Yesterday, my brother's former pastor from a church in Boston commented on a humorous atheism-themed picture I have on my Facebook page. This is what he wrote:
Did you wake up this morning? Are you still breathing? Be grateful, it's a gift from God.
Do you know what this is? It is a statement of personal faith. It's not an inquiry into my beliefs. It's not an attempt to rebut anything I've said, ever. It's not remotely an attempt to discuss theological issues in any way at all. You know why? Because I don't believe that God exists! You might as well tell me that each breath is a gift from Voltron.
I responded with some sarcastic remark about how I was glad God didn't change his mind like he does with all those millions of miscarriages every year. I mean, really. Christians love to talk about how life is a gift and God has a plan. But what about miscarriages and stillbirths? Christians have to invent their own rationalizations about why God does stuff like that.
The pastor responded by quoting the Bible. Newsflash: I do not believe the Bible is true! If you want to quote-mine the Bible, I'm can do that all day too. In fact, few things make Christians squirm more than quoting all those Bible verses they like to pretend don't exist, and watching them try to concoct rationalizations to excuse God's behavior.
Look, if you're really interested in talking to an atheist, you have to start from the ground up. Establish independently that God exists. That I have a soul. That my soul needs to be saved. That the Bible is something I should take seriously. That your interpretation of the Bible is something I should take seriously. If you can do all that, then I might care when you make a statement like "every breath is a gift from God". Because you know what? It's not.