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Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up

I have been known to start up debates and discussions with Christians on more than a few occasions. Some might even call it picking a fight or even a form of intellectual or spiritual bullying of those less knowledgeable about religion than I am. In any case, one drawback to doing this is that I hear the same claims and arguments a million times over from Christians who just don’t know the facts and history of their own religion. Today, I would like to focus on one of the more bizarre things that I hear over and over again from so many Christians. Many times when I have these discussions with Christians, they will tell me at one point in the conversation that Christianity is the majority religion in the world and that all those people can’t be wrong. This claim of truth by popularity isn’t new, nor is it bizarre in and of itself. However, later in the conversation, these same Christians talk about how Christians are always being persecuted for their beliefs because they are in such a minority not only here in America but also in the world in general.

Now, for an atheist like me who relies on logic and reason, these two statements seem on the surface to be completely and totally contradictory. How is it logically possible for Christianity to be both the majority religion and, at the same time, for Christians to be the persecuted minority? Such statements are enough to short-circuit the logic chips of the HAL 9000. While it is to no surprise to me that many Christians often have a logic of their own, which by most standards would be considered illogical, this is surprisingly not one of those times.

After exploring these statements further with many Christians, I have solved this paradox, which unfortunately for Christians, leads to a Pandora’s Box of problems for them. But first, let’s decipher this paradox. When Christians say that they are the majority religion, they are factually correct. More than half the world identify themselves as Christians. And here in the United States, that number reaches roughly 80 percent. However, every Christian I have met, without fail, has made a claim resembling the idea that they are a “real” Christian, while some other person claiming to be Christian is not a real Christian. For instance, if you were to ask a fundamentalist, right-wing Christian who they would consider to be fake Christians, they would quickly point a finger at people claiming to be Christians who just go to church on Sundays and then live their lives. They might also point to people who claim to be Christians but don’t hate gays or protest abortion clinics and claim that those Christians aren’t living the full or true “word of God.”

On the flip side of the spiritual spectrum, if you were to ask more politically liberal Christian the same question, they would very quickly point fingers at those Christians previously mentioned and claim that these false Christians don’t love thy neighbor as thyself, nor do they follow the “turn the other cheek” philosophy, which they claim Jesus was all about. These Christians think that the other Christians give Christianity a bad name and that they don’t represent the true beliefs of Jesus or God.

And then there are the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Almost no one outside of their ranks believes they are “True” Christians, and not surprisingly, almost no one in their ranks believes that anyone outside of their denominations are “real” or “True” Christians. In fact, for every Christian claiming to be a “real” or “True” Christian, there are a ton of other Christians claiming that that Christian isn’t a Christian at all or is a “Christian In Name Only.” In other words, they are fake Christians.

It is in this way that most Christians see themselves as being in the minority. One Christian explained it this way. Even though over 80 percent of people call themselves Christians, only half go to church. And of that half, only a third can “rightly” be called evangelical. So, in actuality, instead of 80 percent, this Christian wanted to claim 13.2 percent of Americans to be Christian. Of course, this number only came up when it was advantageous to be a minority.

This reasoning, however, creates some problems for Christians. If, for example, we were to ask all of these different Christians who the “real” Christians were, they would all have different answers. Many would actually have diametrically opposed answers. But surely there must be some sort of independent analysis we could do to figure out who the “real” Christians actually are, right? Wrong. You see, the Bible is the common source document for all Christians, so in order for us to prove someone’s “Christianhood,” we would have to square their beliefs and actions with the Bible. The problem is that there are passages in the Bible that do indeed justify the claims of all of these different Christians. And while there are also passages that contradict the claims and actions of any one of these Christian claimers, it would be hard to make the argument that because a particular Christian doesn’t follow a particular passage that they could not be a Christian. The reason? There is no shortage of passages in the Bible that no Christian follows. All you have to do is go to any atheist website to find them. Plus, many passages in the Bible contradict other passages in the Bible. In fact, whole sections contradict other whole sections. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this here, you can do your own homework. Needless to say, that the message of Jesus is sometimes a message of peace and other times a message of “the sword.”

