An atheist’s Christmas wish list (for Christians)

godOK. Here are some of the things I wish Christians would understand about me and my beliefs:

1. Please don’t try to convert me. In return, I won’t foist my atheism on you. Your chance of success is about the same as the chance someone will successfully convert you to Hinduism.

2. If you insist on trying, please do not employ a scripture-based argument. I don’t believe in scripture, so your argument simply doesn’t make any sense to me.

3. Don’t ask me to read the Bible. I’ve read it. It’s one of the main reasons I don’t believe in it.

4. I celebrate Christmas and do not feel like a hypocrite. There are no reindeer, elves or Santas in the Bible.

5. I have no problem with prayer in public schools. You can pray any time, anywhere. I do have a problem with organized prayers endorsed by public schools.

6. I think nativity displays are pretty. But they belong on church property, not public property. They are essentially advertisements for religion.

7. The Ten Commandments do not belong in public buildings. I agree that it’s bad to kill and steal, but the other commandments violate Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion. Post the Bill of Rights in every courthouse instead.

8. I consider myself a moral person. I follow an ethical system based the Golden Rule (which, by the way, is common to Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism). I believe morality is an outgrowth of rational self-interest and natural altruism.

9. I sometimes visit churches. I love the music and traditions and rituals. I believe it is psychologically healthy to confess your sins, to pray, and to celebrate communion with god or the universe or the force or whatever.

10. I am not even slightly worried about going to hell.

45 responses to “An atheist’s Christmas wish list (for Christians)

  1. Well done.

  2. The stupidest of the stupid resort to scripture slinging in religious debates. You see them posting nothing but scripture in threads all over the Net.

    Here’s how I try to explain to them why it’s an ineffective strategy to use with skeptics.

    I tell them:

    Look, suppose I owe you $1000 and show up at your door one day to pay it back. I see the smile cross your face and hand you $1000, not in real currency, but in Monopoly money. Yes, the fake money from the board game.

    You look at it with profound dissapointment and tell me that you can’t accept it because it’s not real money.

    So I then offer you $5000 in Monopoly money.

    You now look at me with irritation and repeat that it’s not real money and therefore has no value to you.

    I then reach into my pockets and pull out $10,000 in Monopoly money. “Look!”, I say, “$10k dollars to pay off a $1K loan!”

    You then slam the door in my face for wasting your time and being an idiot.

    Unfortunately, I doubt that my message ever really sinks in with the godbots who just expect to convert everyone to scripture by posting scripture.

  3. “I believe it is psychologically healthy to confess your sins, to pray, and to celebrate communion with god or the universe or the force or whatever”

    You can’t be freaking serious? That is a steaming load of horse crap. You are NOT an atheist is my assessment.

    Why is it psychologically healthy to tell a deluded person behind a curtain what sins you have committed against “god”? Also, define what a “sin” is.

    To whom – as an “atheist” will you pray. Don’t you feel like a fucking moron praying when you say you’re an atheist? That’s like saying you aren’t gay, you just like having sex with people of your own sex.

    What is this “communion” you speak of? How do you commune with a) a non-existent sky friend, b) an object spanning 15 Billion Light Years, or c) a creation by Hollywood.

    Honestly, you are quite literally off your rocker.

  4. Jeez. Cool down, dude. First of all, I’m not advocating that atheists pray, give confession or take communion. I’m just pointing out that these rituals may actually serve real purposes for the people who do participate.

    Religious rituals evolved over the centuries to help people deal with real problems that they face. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, sometimes I think we atheists are a little too quick to discard the baby with the bathwater.

    It is healthy and wise for a person to acknowledge his own shortcomings and wrongdoings — “sins” if you will. Prayer won’t get you anywhere by itself, but it at least helps you formulate in your own mind what you want. And if you look at communion as a reflection of the vastness of the universe and your own humble place in it, it’s — if nothing else — a worthwhile intellectual exercise.

    Obviously, not all atheists are going to agree with me on some of these points. But I think that to understand religion you have to understand the purposes it serves.

  5. I must also disagree with many of your sentiments. I don’t follow the Golden Rule, I base my morality on humanity’s unique ability to reason, anything that thwarts reason is immoral and anything that supports it moral, thus Christianity is not at all acceptable to me, as it’s not just an innocuous escape like being a drunk, it’s an excuse for violence and because of that I consider it my duty as a human being to stand up against mysticism at every opportunity.

