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One-sided Conversations

Many times when I am engaged in a conversation with a fundamentalist Christian, he or she will ask me to read one of their apologists. They convince themselves that if only I read this other book, the Bible will make perfect sense. If only I read this other book all the immoral, unscientific, false history, illogical, contradictory, magical content of the Bible will be perfectly explained and make complete sense.

Often times, I will read the recommended apologist and find that the arguments put forth are old arguments that had already been answered by people hundreds and even thousands of years ago. While I do sometimes recommend atheist books to my Christian friends, I usually just recommend more classical philosophical works. Just the other day, I was recommended Plato’s Republic, Euthyphro, and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

Unfortunately, many fundamentalist Christians are not interested in learning about morality, ethics, or any other topic of intellectual discourse. They already have all the answers in the Bible. They are also not interested in understanding my point of view and they are certainly not going to spend any time or effort to read anything I recommend even if it isn’t even an atheist author’s book.

While I have taken the time to read the Bible cover-to-cover (which is quite a considerable undertaking and one in which most fundamentalists haven’t even done I might point out) and I have taken the time to read some of the more influential Christian apologists, most Christians not only refuse to read atheist authors but they often even refuse to read classical literature and philosophy.

It often seems like a one-sided conversation. I read their books, listen to their arguments, think about their arguments, and even consider their arguments while they ignore almost everything I say. Fundamentalist Christians just don’t care to learn. They don’t want to understand the atheistic point of view nor do they want to learn about the world around them. The only reason they are in a conversation with an atheist at all is because they think the atheist is a mark for their con-game.

I understand that all Christians are different and so I think that it is important to learn why a person believes what they believe and what exactly do they believe. Oddly enough, I am often curious about why fellow atheists have rejected their former brainwashed beliefs too. It is rare that I hear a Christian articulate a new argument for their beliefs. Even the apologists seem to just rehash tired old arguments. But with every Christian that I discuss religion with, I look forward to being surprised.

Despite the one-sidedness of the conversation, I still think it is important to engage in these dialogs. The fact that they are only half listening to my arguments is actually encouraging on a subconscious level. Part of them still hears what I have to say and will nag at their thoughts day and night. At some point they will need to find answers to the questions that I pose.

I don’t expect my arguments to convince them on the spot that everything they have ever believed is a lie. No, I expect my arguments to gnaw on their brain for awhile and when they are can’t take it any more; they will start to look for answers on their own. At some point they might even pick up the Republic, Euthyphro, or the Nicomachean Ethics. They might even pick up The End of Faith or God Is Not Great.

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