Pin It

Internet Atheists vs. Internet Christians


Posted on December 9th, by raymond padilla in Geek Stuff. 39 comments

American Atheists You Know its a Myth Internet Atheists vs. Internet Christians

I’m off to the airport shortly so I thought I’d write a really loaded post to encourage discussion. Ha! Seriously though, I’ve always wondered why Internet atheists usually run circles around Internet Christians. I was reminded of this when reading a recent post on FakeSteveJobs that started with an explanation on why a Christian and homophobic app was removed from iTunes and evolved into a pro-atheism rant. Naturally, it got a ton of attention, generating the most comments FSJ has seen in a long time. Before I continue, let me state for the record that I’m neither atheist or Christian, so I have no horse in this race.

As I sifted through the comments, I saw what I usually see in these kinds of arguments. The atheists offer logical arguments that are sometimes infused with dickish snark. The Christians offer passionate arguments that are sometimes pretentiously dismissive. Keep in mind that I’m speaking in general terms. I’ve also seen atheists that are just senseless pricks and Christians that offer fair explanations, but in general I usually see atheists making Christians look silly.

A lot of it has to do with logic vs. faith. It’s easier to explain logic because it’s…well, logical. Trying to explain faith to someone that doesn’t share the same beliefs is extremely difficult. I often see Internet Christians lose patience with atheists; initially they try to explain and preach peacefully, but they quickly become rattled and very un-Christian. Hmmm, perhaps the various churches need to deploy Internet missionaries. That could be shockingly effective….

Anyway, I wanted to get your thoughts on the matter. Hopefully nobody is offended and we can have a civil discussion on the topic. In your experience, what have you observed when Internet Christians and Internet atheists go at it?





  • Nightshade386

    I'm an atheist, but you'd never see me posting in a forum like that in that way. Frankly, I feel that preaching atheism turns it into a kind of religion. And that's really missing the whole point, isn't it?

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      I agree. Proactive atheists can be just as bad as preaching Christians. This reminds me of my friend Shane (ex-EGM).

  • thundercracker

    i am an atheist…but ill try to keep the dickish snark to a minimum

    i dont judge anyones beliefs, i just say that if you believe the entirety of the old testament to be true, i feel sorry for you, having to argue that position

  • thundercracker

    this is some FUNNY crap i found on break.com

    athiests going door to door in salt lake city…..*snicker

    • thundercracker
    • Nightshade386

      See now, those are the only people I get preachy too, and it's because they came to my door and started it. But even then I only go off on them if after the standard "no thank you, we're not religious" they persist with trying to sell me God like he's a vacuum cleaner or pest control.

  • Big Blak

    I am not religious but I am a spiritual person. I like to meditate and work with the subtle energies of the universe. I just believe what ever you put out is what you will receive.

  • N8R

    I find that both the higher power theory and the big bang theory begin at the same place.

    When you ask a Christian where God came from, they say "He was always there".

    When you ask an atheist where the mass objects in space that banged together came from, they say "They were always there".

    The way I say it, God is described as a being that lives with and through all of us, binds the universe together, and can't be created nor destroyed… that sounds alot like energy to me.

    So, my theory is that God is a primitive form of describing energy (or energy is a modern way of describing God) and the stories have just gotten out of hand over time. Face it, if you get a large group of people together that are all singing and chanting, it generates BTU's.

    I guess I'm an energyist.

    • Big Blak

      I told that to my gf the other day lol, that to me is the best theory out there. Quantum physics is slow proving the existence of something larger than life as we know it, maybe some people call that god.

      • N8R

        The entity being described has been known about for thousand's of years.

        It's the description that changes over time.

        In the end, it is what it is.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      You believe in The Force.

      • N8R

        I did for the longest time.

        I would reach out to the light switch from my bed and close my eyes trying to concentrate on turning the light off. Sooner or later, I'd open my eyes and the light would be off.

        Years later, I found out my wife just saw me reaching foolishly for the light switch like a jackass and would get up and turn off the light.

        Wait… now that I think about it… the Force may have made her do it.

