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Anyone Else Frustrated By Secular Skeptics Who Don't Understand Theology But Criticize It Anyway?


tylereverett
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I find that I've really started to enjoy listening to arguments against Christianity by skeptical voices.  Yet one of the things that really bothers me is when well-meaning secular humanists will go after Christians without really knowing what they are talking about.

 

I'll give you an example.  One I hear a lot is when people "refute" anti-gay arguments by asking christians if they eat shellfish or pork.  The logic goes, if you eat shellfish or pork, your clearly in violation of the scriptures, so your just as bad as homosexuals.  

 

Thats a huge misunderstanding of theology.  Christians don't believe the old testament regulations apply to them anymore.  The primary argument against homosexuality is NOT in Leviticus.  Its actually in Romans 1.  But a lot of secularists don't seem to understand it.  Its really irritating because they aim high and miss the point entirely.  

 

Here's a really good example of a video from secular talk "de-bunking" John MacArthur.  I really like secular talk but the host just doesn't get it at all.  He does have some good points but I feel like if he really understood the theology behind it he could much more effectively deconstruct it.  

 

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I don't see it that way.  Most Christians do not realize that their scriptures are sourced from many different religions so they are full of hypocrisy.  Yes it is true that Paul waved away the entire Old Testament with the stroke of a pen.  But Christians are not consistent with implementing it.  Nor do they stop to think about who was this mortal man who did away with the laws of God.  Trying to get inside of Christianity and debate theology from inside Christian apologetics is the wrong way to go.  Yes, I have endured a lifetime of sitting in church and listening to some con artist excuse every contradiction in the Bible.   Christians will do more of the same unless they get confused and then they will shut down until they can talk to a spiritual authority.

 

I had to become an atheist to learn more about the Bible.  Once I realized the Bible is just the work of ignorant men I learned more on my last read through then in all the decades as a Christian put together.  So to me that Christian theology is laughable.

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if you , rather, christians, disniss the OT, then they are dismissing orginal sin, the premise of christianity.

i when debating christians, dont let them away with the argument that the OT no longer applies.

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The OT applies when they want it to. Attempting to mount a logical argument against faith is useless anyway, so why bother worrying about which brand of Christian, which bucket of doctrines you're up against?

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Tyler,

 

I must confess I was probably not the theological master you are. However, I did notice this. I have been mainly drawn to naturalist / scientific skeptical atheist sources. However, I realized I would eventually have to answer questions from a theological standpoint to family who find out I'm an atheist. Most of them, fortunately, I think will not try and debate me anymore, since they tried on a scientific level and lost being they are not scientists or engineers, and just got frustrated. My wife calls that 'stressful and unproductive'.

But I find John Loftus to be very convincing from a theological standpoint. A Christian higher-up who went atheist. I have read two of his books: Why I Became An Atheist and The End Of Christianity.

The latter is really good because it demonstrates the Christian apologists eating each other for lunch.

But anyway, I think you're right. We can't win a theological argument by doing their theology wrong. My Wife has corrected my misunderstandings at times, She has a certificate of ministry readiness. While She is now convinced I am in need of spiritual experience, instead of arguing by people, I still took her words. After all, even as a Christian, nothing drove me through the wall worse than the apologists misrepresenting science. The way they argue against evolution is completely straw man.

Now, I have not agreed with evangelicals about gay people since the RepubliChristian days in my early 20s, I can see precisely what you're saying. If we want them to respect us, we have to argue their points fairly. Their apologists are mainly lawyers. Ours are mainly scientists. Two different species, practically. And they have lawyerly excuse for their behavior in misconstruing us. We rationalists, not so much. As atheists, we understand the Bible is cobbled together. But if the Christians are saying the old testament is irrelevant, perhaps we have to ask them why they refer to certain old testament commands. Then, people like my wife will say, that the old testament commands that are relevant are the ones mentioned in the new testament.

I agree with the poster that says Paul appears to strike it all away. But Christianity is, even if they will not admit it, a Pauline religion. I know as a Christian, I read Paul's letters more than anything else in the New Testament, and that's typically what you're told to do.