This being the case, the Bible can actually be all things for all people. That is the real “Truth” about Christianity and as a result, anyone claiming to be a Christian has equal validity to the title. Of course, one could easily argue the other way, too, that in fact, no one is a real Christian at all and that Christianhood is actually impossible. I mean who could really smite thy enemies and turn the other cheek. In the end, I prefer to accept everyone’s claim of Christianhood… it gives me people to debate with.

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  • existential blues

    > In any case, one drawback to doing this is that I hear the same claims and arguments a million times over from Christians who just don’t know the facts and history of their own religion.

    Many of those people are prolific posters to Myspace blogs, and you wind up saying the same things over and over and over.

    My personal gripe is the pat answer to the question of suffering that most Christians give. It is a complex issues, one that very few Christians give much thought to. It’s an unpleasant topic, so people try to avoid it, unless it’s pushed at them. There’s no rational way to resolve it. It’s a question that has caused many believers to abandon their faith. A lot of the people who are left behind are the “good soliders”, the people who don’t question authority.
    Onward Christian Soldiers? Or turn the other cheek? It gets confusing.

  • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

    I might differentiate between what I would consider a “real” Christian and someone who’s gotten some bad influences which infected their interpretations of scripture. However, as I think i have said before, all the issues you mentioned are things in the background. Picking a side on abortion, or gay marriage, doesn’t define your Christianity and walk with God, it will certainly effect it, which is why you should make a good educated decision but it certainly doesn’t make you a “real” or “fake” Christian. Clearly, the Bible doesn’t support or advocate homosexuality…..it’s so clear it’s crazy that people REALLY try to use the Bible and say, oh Jesus loves gays, not that he doesn’t, love the person not the sin, yes yes we’ve all heard it, but it applies here. As for abortion, it’s a bit more tricky in my opinion.

    All these contradictions I’m presented with are always false misrepresentations of scripture which can be very clearly reasoned and proven false. Sometimes there are Bible difficulties, because of the different writers that didn’t get together and write similarly or talk about which events to say as in the gospels, they called it like they saw it.

    Something we can both agree on is the Christians LOVE to argue and debate about whats right and whats not. Duh, this seems perfectly logical to me seeing as how humans are….we want to be right…gives you a sense of pride. The wisest men are the ones who can admit fault in light of truly convincing evidence.

    The Bible is can only be “all things for all people” if you are a fool who doesn’t take the time to study it in it’s entirety. To study background information, and historical context. Advocating any belief requires you to at least be able to show you can back up your conclusions based on something other than “I feel Jesus loves them” (argument I hear very often in support of “gay Christians”…I’m not sure if it’s possible to be a gay Christian….thats a touchy topic….it’s clear it’s a sin, but it’s clear I sin….then you get into degree’s of sin if you say they can’t be Christians ect. ect….haha)

    Once again you’ve proved absolutely nothing. People like to be right and say they’re right, duh. Doesn’t make the concepts and teachings in scripture less valid simply because there are various interpretations of things. The bigger picture is that God did indeed create our realm, and we have separated ourselves from him because of sin. Christ died as the final sacrifice for our sins, and we’re now covered by the blood….repent and be saved my friend.

    • Scott

      The same old arguments about context and whatnot. Us atheists have studied the bible. It contradicts itself in many places are that in turn causes factionalism of the Christians over what to follow and what to not follow. Would a perfect God allow his holy book to have these issues? Nope, because if he did, he wouldn’t be perfect.

      Expected response:
      “Oh but the confusion and the lack of clarity is all part of God’s plan”

      You mean that getting into heaven is a lotto? That we have to be born into Christianity and also be stupid enough to stay with it and purpose enjoy being illogical to get into heaven?

      “Once again you’ve proved absolutely nothing.”

      lolwut? read it again

      “People like to be right and say they’re right, duh. Doesn’t make the concepts and teachings in scripture less valid simply because there are various interpretations of things.”

      THEY CONTRADICT EACH OTHER!

      “The bigger picture is that God did indeed create our realm, and we have separated ourselves from him because of sin.”

