Hate Mail

Jeff Knight

[Editor's note: this individual does not seem particularly malicious or driven, and I suspect he's probably a fairly representative "median case" example of the kind of person who tries to persuade others to convert to his religion]

Have read most of your site. Am asking myself what to say to you. I don't want to get into this point-by-point debate. That's what I see so many of the net debates fall into, and nobody ever gets the "point". I do not believe that the existence of God will ever be proved. I actually hope that it is not. I mean, there has been enough problems with religion already. Can you imagine it if God was actually proved to exist? Constitutions would be rewritten; we would all be at war. Hmmm, looks like we are heading that way anyway!

Anyway, onto the rest of my email. I know I said I didn't like the point-by-point thing; however, I want to add a comment or point of clarification. Hell will be full of tormented people, but God is not the tormenter. Hell is better defined as separation from God. That's the torment, to know that you will forever we apart from him.

Another thing to think about is that to the outside observer you appear to lump all religions together, taking the worst-looking parts from all to create a conglomerate that does not exist. This may not be a conscious intention, but I am sure if offends a lot of believers to be lumped in with their enemies. You see, a Baptist believes that a Catholic is an unbeliever and is going to hell. This makes them an enemy. There are a LOT of religions out there. Some use a common bible, some use alternative ones (Mormon). It's like Highlander.... "there can be only one". There's gonna be a lot of losers in this race one day.

I/you/we could go on and on, but these were some major things that stood out to me.

Lastly, the pitch:

I know I'm asking you to put aside your ideas for a minute, but have you actually considered the consequences of what will happen when you find that God does exist (this "hard evidence" is naturally assumed to come at death, wherein you have no time to make changes to your life)? God loves us all. He has extended the welcome mat for everyone. I have been a believer for a long time. I would love to say the "magic word" that would show you what pieces of the puzzle that you need to see. I would love to be able to make that connection with you, but have no idea how.


Monday 20 September 2004 01:19 am:

Have read most of your site. Am asking myself what to say to you. I don't want to get into this point-by-point debate. That's what I see so many of the net debates fall into, and nobody ever gets the "point".

And what, precisely, is wrong with point-by-point debates that would lead you to say that nobody is getting the "point?" Or are you basically saying that if debates don't turn out the way you want them to, then everyone missed the point?

I do not believe that the existence of God will ever be proved. I actually hope that it is not. I mean, there has been enough problems with religion already. Can you imagine it if God was actually proved to exist? Constitutions would be rewritten; we would all be at war. Hmmm, looks like we are heading that way anyway!

Religion already does a perfectly adequate job of causing people to agitate for Constitutional amendments, foment wars, and hate one another without a shred of evidence.

Anyway, onto the rest of my email. I know I said I didn't like the point-by-point thing; however, I want to add a comment or point of clarification. Hell will be full of tormented people, but God is not the tormenter. Hell is better defined as separation from God. That's the torment, to know that you will forever we apart from him.

So who created this "lake of fire" into which the unbelievers will suffer forever then? Especially since God supposedly created everything? And why would God burn people to death, drown them, rip them apart with bears, etc. in the Old Testament if his idea of eternal punishment is simply to keep us away from his Goodness?

Another thing to think about is that to the outside observer you appear to lump all religions together, taking the worst-looking parts from all to create a conglomerate that does not exist.

Nonsense; every one of my claims is based on quotes taken directly from the Bible which is shared by all of the Christian sects.

This may not be a conscious intention, but I am sure if offends a lot of believers to be lumped in with their enemies. You see, a Baptist believes that a Catholic is an unbeliever and is going to hell. This makes them an enemy. There are a LOT of religions out there. Some use a common bible, some use alternative ones (Mormon). It's like Highlander.... "there can be only one". There's gonna be a lot of losers in this race one day.

Your militaristic rhetoric about different sects of the same religion being "enemies" is truly disturbing. As for your line about there being only one religion, I think I've actually heard that before. Let me see if I can remember it correctly:

One Religion to rule them all,
One Religion to find them,
One Religion to bring them all,
And in the darkness, bind them.

Did I get it right? Or is that a quote from Lord of the Rings? You'll have to forgive me; I always get these things mixed up.

I/you/we could go on and on, but these were some major things that stood out to me.

And which you will, no doubt, be unwilling to debate in a point-by-point format, having previously stated your disdain for debate. Very convenient.

