You Want Me To Invest In Christianity? Let’s Make a Trade… May 23, 2010

You Want Me To Invest In Christianity? Let’s Make a Trade…

I think a lot of us have been in this situation before: you’re walking around a college campus and a Christian preacher hands you a Chick tract or some other pamphlet. Perhaps you take it, but you laugh it off. What a horrible way to try and convert me, you think.

Nick, The Hopeful Skeptic, doesn’t understand that tactic either. After one preacher tried to give him a useless tract, Nick had a brief conversation with him:

When I asked him why I needed to take it, he responded that Jesus was the most important thing in his life and he wanted me to know about him by handing me a gift.

I paused for a moment and asked, “If you wanted to give me something to get my attention about the most important thing in your life, then why did you hand me something so unimportant?”

Essentially, Nick argued, these things that supposedly matter so much to the person handing them out are barely worth a cent or two apiece.

If a preacher really wanted someone to take his tracts seriously, he would need to show Nick he put an investment into what he was handing out — he would need to show Nick he really meant business.

On his blog, Nick makes an offer to any Christian who wants him to convert:

For the $500 it takes to get an iPad I will commit to these 5 things

1. Attending a church or Bible Study in my area for 10 weeks. (You choose which)
2. Blogging and podcasting about my experiences once a week, all the while giving you or your organization the plug for returning me to the fold
3. Using the iPad as my main tool for experiencing Christianity, using podcasts, audio books, iBooks, Bible Applications and the Internet to immerse myself in the suggestions of the buyer.
4. I will interview you, the buyer, on my podcast and give you the chance to make arguments for the faith, for going to church, to tell me about your church or your organization and why I would do well in an environment like that.
5. I will send the buyer a copy of my book so that you can learn more about my journey and we can enter into authentic discussion about faith.

Whether or not anyone takes him up on it, the sentiment makes sense: If you really want me to take your beliefs seriously, I need you to take me seriously. I need to know you are willing to put your money where your mouth is. Offer me something that is of value to me and I’ll seriously consider what you have to say.

I don’t know if it’ll work, but I think the idea is amusing.

If it does work, though, Nick is a genius.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Trace

    Me needs/wants Ipad. Willing to “rent” soul for an Ipad (with wireless capabilities).

  • heck
    I might do this as well. I would love an Ipad

    but Mehta, I am quoting you homie…

  • Richard P.

    Seems like a harmless way to con a christian out of $500. Way to go, I support you in your efforts.

    Like the saying goes; A fool and their money are soon parted.

  • Aaron Mitchel

    Well i think it can go both ways, say a Christian said, “Ill attend atheist events, read Darwins books, just as long as at the end of the day i get an ipad”. Sounds to me like he doesn’t even care about God/ Christianity, sounds more like he understands that some people have lil money on how they preach and some have more, and uses this as manipulation to get what he wants but cannot afford. I don’t think he could convince a Christian to try the opposite.

  • Bob Carlson

    Isn’t acquiring an iPad or other Apple product the equivalent of accepting Steve Jobs as your Lord & Savior? 🙂

  • TheRealistMom/Spamamander

    Hmmm. Wonder if that would work for getting a Kindle, maybe promise to read the KJV on it?

  • Luther

    I would trade for free:
    – I read the Bible for two hours a week, their choice of passages, and discuss for one hour with them
    – They read any part of any book I choose for two hours a week, and discuss for one hour with me

    Each discussion would be balanced in that we both would pose questions and discuss.

  • Nothing is as bad as getting one of those penny pamphlets instead of a tip on Easter or Christmas Eve while serving tables. That’s one quick way to de-convert a bunch of struggling college students who are trying to make ends meet. Nothing says, “I take what Christ said seriously, so should you”, quite like showing your lack of respect and generosity.

    Running into those guys on the college campus reminds me of those guys handing out their pamphlets on the Vegas strip 😉 … smut = smut, right?

    I might reconsider their mythology for a Kindle… any mythology really, I am quite fond of Thor…

  • adam

    I really don’t like this because it’s equating the value of the message with the value of the medium used

    What if I wanted to make a point about contractions in a holy text(s), flaws in religious reasoning, maybe promoting an atheist/secular cause/argument

    Should the person only take me seriously or be willing to listen if I buy them a car?