  6. The Golden Rule is central to a reason-based moral system. It encourages people to treat others well out of rational self-interest, under the theory that if everyone followed in kind, everyone (including me) would be well-treated. From that one rule rises other rules that limit our conduct but reward us with a reasonable level safety, comfort and stability. A fair analogy is traffic rules: I have a rational self-interest in stopping at red lights because if everyone (including me) does so it will be safe to cross when the light is green.

    This moral system frays at the seams a little bit because not everyone can agree on how they want to be treated. (What about masochists?) And then, there are, of course, people who do not participate in the system. But as a whole it can be used as the basis for a rational ethical model that does not rely on ancient commandments carved into stone by a supernatural traffic cop.

  7. Mob1u5 left such a moronic post that I just can’t leave it alone.
    First of all, he’s “literally” off his rocker? Does he even have a rocker?
    That was definitely what prevented me from ignoring the post, but now I suppose I should extend my distaste to the rest of his inane and uninspired ramblings.
    Actually, the more I try, the less I know where to begin. Every sentence in that post was as retarded as the last and I have lost all enthusiasm.
    The article itself was insightful I guess, although I wouldn’t have commented on it, had I not been so surprised at how slow-minded a literate person could be. Usually that kind of dumb is backed up with LOLs and horrific abuse of numerals to replace letters.

  8. The Golden Rule was taught by Confucius about 500 years BEFORE Jebus walked the earth.

    So much for Xianity’s originality.

  9. I worked for 30 years overseas (Humanitarian Aid Relief Coordinator and Educator for First Responders)…this allowed me entrance into numerous nations across four contintents. It also meant that I worked with people from all walks of life. People of faith, atheists, agnostics, different races, economical/educational backgrounds, etc., etc.

    Due to the fact we all had the same goal…helping those to whom we were sent…there was never one single issue that arose that could not be resolved.

    Personally, I’ve found when people respect each other and accept them for who they are…nothing is impossible to accomplish.

    Great post!


  10. As a Christian, I agree with a lot (but not all) of what you have to say. I have never understood people using scripture references with people who don’t believe or read the Bible. I am relieved to see that you will not try to convert me. However, most atheist people I talk to always try to convert me to non-religion. Why is that? Are they trying to preempt me?

  11. Great post man.
    and yes, no one has ANY right to force anyone else to change his or her beliefs.

  12. Interesting discussion. I am puzzled about why James feels it’s his duty to stand up against mysticism or anyone else’s beliefs. I can’t see any point to that.

  13. well said.
    I think some Christians are still sure that All Agnostics and Atheists wish to convert them to something other then Christian.

    Truth is :we observe many of the same cultural traditions as they do, and enjoy doing so.

    Happy Holidays.

  14. I agree with you. I am an atheist but I enjoy learning about religions and being knowledgeable about them. I also am someone who completely tolerates people’s religious views.

    However, I have to say that the concept of organized religious institutions somewhat irritates me. They corrupt the basic principles of most religions by allowing priests and other “holy men” to interpret the text and rules in the way they see fit. I believe that if you are religious, you should have enough faith to conduct your personal and family prayers at home in a small shrine dedicated to whatever religion you practice. Also, no one should have to be coerced into giving a percentage of their income to a religious institution. That violates the principle that religion should be open to everyone (even though I understand that you have to be born into certain religions).

    Just my opinion. Many of my family members are Hindu and I enjoy the stories and the fact that they worship at home, not a religious institution.

  15. Though I do not believe exactly as you do, as is my right, you did make quite a few good points.
    Some Christians think that throwng the bible (&it’s contents) at someone who doesn’t practice any religion, or a religion they don’t believe in, will successfully change anything; but I don’t think it does. All it does is frustrates the receiver, possibly turning them away from that religion for good.

    I don’t know you, but you seem to be steadfast and clear with what you believe; and the great thing is: you don’t care if someone else disagrees with you because you know it is their right, so long as they don’t try to force anything on you.

