ZAROVE wrote:I'd have to disagree with Tiny. Most of the Atheists Ive met online who are hostile to Christians, or those offline, often claim that Christians are ever-so-horrible as people, and may use as an excuse those loudly spoken of minority groups that they necer met, but surly they'd know bettr by the methodists or pesbytrians down the street.
I've met in person a raher aerdent athest who used the ame old lione that is parroted these days about all the atheists he knows being more moral than any of he Chrisyians he knows. Being int he Bible Belt I know los of Christians and find his claim to lakc credibility, and asked him to elaborate. He couldn't. He couldn't mrolaly falt several mutual aquaintences I mentioned, and could't relaly explain how he atheists he knew where usperuor to them morlaly...
When I hear them prattle on about using Logic and reaosn and relhign on Sicnece to give us the answers, I no longe rpay much heed. How can I? They use those wors to presntthemselvs as more raitonal and their ahtiesm as intellctually more soudn than theism, but sicnece and reaosn arne't relaly used, only their appearance.
That said, I don't think all Ahtuests ar liek this, but those thsat aruge the points usually are.
Humans as a rule tend to form an image first and then find whatever support they feel is "strong" (religious, scientific, etc) and selectively argue their case to justify their opinion. I don't deny this is true, and in fact, it's one reason why I grew really weary of talking to people on most message boards about religion and spirituality. I don't think this is incompatible with your obervations. Putting aside the morality argument, my premise is that most atheists who debate this kind of thing online base their critiques (fair or unfair, friendly or hostile, sensible or foolish) on the image presented by the more outspoken theists. That is, their ideas of the nature of God, of the use or meaning of sacred texts or sacraments, of the political and moral implications of the aforementioned areas, are rooted in what the more outrageous theists say and do. Hence much of what the "snooty" atheist you describe claims is idiotic or harmful about religion stems from an impression gleaned from the fanatics with an ideological agenda and a superficial spirituality. That is not to say that some (I repeat, some
) of these types of atheists don't then come up with other specious arguments, but these still feed off of and add-on to the original proto-image of the theists as uneducated, biggoted troglodytes at worst or soft-skulled, well-intentioned but duped simpletons at best. While it isn't depicted as such in most venues for conversation, in some places this out in the open. Of course, the most charitable reading of the strongest variety of atheist, the anti-theists, is that most religious folks are just innocent but naive victims to the more predatory pastors, priest, clerics, and other clergy-folk. And again, this comes from magnifying and exaggerating the worst examples from billions of theists worldwide -a intentionally skewed sampling. Hence I am not suggesting such caricatures and strawmen are justified. But there is always some small kernel of truth being distorted and abused in every harmful stereotype. But that doesn't limit polemic theists or atheists from making such stereotypes, nor does it keep them from attempting to take their half-assed and antagonizing tunnel vision and applying it in news and amazingly stupid ways. Here are two examples taken from callers to the Allen Colmes radio program this past Friday night:
One caller complained about religion in politics (I am a fan of separating church and state myself) and then
cited a verse where Jesus says he is not here to abolish the old Jewish law (Matthew 5:17-20). Hence, in the context of the conversation, which was about politicians caught in adultry, the caller surmises that even Jesus (and presumably then his self-identified followers) would be in agreement with the Old Testament passage the advocates stoning adulterers. Apparently the caller must have missed John 8:3-11 in his "selective reading"...
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Apparently this caller never wondered how Jesus viewed "the Law" and hence also missed the whole bit about how in the eyes of many rabbis as well as Jesus, all of the various laws and rules concerning purity and obedience were subordinate to the commandment to love God and others above all, as expressed in Mark 12:28-34....
One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”
Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.
Which is of course, what frustrated Jesus about the Pharisees. They were so concerned with being pure and holy that they couldn't be bothered with compassion. Which is in turn why the Pharisees were so threatened and annoyed by Jesus, because he would rather identify and eat with sinners and heal the poor than keep to their narrow and judgmental interpretation of their precious rules. I mean, this isn't a very deep exegesis, and you don't have to believe in it to grasp it, but there you go, the caller affirmed his view that Jesus would support a theocratic state which executes people for things such as adultry.
Then a few minutes later another "Biblical scholar" called in to imply perversity in the Eucharist and suggesting that (paraphrasing) "Jesus wanted to be eaten by people who were stronger than him."