I have an interesting argument that I have successfully used to
Christians and absolutely dumbfounded my minister when I was 10. I
when the proselytizer in question makes the error of saying that I will
to hell for being an atheist. The argument that hell does not exist
enough to stump them, it should be but it is not. Instead we need
sharper that cuts right to the heart of their nonsensical beliefs.
one for you.
I have more or less read the bible from cover to cover (my favorite
chapter is Revelation where our all loving deity kicks some serious ass).
as most American children was forced to spend half of every Sunday in
church. Not only was it every week, but my church was all day, 9:00
Sunday school, followed by 11:00 "service" (I always wondered why
called it service when all we were doing was giving money to the
that ended at 2:30, then we would go downstairs and eat at the
followed by another "service" from about 4 to 7 or 8 pm (giving
payment of course to the church fund). This torture, over a period
several years gave me an opportunity to read. The problem was that if
caught reading anything but the bible, I would get in trouble. At the
I figured that bible reading would somehow help me to be a good
and force me to beleive (which I did not after the age of about 7 or
(Aside: another thing to get you to not believe real quick is to go to
black church which I had the unfortunate time of attending for the first
or so years of my life. The music at black churches is real nice and
mood is festive, but if you have ever seen anyone "get the holy ghost"
they call it, it is a bit like a possession. The person looses total
control including over their vocal chords and begins shouting and
their feet uncontrollably. Seeing this as a 5 year old kid, I was
and of course thought something was terribly wrong with the person only
find out that a severe Tourette's inspired seizure is not only a
thing" to happen in black churches, but it means that you are somehow
to god, or more holy or more sanctified. So naturally, people have
"seizures" or "get the holy ghost" in droves every week falling out in
aisle and needing to be carried away not to be outdone by anyone else
because that would imply a less sanctified, further from god
Anyway, sitting bored in church gave me plenty of time to read the
began reading it at about the age of 7, and continued until about 10.
already an atheist or at least a doubter at this point. The funny
that I could not find a specific example in the bible that states simply
YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR JESUS, YOU WILL GO TO HELL. There is
inverse to John 3:16, no, "whosoever does not believeth him shall
burn forever" type of thing. (Aside: There are plenty of stories of
disobeying a direct order from god, and examples of wicked people who
not know god. and stories that tried to make the connection between
wickedness and not knowing god or Jesus, but no direct inverse in
terms like John 3:16.) So it is still possible to obey all of the
have absolutely no knowledge of god or Jesus or no desire to be "saved"
him if such knowledge were obtained, and still get into heaven.
This is also one of the ways later that another preacher explained how a
Colombian native American or ancient Egyptian could have gotten into
after I challenged him with this question along with the why is there
inverse to John 3:16.)
The problem with this is, of course it is impossible to follow all of
rules listed in the bible because many of them are contradictory and
against human nature. So you must go to church, pray, confess etc to
for forgiveness for breaking the rules that were broken in order to
another such rule, or to apologize for being human (which he supposedly
you this way anyway..In his own image for that matter). This conundrum
as you probably know, what perpetuates the religion and the
that is the church.
The argument usually goes something like this.
You: I am a proud atheist.
Follower: Blah blah blah, Jesus loves you, blah blah....etc etc. You
going to hell
You: But the bible does not specifically say that if I do not believe I
go to hell.
Follower: Yes it does because of (insert nonsensical random bible
taken out of context)
You: But those are all metaphors and examples of people who most people,
live in a civilized manner, would agree were
or people who broke a direct promise to god. They would have
probably been punished by some law by now
anyway, and I have made no
promises to god personally. None of the examples that you gave
states that I will go to hell with the same certainty
as John 3:16 says
that I will if I do believe.
The follower will then go directly to page 666 of the Christian
defensive playbook and commit one of the many fallacies of logic.
always a non sequitir, but if it is a more educated religious type
minister) they will probably change the subject and try and figure out
you are so angry with god (an obvious non sequitir, but a good tactic to
you on the defensive. Ironically, (and hilariously now that I look
it) at this point, my minister recommended to my grandparents that I
BEATEN(!) when I used this argument! Probably the best way that I have
heard of to make children love jesus.
They will most likely attempt to draw some connection between knowing
or god and living a good life AND will imply, or say directly that if
do not know of these people you somehow cannot live a good life. Of
you can then describe many ancient cultures that practiced many of the
called Judeo-Christian-Muslim values thousands of years before these
religions existed and how many of their beliefs come from these
themselves, thus ensuring pagans a place in heaven. This does not sit
with most Christians because they have this need to be special in the
of some father figure. Plus, it brings us back to the original
that if a single person even by accident lived a life like Jesus but did
know Jesus existed or chose to ignore his existence (e.g., born in a
that does not worship Jesus) the bible does not say they would be
heaven, AND since you do not know how I or anyone else truly lives or
beleives you cannot say with certainty that I, or anyone, WILL go to
for being an atheist. Therefore, it is possible that you may see me,
"evil" atheist, someday in your heaven. Of course at that point, I
longer be an atheist because god would have proven his existence to
which is all I am asking for before to begin with..PROOF...
This is the most likely argument and usually the point where they
angry and begin to swear at me, threaten me or give up and tell me that
will pray for me. I have not got much further than this with
Christians (not tried yet on any Muslims or Jews because I have
knowledge of the Koran, and have read the old testament don't
Jewish traditions)but this is usually about where it ends.
This strategy has worked for me for years. It almost always comes
the original question, and it uses your opponent's philosophy against him
her, which is always devastating. I thought it would help some of you
get into the occasional argument with the "rational" Christian.