    I wish I had your sureness.
    I think one of the great things about humanity (yes..I’m going “psychologist” a tad bit, sorry :]) — is that we are so diverse. We have hundreds of religions & thousands of cultures; and since I am still open in alot of my beliefs, it is great to look around and see all the things out there. I agree wholeheartedly with you: “I love the music and traditions and rituals. I believe it is psychologically healthy to confess your sins, to pray, and to celebrate communion with god or the universe or the force…”

    Kudos for putting this out there. :]

  16. As a Christian, I can’t really find anything to argue about in your post, although Lindsay’s comment made me giggle.

  17. Lindsay:

    I think some atheists are like some Christians: they feel strongly about their beliefs and want to share them with others. Some atheists feel that atheism is inherently “better” than religion because they attribute many of the wrongs in society to religious intolerance, anti-intellectualism and fanaticism. I personally doubt very strongly that, if religion were eradicated, people would act any more rationally than they do now. The culprit is human nature.

    Many atheists (and I count myself as one of them) get out-of-sorts at the way some religious people seek to use public institutions to spread and promote their faith, even though they already have well-funded and organized private institutions (e.g., churches) to do so. If my kid decides to become religious, that’s fine. But I don’t want him to do so because he’s the only kid in his class who sits out the prayer circle or doesn’t grok the “under God” clause in the Pledge of Allegiance. Atheists don’t even have private institutions (like churches) to promote their beliefs, never mind public ones. And some of them compensate by trying to sow doubt in the minds of believers.

  18. THANK YOU.

    While I wouldn’t call myself an atheist (I’m rather leaning toward atheism, pending investigation into the matter, so I suppose I fall into the agnostic category), I recently “fell from grace” in the Christian religion. My wonderful and ordinarily intelligent family responded by a: threatening me with hellfire and b: quoting Scripture at me. Ironically, it was the Scripture that put me off in the first place, so their attempts did nothing.

    One thing that you have to remember about Xians, no matter how annoying they get, is that they’re only doing it because they care. They really believe that you’re going to burn in the Eternal Lake of Fire for your beliefs, and they really are trying to save your soul. Do cut them a little slack – at least the first couple of times.

    As for morals and the supposed benefits or non-benefits of religion, I believe that my strong religious upbringing has had a very positive effect on me. It’s made me into a fundamentally good person, and the world can always use more of those. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” – it’s not just a commandment, it’s good common sense.

  19. Hello,

    Just wanted to say I enjoyed the post. It was very well written and provided food for thought.

    I am a Christian (for lack of a better way to describe myself), but I reject most if not all of modern and traditional expressions of Christian faith and religious rites…go figure.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  20. Anyworld, what do you believe is the source of “natural altruism”? I suppose you’ll say “nature.” How would/could altruism occur naturally?

    If you’re a Darwinian evolutionist, you’d have to say that there’s no place in nature for altruism. Worrying about others tends to get in the way of self preservation. It’s also counter to the so-called notion “survival of the fittest.”

    Just wondering.

  21. I thought I would bring some cheese to this atheist “whine party”.

    Who cares? You are an atheist. Who gives a shit?
    I am spiritual. Let people believe in what they want to. If someone wants a nativity scene in a public place fine with me. If the Empire State building is blue for Hanukkah and red and green for Christmas fine with me. You want to celebrate Holi in Times Square fine with me.

    Atheist in my opinion- especially the politically charged ones are full of it. You don’t believe yet you want a voice to say that you don’t believe. Okay then shut the hell up and don’t believe.
    Lately Atheist are acting more fanatical than Christians. Either side is scary.

    Stop silencing Christians, Jews, Muslims, Scientologists, Buddhist or anyone else that chooses to believe in a deity. Let it all be public for all I give a shit. If someone wants to say Merry Christmas let them without wages law suits. You brought santa shaped cookies to the office “holiday party”…Shut the fuck up and eat them and I eat the smoked salmon you brought.

    Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, Happy sobriety day, take your gay ferret to work day and all of that other good cheery shit.

  22. PS.

    I won’t try to convert you. Again who cares? Really how many people have tried to convert you? You say you like to visit churches maybe if you stayed your ass at home no one would attempt to convert you.

    That is like saying I like to visit crack houses but I don’t do crack. I just think it is psychologically healthy to watch people get high and see the ritual of them dry heaving into a brown paper bag

    I have had Jehovah witnesses come up to me with Watchtower magazine. I say “no thanks I belong to another religion”. They ask “So what do you believe in?”

