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The official blog of University of Missouri Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics

Dialogue with a Christian; Darrel Ray/KCAC Movie Night!

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Hello everyone!

Tonight, a group of us are going to a movie night at Dr. Darrel Ray’s. It’s a celebration of the launch of the Kansas City Atheist Coalition (KCAC), as well as a chance for atheists in the Midwest to get to know each other. We can fit 4 more people in our carpool, if anyone else would like a ride with me! Please text/call 573-424-0420 before 4:30 PM today (Saturday, Sept 3) if you’re interested 🙂

Additionally, there’s an interesting conversation going on over on Facebook between me, a Christian friend of mine, and a Christian friend of his. I thought you might find this interesting:

I posted this as my status, quoting Dren Asselmeier:

“If we all tithed 10% of our income to science, I’m pretty sure I’d be typing this on the moon right now.” – Dren Asselmeier

My friend Pablo posted this as his status a few minutes later:

We shouldn’t give 10% to the church… We should give more!!! I don’t want to go to the moon, I am going to Heaven!!! Jesus didn’t give only 10% of His precious blood to pay for my ticket, He paid full price for First class!!!

Pablo’s friend Josh commented:

Amen. Thank God we’re not called to give all we have though, but only what we have to give. I’m reminded of Phil’s 75% sermon. Priceless.

Dave Muscato:

An honest question: Why do you believe that a heaven exists, that souls exist and survive our deaths, that Jesus being executed in the 1st century has a bearing on what happens after you die, etc? I guess my question is, why do you believe the claims of Christianity? As opposed to, say, the claims of any other religion, or of science/naturalism.

Josh:

That’s a great question, Dave. I’m sure Pablo’s willing to answer. As great a question is – will you listen, or have you have asked another question to debate? I prefer to believe that somewhere within you is a man willing to listen, waiting for an answer. My prayer is that you haven’t closed yourself off to all reason with your reason and therefore shut yourself off to any answer a thoughtful and caring person may want to offer you.

Dave Muscato:

I’m genuinely interested in his reasons for believing these things. The claims of Christianity seem far-fetched to me. At the least, as far-fetched as the claims of other religions. I’m just curious why he decided to believe in this religion. There are lots to choose from and they all make similar claims, based on holy books and reported miracles and such. I just haven’t heard any good reason (yet!) that Christianity is more likely to be a true picture of the reality of the situation than the alternatives.

Josh:

I’m hard pressed to believe that you’ve actually been willing to listen up to this point. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that’s changing.

Maybe, but if so, why do you want to marginalize Christianity? I’m not so sure. I think there’s something going on inside of your heart. I believe the reality of Jesus and His identity is becoming real to you. I think you know we’re right and it confuses you because it doesn’t make sense to you, so you’re searching for ways to make us seem delusional or misguided, to marginalize our faith, to preserve yourself.

Synopsis: You rely on your form of logic, one form of reason. Christians rely on their faith, another form of reason, though we claim our faith is more logical, historical, intellectual and scientific than your denial of what we believe.

Give Pablo a chance, a real chance, to explain, and I’m sure he’d love to share with you all the reasons why he believes in the divinity of Christ. He’s a great conversationalist. You should ask him out for lunch or coffee.

Dave Muscato:

I don’t know yet; that’s why I’m asking.

I’m not marginalizing Christianity. I don’t see Christianity as any more or less likely to be true than any other religion, if you really look at it. Actually, that’s not totally true… I think Christianity is less likely to be true than Judaism, for the same reason that Christianity is more likely to be true than Mormonism. I mean, to accept that Judaism is true, you have to accept the Old Testament. To accept Christianity, you have to accept both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In order to accept Mormonism, you have to accept the Old Testament, the New Testament, AND the Book of Mormon. The more layers of things you pile on that you have to believe to accept something as true, the less likely something is to be true… I mean, that’s just a basic principle of probability.

Josh, I’m curious about this… You said that Christians rely on their faith. How is this any different from Hindus or Muslims relying on faith to verify their beliefs?

It seems to me faith is an ineffective way to tell if something is true or not. I mean, you can have faith that absolutely any statement is true; that doesn’t actually make it true. Isn’t it circular to say that something is true because you believe it is true? I mean, if a Muslim said to you, “The Qur’an is true because I have faith that it is true,” would that convince you to convert to Islam? That’s pretty much what you’re telling me as far as why Christianity is true, I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Josh:

Your faith is faithless. Ours is not. Bottom line.

If you deny you believe your beliefs are more accurate than others, then you’re in denial. You place your faith [your beliefs] in reasons to not believe, in a negative rather than a positive. We’re not in denial.

Basic principles of probability? I’m not concerned with who or what has more books or who or what claims this or that. If these principles were of any real concern, we’d all be fools to believe in history or mathematics or philosophy, as there have been thousands of books and governing thesis written on these topics. The numerous books on atheism and agnosticism and humanism would eliminate themselves from your consideration if you really believed in these basic principles of probability?

I’m only concerned with the truth. Jesus, in John 14:6 said, “I am the truth.”

I’m telling you Christianity is true because I know it to be true, not because it meets or doesn’t meet what you’ve deemed an acceptable proof. I’ve studied the history of Christianity, looked into the historical evidence and read on the scientific support of the existence of God, but long before that, when I was at my worst, Christ touched my heart. Whether you believe that is your free choice. Whether it registers on your richter scale is between you and Him, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that His saving power saved my life.