  • bsukenyan

    I am a Christian, but have very rarely ever gotten into a discussion about religion on the internet. Ray you hit the nail right on the head with your idea as to why internet atheists run circles around internet Christians- there is extreme difficulty in trying to convey faith through an internet forum to someone who simply does not want to believe in it. There are also too many people who believe science to always be innately anti-Christian, and the fact of the matter is that it is not. There are many scientists, not necessarily Christian, who have found flaws in the the theory of evolution or the big bang theory- but these people are shunned by the scientific community, the media, and in general mocked and oppressed by the general public who has been taught by the public school systems to believe what they are told and that science is always right. There is a lot of scientific evidence out there in favor of creationism and pro-religion instead of the anti-religious feel that we get from most scientists who are ever in the public eye.

    In general it is usually a conversation best left for face to face conversations, and I think something we could all agree on is that there are too many trolls in the internet who will rally against something rather than for something. That also causes a lot of difficulty in this matter. There is a lot of information on both sides of the argument, and part of the problem is that people have been falsely led to believe that the world is the way it is now because one side of that is correct and the other false- I believe that those sides have been mixed up when determining which is correct and which is not.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      Also, hipsters enjoy being actively atheist…while typing on their iPad covered by moleskine…from their local organic cafe. Ha!

      • N8R

        This is true.

    • Nightshade386

      There is also far too many Christians who fight scientific progress tooth and nail on every advance, or want to argue that religion should be taught in our schools or guide our laws here in the U.S.. It's one thing to live your own lives in way that you feel honors God, it's another entirely to force it upon people who don't believe.

      • Nightshade386

        I should clarify and say "far too many religious people." It's hardly a problem that Christianity holds a monopoly on. Imagine how much better a place the Middle East would be if it were more tolerant of differing views.

  • Iceman

    Woo-hoo! Religion; my specialty! I think Mr. Padilla wrote this one to get me out of my shell. Well, it worked.

    Most of you probably know by now that I am a Christian (RC). However, unlike a lot of the stereotypical people out there, I am an educated in not only the many facets of Christianity, but other religions as well. One of the benefits of going to a Catholic high school is that you have to take a religion class for four years. This includes Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other major world religions since a lot of them are intertwined, believe it or not (a topic for another day).

    It is ironic that way back in the days (before internet, cars, or gunpowder) the most religious people (clerks, bishops, nobles, medicine doctors, shamans, monks, etc.) were the smartest and most educated people on the planet. Today, the common view is that the most religious people are kooky, crazy, and ignorant people that believe that god is a big, old guy with a white, long-flowing beard that sits on a throne in the clouds (or equivalent). Well, that is not god, that’s Santa Claus. No educated Christian believes this. We know that The Bible, for instance, is a collection of Judaic laws, parables, poems, stories, scriptures, songs, and events all mixed in one, not-so-easy-to-read hard-cover volume. Roughly speaking, these documents were written by men (who we believe were inspired by God) over various years (centuries, actually) and then there were three big conferences (the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D. and Carthage in 397 A.D. and 419 A.D.) and the religious leaders at the time did a big editing job and put the Bible together as a guidebook for future generations. The whole thing in its entirety was not meant to be taken literally (except for maybe some Judaic laws, teachings, and historical references). Trust me, there are things in the Bible that are frowned upon by modern society and even contradictory. For example, women who are menstruating are “unclean” and have to be quarantined for 33 days (Leviticus 12), or if you curse at your father or mother, then you have to be put to death (Exodus 21). Compare that to Jesus’ commandment of “love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:39) or forgiving your enemies or those who have wronged you (Matthew 5:38-44). The Bible is looked at as a “library” (because it actually was 1,500 years ago) or a collection of inspired works that span a great deal of time, places, and events.

