Christian and atheist exchange lives for one month

THE best way to get to understand a person is to walk a mile in their shoes — or perhaps to exchange their religious beliefs for a whole month. That’s the premise behind the Faith Swap experiment organized by Premier Christian Radio, which follows the journey of committed Christian Bentley Browning and his atheist friend Simon Capes who are exchanged their religious daily commitments for one month.

Browning stopped praying and going to church, while Capes attended church and participated in the “rituals of Christianity,” reports Christianity Today Australia.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Capes. “Bentley’s taking a bigger leap than me because he’s negating something in which he believes, but we both have a lot to gain from this.”

Browning found it a serious challenge to let go of his daily Christian practices, which ground him and provide comfort.

During the experiment, both men have been updating Facebook page ‘Faith Swap’ with details of their experiences. Though as an atheist he has free reign to do as he wishes, Browning has found letting go of his daily Christian practices a challenge. “The prayer thing is very difficult to get out of because it’s habitual,” he notes.

“The self imposed restriction is beginning to feel like a tight costume,” he wrote on 21 January.

“I’ll tell you how easy it is not to pray when you see a small child dragged from rubble in Syria…Impossible,” was yesterday’s contribution.

Capes has been sharing his experience of going to church for the first time in years. After a traditional Choral Matins service at Bath Abbey, he wrote: “I didn’t feel as alienated as I thought I would. I just followed the lead of the person next to me. As an atheist I thought that I wouldn’t find a lot to agree with in the sermon and the prayers, but it was surprisingly relevant.”

http://www.facebook.com/faithswap

and

http://au.christiantoday.com/article/faith-swap-christian-and-atheist-exchange-lives-for-one-month/16779.htm

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52 thoughts on “Christian and atheist exchange lives for one month

  1. Pingback: Christian and atheist exchange lives for one month | Essential Thinking

  2. Silly-billies! Even if a christian were to make a point of BEHAVING like a non-believer, it wouldn’t make him any less a christian.
    And the same applies to the atheist (assuming he actually IS atheist.); y’can’t become a godbotherer just by acting like one.

    And anyway, if they were both ‘good’ people to begin with what difference would it make?

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      • Actually Dabbles is right… in this case. The Lord’s Prayer starts with the words “Our Father…” because our Christian experience is based on a relationship with God as our Father.
        But what this experiment says is that in order for the Christian to walk in the atheist’s shoes is to deny the existence of God, to deny the relationship with God as his/her Father, etc. This cannot be done, unless the Christian denies God and becomes an apostate. For the atheist the problems is even worse. This experiment assumes that the atheist magically accepts that God exists and now has a relationship with this God as one of child and father… for a week. Then he goes back to denying the existence of God and the relationship with God as a father. This is simply ridiculous. Jesus made it clear that unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

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      • Yeah, I see that. But If you send BillyBob to church three times a day for a month he’s still only going to be interested in cocking a leg on the gatepost. He couldn’t ‘understand’ something that’s entirely beyond his nature to understand ~ or even want to know about.

        The same applies to the christian playing an atheist role, though I have trouble figuring out what, exactly, that would entail.

        But I think it’s a good thing to see some people are at least willing to try exploring outside their respective prejudices. That’s about as much as anyone could ask.

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      • “Exploring outside their respective prejudices.” That has to be good. It seems no conversion is sought or expected, if it happens it will be for other reasons.

        The saying that we have to lose our faith before we find it must apply to any thinking. We gain more than the second hand belief we first held, whether Christian, atheist, or any thing else.

        It’s all good.

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    • Actually Bryan and Dabbles,
      I had a very long part of my life as a Christian insider, and I would really have very little difficulty fitting in to a Christian routine for any length of time. But there again, of course, I’m not any sort of an atheist. It is quite easy for me to see and appreciate just about everything that is involved in Christianity, although I no longer fulfil the major part of it.

