August 16, 2008

Persuading Atheists to become Christians

Now with instructions!

My friend Diaphanus found this funny thing, and he had such fun with it I think I'll try too. This is going to be long and...I hope I refrained from "Christian bashing" or at least lots of it. My thoughts in italics.

The problem with these "directions" start in the opening paragraph even:

Dealing with a friend that has different beliefs than you can be frustrating for both yourself and the non-believer. Learning how to deal with it can be extremely difficult and you might want to try to convert them by persuading them to believe.

You know, if you're so bothered by your "friend's" beliefs that you actually feel you must LAY HANDS UPON THEM and convert them to your damn system, perhaps you aren't friends.

Maybe you can keep "hinting" from time to time and make some progress...

No, that would be annoying and not get anything done.

The steps are broken up into 3 easy sections for your missionary quest: Prepare, Discussions, and Develop Your Friendship. These directions are odd: they suggest that you do things like charity work and generally being a moral human being, all to convert your "friend" to Christianity. What? Shouldn't you be directing traffic and giving blood anyway? How the hell does that convince anyone that Christianity is better than, say, Islam or Zoroastrianism (shit, I spelled that without a dictionary)?

I digress...I'm not going to go through all of these, just the easy ones.

Most Atheists have high intelligence -- probably have an education -- and have spent a lot of time thinking about reasons TO believe.

I think more about throwing rocks thanks.

You have to give them a real reason -- not just an emotional one!

And, unfortunately, this is where most of these wanna-be missionaries fail.

You need to read and think a lot too. Collect all the compelling evidence that is available that demonstrates your beliefs are true.

"Compelling evidence", I assume, being the fact that wind is invisible and some shit in the Bible *shrug* yeah, that'll reel me in.

Think about your friendship. Are the two of you close? If not, try to increase your friendship before attempting to influence their religious beliefs.

That's...really petty.

However, do not do this merely because you want to convert them. You must have a deep and true interest in being their friend and being there for them throughout the entire process, which may last years.

That's even pettier.

Show by conduct how Christianity has impacted your own life in a positive way (Matthew 5:15-16).

I get that all the time, it hasn't worked. Am I just stubborn?

While quoting the Bible at every possible opportunity may be a bit much, saying "I thank God for... (something goes your way)" should be fine. It may also be useful to tell your friend about people you've met at church; when listing their good qualities, include that they are "religious" as a very far side note. Their religious fervor is not going to impress the atheist.

Damn right. Neither does your "missionary work" either though.

Now on to the Discussions section. Here's where it gets...odd.

Discuss that human brains work with much more than just intellect and logic and that when things go beyond our capability to understand then having faith in something larger than natural processes can bring extreme peace.

Or, you know, more questions and shit--well I'll be, that's how I "deconverted" in the first place! Haha...haaah...funny how things work...

Maybe it's not the answer, but it is peace, and peace in itself is a huge reward, a great return for faith.

Guys, I don't need religious faith for peace thanks.

Make a never ending list: inspiration, intuition, dread, hope, fear, faith, industriousness, procrastination, calmness, anxiety, anger, ambition, initiative, enthusiasm, boredom, fatigue, illness, health,... family, friendship, trust, honesty...

DO NOT do this. It's silly and has nothing to do with what's below.

* To know "everything" is impossible but being a functioning human and striving further to "know" more... Priceless!

Soooo...are you saying I should just numb myself to more knowledge because it's impossible to know everything? Since when was I even TRYING to learn everything because I'm an atheist? Go on, Christianity.

* Discuss how self-awareness, self-development and personality all point to highly organized and purposeful traits -- not randomness in our mental processes

To this I say, "And?" Try again missionary. Shit, this article is making me cranky.

Point out that "natural" scientific processes called entropy and chaos do not normally improve things: so how did life "happen" when nature is about dissolution, oxidation, mineral deposits, poison, corrosion, erosion, rot and breaking down "not" about building up...

You know all those big words, grasshopper, but not how to use them. And you just totally misunderstood grade school science it seems.

Talk about the existence of anything. Express as best you can the amazing intricacy of life and complexity of human "intelligence."

Another misstep with the junior missionary is that they can never really "explain" the existence of anything, let alone the "complexity of human intelligence.

Last is the Friendship section. Eh.

Give your friend practical advice for their problems from the Holy Book, such as from the book of Proverbs.

Refrain from this, missionary. It's just irritating. When I come to my religious "friend" for real advice, the last thing I want is to be lambasted with proverbs.

Go slowly about all of this until your friend is completely comfortable and accepts your inputs, and thinks of you as a "real friend" who just happens to be religious. Probably mere acquaintances can not break through the wall of "absolute" logic -- faith is not totally illogical, but is not pure logic.

First, you should already be "real friends" before trying to even attempt this ridiculous deception and trickery. And faith isn't illogical but not pure logic? Go on, Christianity.

Know when to ease up. Some people just truly don't want to be Christian. If this is the case with your friend, and you've tried everything else here, don't push any further. There is nothing more that you can do. Don't let it be cause to end your friendship, but know when to leave them be.

Best tip in the damn article.

The best way to convert atheists to Christianity? Don't. Just don't.

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