    No educated person (Christian or otherwise) believes that the Earth was created in seven days. Maybe way back in the day they did, but we know better now. Just like people believed that the Earth was flat once upon a time. Adam and Eve is a story about creation, and is not meant to be taken literally, but meant to convey a lesson (or two). In fact, N8 has a great interpretation about creation. By our own laws of physics, matter and energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only changed. The universe started in a big bang, but the question remains: What started that bang? What set everything into motion? Was something created from nothing or was there something there before the bang? Those of faith believe that God (as an incomprehensible force or entity) set everything in motion. Something or someone had to set everything in motion. But humans are arrogant creatures. We think that we are so smart because evolution has put us up at the top of the chain, but there are so many things that we cannot comprehend even with all of our modern technology and science. If you have faith, you believe there is something out there that is greater than yourself. Like Mr. Padilla said; it all comes down to logic vs. faith. Unfortunately, faith cannot be explained and our logic cannot explain everything as well (hence all the colorful debating).

    I know I am not going to convince an atheist that there is a God any more than an atheist is ever going to convince me that there is no God, so I don’t bother. Militant atheists (or as Nightshade put it, “preaching atheism”) as well as over-zealous religious people both need to calm down and learn tolerance and respect for each other. This world will never be completely atheist and no one should ever strive for that goal and the world will also never follow one religion, so people should not strive for that goal, either. And while it is true that Christians are told to “spread the Gospel of the Lord”, there are many other ways to do so that do not involve saying anything. Father Quinn (the priest that married my wife and I and a dear friend) had a great homily at our wedding and told us that we must “preach the Gospel without saying a word.” He echoes the philosophy that we should lead by example and our actions, not by what we say. The very foundation of Christianity is based solely on love; love for everything and everyone (even your enemies). If there is love in the hearts of people we believe that it will spread, like wildfire, to others and inspire love in their hearts so that they may pass it on to others (Mother Theresa was an excellent example of this). If everyone’s heart is filled with love (and not greed or selfishness), then the world would be a much better place, regardless of who or what you believe in… even if it is nothing at all.

    “Internet Christians” should be better Christians and show love for the atheists and learn to respect their (non) beliefs and in some cases, learn to develop a sense of humor. God has a sense of humor, after all. You don’t believe me? Look at the duck-billed platypus. “Internet Atheists” should also learn to respect other people’s beliefs and realize that someone’s religion is a very sensitive topic and is something that is sacred to that person. Trying to disprove a person’s faith based on logic is not only insulting to that person, but also retarded because faith is illogical.

    Sorry for the long post, but I could keep going at this all day if it wasn't for the work I still have to do. Also, I hate to be rude and hog up so much space on someone else's site. (Too late?)

    -M

    Some people look at the world and wonder how God can exist. I look at the universe and wonder how God can’t exist.

    • N8R

      “preach the Gospel without saying a word.”

      Do you know who Meher Baba was by any chance?

      • Nightshade386

        I live between two Mormon churches and they're constantly badgering us. I may quote that next time they come ring my doorbell to sell their religion as if it were some sort of "goods", all the while hiding behind their children.

      • Iceman

        Wasn't that the Indian priest guy who didn't talk and developed a following or something? Didn't he at one point declare himself God incarnate?

        I vaguely have heard about this man, but I've never read any of his works or teachings.

        -M

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

          @ WAY late reply

          He did declare himself an avatar and didn't speak a single word since his 18th birthday. But think about it…

          The image of Jesus (or symbols like the crucifix and cross) got perverted during a 600 year crusade and then represented something other than the teachings of Jesus.

          When Mohammed came around… there were no images allowed and only the words written in the Koran. This (as you know)… also got perverted over time.

          When Meher Baba comes along… he says nothing and people still know exactly what he means.

          This kinda stuff fascinates me.

    • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

      Wonderful post!!!

      • Iceman

        Thank you. I try.

        -M

    • Big Blak

      I didn't go to school for religion but I read a ton and my younger cousin (6 or7 at the time) asked me what I was reading (I'm pretty sure it was a booked called The History of God) and I told him I was learning about different religions and cultures and he said to me " why?, Jesus is the only god." I basically told him we are all mice in a maze trying to get to the big cheese.

      I just felt like sharing that with you guys, ignorance is also passed down with generations.

