Here is more on why I am debunking Christianity. I will append this page to my previous entry here. WarrenL has offered an intelligent and thoughtful response to what I wrote, so I’ll respond here.
WarrenL is in blue. I am in red.
Motivations are indeed multifaceted and I do agree with all those listed. But I have always believed that the heart of Christian apologetics is to provide an answer for the hope we have, as opposed to simply presenting an argument. That implies that a question needs to be posed first.
What's wrong with me providing a response to those Christians who provide an answer for the purported hope they have? If the Christian hope is true, then I should change my thinking and my lifestyle, according to them. So Christians are telling me I should change, and I respond by telling them I don't have to because the arguments are not there. Surely because of the claims of Christianity I should respond. At least I'm not just ignoring them. I'm giving them a response.
What I do notice is that Triablogue address a range of diverse topics; atheism, Islam, Mormonism, Roman Catholic theology etc. You on the other hand only address one, Christianity. Am I to assume that there is nothing else that grips your interest as much as Christianity? If not then for something that you have walked away from it sure dominates your life.
We merely have a specific limited topic here, to debunk Christianity. Triablogue's agenda is necessarily more general, because if they are correct, then every other religion must be wrong. We'll let them argue with every other religion. They can do that for us. All that's left for us to do is debunk Christianity.
Still, atheism by definition is in opposition to every Theistic religion regardless of what Christianity says about them. If your mission is successful and you ever manage to debunk Christianity will you then turn your attention to those other religions? I get the impression that in your mind perhaps the others are not worth debunking because they have no merit.
As a former Christian apologist I debunked all of the other religions that I had studied. I had previously rejected them as a Christian. Having already done that, the only thing left is to debunk Christianity.
There are many ideas out there that even you have to admit are at least as or even more dangerous than Christianity. Why aren’t you as passionate about those?
Militant Islam is presently far worse to me, although militant Christianity has been far worse at some periods of the past. I'm not as knowledgeable about Islam so I let others do it for me see here.
Surely you disagree with more in the world than just Christianity. Why is that your personal bug bear? It still seems that Christianity is the defining centrality to much of your existence.
It is a rejection of a past I spent far too long defending. It's my way of confirming what I believe, and at the same time helping others who suffer under its wings like I did for far too long.
I have tried to put myself in your position and I think that unlike you, if I ever lost my faith, my pursuits would be entirely different. I wouldn't want to waste anymore of my time in dissecting the Christian faith or trying to 'save' those pigheaded Christians. But then you and I are very different.
Yes we are. As a philosophy instructor I enjoy discussing and debating ideas, and I know the most about Christianity. Debating sharpens my mind. And just like the artist who looks as her finished painting and admires it, I like looking at what I’ve created too when I'm finished writing. I like looking at it and thinking to myself from time to time “Now that’s good.”
I will also have to disagree with your distinction between thoughts and actions. It’s true that one can think something and not actually do it. But thoughts do influence attitudes and actions. It’s funny how I always start disliking my house about the same time I stop watching HGTV, even though I have a great house. Think enough about sexy naked women and after a while your wife will pale by comparison.
I never said thoughts do not influence actions. But fantasy is just that, if recognized for what it is as a psychologically healthy adult. Besides, it's psychological harming to deny one his fantasies. Kids grow up pretending all the time. It's who we are as human beings. If you cannot fantasize about being rich you'll never be rich, for instance. And fantasizing about kicking the shit out of someone may be all the release a healthy individual needs, so long as he's a psychologically stable person. As a man, you struggle with lust, don't you? Sure, we must all contain our thought world, but I find no guilt in a lustful thought. And as a man, I do have them, just like every man does. Women may not understand it, and they may condemn it all they want to, but it’s biology baby. And I don’t have to feel guilty for this anymore. I just have to recognize it for what it is, fantasy, and leave it there, which I can easily do. Besides, "Most of our emotions and desires are involuntary and cannot be controlled, so to condemn them as wrong causes unnecessary guilt and psychological harm." --Michael Martin.