    I reply “none of your business”

    They move the fuck on and so do I.

    I have never seen the ten commandments posted in a public building. If you have maybe stop licking dry wall and marble, pay your gas bill or whatever the hell reason you went to the building for and get out.

    gee you have way too much time on your hands. Why not call up Barnes and Noble and tell them that they can’t have Bibles for sale within public view. And tell Victoria Secret that you don’t like that whole angel campaign because it implies theism.

    Also I don’t worry if you go to hell either. No one else does. But I bet you want us to right?

    Sorry, but I sign into wordpress and they feature your stupid blog.

    It sounds like you need attention.

  23. I have to agree with afrocity. Everyone cares too much and gets too bent out of shape about all of this. People need to realize that we are all different and that it is ok to be different. Everyone needs to stop worrying about each others soul and just focus on yourselves. But as humans we will always find a reason to fight so removing religion will not bring peace; just new reasons to fight.

    But when I get into the religion debate I always pull the gods plan card. If everything happens based on gods plan then by logic god supports the raping and murdering of small children (watch the news). Anyone who supports god then, by logic, supports rape and murder of children. I’d rather spend eternity in he’ll then spend 1 second by that gods side. I could expand on the logic but am really to lazy and have Xmas lunch waiting for me.

    So… Everyone on both sides should practice tolerance and stop being so damn touchy on the subject so that we can actually make a positive change in this hate filled world.

  24. Gee afrocity – your rant is precisely is so eloquent and polite. In my experience this is a rather typical response from the religious right regarding anyone who dare to suggest that their god/religion is rubbish. But even better, you state:

    Atheist in my opinion- especially the politically charged ones are full of it. You don’t believe yet you want a voice to say that you don’t believe. Okay then shut the hell up and don’t believe.
    Lately Atheist are acting more fanatical than Christians. Either side is scary

    You’re right. We don’t believe. And we do want a voice. It’s guaranteed in the Constitution. The right to a voice. Oh, and another bit of annoyance in the Constitution: the separation of Church and State.

    We, atheists, want you to enjoy and practice your religion, but do so in the appropriate places: your place of worship, at home, etc. The framers of the Constitution recognized the absolute danger that came with the mixture of Church and State and took great measure to be certain that this country didn’t stray down that road.

    So I’m not going to shut the fuck up, but suggest you try reading the Constitution, read something about the thinking of the founding fathers and then realize that you have been less than Christian in your post.

    But to most atheists your reaction and anti-Christian rhetoric comes as no surprise.

  25. Thank you tkrphoto. That is exactly what I am saying. We should be tolerant of one another. The same atheist bozos who don’t want a nativity display in public are more than likely the same bozos who stole McCain signs from people’s lawns. More than likely the same idiots who burned down Sarah Palin’s church.

    Many of these types want free speech when it involves themselves but deny it to others.

    To Forklift boy or whatever the hell your name is. I am not religious. I said I am spiritual. I didn’t say I was a christian. Do I fucking sound like Billy Graham’s illegitimate Black daughter to you???? Haven’t been to church in years. I am not on the far right either. But you guys call anyone “far right” that is not for hearing your whining bullshit. In California they claim to be for rights yet attempt to overturn what the people of California voted on which was PROP 8. Then storm churches trying to get others to accept their views. Like that will really make them change their minds.

    I am for gay marriage and as far as I am concerned people can do what they hell they want to do.

    I don’t care what “You atheist” want me to do or where you want me to do it. I will say 10 kazillion Hail Mary’s at a KKK meeting or Woody Allen’s next film premier and that is my right. You wear a Sarah Palin is a CUNT tee shirt, that is your right.

    Maybe YOU should read the constitution–The Real One –not the Onion preamble. They actually PRAYED after they signed the damn thing you know. I am for separation of church and state too, but all you idiot atheists do is make religious people push back more.

    You want a voice. You don’t believe. Great now go go suck on a wheat grass Popsicle and have a gluten free cookie.

