Does Christianity Deserve the Respect it Demands?

By Bret P

2006-08-22 - Road Trip - Day 30 - United State...Image by Wellington Grey via Flickr

Christians seem to whine a lot about how they're ridiculed and disrespected in the media, and how this fallen world is somehow persecuting them. I think it's an absolutely laughable claim, especially here in the United States where Christians have far more influence on public and foreign policy than they should.

Now of course there is a spectrum of attitude among the entire Christian community, but I think it's safe to say among the evangelical (basically Protestant non-liturgical) denominations they believe they're being portrayed unfairly by a liberal, intellectually elite media (insert laugh about Fox News here).

Here's a list of my top 10 reasons (listed in no particular order) why Christianity shouldn't be given the respect it demands (and in many cases, should be ridiculed):

• Suspension of Critical Thought - Have "faith like a child" and "lean not on your own understanding". Basically, don't think for yourself, and if you question any logical fallacy, your pastor and fellow flock members can give you plenty of explanations.

• Promotion of Scientific Illiteracy - Evolutionary biology in it's entirety is as much a fact as the earth's orbit around the sun. It's not a matter of opinion, and there is no "alternative" explanation. The bible is not by default correct, nor does it have the authority to trump scientific evidence. Humans were not "created", and it's unlikely that some unseen intelligence put everything into motion (and if you have some tangible evidence to the contrary that is testable, replicable, and not from scripture, I'd love to see it).

• Willful Ignorance and Mistrust of the Scientific Community - When I've asked Christians to define the theories they oppose (evolution, abiogenesis, and universe origins), it's clear that they don't understand them (or the scientific method for that matter). When I offer resources to clarify the theories (with evidence), the usual response is "I'm too busy", or an outright "I don't care to know, and wouldn't believe it if I did see it".

• Intricate Maneuvering of Tough Questions - Ask a Christian the tough questions about contradictions, the suspicious origins, historical inaccuracies, and downright absurdities of the bible, the nature of god, and so on. Most likely you'll get a wide range of parroted responses that are rather elaborate, and in turn create more questions than answers. If it were all true, wouldn't it be pretty simple and straightforward?

• Blatant Dishonesty - Creationist propaganda alone is enough to prove the point. There's no way around it; creation apologists blatantly lie without excuse. What does the scientific community have to gain by lying about its evidence and theories? Nothing! A better understanding of our world helps us make progress, and it improves our quality of life. What do creationists (and subsequently churches) have to lose? A whole lot of tithing, that's what. There's also blatant political propaganda on which party you should vote for (ever so subtle), that gays and lesbians are detrimental to family values, and that our wars are justified because we have god on our side to help us eradicate evil.

• Extraordinary Claims - Do I really have to present the long list of absurdity? To believe in any of it, your critical thought process has to pretty much be eliminated. Christianity claims to factually know the origins of the universe, the earth, life on the planet, and ultimately the future of humankind without sufficient tangible evidence. Christianity also rejects any reasonable argument and tangible evidence against their claims, while demanding respect. And apologists say non-believers are arrogant and closed minded?

• Repulsive Attitudes - What is god's obsession with blood? For millennia he required blood sacrifices for atonement of sin. Of course the ultimate blood sacrifice of Jesus was a human one (and it changed all the rules!). How is a bloodthirsty god who accepts human sacrifice (if you look in the old testament, there are plenty of other human sacrifices) better than any other god? And why does god need to sacrifice Jesus (who is also himself) to appease himself when he created humanity fallible in the first place? Also checkout the long list of atrocities (rape, genocide, slavery) that are condoned (no matter which testament you read).

• Cherry Picking Theology - As we become more civilized, the bible becomes less palatable, but apologists will continue to preach the divinely inspired universal truth of the bible, frequently claiming the new testament trumps the old. The good things Jesus said (like the Beatitudes) are highlighted, but you forget that Jesus is also god (and the same god of the old testament). As mentioned above, that old testament god condoned slavery, rape, and genocide (and within any context is repulsive). Even Jesus condoned (not condemned) slavery. Yes, Jesus was passionate about his ideals (that were well ahead of his time), but he also had a lot of crackpot ideas that most modern Christians don't follow (like abandoning your family, killing people who deny Christ, selling your home and all worldly possessions to give to the poor).

• Atonement - God created humans, knowing that they weren't going to be perfect. When the first humans sin, all subsequent generations are cursed because of this. So basically you're born a rotten human being, repulsive in god's eyes, but he loves you so much, you just have to believe in Jesus so that he won't have to torment you in hell for all eternity. That really can't be good for anyone's self esteem.

• Absurd Worldview - Christians are apparently not citizens of this world, as it's just a temporary place to prepare for the afterlife. Why bother making this world a better place for humanity when it's all going to be destroyed soon once the rapture happens and the apocalypse destroys the planet? I know from personal experience that most evangelical Christians view a global economy and government as a sign of the antichrist appearing. It explains why so many Americans (dominated by Christian ideals) are notoriously opposed to globalization (although you'd think they'd be all for it, if it would speed up Christ's return). Personally, I'd like to see the evidence for an afterlife. Modern science shows us that there's no reason to believe that consciousness continues after our brains die (because the mind is the function of the brain).

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I just think it's amusing to list some of these things. I'm surrounded by people who believe this stuff, but of course I do not deny their right to do so, nor do I devalue them as human beings. Nonetheless, it shouldn't come as a surprise when the media ridicules, criticizes or portrays Christianity in a less than favorable light.

And on that note, I would like to make a final point. Christianity tends to ridicule it's Mormon and Jehovah's Witness cousins (like the kooky family members no one likes to talk about it), although they unite on the political front. I think the cult spawns of Christianity are slightly more absurd, but Christians really shouldn't throw stones. Christianity is just as ridiculous, it just has a larger following.

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