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An Atheist and a Preacher Chat over Coffee.

August 26, 2009 8 comments

Session one

 

Due to the length of time we talked and the vast, somewhat disparate spectrum of material we covered I will make several smaller posts, rather than one large post.

 

So, I met with The Pastor (TP) for the first time today.  We met at a local coffee shop in our town.  We spent over 90 minutes gently jousting most ideas back and forth and some other’s with conviction that you would expect from and Atheist and a Baptist raised Methodist Preacher.  There were moments that we chided one another’s beliefs and assumption, occasionally even laughing at each other, as well as, with one another.  But in general the meeting was congenial, expository, cursory and yet ripe with promise for future focused discussions.   And there was NO talk of Hell, Damnation, nor of my lack of baptism!  I mention this because I very plainly told him that I am an Atheist, always have been and likely will always be one. 

 

When we first met in the parking lot we said hello and shook hands.  TP apologized for being a few minutes late, mentioning that as soon as he was preparing to leave his office, ‘everybody needed something.’  I replied ‘they were probably wondering why you wanted to hang out with a heretic like me!’  He chuckled and responded ‘I didn’t tell anybody about you.’   We collectively chuckled and the tone of the meeting was now set.

 

I will start with what is probably the most contentious and obvious disagreement we had. Keep in mind, I like this guy, and I can’t wait to have another, more focused meeting. 

 

One of the take home messages that I found sort of irritating was that he iterated several times that he does not consider me an Atheist.  His impression is that I am a ‘Seeker.’  So, naturally I asked him what he meant by the term seeker.  TP seemed to confuse my desire to take an interest in learning more about the Christian faith with my true intention, which is to learn more about WHY people adhere to the Christian faith.  The fact that I am a scientist seemed to strengthen his argument.  His impression is that I am searching for ‘The Truth.’  Frankly, I am seeking answers, but I am not seeking them in archaic textbooks about heavenly deities or mortal God-men.  I am seeking answers through, at times, laborious study and repetition of outcomes.   

 

After talking with him for a while, I think I understand the Christian Mind (the sane ones at least) a little better.  For TP anyone with curiosity, virtue, good moral character, etc can only be doing God’s work.  The argument would be that the opposite actions would be inherently evil and therefore Satan’s work or more politely, separate from God.   For a non-theist like myself, I really am only doing what comes natural to me without ever once pleading with God for direction, special treatment, wisdom, safety…etc. 

 

Lastly for this post, I did ask him bluntly if he was feeling apostate toward his religion.  He smiled and we chatted a bit, but you know he never did say no…

 

Anoat