Tuesday, 21 February 2012

the atheists vs the Christians

i'm getting a little upset by the whole atheist/ Christian thing. the Christians sometimes behave badly, the atheists point out the shortcomings of the Christians and they are entitled to do that, the Christians do nothing to redeem themselves. a life of faith turns into a joke or worse and i start to wonder if i should ever admit to darkening the door of a church, not because i dont trust the atheists but because i know i cant be perfect in the face of scrutiny.

let me address some of the issues....and some of the "issues"

  • i'm awfully sorry that religious themed Christmas stamps are foisted upon people who dont care for them. i had no idea it mattered. i dont notice religious imagery on stamps or cards or anywhere else until i am actually thinking of the Christmas story. to me it is just part of the mindless clutter that goes along with Christmas.
  • if you want to put the idea of the trinity in the "delusional" basket you are welcome. it's a hard concept to wrap ones head round and i view God as God most of the time. Jesus belongs to a specific time and place, the Holy Spirit is like the disembodied voice of God on the phone and God God, The God, is the name of the entity who covers all the understanding i have of who God is, all the incarnations, even though only one was incarnate.
  • i'm sorry about priests who abuse children, inspire fear, place guilt trips, rape parishioners. these people failed in a big way and the rest of us dont like it and power is abused and it's not acceptable but it's life. those acts and those people are not representative of the God i believe in.
  • suffering is no fun, thats why it is suffering and i dont like it any more than anyone else, especially where innocents are hurt but i do honestly believe that suffering does us good, not because i am obliged to say that but because it does. when we suffer we grow and God knows i get sick of growing sometimes but i like who it makes me.
  • i am sorry if you attend public events and are forced to endure prayers or bible readings you have no interest in (unless it's a church event, where you need to expect it) my opinion is that there is no need to impose my religious observance on others. i need to impose God on you by imitating Jesus in whatever way i am able but i dont think that arrogant display of religious practice is the way to go about that.
  • i have a total dislike of self congratulatory, self righteous styled Christian chain emails. i guess atheists dont get those and thank heaven they dont. Christians who do that kind of thing are just trying to convince themselves of their rightness but in all truth their belief in an incomprehensible deity will only be justified completely when they die. Until that time they should be humble with the knowledge that there is a possibility that its all a construct.
  • i dont really care who you have sex with and doubt Jesus does either, as long as it's respectful and honest. i say that easily but it's not really so easy and if you achieve it regularly you will be doing better than most.
  • i dont like the idea of abortion and i would always encourage people to find another way if they can but at the same time i believe firmly that most of us do the best we are able so if we really value the lives of the accidentally conceived there is a societal change needed, not judgement on women.
now let me paraphrase myself from a comment i made at snow's blog:

I am sorry that the church and individuals representing the church have done so much damage in the name of Christ. I understand the atheistic difficulty in believing in an incomprehensible and unprovable God and I struggle with theology, with suffering and with hypocrisy BUT a few years ago I met a Christian man who embodied my idea of who Jesus was. Loving everybody was a lifestyle rather than an emotion for him and it was a beautiful thing. At the end of the day, all doubts and difficulties aside, that is who I want to be, if it also gains me eternal life so much the better.

What bad you see in me is me, what good you see in me should be credited to my God.


  1. My only problem with your post is that you seem to--and I do mean "SEEM" because I have not read the backstory--be talking about atheists who have trouble with a good deal of what is being shown through the media as being a Christian point of view foisted on others. But later in your comments, I see perhaps I am mistaken.

    I DO feel that one particularly narrow view of Christianity is being held in front of many of us... and in the name of religious freedom we are told somehow that the government can and SHOULD start passing legislation that will, in fact impinge on my own moral and spiritual values.

    I think we are in a terrible tangle of ugliness from all sides. I often feel attacked for my own practice of Christianity from others who feel that THEY are THE Christians.

    So I'm thinking perhaps you were speaking to someone in particular who said he/she is an atheist? Cause I'm seeing far more going on than atheists vs "THE" Christians.