      • N8R

        Seriously dude, look into the life and teachings of Meher Baba.

        He'll blow your mind.

    • bsukenyan

      @Iceman

      I would suggest two books to you, the first is called "In Six Days" and the second titled "On The Seventh Day." The first book I would recommend more so than the other if you do not have time for both or something like that. I think you would be surprised how many people would disagree with some of the things you stated. I would gladly send you both books to read except they are not mine, and I am already borrowing them from my dad's library (along with several other books on theology from when he was a pastor). "In Six Days" is a collection of responses from professors who were all asked the same question, "Why do you believe in a literal six-day biblical creation as the origin of life on earth?" "On The Seventh Day" is a similar book with a different question asked, different respondents, etc. Also, keep in mind that these are not religious studies professors, these are PhD's in fields such as Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, Genetics, Botany, Theoretical Chemistry, etc., many from state universities who have been taught from a very secular point of view.

      Also, while I have your attention- in a completely unrelated topic, I am curious if you are familiar with Turkel Advertising and/or Our Kids of Miami/Dade County? Since you live down there, and especially considering you are in marketing I was wondering if they were anything that you were familiar with.

      • Iceman

        @BSU Kenyan (look! It's the correct spelling and pronunciation of your name! Ha.)

        Although I have never read "In Six Days" or "On The Seventh Day", I was curious, so I looked up the books. I found a site where the authors or the scientists referenced in the book had explanations of various Biblical events through their interpretation of logic, science and in various cases, the second law of thermodynamics. The little I read was very interesting. One of the arguments that I read that I could not counter was basically saying; "If we were not actually there to witness the creation of the world (and the universe, for that matter), then we can only speculate based on evidence and sometimes, evidence can be misinterpreted or there may be more information in the future to contradict the current theory."

        I can't argue with this logic. For all we know the Earth may have really been created in seven days or over a period of millions of years. It is true that we will never know for sure because we were not around back then to witness the event. All we have are theories. However, I cannot ignore the evidence presented that the Earth is (around) 4.5 billion years old and was created over a very long period of time. Now, in the future, we may very well discover evidence that disproves this and favors creation in seven days. There may be a future "Einstein" in 200 years that will prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Big Bang Theory is just a myth and that the Steady State Theory was right all along. That's the beauty of being human and having a brain. We are constantly adapting, amending, and changing our beliefs based on the information we are given. Based on the information I have today, this is what I believe. Could it change in the future in light of new evidence? Of course. I always enjoy listening to other people's theories, especially if they are rooted in reason. Albert Einstein once said: "We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations."

        We are but children in a great library.

        Onto marketing: I do not know anything about Turkel Advertising, but I have heard of Our Kids of Miami Dade County, although I don't know much about who they are. My Marketing degree is just like most people's Ab Rocker- In the closet collecting dust. I'm not in the marketing or advertising industry, but it is a "hobby" of mine since that is what I studied in college. I currently work in a family business selling gasoline (and diesel). While there is some marketing involved in that, let's face it; gasoline really isn't a tough sell (but it is really hard to make good money off it).

        -M

        • bsukenyan

          @Iceman

          I think that both of those books make pretty good arguments in many cases for what they are trying to say. I agree completely with that statement you brought up, we weren't there when it happened, therefore we have to piece everything together based on the evidence which can sometimes be flawed. Perspective on that evidence is also extremely vital though. To reference another book, Lee Strobel's book "The Case for Christ) he presents a scenario that occurred while he was in newspaper journalist working in Chicago and presented the story throughout the chapters in the way the story unfolded, all while demonstrating that the perspective you view the evidence from is key. As for "In Six Days" I would strongly recommend reading some more of the responses that are in that book, I don't remember specifically which author it was (but he was one of the chemists I believe) that wrote a very detailed and intelligent response that examined the chemicals that would need to be present for life to be created. Needless to say I am horrible with chemistry and biology so some of what he was explaining was over my head, but the that examination was fairly convincing, I felt.