  26. I am a christian and a pastor. I wish to thank you for your honesty, and the fact that you actually don’t feel the need to curse and swear at everyone that does not agree with you. While we may be at odds in our beliefs, it does not mean that we are enemies in life. Too few people have got the grasp of this fact. As for christians, we do, honestly feel and believe the scripture that we study. While I do believe that I should witness I also know that you can only discuss scripture with someone who is actually interested in knowing how you feel about it and honestly seeks to discuss it. To be honest, most people are simply looking for a heated argument to allow them to flex some intellectual muscle. I wish that some of my friends could understand that when two people start to argue and fight over their differences they are both showing their own ignorance. Those that resort to the filthy language that I have read on most of the sites that I have visited in this area of thought show their own ignorance by cursing and swearing, which makes me believe that they must feel threatened. I again want to thank you for you frank honesty and the cleanliness of your dialogue. Best wishes, and merry Christmas.

    Pastor: James H. Knight

  27. Ourboy: Natural altruism is actually common among social animals; dogs, wolves and various primates will engage in selfless behavior in defense of others in their packs or groups.

    Afrocity: Who is trying to silence anyone? I respect your right to your beliefs and ask only that you respect mine in return. Instead, you respond with a belligerent and offensive rant, to which I will turn the other cheek. Merry Christmas to you.

    Pastor Knight: Wish more Christians and atheists were willing to engage in dialogue with each other. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding on both sides, and unfortunately the periodic media attention the issue receives serves mostly to fan the flames rather than engendering mutual respect.

  28. You actually sound more agnostic than atheistic. When I was young I used to say I was an atheist. But, then I realized that my thinking was just as flawed as the various devout “religious” people. Nowadays, I could never say categorically that there is NO god. My concept of a creator/life force is much broader and freer. My main objection is actually more to the Western idea of a bearded grandfather sitting in judgment of us all, from up on high. That and “organized religion”, which is much more about control than spirituality. Like you, I love a nice church. The architecture, the stained glass, the statues and paintings. If only we could get those priests and ministers to keep their mouths SHUT!

  29. Unclerave: Actually, you sound to me more like an agnostic than an atheist with all this talk about a “creator” or “life force.” I do not share your hostility toward religion, nor is it a requirement for atheism.

    Can I say categorically there is no god? Of course not. I can’t say anything categorically — at some point you’re bound to run into an epistemological wall. But if you asked me to stake my life’s savings on the non-existence of God, I would do so without the slightest hesitation.

  30. Merry Christmas.

    Sounds like 80% of you who post on here need to stretch the intellectual muscles in your pants and get laid.

    Anyworld are you offended? Oh, poor atheist baby. Go recycle something it will make you feel better.

  31. Afrocity: I’m curious about how you got the idea that I’m some kind of hippy.

  32. I know this is twice now I’ve commented this blog, but seeing as how it is a hot topic as of now, I wish to say something else.

    afrocity: Let me start by saying I am in no way attempting to criticize what you believe or your opinions on how others shall handle themselves. Period.
    But I do think that maybe your opinions might be accepted more by more people (of all religions or belief) if you were to use your terms less rudely and more politely. “Polite” is a figurative term — I mean in a way that doesn’t insult the person, but can still get your point across.
    I cuss as much as the next teenager, but, and to be totally honest, insulting people isn’t going to get them to do anything but ignore you.

    I’m not an expert on the topic, but I don’t believe that being an atheist means that anyworld (or anyone else for that matter) must stick to strictly liberal views. They can be pro this or against that; because that is there right. The title “republican”, “democrat”, “Christian”, “atheists” — that’s all they are, titles. What someone believes is just their beliefs. anyworld was merely showing us his, so I ask you that for his sake, think about this from his viewpoint. He did not make this post to piss you off, or force anything on you. He just wanted to be heard like the rest of his, and that will be forever his right whether someone disagrees with it or not.

    & afrocity: Anyone who insults you is merely sinking low. You have your opinions too, and how you express them is your own right.

    anyworld: Though I have no right, I almost feel guilty about how the public responders have commented here. They can say whatever they want, but it still makes me think that you might have some sort of regret for posting it in the first place. Maybe I am absolutely wrong — but I know I was very glad to read someone else’s thoughts on this –I just wish some of the others could be as open to accept something new as I am.
    Maybe I just sound proud.