    No it should be based solely on the validity of my arguments and evidence that supports it

    Plus it makes us seem to be out only to con them and get free stuff

  • Minneyar

    Man, I wouldn’t go to church for 10 weeks just for $500. I’d just put some overtime into work instead. At least I can produce something meaningful while I’m working.

  • Adam, I don’t think that the medium that would be appropriate to the value of the message would take ink very well. 😉

  • Hmmmm…I think they’re crazy, not stupid. 🙂

  • fritzy

    I’m with Adam on this one; the value of the message is what’s important–in this case, the message just happens to be about as valuable as the ludicrious and tawdry tracts it is printed on. No amount of shiney, glowing media is going to burnish this turd. If Nick is sincere about examining his beliefs in a serious manner, he doesn’t need an iPod to do so–I think this petition to the faithful is shameless. I get his point; it calls into question the “sacrifice” believers are willing to make to spread the “word.” I just don’t think scamming someone out of an iPad is sending the correct message.

    Maybe he should ask a believer to meet him at a coffee house for 5-10 hourse a week and discuss faith with him–I suspect this would actually be a bigger sacrifice on the part of most believers, as most people are willing to give up a chunk of change sooner than they are willing to give up a large amount of time. And Nick would avoid looking like he is making a cynical attempt to score an iPad. The fact that he would likely have more difficulty finding a taker for this would illustrate his point just as well.

  • Essentially, Nick argued, these things that supposedly matter so much to the person handing them out are barely worth a cent or two apiece.

    Is that a reference to the paper thin logic within the tract, or the cheap paper its printed on? 😉 Nick makes a clever point, but I’d be even happier if these people invested some thought and intelligence into their attempts to convert, rather than sophomoric logic and appeals to emotion.

  • Andrew n

    Disagree. I read the pamphlets that preachers hand out. How are they “worthless”? The gift is not in the materialism…but the ideas that are being presented. There are different types of media: pamphlet or ipad….a pamphlet is more high throughput.

  • Andrew n

    How are they “worthless”? The gift is not in the materialism…but the ideas that are being presented.

    The ideas that are represented in tracts and similar pamphlets are “worthless”. Specifically they are without any inherent value either on their own or in the messages that they contain.

  • Matt

    Time is money. I don’t think $500 is enough for all that effort.

  • Mike

    The ideas that are represented in tracts and similar pamphlets are “worthless”. Specifically they are without any inherent value either on their own or in the messages that they contain.

    Have you ever wondered why Christians are such fools for Christ? How can they possibly believe nonsense such as Jonah and the whale, Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, and so forth? Here’s why (and this will also answer your question as to why evangelists hand out silly things such as chick tracts)

    God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and he has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. He has chosen the things which are nothing, to bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh may boast in his presence. He has chosen that sinners be saved through the foolishness of preaching(1Corinthians). Salvation is a gift from God, through faith in Jesus Christ, and God alone grants repentance (2Timothy 2:25).

    Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Do not repent and you will perish.

  • Angie

    Poe?

  • Carol B

    Pooh!

  • Mike

    Not poe. God has chosen to save sinners through the foolishness of preaching. So we preach the gospel, and not with eloquent words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power (1Corinthians). Some hear the gospel message and believe, while others do not. We realize that most people will reject the gospel message, and some will even mock, but we trust that God will open the eyes of unbelievers to the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
    So if you’ve ever wondered why Christian evangelists seem so unperterbed and persistent in the face of rejection, this is why. We know that an unregenerate person despises the message of Christ’s death and resurrection, but we preach and we pray that God would grant repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and so free them from the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2Timothy 2)

  • I have wondered why Christians believe such things Mike. Unfortunately your scripture quote doesn’t explain why, it just says that Christians should believe things that are apparently false because they are told to. It still doesn’t explain why they accept this instruction. That would probably involve an exploration into childhood indoctrination and\or mental breakdown.

    That said I’m not sure it is at all that interesting. If someone hands me a tract I’ll just screw it up and throw it in a bin. I don’t care why someone is irritating when they are irritating me. I just want to get away from them.

