First, I found this letter in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Billy Graham (yes, that Billy Graham) apparently gives advice in the Seattle PI. He received the following note from someone who goes by the initials GP.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: I want to make myself clear: I have no interest in God or religion, and I don't care who knows it. As far as I'm concerned, God doesn't exist, and this life is all there is. Don't even bother to write me back, because I'm not interested. -- G.P
I don't know what the catalyst for the note was. It seems odd to me that any atheist would just up and write Billy Graham a note like this. Perhaps Graham wrote an article that spoke of atheism or atheists and made some faulty assumptions? Or, perhaps GP just likes to stir the pot? Or, maybe GP isn't really an atheist, but is a Graham fan who wanted to give Billy Graham a chance to address atheists? I'm voting for the third option, but I have no proof that that's the case.
Here is Graham's response...
DEAR G.P.: To be frank, it sounds to me as if down inside you actually do know that God exists; otherwise, why would you be fighting so strenuously against Him and trying to keep Him out of your life? Or why would you even bother to write me?
While I can understand asking GP why he/she wrote in (especially if they didn't want a response), the first part seems odd. Billy Graham's assumptions about this person, based on three sentences seems a bit too rehearsed and perfect. Why would Graham, who likely gets way better letters than this, with thoughtful arguments, choose this to respond to? Setting that aside, it's quite presumptive for Graham to say that GP is "fighting so strenuously against God" to "keep Him out of (his/her) life." I didn't realize a three sentence e-mail to a celebrity reverend is a "strenuous fight" against a deity.
After all, why fight against something (or Someone) that doesn't even exist (as you claim)? If you were really convinced God didn't exist, the logical thing for you to do would be to ignore Him. But you aren't ignoring Him -- and the more you fight against God, the more you are in danger of persuading yourself that He actually does exist.
Well, Mr. Graham, one should switch it up and ask this: If you are truly convinced that atheists don't exist, then the logical thing for you to do would be to ignore atheists. The more you fight against atheists, the more you are in danger of persuading yourself that atheists have a point and might be right. Furthermore, most atheists aren't speaking out against God as if he exists. Most atheists are speaking out against the ramifications we see in people who do believe. We're responding not to a god we don't believe in (hence why it's impossible for atheists to hate God...you can't hate something that doesn't exist), but to the very real friends, family, community, law makers, and other humans who *do* believe and use that belief to control the lives of others.
Have you ever honestly asked yourself why you don't believe in God?
I don't know about GP, but I can answer that with an emphatic "yes!" In fact, it was the honest self-examination that led me to atheism. I'm not saying it's impossible for some one to have an unconsidered position about God, but...it would be pretty damn rare. Again, this letter seems like a set-up. Graham is getting to address every non-sequitor and stereotype of atheists/atheism.
I'm sure you could list many "reasons" why you've rejected Him; most professed atheists can. But are they the real reason? I doubt it. I suspect the real reason you've rejected God is because you want to be free to run your own life -- and you know that won't be possible once you admit God exists.
So, he's sure GP could list many reasons for non-belief, and agrees that most atheists actually have asked themselves honest questions, but he's just going to assume that GP hasn't asked himself "why you don't believe in God?"?
In addition, how do you decide whether a reason is real or not? I don't believe in God because I've seen no evidence that such an entity exists. How do you determine if that's a real or fake reason? Furthermore, why do theists continue to hang on to the idea that atheists have chosen atheism because we want to be free of God's rules? And, is Billy Graham saying that, despite all the wonderful benefits of belief, he's not free to run his own life? If he's not running it, then who is? I hope someone writes in, as a follow-up, and asks Graham if he doesn't believe in Allah because he wants to be free to run his own life without the limitations of Islam. I'd also like to ask Mr. Graham how an atheist can reject a god when there's no god to reject?
You may have rejected God -- but He has not rejected you! He loves you and yearns for you to come to Him and discover the peace and hope that come from knowing Christ. Jesus was God in human flesh, and He came to show us what God is like. The Bible says, "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (Son), who is at the Father's side, has made him known" (John 1:18).
That's interesting. If the Christian God has not rejected atheists, then the ultimate, unforgivable sin (blasphemy) isn't so ultimate or unforgivable. It's odd that, when theists run into atheists who are set in their position, they bust out with Pascal's Wager or some rant fest' about how blasphemy is something you can't take back and their God hates blasphemers, but... put them in-front of someone who might not be so sure, or a bunch of people they want to convert, and it's all about how much their deity loves you and wants you. What a fickle deity!
In other news, we have been in a coloring frenzy this week. Even Pdaddy and I have got involved. I'd forgotten how soothing it is. You may even see the elusive mother possum.
1. Do you think we have enough Crayons? The plastic drawer/box has crayons from when Pdaddy and I were kids. We even have the non-PC colors - "Indian Red", anyone?
2. P1 organizes her crayons by color and hue/shade. NERD! If only she were that organized with her bedroom.