I recently received the following e-mail. I don’t have time to answer it in any kind of detail. However, I thought some NoodleFoodleDoodlers (i.e. commenters) might be interested in doing so. As for my sketchy reply, suffice it to say that I certainly don’t reject Christianity on the basis of anything so specific as Calvinism. I find the ideas in the New Testament utterly repugnant all by themselves. More generally, the demand for faith in the supernatural found in all religions is not just unnecessary to understand the world, but outright antithetical to reason.
Here’s the letter. I’ve told its author to check the comments.
You have my apologies in advance if any part of this letter offends you in any way as such would never be my intention. You must forgive me if I have overstepped any boundaries in this, but I recently came across a web page about original sin, specifically referring to John Calvin, and it seemed that this particular doctrine solidified your resolve in that you do not think that Christianity is a religion that loves humanity.
Strangely enough, I have been doing much research on the concept of election and this is the reason I came across that particular page. If you are not familiar with the doctrine of election, it is a doctrine referring to the manner by which one is saved, or chosen, and so forth, and this definition is by no means conclusively definitive.
The first I feel it is imperative to alert you of is this. John Calvin’s view of election does not represent Christianity as a whole. While it is true that there are some staunch reformed theologians that hold to this no matter what, not very many people take this view of election. I am one of them and I am particularly saddened to see that it seems to have to done to you what most of its opponents are afraid it would do.
This concept of election, by which you have judged all of Christendom, I find to be biblically inaccurate, as do many theologians across the globe. I won’t bore you with the details and alternative viewpoints on this, but I do have a request of you. This same page mentioned that you were raised an atheist. I wasn’t raised much of anything and only became a Christian later in life, of my own accord, and always find it strange to see Christians that seem to forget who they are. My point is, if you were raised an atheist, I would like to know why you held to this belief, why you rejected any of the major religions, and so forth. In other words, why do you believe you are right? I should inform you that I would expect an answer far more elaborate that just John Calvin’s veritable infanticide. I ask completely unbiased, so please, if you see fit to answer, please respond in like manner.
The reason I ask is because I have never found an atheist that has been able to defend such a position logically, and I would venture to say that I have done a great deal of looking. Ninety percent of all of them eventually just storm off and get mad when philosophically cornered and eventually just fall back on an ‘I just can’t believe’ attitude. The rest fail to understand the flaws in their own argument. If one can’t believe, then it logically follows that there is a reason; a quantitative as well as qualitative reason. I am merely looking for these, what have been to me, very elusive antecedents. If you can, please heed my request or feel free to forward this request to a friend or colleague, or anyone at all, that wishes to voice their opinion on this matter and can defend this position logically.
Furthermore, I did notice that this page was made quite a number of years ago. If such a late response proves inconvenient, you have my apologies for this as well.
-Daniel Marcus Manifestation
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