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Benefit of the Doubt

I have noticed that often times when I am discussing and/or debating Christians they assume the worst about me and my arguments. This I think is a symptom of their belief that humans are all evil sinners. It is hard to have a friendly conversation with someone who won’t give you the benefit of the doubt.

Let me give a few examples. One time I was discussing the Ten Commandments with a fundamentalist Christian. I mentioned that the third commandment forbids working on Saturdays. He promptly accused me of lying. As it turns out, I was simply mistaken. The forth commandment forbids working on Saturday, not the third. It was an honest mistake, but instead of giving me the benefit of the doubt and trying to find out what I was referring to or why I thought what I did, he claimed that I purposefully tried to deceive him.

This was not an isolated incident. Similar instances of Christians expecting the worst from others is pretty common place in my experience. Another example is when I wrote that according to Christianity, the original sin came about because Adam and Eve ate an apple. Again with razor quick speed, there were Christians lining up to tell me that I clearly haven’t read the Bible because if I had, I would know that it wasn’t an apple. I actually had to laugh out loud. Of course it wasn’t actually an apple. The tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is a bit of a mouthful though and since this fruit is usually depicted as looking like an apple and I wanted to simplify what I was saying, I went with apple. Everyone knows what the apple represented, so I didn’t feel that I was being misleading, just symbolic.

I could go on all day with examples, but the point is that a thief believes that everyone steals. Christianity preaches that we are all evil sinners and we can’t help ourselves. So rather than trying to be the best people we can be, some Christians don’t try to actually deal with undesirable desires. Instead, they mask those desires with Jesus.

These particular Christians put themselves in my place and say to themselves, “If I were trying to prove my point, I would just lie. But I don’t want to go to Hell, so I won’t.” Knowing that atheists don’t believe in Hell opens the door to lying in their mind.

This is also when so many Christians think that without God there is no morality and atheists should just rape, steal, and murder anyone we want. It is after all what many of them would do if they didn’t have Jesus.

The idea that people are inherently evil affects the way Christians view other people. Instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt they tend to think the worst of people. This is beyond cynical and borders on paranoia. It is important to note however that no all Christians are like this. In fact, I don’t usually assume that they are. Instead, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

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