Cherry-picking religion: Do some religious people just choose the bits they like?


Hello everyone, I am fairly new to Think Atheist, so thought I would start with a topic that has always confused me. If this has already some up somewhere on the site I apologise, but I couldn't find anything regarding this issue.


I have never been religious. I was lucky enough to have parents who always just told me to figure out for myself what I want to believe. (They are not religious as such either, but are what some would call spiritual, believing in an afterlife, I suspect for comfort more than anything else. I do not have these beliefs).


I have, however, always had many religious friends, most of whom are Christian or Muslim. I have had debates with them about religion, and learnt much from it, but one thing has always confused me, and as of yet, I have never been given a satisfactory answer. Why is it (and I am asking both theists and atheists here) that so many religious people feel that they can pick which parts of their chosen religion they want to believe, and which bits are "just stories" or similar? For example, one of my Christian friends believes in God, heaven and hell, but does not believe in creationism. Is there anyone else out there with beliefs like this, and how did you come to this conclusion of what you believe is true from the Bible (or other religious texts) or not?


I am not trying to anger anyone here, and I realise that not all religious believers are like this. I am merely interested in getting an answer.



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The give everyone a second chance is the creed of catholics, and recently I found out, Jehovas Witness. When a pedophile is found out, he repents, says a few our our fathers and hail marys, and off he goes again. This is exactly why there are so many pedophiles in the catholic church, and why they are protected, that is besides protecting the brand and assets.


If your interested -

I don't think the Catholic Church was applying the creed of Jesus to pedophile priests.  It was just corrupt.  Jesus didn't preach just to let people off scot free - he spent three days on a cross.  But in theory, even pedophiles deserve a second chance, if they've been to prison, and can be shown truly to have changed their ways, and preferably are making amends.  Isn't that the humane way?  That's Jesus' big contribution - he saved us from behaving like animals in cases like this.

Ah, that's the problem, Simon, pedophiles don't go to jail, and pedophiles do not deserve a second chance. Raping and abusing a child, is not an Oopps moment. This is the one group that can't be rehabilitated.  Dozens of Australian pedophile priests were sent to Ireland, then hundreds of Irish Pedophile priests were sent to Africa. By the by, I don't believe there was a Jesus, not the Jesus of the bible, but that is another conversation. And I don't need a bloke to be tortured for my sins. He did not save us from behaving like animals. Animals behave better than us.

You may be right about pedo's, I don't know.  I looked at the Jehovah's Witnesses stuff.  Oh dear... freaks...


If animals behave better than us, it's because they do "bad" things without knowing they're bad, unlike humans who are supposed to know better. 


I think the point of Jesus volunteering to die on the cross, was to show that you have to suffer in order to be "cleansed of sins and born again". 

Pedophiles and ANY predatory criminal such as one who seeks out to rape women, do NOT EVER deserve a second chance. Their desires are a part of who they are, such as I being a female. I can't change that by wishing to. The same goes for these low-lifes of society. They can no more turn off these desires to hurt women and children as anyone can change the color of their eyes just by wanting to. I want to see laws that mean an automatic life sentence for child pornographers, those who buy/watch child pornography, those who molest/rape children or any other vulnerable person. They made a decision to prey on others and once they cross that line, they need to be removed from society permanently. Some of the most extreme cases, in my opinion, would even warrant the death penalty. I'm sick of letting these people free after a few years in prison just so they can re-offend, often even graduating to murder. No, not everyone deserves a second chance. By giving them one, we are endangering the entire public at large. I'm not willing to take that chance as it's well documented that these particular people are not going to stop if the opportunity presents itself.

Yayyy Trish - 

I watched an American show the other day Louis Theroux visited a mental institution just for pedophiles. 70% would not go through re-programming, and would stay the rest of their life in this institution. Some of these men had raped and sodomized over 50 children, one of these men had been voluntarily castrated.

A pedophile will NEVER, EVER, EVER, be 'normal' in society.

But different religions like Jehvah Witness, but especially the Catholic church, with the protection from the figging pope down, cover their crimes up, moves them around, in Australia to country towns, or a lot were sent to Ireland, from there to Africa, to keep on raping and sodmizing - unforgivable.

But the Catholic church says every one, if they repent, will be given a second chance. What The FUCK!!!  They say a couple of our fathers and a few hail marys, and they are on their way. Am I angry - youbetcha!!!!!!!

Me, too! So even a serial killer should have a second chance, too? The Catholic church isn't looking at the biology of these sick people. They are wired differently and so will never be able to ignore the urges they have. If opportunity presents itself, they WILL act upon it. Predators who seek out children, women, or anyone weaker than themselves for the purpose of causing harm do NOT ever, ever deserve a second chance. We have so many predators in our societies who serve a few years in prison, then they're back out doing the same crimes again...or worse. Certain crimes deserve no second chance. Period. You make the decision to molest a child, you're out. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Why are we consistently allowing these sickos back into society, putting EVERYONE at risk again? Why are we not learning our lesson (lawmakers, that is) and realizing we need to revamp our laws to put away the worst of society for good after their FIRST crime. I seriously don't get it.

@ Dale Headley:  A more proper answer. 

Well, that's an interesting point.  Would we have all the good things that religion has given us, without religion?  Of course, we would, but everything would be different, in a way I'm not sure about.  I think that apart from Jesus, Christianity has nothing good to offer at all.  Like you say, "Bronze Age mythology" sums it up.  Brutal, ugly, horrible, uninspired.  A complete joke.  But Jesus changed all that. 

He introduced a radical, revolutionary gospel of love and forgiveness which benefits us to this day.  He did not necessarily originate that stuff, the same as the Buddhists didn't originate any of their ideas (the worthwhile ones anyway), in the sense that they've all been independently thought of before and since.  But uniquely, they explored, extended and popularised those ideas.  When someone mentions loving-kindness, reincarnation and non-attachment, we automatically think of Buddhism.  It's the same with Jesus and forgiveness.  In that field, he made a unique and valuable contribution.  It seems reasonable to say that he has had a big positive effect on society, and has lessons to teach everyone.  Even though his wisdom may seem simple and commonplace, we aren't born knowing it automatically; it is very profound, and saves lives and souls. 

I think Arcus is right with the mentality that people believe in 'God' or a supreme being, and take the texts as man made translations of his word, therefore can be taken as not literal.

This mentality is one I adopted when I was digging myself out of religion, and it was the main realisation of this fact that brought me to light: what I 'believed' was decided by my own brain, so how could anyone know they were right? I saw the fallacies in believing in texts so had to find my own loopholes. Realising what I had done from an outside perspective led me to search out authors like Dawkins etc. and led me to Atheism.

So I kinda see this A la carte style religion as being a slightly optimistic view for the future, as it shows that people are openly recognising the faults of their religious doctrines, rather than parroting what they know is wrong. Although, the day can't come fast enough for people to take that next step.

I agree - if their logic is screwy, who cares?  It's how people actually behave that matters. 

Sometimes they are called cafeterians for this very reason.

yes its called the christian buffet the nasty bits in the bible are an inconvenience so they ignore them are apply pretzel logic to explain them away, sad really 



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