Scared of the "Truth"

I recently had a heated debate with a young-earth creationist. According to him the ONLY reason I'm an atheist is because I'm scared of the "Truth" (yes, with the capital T). I tried in vain to find out what this supposed Truth was that I'm afraid of and he seemed to just ignore the question, repeating his allegations of my fear over discovering his Truth. What "Truth" was he talking about? What does he mean when he says "Truth" and that I'm scared of it? And what can I say next time to assure him I'm not afraid of his so-called truth?
Atheist Answer: 

First of all, consider the possibility that your creationist, let's call him Bob, didn't know the Truth himself beyond a vague concept. Either that, or he realised his idea of the Truth wouldn't make sense to someone who wasn't conditioned to accept it unquestioningly, or simply wouldn't convince a real live atheist. Maybe Bob lost his nerve and accepted that he was no apologist.

I'll take a small leap and assume that Bob the young-earth creationist is a Christian. The Christian Truth is just the business end of Christian belief, the critical bits you have to accept to be a functioning Christian:
- God made the world and everything in it, and rules over it.
- Humans are all tainted with Original Sin, plus all of their own sins.
- Jesus Christ was the son of God and he died to save us from all those sins. God then resurrected him.
- To get your share of this salvation, you must 1. accept Jesus as your personal Lord and saviour and 2. confess all your sins and be absolved. You must keep these two things up for the rest of your life.
- Do 1 and 2 until you die and you will go to Heaven. Fail to do either, and you will go to Hell.
- Aside from all this, both God and Jesus love you.

Young-earth creationism is the direct result of belief in biblical inerrancy, which means that every word of the Bible is the God-given truth (with a little t). Geology, biology, astrophysics and other branches of science very plainly contradict the Book of Genesis, for one, which throws into question not only Creation but the story of Original Sin. Christianity needs that Sin as a hook; it gives everyone something he/she needs absolved. It's like a pest control ad which says everyone might have cockroaches in their walls.

So believers take on science indirectly, not usually trying to change the established theories but campaigning to teach the alternate Bible-friendly versions to people young, devout or gullible enough to believe them. That's where Bob is coming from.

Bob actually thinks that you only claim to be an atheist. The only reason you might be afraid of Bob's Truth is that you think it really is true but you're in denial. In other words, you're a closet Christian trying to avoid responsibility for your sins.

In your next round with Bob, in order to advance his understanding your task is simply to convince him that you are an honest-to-Bob atheist. To do this, you might have to convince him first that there's even such a thing as an atheist. If he acknowledges your genuine atheism it should become obvious to him why you're not afraid of what, from your perspective, is an Untruth. Then he's got to convince you it's the Truth from scratch, and you've both got a much more reasonable conversation.

How do you demonstrate your atheism, you ask? Ironically, through your knowledge of Bob's Truth. A common, almost unconscious assumption among religious people (and many others) is that to be exposed to their beliefs is to adopt them, almost universally. You preach, you convert. The fact that you have a clear idea of what Bob believes and yet reject it might be a bit of a shock to Bob on some level.

Best of luck, and comment here later to let us know how you went. May Bob be with you.

- SmartLX


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Thanks for the fantastic

Thanks for the fantastic answer! :)

Your supposition that he was claiming my atheism was just a cover in order to escape from my "spiritual responsibilities" (i.e. escape from judgment of my sins by claiming not to believe) was most likely correct, thinking back on the wording he used in his often pointless arguments.

Unfortunately however, the argument was had in the team chat window during a game of Anarchy Online, about 2-3 weeks ago, so I'm unable to recall his username to have a go at round 2. during the argument I tried again and again to describe to him the evidence and observations in support of my stance on the Earth, all of which he flat-out refused to believe or acknowledge. He even trotted out the line "you choose to believe the words of historians, who were just people, but refuse to believe the Word of God!?"

I tried several times to ask him for ANY evidence in support of his young-earth creationism, and you know what he said?

"What would be the point of giving you evidence, what you think it will change your mind or something?"

So basically "I don't think my evidence is good enough therefore you can't have it" All-in-all he used the most ridiculous and overused theist arguments, from "how can you claim to know anything about God, he's beyond human knowledge, therefore you can't say he's not real" to what I think is the most annoying, "everything is the way it is in the geological record because God made it that way". There were also the usual uninformed opinions of evolutionary concepts and biology, and a distinct lack of basic high-school level scientific knowledge. Typical.

Back to the actual question though, I'll keep your answer in mind when next I'm confronted by a Christian and their terror-inducing "Truth"

EDIT: Just remembered... About your saying that I should have let him know I know the details of his "Truth" as in I know about the Christian belief, know what their claims are....

I was bought up a Christian (or a Catholic, whatever) and used to believe... I recall one time when I was much younger, think like 9 or 10 when (it shames me a little to say this) being in a hotel with my little brother with nothing to do (parentals were off somewhere) I pulled out the hotel bible and read it to him... I did Religious Education in school, a requirement of the Vincentian-brothers run boarding school I was in. I had to go to church twice a week for the last 7 school years. So I do in fact know about Religion. Will have to remember to make sure the next Bob knows that too.

Well said.

Well said.

Isn't it a fascinating thing that you were raised Catholic and nobody bothered to define capital-T Truth to you? I bet somebody told you Jesus was the Way, the Truth and the Life, but trying to define Truth using only that is like trying to eat Rice Bubbles/Krispies and distinguish the Crackle from the Snap and the Pop by ear.

I think proselytising in an MMORPG or chatroom is a bit like Nigerian emails or Mormon doorknocking. Hardly anyone will like the pitch, but they're only looking for one in thousands. You're not Bob's one, but how busy was the city at the time?