He does write like a combination Greek philosopher / Christian apologist.

I think my question for Christians is, should we disallow all behaviors mentioned in Romans 1? And why is it, then, that most nonbelievers and apostates are heterosexuals? If you believe Romans 1, it seems we who reject Christianity should all magically turn gay.

Without bringing up seafood and clothing laws from the old Testament, we still have plenty of compelling arguments from the New.

If we're arguing for the rights of gay people, it won't do gay people any good for us to try and explain to Christians how the Bible itself is cobbled together and inconsistent.

No easy answers here, but I get what you're saying.

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To me the approach in dealing with various issues against Christians is not to assume anything. For example, if the issue is about gays and the Christian posits that it is a sin, then ask them for their authority for making the statement. If they say fro Romans, then handle the issue one way. On the other hand, if they say something like God condemned it in Leviticus, then asking them if they eat shellfish is a valid argument.

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I was a christian for 30 years and was educated from elementary school through college in christian institutions (hold a minor in biblical studies) and I am still not sure it is even possible to understand christian theology.

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Wow talk about lot of responses.  I think maybe some missed my point.

 

Of course, I think the theology is contradictory in a lot of ways and obviously it varies from sect to sect, denomination to denomination, and person to person.  

 

What frustrates me, though, is the complete confidence people have when they say "WHY DIDN'T YOU SHAVE YOUR FACE?? YOUR A SINNER!! HYPOCRITE!  WHY DO YOU EAT SHRIMP?  WHY DO YOU NOT WEAR CERTAIN CLOTHS A CERTAIN WAY?  YOU DON'T EVEN BELIEVE!!"  

 

Its an EXTREME oversimplification.  I remember when I was a Christian, arguments like that would make me dismiss atheists outright.  Christians believe that atheists, agnostics, and ALL other non believers' minds are darkened.  They don't "see the light."  And ignorant and shallow arguments do nothing but confirm that to the more intelligent believers who might be convinced by a stronger argument.  

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if you , rather, christians, disniss the OT, then they are dismissing orginal sin, the premise of christianity.

i when debating christians, dont let them away with the argument that the OT no longer applies.

I know a lot of christians do this, but the more intelligent and theologically grounded Christians don't dismiss the old testament.  Its not that it is dismissed, its that it had a time and place.  When I was in the thick of it, I believed the Old Testament was 100% inspired and word of God.  But I didn't believe I had to follow the book of Leviticus.  It was the Old Covenant, and in Christ the New Covenant applied.  

 

So when people use the logic of Leviticus to point out "hypocrisy," they are missing the point of the New Testament, and it weakens any argument they might have because they appear ignorant to the believer.  Hope that makes sense.  

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I think the Leviticus argument is more well-grounded than you may be giving it credit for, but in general I absolutely agree. As much as I hate Jesus, here are some arguments I wish people wouldn't use against his cause:

 

- "The Bible is a translation of a translation." Modern translations are taken from Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, so no this isn't true.

 

- "The Bible is full of contradictions." This one is true, but if you're going to say it you better be able to point to a couple on command. I hear lots of people who don't know their Bibles say this.

 

- "The Bible is racist." Wrong. The Bible is pro-slavery and promotes nationalist/political division. Of all the evils the Bible does teach, it doesn't say that blacks (or whatever race) are evil due to their skin color. Feel free to prove me wrong, and I'll use your argument when I attack the Bible.

 

- "Jesus wasn't born on December 25." I know not one Evangelical who thinks he was.

 

Suffice it to say, people shouldn't talk nonsense, especially when the goal is to comvince someone to stop practicing a wicked and depraved religion such as Christianity.

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Everyone has their own reasons for believing/disbelieving. I now find myself among the disbelievers, but there are numerous arguments against belief in the truth of the Bible or its god that I still disagree with as much as I did when I was a Christian. Arguing from a position of ignorance is never a great idea, but I think everyone is guilty of it at one time or another.

