5 Myths Atheists Believe about Religion

Written by Be Scofield

Despite their emphasis on reason, evidence and a desire to see through false truth claims, many atheists hold surprisingly ill-informed beliefs about religion. Many of these myths go unquestioned simply because they serve the purpose of discrediting religion at large. They allow for the construction of a straw man i.e. a distorted and simplistic representation of religion which can be easily attacked, summarily dismissed and ridiculed. Others who genuinely believe these false claims merely have a limited understanding of the ideas involved and have never thoroughly examined them. But, myths are myths and they should be acknowledged for what they are.

I’m not saying that atheists aren’t knowledgeable when it comes to religion. To the contrary, atheists in general know more about the particularities of religion than most religious people do. A recent study confirmed it. I have no doubt that they can rattle off all of the myths, falsities, fanciful claims, dangerous ideas and barbarous actions committed by the religious. It makes sense as a targeted group will generally know more about the dominant group than the other way around. But of course simply knowing more than other religious people about their traditions doesn’t preclude holding to false beliefs of their own.

There are certainly more than five myths about religion that are perpetuated by some atheists (and in some cases the religious). However, I’ve chosen what I feel to be the most significant false claims made by atheists to help provide a more accurate understanding of religion and to pave the groundwork for dialogue between these seemingly two opposing groups.

Now, let’s examine these myths.

5. Liberal and Moderate Religion Justifies Religious Extremism

While this often repeated claim seems logical at first glance, upon examination it is nothing more than another simplistic idea that provides a feel good rallying cry for those who want to denounce religion in its entirety.

Sam Harris states that moderates are “in large part responsible for the religious conflict in our world” and “religious tolerance–born of the notion that every human being should be free to believe whatever he wants about God–is one of the principal forces driving us toward the abyss.” And Richard Dawkins states, “The teachings of ‘moderate’ religion, though not extremist in themselves, are an open invitation to extremism.” Christopher Hitchens has called liberation theology “sinister nonsense” and compared the liberal Unitarian tradition to rats and vermin.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it leads to some unwanted logical conclusions when applied equally to other ideas. It is hypocritical to selectively apply the principle where it suits one’s needs but not elsewhere.

We can ask whether or not all liberal and moderate expressions of something are responsible for their most extreme forms. Are the people who casually smoke marijuana in any way responsible for the death of someone involved in a violent heroin drug trade? Is a social drinker of alcohol creating the environment that leads to alcoholism? Should they be shunned for supporting conditions that cause tens of thousands of alcohol-related unwanted deaths? Is a pediatrician responsible for Nazi medical experiments simply because he or she participates in the field of medicine? How about politics? Is a liberal democracy responsible for forms of government such as totalitarianism or fascism? Is a very progressive Democrat like Dennis Kucinich responsible for George Bush’s torture policies because he merely participates in the U.S. political system? If so, it means that one’s participation in a political system should be blamed for the worst crimes of any government leader.

I could list example after example, but to state my point simply, the more rational and tolerant uses of science, religion, medicine or government cannot be blamed for the destructive and harmful uses of them.

4. Religion Requires a Belief in a Supernatural God

This claim, expressed by Christopher Hitchens as “to be religious is to be a theist” seems to be a difficult myth for some atheists to abandon. Many seem content with this intellectually inaccurate definition of religion. However, if you open any “Religion 101? textbook you will find a variety of traditions that don’t require belief in any god, miracles or supernatural entities including Taoism, Jainism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Unitarian Universalism doesn’t require belief in any divinity either. And of course there are non-theists such as deists, pantheists and panentheists who are practicing members of Christianity, Judaism and Islam as well as other progressive traditions. There are many Christians who don’t literally believe the stories of the Bible. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of them. Thomas Jefferson, as well as other “founding fathers” are prominent examples of deists within American history. Jefferson created his own Bible in which he removed all references to miracles and supernatural claims. But yet he was still religious. He stated,

“The whole history of these books [the Gospels] is so defective and doubtful that it seems vain to attempt minute enquiry into it: and such tricks have been played with their text, and with the texts of other books relating to them, that we have a right, from that cause, to entertain much doubt what parts of them are genuine. In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills. –Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, January 24, 1814

Others simply describe God as the natural order, the healing and renewing power of existence or the creative principle in life. Yet, despite all of these non-supernatural God forms many still attend religious services, draw inspiration from sacred texts and enjoy the benefits of a spiritual community.

