11/3/11 Sean, about 35
In my experience people who say they are atheists fall into one of three categories. Some are from communist countries who have been indoctrinated in atheism since they were young. Others are so caught up in a hedonistic lifestyle that they no longer think about God or eternal things. Then there are those who try to prove they have the moral upper hand over Christians and/or God by trying to be godly without God. They would say they don't need the threat of hell or the promise of heaven to be good people. That's the kind of person John and I found at a local delicatesen after we were prayed for and sent out during our men's Bible study. He - Sean - remarked "You're not going to like what I have to say" when I told him we were from a nearby church and asked if we could run a few questions by him, and it was true that we didn't like all the lies and accusations and conspiracy theories he directed against the church, the Bible, and God, but we tried to avoid those conversational rabbit trails. Sean had grown up with a mixture of religious influence - Jewish, Baptist, and Catholic - and seemed to have a strong moral compass even though he said he hasn't believed in God since his early teens. He is very interested in discrediting religion and reads all the books he can find to support his unbelief. He feels he has moral superiority over Christians by trying to protect disadvantaged people from religious tyranny. Rather than fear God he claims to be a god himslf, totally in control of his own destiny, even though I pointed out that, as he put it, when he dies he will just turn into worm food. He liked to lump all monotheistic religions in the same category as being especially tyranical. John and I talked later about some of the benefits of the Christian concept of the Trinity - God is not "alone" and doesn't need us; He is relational and the various parts of the Trinity seek to glorify the Father and Son; and God was able to satidfy His own demand for justice without being a tyrant by sacrificing His own Son - a part of Himself - on the cross. I think we made some progress with Sean, helping him to see some of the inconsistencies of his beliefs, and left him with some books to read from the biblical "law and grace" perspective that his religious background most likely overlooked.