RESPONSE TO COMMENTS
ON THE "FRIENDLY ATHEIST" BLOG
ABOUT MY CHAPTER ONE, POSTED THERE
[Note: Yes, amazingly, Hemant Mehta, one of America's most prominent atheists, posted Chapter 1 of my just-published book The End of Unbelief on his popular blog The Friendly Atheist, knowing his aggressively atheist readers would attack it -- and me -- mercilessly. They did not disappoint. Over 500 comments made me feel their passionate contempt for my views. Then Hemant was kind enough to let me write a response to those comments. The response was in five parts (which drew over 1,000 more comments). Here is the fourth part.]
Pure Theism: Another Major Difference in My Approach
Same old stuff, you say in the comments. All old hat. He's just a standard-brand Christian apologist. Not noting that in the excerpt I never mentioned the Christian faith, the Bible, the gospel, or even Christ. I said I'm a Christian, so I revere all of those -- but in this book I don't argue for them. I argue instead for something I call Pure Theism, which evolved from my personal experience of atheism and the occasional wish that there was a rational way out of it. There is. But first consider this capsule account of my background, which appears at the end of the book (Madridkid's comment was right about my parents' strong faith):
His religious experience is multifaceted and gives him a rare perspective: he went from ardent Catholic (nearly a Trappist monk at seventeen), to militant atheist at twenty, to dilettante Hindu/ Buddhist, to Pure Theist [at 28], to a Christian [at 30] studying for the ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, to a man with such strong ties to both Protestant and Catholic Christianity that he can identify himself only as “a Christian.”
Chapter 10 is Why People Become Atheists. Here's a passage from Chapter 11 The Only Way Out of Atheism:
One Step out of Atheism
Look anew at the question of God’s existence completely apart from the Bible, Judeo-Christian theology, and the theology of any organized religion. The doctrines and Scriptures of Jews, Christians, and Muslims need have no bearing on the elemental question of whether a personal and loving God exists. If he does, we can conceive of him apart from all established theologies and Scriptures. We can commune and build a relationship with him directly without intervention of a rabbi, priest, minister, or imam.
Although I have embraced an organized religion, I was a pure theist for years. For me, it was the only way out of atheism. I began with the most simplified and essential concept of a supernatural being: one who created the universe, loves what he made, and follows with benevolent concern the fate of every human life.
Not the God of Abraham, not the trinitarian God we Christians believe in, not Jesus, the incarnate Son of God. That would have been too much for me -- and I had said no to it again and again. Just God, a supreme being who cares about his human creatures and wants a relationship with them. The distance between no God and just God, Pure Theism, is immeasurable. I was there for two years after atheism, before Christianity became possible for me. [For some, like me, this step will be transitional. For some, final.]