Bruce Monson is a firefighter. He was also a very devout Christian until he actually took the time to read and understand the bible.
Mr. Monson is no longer a Christian now, and has founded Freethought Firefighters International. He has taken the path of the learned Atheist, and has studied in depth his previous religion, along with others.
The essay that first attracted me to Mr. Monson is the one entitled, “A Firefighter Speaks Out” (located on Internet Infidels). In this essay he asks for a sign that God is real. In doing so, Mr. Monson is only following the biblical traditions of ‘laying a fleece before the lord” (Judges 6:36-40) and asking for proof, as John did. (Luke 7:18-22 & Matthew 11:1-5)
A FIREFIGHTER SPEAKS-OUT
If Jesus is really God, then he knows that I used to believe, and he also knows that today I am a doubting Thomas, a doubting Peter, a doubting Saul. If Jesus is really God, then he also knows that the only way I will believe in him again is if he proves his divine reality (at least to my satisfaction) by performing one little “miracle.”
Bruce Monson’s Personal Appeal to Jesus:
If Jesus will resurrect one (just one) of the many children I have seen die in my profession (usually under exceptionally tragic circumstances), I promise that I will devote my life to spreading His Word to all the world, especially to atheists, agnostics & people professing belief in all the thousands of other “false” religions extant in the world.
Throughout the Gospels we see the differences in the disciples; some need virtually no convincing at all, while others need more proof. Some need to see for themselves first-hand physical evidence, and these were the very disciples who supposedly witnessed all of these “miracles” allegedly performed by Jesus, and yet they still were not convinced! They either asked for or were seen by Jesus as needing proof, and they got it!
Why should I expect anything less?
In speaking about how Christians seem to ‘attack’ him and his non-belief, Bruce points out that people of diverse religions all seem to act in a similar manner when their own religions are scrutinized:
For example, I have had discussions with many a Muslim who will easily, indeed cheerfully, discuss the “false religions” of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc., and display perfect logic in discounting the existence of all the ancient gods of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Persia that created and ruled the universe for these respective cultures for thousands of years before Islam ever came on the scene.
But no sooner does the focus turn to the Muslim’s own religion than the critical thinking skills are turned-off and personal testimonials and rhetoric skills are engaged. To the Muslim, just as to the Christian, his religion is not only “the truth” but it is the “only truth” and anyone who fails to accept that truth (including Christians!) will “suffer the consequences” in a horrible place of eternal pain and suffering–the Muslim Hell. Consequently, the Muslim missionary is just “doing the will of Allah” in proselytizing the “truth of Islam” to the world–he’s “doing you a favor” out of concern for your future in the afterlife.
If you’re looking for some good essays from someone who has really done their homework in religion, from an Atheist who makes his living in a proverbial ‘foxhole’ from day to day, then I urge you to give his site, Freethought Firefighters, careful study. Also, don’t miss the original Freethought Firefighters site, which is currently being migrated to the new one.
There’s a lot there – be prepared to spend a couple of hours!