Lastly, the pitch:
I know I'm asking you to put aside your ideas for a minute, but have you actually considered the consequences of what will happen when you find that God does exist (this "hard evidence" is naturally assumed to come at death, wherein you have no time to make changes to your life)? God loves us all. He has extended the welcome mat for everyone. I have been a believer for a long time. I would love to say the "magic word" that would show you what pieces of the puzzle that you need to see. I would love to be able to make that connection with you, but have no idea how.

It never even occurs to you that the total absence of evidence for your religion just might mean it isn't true, does it?


Tuesday 21 September 2004 10:15 am:

And what, precisely, is wrong with point-by-point debates that would lead you to say that nobody is getting the "point?" Or are you basically saying that if debates don't turn out the way you want them to, then everyone missed the point?

No, nothing sinister here. Simply that nobody as of yet has proved OR disproved the existence of God. And that debating hundreds of individual "items" or "issues" is getting nowhere (for either side).

You obviously do not understand that it is completely illogical to believe in something with no evidence. There is just as much reason to believe in Darth Vader as there is to believe in God.

Religion already does a perfectly adequate job of causing people to agitate for Constitutional amendments, foment wars, and hate one another without a shred of evidence.

Yes, and give people actual PROOF and watch what would happen. Everyone who was worshipping false gods would be all pissed off.

What makes you so confident that everyone ELSE's gods are false but not yours?

Good point about who created hell. I guess I meant that from what we know now he will not be actively there..... more of a passive role I guess.

So my original point about God being cruel still stands; he created a torture chamber for people he doesn't like. The fact that he doesn't stand watch over it himself doesn't change anything.

I read several passages that were not from any bible I have ever seen. I also read passages that I know to be part of other non-protestant religions.

Provide examples.

Don't take what I am about to say as a change of tone or overly aggressive but what do you think is going on here exactly? This is as war, pure and simple. Satan is battling for every soul he can get his hands on.

The only "battling" I see here is from the Christian and Islamic fundamentalists, intent on turning every school and government into a battleground.

Also, Baptist and Catholic are NOT anywhere close to being the same. The core tenet of Baptist/Methodist is that faith in God's son is required for salvation. Catholics believe that the priest can give salavation or absolution. Huge difference.

This is like saying that Irish and British are hugely different, even though they're all just white people to an African.

One Religion to rule them all,
One Religion to find them,
One Religion to bring them all,
And in the darkness, bind them.

Did I get it right? Or is that a quote from Lord of the Rings? You'll have to forgive me; I always get these things mixed up.

It was one ring.

Do they not have sarcasm in your part of the world?

Have you considered that even though you find no evidence for God, that he just might exist?

Sure, just like the Teletubbies.

Belief in things not seen; that is faith.

Also known as profound irrationality.


Tuesday 21 September 2004 04:13 pm:

This is the "point by point" thing I'm trying to avoid. This is where I tell you that we believe in PLENTY w/o evidence. Ask any doctor about the way drugs work. There are many drugs that we use that we belive to work although we don't know why.

Incorrect. You don't have to understand precisely how a drug works in order to observe that it has a repeatable, empirically verifiable effect in controlled double-blind tests. That is evidence.

What makes you so confident that everyone ELSE's gods are false but not yours?

I said false, not eveyone else's.

So you concede that your god might be false?

So my original point about God being cruel still stands; he created a torture chamber for people he doesn't like. The fact that he doesn't stand watch over it himself doesn't change anything.

I'd say it changes a lot. Passive hell versus an active one.... hmmm.

By this logic, if you create a death camp with gas chambers but don't actually oversee the thing once it's operational, you're not to blame. I'd say that's perverse logic.

Provide examples.

They are there. I'll try to find them again later.

I'll be waiting. Because not once have I attributed a quote to the Bible without taking it from the Bible.

There are battles. We routinely see other churches come through on membership drives.

Yes, it's the churches always trying to recruit people. If you view this as aggressive harmful behaviour when other churches do it, why don't you recognize that it's aggressive, harmful behaviour when your church does it?

This is like saying that Irish and British are hugely different, even though they're all just white people to an African.

Wrong analogy. To argue against religion more effectively, you do need to learn more about it.

You can't just say "wrong analogy" without explaining why it's wrong.

