I have been very open about being an atheist on Facebook and Twitter. I'm rather open about it in real life too, except to my parents. My dad's family is fairly religious and my aunt, who has seen all of my posts on atheism, has taken it upon herself to bring me back to God.

For those who don't know, I was raised Christian and was very involved in the church, to the point of being a missionary in India for a short time. After returning from the mission, I began to question my faith and it led, ultimately, to my abandoning it in favor of reason.

A few days ago, my aunt responded to a post of my on Facebook, telling me she was sorry I thought I was an atheist and that she would be praying for me. I responded by saying I didn't think I was an atheist, I knew it and it wasn't something I took lightly.

Today, in my email, I received another message from her:

I love you very much. I had a wonderful time getting to know you this summer and I hope you don't get mad at me, but I have to try to bring you back to God.

I am going to send you some books by Josh McDowell. He was an atheist and set out to prove God did not exist, well he found out that he does and is now a Christian. He spoke at our church in September. I don't know what books or research you did to come to the conclusion that there is no God, but please give me a chance to prove that there is a God. I think that deep down in your heart you know there is. There have been many times in my life when my faith faltered, but God has been with me through some terrible times and some great times. When Christopher was addicted to Meth, God was there. Even some of the people at re-hab could see that God had protected him through something's that should have killed him. I prayed unceasing for God to protect Chris and for Chris to go to Re-hab and get off the drugs and it happened. I went to sleep praying and woke up praying. Even Uncle John prayed. That was the biggy, but there have been many other times I could feel him with me, helping me to stand strong, or enjoying a good time. Everyday I wake up and thank God for my family, my friends and all the people of the world. The earth didn't just happen by accident, any more than a building gets built by accident. Somebody created it.


I love you very much,
Aunt Donna


I'm familiar with McDowell. I attended a seminar he gave in my hometown several years ago and I've read some of his books. I'm looking forward to eviscerating his arguments--who's with me? I'd like to blog about it here and get feedback from my fellow nonbelievers.

Views: 4

Tags: Christian, Josh McDowell, apologetics, atheism, aunt, family

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Comment by Glen Barton on January 13, 2010 at 10:54pm
Hey Kristi,

first, i agree with yourself and comments already posted - despite your Aunt's "niceness" quotient, she needs to know that what she's doing is in fact patronising and, well, pretty intellectually offensive. Have fun with said evisceration. I too was raised in a fundie household (as was my fiancee - we grew up together in the same high school then lost touch for 15 years - when we re-connected we had both found our own individual paths to rationalism and atheism, and well, we're getting married in 3 weeks) - and both of our familys keep trying out this stuff on us. Kristel (my fiancee)'s Mum especially likes sending us books by popular and best selling christian authors. What we have discovered is that there is a market amongst Christians for these books on Ebay. So my suggestion is to read and eviscerate (this shouldn't be hard - Mc Dowell is ridiculously simplistic) then make a bit of spare college cash by offloading said book onto some christian who's going to swallow all they've been taught anyway. NB: to counter the feeling oof contributing to your buyer's ignorance, you could insert an ebay sellers thankyou note with a disclaimer stating that the book they've bought is full of nonsense, and quickly outline why!!

I'll look forward to reading your destruction of McDowelle's arguments!

Peace

Glen
Comment by Richard Healy on December 5, 2009 at 4:49pm
Of course in spite of her niceness quotient, your Aunt's concern about the immortal peril of your soul over the matter you disbelief is misplaced and her arguments will all be nonsense. No theist has ever crossed that threshold. However, Duane is correct, endeavour to keep family close and filter for diplomacy. ;-)
Comment by Richard Healy on December 5, 2009 at 3:32pm
Dear Aunt Donna

I love you very much. And we love you too. Being enlightened and rational and aware of our lack of belief does not preclude an ability to feel loveI had a wonderful time getting to know you this summer and I hope you don't get mad at me, but I have to try to bring you back to God. Why? I'm happy. Why do you feel the need to change who I have become?

