Why Do Atheists Ask Easily Explained Questions Or Lack Understanding Of Basic Christian Principles?

This is the post I wrote up for The Isaiah 53:5 Project on Friday. I thought I’d re-blog it here. I’m going to leave comments on so anyone who wants to comment or ask a question for next Friday, can do so here.

The Isaiah 53:5 Project

2000px-Christianity_symbols_Cross_Ichthys.svgThe question this week comes from the blog owner, James. I usually post on Friday but I’m going to post today because tomorrow is going to be super busy for me.

I’m going to answer it in parts because it’s a multi-part question and I think I’ll be able to answer it best in smaller bites.

So James starts with:

I was an atheist for the first 30 years of my life so I get what it means to lack a belief in God.  When I was an atheist however, I never had a very hard time understanding Christian theology, although I didn’t care for it or buy any of it, as it is taught and understood by Christians.

I can see why this might frustrate Christians, but I think the biggest mistake you make here is assuming that everyone:

  • Understands everything the same way you do. For example, to…

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  1. I may have done it this time at the isaiah project: James and his amazing arrogance just pushed the wrong button.
    But he’s right, why do we bother? Why not let the experts make them look bad, Ive got other things to do. This may never see the light of day over there, I’d be amazed if it did. I don’t think he realized how poorly he set that comment up, lol. I resisted the obvious, but still…

    James, youre absolutely right. this is a waste of time not only for me, but for all the regular Joe Christians who post here. Why do THEY bother? I mean, this is a place for only the expert christians, (my lips, god’s ear) the rest of us, atheist and christian are really wasting our time and yours. How dare any of us express an opinion. Really.
    I couldnt agree more. =)”

    • You’re going to get yourself banned like Ark! LOL.

      I think the thrust of James’ question was basically that atheists expect regular Christians to answer complex questions. Christians do this as well, when they ask questions about scientific questions like evolution. The difference is that atheism doesn’t answer the question of evolution.

      I think it’s reasonable to expect someone to be versed on a subject they readily admit they base their lives around.

      • i really dont care, frankly. I think he may just choose to ignore the whole thing. my take was, he’s saying “ordinary’ christians and “ordinary” atheists have no business discussing this. Leave it to the experts. Like, uh, the priests, the clergy? Jim and Tammy Faye?
        what he did, in my interpretation, was take the idea of discussion away from the people who want to discuss, discourse, whatever, to find answers or offer a few, regardless of their intellectual and spiritual accreditation. Commoners. sniff.

  2. According to James, questions about ‘basic Christian Principles’ should be left to ‘scholars and apologists’ to answer – surely some contradiction here? If they’re so ‘basic’, shouldn’t the blogger who drops them into the disciusion be able to explain them succinctly and effectively? I often pose such questions of bloggers who post about them or mention them in passing just to see if they can elucidate; essentially asking them to define their terms (as required in any undergraduate essay). Some can, some can’t, which, in the latter case, begs the question why they’re talking about them in the first place.

  3. I’m not sure how it wokrs of James’ blog, but my comment on this post on his blog never saw the light of day GC, Sorry.
    Maybe you should ask him about his moderation policy regarding those he has invited to write?

  4. I would still like to see a full-on post about the Blood Sacrifice – specifically the necessity of Jesus’ crucifixion.
    I really want to Christians confront this issue with a degree of hitherto unknown honesty.

    • Ritually in a lot of religions blood sacrifice is used, and this was, frankly, an ancient religion. There was no Christianity in those days, this was the Jews vs. Romans. Once you get that part, the blood sacrifices are comprehensible. the Bible was written by a people or People for whom ritual slaughter of animals and humans was commonplace. In many so-called primitive societies it still is.

      Christ, if he existed at all, was a handy martyr for the New Faith. I seriously believe that a lot of serious PR went into his growth as the Messiah, and a lot of “George Washington and the Cherry Tree” was involved. In those days too, crucifixion was a routine method of hanging thieves, malcontents, and people the Romans wanted removed for whatever reason.