You are right though; Christians do struggle with their thoughts. To be honest I certainly don’t beat myself over inappropriate thoughts or actions. I know I am human and I know I’ll battle these for the rest of my life, BUT grace has been extended without me having to earn it. I do the things I do out of joyful obedience not to earn points. Ah, the freedom and joy of being forgiven. (loaded words I know.)
In my opinion Christianity is an extremely guilt producing faith, and I only realized it after I left it. Even though I knew it was by grace that I had been saved, I almost always felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough in response to God’s love. Whether it was spending time in prayer, evangelizing, reading the Bible, tithing, forgiving someone who had done me wrong, or whether it was struggling with temptations of lust, pride, selfishness and laziness, I almost always felt guilty. It may just be because I was so passionate about Christianity that this was the case, and so it just might be my particular temperament. But I never could understand how Christian people could come to church every Sunday and never get involved much in the Church’s programs, because that’s what believers should want to do. To be quite frank here, if Christians really believed that the non-Christian was going to hell, and that God loved them enough to send his Son to die for them on the cross, then how would they behave? How many true believers are in the churches today? The bottom line is that a vast number of Christians do not experience freedom and a full life, in my opinion. The fear of God and hell can and does dominate their thinking, even if they may not fully realize this until after they leave it.
I don’t really know what Christian circles you moved in but I have never been shunned for expressing doubts and I have had my fair share.
Translated: "I move in better Christian circles than you did (a standard type rebuttal which I have no privy information to assess its merits).
Are there any inherent dangers with atheistic views? May I suggest you ask the 30-50 million victims of Stalin and Pol Pot. Even the grossest estimates of the infamous Spanish Inquisition pale in comparison. See sometimes I also tend to paint in broad brush strokes. Now I know that you are not a that kind of atheist and that's not what atheism is about, so I’ll try refrain from lumping you in with Stalin et al as long as you distinguish between those with true Christian ideals and those who have hijacked a distorted view of Christianity for their own means.
But who speaks for Christianity? Who? There are at present 45,000 different denominations. To whom do I go to for information on what a Christian thinks and behaves and to find which political party and which social issues to support? Hijacking? Which ones? Amish people today would say that you’ve hijacked Christianity. There was a time when Christians argued from the Bible that they could own slaves as pieces of meat, and beat them within an inch of their lives. This would have been the overwhelming majority opinion of their day. If you believe what you do today, you would have been the outsider in their day. They would claim that you had hijacked Christianity.
I believe there are evil people who will use any ideology to their own sadistic ends. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, and all religions, or none at all. The question is which ones are used most by these evil people to justify their evil actions? Does atheism fare better or Christianity? I don't know. But my guess is that percentage-wise, atheists are better educated than others, and better educated people are usually better people toward others, even if there are exceptions to this. While I don't have a statistical study on this, this stands to reason. Better educated people know that violence breeds violence and that nothing much is solved by violence. They would also have a much greater tendency to rationally discuss the issues they wish to change, and to properly evaluate the reasons why they might seek to do someone harm. Nevertheless, there are people with Freudian "Death Wishes" everywhere, regardless of what they believe. They are suicidal by degrees. Some Christians feel they have committed the unpardonable sin, or that God cannot forgive them, so they no longer care what they do to others, or themselves.
When I think of one of the greatest secular failures of all time, the USSR, I can so easily apply the terms class struggles, homophobia, racism, mass neurosis, intolerance and environmental disasters. Please don’t tell me you honestly believe that these will be eliminated by getting rid of Christian (religious)influence. So just how does atheism address the natural tendency for self preservation and dominance?
In the first place, secularism didn't fail with the demise of the USSR. Leninism did. Lenin hijacked Marxism for his own powerseeking purposes. Lenin does not speak for the rest of us atheists today. Modern atheism addresses your worries through education and in understanding the different viewpoints of others. Once that is accomplished we can no longer say of someone that they are stupid and hate them merely because we have disagreements. Education fosters tolerance. And while no one can be tolerant of everything, we can be tolerant of different viewpoints, even while disagreeing with them. A heightened tolerance level on BOTH sides of the fence would go a long way to resolving differences around the world, between Jew and Muslim, between warring factions in Africa, and even between Christians and atheists. For instance, Christians think atheists cannot be trusted because they do not have a standard for “objective” morality. But once you live next to an atheist, study at his feet, and/or become her friend, you learn differently. Education means being exposed to different ideas and different experiences. Tolerance is the result. Atheists also promote laws that grant everyone the right to believe whatever they want to, which would exclude any kind of thecratic rule, be it Muslim, Jewish or Christian.
