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Why do atheists criticize a Christianity which I, a practicing Christian, do not recognize?

Atheists don’t know what they are talking about in regards to what constitute real, honest-to-goodness Christians beliefs. Instead, they focus on cartoon-like depictions of our beliefs. What do they know, they are not Christians.

Posted: June 8th 2007

SmartLX www

My definition of Christianity is pretty hard to fall outside of.

If someone believes that there is a god who created the universe and has some influence on it to this day, I reject that belief. If someone believes that Jesus was descended from a god, had supernatural powers and limited his own death to three days, I reject that belief.

Is it possible that someone believes none of this and is still a Christian? It would be difficult. I criticise the most basic possible religious beliefs precisely so that I don’t leave anyone out.

Posted: November 18th 2007

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brian thomson www

It depends on what your definition of “extreme” is, I suppose: to an evolutionary scientist, the Dover Area School District case was about a “moderate” school board pushing “intelligent design” creationism on its students – in other words, an anti-evolution bias, which is an extreme position to take in the light of the physical evidence and the overwhelming consensus in support of the theory.

The same can be said of the Creation Museum with its cartoon-like depictions of cavemen walking alongside dinosaurs. Not only is that very bad science, they are just asking to be compared to The Flintstones. Yet, it was built using $27 million of donated money, and is expecting 250,000 visitors in its first year, so it must have some level of “moderate” support.

People naturally focus their attention on topics of interest to them, and those which “grab the headlines”. The extreme incarnations of religion are those most likely to affect our lives, and need to be addressed most urgently, so it’s natural that they get more attention. Terrorism, attacks on civil liberties, child abuse by clergy – all those are real-world problems that need to be tackled.

In that light, the “academic” questions might not seem as serious; however, there is a growing realization, in the free-thinking world, that even the silly side of religious belief can have serious long-term consequences. By teaching children the Bible or other scriptures as “truth”, you are teaching children that it’s OK to accept what you’re told by “authority”, without needing to question it.

Posted: June 14th 2007

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Seshat

As RTambree pointed out, Christianity covers a very wide spectrum. Each of them claiming to be the only “real” Christianity. No matter how Christianity is described, there is always going to be some “flavor” of it that is not going to match that description.

This may come as a surprise, but many atheists were believers at some point in their lives. They can talk about belief from personal experience. They have been to church, sang the songs, prayed the prayers, studied the Bible, and some have even thought they felt the hand of god upon them. I personally hit several points on the belief spectrum from catholicism all the way to extremely hard-core fundamentalism. I, and many other atheists, have seen Christianity from the inside.

Posted: June 11th 2007

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RTambree

There is a wide spectrum of what constitutes Christianity, from biblical fundamentalism where every word is literally true – even the ones that contradict each other – all the way to a vague notion of Christian morality being only preserved whereas all the miracles, virgin birth, resurrection, and other supernatural events are dismissed.

So when atheists criticise aspects of Christianity, there are always going to be people who say “that doesn’t describe us.”

Atheists are often perplexed by the 'a la carte’ approach to religion practiced by many moderate theists, i.e., they accept some propositions and reject others as inconvenient or anachronistic. All the nasty stuff about hell and demons is discarded, and only the cheerful stuff about God’s love is accepted as true.

In this sense, fundamentalists are more theologically self-consistent and “honest.” Either it’s all right or all wrong. However, if the universe is really like the way the Bible or Koran describes where one has to jump through certain hoops to guarantee an afterlife, then time on Earth can be unbearably stressful, as there is no guarantee one is jumping through the right hoops, or enough hoops.

In any case, there are plenty of Christians who do fit some of the caricatures criticised by atheists. In addition, there are common aspects of religion that fit all theists of any description: belief in a supernatural creator that personally intervenes and the notion of a soul which survives death, so when atheists dismisses these from lack of evidence, this dismissal applies to the beliefs of all theists.

Posted: June 9th 2007

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