  33. “All this talk”, anyworld? I mentioned it once, and only in the context of trying to keep my mind open, to the possibility of what can’t truly be known, in this existence (if this is all that is). But, don’t mistake my sense of humor for hostility. All preaching – of any kind – just gets so tiresome for me . . . very quickly.

    Did I forget to mention that I enjoyed your post? Good job, brother/sister. Come visit unclerave when you get a chance. All are welcome. (even Afrocity!)

  34. Unc: Thanks, will do.

    Amanda: No regrets. I would love to see well-meaning people on both sides of the belief fence engage each other in a civil discussion, but I realize that any attempt to do so will draw out the knuckleheads on both sides.

    Afro: Am I personally offended? No. But I think your willingness to drop the c-bomb in a public forum speaks volumes about you.

  35. @anyworld: Very true. I just wish the rest of us who make an attempt at remaining civil could just shoo them away. “Yes, have your opinions you ruffians, but argue amongst yourselves I want nothing to do with it.”

    It’s just not that easy.

    @unclerave: Visited. :)

  36. I do have to say it is funny when people reference “separation of church and state” and the Constitution at the same time… There is nothing in it stating that at all. This phrase was not coined until 1802 by Thomas Jefferson in a letter thus having no real “power”.

    Also, look at the Declaration of Independence… The words God and Creator show up quite a bit. So to even think that the founders of our country were not religious or meant for a government free of God is retarded. The whole point was to have a country where we are all FREE to worship ANY God that we want… not that we would have a government completely free of God.

    Again, I do not believe in a God… but I believe that everyone is different, it is OK to be different, and everyone should just leave other people the fuck alone. Its called tolerance and everyone from both sides of the fence needs to learn what it is and practice it.

  37. I’m not going to debate the separation of church and state, except to point out that after 200 years of intense scholarship it remains the consensus that the concept is implicit in the Constitution.

    In practice, it is very difficult to imagine how we could all have the freedom to worship (or not worship) in whatever way they choose if the government has a dog in the race, so to speak.

    The Founders did not want Americans fighting over religion the way the Europeans (particularly the British) had been doing for hundreds of years. So they established a separation between church and state to protect religions from the government, which is as it should be.

    Think of it this way: If government is a-religious, people remain completely free to worship in whatever way they want to. No harm is done. However, if government even appears to endorse any religion (e.g., Ten Commandments in courthouses), some people will feel like they are cut out.

    (For more on this, read my last post, which discusses why a person of Hindu faith walking into a courtroom and seeing the Ten Commandments might reasonably feel like he is violating the law.)

  38. I’ve got it all but I feel so deprived. I go up, I come down and I’m emptier inside. Tell me, what is this thing that I feel like I’m missing and why can’t I let it go? There’s got to be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me. I’ve got the time and I’m wasting it slowly. At this moment I’m half-way out the door onto the next thing. I’m searching for something that’s missing. I’m wanting more. I’m always waiting on something other than this. Why am I feeling like there’s something I missed? There’s got to be more to life. More to my life.

    If this sounds even the slightest bit familiar please shoot me an e-mail and we’ll talk.

  39. Mob1u5,

    That’s hilarious.

    You are arguing over the right way to not believe in something.

    I am not an athiest, so I may be wrong here, but isn’t athiesm the lack of a belief rather than the presence of a belief?

    If that’s the case then why are you name calling and getting upset over someone else’s practices of not believing?


    You are arrogant to think that you reason the same way that God does. If something bad in the world happens, you say it is God’s fault? If nothing bad ever happened then we would already be in heaven, right? If your non belief is based on evil in the world, then I could say that the presence of morality and goodness in people is a sign of God’s existence. We could go round and round all day and not get anywhere. You trying to prove the non-existence of God is evidence of your intolerance to those who DO believe. For instance, I do not tell children that Santa Claus does not exist. Do you? If you put God on the same level as Santa Claus, then why not just leave them to believe in peace?


    “We, atheists, want you to enjoy and practice your religion, but do so in the appropriate places: your place of worship, at home, etc.”

    Telling me where to pray is taking away my religious freedoms. Don’t EVER presume to tell me where I may or may not pray. Especially after telling me that “We, atheists, want you to enjoy and practice your religion…”

    Here is an interesting website that discusses belief/non belief for anyone who is interested. If you’re not interested, don’t get offended. No one is making you read it. No one is trying to convert you. As the author stated: “Explicit faith is a gift; it does not come from me to him, but from God to him. “.