  • adam

    Adam, I don’t think that the medium that would be appropriate to the value of the message would take ink very well. 😉

    Too true lol

    I was aiming more for the overall concept of needing to back up your ideas (any idea or position) with lots of cash and prizes for those ideas to worth anything rather then the inherent (or lack of) value of chick tracts.

    Anyway As fritizy said “it’s message that’s important“, in this case the message happens to be in essence, mental diarrhea.

    But I digress, the message is what’s important, ideas needs to rise, fall and be received by others on and for there own merit and not by how much they’re dressed up or by what that person is getting by just stopping by.

    If your sincere in wanting to learn about and/or critically examine your own or someone else’s thoughts/beliefs for whatever reason you don’t and shouldn’t require bribery to do so.

    The ideas that are represented in tracts and similar pamphlets are “worthless”. Specifically they are without any inherent value either on their own or in the messages that they contain

    Oh I wouldn’t say they are worthless hoverfrog, I mean what about their comedic worth

    seriously have you ever read the chick Dissections on enterthejabberwock.com I can’t breath from laughing so hard while going through one of those

  • Adam, those enterthejabberwock.com dissections are excellent. I’d not seen them before. I’ll admit that I’d ignored the amusement value but I still feel that it is outweighed by the poor quality artwork, lack of intelligent script or argument, hateful message of some fickle and wicked deity and general shittiness of the whole thing.

  • andrew

    Hoverfrog, if the ideas are worthless then it doesnt matter which way they present it…via pamphlet or ipad. We should be equally as moved with either.

    Somebody said it but those pamphlets are comedic.

  • Mike

    Hoverfrog –

    Unfortunately your scripture quote doesn’t explain why, it just says that Christians should believe things that are apparently false because they are told to. It still doesn’t explain why they accept this instruction. That would probably involve an exploration into childhood indoctrination and\or mental breakdown.

    The explanation I would offer is this:

    1) man in his unregenerate state is unable and unwilling to seek after God because his heart is wicked (Romans 3:10-18).

    2) It takes a supernatural act of God to cause a sinner to be born of the spirit (born again), and once this happens he is awakened to spiritual things (John 3:3)

    3) Belief in Jesus Christ and confession of him as Lord and Saviour are evidence of this rebirth (1John 4:15, 1John 5:1).

    Christians believe because their eyes (or minds as you would say) are opened to the truth of the gospel by the Spirit of God. We hear the Gospel, and it is foolishness to us. The Spirit of God moves upon us, we are born again, we hear the Gospel, and it is no longer foolishness, it is the power and wisdom of God.

    That is biblical Christianity in a nutshell. I’m sure that my answers are not very satisfying to you. All I can say is that I was once an atheist and these things were once foolishness to me. They are not foolishness any longer, and I put my hope in them. You will have to decide for yourselves if my testimony is due to mental breakdown, childhood indoctrination, etc., or if something truly happened to me that can only be explained by a supernatural act of God.

    Thank you and God Bless!

    Mike

  • Omatix

    I’m not a fan of this. It comes across as craven and materialistic; I’d rather atheists show that we’re philosophical and rational instead. This is just screwing with Christians, and will readily be seen as such.

    The other irritating part is that the guy is clearly getting material for a new book/content/blog post out of this, so it’s worth much more than the $500 iPad to him – the grounds he’s setting are disingenuous. When Hemant visited churches, it was on a much fairer and transparent arrangement – they both learn from each other, and he’d write about his experiences while the church would have new ways to evangelize.

    That said, if evangelists start thinking they have to pay atheists for their ear, maybe it’ll keep them nice and far away.

  • plutosdad

    How can they possibly believe nonsense such as Jonah and the whale, Adam and Eve, Noah’s flood, and so forth

    Amazingly many christian theologians did NOT believe in those things, but recognized them as stories. From Aquinas, Denys, even back to Origen, we see christian church leaders rarely advocated the myths were fact. Augustine seemed to be somewhere in the middle on some things. But though he argued to view the Bible was true, did not claim that meant the stories in Genesis were literal truth.

