(As you can tell by the title, I decided to break this down into parts. I have so much to say and not enough time to put it into one cohesive post, so I am going to take this in parts.)
For whatever reason, I read a fair number of things written by atheists. I’m really not sure why.
It might be my ego wanting to make sure that I didn’t miss some really good reason to not believe in God that would leave me looking like a fool if I hadn’t heard about it.
It might be that I feel strongly that any belief worth having is worth challenging on a regular basis, which would also explain why most of my daily read are liberal blogs.
It might be that I know my boys will eventually face all of the leading criticisms against faith in God, and then some, so I want to be able to prepare them for it. After all, If I can’t respond to an atheist’s charge against my faith, how can I expect to answer the even tougher questions my children will come up with?
My guess is that all of those reasons play a factor.
At any rate, I think it’s time I addressed some of the more common things I read that atheists say that are untrue or otherwise irritating.
I began writing this inclusive of all religions, but I think I should just go ahead and get specific to my own beliefs. I am a Christian. Not just any Christian; one of those conservative evangelical Protestant nut-jobs that believes that God is the Creator and that I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I might as well be up front about it. I promise not to quote from the Bible, but I might throw in a line or two from a Christian rock song, for added lyrical value.
The classic non sequitur that find particularly annoying, mostly for the fact that it is a lazy refusal to engage in a meaningful dialogue, is that the only reason people are Christians is because their parents were. Not only is this completely dismissive of the capacity a person has to question one’s parents’ beliefs, but it completely ignores that fact that (1) many people raised Christian leave the church and (2) many people who are religious do not have the same beliefs as their parents.
I found this survey that indicated that “In the U.S. about half (48%) of adults who stated they have religious beliefs say they share the same as both of their parents.” I didn’t have time to dig into the reliability of that number, but I have always heard that, among evangelicals, there is a fairly hight percent who do not have the same beliefs as their parents.
Anecdotally, my husband and I do not share the religious beliefs of our parents and most of the people I know that are Christians do not either, including every person who has played a direct role in my walk, except one.
I was raised to distrust and avoid organized religion. And further, the one thing that has caused the largest rift between my mother and I, who have always been very, very close, is my strong commitment to Jesus. She is noticeably uncomfortable with it. Not that I shove it down her throat or anything, but I cannot talk about what is going on in our lives without it coming up because He plays a huge role in our lives. So, my faith has come at the expense of some very important relationships.
Other than the fact that it is just insulting and untrue in my case, this claim bothers me because my kids will hear it, but it will be applicable to them. They will have been raised going to church, praying to God, praising Jesus, and, yes, memorizing scripture. The Devil will have a foothold with this one when it comes to them, but I think they will be able to see through it. All the more reason why it is important for me to know what kind of crap they will be hearing in the world.
In part two, I will examine the charge that religion requires blind faith.