  40. UK:

    Pray wherever you want to — school, work, church. That’s never been the issue.

    The concern among atheists (and many religious people who believe in separation of church and state) is state-sponsored or state-sanctioned prayer — when the school tells students it’s prayer time, everybody on your knees — and little Johnny can sit it out if he wants because he’s not like the rest of us.

    Schools (and other state entities) have no more business pushing prayer or worship than banks do; schools should stick to educating our kids just like banks stick to holding our money. It’s not their function. Why would religious people want the state to be leading prayers to begin with.

    The fact that certain elements of the religious right are pressing so desperately to force organized prayer into schools and other state entities suggests to me that they have an agenda. Kids can already pray in school. Or not. And that’s how it should be.

  41. Do you offer your kids unhealthy foods and hope that they make healthy food choices in the future or do you offer them healthy foods to ensure that they have a sense of direction when it comes to eating healthy in the future? Schools hold organized prayer to point the students in the right direction from the start.

    • Hi, Tara. I suppose I’d start by taking issue with your comparing prayer to “healthy foods.” If I want my kids to be morally healthy, I’d prefer that instead of wasting time in futile prayer they volunteer at the nearest homeless shelter. If schools wish to impress morality on students, I would humbly suggest that organized volunteerism is a superior lesson. It’s healthier to do things for others than it is to wish for things for oneself.

      Notwithstanding that, no atheist that I know of (certainly not myself) has ever suggested kids should not be allowed to pray in schools. You can pray at any time and place you want to. I just don’t want teachers telling my kids it’s time for them to pray.

      Just for the sake of argument, if schools were to endorse organized prayer, should they endorse Christian-style prayer, or should they ask students to kneel on prayer mats facing east, as Muslims do? Should schools ask kids to pray holding copies of the Koran, or to statues of Buddha or Krishna?

      It seems like you mistakenly confuse religiosity with morality. It’s quite possible to follow a strong moral system without ever picking up the Bible. Morality is rational — we are kind to others because we wish to live in a world where people are kind to us. If everybody acted like that, it would be a much kinder world, so it’s in everybody’s interests to be moral. (This moral system is based on the Golden Rule, which is common to Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist teachings.)

      Furthermore, it’s quite possible to follow the rules of Christianity to the letter and still be a terrible person. An ax murderer can theoretically come to Jesus on his deathbed and ascend into heaven, for example. And the Bible itself, while filled with genuine wisdom, also endorses misogyny, homophobia, racism and wanton violence. And that’s just the New Testament; certain books in the Old Testament are so filled with acts immorality (incest, slavery, pedophilia) performed by people who are clearly in god’s favor that I wouldn’t let my kids read them until they’re older. I certainly wouldn’t want schools teaching my kid that this is the basis of morality.

  42. Hey Anyworld,

    I compared healthy foods to prayer because nutritious food and both parts of a healthy life. The Bible does speak upon sin but it does not say that it is ever okay to sin. The Bible suggest forgiveness in which one can be forgiven for their sins once they’ve sincerely apologized which requires them to acknowledge that what they did/said was wrong and that they will never do/say it again. I think that it is perfectly acceptable to have organized prayer within a school because I believe that prayer is just another part of living a healthy lifestyle. If you’re someone who needs to be convinced with facts there are very many (too many for me to type out right now) facts that prove the validity of the Bible. You can do that research at your local library or even online.

  43. P.S. I can make all of these claims because I’ve already asked every question possible when it comes to the Bible but at one point I stopped asking questions and started conducting researching myself.

  44. Well as a believer, I appreciate the intellectuality you bring to the table. It’s refreshing to see someone who can deny God’s existence sensibly.

    Its very very possible for an atheist to be a “good person” but the simple, undecorated truth is this; there is a heaven, there is a hell. and no matter how ‘good’ you are, you must have a genuine relationship with God and following of his commandments to be safe from eternal damnation.

    But, if anything, religion sets rules and boundaries, and as a intellectual person, i think you can at least respect that. The true Christian is somebody who deserves respect. Sadly, there are far too few in this world..

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