    Recenly evengelical christians have decided to become even more foolish. Just because Jesus and Paul wrote they were foolish doesn’t mean deliberate foolishness and ignorance is a goal, or something to be proud of.

    It’s sad so many christians don’t study theology or christian history, just read apologetic texts by people equally ignorant. Of course that was me 10 years ago so I’m not trying to be mean, just saying, your statement is wrong.

    “foolish to shame the wise”

    this is a common tactic of many movements, it’s not specific to christianity, but rather any populist movement that wants to fight against oligarchs or governments uses words like that to try to encourage the ignorant. You see it in the anti vaccine movement, anti evolution, to a certain extent the anti global warming movement. Some more extreme political movements. It’s about “we are the weak, don’t listen to experts, you don’t need knowledge to be wise and know what’s best (for others)”

  • I don’t want an iPad bad enough to put myself through that, but I hope it works for others. It would help to demonstrate the lengths to which churches will go to convert the heathens.

  • Evilspud

    A lot of churches are already spending millions of dollars on flashy toys in order to attract newcommers.

    I criticize them for this because they were doing this to spread ideas. Putting two and two together does not equal four because the equation has sex appeal.

    Rather than hand out iPads or chick comics, why not instead ask for pamphlets that outline their ideas in an articulate manner. Instead of an iPad, I would agree to attend any church if, in exchange, they were confident enough about their beleifs that they would let them be criticized.

  • I think the christian in question would justifiably feel immense pity for a man who equates importance with monetary value. Or in the case of the iPad I suppose, with hype generated by a zombie-like lust for cool.

  • andrew, if someone gives you a tract on toilet paper at least you can use the paper for something so I suppose you have a point.

  • Mike

    1) man in his unregenerate state is unable and unwilling to seek after God because his heart is wicked (Romans 3:10-18).

    You’d first need to establish that God exists and that a state of “regenerate\unregenerate” is real.

    2) It takes a supernatural act of God to cause a sinner to be born of the spirit (born again), and once this happens he is awakened to spiritual things (John 3:3)

    You first need to establish that anything “supernatural” exists (a bit of an oxymoron there), that god exists, that sin exists and that “spirit” and “spiritual” exists. Or at least define your terms.

    3) Belief in Jesus Christ and confession of him as Lord and Saviour are evidence of this rebirth (1John 4:15, 1John 5:1).

    I’m sorry but it isn’t. It is only evidence of belief in Jesus’ rebirth. Unless you can provide a compelling reason why I or anyone else should adopt this belief you are simply stating your own viewpoint. That is hardly going to change my viewpoint, is it?

    Christians believe because their eyes (or minds as you would say) are opened to the truth of the gospel by the Spirit of God. We hear the Gospel, and it is foolishness to us. The Spirit of God moves upon us, we are born again, we hear the Gospel, and it is no longer foolishness, it is the power and wisdom of God.

    I’d dispute that this is the reason why Christians believe in the mythology of their faith and why the follow the tenets of their faith. A simple analysis on the geography of religious adherence will demonstrate that most people adopt the faith of their family and peer groups. There is hardly anything divine in that, it is a well explained psychological phenomena.

    That is biblical Christianity in a nutshell. I’m sure that my answers are not very satisfying to you.

    Indeed not.

    All I can say is that I was once an atheist and these things were once foolishness to me.

    I wonder if you are conflating “doubt” with atheism? Still I’ll accept that you were an atheist (it would be rude not to) and ask how you can go from a evidence based position to a faith based one? When the evidence doesn’t support your position how can you not see it as untenable?

    They are not foolishness any longer, and I put my hope in them. You will have to decide for yourselves if my testimony is due to mental breakdown, childhood indoctrination, etc., or if something truly happened to me that can only be explained by a supernatural act of God.

    Given that there is no evidence for anything supernatural I’d opt for one of the former or suggest that you merely went along with the consensus. There is nothing wrong with hoping for a loving father figure to rescue you from death (well it would be wrong for me) but doesn’t it strike you as unrealistic to base a system of belief and living on an unsubstantiated desire for unconditional love and eternal life? These are instinctual, childlike wants and not the sort of thing that a mature person should accept.