I understand why anti-religious atheists are so reluctant to accept the fact that being religious doesn’t mean belief in the supernatural. The simplistic and convenient myth they’ve constructed would be shattered. It would be much harder to attack religion as it would mean a more sophisticated and refined critique, one that would be more difficult to arouse the passions of dogmatic religion haters.

3. Religion Causes Bad Behavior

A common way for atheists to denounce religion is to simply list all of the horrors that have been done in the name of religion and then say, “Look how awful religion is!” Religion becomes synonymous with all of the bad things done by religious people. But is religion the cause of bad behavior or simply a mitigating factor? Christopher Hitchens provides some surprising insight: “What’s innate in our species isn’t the fault of religion. But the bad things that are innate in our species are strengthened by religion and sanctified by it… So religion is a very powerful re-enforcer of our backward, clannish, tribal element. But you can’t say it’s the cause of it. To the contrary, it’s the product of it.” Amen! Hitchens says that religion is not the cause of bad behavior! Many of us religious progressives have been making this point for a long time. Of course religion is also a very powerful re-enforcer of our most beautiful, inspiring and profound aspects as well. It can inspire the best and worst in us.

This point is very important because it focuses the attention on the real source of bad behavior which is human nature, not religion. Understanding this is important when defending against attempts to dismiss religion because of the bad things done in its name. Certainly, religion plays a role in conflicts but it is just one factor among many such as ideological, political and sociological ones. If religion were the cause of bad behavior getting rid of it would simply make all divisiveness and conflict disappear. But of course this would not be the case. And, if religion were to be eliminated other forms of associations with the same group dynamics and dangers would arise.

Religion is like a knife which can be used by a surgeon to save lives or as a dagger to kill someone.

2. Atheists are Anti-Religious

This false belief stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what atheism and religion are. Atheism is not in any way shape or form related to an opinion about religion. It is simply the assertion that god does not exist, nothing more and nothing less. Religion is a broad category that encompasses traditions which include supernatural belief and those that do not. And, as I’ve already stated there are many atheists who are already religious practitioners.

Despite atheism being quite a straightforward concept, many continually misrepresent what it means. A prominent example comes from the atheist writer Greta Christina. She recently stated, “Atheists, by definition, don’t think any religion has any reasonable likelihood of being true.” Wrong. Atheists by definition assert that god does not exist. Besides, what does it mean for a religion to be true or not true when a religion doesn’t require any supernatural belief? Again, being an atheist has nothing to do with ones position on religion. A fellow atheist seminarian friend of mine at Starr King School for the Ministry clearly demonstrates this point:

First, I think there is a difference between being an atheist and being anti-religious. They are orthogonal. There is also a difference between being anti-religious and being opposed to the effects of particular religious traditions. These terms should not be conflated. Since when did not believing in God mean that you are opposed to other people believing in God and or practicing religion regardless of whether they believe? I am an atheist. Just to be clear, by that I mean I don’t believe that there is a god, a higher consciousness, or a spirit. I am also opposed to the effects of certain religious traditions. But I am not by any means anti-religious. I don’t deny the value that religion or religious practice, (whether actual belief in god and the afterlife, or simply liking the pretty candles at mass and multiple opportunities for community) brings to people including myself. Religion has a lot to offer and to deny that is to deny the complexity of the human condition.

The concept of an atheist who practices religion is hard to swallow for many. Yet, the simple facts reveal millions of people who practice religion and are simultaneously atheists.

Elsewhere there are examples of atheists and agnostics who support and work in relation to religion. Bruce Sheiman, author of “An Atheist Defends Religion,” has done great work on the subject. Chris Stedman of NonProphet Status is an atheist who has worked with Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Youth Core and is now working for the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard as the Interfaith and Community Service Fellow. In fact, the silent majority of atheists are not militant, but because of popular anti-religious voices like Christopher Hitchens atheism becomes associated with the most stridently militant.

1. All Religions are the Same and are “Equally Crazy”

Many atheists often claim that they are wrongly accused of not understanding the differences between religions. “Of course we do!” I’ve heard them say. But yet this is meaningless unless they are willing to treat these differences differently. Case and point is the latest article from Greta Christina where she asks, “Are All Religions Equally Crazy?” and answers a resounding, Yes. She describes a number of strange Mormon beliefs and practices, but then realizes that other religions aren’t any better. If her point was to illustrate that some religions have strange beliefs, she succeeded. She concludes,

But all religions are out of touch with reality. All religions are implausible, based on cognitive biases, and unsupported by any good evidence whatsoever. All of them ultimately rely on faith — i.e., an irrational attachment to a pre-existing idea regardless of any evidence that contradicts it — as the core foundation of their belief. All of them contort, ignore, or deny reality in order to maintain their attachment to their faith.