      Lies, we are descendants of Dryopithecus that adapted to the change from a rainforest climate to a savanna climate in Eastern Africa when the Himalayas went up. There is real evidence to support this, not a mythical contradictory book as the only form of evidence.

      Expected response:
      “Oh but there is evidence! Look at how beautiful the world is! That is God’s creation!! Also evolution didn’t happen, there are missing links and it makes no sense”

      First, the beauty of the world is not evidence of God, that is just metaphorical manipulation. I suspect you will form some counter argument against evolution. I have been studying ecology alot recently and I have now been able to define niches of every single major animal of the African Savanna. Prehistoric hominids fit perfectly into the model and nowadays current day primitive cultures still fit that niche (because hominids became us humans). And parallel evolution is clearly visible if you know enough about ecology.

      What is sin? Adam and Eve eating the apple is the equivalent of a toddler getting into baby powder and making a mess. What we have is a tyrant of a God in the old testament that is punishing people for doing what the natural instincts he gave them told them to do. A perfect god let this happen!

      “Christ died as the final sacrifice for our sins, and we’re now covered by the blood….repent and be saved my friend.”

      WTF does this mean? Christians say this as an argument. This is propaganda where if you say it over and over people will believe it to be logic.

      “Jesus died on the cross for us and you should be ashamed of being atheist!!!”

      ^^ That is what I am reading.

  • existential blues

    It’s funny you mentioned abortion and homosexuality, two things that Jesus never talked about, but you didn’t mention divorce, which Jesus railed against. The bible doesn’t advocate health insurance either. Is that because health insurance displeases Jesus?

    You think it’s logical that Christians can’t come close to agreeing on the meaning of the scriptures? Do you think it’s reasonable that Paul is so hard to decode? Aren’t you disturbed that a smart guy like God couldn’t have inspired something less ambiguous, and that could have been translated more easily, OR THAT DIDN’T EVEN REQUIRE TRANSLATION? He was omniscient, FFS!

    > I’m not sure if it’s possible to be a gay Christian

    Yeah, but it is possible to be a bigoted Christian, as you demonstrate. You are a hypocrite, and a judge without a clue, which makes you an epic hypocrite. You say that homosexuality is a mortal sin, but you don’t say a word about divorce. Don’t you see why so many Americans see evangelical Christians as frauds? You are exhibit A. Your arrogance is breathtaking.

    Judge not lest ye be judged. Are you familiar with the concept?

    The problem is that the scriptures conflict with one another. Have you actually read and understood the gospels? In fact, can you even name them? Few American “Christians” can.

    You are lost in your brainwashing, deep, deep in the tank. Do you even know who wrote the New Testament? Hint: it didn’t come off God’s laser printer.

    • existential blues

      ^^^^^ Intended as a reply to Matt.

    • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

      lol…..wow. Excuse me for not mentioning divorce, my bad, do I need to list every single thing I believe to be wrong? You wanna know my views on divorce? Don’t do it. Easy solution for this, don’t get married unless you intend to #1 stay faithful and #2 WORK together. Only grounds for divorce are unfaithfulness/abuse. There, I talked about divorce, happy?

      Awww I judged people….*tear* What the heck! I merely said I agree with scriptures teachings on homosexuality….I am familiar with the concept but it’s just a nice catch phrase that isn’t in the BIble. Judgment is impossible to avoid, as soon as you form an opinion about anything or anyone you’ve judged them. So your a hypocrite you silly goose. The basic definition of judge, is to form an opinion….

      Twist my words….awesome.

      “Duh, this seems perfectly logical to me seeing as how humans are….we want to be right…gives you a sense of pride.”

      We do come close, you’re setting up a strawman. As I’ve said COUNTLESS times, the large majority of Christians agree that Christ is the only way to heaven…as scripture depicts…those that disagree are reading the wrong book or something, cause there is no way around that fact.

      As usual your making accusations in generalities….what is ambiguous. Pick something specific and then I could address it. Every time people tell me this, the thing they say is ambiguous they know nothing about, or are just flat wrong.

      “The problem is that the scriptures conflict with one another. Have you actually read and understood the gospels? In fact, can you even name them? Few American “Christians” can.”

