I think we want the same thing. Or, at least we both claim to want the same thing. Think about it. Why are you on the internet talking about all of the problems with religion? I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is because you are convinced that atheism is true, correct, and represents the way things really are. What is more, you want people to know the truth. You believe people's lives will be greatly enriched by aligning their views with reality rather than delusion. Now, suppose you asked me the same question: why am I on the internet talking about my religion? My answer would be the same: because I am convinced that Christianity is true, correct, and represents the way things really are! If you are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, as I have given you, then you will have to conclude that we want the same thing. Like you, I want people to know the truth. I believe people's lives will be greatly enriched by aligning their views with reality rather than delusion.
You might say, "No, you just want to convert people to your religion!" But come on then, why would I (or anyone) want to do that? Suppose I accused you of the same thing--of having self serving reasons for expressing your atheism. What would you say? I think that you and I would give the same answer: "Whether or not I have selfish motives does not change the fact that, at bottom, I am convinced that my view is true, correct, and represents the way things really are." Now, I cannot speak for everyone who professes Christianity, but personally, I have absolutely no interest in seeing people become Christians if Christianity is false. Neither do I have any interest in being a Christian myself if Christianity is false. Maybe I am just really shallow, but I don't like to be wrong. Sure, some people who grow up in a religious tradition might want to stubbornly hold on to the moral and/or therapeutic elements for personal reasons (I can understand that), but I doubt they would waste much time, or risk very much in order to tell people about something that they thought was false, incorrect, and did not represent the way things really are..
So why does this matter? Well, I don't know about you, but I have grown rather bored with all of the tedious mud slinging (from both sides). You know what I am talking about.
Christians are all just a bunch of backwards, illogical, woman-hating, racist, bigoted, Jesus-rode-a-dinosaur, God-bless-my-favorite-college-football-team, Bible-thumping, MORONS. Amirite?
Atheists are all just a bunch of heartless, valueless, believe-we-came-from-monkeys, hate-God-but-don't-believe-in-Him, too-smart-for-common-sense, life-is-meaningless, send-our-country-to-Hell-in-a-handbasket, TURD FERGUSONS. Can I get an Amen?
I am just tired of it. I would rather cut through the crap, and actually talk about the real issue--the thing that we both claim to be after--the truth. Can we put aside the name calling and just respectfully talk about the reasons we each think our view is correct? Here's the thing: if you and I are both actually interested in the truth--and we know that going into the conversation--then we don't have to make the disagreement personal. We can just talk about the places we disagree, lay our cards on the table, and walk away still being friends. Sure, not everyone (Christian or atheist) is going to be interested in doing that. Some people don't want to give the other the benefit of the doubt, and/or actually consider the evidence. They just want to put their fingers in their ears and fling poo. Please know that it bothers me just as much as it does you when people (on both sides) do that.* But I would like to think that we can do better than that. What do you think?
Your christian friend
*You might say, "Well, Christians are characteristically unreasonable, so they are MUCH worse about doing this than atheists, who are characteristically reasonable." First of all, I think many people just assume this is the case based on their interaction with a particular sort of Christian. Second, even if that is true, it doesn't have anything to do with whether Christianity is true or false. It is just more mud-slinging. Finally, I think you might want to take a look at a recent article which does a great job of satirically capturing the rampant "reasonableness" of many internet atheists. I don't imagine that you would want me to draw generalizations about all atheists from that.