I’m really not a fan of top XX lists. I think they’re just click bait and offer nothing more than what one person thinks. A Christian friend of mine, I’ll call her Jane Doe, sent me a link to one of these lists, 6 Eye Opening Things Atheists Think About Christians. Jane claimed to quit reading after the second item on the list, but I powered through to the end. This particular list is no less ridiculous than most lists, and really should be entitled, “6 Things Christians Think Atheists Think”. Worse yet, it’s written in that slide show style that makes people click through for every single item to artificially inflate page views, because, heaven forbid, the reader have to scroll down.
I’ll quickly mention the 6 points made in the list, then I’ll give you a list of six things atheists actually think about Christians. Or at least what first comes to my mind. I won’t presume to claim I know what anyone other than myself thinks.
1 – Unauthentic – Christians don’t act Christ-like. – I find that the “true” Christians complain about the insincere ones more than my atheist friends. Indeed, Jane, the friend that sent me this list owns a restaurant and has to listen to all the Christians gossip as they tear each other down every Sunday after their respective services.
2 – Intolerance – The author of the list suggests Christians can tolerate a sin without embracing the sin, citing homosexuality as the big example. Of the six, this is the only one I can see being on a real atheist’s list. I have heard many atheists call Christians out on their bigotry. The Christian response is usually something like: “*sniff sniff* Stop calling us bigots! God says it’s okay, so that means we’re not bigots. *sniff sniff* Don’t show me a dictionary! You’re being mean! You’re the bad guy! *sniff sniff*”
3 – Judgemental – I don’t think this of Christians. I think this of everybody. We’re all guilty of being judgemental. I honestly think this is a natural part of the human condition and we all should strive to improve.
4 – Hypocritical – The author mentions divorce rates, though I find it strange that Christians are so anti-divorce. The Bible specifically states that if the wife does something sexually immoral, then the man is free to divorce her, (Mathew 5:32) so long as he does not marry her again. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) The only real hypocrisy being that God’s laws don’t reciprocate to the woman. (Oops! Spoiler alert, for my list.)
5 – Confrontational – The author suggests Christians should listen more and be less confrontational, “It’s almost as if the focus of the Gospel of love has shifted into the Gospel of being right.”
6 – Sheltered & Isolated – “Be in the world, but not of the world” – This one was a bit of a shock to me. I’ve never considered Christians to be sheltered and isolated, but I can see it. I’ve lost friends that have converted to some Christian flavor because the first lessons they were taught was to shed themselves of their secular friends. I’ve always attributed this to the standard religious brain-washing techniques that most religious sects employ, but I guess the result is that they are sheltered and isolated.
Apparently, this is what Atheists think about Christians. Though as stated above, In reality, this is what one person thinks atheists think of Christians. Not surprisingly, it’s really too narrow in its scope. I would wager if you went through any atheists blog, no more than one, maybe two, of those topics would even come up let alone place in a top six category regarding the atheist’s thoughts on Christians.
I came up with 5 of the following very quickly and decided to consult my friend Moose to see what he’d come up with if I gave him 5 minutes. Not surprisingly, the first thing he mentioned was not on my list, but the next 3-4 things he mentioned were on my list, so I’d bet a fair number of atheists would have similar results. Maybe not.
Note: This is not the order with which I came up with this list, and I’m not asserting a hierarchy of any kind. The list is what it is, 6 things an atheist like myself (and Moose) thinks of Christians.
1 – The big Irrationality – Who’s right?
Why is your brand of Christianity the right one? I understand that most Christians think in terms of all the Christian denominations have merit and all of them can be a path to Yahweh. Some even think that any religion can be a path to Yahweh, but according to the Bible the only correct path is through Jesus. (This excludes Jews and Muslims from the path.) As for my grandmother’s generation, there was great animosity between creeds and who was right. I find it amusing that as Christian numbers have slowly waned the last couple of generations, that many of these minor differences between the denominations have been left in the rear-view mirror.
The obvious observation becomes, you’re a Christian because you were born into it. Leading to the question, if you’re born in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or any of the countries where Islam is the predominant religion, why wouldn’t you think Muhammed is the correct path to Allah? Would you be wrong? What of all the faiths that directly contradict the Abrahamic faiths?