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Well it's completely true if they're going to bash gay people like myself with bullshit then they must apply the rest of the bullshit to themselves first. But since the entire buybull is bullshit I don't see how it really matters anyway. I'm tired of gay people gotten verbally and physically beaten by this piece of shit known as the buybull. Fuck it all

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Well, it's somewhat complicated.  Yes, it's true that Paul swept away the OT Law, even while that's not really true for the Jesus character.  Yes, it's true that both OT and NT writers are in the Fred Phelps camp when it comes to homosexuality.  If it wasn't for the NT condemning it along with the OT, it would be hard to single those verses out from ones with petty restrictions of what to eat, what to do with your hair, your clothes, etc.  They're in pretty close proximity in Leviticus, and the only thing that makes eating shrimp less bad than gay sex is that the NT continues to rant about gay sex.  Then there's slavery, which is condoned in both testaments.  Notice how Christians conveniently downplay that and deselect it in their cherry picking instead of defending the institute of slavery as endorsed, or at least accepted by the Word of GodTM, and sustained, rather than wiped away with Paul's pen.  Then there are matters like hair.  Apparently, God, channeled through Paul, changed his demands on how we are supposed to wear our hair.  If they really want to follow the Bible (good luck with that) they have two options.  (If you're a man) you can cut your hair short, like Paul says we are supposed to do, or you can try to comply with both orders: maybe don't cut the sides of your hair or beard, but wear the rest short, just to be safe?  Of course then part of your hair is long, in defiance of God's orders through Paul, so you're probably better off believing that he demanded a change of hair style 2000 years ago.  But guess what?  Most Christians seem to ignore BOTH commands!  (Or at least they did when longer hairstyles were popular, as do many today when both short and long hair are relatively common.)  Then there are a few reasonable commands in the OT that are generally part of most peoples morality, Christian or otherwise that aren't really emphasized in the NT, which Christians seem to accept as commands from God.

 

So most Christians say they are no longer bound by the law, quoting Paul directly, yet as been pointed out earlier in this thread, pick and choose.  Since the NT also gives Jesus a different approach to the Law than Paul, and it insists that ALL scripture is so valuable, it puts them in a kind of tough position.  Unfortunately, it has given Christians throughout the centuries a carte blanche to carry out whatever evils they wish to justify through their scriptures.  Other Christians, taking justification from the same Bible, may de-emphasize Paul's dismissal of the Law a little more.  It's kind of ironic that some of the liberal, feel good, hippie Jesus, love fest Christians can take their cue from Paul to dismiss all that brutal nasty stuff from the OT, while the harsh, legalistic, more conservative Pauline Christians, can take their cue from Jesus, when it serves them, to defend all their bad Christian values.

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There's no point in refuting anti-gay arguments, because the Bible is clearly anti-gay.   And that has nothing to do with Christianity being true or false.

 

What falsifies Christianity are all the absurd claims with no basis in reality.  Such as talking animals, talking plants, flying horses, zombies, fire breathing sea monsters, drunk whores riding dragons, angels having sex with humans, etc. Where is the evidence to support these claims as historical fact? We actually have more evidence that a talking horse named Mr. Ed was real than we have for the talking snake in Genesis - and we know that horses can't talk.  So that should tip off some Christians that perhaps their beliefs are delusional..... but apparently that's expecting a bit too much.

 

If skeptics just focus on the facts (or lack thereof),  there's really no need to bother with making appeals to hypocrisy....

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Arguing with many believers is like trying to win a shell-game. Most of us know from experience as believers that we'd always try to make sense of the hodgepodge of "truth" in the Bible, regardless of clear contradictions. I mean, just the genealogies of Jesus are blatantly contradictory, and when we'd ask a pastor we'd get a nonsensical reply like "one of them is actually Mary's genealogy" even though both say "Joseph". That was usually good enough for us, even if we just shelved the question and went on believing. So it is no surprise that every other facet of faith is treated this way. The hooks of faith are deep in a basic survival part of the psyche, "If I doubt, that is sin, sin will make me lose the big payout of Heaven. Eeeek! I believe, I believe, I believe!" That is why it is so damn hard to make progress with a true believer. Everything that might help dislodge the hooks are countered with "fool for Christ" crap that protects the mind-virus.