      Wrong. Show me. There are no major discrepancies that take away from the meaning, only very very slight differences that are easily understood because of the different writers perspectives and understandings. You really think I can’t name the gospels?! Am I such a fool as to be arguing with you and telling you that YOUR don’t understand the Bible, and all the while I can’t even name the gospels?! I WOULD be a hypocrite in that case….good thing I’m not.

      Next, your conclusion….

      “Yeah, but it is possible to be a bigoted Christian, as you demonstrate. You are a hypocrite, and a judge without a clue, which makes you an epic hypocrite. You say that homosexuality is a mortal sin, but you don’t say a word about divorce. Don’t you see why so many Americans see evangelical Christians as frauds? You are exhibit A. Your arrogance is breathtaking.”

      …is completely illogical. A, i’m a hypocrite. B. because i judge without a clue. (now you need evidence for this…) C Oh well i judge without a clue because i didn’t say anything about divorce…LOL what the heck dude?! How would that prove I’m a hypocrite because I mentioned homosexuality, but not divorce….rofl.

  • Leo

    “Sometimes there are Bible difficulties, because of the different writers that didn’t get together and write similarly or talk about which events to say as in the gospels, they called it like they saw it;” -supposedly the Bible is Gods Word…so in your words the Word of God was misunderstood by the people writing the Bible? Sorry, not buying it as Gods ultimate word.

    Butt what to do with gay-Christians? Maybe they should come up with their own profit (prophet) and write their own scriptures; much like the Mormons…then maybe we could find an immaculate-conceived child who revives after abortion (say a week later), the anti-abortion Christians could hail this as the 3rd / 4th (whatever) coming…

    How many times has Jesus returned? (and according to whom?) Wasn’t His return supposed to signify something? Then again if the Rapture has already come and taken the chosen, then wouldn’t this be the minority we’re discussing and the majority left here are the un-chosen (the self-claimed “soldiers” who think they were left behind purposefully to save as many as they can before Armageddon?) Or, are these people the minority to the Christians who are still waiting for the Rapture?

    Wouldn’t it be simpler for an all powerful, all knowing/seeing, omnipotent god to literally appear before his creation, speak aloud his intention, level his right and establish himself as the ultimate being, therefore removing any doubt or doubter? Or does he speak all the time and we’re not listening? In that case are those who whisper to God and keep Him in their heart the real Christians and those that question God aren’t Christian?

    Other than how ridicules Christianity really is it seems every discussion of Christianity ends with more questions then answers. Every comment leads to doubt.

    How’s your billboard review coming and can we expect an atheist billboard soon?

    • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

      “so in your words the Word of God was misunderstood by the people writing the Bible?”

      Your kidding? How on earth would you draw that conclusion from what I said?! Seriously!

      Oh my goodness….I find it so ridiculously hilarious that atheists are so adamant that they “have studied the Bible” but you CANNOT demonstrate that. Because you are so completely clueless to things I talk about….

      • Scott

        ““Sometimes there are Bible difficulties, because of the different writers that didn’t get together and write similarly or talk about which events to say as in the gospels, they called it like they saw it;”

        I guess I missed your other posts but you still ignored my first post.

        So, is this statement I quoted it what you said. I saws that the writers never got to together and they called it as they saw it. Do you see the problem here? You’ve implied that you admit that there is confusion in the bible over what is said. Because they bible is supposed to be God’s word, we can logically see that you just said “the Word of God was misunderstood by the people writing the Bible”. Then you go and rewrite history and tell us that is not what you said and once again stated we don’t understand the bible because we lack the brain threshold to accept such nonsense as fact. If you book was not written clearly and properly and serves as the only real evidence of God, then your faith is questionable.

  • Leo

    GOD DOESN’T WANT YOU TO THINK

    “Do unto other as I would do unto you…murder, rape, send disease, cause pestilence, and brainwash thy neighbor” -God Almighty

  • Graham

    I think Mormonism is to Christianity is what Christianity is to Judaism. Its become its own religion in a way, because their seperation is very extreme from most Christian thought. I would consider them outside of Christianity; a religious speciation so to speak.

