PREACHER: I see no advantage in becoming an atheist other than that you can disassociate yourself from religionists who have done evil according to your view of morality and have the feeling of satisfaction that you have grown out of believing in "fairy tales." Does it really matter what you believe, anyway? I can stay a Christian and behave myself according to your morality and everything ends up the same in the end. So, why should I become an atheist?
SKEPTIC: Well, I guess the answer is that you probably shouldn't become an atheist. You've invested your life in a belief system that seems to work for you, so more power to you. I, on the other hand, have become a skeptic after much study and consideration of the claims of Christianity, as well as the historical basis of the religion, and have concluded that it doesn't hold water. It's been my experience that many, if not most, Christians came to believe based on an emotional appeal rather than anything based on real knowledge of the religion. I suspect that the average Christian has a very limited knowledge of the historical roots of the religion and doesn't have much desire to explore those roots.
PREACHER: You may well be right about the average Christian. And, weren't you one of them before you became a skeptic? I would contend, though, that your basis for rejecting Christianity is based on conclusions made from a limited amount of knowledge, the unproven theories of those who share your belief system, and a strong desire to be free from any control that a deity would have on you. Don't you feel a great sense of freedom by not believing? I on the other hand find my freedom in finding out what His plan for my life is. Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
SKEPTIC: Thanks for granting my point about the average Christian not knowing much about the historical roots of Christianity. It seems to me that if you base your whole life around a particular belief system, you should know where it came from. To just go with it because it feels good seems pretty irresponsible to me. And yes, I grew up in a very Christian church and called myself a Christian for many years. But then off I went to university, where, unlike my church, they encouraged me to think and examine and research for myself. A dangerous concept, I know. What I concluded was that religion (of all stripes) and a belief in a personal God was nonsensical and had no basis in reality. For me to believe in God, it has to make actual sense, and there are just too many contradictions and logical fallacies for me to make that leap. By the way, you're right that I feel a sense of freedom by being a non-believer, but only because it means that I don't have to follow silly little rules and don't have to check with a holy book every time I need to make a decision. When you're able to take responsibility for yourself, it really is quite liberating.
PREACHER: I on the other hand I grew up going to church with parents who knew what I would be facing when I entered college, so they made sure that I was prepared. My dad had a PhD. in biology (his major professor was a card carrying atheist) and my mom still loves to debate about ultimate reality issues. I gave my profs in college probably as much trouble as you gave your Sunday school teachers. I'm sure you have stopped checking the Holy Book to make sure that you are acting in a moral way, but I would wager that you are still strongly influenced by it. That is the reason that I think that we can still debate about these issues. I deal with atheists in my community all the time who are basically "a law unto themselves." They always thank me when I don't talk about Christianity in their presence. As for taking responsibility for ones self, there always comes a time when the limits of physical and mental health are met. As a Christian responsible before God I will take responsibility for myself, but never be so arrogant to claim that I will always be able to do that.