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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How do you mean, it works both ways? 

As in a critical view of biblical texts can utilize the less moral aspects of the bible as a counter to the moral verses cited as justification of it's adherents to follow.

As in, God loves all of humanity, except for homosexuals. 

Right but I've known several who respond with "god doesn't hate fags, he loves them but they are sinning and will go to hell". I understand the concept of punishment but well, need I say more?

Simon thats just silly :-)


The Bible says that all people are sinful, currently homosexuality is topical but they are in the same boat as the rest of humanity.  The Bible also says that God loves all people even though all people are sinful.


Its so easy and dangerous to make arguments up that have no substance just so that everyone can tribally say, yes the bible and christians are inconsistent etc.  Your too intelligent for that :-) 

OK, I accept what you say on this as you're a Christian and you know more about it than me.  It's just that that's how it looks to us atheists - Christians too often seem full of hate, persecuting harmless people with their neurotic, anti-life idiocy.  I'm talking about sexual repression (saying that sex is dirty and wrong); persecution of homosexuals; repression of women on the grounds that they are inherently evil and inferior.  I am not saying that all Christians follow these beliefs: but they have been very prevalent, and have caused a lot of harm and damage in the world.  As for inconsistency in Christianity: I don't care about that. 

Hi Simon


I think if I were to pin down one thing that has shocked and blown me away more than anything else in my short time on this website is the view athiests have of christians.


I'm guessing your in the US, i'm in the UK.  I'm wondering if there is a breed of people over there that use religion as an excuse to do the nasty things they want to do.  Because I do not recognise what your saying at all.


The bible and every sane christian celebrates sex as a wonderful gift of God, that is deginitely not dirty.  But, the same knife that you can butter your bread with you can also stab someone with.  And so there are unhealthy and wrong uses of sex.  Among them are things like rape, adultary, and sex before marriage.  I understand that the latter would be seen as restrictive - but in the UK we have the highest number of teenage pregnanicies in Europe - single mothers.  And other reasons, that you would not be so warm to.


There is no persecutuion of homosexuals, or atleast there never should be.  Yes, christians believe that the practice of homosexual behaviour is morall wrong.  But thats just disagreement in a free thinking world.  Its also no worse than anything else that, for example, I as a christian do wrong.  I have family members and friends who are gay - we live very hapily together.


And no way does christianity promote the inferiority of women.  It does seek to preserve role distinctions, but thats a different argument.


May be its a UK / US thing, I don't know - but I am genuinely puzzled.  I know athiests who are great guys, and I know christians (many more as its the circles I move in) who no way fit your description.


I fully admit though that religion, like politics, like science, like anything else can be used by unscrupulous people who are just looking for any kind of justification.  I find that deplorable.


I am grateful that you have been so gracious in your discussion with me, given what you think I must be like as a person!

I think a lot of the more enlightened religious people are closer to what you may call deists than theists. They take the religious texts as allegories and not to be taken literally, more like moral philosophy than the word of God. It's quite normal.

Of course, their cherry picking rather quickly becomes obnoxious if they are of the proselytizing type. My best advise is to just breathe and imagine yourself in your happy place. ;)

Have you every gotten a member of faith so riled up that they cover their ears and loudly pray?

your getting there! :-)  (just joking)

   The main reason people pick and choose is that there are a large number of folks who are just intelligent enough to realize that many things in the Bible and in other religious paradigms are so far beyond reason that they can't simply accept them.  However, they are NOT intelligent enough to overcome their fear of death enough  to concede the reality that EVERYTHING about EVERY theistic religion is poppycock.

Now you're going too far Sir.  It's not true that everything about every theistic religion is poppycock.  There is very much of value in most religions, and those things are worth keeping.  Or "cherry-picking". 


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