"Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

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"Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  ben_gac on Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:45 am

Hello fellow doubters,

I'm a former fundamentalist Christian turned agnostic. I just recently "came out" to my parents, and we've been exchanging letters back and forth about why I've rejected the faith. Thanks to RD I've got lots of reasonable, logical information to share with them. My mother recently wrote, however, that "atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

I'd love to hear some of your thoughts about this statement. It's pretty plain that it's not true, but I don't even know where to begin! Your comments? Thanks!
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  mischief on Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:51 pm

Not being from any sort of american christian background, I may be lacking some background here - so what does that statement even mean? You'll have to unpack it a little.

What is a changed life? Why do i have to have an answer to it?

at the moment it seems like not much more than rhetorical flourish on her part.

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Sosa on Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:17 pm

I was going to ask the same question. What does she mean by a changed life?
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  snafu on Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:38 pm

It probably means faith changed her life for the better. After Jesus, her life was changed.

My reply would be that hypnotism has changed the life of people also. And I'm serious.

The changed life effect is closer to being hypnotised than people think.

Another line of argument against the changed life claim, is to provide examples of other changed lives however these being from other religions. Christianity is not unique in providing the feeling of changing lives, most religions provide that honey in some way, and the religions are mutually exclusive in their claims too.

As a side issue, some people claim the feeling of Gods presence, the warm & fuzzies during worship etc. as a changed life effect also. To me that's just psychosomatic effects.

Best wishes in the dialogue with your family. Ground I have not yet covered.
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  MisterChristopher on Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:39 pm

I'm going to pretend he's talking about....okay, throw me a bone, I have no idea what he means. He does he mean stuff like life-changing "miracles?" or perhaps converting from belief x to christianity?
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Sosa on Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:14 pm

If she means how can people who convert to christianity and experience life changing experiences in their lives be explained, I would point out that this is not exclusive to christianity and that it does give it validity. All these religions cannot all be valid, all of these life changing experiences can be produced by virtually any religion, its a universal phenomenon. There is no connection between spiritual experience and religious truth.
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  ben_gac on Wed Nov 11, 2009 12:14 am

Thanks to everyone so far who has posted a reply. Sorry for my lack of clarity; I just lifted the line from a letter of her's. Many of you grasped what I was alluding to: my mother claims that she was a selfish, sinful being before finding Christ. Now, of course, she claims to be different. Here's a more thorough quotation, with LOADS of other potential topics inside them:

"It stings to hear you say you’re a “former Christian”. It makes me wonder if you merely had a religion, rather than a relationship with God? If you knew God, you wouldn’t give Him up so easily! (I don’t mean to say this has been easy for you; I know you’ve struggled greatly.) I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him until later. I wouldn’t trade knowing Him for anything else. Atheists can argue all they want, but they have no answer for a changed life. You didn’t see me before, but I was a proud, independent, religious person who only needed God when I was in trouble. I know now how unworthy I am to be His child. He chose me, but He easily could have chosen somebody else. I don’t understand this, but I’m grateful. I’m still too proud, too independent and too religious (in fact, my husband and children are gods in my life, unfortunately)."


There you have it...
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Faulty Logic is part of the problem

Post  bob1217 on Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:41 am

She made a decision to follow Christ, she decided to follow his rules and thus her life was changed. But it does not follow logically that Christ was responsible for the change. It was her decision to change and change occurred but giving Christ credit is also her decision. It is a logical fallacy that since change occurred that it was because Christ did something miraculous. There are many other reasons why change occurred in her life but she is choosing to ignore them. Let's say I want to lose 20lbs. So I decide to join weight watchers. I follow their rules and after a time I lose 20lbs. I can give the credit to weight watchers if I wish but the changes occurred because I decided to change my eating habits and exercise. Nothing miraculous happened in either case. The assumption that Jesus must be god because he had some moral teachings on how to live a good life does not hold up to scrutiny. Many people have written wonderful books on how to live a peaceful life in service to mankind but we do not claim all are gods. Many people will claim that their life was changed when they accepted (fill in the blank)_________ (Jesus, Mohammad, Scientology, Mormonism. etc.) Are their claims any less valid than hers. The truth of a gods existence, has the burden of proof, which requires more evidence than a feeling.

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Nicholas on Wed Nov 11, 2009 2:33 am

ben_gac wrote:Thanks to everyone so far who has posted a reply. Sorry for my lack of clarity; I just lifted the line from a letter of her's. Many of you grasped what I was alluding to: my mother claims that she was a selfish, sinful being before finding Christ. Now, of course, she claims to be different. Here's a more thorough quotation, with LOADS of other potential topics inside them:

"It stings to hear you say you’re a “former Christian”. It makes me wonder if you merely had a religion, rather than a relationship with God? If you knew God, you wouldn’t give Him up so easily! (I don’t mean to say this has been easy for you; I know you’ve struggled greatly.) I knew about God, but I didn’t know Him until later. I wouldn’t trade knowing Him for anything else. Atheists can argue all they want, but they have no answer for a changed life. You didn’t see me before, but I was a proud, independent, religious person who only needed God when I was in trouble. I know now how unworthy I am to be His child. He chose me, but He easily could have chosen somebody else. I don’t understand this, but I’m grateful. I’m still too proud, too independent and too religious (in fact, my husband and children are gods in my life, unfortunately)."


