A Dialog With A Good Christian Friend

I get contacted from Christian friends I've had over the years who want to discuss why I rejected Christianity. Here is a brief email exchange I had with a dear friend from the past:
Hi John,

I got to thinking about atheism. To be an atheist, I'd have to believe that in the history of the world, there has never been a single answered prayer or a miracle, and that all the millions of people who have experienced them were all deluded or liars, despite mountains of evidence to the contrary. (By the way, God answered specific prayers for me three times yesterday.) I'd have to believe that you and I are mere cosmic accidents, not unlike the cosmos itself, that light came from darkness, something came from nothing, life came from death, motion came from stillness, love came from nowhere, order accidentally came from chaos, the laws of the universe came from nowhere, babies are not miraculous, and beauty is an accident not a gift.

Today I took my mom to visit a 91 year old dear Christian lady and close lifelong friend of ours who is in a nursing home dying. We sat by her bed and held her hands, and sang wonderful old hymns, and the sweetness of the Holy Spirit filled the room. This sick and dying little lady had the joy of the Lord in her heart, and His love in her spirit.

I know you believe that being a leading atheist gives your life meaning. But, not only are you heading in the complete opposite direction of the plan that God had for your life, but you are taking many others with you. I cannot think of a worse purpose to have in life. My heart is so heavy for you, and you are never far from my thoughts and prayers.

If this makes you too angry to want to respond, then I am very sorry for that. You know I am called to "speak the truth in love," and my heart is full of love for you. But love, without truth, is not love.
My response:
I love hearing from you. I have such a respect for you. And I'd love getting together just to revisit old times and talk about faith too, if you want. You are still that wonderful person I knew. You make some really good points, no doubt. I was once where you are and defended it as a college apologetics/philosophy instructor.

I have those same questions. I do not have all the answers. I might even concede there is a higher power, a god of some kind. But then that god must come from somewhere, so why posit him at all? What we know is that all organisms have descended from a common ancestor. Science teaches us that. The evidence is simply overwhelming. If you read just one book on that subject read Jerry Coyne's book "Why Evolution is True?" I don't doubt but that you've read the opposing literature so at least read one book against what you have been led to believe, okay?

Now what? The only real problems are the baffling origins of life and this particular universe, the same ones you have when it comes to the existence of a God (and in your case one that includes three persons who always existed and never disagreed and never learned any new propositions in a Trinity that cannot be rationally explained). Science got us where we are. When has theology been shown right? So why keep betting on a theology that derived from pre-scientific (see the notion of the firmament in Genesis one) barbaric (See Judges 19-21) superstitious (see Genesis 6:1-4) incredibly gullible (see the story of Balaam's ass, or Jonah) people.

You and I believed because we were raised to believe in a Christian culture (it's changing now though). A Muslim or a Mormon or an Orthodox Jew believes for the same reason. Just try to convince them otherwise, okay? In fact religions are spread about on the globe into separate geographical locations much like diets are different around the globe (that too is changing).

These believers all claim that their god answers prayer when from my experience all that's going on is something called selective observation, where a believer counts the hits and discounts the misses. Keep track, okay. List the specific prayers you pray. Keep in mind that you generally will only pray for things which you expect can happen too. You do not pray that a mountain is uprooted and planted in the sea. So already your prayer requests are limited and already you do not pray for the kinds of things Jesus told you could happen because you live in a scientific era. Then be brutally honest with the results. No fudging like horoscope readers regularly do. Was the prayer answered exactly as you prayed it? No punting to what believers around the globe do, either. No saying, well God knows best, or that he didn't give me what I wanted but what I needed. Then see what happens. Then see how many times prayers are answered.

The bottom line is that I cannot believe. But even this should be no trouble for God if he exists. Just like he supposedly showed himself to Moses, Gibeon, and Paul he could do so for me. And if he could do that without abrogating their human freedom then he can do that with me too. Pray that this happens. I'm open to it. God could even snap his fingers and take away what he created me with, a critical mind. Then I wouldn't demand evidence any more and believe. Of course if not, the problem is why he created me this way and then doesn't provide what I need to believe. As I said I cannot believe.