          @Marketing

          I wasn't sure how big of a name either of those places are in that area, or in the marketing/advertising world. In upper level classes that I took while still in the advertising major I worked on projects for both of those companies, one was creating a media plan to help increase exposure for "Our Kids" and the other was to research people's opinions on a comparison of health care models for Humana and Metcare (fortune 100 companies in the health insurance industry) through Turkel Advertising. One of my professors knows Bruce Turkel (CEO of Turkel Advertising, and on the board of directors at Our Kids) and she brought us some of these projects to do so we could have something important to put on our resumes (as well as work for National Geographic Channel in Washington DC, and other groups got to work for the company that does the advertising for MINI cooper and Windows Mobile 7- side note: I was pissed when I wasn't assigned to the research team that presented information about Windows Mobile 7 OS- as well as a couple other ad agencies). Basically we did a lot of work for free for an ad agency that got the contract and the money. The good thing was that we ended up presenting our research directly to the CEO and President of Humana and Metcare, so that was another highlight of the project.

          Anyways, my point being I was hoping to gain some perspective on how big Turkel Advertising was from someone else's perspective. I can take my professor's word for it, but I prefer to double check those types of things. Since I knew you had a degree in marketing and live in Miami I thought there might be a chance that you would know either of those places and perhaps give some perspective on them.

    • thundercracker

      alright, i have to comment here, because although i am an atheist, i can not disagree with anything you said. When i speak to a christian, especially here in the south, i find it ironic that they base their entire lives, their entire philosopy of life on a book. Yet, most of these people have no idea whatsoever what the bible says or what inspired it. Those people who believe the earth is 7000 years old or those people who believe that noah had 2 billion plant and animal species with him on a wooden boat, and was able to drop them off in specific locations (elephants in africa and india, marsupials in australia, etc…) cannot be taken seriously. Everything iceman said is perfect. You restore MY faith when you say things like that. I dont argue with people that there is a god, i argue with them because i dont know what the plan here is, but neither does anyone else. People have, since the beginning of time, wondered what we are here for, what the "meaning of life" is.

      I say, simply, to love one another, to build relationships with one another. When you are on your death bed, what will you regret? Will you regret not going to the club more often? No, I know i will regret not spending more time with the people i love. Thats whats important in this life.

      I digress…all i have left to say is that i will never argue with a christian, if they actually take the time to know what they believe, even if what they believe is ridiculously implausible. I wish more christians were like you, able to concede the fact that the church isnt always right, the bible has huge inconsistancies and contradictions.

      I justify my religion (or lack thereof) this way…if you were a father with two children, one of whom would do the right thing only when threatened while the other did the right thing because it was the right thing to do,,,who would you be more proud of? I dont need the threat of eternal damnation to motivate me to do the right thing. I try to live a good life and treat people well just because i care for people, even strangers. Really, man that was a beautiful post, i cant tell you how refreshing that was. Im proud to have you as a fellow Rpadaholic

      • Iceman

        Thank you for your kind words. There are a lot of Christians out there all over the world and they are not all like the few you have met/know. Ironically, I now judge all Filipinos I meet on the "Pacquiano-Padilla-Spoelstra" scale. Ha!

        But, hey, I never said "the Church isn't always right", although in reality, no organization can survive 1,900 years without adapting and changing to meet the challenges of the day. I'm really happy that The Church stopped going out on Crusades and ceased Indulgences for Reconciliation (unfortunately it took someone like Martin Luther for them to stop doing it). You know, even The Vatican just recently amended their stance on condoms. I can only imagine what The Church will look like 500 years in the future.

        Oh, and I'm pretty sure that the concept of hell became popularized with Dante's Inferno back in 1321. That is an AWESOME book, by the way. I highly recommend reading it. Part of what makes it amazing is not only how trippingly-great it's written, but also when it was written. It is amazing that the book wasn't burned in the subsequent centuries.

        But if you ever find yourself arguing with your Christian friends again, remind them that Jesus taught unconditional love, not fear. The concept of "the devil" as some parts of The Bible refers to it, would be more accurately described as a trickster or great deceiver. Basically, it is the Biblical version of Loki from the Marvel Universe.