What makes Christianity different?

I’ve lived in the caldron of religion and godlessness within the prison walls of a maximum security institution and have seen the effects of every imaginable approach to life upon a man’s mind and soul, and I will tell you that only one approach radically changed lives more consistently and enduringly than any other. That approach is Christianity. I’m living proof.

It’s just as circular to believe something isn’t true, as to believe something is, given your argument. Pardon the pun, but I’m not going to go in circles with you anymore tonight. I’m tired and need some rest. Goodnight.

Dave Muscato:

Josh, I appreciate your time. You really didn’t answer my question, though.

You say that Christianity is true because you know it is true. I think I must be missing something here. If I were to say, “Islam is true because I know it is true,” you would surely find this unconvincing. What’s the difference? You didn’t actually tell me WHY you think i’s true; you just restated your belief THAT it’s true. I’m asking why and you really didn’t answer that.

You mention the history of Christianity, the historical evidence, and the scientific support. Can you tell me what specifically you found? If there’s good evidence for Christianity, I would very much like to know about it – that’s the kind of thing that would convince me to believe.

You said, “Christ touched [your] heart.” Can you tell me what that means? I presume you mean this figuratively.

You said, “It’s just as circular to believe something isn’t true, as to believe something is, given your argument.” I’m not following you here – could you explain that?

Looking forward to your response.

Josh:

You’re right. You’re missing something.

Dave Muscato:

For the record, I was asking Pablo why he believes the claims of Christianity are true. Not that I don’t appreciate also learning about you and what you think, and I am definitely willing to have a conversation with you about this here (with Pablo’s permission – I don’t want us to take over his wall!), but I asked Pablo about his reasons for belief, and I don’t want Pablo to think I’m just trying to debate start a debate. I did and do want to know why Pablo believes that Jesus was a god, and I am still interested in his response above all. That’s why I asked.

Dave Muscato:

Well, tell me then, Josh. I’m listening. If you have the evidence on your side, may I see it? I would truly like to know what you think is so convincing. So far all I have heard is that it’s true because you say so. People from every religion say that. You said you’ve studied the historical evidence and so on; can you tell me what you’ve found? You said Jesus touched your heart, but I don’t know what that means, and I sincerely want to know. You’re the one being flippant and sarcastic. I’m truly curious and I don’t feel like you’re taking this very seriously.

Dave Muscato:

Josh, I was just thinking. I offered this to Pablo as well; maybe you are both interested. We have an atheists’ group at Mizzou’s campus that meets every Wednesday at 5:30. We’d be very interested in having you come and tell us your story (one or both of you), if you’d be willing to let us ask you some honest, sincere questions about how you became Christians. I’d be very interested in getting a dialogue going – we want to understand your perspective and understand why you believe what you believe. Please let me know and we can figure out a day that works for everybody.

P.S. I sent you a friend-request as well.

I actually sent the friend request several hours ago, after his second comment I think. He hasn’t accepted it so far, but it’s also quite early in the morning.

I do hope that Josh agrees to come and talk to our group. He’s be an interesting guest, I think: He spent 16 years of a 60-year sentence in federal prison for a 1992 murder, a crime of which he was later exonerated (he was released in 2009). He credits Jesus for his freedom and for giving him hope during his time in prison. You can read about his story here.

Until next time!

– Dave

(573) 424-0420 cell/text

Dave Muscato is Vice President of MU SASHA. He is a vegetarian, LGBTQ ally, and human- & animal-welfare activist. A junior at Mizzou majoring in economics & anthropology and minoring in philosophy & Latin, he posts updates to the SASHA blog every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday. His website is http://www.DaveMuscato.com.

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Helpful resources:

Godisimaginary.com
Iron Chariots Wiki
Skeptics’ Annotated Bible / Skeptics’ Annotated Qur’an
AtheismResource.com
TalkOrigins.org

YouTubers: Evid3nc3, Thunderf00t, TheAmazingAtheist, The Atheist Experience, Edward Current, NonStampCollector, Mr. Deity, Richard Dawkins, QualiaSoup

Blogs: Greta Christina, PZ Myers, The Friendly Atheist, WWJTD?, Debunking Christianity, SkepChick

and don’t forget… other SASHA members! We are here for you, too! :)

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About MU SASHA Administrator

University of Missouri SASHA (Skeptics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, & Agnostics) University of Missouri-Columbia http://www.muSASHA.org

2 comments on “Dialogue with a Christian; Darrel Ray/KCAC Movie Night!

  1. Jay
    September 6, 2011

    Wow, your patience is beyond mine. I would have gotten sarcastic right at the beginning with his repeated exhortations to “listen” and “open your heart.” In my experience – both as a Christian and ex-Christian – those are really code words for “swallow everything I say.” Case in point, in this dialogue, you asked questions, responded to his points, and gave every appearance of listening and thinking over his arguments. However, because you didn’t then turn around and agree with everything he said, I’m willing to bet he’s now classified you as “unreasonable” or “closed your heart to Jesus.”

  2. Scott Weber
    September 7, 2011

    In “God, Soul, Mind, Brain,” Graziano makes the case that God is not so much a belief as a perception. So then, of course, “god” seems…IS…very real in the person’s experience of what is – his/her perceptual model of reality.

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This entry was posted on September 3, 2011 by in Author: Dave Muscato, SASHA Events, Web Links & Videos.
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