    • existential blues

      Religious evolution and survival of the weirdest.

  • Sara

    For claiming to be atheist it is extremely funny that all you have been talking about is Christ. If you don’t beleive his teachings than why are you people even trying to analize them? It would make more sense to talk about what atheists believe, but then again I suppose there would be little to discuss. From the looks of it you all enjoy arguing over things you don’t know much about…..is there a point in any of it or do you have too much time on your hands to argue over what others believe?

    • Graham

      We live in a society filled with Christians, so yes we are going to talk about Christianity most often. Trust me though when I say we are critical of all religions and untestable beliefs.

    • Scott

      Yes, us atheists know more about the bible than you Christians do. As long as atheists are living in a world dominated by Christians, we are going to fight them back. Often that requires using the bible against them since most of them never ever read the bible.

    • Scott

      I have more to add:

      “From the looks of it you all enjoy arguing over things you don’t know much about…..is there a point in any of it or do you have too much time on your hands to argue over what others believe?”

      We don’t know much about it you say?

      ROFL

      I already covered that in my last post. Most Atheists have read the bible and rejected it due to most of the contradictions and atrocities presented in it. Most people who remain Christian do so because they have a church culture that they would lose out on if they were not Christians. Almost all Christians do not follow the bible’s teachings, nor is it possible due to contradicts. Preachers make up their own shit about what the bible says and people go along with it.

      And, we have too much time on our hands. Well we certainly aren’t wasting time praying before eating, praying before bed, and going to church.

      Religion hurts society as a whole. It causes politicians to get elected over a single issue (pro-life for example). Stem cell research should happen. Pro-life stances are generally only valid when you are religious. Most atheists are against the death penalty and wars because we know there is no afterlife. And yes, it’s okay to send people to die in a war because they go to heaven when in reality, they just die. Religion also causes people not to think critically which results in a society less fit than truly possible.

      It isn’t because we have too much time, it is because we are fighting for the better of society and humankind.

  • Sara

    Your right in alot of ways. There are many Christians that dont read the Bible at all and I know those people use Christianity as a crutch. There are others that have read the Bible like myself and have also had a personal experience which has caused them to believe. So how can you say they are wrong over their personal experience with God? You cant, that is where you are confused. Why not let people believe what they will? Scott I see much of your logic in your reply but you cannot clump all Christians together as if they all were the same. There are many types of Christians. Luke warm, make believers, true believers and what have you. We dont determine this, because of the personal relationship. Religion causing people to not think critically? haha you must be joking? I am studying medicine and still read my Bible and STILL think critically about my job and my spiritual life both! do you really think by posting blogs on the internet your fight against Chritianity will be won….haha I know theres nothing that could change my mind about it and I know many others that feel the same way. Looks like your fighting a losing battle.

    • Scott

      Well, I got a reply, that’s awesome! Lol, so far this change over to the new blog has been lacking in debates.

      “There are others that have read the Bible like myself and have also had a personal experience which has caused them to believe. So how can you say they are wrong over their personal experience with God? You cant, that is where you are confused. Why not let people believe what they will? Scott I see much of your logic in your reply but you cannot clump all Christians together as if they all were the same. There are many types of Christians. Luke warm, make believers, true believers and what have you.”

      There are many types of Christians, my main beef is against the ones that fell into my stereotype. But the bible does say to stone people on many occasions for various sins. It says to bring war to non-believers but to also turn the other check. What does a Christian do with contradictions?

      “Religion causing people to not think critically? haha you must be joking? I am studying medicine and still read my Bible and STILL think critically about my job and my spiritual life both!”

      Exception to the rule.

      “do you really think by posting blogs on the internet your fight against Chritianity will be won….haha I know theres nothing that could change my mind about it and I know many others that feel the same way. Looks like your fighting a losing battle.”

      Now this is where you are wrong. You might be solid as a rock but many others are not. And us atheists will specifically target them. I have deconverted many many people. Staks claims to deconverted many people thru his blogs. So you can laugh at our efforts we will slowly deconvert people and it might take years to make progress but an effort such as this starts with baby steps.