        -M

  • SlickyFats

    I try to stay out of religious talk.

    I grew up Southern Baptist in Oklahoma, I was baptized there. We attended church all the time. Then one Sunday while in Church our house burned down. My parents never took us back.

    I began going to church retreats with my friends in Middle and High School, but never attended church or even cared for religion. I did get "saved" several times just to get up on stage.

    I went to church with most of my girlfriends. But then I would watch them giving tiding each Sunday plus 25% of their annual income per year and I couldn't stand the money whoring. So I never went back to church.

    Dated a Mormon girl for a while how was engaged, but he was away on a mission and her congregation told he she needed to date to make sure he was the one. (thats what she told me anyway)

    Then I got married to a woman the was Jehovah's Witness. I didn't mind because she had been kicked for a while. But when I found out she was not allowed to talk with her family we spent nearly a year attending Meetings (not church to them). Once she was accepted everything was fine, until her grandfather died. For the funeral I shaved off my beard out of respect for him, it was my first time to shave my beard off in 5 years. While at the funeral one of the elders came up to me and said "At least you LOOK like one of us now". I never went back there.

    I did like Jehovah's Witness' scientific stance on religion, it made it easier to listen to.

    Final thought: God is there to help people explain the unexplainable. And if it helps people be happy and healthy then more power to them, it just isn't my cup of tea.

    • Iceman

      That was a really nice thing you did for her and (for what little it's worth) I commend you for doing that. You shouldn't get bogged down because of what one a-hole said to you.

      That story just reinforces my theory of old people being dicks.

      -M

  • http://twitter.com/Sandrock323 Sandrock323

    I am a Christian in faith, but I don't live my life based on faith. If I live my life the best I can, then no God should look down on me and if they did I would not want to be near them.

    Also, I believe in the Law of Imperfection. No man is perfect and nothing we do will ever be perfect. We can not become perfect because of this, as perfection is not within our grasp. Not that that is a bad thing. There will always be room for us to improve and we will always have something to strive for. This rule can be applied to everything we do, religion and science are even governed by this rule. There for arguing over who is right is pointless as to a degree, both parties are always wrong. Live and let live for life is too short to spend it having a huge pissing contest.

    • max

      u say that like God is a person and you are on his level..

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0 N8R

        You say that like God is a person… and has a gender.

        His entire second paragraph is about people. His first paragraph places God on a different level than people. The fact that you can't discern that is a point many people have about people not understanding what the Bible is as opposed to what it's become. The New Testament has been edited an uncertain amount of times since it's creation starting with the very nation that crucified Jesus. The oldest version we have to reference (aside from the mostly destroyed Dead Sea Scrolls) is the King James Bible which was edited in the middle ages some time.

        All that said… the book is full of truths… but not very factual. So one has to read between the lines and appreciate the context in order to unearth the true meanings.

        If you can't do that with a comment on the internet… than chances are slim that you are doing it with the Bible and you currently have your menstruating mother in a shack in the back yard (as the Bible says we should).

  • LarcenousLaugh

    I can roll with a belief in a higher power. Mine is a voyeur, doesn't like to get involved, but does like to watch. She has a wicked sense of humor, and enjoys long walks on whatever beach she pleases, ice cream, and tequila.

    I am cool with other Gods too… as long as they don't try and interfere with my life.

    Christians, I am so sorry that there are so many out there that give you guys bad names. Next time God decides to inspire folks to write a book, I pray he gives them a little bit more to go on then cloudy pictures, proverbs, a few songs, and a general idea of good faith that is so easily lost among the semantic nonsense of human nature. If you created us Bub, like that book says you did, next, pull your head out of your ass and pay a bit more attention to the utter crap you send out into your universe.

    • John

      What you said was really ignorant.

  • http://rpad.tv raymond padilla

    Here's another example of Internet atheists mostly behaving better than Internet Christians:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holid

    Gervais is pretty clear about his views and is careful to be respectful of others. Yet for some reasons, a lot — but not all — of the Christian repliers insult and belittle him. It's kind of sad.