      And after all, who followed Jesus around taking notes, eh? From birth??

      From my perspecitve, he was handy, and was used to further the new religion that was springing up. Religions need martyrs to get people’s attention, and still delight in blood sacrifice, only now it’s from a long distance perspective, tidied up for the churches. I dont think you ever will get the slightest doubt from any of them about its reality.
      We are all too willing to believe urban legends, the grimmer the better. Think of this as the oldest urban legend on record.

      • I am au fait with the ritual, and its (Christian) roots in Judaism but have yet to encounter a Christian who can fully explain why the necessity of the blood sacrifice of the character Jesus of Nazareth. Why would a god require his own death as a ”pay off” to himself.
        Why not simply say ”I forgive you”?

        They do end to avoid the answer God requires blood, which would make Yahweh no better than Quetzalcoatl
        ( Of course he is actually worse.)
        I don’t believe Christians can offer a rational answer anymore than they can offer one for the Trinity.

            • What are you, my medieval theology professor?
              If you don’t understand how Aquinas responds to your question, then I seriously doubt my capacity to do better in a WordPress comment thread.
              If you want to test my understanding, then you should have been a professor at my graduate school.
              You’re asking a decent question but it’s not at all clear to me that you’ve done the work necessary for us to have a casual-ish conversation about the answer. It is a complex and nuanced topic that requires much grounding in theology, christology, soteriology, and (for Aquinas’ version) Aristotelian logic to discuss in any other than a basic pastoral fashion (and if you want the pastoral version then, I don’t know, go ask a pastor?).
              Otherwise, your issue is akin to me insisting that a mathematician explain vector calculus to me in simple language, online, without me reading any other texts or having studied calculus after high school.

              • I have Summa Theologica and have even read parts of it.
                He uses theology to explain and justify.
                This was not my question, and if you cant explain it rationally then you don’t understand it. Which has been my thrust all along.
                Christians accept it because someone told them to.
                It is a ridiculous doctrine that requires a convoluted, ridiculous explanation, and, like the Trinity there is no rational basis for it.So one has to be made up.
                It is worse than a parent saying to a child: ”Because I said so.”
                And your attempts at sidestepping your own responsibility in this regard demonstrates you haven got a clue – as I suspected.

  5. Theology is still opinion. as is theism and atheism. It has to be from a personal standpoint, since we are at the center of what we believe. Someone else’s viewpoint is over there, or elsewhere, and no matter how much you may agree with them, its still their viewpoint.

    Belief is an opinion. We use it daily. I believe its going to rain. “nope’, says he, “I believe it feels more like snow.”

    I dont argue the belief system you have. Im cool with that. But I weary of asking a person to say, what do you believe and they hand me Theology 101, or as told to them by Thomas Aquinas. I might as well ask you what your favorite dessert was and you gave me a recipe for it that belonged to your Great Aunt Tilly.

    That’s all Im saying. You’re not giving me the short version of your particular belief system, you’re giving me the long version of someone else’s. If I asked you your name, would you give me the genealogy of your entire family, or the origins of your name, or would you just keep it simple, and say “Bob” or “Louisa”?

    • The questions and statements to which I was replying weren’t simple, so the answer can’t be. If you’re asking about my personal beliefs, that’s a different question but it’s also not something I can answer in a short form. [Feel free to read my blog if you’re genuinely interested.]
      I find it ridiculous, however, to compare questions about anyone’s guiding worldview to questions about dessert preference.

  6. You have referenced Aquinas so it is natural to presume you understand him.
    If you don’t you have no business referring him in the first place.
    So let’s not jump the gun and take it you do understand. Give us the brief version.
    Why was a blood sacrifice necessary?
    The answer, by the way can not be: ‘Because God said so.’

  7. I enjoyed your post, especially the puppy break.
    Like others have said, I can’t get past the point that he has a whole blog set up for the purpose of discussing Christianity, but doesn’t want people to take his word. What??

  8. Pingback: A Lesson On Haphazard Commenting | dfxc

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