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Author Topic: 10 Lessons from an Atheist  (Read 7467 times)
Getbig V
Posts: 11107

loco like a fox

« on: June 02, 2016, 10:24:39 AM »

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10 Lessons from an Atheist

Recently I was asked to watch a TV show that I would otherwise never have turned to. The show is hosted by two illusionists, Penn & Teller. Talented but very crude.

I reluctantly viewed two episodes poking fun at creationists and the Bible. My goal was to pull out their specific arguments and prepare responses that I could use in my worldview talks at churches and conferences.

Afterward I wanted nothing more to do with this program or these men. Their blatant disrespect for the Bible and my Savior angered me. To be honest, I was hardhearted toward them and said in my mind, “If I were ever to see them, I would walk right by and not say a word.” I felt justified in this attitude because the Bible tells us in Matthew 7:6, “Do not . . . cast your pearls before swine.”

“These guys are just big pigs!” I thought. How wrong I was! Shortly after evaluating this program I saw another short video where Penn (full name, Penn Jillette) shares about his encounter with a Christian man who gave him a gift after one of his shows.

Following are excerpts and some valuable lessons about how to share our faith with an atheist.

Lesson 1
“At the end of the show . . . we talk to folks, . . . sign the occasional autograph, shake hands, and so on. And there was one guy waiting over to the side . . . . He walked over to me and he said, ‘I was here last night at the show . . . and I liked it.’”

He was there the night before and came back. How many times have we passed up an opportunity to share the gospel with someone? Remember this, we can usually go back.

Lesson 2
“He was very complimentary about my use of language and complimentary about—you know—honesty and stuff. He said nice stuff.”

The Christian complimented the atheist’s gifts instead of attacking his weaknesses.

Lesson 3
“And then he said, ‘I brought this for you.’ And he handed me a Gideon pocket edition. I thought it said from the New Testament, but I also thought it . . . Psalms is from the New Testament, right?”

I can see you chuckling now, but don’t mock. Anyone could easily misspeak. Even if your listener doesn’t know that Psalms isn’t in the New Testament, he deserves patience and respect.

Lesson 4
“He said, ‘I wrote in the front of it. And I wanted you to have this. I’m kind of proselytizing.’”

This Christian man wasn’t intimidated. He opened his mouth and shared his faith, knowing how Penn felt about Christians and the Bible. Oh, how we need such boldness!

Lesson 5
“And then he said, ‘I’m a businessman. I’m sane. I’m not crazy.’ And he looked me right in the eye and did all of this.”

It’s so important that we take the time to look people in the eye, be sincere, and speak the truth in love. If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “He handed him a Bible? Penn’s going to tear this guy apart.”

Read how Penn responded:

“And it was really wonderful.”

Wow! I’m so embarrassed. I wouldn’t have spoken with this foul-mouthed atheist, much less given him a Bible. Penn was encouraged by this man’s boldness.

Lesson 6, 7, 8
“But he was not defensive, and he looked me right in the eyes. And he was truly complimentary. He wasn’t in any way—it didn’t seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes, and talked to me and then gave me this Bible.”

He wasn’t defensive or attacking.

Did you notice the phrase “he looked me in the eyes” repeated three times? This is so important.

He talked “to” him, not “at” him. Yes, there is a major difference.

Lesson 9
“This guy was a really good guy. He was polite and honest and sane, and he cared enough about me to proselytize and give me a Bible, [and he] had written in it a little note to me.”

Check your motivations! This man cared, and it came through clearly. If the Christian’s motivation had been to show the atheist how wrong he was or to just win an argument, those motives would have been just as clear.

Lesson 10
“I know there’s no God. And one polite person living his life right doesn’t change that.”

How about two, three, maybe four people living right? What if every Christian exuded this type of concern? Even though Penn didn’t “convert,” that’s not our concern. Our job is not to convict or convert. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. Our job is to converse (Mark 16:15). Christians must become more visible in the culture. We’ve been hiding our light under a basket far too long.

Please read and reread Penn’s last quote carefully.

“If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell—or not getting eternal life or whatever—and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward. . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”
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Getbig V
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2016, 06:53:35 PM »

“If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell and people could be going to hell—or not getting eternal life or whatever—and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward. . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?”

It's not about hate, it just doesn't fare well. What you have is a religious dogma, not a proven truth, not real justification. And even if you did, for example, telling a stranger that smoking cigarettes is bad and you're concerned, will probably get you a fuck off vibe, if not a verbal one.  

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Getbig V
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Here's looking at you kid!

« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2016, 04:46:23 PM »

Many people don't realize this, but Penn is not only a very talented magician and showbiz guy, but he's also a savvy businessman and very, very smart. He's also fair and intellectually honest.

Like Penn, I don't fault those who choose to try and share their faith with me — when they do so honestly and out of care as opposed to when they do it because they think that they must be fishers of me to achieve salvation.

To those openly sharing, I'll say "thank you for sharing" and I mean it. Depending on the situation, I may discuss a bit with them, and give them my viewpoint and my reasoning and yes, my objections. But I try to not be abrasive or confrontational.

To those who are just trying to punch their own ticket, I will simply brush them off. I try to never be rude. Sometimes it's a challenge.

I'm a bit more direct here, mostly because I enjoy the discussion itself. Plus, I get to blow off some steam and crack a joke or two. Thank God for that! Grin
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Getbig V
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2016, 12:42:45 PM »

I'm the same way. I tend to cut to the point here more because almost everyone is veterans of these conversations and been down the road before so there is no point in dancing around. But in real life, if someone is sharing their belief with no intention of converting me I'm fine with it and will listen politely for a bit. If it turns into a sermon I'll cut it off politely. If they insist then I may have some fun with it. I enjoy a good debate and I especially enjoy rocking the boat of a pushy Christian who won't take no for an answer and hasn't really had their belief challenged. But mostly I just want to be left alone regarding personal beliefs in gods or the afterlife
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Dos Equis
Getbig V
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I am. The most interesting man in the world. (Not)

« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2016, 04:43:47 PM »

I don't think debates really convert anyone.  IMO, the best witness is how you live your life and how you treat people on a day-to-day basis. 

For me, I don't get offended when someone shares their faith with me, even if it's proselytizing.  It's just words.  Some non-religious people can be hypersensitive about it.  I'm not. 
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