This is why I hate the point by point method/problem. Each side spend all their time on these artificial issues, and does not accomplish anything.

What do you hope to "accomplish", precisely? So far, you've claimed that my site is wrong because I lump different sects of Christianity together, without making the slightest attempt to show how this actually invalidates any single point I've made or indeed, why they should not be lumped together when they all share a belief in the truth of the Gospels. Then you claim that science routinely believes in things without evidence, but in your attempt to provide an example (with medical drug testing) you merely demonstrate that you know nothing of the concept of evidence. And finally, you claim that I'm quoting parts of the Bible that I've made up out of thin air, but you mysteriously can't come up with a concrete example.

It's no wonder you don't like point-by-point debates; your points have all been shown to be invalid. From where I sit, it looks like you just don't like losing point-by-point debates.


Tuesday 21 September 2004 08:48 pm:

I said false, not eveyone else's.

So you concede that your god might be false?

Absolutely not. And there is only 1 god.

So I repeat the question. What makes you think that everyone else's gods are false?

I guess what's missing here is that God loves us all, but nobody ever said he was without wrath, or that sins go unpunished. If heaven and hell were equal then there would be no incentive for anyone.

Ah, I see. He loves you but he'll torture the living crap out of you forever if you don't kiss his feet. Interesting definition of "love". Did you know that Stalin had a very similar definition of "love"?

I'll be waiting. Because not once have I attributed a quote to the Bible without taking it from the Bible.

There is more than 1 interpretation/aggregation of the "bible". Christian/mormon/scientology/etc.

Ah, I see. In other words, you accuse anyone who interprets the Bible differently than you of inventing totally fictional data. What makes you think your interpretation is correct?

Satan tries to recruit also. Depends on the the church/religion in question is true to the bible or not.

How does any of this nonsense justify your militaristic approach to other religions? In essence, you're saying "THEY'RE ALL EEEEEEEVIL, because my religion says so!"

You can't just say "wrong analogy" without explaining why it's wrong.

Yes I can.

Obviously, the concept of logic completely escapes you.

Basically, if you knew more about different religions and belief systems you would EASILY understand this difference I was referring to.

I am aware that different Christian sects don't necessarily agree on everything. So what? How does this make them completely different religions, at war with one another, with your particular sect being righteous and the rest being "enemies"? Do you have any idea how disturbing that is, to hear someone who thinks that anyone with a different interpretation of the Bible is an "enemy"?

Accomplish... neither side achieves anything useful. This is exactly what I was talking about in my first correspondence to you.

On the contrary, I have shown that you have no case and that you are a deeply disturbed individual, who thinks that fellow Christians are "enemies" if they don't interpret the Bible the same way he does.

Going back to a point about hell/torment for a minute. You're God. You make everything. You put man on earth. You place prophets on earth and send you son Jesus to earth so that we might know about you. All you ask is that we believe in you. In return we receive eternal life in heaven. And you find it surprising that hell awaits for people who are too (fill in the blank) to work with these terms?

I think I've seen this philosophy on a T-shirt before. I believe it went like this:

If you love something, set it free.
If it doesn't come back, hunt it down and kill it.

Of course, the T-shirt was actually made in jest, since that kind of mentality bears no resemblance to any normal definition of "love". Too bad you apparently don't get that joke.

By this logic, if you create a death camp with gas chambers but don't actually oversee the thing once it's operational, you're not to blame. I'd say that's perverse logic.

You know, some parts of the bible are literal and some are figurative. It speaks of wailing and teeth gnashing when talking of hell. After death, knowing that God DOES exist, and knowing that you/one are sentenced to spend an eternity in hell could very well be all the punishment anyone could ever dream up. It could be an empty room and still be torturous.

Ah yes, the "just interpret the embarrassing parts of the Bible figuratively" defense. Why should anyone assume it's "Truth" then?

More thought on the pointbypoint thing. When people get tied up in it, it leads to a "can't see the forest for the trees" problem.

In other words, "you're shooting down all of my points but if you stopped doing that, you would agree with me!"

Also, the more time passes, the more artifacts/places/evidence is uncovered that agrees with the bible. I fear this is leading up to something not good, like armageddon.

Wow, another totally unsubstantiated claim. The fact that the Great Flood is physically impossible obviously escaped your attention, not to mention the hilarious logic flaw of having God separate night and day three days before he made the Sun.


