Christians and Atheists: Seeing the Other Side

During my last week at college, I found myself perusing through various Christian girl YouTube channels (I watch a lot of YouTube, and I find myself watching that from time to time… don’t judge me). Some are really terrible and drive me nuts—I won’t name any names, but, well, one of the worst offenders rhymes with Shmirl Shmefined. But that week I actually watched a lot of videos from a Christian girl my age who I really liked and found myself being drawn to for how honest and down to earth she was.

You may have seen this girl before; if you watch any of Rachel Oates videos, she was featured in this video. Her name is Becca, and her channel is called Far Away Distance. For the most part, she is your typical Christian YouTuber, but I think that there is a lot that sets her apart from more hateful or judgmental Christians (like this girl). Her channel has taught me some things about how to understand a different perspective despite our differences.

I’ve always thought I know pretty well where Christians are coming from. I’m able to put myself in their shoes due to everyone I know (except for my fiance) being Christian, being raised Christian, and just being open-minded in general. I know most of the basic reasons for believing, I took apologetics class, and when that taught me nothing I read a couple of apologetics books. I think I understand what it is like to be a Christian as much as I can without having ever truly been one. However, I still can’t force myself to believe, because the person that I am just needs evidence. Faith alone doesn’t cut it for me. I can’t understand the feelings-based, emotional side of Christianity because I can’t get past logic-based arguments like how the bible got the age of the earth all wrong.

But watching Becca’s videos somehow allowed me to see what exactly people are thinking within their Christian faith. This is something that ex-Christian YouTuber Genetically Modified Skeptic understands more than I do, but the relationship that people claim to have with God has a romantic-sounding vibe to me. I obviously don’t have anything like this, and usually when people would describe it, I thought they were crazy. Seeing how Becca’s faith affects her life helped me get what it was actually like. If I were to describe it in terms that I, as an atheist, understand, it is as if she takes all of the positive parts of life, like lucky little things or good opportunities or great friends, and personifies God as the source of them all. Of course Christianity comes in many different stripes and colors, but I think her version is nice and optimistic.

There is more about Becca’s channel that I really liked, though. I think that, similarly to me, she is doing her best to understand the other side. She has an entire series on her channel of proposing objections to belief in God and her responses to them, called Why I Believe in God. My favorite video on her channel, however, is this one:

 

In this video, Becca shows that she actually cares about people, even if they’re not Christian. I know that a lot of Christians obviously aren’t super judgmental, but most of the students at my college, and most of the Christians that I know, are. Becca even expresses her disappointment with this cultural norm with the anecdote that an atheist she knew was treated as an outcast by classmates at their Christian college.

I’ve always thought that one of the best judges of character is how someone treats those who disagree with or are different from them, and most Christian YouTubers I have seen generally show atheists as people not to be associated with, and many Christians I know are so, so sweet, but only to other Christians. Their love comes with a list of criteria.

I don’t know this girl personally. I have never tried commenting on her videos, so I don’t know if she theoretically would try to silence and judge me the way that the girl from my Hypocritical Christian post did. From what I have seen so far, however, Becca is one of those people that gives me hope that believers and nonbelievers can not only get along but understand each other despite their differences.

Update: we’ve been talking in DMs and she is actually as sweet as she sounds and seemed so genuinely interested to talk to me! 😁


Read next:

a hypocritical christian

18 Replies to “Christians and Atheists: Seeing the Other Side”

  1. CA,

    In recent days, your words have inspired much of my writing.

    While, in my writing, I was as honest and clear about what I was feeling and thinking as I could be, looking back, I realize that I went about it all wrong.

    I feel like I was trying to persuade you to see the world more like I do, as if you were a puppet whose strings I was trying to pull in one direction or another.

    But, you are no puppet. You are a person. And ultimately, your path is yours alone.

    To me, you are many things. One of those things being an example of the best of atheism. And if I had any hope when I comment on your words, my hope would be that my own words help you to continue to embody the best of atheism.