Call it semantics if you want, but atheists don’t think of Christians as being confrontational when it comes to the “Who’s right” question. We wonder how a Christian can assert ANYTHING when faced with the probabilistic lottery of having been born into a faith. I have been told by a Christian that if he had been born in a Muslim household, he’d probably be a Muslim right now, and he’d still be correct in his beliefs.
I stopped the discussion there. If the person you’re conversing with has abandoned all sense of rationality, there is no sense in having a rational discussion.
2 – Misogyny
If you read anything I write about religion, 9 times out of 10 misogyny is going to be mentioned. The Yahweh, Jesus, Allah of the Abrahamic faiths are all patriarchal pigs. I’m not even going to waste my time saying any more about that. We all know it.
3 – Vile, hate-filled, jealous God
All kinds of apologetics have come about to explain why Yahweh is so all-loving and still manages to be such a dick. All I ever needed to read was Psalm 137:8-9 “O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Anyone who tells you to take your enemies babies and smash them against the rocks, is about as far from all-loving as it gets. And the first Christian that says those babies were not without sin and deserved to be punished, deserves to be alternately raped by walruses and polar bears.
4 – “You’re reading it wrong”
I can’t tell you how many different ways I’ve been told that if I am gleaning such awfulness from the Bible, then I am reading it wrong. The truth is, Christians just aren’t reading it. You never hear a Christian say, “There’s such a good parable about XXX. I learned this, from [Bible reference].”
However, you do hear them cite a line from one book, then another line from another book, then another line from yet another book, and so on. Very clearly cherry picking “sound bites” from an otherwise grisly text.
When we read in Judges 19 about a man throwing his concubine to a crowd of evil men to save himself, and in the morning when she is found dead he chops her into 12 pieces and sends one piece to each territory in Isreal, what exactly are we supposed to learn from this story? Oh yeah, we learn he’s the good guy because he raises an army to come back and crush the wicked evildoers.
When reading your book from beginning to end, or simply reading consecutive verses is “reading it wrong”. I think that says something about your book.
When pointing out the passages that say it’s okay to sell your daughter into slavery for 30 shekels of silver, that it’s okay to marry your daughter off to her rapist so long as the rapist has 50 shekels to reimburse you for your “loss”, and you act like those verses don’t apply to your Bible, that says something about you, the Christian.
5 – A la Carte Cafeteria religion – Over 2 billion served!
I once told my father that, “Christianity is an a la carte religion. One simply opens up the bible like a menu to create God in your own image by picking and choosing your beliefs.”
He responded, “Do you really believe that?”
“Of course, how else do you think 2 billion people could ever agree on anything?”
This is so true, my friend Jane agrees with me. She embraces it in fact. Another non sequitur atheists are forced to swallow. I’m supposed to make sense of the fact that your god commands something of you, but you don’t have to obey because somehow you know better than your god? If you can over-rule the creator of the universe, then why all the gay hate and no shell fish hate? Where are all the protests for making clothing out of more than one type of thread? Why aren’t Christians protesting pig farms slaughtering pigs to be eaten? Why don’t Chrisitan women divorce their husbands for trimming the hair near their temples and trimming their beards? Why don’t Chick-fil-A employees run around stoning other retail employees for working on Sunday? (Oh yeah, because the Sabbath is Saturday.)
6 – Delusions of Faith and Prayer
I could write pages on this alone. Christians seem to think that their faith and prayers provide them with something magical the rest of us do not have. This is demonstrably false, and yet they believe it anyway. For example, NO amount of faith and prayer is going to cure you of cancer. This has been shown through statistics using double blind studies. Despite all rationality, when someone prays, undergoes chemotherapy, and then surgery to remove a tumor, it’s God and the prayers that cured them. (Remarkably, the fact that their god gave them cancer seems to never get a mention.)
This system even has its own built in scape goat, namely, you! If your prayers go unanswered, it’s obviously your fault. You’re somehow inadequate and don’t deserve God’s love, apparently, God’s will is that you die of the cancer.
Worse yet, there’s icing on this cake. Televangelists prey on naive and desperate Christians claiming they’ll cure them of all their ailments (even financial ailments) if you just send them money. Seriously? How does this claim make it past the smell test? Christ went around healing sinners for free. Not that I believe that, but at least the Christians should!
If praying makes you feel good, then by all means do it. But don’t kid yourself into thinking that these softly mumbled words to a hate-filled, three-headed deity will have any impact on the real world.
Each of these six points is worthy of at least a half dozen pages each, but for the quick & dirty, this will have to do. What does everyone else got?