Do we, Christians, ever stop to consider the other side?

I found this on the internet, and I thought that it was very interesting. What do you think?

10 Misconceptions about Atheism

31082007

1) Atheists believe that life is meaningless.

On the contrary, religious people often worry that life is meaningless and imagine that it can only be redeemed by the promise of eternal happiness beyond the grave. Atheists tend to be quite sure that life is precious. Life is imbued with meaning by being really and fully lived. Our relationships with those we love are meaningful now; they need not last forever to be made so. Atheists tend to find this fear of meaninglessness … well … meaningless.

2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.

3) Atheism is dogmatic.

Jews, Christians and Muslims claim that their scriptures are so prescient of humanity’s needs that they could only have been written under the direction of an omniscient deity. An atheist is simply a person who has considered this claim, read the books and found the claim to be ridiculous. One doesn’t have to take anything on faith, or be otherwise dogmatic, to reject unjustified religious beliefs. As the historian Stephen Henry Roberts (1901-71) once said: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

4) Atheists think everything in the universe arose by chance.

No one knows why the universe came into being. In fact, it is not entirely clear that we can coherently speak about the “beginning” or “creation” of the universe at all, as these ideas invoke the concept of time, and here we are talking about the origin of space-time itself.

The notion that atheists believe that everything was created by chance is also regularly thrown up as a criticism of Darwinian evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains in his marvelous book, “The God Delusion,” this represents an utter misunderstanding of evolutionary theory. Although we don’t know precisely how the Earth’s early chemistry begat biology, we know that the diversity and complexity we see in the living world is not a product of mere chance. Evolution is a combination of chance mutation and natural selection. Darwin arrived at the phrase “natural selection” by analogy to the “artificial selection” performed by breeders of livestock. In both cases, selection exerts a highly non-random effect on the development of any species.

5) Atheism has no connection to science.

Although it is possible to be a scientist and still believe in God — as some scientists seem to manage it — there is no question that an engagement with scientific thinking tends to erode, rather than support, religious faith. Taking the U.S. population as an example: Most polls show that about 90% of the general public believes in a personal God; yet 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not. This suggests that there are few modes of thinking less congenial to religious faith than science is.

6) Atheists are arrogant.

When scientists don’t know something — like why the universe came into being or how the first self-replicating molecules formed — they admit it. Pretending to know things one doesn’t know is a profound liability in science. And yet it is the life-blood of faith-based religion. One of the monumental ironies of religious discourse can be found in the frequency with which people of faith praise themselves for their humility, while claiming to know facts about cosmology, chemistry and biology that no scientist knows. When considering questions about the nature of the cosmos and our place within it, atheists tend to draw their opinions from science. This isn’t arrogance; it is intellectual honesty.

7) Atheists are closed to spiritual experience.

There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. There is no question that some Christians have transformed their lives for the better by reading the Bible and praying to Jesus. What does this prove? It proves that certain disciplines of attention and codes of conduct can have a profound effect upon the human mind. Do the positive experiences of Christians suggest that Jesus is the sole savior of humanity? Not even remotely — because Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and even atheists regularly have similar experiences.

There is, in fact, not a Christian on this Earth who can be certain that Jesus even wore a beard, much less that he was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.

Atheists believe that there is nothing beyond human life and human understanding.

Atheists are free to admit the limits of human understanding in a way that religious people are not. It is obvious that we do not fully understand the universe; but it is even more obvious that neither the Bible nor the Koran reflects our best understanding of it. We do not know whether there is complex life elsewhere in the cosmos, but there might be. If there is, such beings could have developed an understanding of nature’s laws that vastly exceeds our own. Atheists can freely entertain such possibilities. They also can admit that if brilliant extraterrestrials exist, the contents of the Bible and the Koran will be even less impressive to them than they are to human atheists.

From the atheist point of view, the world’s religions utterly trivialize the real beauty and immensity of the universe. One doesn’t have to accept anything on insufficient evidence to make such an observation.

9) Atheists ignore the fact that religion is extremely beneficial to society.

Those who emphasize the good effects of religion never seem to realize that such effects fail to demonstrate the truth of any religious doctrine. This is why we have terms such as “wishful thinking” and “self-deception.” There is a profound distinction between a consoling delusion and the truth.

In any case, the good effects of religion can surely be disputed. In most cases, it seems that religion gives people bad reasons to behave well, when good reasons are actually available. Ask yourself, which is more moral, helping the poor out of concern for their suffering, or doing so because you think the creator of the universe wants you to do it, will reward you for doing it or will punish you for not doing it?

10) Atheism provides no basis for morality.

If a person doesn’t already understand that cruelty is wrong, he won’t discover this by reading the Bible or the Koran — as these books are bursting with celebrations of cruelty, both human and divine. We do not get our morality from religion. We decide what is good in our good books by recourse to moral intuitions that are (at some level) hard-wired in us and that have been refined by thousands of years of thinking about the causes and possibilities of human happiness.

We have made considerable moral progress over the years, and we didn’t make this progress by reading the Bible or the Koran more closely. Both books condone the practice of slavery — and yet every civilized human being now recognizes that slavery is an abomination. Whatever is good in scripture — like the golden rule — can be valued for its ethical wisdom without our believing that it was handed down to us by the creator of the universe.

12 Answers

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  • JWill
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Thank you for posting this, I'm sorry the answerers are proving the close-mindedness you were attempting to expose.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I am a Christian in my belief. I believe strongly in God and Jesus. I do not judge what others do that isn't what i was put here for. I think we should be there for someone who might have a question about our belief and help in any way we can. I personally like Christianity because it has laws that make sense to me. I can understand how people are hardened by the world and some of its events. I just believe there is something better out there than what we are exposed to in everyday life. I know alot say there isnt a God because of all the tragedy we see everyday on the news. Alot of the tragedies are brought on by ourselves though and I learned that the hard way. I just took a new route myself and find it to be pleasing to me and made me a happier person as I hope everyone else will achieve that one day. As long as there is breath in us there is hope.

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    When the woman was caught in adultery, she knew she had sinned, and was waiting to find out her fate. And yes, Jesus said "Go and sin no more." And I'm sure He would tell the same thing to a man caught in the act of homosexual sex. Of course I would agree with Him. The difference is, I don't hear any homosexuals acknowledging that they are sinning. But to answer your question: no, I still wouldn't cast stones. I would and will always defer to Jesus' wisdom and authority.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Having spent most of my life as an agnostic, I’ve seen it from both sides. I see some valid points in this list, but some that show the writer has some basic misunderstandings about Christians.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I've considered the "other side" quite often. I have many friends who are atheists, and I've learned a great deal from them. Same for all my other non-Christian friends. I've read a good deal of atheist literature, and have been invited to lecture on multiple occasions at our local atheist meetings, despite the fact that I'm very public about my Christianity. I have always believed that morality and religion are two separate issues, and it's been proven to me many times over by my many non-religious friends who are moral, decent people.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Why would Christians consider the other (assuming you're writing about atheists) side? Atheists don't have a leader such as Christ so it may be based more on relativity.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The funny thing is, SOME christians think that the majority of those apply to all the other religions too, not just atheists.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    obviously most never , just see some of the replies and thumb down , most just assume Atheist are bla bla .

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You are a cool guy. I am Christian, but i am not against atheists, as i used to be one, and i dont think i was evil... lol.... i respect your views... good point... ill think about it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think that you have a misconception that we christians have those misconceptions. Personally I don't think that way at all.

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