    Have a good day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. She seems like a nice person. There are many christians that are nice people. Just like there are tall people that are nice and people with green hair that are nice. Christians aren’t the only ones that are dismissive. Some people are dismissive because you like their rival football team or may because you’re not offended by gay marriage like they are.

    However, she is nice because she thinks you need to be saved. she actually says it in the video. Its a bit condescending really. She may not be overt about it or rude but she thinks she needs to be nice to you to bring you to jesus. I have had many christians very politely tell me they sincerely feel bad for me because I’m going to hell and they feel helpless to save me from the inevitable pain and suffering. I think they are sincere but it’s very condescending.

    I think the worst worst part of the interaction between atheist and christians is the majority of the conversations are about the religion and the text and not about the foundational question.

    Is there a god?

    For me, nothing in the bible or any religious text means anything if there is no god. It would be like arguing about the anatomy of a unicorn. It means nothing if a unicorn does not exist.

    She brings up the three questions from atheist in her video and all three are why would a good god do this or that. That is not a conversation about if there IS a god. its an assumption there IS a god and we are trying to figure out if he is good or not. If god is good has no bering on if god IS at all.

    Like I said, She seems like a sweet person and I’m sure she is. But she thinks atheists are wrong and they need to be saved. Her feeling are no different than a rude christian that is trying to save you or just thinking your not work saving.

    ~AW

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi CA. I feel like you posted this video before, and I thought I commented on it…oh maybe it was in twitter though because I couldn’t find it on your blog. While I do find her to be welcoming and non-judgmental, I still can’t help get this nagging feeling that she is that way as more of a strategy to bring people in the fold. Now i know that sounds devious and I don’t think she is consciously that way. I think she is genuinely nice, and because she believe so strongly in her faith, she thinks she is doing good by making more Christians in the world. And she has asked herself about what type of Christian she wants to be, but also what would be the best way for others to know God and Christ the way she does. Her approach is the right one overall, and one that doesn’t build conflict, but I can’t help but think that there is a background thought in her head that anybody who doesn’t believe in God is also fundamentally wrong about the universe. If you’re an atheist you can see how her faith has helped her, and I do not begrudge her, her beliefs…but I do feel that this isn’t quite the attitude in reverse. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that she is willing to engage you and is as kind and warm as she is in the video, but is she an open up person to actually consider the rightness of your message over the rightness of her own?

    it is as if she takes all of the positive parts of life, like lucky little things or good opportunities or great friends, and personifies God as the source of them all.

    I don’t know…I feel like this attitude, as nice as it sounds great on the surface can be harmful in the long run. I think it’s great to have gratitude and maybe this helps build it, but there is such a loss of self here that it seems sad. There is no appreciation of one’s own inner strength, one’s ability…and sometimes there is just luck. Good and bad. It’s not because a God is willing it to be so. This is the kind of thinking that leads you to believe that God is favoring you or not favoring you. I don’t think that’s healthy. To think that when things go wrong it is because you did something wrong, but when things go well it is because God is favoring you. I think this leads to more false patternicity errors with time. I think it’s harmful part of Christianity that you are asked to give up the self to the point where your own thoughts and actions come second to what you feel God wants you to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just watched a debate with Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris, Will Atheism Destroy Society. Here’s two great thinkers battling it out with words, phrases, sentences and their strong immovable opinions. Jordan tells Sam he’s wrong on this or that point and Sam returns with another argument. They toss around writings by Nietzsche, Dostoevsky and there’s an audience that claps when they agree with Jordan and another part of the audience claps for Harris. It’s like a pointless no win tennis match with words. If there’s a god, in my opinion, it should be as obvious as air. If I have a soul I shouldn’t have to fast for 40 days and nights in the wilderness to know it or read countless books to convince myself that some philosophers opinion is right. So, how could I possibly judge another person for their opinion on a subject that is unprovable and if there’s a God he doesn’t think he needs to come forward to say HI. It’s almost laughable. “I believe in God”..Great..good luck. “I don’t believe in God” Ok..super duper. What’s in your mind is your own heaven or hell and not for me to convince you either way. I will watch your actions though.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Welcome back, Eric. Did you make it to Mexico, or are you still stranded somewhere in the USA?
      Debates such as the one you watched are not for winners or losers, they are there for show. You show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Doesn’t matter who shows more. And wait awhile, we can do it all over again somewhere else. As long as people are paying to see us talk, we can go on doing this. Both sides just want to be paid, right? Do we agree?
      They will never get a penny out of me. I already know why I am an atheist. That is all that matters to me.
      The rest is silence…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sounds right. It’s just thought provoking entertainment that could go back and forth for a long time. Ya, no winners. I don’t know if I’m an atheist. I think I will leave the door open for some kind of proof, either way, to hit me in the head. As of now, I haven’t seen any convincing proof of god. I’ll leave it up to ‘God’ to figure if he wants to make an appearance.
        I went to San Miguel de Allende Mexico with the intention of living there. But I realized the culture, language, and environment is so different that I don’t think I could get used to it or want to. So, back to Rhode Island to figure another path.

