My son told me he’s an atheist, part 2

information-overloadAfter getting over the initial shock about my son’s lost faith, I began to research but I ran into two significant problems. The first problem was that I felt overwhelmed.

The Internet — which I use regularly in my IT career — provided an abundance of information, and the resources available in 2007 were mature and robust. There was so much available!

My second problem? Even though I had a degree in theology, it was distressing to read so many articulate and cogent arguments against the Christian faith. As a result, I limited my frequency of reading those materials because of the cognitive dissonance I encountered. At the time, I didn’t even know of the term cognitive dissonance, but I felt it.

My early strategy was to compile random notes in a document. Naturally, I relied heavily on Christian sources for arguments against atheism. I was a student of the Bible but I also had several favorite preachers who I would listen to often to prop my faith back up.

youtubeYouTube was a treasure trove of content for both sides of the argument, however atheists seemed more vocal. It was disappointing to read all of the put-downs and one-line arguments (by both sides), which really didn’t help anyone. That sort of angry antagonism made everyone look bad.

ray-comfort-banana-manSome of the earliest YouTube content that I ran across were videos produced by Illustra Media. They have some compelling content, which includes Unlocking the Mystery of Life. I also came across an English fellow named Thunderf00t (spelled with ‘zeros’) who is a fairly prominent atheist on YouTube with a large following. He often ridiculed a New Zealand-born evangelist named Ray Comfort (aka, “banana man‘) for his arguments about “intelligent design” — the scientific label given to the argument for God as the creator of everything. Ray Comfort got the funny nickname of banana man because he claimed that the design of a banana was an atheist’s nightmare since it was clear that the amazing shape and characteristics of a banana showed there was a designer. Unfortunately, Ray didn’t realize until later (when it was pointed out to him) that the banana we enjoy today has been artificially bred to have the shape and attributes we now enjoy. Once confronted with the facts, Ray tried to say it was all in jest, but he was unable to avoid playing the part of the fool.

debate-hitchens-lennoxAn early realization for me on this journey was that you could find good information to support either side of the debate. I remember hearing a few prominent people say that “this was the most important question in religion” and others would take it a step farther and say “the most important question in all of life” – – and I tended to agree. My worldview on this truly colored my life in dramatic ways.

I watched many formal debate videos and most were quite good. In contrast, the YouTube comments were usually rude and crude. It was particularly distressing to read so many hateful or crude comments by fellow Christians! I’d also see trite comments like “I know God is real because He lives in my heart!!“. I understood where they were coming from, but posts like that wouldn’t convince a skeptic nor would they help someone on the fence. Instead, it just made the person look rather childish.

When I started this journey, if anyone had asked me about my faith, I would have told them it was rock solid and that I was supremely confident in my beliefs. It was air-tight and impregnable. I also felt that any atheist was a mouth-piece for Satan. But I had never seriously challenged my beliefs or seriously wrestled with doubt.

I later read this simple but profound question: Is a faith that is unchallenged really any faith at all?

My oldest son is a very bright young man, and I knew that intelligent reasoning was important. I started my journey with the firm conviction that since God created the universe and everything that we see, it was just a matter of time before I could find those rational arguments in support of God and the Bible. What I discovered changed my life.

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3 thoughts on “My son told me he’s an atheist, part 2

  1. The argument from “the spirit is in my heart” is truly laughable. I’ve heard this from a variety of sources including William Lane Craig, Mormons and my father. Hearing it from
    Craig is funny because he’s so logical and detailed in his formal debates and then he throws out “I just feel it’s true” (paraphrased). Hearing from my father hurts the most because it means he likely believes I’m going to hell.

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