There you have it...

What Bob said.

My own mother is in a similar state of mind...similar in that she feels my atheism is a result of not being "tested"...whatever that means. She is the furthest thing from a fundamentalist, and is barely even a Christian based on how she talks about her god when we debate (argue). But your mother seems to be under the impression you simply have not "met" god yet, and feels what you abandoned was not "god" but religion. This is hard to argue with, since they are in a very real sense on a whole other plane of reality. What I do is just argue until they are worn out - a battle of wills, so to speak.

The last line struck me as very...atypical of most theists I've met - at least, most monotheists. Is she actually saying her husband and children (yourself included) are "gods"? Maybe that's just a figure of speech, but even suggesting it for most theists is tantamount to idolatry or something.

Or maybe we should all start calling you "my lord". =P
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Sosa on Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:51 am

I can relate to that, not just my mother but other acquaintances and family feel that I'm an atheist because I did not have a solid relationship with this christ guy or God....I tell them that it just wasn't working out between us (me and God) so we decided to split on good terms.
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  ben_gac on Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:00 pm

Yes, it's quite difficult to address every single issue here, because to do so takes HOURS and HOURS of writing. That being said, I can explain the "gods" comment: the 1st of the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament "You shall have no other gods before me". While WE know that that refers to the competing tribal deities of the time, Evangelicals have come to skew/interpret "gods" as "anything we put ahead of God". To my mother, that means that she has trouble putting Christ first in her life when she wants to instead attend to her family... In my opinion, that's not something to be proud of--I'd prefer my wife come first over a jealous, imaginary deity!
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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Rweav on Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:35 pm

To me she sounds kinda like an athiest in her younger years - she was pround, independent and "religious" (which, I assume, means that she went to church but was not particularlly "faithful"). There is absolutly nothing wrong with being proud and independent. Somewhere along the road something happened to her and she decided that she needed "saving." Why do people think that being human is bad - humans are not inherently sinful creatures their just human. And of course their of many examples in other religions where people change their lives for the better ( ie they change their thought and habits so they are more in line with their religions philosophy) and mistakingly think that their "god" saved them.

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Rweav on Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:42 pm

It also bugs me to hear that she thinks that a deeply religious person could not educate himself about his religion and the world and consequently changed his mind. What, if you educate yourself and then leave your religion you were never a Christian to begin with? As if the tents of the faith are so rock sold that a person could never find a hole in them?

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Neon Genesis on Sun Jul 18, 2010 12:32 am

Ask her if Christianity is the only way to have a changed life, why is it that the most religious nations in the world are the most violent? Why are the most violent states in the U.S. the bible belt states? Why do fundamentalist Christians have the highest divorce rates and are the most likely to support torture? Why do Christian teen girls have the highest teen preganancy rates? Why are Christians in Uganda murdering gay people because their religion tells them to? Why do so many Christian extremist leaders either turn out to be having closeted gay affairs behind their wives' backs or use religion to rape children? Why are Christians in Nigeria murdering children because they believe they're witches?

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  Clint on Fri Jul 23, 2010 3:29 pm

Ben, I'm sorry you're having a tough time with your mother. Thankfully my mom, while nominally Christian, never picked up on the Born Again stuff; I know that she and I would both be horrible wrecks if we had a split over something so deeply felt. As for the "changed life", you should ask her to define her terms and tell her upfront that you aren't going to respond to christianese. Every last word in that lexicon is manipulative psychobabble, and people who love each other should speak frankly to each other. Establish that words and phrases like "blessed", "mysterious ways" and the rest of it are red flags that end meaningful conversation. You're both adults, and as long as you can have a conversation free of jargon, you have a chance of getting somewhere

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Re: "Atheists have no answer for a changed life!"

Post  2buckchuck on Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:04 am

It's a challenge to argue with your mother. She has all sorts of advantages in an argument that have nothing to do with the logic. I had some problems with my devoutly religious mother when I told her at age 16 that I wasn't buying into all that crap. She somehow figured out that she loved me anyway, and of course I never stopped loving her, despite my rejection of something she held very dear. We agreed to disagree on religion and essentially never discussed it much after that. She made some feeble attempts to bring me back to the fold, but they were futile and I think she knew they would be. My mother and I were very much alike in most ways, but I simply began with the atheist premise: I don't believe in a deity. All the rest followed.
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