This conclusion is simply false. Her reasoning sweeps up all religious expressions including those which aren’t reliant upon any supernatural beliefs, miracles or magical claims. For example, by using the term “all religions” she conflates a church attending atheist Unitarian Universalist with a Bible believing, homophobic theist. The venerable Vietnamese Buddhist religious leader Thich Nhat Hanh becomes synonymous with Pat Robertson simply because they are both religious leaders. Dr. King is in the same category as Osama Bin Laden. Deists are conflated with theists. Those who reject literal religious claims are placed in the same category who believe snakes talked in the Bible. Christina leaves no room for religious people who are tolerant, non-believers or those who view religion metaphorically. Writing an article that concludes all religions are equally crazy is like saying that all Americans are nationalists and imperialists and then pointing to the part of the population that supports U.S. wars.

Where is the evidence that many of these atheists can make any meaningful distinctions between religions? It’s one thing to make the claim but where is the recognition of humanistic, non-literal and progressive religious traditions? Hitchens calls Unitarianism rats and vermin. Christina calls all religions equally crazy. Dawkins says the teachings of moderate religion lead to extremism. Harris claims that moderates are responsible for much of the conflict in the world. If there were any serious attempts to show they know the difference between religions, these leaders in the movement would have exhibited it by now. But time and time again all we get from these prominent atheists something akin to “all religions are equally crazy.”

I think we can move beyond the religion = crazy/atheism = dangerous dichotomy that so dominates our day. To do so we must honestly examine the myths and misunderstandings of both positions. Genuine dialogue between the religious and non-religious is possible. We are better at finding points of agreement politically, socially and ideologically and seeking common ground to organize around. We certainly won’t agree on everything, but in the end all parties should leave more knowledgeable and better prepared to deal with the way religion impacts our everyday lives and the global sphere.

Be Scofield is a writer, founder of www.godblessthewholeworld.org and a Dr. King scholar. He writes and blogs for Tikkun Magazine and his work has appeared on Alternet.org and Integral World among others. Be is pursuing a Master’s of Divinity in the Unitarian Universalist tradition with a dual certificate in women studies in religion and sacred dance with a concentration in Buddhism

Bonus: My roommate doesn’t own an iron

Bonus: My roommate doesn't own an iron

20 thoughts on “5 Myths Atheists Believe about Religion

  1. uksceptic

    WTF Best article every day? Since when did you become an outlet for religious propaganda.

    This article should be renamed 5 Ways Religious People think Atheists Think but don’t.

  2. Andrew

    Well done, sir. You have pointed out what some people fail to realize, that their are crazy people on both sides of the God debate. I am a practicing baptist, and I get enraged equally by David Silverman and the American Atheists when they say that “You know God doesn’t exist.” as I do by the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing soldiers funerals. Actually, I lied. Westboro makes me much, much angrier than any atheist ever could. Mostly because people think that they are an accurate representation of Christians, when they are not in any way. I used to be an atheist and I held some of the same beliefs about religion that you point out here, and I can second the claim of “false!” through personal experience. I also wholeheartedly agree that there is no reason that theists and atheists can not talk reasonably together, even if they do not believe together. Thank you for writing a sensible article that does not degrade to “Other people are stupid because they don’t think exactly like me!” and for providing an article that can open a dialogue between the two groups. Hopefully it won’t be reduced to a flame war.

  3. Jay

    “5 Myths about what Atheists Believe” would be a better title. How about 5 things Atheists do believe:

    5. Liberal and Moderate Religion Provides Societal Cover for Religious Extremism

    4. Religion Strongly Correlates with an Irrational Belief in a Supernatural God

    3. Religion Frequently Sanctions and Justifies Bad Behavior

    2. Atheists are irreligious. The neutrality is right there in the word. However, they may chafe at bad practices and hypocrisy of religionists, particularly in the light of unconstitutional and unethical advantages that churches have wrangled in the United States. An atheist may coincidentally be anti-religion for intellectual, moral, or legal reasons.