 

I agree with Mike D that most skeptics should simply focus on the facts. There are a boatload of them.

 

Ex-believers have a special ability to speak the Christianese and try to demonstrate the reality that one can leave the cult and be better off. Many skeptics who have never been indoctrinated don't know why the shell-game happens and resort to mockery. Ex-believers know that despite the propaganda of the joy of Jesus, that every believer struggles with his or her own self that consistently shows a not born-again reality. We know that they are frustrated at the consistently broken promises of God (except for the parking spot at Walmart. Glory!). We know that pastors and other believers wank off, devour porn, and have affairs, all the while condemning lust and praising Jesus. We know the constant mental battle between light and darkness in which believers imagine themselves. This experience we have gives us valuable insights into the hidden world of believers that the other skeptics don't have. We can customize our statements to believers that speak to their very own frustrations with the faith, even if they want to pretend that everything is rosy. I hope to be an influence to believers I know, something that sticks in the craw and that they have to deal with.

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In general I agree. I've seen some skeptics' arguments against Christianity that were based on misunderstandings. That's why maybe 5-10% of apologists' arguments are actually reasonable, because they're dealing with actual misunderstandings. (Of course, the other 90-95% of apologetics arguments are total BS.)

 

However, with regard to the homosexuality vs shellfish thing, I have to disagree. Yes, Romans 1 is referenced a lot, but Christians also use the "abomination" argument a LOT. And guess where the "abomination" argument comes from? Not Romans! It comes from Leviticus, which is the same Old Testament book that calls shellfish an "abomination." So, as long as Christians cite the "abomination" argument against homosexuality, then the shellfish comparison is absolutely NOT a case of the skeptic failing to understand theology. It is a completely sound rebuttal.

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What Citsonga said above makes sense. The argument would be bad against my brand of Christianity, too, but that doesn't make it bad somewhere else.

The brand of Christianity I come from has homosexuality on par with premarital sex and porn and such. They wouldn't call it "abomination" as that would drive away the tolerant, who are probably a majority in the congregation.

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Wow talk about lot of responses. I think maybe some missed my point.

 

Of course, I think the theology is contradictory in a lot of ways and obviously it varies from sect to sect, denomination to denomination, and person to person.

 

What frustrates me, though, is the complete confidence people have when they say "WHY DIDN'T YOU SHAVE YOUR FACE?? YOUR A SINNER!! HYPOCRITE! WHY DO YOU EAT SHRIMP? WHY DO YOU NOT WEAR CERTAIN CLOTHS A CERTAIN WAY? YOU DON'T EVEN BELIEVE!!"

 

Its an EXTREME oversimplification. I remember when I was a Christian, arguments like that would make me dismiss atheists outright. Christians believe that atheists, agnostics, and ALL other non believers' minds are darkened. They don't "see the light." And ignorant and shallow arguments do nothing but confirm that to the more intelligent believers who might be convinced by a stronger argument.

 

It's not an oversimplification, it's holding them to a higher standard than they arbitrarily refuse to hold themselves.

 

If you want to give them some rope and let them hang themselves by the nt though, you could simply point out that it speaks more strongly against divorce than it does against gays, yet the majority of them have a bug in their britches over the gays, while divorce is winked at.

 

The truth is, most of their beliefs don't stand up to a reasonable level of consistency. It's a religion based on cherry picked sound bites and is used to justify their own prejudices even when it can also be used to condemn those things they aren't ready to condemn, such as not allowing women a public voice, or choosing the commune lifestyle so highly acclaimed in Acts.

 

bottom line, you can't run around saying the law doesn't matter anymore, while simultaneously holding a position that laws still must be abided if they are mentioned in the nt, plus, and only when plus, those laws agree with your own personal preferences and political agenda . Moreover, their precious nt also says that not one jot or tittle of law, etc, shall pass away, so which is it? No law, some laws, all laws? Believers get to choose because there's always a passage justifying any damn thing they like even if those are consistently contradictory.

 

Keep 'em guessing. That way you control as they are constantly worried and confused.