  2. I suspect I'm partly the motive for this post, Jeanette, as I've been exchanging a few comments with Kylie on Facebook!

    It must sometimes be hard for Christians, and believers generally, to maintain their faith when other Christians are doing things which so discredit and tarnish their religion and cause deep embarrassment and anger. Like the widespread hatred of homosexuals.

    My own position, as an atheist, is that other people have the absolute right to adopt religious beliefs of whatever kind if it helps them to make sense of their lives, endure painful circumstances, and become better people. We all need some kind of support in this daunting world. What I strongly object to is believers who try to foist their beliefs on others, like myself, when we're simply not interested. Like the funeral I went to recently where the person who died was lost sight of under the deluge of religious commentary and ritual.

    I should add that I personally have a lot of time for Buddhism, though it's a moot point whether it's a philosophy or a religion.

    Kylie, I hope I haven't offended or upset you. Please tell me if I have.

  3. jeannette,
    it's not a post i have thought through in a logical sense vis a vis which Christians and which atheists,i just thought about some of the arguments i have seen lately or the ones that are continually running and wrote down my response to them.

    it was indeed inspired partly by our exchanges on fb but also by the long term discussion snow has and by the gay marriage debate and so on.
    it was inspired by my wish at times to scream "but we are not all like that!!!!" in response to the criticisms of Christians and my disappointment when Christians are exactly "like that"
    you havent upset me, nick. i guess i get a bit confronted at times but a little confronting is a good thing. people die for their faith so i can manage some conversation.

  4. I don't really like to wade into a debate, but it seems that I am (!).

    I'm not a religious person, but I don't know if I classify myself as athiest. I don't have a hatred of people who believe in religion, or spirituality - in fact, sometimes, I'm quite jealous.

    In London, a few years back, there was a campaign posted on the red buses from religious groups saying that all non-believers would pay (or something like that) - this was retaliated with an athiest campaign of a similiar ilk. Nonsense in both respects.

    I don't mind the odd prayer or two, or hymns - I used to play in church when I was younger, but because I loved the piano. We should all be just let to wander our own path.

    Love ya Spesh xxx

  5. love ya right back, pete!

    the campaign with the buses is the kind of thing that gets me cranky! it annoys everyone with its arrogance

  6. "i have a total dislike of self congratulatory, self righteous styled Christian chain emails. i guess atheists dont get those"

    I've gotten scores of them (about religion, and patriotism, and religion intermixed with patriotism, and I've had mixed luck in getting people to stop sending them. The ones that I hate worst are the ones that tell me to not respond to whoever sent it if I disagree. Why in the hell not? They get to tell me--through the all too easy act of forwarding something someone else wrote--what they feel, but they don't want me to have the same privilege. Sometimes, some people's mail simply has to be relegated to the spam folder.

  7. Snowbrush has a point. I do get quite a lot of chain emails which are I think designed to point out the error of my ways.
    I am a firm believer in live and let live. I do not attempt to convert the religious (of whatever flavour) and hope they will do the same for me.
    And a good person is a good person whatever their label. And you fall into my good person category.

  8. Genuine Christian believers do it hard when "Christians" act and behave in totally unchristian ways.
    The Muslim moderates and genuine practitioners of this Abrahamic religon must be bitterly affected when accused of being terrorists. That is if one is a Muslim many then say by definition almost you are a jihadist. I even heard one pastor say that because your language is Arabic then by definition you are Muslim, a terrorist,a trouble maker. What a shock he got on discovering that Lebanese Maronites are Roman Catholics!
    Christians and many other sorts of believers are always on the back foot (cricket term describing a defensive batting stroke) in having continually to "prove there's a God."
    Atheists are never asked to prove beyond doubt there is no God.
    The troubles in Northern Ireland was about the have nots v the haves.
    Unfortunately way back in history it was of sectarian origins.
    Hallelujah. Me? I'm a faux Methodist belonging to The Salavation Army. Never guess would you!