    1. True, All Religions are in fact “Equally Crazy” [cra·zy: Foolish or impractical; senseless] in their supernatural underpinnings. Once you’ve abandoned the evidence of empirical observation, you’re entered the same broad category as Scientology, Santeria, and KJVOism. However, practitioners of religion exist on a spectrum from admirably rational to completely insane. Just like the population at large. Similarly, the ethical systems promoted by religions vary in practicability, compassion, and therefore “sanity.”

    1. Andrew

      Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but a belief is not the same as reality, as in:

      5. Almost all accounts of religious extremism, if from a Muslim or a Christian, are dismissed as fringe by the bulk of the group; e.g. terrorist do not represent Muslims or the KKK does not represent Christians.

      4. You base this on the belief that just because something can be classified as supernatural it must be irrational. That is not the case. Take the beginning of the universe. Some force outside of nature had to create it, and in the very act of being outside of nature, it fills the definition of supernatural. It had to be outside of nature because there is no known method in nature for creating something out of nothing, much less everything out of nothing. Also, the article clearly points out that there are many religions that do not have a belief in any sort of deity.

      3. When? Most religions stride to make people act better. In any case this is a self defeating statement. Stating that there is something that can be considered “bad” behavior is saying that there is an overall code of what is “good” or “bad”. Since nature does not have a standard of measuring behavior, then this sense of right and wrong could have only come from something outside of nature, something supernatural. While I do not deny that atrocities have been committed in the name of religion, that does not mean that they were sanctioned by the religion itself. More than likely it was sanctioned by a leader of the religion, who was not paying attention to what they were leading.

      2. Unconstitutional and unethical advantages? Like what, not having to pay taxes? Have you ever read the constitution? There is a reason why churches are granted special circumstances, and they are neither unethical or unconstitutional. They get special treatment because they help people, they educate people, and generally they just try to make their community a better place.

      1. If you actually look at empirical observation, it will show God in almost every place that you look. From the insane intricacy of even the most basic of cells, the absolute fine tuning of the universe to be able to support life, the exact position of Earth to support life, the crazy amounts of data in our DNA, the unbelievable balancing act of the ecosystem, or even our sense of right and wrong. It all points to an outside force shaping things to be exactly as we need them to survive. As for the difference in ethical systems, for the most part the only thing that varies is the details, not the substance. Most world religions have strikingly similar core beliefs about how to treat one another. They are for the most part very practical, as evidenced by being able to walk down the street and not getting murdered, raped, and robbed (most of the time). I am not saying that all religions are without problems, I am just saying there are a lot less problems in believing in a supernatural force that is outside of the universe than their are in thinking that the universe is an unfeeling and blind entity shaping everything through mere chance.

      1. Jay

        5. Certainly true. But the actions of these extremists are entirely rational within the crazy doctrines of their religions. Sane people don’t believe in paradise for martyrs or honor killing promiscuous teens. But the holy books those moderates defend most surely promote these policies.

        4. The instigating event was outside the observed universe. That doesn’t mean it was outside of nature. We may never be able to study it, but that is a limitation of physics, not of comprehension. The natural world may extend beyond our universe in time, space, or both.

        3. Most religions strive to *control* people. That does not necessarily equate to “making them better” but it often can, because a cowed population tends to be docile by definition. The second part of your argument is simple nonsense. “Right and wrong” can trivially arise from social constructs. No supernatural agent is necessary, and invoking one simply adds unnecessary layers of complication.

        2. Have you read it? The Constitution doesn’t grant tax exemptions to churches or religions. Politicians have done so. Your unsubstantiated assertion that churches primarily do good is irrelevant to the fact that they pick all our pockets to fuel their philanthropy.

        1. We are the water that fits in the pothole — the pothole wasn’t fashioned to accommodate our shape.

        To make your argument, you’d have to assert that the universe somehow “wanted” to create human beings. Your reasoning is backward.

        Also, you don’t really seem to get evolution. Evolution isn’t an entity and it doesn’t operate through chance. I blame our educational system, because I hear this nonsense about “evolution operating through chance” from too many quarters to believe that it is only an apologetics talking point. Whoever told you that bit of misinformation didn’t have your interests at heart.

        Stable systems endure. The similarities in religions exist because they tend to stabilize cultures through behavioral and mental control. That doesn’t argue for the veracity of their supernatural elements, or even for the objective “rightness” of their dogma. It’s simple, pragmatic success. When you say that religions are similar, you’re counting the ones that have endured. How many Heaven’s Gate cults have come and gone for every one that has endured and grown?

