A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook asking for my perspective of Christians. I suspect I was not the only one asked in a larger effort to get a variety of views. I’m quite happy to use this motivation to put down my thoughts, because it turned into a good coverage of much of my opinion on religion in general! Here it goes, with minor edits:
Okay! So, what is my perspective of Christians?
Well, first of all, there’s isn’t just one, grand perspective. Every single Christian is their own type, with differences large and small from one to the next. Ken Ham, like many learned when he debated Bill Nye, is a young Earth creationist. But many reputable scientists are Christians who accept that the world and universe are billions of years old. There are Christians who attend church weekly and pray daily, and there are the Xmas-Easter Christians. There are nice Christians and mean Christians. There are Catholics and Protestants, Pentecostals and non-denominationals. And just about every Bible passage can be interpreted in multiple ways.
There are only a few commonalities that I believe all Christians have, which are primarily that they believe in the supernatural and find faith to be a virtue. (I don’t accept either of those things.) I guess it would also be safe to assume that they believe the Resurrection story is true, as well. From these traits, however, I must conclude that Christians are not correct on this issue and don’t hold laws of logic, evidence, and reason in high enough regard. I find they hold these beliefs because their either haven’t learned to apply critical thinking skills to those beliefs or choose to keep the beliefs separate from everything else that they do apply those skills to.
I do want to emphasize that in no way am I asserting that Christians are unintelligent. Absolutely not. I simply believe they are mistaken or unaware of the depth of criticism of their beliefs that exists.
Most friends I have that are Christian don’t share or talk about it frequently with me, though I have had plenty of religious arguments and discussions with friends. Sometimes we stay close, sometimes not. Most who would be quite vocal or focused on their belief I probably wouldn’t get along with too well, being a strong supporter of same-sex marriage, feminism, abortion rights, comprehensive sex education, science education, and in general church-state separation. Not that devoted Christians necessarily are against these things, but the correlation between passionate, outward-professing belief and being opposed to aspects of my list is relatively high.
It’s also very important to emphasize that in no way is my atheism influenced by my perspective of Christians. Whether a believer I know is the nicest fellow or the grouchiest jerk has no impact on whether I believe myself. What determines that is evidence and reason. People who deconvert through research and thoughtful consideration aren’t the same as those who are angry with the Christian god or simply haven’t practiced in a while. Those people may be swayed by kindness and emotional argument. But not rationalists, like myself.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t love kind Christians! I love kind people in general, and am much more likely to be friends with people when they’re nice! In fact, there are demonstrable qualities that churches have that the atheist and secular communities are striving to create, like support networks, social events and gatherings, communities, and in general a sense of belonging. These are all wonderful things that I readily point out that the Christian community provides, even while I reject its doctrine.
Religion is one of my very favorite subjects to discuss. A lot of people seem to have this aversion to it because they fear it will end up hostile, but I chat about religion with coworkers and friends very amicably sometimes. It’s difficult at times because religion is so connected to a person’s personality that it feels any criticism of the belief is a criticism of their core being. But if they can decouple that connection just a little bit, I find there’s always something productive to talk about.