off as creepy. Really really creepy.