I am going to send you some books by Josh McDowell. He was an atheist and set out to prove God did not exist, well he found out that he does and is now a Christian. He spoke at our church in September. I don't know what books or research you did to come to the conclusion that there is no God, but please give me a chance to prove that there is a God.
Good luck trying to prove a negative without recourse to falsehood or fallacy; many have tried, all have failed

I think that deep down in your heart you know there is. [You are correct - how could I have been so blind? From my time in the Indian sub-continent I know There is one true God - His name is Allah and his Prophet is Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him) .... that's not what you meant is it?] There have been many times in my life when my faith faltered but God has been with me through some terrible times and some great times. When Christopher was addicted to Meth, God was there. [How do you know?] Even some of the people at re-hab could see that God had protected him through something's that should have killed him. [How could they tell: Did God reveal himself to them? Or are they possesed of some spiritual insight denied to the rest of us? Were doctors and paramedics involved at any time 'cos you know I'll bet money they had something to do with it.] I prayed unceasing for God to protect Chris and for Chris to go to Re-hab and get off the drugs and it happened. [In sober academic circles this is know as confirmation bias. You cause matches the conclusion you already had assumed. Also you won't hold to it: If Chris subsequently relapses will that mean god has abandoned him? No of course not. But because he did something sensible - and good for him - we should support him through his addiction and hope he gets better fast - but it trivialises his effort and debases all the hard work he faces to say that this had anything to do with god.]

I went to sleep praying and woke up praying. [Impressive. The best I can get are some entertaing dreams about Penguins.]Even Uncle John prayed. That was the biggy, [Did you start a crusade against him too?]but there have been many other times I could feel him with me, helping me to stand strong, or enjoying a good time. [Isn't it enough to know that you are a strong person who has had to cope with a lot. You are strong on your own without god. Besides the mere fact that a belief is self-improving for a person helps them to get through a difficult situation doesn't make that belief true.]

Everyday I wake up and thank God for my family, my friends and all the people of the world. The earth didn't just happen by accident, any more than a building gets built by accident. Somebody created it.[Woah! Sudden shift out of personal testimony into a twin pronged assault of unreason. One at a time then. 1) It probably accreted out a large disc of gas, like we see happening around other new stars. There's some interesting new observation that super-massive black holes may form their own galaxies and trigger star formation, but you don't care about that do you? 2) The earth isn't like a building where we are it's tenants. We are a relatively late arrival on this planet - most of the earth is deeply inhospitable to life (unless you are some weird mutant who can breath water, for example); the story of how the land has formed and how life has evolved since are fascinating stories of natural processes, stay a spell and we'll explain it all for you and why it lacks any of the hall-marks of design you care to nominate. 3) Well imagine if we discovered in the desert a rocket sent by the Andromedians. Inside the rocket: a complete record of how to manipulate the chemicals at the basic building blocks of molecules, in short a record of how to start life and encourage evolution, a brief note explain why they did this to create us and instructions of where to find them. Even if we had all of this cleear-cut evidence of design we would be left with the question: where did the Andromendians come from? Perhaps they have a similar rocket back in their galaxy. So who built that rocket? and so on, it's a problem of interminable regress. Assuming something complex like a designer was necessary to establish all the simplicity of our origins and all the complexity of ur development, is just backward. You don;t get complexity first ever. In short we are asking, Who designed God? Now of course you don't think anyone did, he probably self-emminantly created himself via magic incantations or something but don't you see how this is a weak -argument? Please do better. We do enjoy reading your letters.


I love you very much,
Aunt Donna
[Love and hugs from the Godless Heretics of Atheist Nexus]


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091130112413.htm <--- super massive black holes and star formation.
Comment by Wonder Weirdo on December 5, 2009 at 1:50pm
I had a similar problem with a relative of mine. I had to one up her a bit by including that if god is real, then it's an evil thing that we should resist. Looking back at history, if there is a god, and god has indeed intervened in humanities development, then history is an example of gods malevolence.

I tried to read Josh McDowells web site, but he really doesn't give a coherent reason for believing in god. I think it's safe to say that he went into christianity because he already had a vested interest in it, and a limited scope of thinking about how life can go on without the influence of religion.

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