Thursday, June 19, 2008

Advice and Crayolas


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.

Some observations:
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.

30 comments:

Milo Johnson said...

For so many folks who are immersed in the whole religion thing, their default position is that "everybody knows there really is a god" and that atheists are just misbehaving contrarians who are acting out because of a need for attention or some other quasi-Freudian rubbish, and who will cave in and start praying the moment the going gets rough in their lives. I honestly think they just don't get how bewildered unbelievers are that any intelligent human can actually accept their preferred rituals as having any grounding in reality. Cultural and social inclusion for the ones who go along with the group and peer pressure against those who stray reinforce the whole concept that the existence of their deity is a universally accepted notion, and it has become so pervasive in our society that there is going to have to be some sort of major cultural awakening like the Enlightment before atheism is ever really honestly understood by believers.

spurge said...

I don't know what exactly it is about a box of Crayolas, but just seeing a picture of it made my day a little brighter.

Play-Doh has much the same effect.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CrypticLife said...

Anonymous,

1) There's a rule, clearly stated, against anonymous comments. It's not like you have to give your actual name, just give some mnemonic.

2) If BG says he believes atheists all really believe that God exists, that would make them non-atheists, and hence atheists would not exist.

3) Atheists in this country are pretty much forced to "obsess" on Christianity because of the regular proselytization and impact on politics.

" I suspect the real reason you've rejected God is because you want to be free to run your own life..."

And then, Christians complain that atheists "borrow" morality from them! If atheists just wanted to run amuck, why would they borrow tenets from religion?

Vincent said...

I vote for option 4.
BG wrote it himself (whoever BG may be, probably not the real Billy Graham but some staffer).

It's not really a letter. It's a preamble to an essay. It reads that way and I think the "letter" and the reply were written by the same person.

Vincent said...

forgot to add:
Rather like a Ben Franklin letter to the editor - only lacking all wit and intelligence.

Richard said...

I didn't realize a three sentence e-mail to a celebrity reverend is a "strenuous fight" against a deity.

Well, I've never written a three sentence e-mail to a celebrity revered... (But I'm also pretty lazy, too.)

-Richard

Enshoku said...

Possum momma, why don't you disable anon. comments? aaaaaaaaanyways....

Where did BG say that he believes that atheists don't exist. His logic makes perfect sense. It is yours that is stretching.
DEAR G.P.: To be frank, it sounds to me as if down inside you actually do know that God exists;
With no details about GP, this statement would obviously apply to anyone able to hold the label nonbeliever. This is in fact a common statement, and is supported by the bible. God doesn't believe in atheists, they only lie to others about what they truly know.

I have read your blog for a long time and it is my prayer that you will keep on obssessing about Christianity. It seems the whole of your existence to think about these things constantly. The Holy Spirit must want you pretty badly to work this hard for your soul.
Very sharp, Mr. bond, but you should have paid more attention to your surroundings. If possum momma was an ex-catholic who lived in Tehran(Iran's capital), lord forbid her articles run rampant about how she was disconbobulated about whether a person claiming to be an atheist was actually an atheist. Her articles would focus more on the happenings of herself, a non middle eastern infidel in a very bad place her a non middle eastern infidel. Surly that would be proof of allah's power to try and convert her.

I think he must know what an awesome Christian you would make
possum momma seems to be very rational, rational people make for bad theists.

This blog gives me hope that God cares so much that He will keep that burr under your saddle and keep you agonizing.
By that do you mean "keep antagonizing you"? If so, your god is acting very brilliantly in his mysterious ways, such as sending men of god to type out lovely e-mails to her children.

It shows just how much he loves you to put this much effort into a single soul and the souls of your children through you.
A god with infinite power can do anything without exerting any real effort.
∞-1=∞
∞-1,000=∞
∞-1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000=∞
∞-9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9=∞
infinite power is always infinite, no matter how much of it is used.

[cookie for anyone who figures out how much 9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9^9 is, I can't find any calculator that can do it.]

Rachel said...

"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?"

PMomma, why not do that? And let us know what kind of reply you get!

"P1 organizes her crayons by color and hue/shade. NERD!"

Oooohh... I love to do this, too! High five, P1!!!

cognitive dissident said...

"P1 organizes her crayons by color and hue/shade."

I've done that with every box of crayons, colored pencils, markers, pastels (or assortment of paints/gouache/watercolors/etc.) since...I don't know...forever, I guess.

A touch of OCD is good for keeping things organized, at least until another box of crayons enters the picture. Then there's the problem of combining different sets (because they won't fit in one box) or keeping them separate. (Never mind, maybe my OCD isn't so good after all...)

aimee said...

I keep mine seperate from my kids crayons. I'm picky, sorry. I like to put mine back in the same spot and keep them sharp. They just don't have the appreciation for it yet :P

The game store, It's Your Move, has great coloring books for the more detailed people out there that like to color. They have some really pretty ones that are 'stained glass'. Coloring for me is very much a stress reliever.

Karen said...

Do you think we have enough Crayons?

You can't ever have enough crayons, colored pencils, paints, beads, yarn, or whatever your favorite creative medium requires. :-)

Jim said...

Too many crayons? Non sequitur.

I recall a childhood friend melting similar colored crayons together in an attempt to form a color that they insisted Crayola should make but inexplicably did not...

Enshoku said...

I once left three crayons on a heating vent, and let me tell you crayons would make horrible candles as they melt way too frelling quickly.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

No anonymous comments.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

You know...I probably should have at least read the anon comment. Oh well....

Promisekept said...

