Nine Reasons Why Christianity Is Targeted by Atheists
To the American Christian especially, it may feel that atheism singles you out too often. This is, however, for many reasons. You are caught in the crossfire because your beliefs are the ones most propounded in North America. Atheists actually disagree with and fight all religious beliefs that introduce preposterous, backward thinking. Christianity is just an especially easy and big target, and here are nine reasons why atheists pick on Christianity.
Mainstream and Emphatic
- Where I live, street preachers are few and far between, but I am familiar with the avid Christian witness (I used to be one). It's uncommon to see a Buddhist or a Jainist touting their beliefs in a public forum at a university or on street corners with signs. In North America, the largest portion of religious advertising is Christian. This does not even begin to address the way in which the message is delivered; many people are hateful in how they present the message: "You are going to Hell! God will judge you!" etc. No, I merely point to the fact that the majority of street evangelism in North America is Christianity. As a result, the majority of atheist response will be to Christians. If the main religion within the country was Islam, I think there would be a major response to Islam from atheists (and this is on the rise).
- Also, many atheists have their background in Christianity, making it easier to target and address the issues within the religion. I, for instance, was raised in Baptist theology and was well-versed in apologetics, Calvinism and Biblical Scripture. Beginning a conversation on Christianity is almost second nature to me. I can converse about church leaders, esoteric apologetic arguments, the origins of sin, or church leadership without batting an eye. However, begin discussing with me the Koran or anything regarding Islam, and I would be at a loss for the nuances of the religion, having never read the Koran or had more than a fleeting meeting with a Muslim.
- At face value, it may seem unfair to characterize Christianity as intellectually inert, but I more speak to the religion than the followers. If I asked a Christian if they could survive without food or water for a month, they'd agree they couldn't. If I asked them to light a wet sponge on fire, they would think it an unlikely task. However, within Scripture, such tasks are considered possible. The Christian apologist would respond that such a task was considered a miracle, but I'd say such miracles are the trend of the Christian faith, miracles which deny reason, and enter the realm of ridiculous belief.
- In several works by Dawkins, he outlines how religion, and Christianity specifically, decreases the instinct towards curiosity of an individual. For instance, physicists are very interested in stars and how they are made; for the Christian, it is easy to chalk it up to God and cease worrying about or trying to determine how. A better example in the past would be how natural disasters formed (thunderstorms, earthquakes) and religious people claimed it was God's doing, when science strove to find out and proved it was otherwise. A fine example within Christianity is the rainbow--said to be God's way of saying he would never flood the whole earth again, when it is really just light passing through water vapor in the clouds, decomposing to the colors we see.
- Christianity carries with it a heavy plate of guilt--it is unavoidable. To become a Christian, you must first admit that you are a sinner--a damnable, pitiful creature. Your sin could be as simple as "not knowing who god is," and yet for this crime, you are sentenced to eternal torture of the worst kind imaginable. Christopher Hitchens said it best:
I would submit that the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice is utterly immoral ... This is a positively immoral doctrine that abolishes the concept of personal responsibility on which all ethics and all morality must depend. It has a further implication. I'm told that I have to have a share in this human sacrifice even though it took place long before I was born. I have no say in it happening, I wasn't consulted about it. ... No, no, I'm implicated in it, I, myself, drove in the nails, I was present at Calvary, it confirms the original filthy sin in which I was conceived and born, the sin of Adam in Genesis. Again, this may sound a mad belief, but it is the Christian belief. Well it's here that we find something very sinister about monotheism and about religious practice in general: It is incipiently at least, and I think often explicitly, totalitarian. I have no say in this. I am born under a celestial dictatorship which I could not have had any hand in choosing. I don't put myself under its government. I am told that it can watch me while I sleep. I'm told that it can convict me of--here's the definition of totalitarianism--thought crime, for what I think I may be convicted and condemned. And that if I commit a right action, it's only to evade this punishment and if I commit a wrong action, I'm going to be caught up not just with punishment in life for what I've done which often follows axiomatically, but, no, even after I'm dead.