      Very interesting experiment there.
      Rian

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      • Yes Rian, but the problem is that you do not understand Christianity. The Lord’s prayer starts with the words “Our Father…” indicating that it is a prayer of personal experience and personal relationship with God as a Father. The so called Christian routine or ritual that you refer to is based on our relationship with God. Thus we become baptised because it seals the covenant between ourselves and God. Thus we pray as part of our communication with God. If you look at all the rituals in the New Testament, you will soon realise that they are part of the communication or relationship between God and His people or between his people.
        Thus the experiment does nothing but damage to Christianity, by reinforcing the idea that mere ritual constituttes Christianity. Instead of explaining that these rituals are part and parcel of our relationship with God.

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      • Davinci, you are a true Christian, but there are other true Christians with a focus different from yours. It is up to God to judge as He sees fit, not us.

        The concept of God as Father came from the Egyptian Ra, the Father in Heaven whose symbol was the Sun.

        When Jesus said to pray what is now known to us as “The Lord’s Prayer”, it wasn’t one he invented, but came from the Egyptians, ending with “Amen”, or God’s name there of Amen-Ra.

        God is our Father, but not limited to that. He is also much much else.

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      • Sorry Bryan, but you are on the wrong track. The Bible records that the only reason Peter admitted that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, was because God revealed it to him. In other words spiritual things are spiritually discerned. It is not a matter of the atheist and Christians to exchange places; it doesn’t work that way. The Christian and the atheist are motivated by diametrically opposite masters which cannot compromise or agree together. Christ said that one cannot serve two masters. Yet this experiment entails just that. Which means that the Christian has compromised his/her beliefs if that person is willing to reject religion for a week. This is not dogma this is the plain teaching of the Bible.

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      • Does God act outside dogma?
        The Bible says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” Heb 13:8. It also says ” Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17.
        We may get an understanding how God acts towards humans today from how He acted towards them in biblical times. And both the New and Old Testament prohibited the type of dialogue that this experiment tried to do.
        Was Amos dogmatic when he asked “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3. Was Paul dogmatic when he daid that we should have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness? (Eph. 5:11)

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      • I think we are talking about different things here. Yes we should be dogmatic about our need for redemption, of the redemptive power of Christ’s sacrifice.
        But only God can see into the human heart. The atheist may finally sense God in his week of trying to walk in a Christian’s shoes. We don’t know the outcome of this “experiment”
        I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life, even if he/she doesn’t know it. God has always been in relationship to us, journeying with us, and yearning to be known by us.

        If we are legalists, if we want everything clear and safe, then we will find nothing.

        The late Bible teacher, Dr. J. Vernon McGee once said that the only exercise some Christians get is by jumping to conclusion, running a person down or walking all over a person. We should never be dogmatic about things that God has not clearly revealed to us.

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      • davinci,
        Oh, lighten up, why dont you? You take yourself and your philosophy and faith just too darned seriously. You must be so terribly insecure.

        I know very well what Christianity is all about. It is because of that simple fact, that I have not called myself a Christian for over 35 years. I know very well that going through the motions of belonging does not make the real heart of a Christian. As everyone keeps reminding you, the story of the swapping of lives here, has nothing whatsoever to do with either party changing and becoming atheist or Christian. Each for this brief period simply is engaging in the other’s lifestyle for education purposes, and presumably is not mentioning or practising his true philosophy during that period.

        I seem to recall a guy named Paul who made a point of becoming a Jew when he was with Jews, and similarly became a Greek, when among Greeks, and so on. But as I understand it, underneath he still was the same old Paul with the same Christian faith. Mind you, he was doing this cover-up job with the avowed intention of converting his confreres. Sounds a bit suss to me.

        Rian

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      • Bryan: “I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life, even if he/she doesn’t know it.”

        My belief too. But I think it can take more than one lifetime for some to learn this. I don’t think God worries about time.

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      • Davinci: “The Christian and the atheist are motivated by diametrically opposite masters which cannot compromise or agree together. Christ said that one cannot serve two masters. Yet this experiment entails just that. Which means that the Christian has compromised his/her beliefs if that person is willing to reject religion for a week.”