        1. Andrew

          5. Not in the least bit true. I can only speak for Christians, as that is the religion that I practice, and no one in my congregation would ever say that killing a promiscuous teen is God’s will. Far from it, in fact. Jesus did not dine with the religious elite, but with sinners. The phrase “Hate the sin, not the sinner” comes to mind. It means that we can be opposed to the actions of an individual and still deeply care for that person. Anyone who says that the bible says to bomb abortion clinics or picket soldiers funerals clearly has not read the bible.

          4. I will concede that the creation of the universe could have been completely naturalistic, but I also strongly state that all evidence points to the contrary.

          3. If right and wrong can trivially arise, then how come every single civilization ever recorded have always had the same core understanding of right and wrong? How is it that throughout history, when completely different people look back on the practices of other people, it is so easy to pick out what they did morally wrong? Why do people from completely different cultures and times view most of the same things as crimes? If right and wrong were human constructs, then those things would vary according to the culture and time. I know what you are thinking, “Women used to be brutalized, slaves legal, etc.” Those are incidentals, and in most cases we can find people of those times that did realize that those things were wrong, which is one of the reasons those things are not tolerated today. Stating that a supernatural reason for this moral code causes it to become overly complicated is false. It makes it so much simpler.

          2. Not in a while, I will admit, but I do know that the constitution says nothing about not giving tax exempt status to churches. Because that is what the bulk of the constitution is, saying what the government could not do. While I can not speak for all churches everywhere, I know that mine does not pick any ones pocket. My church runs a food pantry and a soup kitchen, and both run off of donations.

          1. Imagine this, we get to mars, and build a habitation station there. In this station is a control panel that has dials for all the things that are needed to make life, water, air, gravity, etc. Now say that we spin those dials to completely random numbers, and leave. We then return three years later to find that all of the dials have been turned to exactly what is needed for life. Could you not reasonably assume that some intelligent creature changed those dials? Such is the universe. A space where life could flourish, if given the right conditions, and wouldn’t ya know? The exact right conditions are the conditions we have, even though there is no reason it has to be like that! I am not saying that the universe wanted to create us, I am saying that God did. I am saying that He created the universe to be able to sustain us. It is not so much as water filling a pot hole as water filling an in ground pool. It was obviously made for water. I also do not recall any mention of evolution. I was talking about the universe as a whole, as an entity. Not creatures on earth evolving. I also said world religions, meaning the big ones, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc. The core beliefs of how to treat each other being so similar across many different religions do argue for a supernatural element, because how can two groups of people with two different outlooks thousands of miles away both come away with mostly the same rules about how to treat other people? “Simple, pragmatic success” simply does not cut it, because when these religions were formed, they were not successful. They were just made. I find it hard to believe that these were made just as a way to control people. They were made because man has always realized that there is something greater than us and they wanted to please that greater something. I believe that greater something is called God, and that his only son Jesus came to earth as a man so men could be free from sin. I also believe, with all my heart, that God loves all of us. He loves me. He loves you. So much He would do anything to have a relationship with you. If that is silly, then I’m a banana t-rex. And proud of it. Nothing is impossible with God. You probably don’t believe that, and a few years ago, I would have believed you. But I have seen and felt God in my life, and the lives of others. No amount of data or studies are going to make those experiences false.

          I have thoroughly enjoyed this discussion and I pray that you continue to challenge theists, because God can withstand any challenge that is put against Him. You may not know it, or even want it, but in arguing against, you make the argument for so much stronger. That means that you are doing God’s work without even meaning to, and for that, you have my gratitude.

          1. KB

            1. If I had a billion planets, spun dials on all of them and one of them produced a combination that worked, I wouldn’t be too surprised.

          2. Andrew

            But isn’t is suspicious that it worked on the only planet that we know of that can support life naturally? Seriously, based on position alone, almost every other planet can not support life.

          3. Clint

            Again wrong. Learn something about science dude, before you spout off what you know clearly nothing about. Based on most current somewhat conservative estimates of “life possible” planets given the fast number of stars and extraterrestrial planets in those solar systems, there’s been a number of studies that estimate between 2.2 and 2.6 million planets in our own Milky Way galaxy that fit the median criteria for life as we know it, liquid water/not too hot, not too cold etc.

