I Hate Open Letters So…


Let’s Call This An Open Invitation

To what, you might ask. Discussion. Not debate. Dialogue. Open, honest discourse. As a Christian, I hear the christian opinion everyday. I read it in blog posts. I hear it in Youtube videos. Naturally, I gravitate to it. In the course of things, I come across other points of view as well, but one thing that I don’t get too much of is communication with everyday, regular, nonbelievers as to why the believe (or don’t believe) the way they do.

I have some very dear friends, and family, whose views are totally opposite of mine. You are my target audience. Or should I say the intended recipients of my invitation. I want to talk to you. I want to know what makes you tick. I am not looking for a debate per se, although debate may occur as a natural consequence. I just want friendly discussion about our differing views of religion, philosophy of life, etc. I am not looking to pick a fight.

Our proposed conversation could take place in a variety of forms, I’ll let you decide. Some options would be:

  • blog posts
  • Facebook notes
  • private email
  • talking on the phone
  • I would say that we could go 15th, 16th century style and take turns publishing books to state our viewpoint, but for the sake of time (and the fact that I’m not smart enough to do that), we’ll use one of the above methods, or another reasonable method of your choice.
  • I’d prefer to stick to a written format, but if talking we must do, then talk we shall.

    I promise not to try and convert you (unless you ask me to 😉 ). I deeply respect each of you that I have in mind, and would not undermine the intelligence I know you all possess. I’m just curious about your position is all. I am firmly established in what I believe, so you would have a hard time converting me as well :).

    In particular, I’m looking for the following positions to discuss: atheists, anti-theists, secular humanists, agnostics, or new agers/ middle eastern philosophy. I know that the members of these groups are usually pretty intelligent, willing to reason. Come, let us reason together.

    20110408-230648.jpg

    Right now I’m not really focusing on other religions like mormonism or witnesses, although I’d probably be willing to talk, shoot me a line if you feel compelled.

    If any of these are you, and you’re willing to open up about it, and follow things out to logical conclusions, then I ask you to contact me. Feel free to comment below, or contact me privately via jcrappel at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to talking to you.

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    7 thoughts on “I Hate Open Letters So…

    1. Hi there NotAScientist,

      Your friendly (judg[MENTAL], bible-thumpin’ Christian 😉 ) here. Thanks for replying. I guess a good place to start is how you became an atheist? What questions arose in your mind to lead up to it? And were you a believer before you were an unbeliever?

      I’ve had my own doubts in the past, even as young as about 12 or so, so I’m just curious about someone who may have taken the other fork in the road.

    2. “How” is a hard question because there was no one huge, defining moment that made it happen. I wasn’t hit by a vision on the road to Damascus that knocked me off my donkey and confirmed for me that there was no god!

      I began life as a liberal Catholic. I went to CCD (their version of Sunday school, but on Tuesday evenings), was in the choir, grumbled about having to get up early on the weekend to go to church, but generally had a fine time of it.

      And then I went to college. (Cue the foreboding music!) But it wasn’t the college lifestyle that changed me or my opinion. I’m an antisocial nerd…probably less antisocial now than I was then. So that meant I never really went out and partied and got drunk or had lots of anonymous sex or anything like that. I wasn’t ‘seduced to the dark side’, as it were.

      But what I did do was start taking religion classes. And I researched. And I read. And I took science classes. And, eventually, a question kept popping into my head: why is religion different?

      What I mean is, I realized I had been compartmentalizing my religious opinions in my mind. When I thought about anything else…science, relationships, history, mysteries, UFOs, psychics, religions that weren’t my own…I thought about them in an ‘evidential’ way. (There’s almost certainly a better word for that, but I can’t think of it at the moment.)

      If I had a question about something, I looked for the evidence. And I followed where the evidence led. Except when it came to my beliefs about god and religion. There, I pretty much gave it the benefit of the doubt and didn’t think about it much.

      And I reached a point, in my college years, where I couldn’t think of a good reason why my religious god beliefs should get the benefit of the doubt. So I took that benefit away, and started looking for the evidence. And the evidence, or lack thereof, led me slowly but surely away from believing a god or the supernatural existed.

      How’s that for a long, wordy answer? 🙂

      1. I am sorry for the length of time since my last response, and truly appreciate your answer. If you don’t mind, I would like to know how firm, or committed, you were to your faith before college. I know you said you participated in certain activities to an extent, but I guess the question I’m looking for is was it a “real” faith?

        What evidence is it that ultimately led you away? Thanks a lot!

        1. “I would like to know how firm, or committed, you were to your faith before college.” “but I guess the question I’m looking for is was it a “real” faith?”

          I’m not completely sure what this means.

          I believed that a god existed. I had that faith. I was not certain that the religion I was a member of had all the right answers about that god, but I was as sure as I was of anything that a god of some kind existed.

          “What evidence is it that ultimately led you away?”

          It wasn’t the evidence, but rather the lack of evidence for the supernatural claims. An anecdote, whether told to me in person or written down from thousands of years ago, just isn’t good enough by itself to prove that something supernatural or miraculous took place.

          And as I’ve never found non-anecdotal evidence, or had any sort of personal religious experience, I couldn’t stay a believer. I could pretend I was still a believer, of course, but I prefer not to lie to myself or others.

        2. Perhaps the wording of the first question was confusing, nevertheless I think you answered it. It seems to me that basically you believed that a god existed, but was still unsure as to what that meant exactly, and not certain that your church had it right. And it sounds like you’d still be willing to believe should you personally experience some type of religious awakening of sorts, or if someone could provide conclusive evidence. Thanks for sharing.

          Have you ever heard of Lee Strobel and the research he’s done in looking for the historical Jesus?

    3. “Have you ever heard of Lee Strobel and the research he’s done in looking for the historical Jesus?”

      I have, and have very much not been convinced by him.

      He seems to think the opposite of what I wrote above…that somehow an anecdote is enough to say that something miraculous or supernatural took place. And that just doesn’t make sense to me.

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