I just want to start out by saying that this post is for Micah. He's the only one of my readers who was there and he complains all the time that I don't post enough. Micah, you know who you are.
There were a bunch of us at Encounter and near the end there was an outspoken (read loud) guy who was talking to some people and I got in on the convo. He said that he was an atheist, and was making much of the fact that he was an atheist at a prayer meeting. He invited a bunch of us back to his apartment to hear why he was an atheist, so our interest piqued, we followed carravan style.
What followed is difficult to explain, but after about an hour, I calculated it down to essentially a soft (read "not so harsh") Marxist viewpoint. From what he has seen, he essentially believed that people are Christians (or believe in God) to help them deal with problems. When I questioned him why if it were the case that people would still become believers even though doing so would bring persecution, he changed his story to the viewpoint of the promise of paradise. I found his inability to synthesize these two viewpoints a bit disconcerting. His roommate brought up the existence of "lost gospels" and I was unable to convince them that those arguments had been settled years ago.
What I found more disconcerting, and indeed disgusting was the sheer arrogance he and his roommate exhibited, both during the affair and even more so after most of the people had left. Let's just say he was extremely happy with himself about how smart he sounded. I'm not saying that to be insulting, I'm reporting the facts, he repeated it several times and seemed to be in awe of his abilities. He then explained to us who remained various ways of killing people with a knife (he is a former Marine.)
Anyway, at this point, he's not the kind of person I'd want to be close friends with, but not because he's an atheist. Indeed, I've known far more dishonorable people than he is, he's not a bad guy, I'm just not into the loud arrogant type, it has nothing to do with the atheism. I do value good discussion and debate and so rarely get it. It's just not fun for me to have to wade through and hour of philosophical bullsh*t to get to the point, I want more of a back and forth, give and take.
After most of the younger (16-19) kids had left, he kept asking me if he had challenged their faith, like they'd never heard of atheism before. I assured him that they'd be fine, that those were the more devout kids that I know.
So, after meeting the guy and hearing his whole life philosophy, I was just like "Wow, ok, so that's like...it and stuff?" Not to say that my life is particularly meaningful, or that I know where I'm going and stuff, in life I mean. But the dude is an atheist and goes to church. Like he's gonna get to heaven one day and say "Ha, did you see that, God's a douche, I made it in and all I had to do was go to church!" On the other hand, he knows that if God does exist then he's going to hell, which in itself is like kissing your sister, I mean his philosophy, not the actual hell, that's gotta be way worse. I was reading something for my Death and Dying class today and it basically presented the point of view that you should spend your life doing good things, that way if there is an afterlife or rebirth, you'll probably come out ahead, and if there isn't, well, maybe people will remember you for being a good guy which is something in itself. But even so, what's the point if there is no point?
In the end, I'd say I'm glad I have the meaning in my life that I do. And it's not the mushy buddy Jesus crap either, I gotta get up in 5.5 hours to go to church to set up the stage and sound system for a bunch of whiny musicians of which I am one. I'm here to do what God tells me to do, I didn't invent God to make myself feel better, because if I did, I have obviously been a horrible failure, and so has my god.