A sequel to "Dear Alice"
Angry and Sad
Rick's e-mail made my blood boil. I tried to calm down a little before e-mailing Wilfred directly.
I got a very distressing e-mail from Rick.
It seems that over an extensive period you have systematically dismantled his faith, until the point at which he has become an Atheist, like you.
Does that make you happy? Does it give you some kind of self-satified smirk?
This makes me angry and deeply disappointed.
I guess Rick must have told you what he believes.
I'd be curious to know how he told you. He's a very cautious thinker. He carefully considered many issues and his change of heart took many years. He did speak to me about it occassionally, but I assure you his journey was not guided by me. I just suggested he look into the questions and assumptions he had.
Do you not have questions?
Please don't be upset, either with me or with Rick. If anything, be proud of him. It's a difficult journey for anyone to make.
That's not the point Wilfred. It doesn't matter how hard the journey is. It matters where the journey has ended, and you've taken him to a place that is meaningless. Without God, life is meaningless.
You have stolen the meaning from Rick's life.
You are smart enough to know that.
I think your concern for Rick is wonderful. You are a good person, and I can see that you have the kindest intentions.
I don't entirely agree with what you wrote though. We can chat about it at length when you're not quite so upset, if you'd like.
But there are two things I'd like to clarify. Firstly, I must emphasise that I did not take Rick anywhere. This was Rick's journey, and while he looked to me as a confidant, I certainly did not tell him which path to take. He went online, and read Wikipedia, and studied the Bible—I would not be surprised if he knew it at least as well as you now—and bought books on both sides of the discussions he was interested in. His passion for understanding the issues really impressed me, and I think that if you started to ask yourself some of the questions he asked himself, you would do well if you worked half as hard as he did to evaluate the answers.
Secondly, and I think most importantly, for years Rick has been studying the nature and existence of God. Whether or not life is meaningless without God (and that is a topic for another time) it has nothing to do with whether God exists.
Rick has been dealing with the existence of God. I understand that you are very unhappy with his conclusion. But what Rick will need to do next, and maybe he has done this already, is deal with the implications of his conclusion.
Thinking atheists must consider answers to questions that the church, and the mosque, and the temple just spoonfeed believers. The meaning of their lives is one thing. Their morality is another.
I'm happy to talk about these things if you'd like. But it bothers me that you would be skipping the basics; first decide for yourself whether the God you worship is really there, or is just in your head. Once you have made a decision on that, then we can look at the implications of your decision.
If you are serious about this, can I suggest you do what Rick did? Look online. Read blogs. Watch debates on YouTube. Find both sides of each issue, and make up your own mind. Perhaps start with apologists who support your beliefs, and balance them with counter-apologetics.
I know what I know
I have been a Christian my whole life. It gives me meaning. In Acts 17:28 the Bible says, "For in Him we live and move and have our being."
You took that away from Rick, but you cannot take it away from me. I do not have questions. I do not need to watch Atheists arguing on YouTube.
(You will note that I capitalise the word Atheist because all religions should be spelled with a capital letter.)
You raised another issue: Without God, there is no morality. Psalm 14:1 says it pretty plainly:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
Why are you Atheists so hell-bent on destroying everything that is good, and precious?
I don't want to argue about this with you. If you are looking for a fight, you'll find plenty on the Internet, and you said yourself that you don't want to watch arguments.
One of my favourite quotes, and I'm not sure who said it first, is that atheism is not a religion any more than bald is a hairstyle. You get many different kinds of atheists. Buddhists are atheists. The only thing they all have in common is that they do not believe in literal gods. You do not believe in Ra or Marduk or Jupiter—you are an atheist of all those gods. A complete atheist just disbelieves in one more god than you.
Of course there is morality without God. Look up "secular humanism". And then check out the wonderful work that the Foundation Beyond Belief is doing.
About that fool in Psalm 14: In Plato's Apology, Socrates says,
I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.
The author of Psalm 14 fancies he knows there is a God. The "fool" does not claim to know that. Because the "fool" is not pretending to know what he doesn't know, he is the wiser of the two.
I am sorry that you are not interested in investigating the things you think you know. It disappoints me a little, but it doesn't surprise me.
I don't want to argue. But if you do decide to look into these things more deeply, please know that I am here to listen to you and to support you. I will even support you if you reinforce the beliefs you already have.
I don't mind what you believe. All I'm asking is that you believe them for good, solid reasons. Like the man in Matthew 7:24-27, build your house on the rock of logic and evidence, not like the man who built his house on the sand of hearsay and appeals to authority.
You have no right
Don't you go quoting the Bible to me, my friend. You threw that Book away. Matthew 7:24-27 is about the words of Jesus. You should rather focus your attention on Matthew 7:6,
Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
You are trampling the Word of God under foot.
I mean what I say, I don't want to argue. But if you do decide to look into these things more deeply, please know that I am here to listen to you and to support you. I will even support you if you reinforce the beliefs you already have.
I think we're done here.
Much, much later,
I am sorry about my animosity the last time we corresponded. I was very upset.
I have been thinking about that Socrates quote. Am I really the fool?
I bought a book, by an apologist, Alister McGrath, called "Mere Apologetics".
Have you read it?
No, I haven't read it. Please let me know what you find.