As I mentioned in my previous post I've been thinking a lot about the topic of Christian apologetics. I have been delving into why I believe what I believe and how I can clearly communicate those reasons. I've also been thinking a lot about my atheist/ agnostic friends. Beliefs about religion are one of those topics that can quickly become heated and uncomfortable. Unless we're talking to someone we already know agrees with us we don't typically bring it up.
Yet the internet is chock full of discussions about faith....most of them heated & uncomfortable. I've seen some videos on youtube along the lines of 'Questions for an atheist' or 'Questions for a Christian'. And, those videos for the most part ask questions that are designed to challenge the other person's worldview.
And, don't get me wrong. Challenge can be a good thing. If I hadn't been challenged on some of my core beliefs by others I never would have gone deeper and reached a point where I felt I truly understood what I believed and could articulate that.
Challenge can also be combative and divisive and fruitless. It's a fine, hard line that we're called to walk when challenging or questioning others. And, I've already failed miserably on that front more times than not.
So, this whole concept of asking someone with opposing views questions got me to thinking. What kind of questions would I ask if I could sit down face to face in a totally non-hostile environment with someone who believed differently than me? What do I really want to know from the atheist or agnostic?
You see. I'm fascinated by people. I'm also an introvert by nature. But, I love to observe & listen & consider what seems to be what makes people tick. I love hearing other people's stories. I love getting beyond what's on the surface and finding out what's deep down.
So, if I had a chance to sit down with an atheist or agnostic...say over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine...what do I really want to know? And these are the questions I came up with. I posted this on Facebook hoping that some of my atheist/agnostic acquaintances might answer some of them for me. And, I'm taking a risk by posting them here too.
Please understand, I don't ask these questions to initiate a debate. I would just like to better understand. This is what I posted...
"I have a some questions for my friends who would consider themselves atheists or agnostics or who have no religious affiliation. I'm wondering if any of you would be willing to answer them for me. They are an attempt for me to do a bit of research and better understand how you've reached the conclusions about life, faith, religion, etc. that you've reached. I don't intend to use your answers in an effort to debate with you.
As I've been exploring Christian apologetics and have been learning how to better discuss my faith intelligently and my reasons for believing what I believe, I realized that one thing I'm lacking is understanding how people with opposing viewpoints have reached their views. I'm not talking here about scientific evidence/arguments for or against a Creator. I'm talking about the personal journey that each of us make in life and in arriving at our belief systems. Rather than making assumptions, I'd like to understand better.
One of the things that I've been learning is that when we discuss things that are at the very core of who we are and how we approach life, it can become easy to slip into a combative mode. In my attempt to enter in more discussions I've slipped into that pattern myself. It's sometimes hard to discuss something with fervor & passion without sounding argumentative.
So again, let me assure you, these questions are just to help me have a better understanding of what you believe and why. And, for my Christian friends, I want to stress that I want this to be a safe place for my non-religious friends to answer these questions. I don't want to start any debates, discussions, or arguments.
1. Growing up were you involved in any church/ religious experience?
2. If so, how did this influence or shape the views you hold now?
3. If not, how would you describe the worldview you were raised with?
4. Did you at any point believe in God or the possibility of God?
5. What experience or experiences did you have that most shaped what you believe now?
6. Have you ever had any doubts regarding your current world view?
7. Do you feel you have an understanding of the Bible & what's in it and the Christian view of God? Or do you have a less in depth understanding?
8. Are there other religions that you explored or researched? What were your thoughts on those?
9. If evidence for the existence of God were presented to you, would there still be other roadblocks to being able to accept that evidence?
10. What is your opinion of Christians? If you have a negative view, what is your main complaint?
11. What do you feel is a misconception that Christians have about atheists?
12. What are your thoughts on amiable debates? Are you open to them or are you closed to having discussions with those you disagree with?
13. Can you briefly explain what your current world view/ view of life is?
I know these are a lot of questions, but I appreciate any input you can give me. Thank you so much. "