 

reminding them of how contradictory their beliefs are by pointing out leviticus is fair. After all, their nt says Jesus is the same unchanged god from that era and most of them run around with Bibles, not copies of just the nt.

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There's no point in refuting anti-gay arguments, because the Bible is clearly anti-gay. And that has nothing to do with Christianity being true or false.

 

What falsifies Christianity are all the absurd claims with no basis in reality. Such as talking animals, talking plants, flying horses, zombies, fire breathing sea monsters, drunk whores riding dragons, angels having sex with humans, etc. Where is the evidence to support these claims as historical fact? We actually have more evidence that a talking horse named Mr. Ed was real than we have for the talking snake in Genesis - and we know that horses can't talk. So that should tip off some Christians that perhaps their beliefs are delusional..... but apparently that's expecting a bit too much.

 

If skeptics just focus on the facts (or lack thereof), there's really no need to bother with making appeals to hypocrisy....

When Paul got rid of the law, he also gave the ok to read the silly ot tales, such as survival of exposure to giant fish enzymes as allegorical. Now, only the silly tales of men walking on water, and other magic tricks must be believed as literal. No passage justifies this, but it's all commonly agreed upon divination of the good book.

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The typical believer rebuttal of the shellfish attack is that the kosher law is no longer binding, but the moral law is eternal. Thus it is still wrong to murder and commit adultery, but the laws governing food and clothing are different.

 

Theologically, I don't think the Jews ever made a distinction. And then there is the very big problem of the apostles including dietary restrictions simply because Moses preached them (Acts 15:19-29). It was Paul who really preached the "end of the law" rather than the others.

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The absurdity of Romans 1 is that according to it, failure to acknowledge Biblegod equates to turning gay. Any heterosexuals on here feel more gay now that you're not a believer anymore?

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The absurdity of Romans 1 is that according to it, failure to acknowledge Biblegod equates to turning gay. Any heterosexuals on here feel more gay now that you're not a believer anymore?

Nope. I've been an ex-christian for over a decade now and I'm still as straight as can be.

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^^^ Well, Christians claim to know better too. They're supposed to have special advanced knowledge through the holy spook, but they really don't.

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And one point in particular -- raised by Bhim (I believe), above -- I also get tired of hearing ignorant people criticize the bible as being translated so many times that no one knows the original meaning. And of course, these people cannot give even one example. Most of them making this unfounded criticism don't even know what the original languages of the scriptures are. And they certainly don't know the history of the English bible translations. In most cases, the only true atheist is an ex-Christian. That is a person who has lived it, learned it, loved it, and then experienced disillusionment and subsequent enlightenment. I would rather listen to the comments of an ex-Christian atheist any time over an atheist who has never been religious at all.

I don't know. I'm not about to look them up now, but I've seen many examples of confusing and outright fraudulent translation issues that exist with most, if not all English versions. Kjv os one of the worst offenders.

 

Moreover, I just don't see how giving credence to xians in their particular interpretations of the book. None of them can agree on the finer points, so it's not always ignorance when an atheist comes along and challenges with contradictions, but more intellectual honest than the xian, who is comfortable with his cherry picked persuasion is willing to apply.

 

At the end of the day though, I can't think of anything more futile than challenging an xian on a scriptural basis. It's an entirely subjective book and their beliefs about it depend on how they were persuaded to interpret it, not what it actually says. For instance, if you think anyone pre Luther believed in salvation by grace alone, you're kidding you self. Since that is such a foundational point in the modern era, how could people have missed it for 1500 years?

 

Could it be that the bible is interpreted based on human influence and that a more objective interpretation of the whole may or may not lead to many other different conclusions with regard to doctrinal positions?

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The absurdity of Romans 1 is that according to it, failure to acknowledge Biblegod equates to turning gay. Any heterosexuals on here feel more gay now that you're not a believer anymore?

 

No, but if you believe what others said from my days as a xian who figured out that I wasn't having sex with women (I was celibate, driven by my indoctrination), and then talk to people I knew after my deconversion who saw that I married a woman and seeded offspring, I became less gay after I became a non-believer.

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