I would particularly like to see the ‘strong case’ that Christianity contains considerably more violence and destruction than that of the other major religions. Where’s the proof? I can similarly say that the history of a secular worldview contains more violence and destruction than most of the other major worldviews. Particularly if I lump in fascism, national socialism, communism and the like.
If you as a Christian have to even make the case that Christianity fares better than atheism, then you've already lost the debate, because it's not obvious. Here's why: The Christian is the only one who claims that God the Holy Spirit resides in him. And according to the Bible the Holy Spirit helps the Christian to understand the things of God, and also helps him to behave. But Christians do not act noticeably better than non-Christians, and it's partly because the Christian doesn't seem to understand what God purportedly wants him to do. Where was the Holy Spirit's guidance in the lives of the Christians during WWII, or during American Black Slavery, or the Crusades, or the Inquisitions and witch hunts and heresy killings? Hitler's Germany was a part of the Protestant Reformation. Germany was a Christian nation! And yet we know what happened during WWII. A Christian nation acted worse than non-Christian nations? You've already lost the debate, because as a Christian you must claim that you alone have a truly powerful God helping you to behave and think right. If Christianity makes people better why isn’t it obvious?
The Christian God was definitely not created in our image. What would motivate anyone to create a God other than one who caters to all our desires, wants and excesses? Why create a God that we have no hope of pleasing in the first place. Trust me if I was part of that committee we wouldn’t have ended up with the Christian God. Point in case - you spend most of your time trying to prove how repugnant he is. And we created him, all by ourselves? How? Why? To control; that can be done without religion. To highlight how weak and incapable we are. Right.
The ancients were fearful of death and they pondered the mysteries of their dreams. Life was dreadful and very demanding of them. People died young. There were battles to be fought with the beasts and with other nations. So they envisioned a God who was demanding. It's not that they wanted to create an ice cream and cake giving God; it was that life was scary, hard and demanding. There must be a dreadful, demanding, and hard God too. And in the hands of the producers of religion who offered acceptable answers to life (priests and prophets), it gave these producers power over the masses, for if the people disobeyed God's messenger or priest, they would face God's supposed wrath. It was all so quite convenient for the producers of religion who offered explanations of dreams and the mysteries of a lifeless body. They gained power, fame, and money over the consumers of religion (the masses). But if they created a religion that was merely ice cream and cake, the people would no longer fear the producers of religion, and the producers would not receive power, fame and money. Besides, ancient people would not have believed in an ice cream and cake giving God, anyway, since life was very hard, demanding, and scary. To read more on this whole topic, please take the time to read this
Actually I like being deluded (though obviously I don't think I am). Within my worldview I can explain most of what goes on in my world. So please don't try 'save' me and I'll try not to 'save' you. I'll try simply provide an answer for the hope that I have. Albeit rather poorly.
But then what do you have to say about the Bill Craig's in the world who argue that Christianity is correct, and I'll rot in hell if I don't believe? They're trying to "save" me, even if you're not. So long as people like that are out there I can argue against them all I want to. If that means you get caught up in the middle between us, preferring to be left alone and also preferring to leave people like me alone, I cannot control that. You don't have to listen in. You don't have to assume that what I write is about you, either. It's only directed at apologists like Bill Craig who think I'll rot in hell if I don't agree, and that's a charge that I must respond to, if for no other reason because my own life is at stake if he’s correct. He's claiming that if I disagree that's what will happen to me, and I object very strongly to such a challenge on behalf of everyone who reads that challenge, since it is so extremely guilt producing, and since many people don't know how to adequately respond to challenges like that. But I think I do, and so I speak out.