Approaching the Nonbeliever

Between Reddit and Facebook, I’m finding myself reading a lot of complaints and memes from atheists lately. And every time I do, I have one of three reactions:

1. Not ALL Christians believe that – stop generalizing.

2. I love science too, but I still have faith.

3. Stop prooftexting. We get it – the man-eating bear verse is absurd.

 It’s frustrating, because I often agree with the posts, which typically point out the hypocrisy of SOME religious folks in terms of their anti-science stance, their circular logic, or their hypocritical behavior. Yet I don’t know exactly how to tell them that there ARE people of faith – including some who call themselves Christians – who love science, who understand how human logic works, who understand/embrace/work through the many contradictions of sacred texts, who actually behave in the ways their religion tells them to (ie. Christians who follow Jesus’s teachings about the poor). And these are people who believe in something greater than themselves, who find the natural human compulsion to believe in something beyond themselves to be comforting, enlivening, enriching.

What I wish I could tell atheists is that there IS a way to be a person of faith and a lover of reason, to be a theist and a scientist, to profess faith in Jesus and actually work for the betterment of humanity and our home planet.

Yet what I find when I suggest this might be true is a fundamentalism that is as strong as that we find on the Religious Right – fundamentalist atheists who not only insist they have no faith in God but who are hellbent on converting others to their un-faith. They are not happy if someone is a believer; they want to move you off the dime as much as the evangelical wants you to answer the altar call.

So what’s a person to do? What words work? Or is it like trying to teach a pig to sing? (It wastes your time and annoys the pig.)

I wrote this hoping I’d answer my own question, but I find no answers…

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