I remember what anon said. You should not have deleted it sense he had much to say to you that you need to listen to. I thought you liked open minded people so what is your excuse for deleting a mans comment because you don't agree. He didn't attack in rude fashion. We Christians feel bad when we see a person who God is trying to fill with spirit and they just don't want that help from Him.

Anon said before you deleted:
"I have read your blog for a long time and it is my prayer that you will keep on obssessing about Christianity. It seems the whole of your existence to think about these things constantly. The Holy Spirit must want you pretty badly to work this hard for your soul."

"I think he must know what an awesome Christian you would make."


"This blog gives me hope that God cares so much that He will keep that burr under your saddle and keep you agonizing."

"It shows just how much he loves you to put this much effort into a single soul and the souls of your children through you."
I hope this smart person posts again so you can see the wisdom of his heart. You are sick and I understand when we are sick we want to blame God for our pain and suffering. It is a trial which you should bless him for giving you to show persaveerance. I believe God will only give you what you can handle. He have you this to bring you back to Him. He aches to help you. He loves all His children no matter what they believe. Just give it a chance. Ask for Him to ease your burden in humbleness. Your family is proof of his holy plan. I see sadness in your family pictures with the children because you are keeping them from God. Satan has made you think appearances of happy are happy when it is sad you feel. Be open minded about what we say. I will pray for you.

AmberKatt said...

Oh wow... there is nothing quite like the experience of opening that brand-new 64-color box of crayons. *happy smile* They are so pristine and bright, and they smell so dang wonderful. It's almost a shame to use them when you first open them.

(I did say "almost"... lol....)

Madmoneymax said...

This blog is faker than fake. These people are the Waltons of this generation if it's for real. You must think people are stupid if you think any one would buy two teens sitting with their parents and two small preschool kids to color. Who are you trying to impress? If you still play with crayons after ten years old you're lame. Not buying this.

Milo Johnson said...

Shorter madmoneymax:

"I'm a complete dickhead and an idiot, therefore it's inconceivable that anyone else couldn't be at least as much of a cretin as me."

ChaSim said...

Promisekept said...
You should not have deleted it sense he had much to say to you that you need to listen to. I thought you liked open minded people so what is your excuse for deleting a mans comment because you don't agree.


She deleted it because he broke posting rules.

Madmoneymax said...
This blog is faker than fake. These people are the Waltons of this generation if it's for real. You must think people are stupid if you think any one would buy two teens sitting with their parents and two small preschool kids to color. Who are you trying to impress? If you still play with crayons after ten years old you're lame. Not buying this.


I feel sad for you.

MrQhuest said...

MadMoneyMax
Wow.
I'm sure the older kids would not pick up the crayons to play on their own, but there is something to be said with playing with the younger kids. My boy is only 3, and an only child, but all the older kids on the street play him, and each other, even the 6, 8 and 10 year olds. There is a difference between playing with something, and playing with someone. I feel sad for you.
MrQhuest
(longtime lurker, first post)

Enshoku said...

This blog is faker than fake.
Yep, and it's made outta cheap plastic too, the flimsy chinese kind. ad hominem.
These people are the Waltons of this generation if it's for real.
odd ad hominem.
You must think people are stupid if you think any one would buy two teens sitting with their parents and two small preschool kids to color. Who are you trying to impress? If you still play with crayons after ten years old you're lame. Not buying this.
I told my 10 1/2 year old sister this, she said that at least she has a life, and doesn't spend all her time making fun of people(I might add though, she does spend half her time doing it). Ad hominems all around, I pray that his noodly appendage touches your heart.

invisible dragon said...

But madmoneymax... coloring books are so much cooler now than when I was a kid! Especially the ones at Dover Publications.

And I keep my crayons in a xmas ornament box; all those lovely little compartments! *smoiles*

Loosen up, dudelette; have some fun!

AlisonM said...

Hey, we converted our garage to an art studio so we'd have a place for all our pencils, pens, inks, paints, markers, and. . .yes. . .crayons! Even if you're too old for coloring books, you're not too old to make scratch art (daughter #1 also does reverse scratch art on clear plastic - color the back with black crayon and scratch the reverse of your design.), or paint on crayon (interesting possibilities with that, believe me) or pieces for inclusion with other mediums. And yes, even at 13 and 15, my kids sit around with mom and dad and do arts and crafts.

In fact, one of the crafts we do is decorating the saved steel cans we use to hold the pencils and pens and paintbrushes and markers and crayons!

Katie said...

If p1 ever got into art school then organizing her crayolas now helps immensely, but that is speaking as an art nerd who did that herself as a kid. (Ok, I'll admit I STILL do it.)

We get the syndicated Billy Graham letters in our paper as well as an entire section of our paper dedicated to religion.

Melanie said...

I notice your son is wearing a Cardinals cap...go Cards!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Alison,
We've done all of those things. I don't think P4 has tried the crayon with watercolor option, as he's more of an outdoor, chalk artist, but I should have him try it.

I'll share more in a moment (in a blog post).

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Melanie,
Yes! He is wearing the Cardinal colors. He was in St. Louis for ten days last week (visiting family) and they went to a game. It was the Friday night game where the Phillies opened a can of 20-4 whoop-ass.
Next time we're in the STL, we'll have to look you up and do Imos.

aimee said...

My 9 & 11 yr old, BOYS, still color in coloring books. When we go out to dinner and my 3 yr old gets the coloring page, I usually end up sitting there coloring it.

It is painfully obvious that madmoneymax has no inner child and is way too uptight.