  9. Peter- As an atheist, I don't hate those who believe in religion or spirituality. I simply don't share the same views. Hatred is a totally negative emotion.

    As you say, we should all be just left to wander our own path.

  10. *shrug* The beauty of humanity is everyone gets to choose which cult of religion they want to follow.

    Even Atheism falls under the definition of religion. It's all good because none of it matter other than what you find and follow in your heart. That spirit which created all knows all the different brands we use and i doubt that the spirit really gives two shits or a bunch of grapes about human theology,but how we meet the requirements for humanity. some fall far short and some go far beyond the bar.

    I have no right or will to tell you how you should or shouldn't think or live. That is all your choice and if you are doing wrong and thinking with your heart it is right then how am i to say it is wrong?

    The only thing that cheeses me off about religions all, is they tend to preach politics of the secular from the pulpit but then think they should receive government money and pay no taxes. I think they should be all self supporting by their adherents and pay taxes as every other for profit business does.

    Beyond that be what you are, if you want to thump a sacred text feel free just do not be offended when I offer opposition opinion or simply walk away.

  11. Sounds to me like you're on an even keel Kylie. Personally, I'm pretty much fed up with Christians and Atheists alike. Each claiming the other at fault when they share the blame equally. Don't know how it is down under, but up here in the States religious organizations are tax-exempt in the guise of separation of church and state. Walking Man is right, they should pay their fair share and get on with it. They benefit from the national defense, police protection, and an educated populous as much as anyone else.

    I believe St. Thomas Aquinas said it all when he described God as a being greater than that which man can imagine. With that one, he confounded philosophers for centuries. Geez, wish I could do that.

  12. First off I do believe there are genuinely lovely people who are passionate about their religion and show through their actions a sense of duty, compassion, love and respect for all humankind (for example visiting the immigration hostel .. Kylie..) instead of just preaching about how fabulous they are compared to outsiders who shock horror do not choose the same path as them.

    What peeves me is the fact a lot of churches claim to be tax exempt as a religious institution, however will happily offer the choice of the bowl or an eftpos machine to make your forced donation as a parishioner constitutues a business in my view...

    Call a spade a spade..

  13. I don't see why you should apologise for others. Not your fault. I'm an athiest but I don't wear it like a badge and certainly don't see why others have to be fanatically athiest. Seems to be the same as being fanatically religious. My only objection is the intrusion of religion (of any kind) into politics.

  14. I have been hovering over this comment box for an hour now. Type, delete, type, delete...

  15. My personal view is pretty simple I suppose: Let everyone believe what he or she wishes with no desire to impose those beliefs on others. I'm sure all of us on this planet will be surprised when we pass from this life.... :-)

  16. snow,
    i guess with your outspoken atheism it's a red rag to a conservative and threatened Christian bull and you are right, you should have right of reply. put them in spam never to be seen again, i say!

    elephants child,
    thank you for putting me in the good books!
    its interesting, isnt it, how the "good" dont realise that maybe they should allow people to make their own path

    walking man,
    you are right, of course, in the final wash up it's all about what kind of human being we are.
    i hadnt realised there was so much ill feeling with regard to taxes. i dont regard churches as business enterprises but i am aware that they behave like them often, maybe it is time for a re-think, either on the part of the churches or on the part of the state.

    mr charleston,
    see what i said to walking man with regard to taxes....i have to put some thought in to that one but you may have a point.

    if we could all remember that statement from St Thomas Aquinas we might save a lot of heartache. thanks for that one.

    as i said to the fellas, i hadnt thought a whole lot about the tax issue. i know that the general work of the Salvation Army is subject to controls as any other charity but individual churches are accountable only to their congregations which may or may not be a good thing.

    i dont mind if politicians like to bandy around their personal religious affiliations but if they want to do that be sure i will judge them accordingly.

    you really shouldnt have wasted an hour on my ramblings :)
    but i'd still like to know what you think

    yes! we most definitely will be and i hope it's a good surprise!!


go on, leave a comment or four.