        They are not agreeing on or compromising their beliefs. They are not serving two masters. The Christian is foregoing some religious practice for a week, he is not rejecting religion for a week.

        If your religious beliefs are entirely dependent on your religious practices, Davinci, I would think they have no firm base and are in danger of failing.

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      • ” “I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life, even if he/she doesn’t know it.”

        Doesn’t this run contrary to the idea of free will ?

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      • So is God still in my life or not ? Are atheists exceptions to “every person” ?

        How do you reject something you can’t accept ?

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      • Agreed. But lack of acceptance does not always equal rejection.

        So is God still in my life or not ? Are atheists exceptions to “every person” ?

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  3. bryanpattersonfaithworks
    on February 3, 2014 at 09:29 said:
    But you miss the point. It wasn’t about conversions. It was about trying to understand the other person.
    Reply ↓

    But Bryan after it all you just settle for a selective Dictionary description penned by a religious person of what the meaning of the word Atheist is to them .
    Basically a totally derogatory view .
    Pity that those like yourself infer some defect or morally deficient or in some cases the claim free thinking people are sub human .
    WHAT THE !!!!
    As if everyone who does not follow any dogma is exactly the same .
    Just look at how many religions there are and have been to get evidence everyone has their own mind.

    Unfortunately many chose to follow

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  4. I’ve personally jumped into Christianity as a non-believer, I was quite involved and studying the Bible pretty heavily for close to 6 months. It’s awesome for gaining perspective! And even though I spoke with people in church with my secular understandings and wordings, I was able to communicate well about the ideas in the sermons with them without trouble. I actually wonder how many of them actually thought I was a believer. I did pose questions to the pastor at times when it seemed to me that he had neglected an aspect in his sermon (it was a small church held in a movie theatre, which was cool!). It is a bit of a challenge to connect through the belief language though, you have to do some reading between the lines. But it’s very possible, as we all are governed by the same forces regardless of how we choose to describe them. It’s important to keep this in mind.

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    • I well understand ‘a bit of a challenge to connect through the belief language’. To communicate with someone effectively you must necessarily use their language.

      I was told today that I was hard place, as sometimes I seemed spiritual and sometimes worldly. I expect because I use these different ‘languages’ to make different points.

      Sorry, I don’t know how else to get a point across! 😆

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  5. But Bryan after it all you just settle for a selective Dictionary description penned by a religious person of what the meaning of the word Atheist is to them .
    Basically a totally derogatory view .
    So with this from you :-
    bryanpattersonfaithworks
    on February 3, 2014 at 09:29 said:
    But you miss the point. It wasn’t about conversions. It was about trying to understand the other person.

    Reply ↓
    So what,s your problem Bryan ?
    Yep you can not accept anyone would not be within that description of Atheist penned by a religious person of course .
    In the last post I clearly pointed out what I think but unfortunately the reality unsettles you to much .
    The self imposed isolation all those who follow have to uphold or suffer the loss of a delusion of importance .

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      • To be frank, it sounds to me as if down inside a lot of the atheists here actually do suspect that God exists; otherwise, why would they be fighting so strenuously against Him and trying to keep Him out of their lives?
        After all, why fight against something (or Someone) that doesn’t even exist (as they claim)? If you were really convinced God didn’t exist, the logical thing would be to ignore Him. But they aren’t ignoring Him—and the more they fight against God, the more they are in danger of persuading themselves that He actually does exist.

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      • Hi Mike,

        On the other hand you do appear to me to be strenuously fighting against atheists why is that? Why are you fighting against people who you know are wrong? if you were really convinced that atheists are wrong the logical thing would be to ignore them. Is it because deep down you know God doesn’t exist ?

        In keeping with the theme of this topic it’s nice to remember that there are two sides to every story.

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      • Hi Tony,

        On the other hand you do appear to me to be strenuously fighting against believers why is that? Why are you fighting against people who you know are wrong? if you were really convinced that Christians are wrong the logical thing would be to ignore them. Is it because deep down you know God exists ?