- If you think I make up this point, read or watch The Blazing Center by John Piper. In Christianity, God is considered the ultimate source of goodness and richness in life. As a result, a pursuit of him is the thing to be desired. However, no Christian puts God to the test. And why? Scripture forbids it! I find that to be a convenient little chestnut. For upon inspecting the God of the Bible, reading it with as little bias as possible, and pretending we are not caught up in the idiosyncrasies of Christianity, just as a human with some manner of self-respect, deference to others, and an understanding of common decency--the God of the Bible must be thought of as a morally reprehensible megalomaniac. I don't have time here to sum up all the ways he is, just to say that he is (Dawkins actually gives a rather good summary of it in The God Delusion). God's morality and reprehensible nature is part of the reason, I'm sure, people like Isaac Asimov said:
Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
Majority Rule in Law and Politics
- Despite our roots as a nation, of fleeing from a country for freedom of religion, to exercise and practice our beliefs separately from our lawmaking, Christianity, more than any other religion, has poisoned politics and law so deeply that is nearly suicidal to run for office as an atheist (though hopefully on a downward spiral https://thehumanist.com/commentary/is-it-still-political-suicide-to-run-for-office-as-an-atheist). The ACLU has done an excellent job of keeping religion out of law and upholding freedom, but they continued to be hammered at every side, mainly from Christian groups. The fact of the matter is, as much as Christianity may have (or have not) shaped our country, there is not a necessity for it to be the core of government. Too many politicians already side with it merely to "cozy up to" voters.
Suppression of Feminism and Women's Rights
- I've heard Christians call themselves feminists, but I have a hard time believing them. Some Christians do see women as equal in value to men, but rarely do they treat women as the same class. In Christian circles--and I draw on my experience for this--the highest dignity for a women is to be a wife and mother. While I have no issue with such a lifestyle, this ranking of achievements seems suppressive. A woman who pursues her dreams to become a politician, mathematician, scientist, lawyer, business mogul, journalist, or doctor, is seen as neglecting her family and what "God has called her to."
- In addition, Christianity has a history of valuing and treating women much worse than men. Here are a collection of quotes from Christian leaders:
Tertullian, "the father of Latin Christianity" (c160-225):
Woman is a temple built over a sewer.
Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215):
[Women's] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame. [^2]
[^2]: Pedagogues II, 33, 2
For it is improper for a woman to speak in an assembly, no matter what she says, even if she says admirable things, or even saintly things, that is of little consequence, since they come from the mouth of a woman. [^3]
[^3]: Origen (d. 258): Fragments on First Corinthians, 74
Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430):
Woman does not possess the image of God in herself but only when taken together with the male who is her head, so that the whole substance is one image. But when she is assigned the role as helpmate, a function that pertains to her alone, then she is not the image of God. But as far as the man is concerned, he is by himself alone the image of God just as fully and completely as when he and the woman are joined together into one.
What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. [^4]
[^4]: De genesi ad litteram, 9, 5-9
Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century:
As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence. [^5]
[^5]: Summa Theologica I q. 92 a. 1
Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546):
The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. [^6]
[^6]: Works 12.94
Mark Driscoll, current pastor of Mars Hill Church:
Women will be saved by going back to that role that God has chosen for them. Ladies, if the hair on the back of your neck stands up it is because you are fighting your role in the scripture. [^7]
[^7]: Sermon from 2008
Suppression of LGBTQ Rights
- Not only do Christians consider homosexuality an "abomination," they also wish to suppress any and all political rights. They view such a marriage union as a sin and a defamation of "traditional marriage." They fight the solidified idea that transgendered people actually have an emotional issue that can be solved by sex change and hormones. They deny that gay people are actually gay. Both of these types of people they suggest curing by using conversion therapy, which is really just hokum.
Creationism and Raising Doubts Against Evolution
- When it comes to science, there are few areas that raise such heated discussion as evolution and creationism. Creationism, despite the contrary claims of the humorously named Discovery Institute, has its roots in Christianity. It is nigh impossible to reconcile Christianity and evolution. Amid scientists, and peer-reviewed research, evolution is determinedly a fact. Despite this, Christianity continues to say that there is some kind of debate, creating an endless frustration for scientists and educators.
- Though not the trend within Christian churches, it is revealing and an outrage that churches sometimes operate Ponzi schemes, or other ways of stealing people's money--the "contribute to our ministry and Jesus will bless your life!"
- Additionally, atheists find it befuddling that these same churches and others do not have to pay taxes, which makes such a scheme doubly successful.
So, I have outlined above nine reasons why atheists do fight against Christianity. We don't see it as a waste of time because all nine of these reasons are important game changers.