One-Story Atheism

A reader directed me to this fine TED talk where an African speaker illustrates how stereotypes of Africans are the result of people having only one rather homogenous story about Africa upon which to base their conclusions. She begs listeners to expand their familiarity with more stories.

Ironically, and refreshingly, the speaker also confesses she has done the same with the immigrant Hispanic population in the USA.  She recognized that getting multi-storied approaches to everything is very difficult but suggests that at least we should be aware of the limits of our one-story views.

Many liberal/progressive Christians complain that some Atheists often rant against a different versions of Christianity than their own.  These Christians may also speak out against fundamental Christianity and thus feel the Atheist’s criticism are inaccurate. Atheists responses I have seen are:

  • Well, all the varieties of Christianity are dumb-founding, it ain’t my fault
  • But all Christians share similar silly beliefs even if the particulars vary
  • Even if you don’t hold fundamentalists views, by using the same jargon and merely re-interpreting the same myths they use, you tacitly supporting their autraucities.
  • Your flavor of Christianity is a small minority — I am speaking to the majority.
  • Your version of Christianity is too wiggly — you can escape all criticism because you commit to nothing yet you still love the label.

I myself am obviously very critical of many aspects of Christianity, but I feel focused criticisms are important and gross generalizations are often unfruitful.


 It is my experience that Atheists who are significantly or deeply familiar with more than one form of Christianity, are often less prone to over-generalize  about ALL Christianities and less quick to off-hand reject the objections of Christians who seek to be understood on their own terms.With a similar lack of background, I find that many Atheists overgeneralize about ALL religions.  Likewise, my experience seems to suggest that those Atheists who are careful to focus their criticisms tend to be those who are deeply familiar with more than just Abrahamic religions. There are so many religions in the world, we can’t be familiar with all of them, but if you are going to criticize them as a whole, it is best to broaden your experience so as to help avoid the temptation to inaccurately overgeneralize.
Well, those are my impressions. And I realize that very few “One-Story Atheists” frequent my blog, but the phrase had an interesting ring to it so I thought it may be useful.  Is it possible to accurately criticize religion without a broad familiarity of several religions — perhaps, but it is very difficult.   My posts on Hinduism offer a taste of non-Abrahamic theisms and my posts of Buddhism explore a non-theistic religion. I hope those posts help enlarge your multi-story approach to religious dialogue.   I would love to hear your thoughts after you answer one last poll!🙂


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

46 responses to “One-Story Atheism

  1. hjaltirunar

    Well, my response to the charge from these liberal Christians is that their view is probably the minority in the group that atheist activists are most concerned about, so we give them much less focus. And to that I often add that it’s not very clear what liberal Christians actually believe.

  2. One-Story Atheism or One-Story anything can pretty much destroy any hope of a productive discussion. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

  3. This is a partial answer to a question I’ve been trying to work out how to ask, if you see what I mean. I’m very interested in the way atheists often seem to share a huge amount of their interpretation of the Bible with fundamentalists, and this has reminded me to get back onto that subject.

  4. Thanx, hjaltirunar, I added your objections to the list — indeed those are also common objections to progressives. What would help is when criticizing Christianity, words like “some”, “many”, “a few” and such may help avoid reactive dialogue as believers who may thus feel a little less misunderstood.

  5. You got it, Recovering Agnostic. I too, when first approaching blogging was rightfully accused of coming from a limited, reactive perspective. It didn’t mean I still didn’t have valid objections — but they needed refining, filtering and restating. Likewise, it allowed me to see more clearly deeper principles that have nothing to do with the superficial doctrines.

  6. I think the first three commentors all raise very important points. In fact, I’m almost embarassed for the majority of atheists when they are arguing with a catholic priest, say, about this fundamentalist version of God and I know very well that the chances are the priest also thinks that a ridiculous story.

    I once pressed a very liberal Christian on what about his beliefs were particularly “Christian” in any historical sense. He did not like that. Hmm… post idea!