Wednesday 22 September 2004 12:56 am:

You know, if I consider that there is no God, then at death my life is simply finished. If an unbeliever is wrong, then they will pay for an eternity. You/they can complain all they want about "kissing feet" and other issues, but it will be too late then.

Let me pose you a hypothetical scenario: you have $500 in your hand. Suppose a man offers to give you a billion dollars someday, in exchange for the $500 you already have. Pretty good deal, eh? One small problem: he refuses to give you any kind of guarantee, written contract, timetable, or even a proof that he has the kind of money he's talking about. But he does have a book with him that says it's all true, and he gives you a copy. In the book, it says that if you have FAITH, you'll someday get your billion. Would you take this deal? Would you give up the $500 that you know is real, in exchange for this completely unsubstantiated promise of vast riches?

I would hate to see anyone miss out on the wonderful things that are in store for believers, even you (as much as you antagonize me).

"Antagonize" you? You E-mailed me ranting that my website is all wrong because I lump all of the Christian sects under the blanket term "Christians", falsely accusing me of making up things that aren't in the Bible (an accusation which you would subsequently backpedal to different "interpretations" of the Bible), saying that everyone not of your religion is an "enemy", and saying that threatening to torture someone if he won't kiss your feet is "love", and you think I'm antagonizing you by pointing out the flaws in these statements? Does this mean that the only way to avoid antagonizing you would be to meekly accept everything you say, regardless of whether it makes any sense?

Why am I singling you out? I ran across your web page about star wars through some link somewhere. I then ventured around a little more and here we are. I rarely say anything about God to people I know, but when running across a web page like yours I simply had to say something. The geographic separation between us affords us both the knowledge that we won't be running into each other at the grocery store after this is over. :)

I welcome intelligent criticism, but you made no attempt to criticize any of my arguments. Instead, you went for this bizarre "your whole website is wrong because you think Catholics are Christians" angle.

As as group, Christians are a mangy lot sometimes. There are different faiths, different bibles, different interpretations within a faith group of the same bible, different personalities and levels of knowledge and understanding, different preachers, regional differences, etc. I wish I could relate better to you. We come from vastly different backgrounds though. From the "outside" I can understand that it looks very disarrayed. But, like any sufficiently-large organization or group, it's not the first to look daunting. Science is full of disagreements, bad opinions, wrong opinions, lack of knowledge, revised theories, etc. An outsider to that discipline could easily have the same skepticism of science. Whereas youself, being an insider, can easily navigate through these perceived "problems". You can explain to this person all about all their questions, but until they decide to give it a try nothing has been accomplished.

The methods of science do not resemble those of theology in any way, shape, or form. It is ridiculous to say that they are on an equal level just because not every scientist agrees on everything. Science studies the real universe using objective data and logical methods, rather than studying a book using subjective data and logically inconsistent methods. And when confronted with a scientific ignoramus, a scientist can point out where he's gone wrong or at least pointing out what he needs to study, instead of just mumbling that "you would understand if you were a scientist".

Why do I believe? I believed enough to have some faith to reach out. God reached the rest of the way. I have had a personal one-on-one experience with him. He has changed my life forever. I had enough faith to believe in his son, Jesus. After that, things are never quite the same.

What you mean is that you believe you had a personal one-on-one experience with him.

I read the part about your wife and you. I have known people who live(d) in such insular societies. I actually dated a girl like that back in college and considered marriage. It is a bad way to have to live. Biblically these places "get the job done" (salvation), but they really go overboard in their methods.

I don't see how they're any different from you. Like you, they regard people who promote other ways of thinking as "enemies". No parent wants their daughter to marry an "enemy" and raise their grandchildren to be "enemies".

Well, instead of continuing on in this, I figure it's about time to close things down. So, that's it I guess. Unless you want to continue on from here. I am tired of the "explain this/so what/etc" responses. We can have a nice personable discussion, but I am absolutely finished with the way things have been going.

Wishing you and your family the best,
Jeff

Thanks for the nice sentiment, but to be honest, I really don't see what the distinction is between your "they believe differently, so they're enemies" philosophy and the mentality of the religious zealots people who tried to sabotage my family.

[Editor's note: this was the last exchange. Isn't it odd how they always couch their arguments in terms which obviously presume that you believe at least part of what they do?]


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