            This doesn’t even count moons and other terrestrial bodies that might harbor life. Moons such as Titan and Europa which fit this criteria, here in our own solar system might have life on them right now. Mars might have harbored life at one time. Our thinking about it doesn’t even include forms of life we cannot imagine of right now, i.e. non-carbon based life forms. Expand your mind out of your silly book for a little while and you might be amazed by something that’s actually real.

          4. Andrew

            According to what? All scientific journals that I have read stated that the possibility of finding a life sustaining planet in the universe is rather low, taking into account that a planet basically has to be where earth is to just have the correct gravity for life, among other things.

          5. Clint

            5. Sir, then I can say with all certainty that you are not really a Christian. Only in this stupid “Religion is great” society can someone not follow most of the tenets of their chosen religion, not follow many of the precepts of their prophet, choose to live by the rules in the holy book they want, and then have the gall to tell other people they don’t know and live by the Bible. Not once does Jesus say anything bad about slavery-totally acceptable, teen promiscuity is punishable by death, working on the sabbath is punishable by death, stoning is a perscribed God’s punishment for many other things. God himself kills millions of people, genocides entire societies, etc etc. If you are truly a Christian, like you claim, you would be for these things and more. Because you are not, you cannot really claim to be anything but someone who believes some stuff in a book that lays out the tenets of Christianity. What? Is God wrong and you and your society is right? That seems totally backwards from what being a Christian is all about.

            4. BRPPTTT Wrong. “All evidence points to the contrary?” Name one thing. Because there’s a ton of scientific evidence including the physics of stars, planet creation, dark matter, the structure of the universe, red shifts, etc. That suggest a 13 billion year old universe that came into being through naturally occuring physical processes, not a 6000 year old universe blinked into existence where Earth is at the center of it. Just stating something does not make it true in the least. Show me ONE piece of evidence that backs the biblical creation of the universe verified, and tested by multiple sources. One.

            3. To answer your question, because people are all the same dude. Have been for essentially 100,000 years. You (no surprise) act like Human beings are ultra complicated divine beings. No man, we don’t like being stolen from, we don’t like being killed, we don’t like being raped, we don’t like being treated badly by those around us. We’re animals with a complex brain. Almost all our laws that have endured throughout multiple societies, have been based on these ideas and what happens to us here on earth, not the idea of a God with cosmic laws that supercede our ideas of right and wrong. Plus, INCIDENTALS? Slavery and the mistreatment of women based on biblical principals for over 5000 years is incidental. God just kind of let that one slide for a long time, until he got his act together to let us change our minds. Lol, yeah right. Plus, you fail to see that those things slavery, brutality of women are easily justifiable by the bible, and God’s edicts. Why you would even want to worship a God that does those things and condones those things, and relies on his creation to make a moral judgement above his to set things straight is beyond me.

            1 and 2 have already been pointed out as nonsense just as well as I could.

          6. Andrew

            Congratulations! You have done what a lot of atheist do when it comes to biblical knowledge, memorize a few things and make stuff up about the rest!

            5. While it is true that Jesus or any of the other writers of the new testament ever called for an end to slavery, they also welcomed slaves as brothers, something unheard of then. You also misunderstand what slavery in biblical times was. Outside of captured enemies, it was a form of debt payment. There was no chapter eleven back then. If you owed more than you could pay then you became a slave to pay off the debt. There is even a celebration in Jewish law called Jubilee, that says that all slaves are to be freed. There is also an entire book in the bible written to a slave owner, called Philemon, in which Paul says he met his escaped slave, he is going to send the slave back, and he urges the slave owner to welcome him like a brother. In John chapter 8 is the story of the adulterer that Jesus pardoned. There are also stories of Jesus working on the sabbath, so there goes that. If you have ever read the bible, you would know that Paul received a vision that said that they were no longer under the law. That is why Christians can eat delicious, delicious bacon, and work on the sabbath. God makes no one do anything. People choose their own path, and even in the biblical record when he says, “Keep it up and your in trouble” the people still keep on what they are doing. You are blaming God for being a true and fair judge and doling out punishment where it is required. That would be like blaming a court judge for all the prisoners. It is not the judges fault, but the criminals. From all of your inaccuracies, it is clear that you are the one who has no idea what being a christian is about, or what we believe.