    I must say though, I think the atheist focus on Christianity is in some ways a narrow or inadequate approach. Perhaps not in the US, but in Europe there is another faith that is growing, not at all accommodationist, and prescribes some pretty nasty beliefs and practices. I’m surprised to hear fewer European atheists speaking out against that one.

  7. DaCheese

    Well one reason why some atheists may avoid criticizing Islam is that they(/we) don’t want to get lumped in with all of the cultural/ethnic bigots who are already denouncing muslims as terrorists, etc. It’s actually easier to attack the dominant local religion, because people are less likely to mistake your criticism of the religion for criticism of specific cultures or ethnicities popularly associated with that religion.

  8. Yeah, I think you’re right. Still, atheists don’t seem so afraid to be painted with that claim when they slam Christianity (say, as anti-Christian bigots). I don’t see why being called one sort of bigot is really worse than being called another. *Shrug* I suppose I just don’t get how criticizing the enbaggification of women could be mistaken for bigotry. On the other hand, if it is bigotry, I guess I’m a bigot (proud of it too)!

  9. sgl

    how about a no-story taoist:
    “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.”😉

    @sabio re: “Many liberal/progressive Christians complain that Atheists often rant against a different versions of Christianity than their own.”
    you need to follow your own advice — change “Atheists” to “*some* Atheists”.

    i’d suggest that the loudest Atheists (eg, dawkins, harris, hitchens) are reacting mainly to the loudest political christians. theologically, the amish/mennonites are far from the mainstream, but i doubt atheists give them much thought. amish probably don’t believe in evolution and only school thru 8th grade, but the amish don’t try to force anyone else to do the same, so i don’t see that anyone much cares. so it seems to me that it’s really a political discussion, not a religious one.

    hence, the political forms of christianity and the political forms of islam are the ones that generate the reactions. if taoists, buddhists, or neopagans start politicizing their beliefs into gov’t policy, then i’d expect they’d get a lot more scrutiny too. i’d expect, altho i don’t know, that there’s a lot more criticism of fundamentalist hinduism in india than there is in the usa, because that’s where it’s political power is. it’s a pointless argument in the usa because they have little or no political power.

    @james re: “In fact, I’m almost embarassed for the majority of atheists when they are arguing with a catholic priest, say, about this fundamentalist version of God and I know very well that the chances are the priest also thinks that a ridiculous story.”

    i’d suggest that if the catholic priest would clearly state that he didn’t believe that fundamentalist version and thought it ridiculous, then the ‘debate’ would quickly be over.

    however, the priest can’t or won’t say that, leaving you with only a guess (“chances are”) rather than certainty of what the priest believes. why is that? i suggest it’s because the priest would quite possibly be defrocked if he told his real views, because they likely conflict with official church dogma. so why is that the atheist’s problem instead of the priests’/catholic church’s problem? because altho the priest may not believe it, the laity often do, and the official church hierarchy can’t afford to back-pedal on the pope being infallable or any other official church pronouncements.

    i once saw a survey on the percentages of priests/ministers who did not believe the bible was inerrant. catholics were the most conservative, with only 25% believing the bible was not inerrant. (so, chances are the priest actually did believe the fundamentalist version, or at least the catholic version of the fundamentalist version.) the most liberal was methodist ministers, where ~75% did not believe the bible was inerrant.


  10. exrelayman


    I think you and I are mostly on the same page. I have read your comments at more blogs than this in order to form that opinion.

    However, one aspect of your comment here doesn’t ring true to me, perhaps you could support it? It is the protestants that came up with sola scriptura, largely in reaction to such non scriptural concepts as papal infallibility, purgatory, indulgences, etc. I thought Catholics were less tied to scripture than protestants. Perhaps your recall about that particular poll got confused? Of course, perhaps not, it just seemed like a result out of phase with what I thought was common knowledge.

    But in general, keep up the good comments. I have learned things from you.

  11. I agree on the over generalisation point. Why don’t the new atheists just say that their focus is on conservative, jerry falwell type christianity and not the liberal, wishy washy ones? Just a little blurb on the preface or something.