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        1. Hi Eric. I am sorry your Mexico experience was not what you wished it to be. (I am not apologizing, just feeling sad for you.) But I do wonder why you returned to RI, where you were already not happy. You were brave enough to try Mexico, why not somewhere new in the US or elsewhere? That is, of course, up to you, but the thought did cross my mind.
          As for atheism, or not atheism, you say you want proof. It is as hard to prove no god as it is to prove god. I wonder what proof might look like for you, either way?
          Would trying a different religion, like Jainism, help? Or Buddhism, which calls itself a philosophy, but one that has morphed into a religion? Many people have looked to the East for comfort and believability. In the West I would not know what to suggest, the big 3 are Abrahamic monotheisms, and many other smaller folk religions such as voodoo. They maybe worth checking out…

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Maybe I’ll give VooDoo a try!! That might be interesting. I don’t care about religion, any kind of religion. Maybe I’ll stumble upon something some day? I just don’t understand if there’s a God he should be completely obvious and not hidden in old texts. Maybe air is God?

            How about you? I’ve forgotten if you’re a religious person. I should check your blog.

            Mexico is a fun place. People are very friendly and warm. And the weather is better. And it’s very economical to live there. I returned to RI because this is where I live. The old saying, “Where ever you go, there you are” comes to mind. Maybe one can be happy no matter where you are. Just a mindset?
            What about you? Are you happy with your situation?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hi Eric, i do not believe in any gods or otherwise superbeings who created our living spaces, etc.But I believe in life, that life has a purpose though that is not a set purpose, and I believe that reincarnation is the vehicle that is helping us to figure out what our purpose might be. I also believe that we are all joined in evrry posdible way to all living things wherever life in any form exists. I am an atheist despite what some people try to deny me.
              Most of this is on my rawgodsspiritualatheism blog, although I might explain it in other words and terms.
              As for my present situation, because of my health things could be better, or just different. But I am a senior citizen now, and more settled down than ever before in my life. I have lived in almost every province in Canada at one time or another, and now live in a small tow in the north about 8 hours by car from the nearest supercity.
              I have lived most of my adult life on the edges of society. I have been homeless at times, fairly well off at times, but always happy. I live my life according to my own rules, and those rules include never harming anyone intentionally.
              How is that for starters.

              Liked by 3 people

            2. That’s pretty damn good for starters. Thanks
              I wonder about your reincarnation and atheism theory. Can the two theories exist simultaneously? You must believe in spirit and soul which reincarnates. Would that also lead you to some super spirit that has created this reincarnation situation?
              I think that our minds have evolved through the years to include spirit/soul/god beliefs. Big-brained-problem-solving-humans have developed this idea of God/spirit and how we got here because the truth that we’re just dust in the wind isn’t a good option for evolution and continuing the species.
              I practiced formal Zen Buddhism for 12 years. Read a lot of books, sat countless hours in meditation, I’ve done week long retreats with an organization known as Kwan Um School of Zen. In all my thousands of hours or meditation I’ve not once experienced ‘soul’ or as Zen calls it, True Nature.
              I’ve practiced PSYCH-K for 5 years. Interesting, but did not help at all.
              I practiced Yoga for 10 years became a yoga instructor and owned a yoga studio. No help there either.
              I read a book by Nathan Gill, Already Awake, and it opened my eyes. I’m already fine, awake, there’s nothing more that needs to be done. Just live your damn life and do the best you can. Anyway…my email is fcmiller99@gmail.com I don’t visit WordPress very much anymore.

