Isn't it erroneous to say "the only people" ? I myself found the arguments convincing after a lapse in belief, and I know several others who found their way into the church. To my understanding a significant number join religion from atheism or agnosticism, I admit the numbers most likely are not as high as those who go from religion to atheism, and definitely not as high as those who believe simply because they are born into it.
I don't mean there are flaws to the fact that the arguments are not convincing to a majority of people, however I do believe that generalities should be avoided.
I do not mean any disrespect by this, but would you mind citing what research you are mentioning? I think it would be fascinating to read.
Thank you! I recognize my own lack of knowledge on the subject, and I shall endeavor to educate myself more fully.
I assure you, I will make every effort to comprehend the implications that such research suggests.
There are people who weren't indoctrinated as children. Or people who who had some indoctrination but never took it all that seriously. They know about religion, but it has little importance in their life and they don't care either way. They probably never thought much about arguments for or against gods. Those can easily fall into its clutches, but they weren't really atheists in the strictest sense. More like apatheists (from "apathy")
However, for a person who actively reasoned themselves out of religion, there is no way to go back. It really depends on how someone arrived at their state of non-belief
I was born an Atheist. As I learned to speak and understand what people were saying, I was indoctrinated into religions and told there was an invisible man in the sky. As strange as it sounds, as a child I would believe pretty much anything I was told; tooth fairy, Santa Claus, invisible man in the sky -> what did I know, huh?
Anyway, as my thoughts developed I began to wonder how things worked and why. I wanted to know why clocks ticked, flowers bloomed, leaves fell in autumn, etc. This process, and some rather profound contradictions in what I was being told about the invisible man, eventually led me to ask some questions that raised certain problems for me.
I found out that everyone who talked about god was lying, and telling even bigger lies than they had when they told me about Santa Claus. They claimed that god told them things all the time but when questioned about what he sounded like, well they started fidgeting the same way I had when my aunt had asked me what happened to her gold fish. When I asked about miraculous healings, my questions were met with anger -> because the stories were all bogus and no one was being healed.
Finally I looked back on all that I had been told: man living in a whale belly for 3 days; man walking on water; millions of animals on a boat; people being 'healed' -> well, I guess you get the picture. It's just a bunch of hooey and when you start digging into it all the 'facts' turn out to be nothing more than shadows cast by hand-puppets. I guess that's all.
That is very interesting, and I do not argue that those stories seem very outlandish. Not to mention the tendency of practicing Christians to lie constantly is something that irritates me greatly as well. So my question to you, if you do not mind, is: "What do you think Christianity is all about?"
I think Christianity is a lot of things to a lot of people. For a select few, like Ted Haggard, it is a lucrative way to get a lot of money without losing much of it to taxes. For the majority, it represents a community that admires them for nothing more than being a member of that community. There are untalented musicians who really appreciate having a place where they can play some corny songs and receive applause rather than criticism. There are also despicable people who like to take a prominent place in a church to bolster their reputation in the greater community.
Unfortunately, churches offer a profound political opportunity for those who want to dictate their own morality to a group of people who have committed themselves to squelching every question that pops into their head. To me, this represents a terrifying power base for the worst sort of narcissists imaginable. More and more I am seeing Christian congregations becoming anti-intellectual, intolerant, and outright aggressive in their hatred of anyone unwilling to submit to their cult leader.
What do you think Christianity is all about?
I agree with you whole-heartedly on most of your points. Something I find great distaste for is how Christians are some of the most intolerant, ignorant, and flat out belligerent people I know. I could not even begin to fathom the thoughts that must go through their heads, as they would most certainly be of the most abhorrent and offending nature. During the First Crusade during the sack of Jerusalem crusaders boarded up 900 Jewish women and children in a synagogue and then set fire to the place while marching around singing “Christ We Adore Thee”. I obviously don’t have to point out the blatant hypocrisy. A personal experience I have in my church is how people tend to take the opportunity to bolster their own self-esteem by belittling your faith. Now, I think that religion should bolster your own self-esteem, but at the expense of others? If I don’t show up dressed exactly the correct way, at the correct time, and if I don’t conduct myself in a manner wholly similar to their own, they are automatically better Christians than I. To say that people use religion for their own ends in an enormous understatement, and I would be ignorant to try and argue that point. As a practicing Christian, I do find myself engaging in such behavior from time to time. I try at every point to recognize this, and correct it. I hold a fundamental belief that no human is perfect, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Atheist, etc. To say I am better than them is wrong and would only be a way for me to hold myself above them, rather I struggle in all my actions to conduct myself in a manner that any reasonable person would consider “morally correct.”
Now though I am a practicing Christian, I did not ask the question to prompt debate or elicit argument. Only the free exchange of thought and the opportunity to be exposed to diversity of opinion. Since you asked, I will answer your question. Christianity to me is about God. It isn’t about my pastor, a priest, a prophet, or my neighbors. My religion is about God, and living the way the Bible tells me too. It means loving the person who sits next to me at Church and judges me, it means to not hate those who use my God for money, but rather to pity them, it means to accept those who only want the admiration of the community, and to hope they see the error of their ways, it means to be honest with untalented musicians, and try to give them advice to improve without being harsh or overly critical, it means to not attach meaning to social status on the premise of religion and to believe that we are all created equally, it means to stand up and speak out against those who want too use my God to gain political power for their own benefits, it means accepting ideas that are contrary to my own, and to respect them if I disagree, and to learn from them if they are right, and it means to be tolerant towards all men and women, regardless of how they act, what they believe, whom they love, and what they do.
You know, that was the way I felt about it when I still believed it all. The problem, for me, is that those values are not taught in the bible at all. You can hunt and peck at different verses that support a decent set of modern values, but you have to ignore a lot of material to do so.
The biggest problem I found was that being a decent person was not the criteria required for earning the reward of an eternal life in heaven. The words of Jesus himself declare that you must discard concern for tomorrow, abandon any love of mother, father, brother or sister, and focus on nothing other than a human sacrifice that was made for you, before you were born, against your will, AND accept all of that as a debt that you owe to the monster of the old testament for your eternal salvation.
In order to accept that, I feel that I would have to be a morally corrupt person. I would have to disregard responsibility for my own actions and love the sacrifice of another human being in my place -> not just believe it, but love it, and revel in it.
Even if I could get over the moral reservations I have with that concept, I would need some evidence that any of these things were true. I would need a book that wasn't riddled with contradictions, inaccurate descriptions of nature and physics, and which presented, at the very least, some eyewitness testimony from someone who could be identified. Even with that, I would need to witness phenomenon in the world around me that would suggest a supernatural power was guiding other believers to some transcendental truth rather than requiring intellectual dishonesty on the part of the entire flock.
Well your problems with atheism seem to lie in the theological aspect of Christianity. I do not want a debate, and I would never try to undermine your beliefs. I only wish to say what I believe in, and what I believe that the Bible tells us, if that is with your permission to discuss such theology.
You should first know that I've read the bible straight through, twice, and that I sometimes reread various books within it from time to time. I've already pointed out that you can hunt and peck for a decent set of modern values -> but that you would need to disregard most of it to do so. If you want to offer some verses, expect 2 contradicting verses in return for each.
Before we go down that road, however, you should really provide a justification for using the Bible rather than the Koran or the Vedas. You see, had you been born in another country, those books would be the ones that you believed were divinely inspired. Why don't you start by telling me how you came to the conclusion that the Koran and the Vedas were incorrect? Why don't you tell me why you don't believe in Allah and his prophets Jesus and Mohammed?