      • http://myspace.com/blackhawk089 Matt

        “But the bible does say to stone people on many occasions for various sins. It says to bring war to non-believers but to also turn the other check. What does a Christian do with contradictions?”

        Clear cut example of WHY you CLEARLY do not understand scripture, or Christian theology. Complete strawman that clearly shows your ignorance and lack of understanding. That is why I say so often the atheists do not understand the Bible or theology. Because you prove time and time again you don’t. You think you have this awesome argument that proves I’m such an idiot for believing in the Bible because there are SOOO many contradictions. All your doing is proving your ignorant foolishness.

        • Scott

          So Matt is back again after you conveniently ignored all the other posts we threw at you. Clearly you are using this context excuse again to justify what happens in the bible. Then there is this thing you call a strawman that keeps just coming up in your arguments and is some of sort tactic you use to try to confuse us. The bible does say to stone people, tell me how that is out of context?

          “Oh well, they don’t really mean to stone you, nor were they serious about eating shellfish, oh but gays, they were serious about that”

          So how the fuck do you determine what is in context and what isn’t? It’s like you are taking the atrocities in the bible and saying they have another meaning thru some metaphor or symbolism but other things are serious and there are no cues to tell you what the context is supposed to be in each situation.

          So bible gets opened up to interpretation over the unclear context and holy fuck, we get different interpretations and sects of religion that contradict each other, just like the original topic of that blog was about but yet you deny.

          You go around defending this religion of yours whilst rejecting science (evolution and the big bang) in favor of you sacred book called the bible that is clearly full of contradictions that you are completely oblivious to that can have many unclear messages over it’s context. Just because you interpret it’s context as being all good and holy doesn’t mean it is.

          I’d think if the bible said to stone people, you’d think it meant to stone people because you know, it said to do that. So lets have our perfect god that says “thou shalt not kill” and orders you to stone people that do certain things but wait, it’s just a metaphor for not doing sins!!! Wow, I get it now! But it makes no sense!! Why stoning people is too evil to do to be what God wanted! After all, he is all loving and punished all mankind for one sin of the first two people every made and he allowed them to be capable of doing so. They had no knowledge of good and evil when they ate the fruit so they had no idea that it would be bad until they consumed it. Then this God sends his son down to earth many years later to smash that snake on the head but instead, he goes around healing people and walking on water and later gets killed on the cross as a sacrifice only to come back to life and rise to heaven to live happily ever after so it is as if the sacrifice wasn’t a sacrifice but rather a temporary suffering that I am sure Jesus could have beared as the son of God because after all, he can heal people and walk on water so surely those nails and that stress position couldn’t hurt all that bad but yet that cleared us of all our sins.

          Why don’t you actually address the three previous posts we threw at you? Why did those get ignored? Then you come back to this post which was part of another debate and spout some nonsense about context and scarecrows and told us how wrong we were because after all, you possess the knowledge of God and feel the need to come save some souls that are already damned in order to get some favor with a powerful imaginary friend. The one who is truly foolishly ignorant is you.

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  • SmilodonsRetreat

    1) That science is out to destroy religion. It’s not science’s fault if all the data shows that religions are wrong. That’s just the way it is.

    2) The the religious are better (more moral) than atheists. Everyone has touched on this already. But I’d just like to add that the religious who are good, are good out of fear. Atheists are good because the want to be. That’s in general. There are evil atheists and evil Christians.

  • http://im-skeptical.myopenid.com/ im_skeptical

    That the atrocities of 20th century Nazi and communist regimes are attributable to atheism.

    • perfectarc

      Wrong, The rise of Nazi Germany is attributable to nationalism.

      • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

        I think Im_Skeptical was saying that it was a misconseption that Nazi and communist regimes are a result of atheism. I could be wrong though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nirst-Fame/100003000426465 Nirst Fame

    If we truly understood science, we would readdress the way in which we set ourselves up to trigger cognitive believer-bias that stems from their need to feel that they understand their world. Education should never start with telling another that they are ‘full of shit’, but it should start with an honest desire to improve the understanding of those being educated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.crook.3 Jeffrey Crook

    the religious often mistake stridency for anger/hate.