            4. So you saying stuff is true makes it true? I still don’t see how any of the stuff you mentioned lends to the argument that the start of the universe was by natural causes. You seem to be under the impression that english is what the bible was written in. It was written in hebrew, which is an a rather complex language, and difficult to translate the exact meaning. There are parts of the hebrew bible that are a single word that the english bible takes a paragraph to explain. There are some things that get lost with translation, but the meat of it is still there. On another note, since you lump me in with the ultra-conservative bible belt simply because I say I’m christian, can I just go ahead and assume that your a gay-vegan-communist-prostitute since you talk like an atheist? I have been to the creation museum, and it was, for the most part, completely stupid. The best part was the gift shop. There is nothing in the bible to substantiate the claim that the universe is only 6000 years old. That is a claim made by small minds with big fear of science. I have neither. I believe that the universe is millions of years old and that that belief contradicts nothing in the bible. Oh, and you wanted proof? Try this http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/audio/newevidence.htm

            3. I never stated anywhere that humans were divine beings. They are not. Neither are we animals with a complex brain. If you want to apply that definition to yourself, then feel free. I, however, am above animals. You should put yourself above them too. And if our laws are reflections of what has happened to us, then how come babies can show morals? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1275574/Babies-know-difference-good-evil-months-study-reveals.html Again, you only show that you are very ignorant of the bible. No where in Gods law does it say that slavery or mistreatment of women is right, that is is mans law. Learn the difference, or perhaps, you know, read a bible, before you claim to know what is written in them.

  4. tschill

    Strange. I don’t believe in any of those myths nor do I know any atheist, who does.

    Looks more like a typical rhetorical strategy – I create a false statement, claim it is somebody else’s believe, falsify it and voilá – I am right and you are wrong. Nananananaanaa!

  5. Nick

    When Greta Christina says ‘all religions are equally crazy’, I don’t think she’s claiming that every religious person is dangerously insane. She means that no religious belief has any more sensible, realistic founding than any other. To be a Christian, for example, is no more or less logical than to be a Hindu. So Dr. King is not being judged in the same moral category as Bin Laden, but their religious beliefs are noted as being equally unfounded.

  6. Suzane Watkinson

    Wow, what kind of methodolgy did you come up with to get this report ? Talk to 3 atheists ???

    Sorry, but this is total nonsense.

  7. Fubar

    The obvious evidence is that the bible was written by ancient jewish tribal leaders who used the natural tendency of human beings to be in awe of the universe to consolidate beliefs and unite people politically. The christian part is similarly a result of politics, but also contains important information about how people search for truth and meaning.

    As such, it is not hard to find things that are either wrong or right in the bible.

    It is also not hard to find importnat things missing. Evolution being a classic example. A scientific explanation of how to time travel is also missing, but atheists aren’t any better on that topic. Both do poorly on bringing about world peace. lol.

    On the other hand, since people are also looking for good and truth, there is historical evidence in the bible of that search.

    What atheists typically think about religion obviously will tend to revolve around what they see as the problematic aspects of religion. (There are some excellent exceptions.)

    In analysing religion, atheists might benefit from considering ideas about “god” to be inventions of human beings, and by extension, products of evolutionary-cultural processes. This could help atheists “see” the cultural logic in various religions.

    Mythic religion is a necessary component of imperialistic (slave war) societites, and their conformist politics. This chafes against the basic principles of modernism that most atheists promote.

    Many philosophers have come to the sad conclusion that “reason has its limits” in terms of being a way of organizing society.

    Reason has become just as much a form of oppresive absolutism as premodern religion was.

    Minority religions have some pithy criticisms of the dominant religions. For example, Buddhists do not need “god” when they practice ways of seeking a spiritual escape from suffering.

    What religious people typically think about atheism obviously will tend to revolve around what they see as the problematic aspects of atheism.

    Arguments between relious people and atheists can easily contain false statements and distortions by people on both sides.

    The difficult thing is for people on both sides to come with reasons to cooperate with the other side despite differences of belief, and develop methods that will facilitate doing so.

    In some cases, there are aspects of religion that have been ignored that can provide useful guidance, and in other cases, science can provide neutral ground.

    In the process of trying to find something better about the other side, maybe everyone will become better themselves.

    My opinion is that evolution wired the human brain to seek meaning and higher truths/knowledge. Religion is one result, science and reason another. A holistic approach seems more fruitful than one that is based on conflict and hostility.

    Postmodern culture has created problems that will likely require that insights from both religion and science to solve.

    Both religion and science can probably mutually benefit from working together to solve human problems instead of creating them.

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