        In keeping with the theme of this topic it’s nice to remember that there are two sides to every story.

        Yes indeed

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      • er…..No:- “They doth protest too much.”
        I don’t ‘believe’ god exists ~ and if he did I wouldn’t give a stuff anyway, provided he didn’t interfere with me.
        To his credit, however, it must be said that he NEVER interferes with non-believers.

        Godbotherers (who can’t resist ‘protesting too much’ ~ and call it ‘evangelising’), on the other hand DO interfere with me endlessly: from banging on my door and insisting that BillyBob isn’t as important as they are, or stuffing my letter-box with tracts threatening me with Hell, to passing civil and criminal laws based on someone or other’s version of religious dogma or (allegedly) bible-based ‘morality’.

        ………unless they’re busy burning some heretic at the stake or blowing up a school bus ….or a Twin Towers….. or an entire country. (and we won’t even mention the Irish! 😯

        At Marysville there were FOURTEEN ‘churches’ (in a population of under 3000) which were forever competing, but ganging on anyone who refused to join one of the godbothering gangs. It was sometimes iffy whether you could get service at the local shops unless you had a ‘union-ticket’.
        ……and little kids were ostracised if their parents objected to them being made to attend ‘religious instruction’ classes.

        I came close to believing in “Thy will be done” when god burnt the place to the ground. (but my house, in the middle of the forest where the worst of it roared through, remained unscorched.)

        If “god’s in control”, I wonder what message that was meant to convey. 🙂

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      • Appearances can be deceptive though can’t they.

        On the other hand the poor old atheists just can’t win 🙂 Dawkins doges debates with creationists and he gets criticism for that in some quarters. Bill Ney engages in a debate with a creationist and he’s getting some criticism for that.

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    • Mike
      on February 5, 2014 at 11:00 said: :-
      To be frank, it sounds to me as if down inside a lot of the atheists here actually do suspect that God exists;
      Well then they are Not Atheists .
      As for myself I don,t have the delusion of being important and escaping this universe .
      What you fail to comprehend is all faiths are based on a delusion of being important .
      To me the greatest discover I would like is to be proven there is no such thing as “”SOUL””
      Could you imagine the #### hitting the fan .
      Imagine all those realizing this is as good as it get,s .
      One thing fantastic would be the end of TAX concessions for
      religions .

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      • They may try to suppress their belief in God but, sooner or later in the discussion, atheists say something like, “Well if God is so good then why does he allow….” This is the point in the conversation where they have “forgotten” their atheism and revealed some of their challenges with, not the reality of God, but the nature of God.

        When you assume that an atheist does really believe in the existence of God it gives you the freedom not to have to prove God’s existence but to share God’s story. You can be sure that, down deep inside, the gospel is churning in the soul of the atheist.

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      • Mike
        on February 5, 2014 at 11:39 said: You can be sure that, down deep inside, the gospel is churning in the soul of the atheist.

        Such a narrow self inflicted point of view that has to be sustained to continue your delusion .
        Try and think about this in regards to your gospel .
        What about all those who have lived and died during the past 50,000 years who had never seen your version of religion and where do those who thought those religion where crap {the ATHEISTS of that time } stand in your belief.
        Is a person a ATHEIST if they only don,t follow your DOGMA ?

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      • Who’s calling who delusional now? You insult believers by calling them this at the same time complaining about what you think believers say about atheists..Try to think about this re your previous statements when you accuse others wrongly.

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      • Hi Mike,

        That seems something of a stretch to me. If I were to ask a Christian a question along the lines of “If God is good then……” I’d simply be asking them how they reconcile the differences between the notion of a loving God and the real world conditions.

        I once asked some good catholic friends why they used contraception when the Pope at the time had called such use “evil”. I was simply curious as to how they managed to balance their catholic faith with their daily lives. And at the time there were no gospels, creeds or catechisms burning deeply in my soul.

        Are you sure you’re not just projecting ?

        Like

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