              Like

    2. I agree..sort of. The problem I have is when religion isn’t watered down with secular interference, unfettered religion leads to oppression and force. And this whole idea of Jesus coming back to fix everything has left a majority of Christians carelessly abusing our planet, animals, and environment. This system is in their control. The majority of the lawmakers and those in power claim Christianity as their baseline. It’s a reckless attitude we can’t live with much longer.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. Note: Long comment.

    What a nice post, CA. Thank you for writing it.

    You helped change my perception of atheism for the better.

    I wish more people were like you.

    “…the person that I am just needs evidence. Faith alone doesn’t cut it for me. I can’t understand the feelings-based, emotional side of Christianity because I can’t get past logic-based arguments like how the bible got the age of the earth all wrong.”

    In the nearly 2 years that I have Followed your blog, I believe the following 3 attributes describe you to an extent:

    You don’t want to survive, you want to live.

    You have mentioned that you are a writer and a designer. An artist.

    When it comes to art, a quote from the film Ratatouille (2007) comes to mind; to paraphrase Remy: “Humans don’t just survive. They create. They discover. Just look at what they do with food!”

    You are willing to put your trust in benevolent authority.

    You’ve talked about the people you listen to while you drive.

    What else do you do while driving? Obey the traffic laws. Why? Because you know they’re there for a reason, and that the ones who instituted such laws, ideally, have your best interests, and the best interests of your fellow human being, at heart. The motto of the police comes to mind: “To protect and serve.”

    You are a moral person.

    You want people, regardless of their age, race, gender, etc. to be treated with love and respect. You want to test what you see and hear; you aren’t content to believe just because someone says “Believe.” And you want to give your time and effort to people and things that you believe are deserving of your time and effort; you don’t want to waste anything. To name just three aspects of your character that I get from having read your writing.

    In conclusion:

    You have a sense that you belong to a higher plane of existence. (You don’t want to just survive, you want to live.)

    You have a sense that the world is in trouble, and there’s got to be a better way. (You know that, on the road, accidents happen, so you put your trust in, among other things, the guidelines established by others in order to safely get where you need to go.)

    You have a sense that the greatest good you can do is make the most of what you have, not just for your own sake, but for the sake of others, too. (Through your writing and your art, you want to change the lives of others for the better.)

    To quote Kermit the Frog:

    “I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
    It’s something I’m supposed to be
    Someday we’ll find it”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I just watched the video you posted, and the one complaint I have is while the speaker may love everyone, she still wants to bring non-believers to her god. She feels we are not worthy unless we believe, though her words might sound different. She is not content to let atheists live their life as they choose to. She may be a step ahead of most christians, but she has not yet truly accepted that we have no need to be saved. Once she can accept that, maybe then she will be the ideal you seem to be portraying her as. IMO, she still has to lighten up.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Many of us know and understand (most) believers because we have been there and done that. Atheists tend to be curious and learn more about the religions of the world. Few believers can say the same. And the many wrong ideas they have about atheism/atheists (and other religions) is a problem. There is an element of fear toward us fed by a huge amount of misinformation and lies. So, we have a leg up on them. I agree that the vitriol directed at people from both sides is unproductive. Yet, we must learn, teach, and show to the benefit of both. Good job!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I like the tone of your post here. You are right, there are Christians who are open minded and try to understand different beliefs. Everyone I know is a Christian, almost, and there are some I can be open with. And you are right–you can’t force yourself, or “decide” to believe. Nor can you decide not to believe. We just end up in one place or the other. Nice post, as usual.

    Liked by 4 people

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