Last week on Facebook I posted a link to this article about retired baseball star Curt Schilling and some ignorant tweets he posted about evolution:

The article I linked above, from Friendly Atheist, has several more choice examples. My post on Facebook caught the attention of a friend of a friend, a Christian who chose to engage in debate. Our conversation is below. I just copied and pasted from the original thread; any typos or misspellings are our own:

 

HIM: It’s clear you have never read the bible nor spent much time in church. But just be clear, a super natural, by definition, exists outside of the natural world. Why you think he should manifest himself in the form of a milk shake makes no sense what-so-ever.

ME: Spent much time in “truth”? Where is that? If this god won’t show himself to me, I see no reason why I should show myself to him. If there really was such an entity, and he really felt the need to punish me for not believing in him when he gave me no reason to do so, then he doesn’t deserve my worship anyway.

HIM: I would rather be a fool at the end of my life, having believed in Christ, rather than find out only too late that I was blinded by my own sin and carnal ignorance. But that’s me. Praying for you both.

Wasn’t this about a person’s right to defend creationism. And an aetheist takes a shot at him for being “an idiot”. Defending a belief is not “forcing it down anyone’s throat.” Additionally, as a Christian, I am commissioned to spread the gospel of Christ. I don’t think that spreading the word about Christ and encouraging people to repent is “forceful”. But I get the ignorance of the argument. I was an atheist – till God shook me from my slumber.

ME: Fascinating. You were an atheist? What caused you to change your mind? Also, how do you reconcile your “commission to spread the gospel of Christ” with our constitutional separation of church and state? At what point does your proselytizing infringe upon my religious freedom?

HIM: How does my proselytizing infringe on your religious freedom?

Just sayin’ – how does me telling everyone about Christ infringe on their right to believe whatever they want to believe? I’m not following the offense???

ME: It’s not an offense, necessarily. But at some point there is a line. I’m curious where you think that is. For example, I think if I passed you on the street it would be within your rights to try and hand me information, but it would be within my rights to ignore you. But what does your belief require? Would you show up at someone’s house or job? Do you think it should be taught in public schools? There are some religions – including branches of Christianity – that think forced conversion of non-believers is necessary. Do you think so? If not, why are your beliefs different from other Christians?

As for calling Curt Schilling an idiot, I stand by it. Look at the specific statements he made on Twitter. It’s one thing to believe there is a creator responsible for setting the universe in motion, who maybe even has some sort of plan. I get how that can be comforting, I guess. But Schilling is spouting nothing but ignorance in the face of overwhelming evidence against him.

HIM: You can’t force a conversion on anyone. A conversion is of the heart and I believe that God is the ONLY ONE who converts. No argument I make in itself, is ever going to win you to Christ. It may plant the seed of thought and consideration but my words will never convert you. As far as religion in school, I accept that we live in a secular society and that separation of church and state is to be protected. But do I wish Christ were taught in schools? Yes, without question. But I also know that God is soverign and that His message will spread regardless the law of the land. I guess in trusting who God is and knowing enough about his grace and mercy, I actually don’t feel compelled to FORCE Christ on anyone. But I do feel compelled to share the Truth about Christ and allow people to choose whatever they want. Believe it or not – some people know nothing about Christ what-so-ever. Including the aetheist who swear they do.

ME: Well, I would certainly never claim to “know” Jesus. There’s scant evidence that such a man even existed in the first place.

HIM: I think the scriptures are pretty strong evidence. I also think the historical record of his apostles martyrdoms is also pretty strong evidence that Christ existed.

I don’t know many people who will die for anyone – especially if they didn’t believe completely that what they were dying for was the truth. I don’t think Christ’s apostles died for a guy they weren’t sure existed and weren’t sure claimed to be God incarnate.

ME: Well, the gospels are not contemporary sources. They were written between 70 and 100 AD, and nobody knows who actually wrote them. That disqualifies them as evidence. Most of the stories about the apostles also come from “tradition,” rather than actual contemporaneous accounts or eye witness documentation. Which doesn’t mean they DIDN’T exist… just that actual facts about these individuals in incredibly scarce.

 

He didn’t respond any more after that, and the thread (several other people were chiming in here and there) devolved into a conversation about why the Bears are terrible this year. I thought I held up my end pretty well. I’m usually good at arguments when I have the luxury of looking up data and crafting my response before actually answering. I was disappointed that he never answered my question about what converted him from atheism to Christianity. Not that his answer would have swayed me, any more than my arguments impacted him, I assume. I would be shocked to learn that anyone ever changed their religious beliefs over something they read in a Facebook comment thread. But it was a fun diversion for an hour or so last week.