    BTW, Interesting survey sgl. Do you by any chance remember where you read it?

  12. exrelayman

    Rather than a ‘one story’ atheist, I think of myself more along the lines of and ‘equal opportunity’ atheist. If you believe in deities or entities, and are adamant in maintaining faith in things that have no reliable evidence in the empirical world, then I think you lean to far on the gullibility side of the spectrum leading from too gullible to too skeptical. I require good evidence, available to any investigator, before I can accede in belief. Some may say I lean too far to the skeptical side – nobody’s prefect!

    I don’t find it necessary to know all the intricacies of all the worlds faiths in order to reject them if they advocate belief in things for which there is only weak or subjective evidence. I myself have a bit of faith that the atheists who grew up Muslim or Hindu and are now atheists are as well versed in those faiths as I am in Christianity, and trust their thinking because it parallels mine in one basic requirement – provide good evidence and I will change my mind. A practical consideration enters in – do you have to examine each faith, or can the overriding general principle proposed here render that vast undertaking unnecessary and overkill? My present answer to that is embodied in the foregoing. As with all things, new information may change my thinking.

    One last word. Although I find a detailed investigation of all the world’s faiths unnecessary, I am very much enjoying the exposure I get here to the mythologies of the East just for the sake of entertainment and being more knowledgeable about how people think in other parts of the world.

  13. @sgl:
    If the priest doesn’t believe what he is tasked with defending, that’s ‘his problem’, indeed. The interesting question is why it should be the case that he wants to avoid that outcome, even if it means he has to defend views he doesn’t agree with (same question for lawyers, mind you).

    I am embarassed in that circumstance in the same way that I’m embarassed for that cousin at the family dinner who can only engage in political discussions by parroting talking points from NBC or Fox.

  14. sgl

    @exrelayman, @andyman409 re: survey

    i once looked and could not find the original survey i remembered. however, i did collect some useful links i did find that second look, so here they are in raw form, with some overlap, so you can peruse them yourself, or as a starting point for further searches:

    i suspect that if the new atheists gave more qualifications, it wouldn’t make much difference in how people react to them anyway. i suspect liberal christians think that jerry falwell doesn’t speak for them, and look around at the christians they know, and he doesn’t speak for them either, and assume the rest of the universe knows that falwell doesn’t speak for them. however, i suggest that much of the rest of the world does *not* know that. liberal christians assume that, but fundamentalist christians assume falwell speaks for everyone who identifies as christian.

    eg, my ex-gf was from japan, and a grad student at a major university where 20% were asian, very few hispanic (at least visibly hispanic), and most of the people in her program were politically liberal. she could hardly believe when i told her that city-wide, there was only ~2% asian, and about 20% hispanic, with about half conservative republican. then one day we went to the rodeo, and i pointed out “here’s your conservative republicans”. later we went to a huge flea market in the poorer section of town, and she was definitely the only asian, and i was definitely a minority as a white guy, and i pointed out “here’s your hispanic population.” suddenly the statistics were far more believable on a gut level.

    the point being, unless you have some contact with them, it can be hard to believe they exist, even if read statistics about them. if everyone you know is a liberal christian, it won’t really sink in that fundamentalist christians exist in large numbers, and vice versa, and it will affect how you react to criticism and such as well.

  15. CRL


    Actually, the Catholic church does not mandate a literal interpretation of the bible. I know people who have learned evolution from nuns, with no scandal involved.

  16. CRL

    When I decided to memorize the location and capitol of every country in the world, it was Africa that stopped me. Just the sheer number of tiny, close together countries, more than anything else, makes it the most challenging continent to learn. And, as many of the boundaries are somewhat artificial, learning where every country begins and ends is less helpful than it would be in Europe or Asia. Perhaps more importantly, there is little voluntary African immigration to the US. So, while when thinking of Europe or Asia, I can tie a person I know and a language which I’ve seen and heard to most countries, Africa is just a of a blur of strangers and strange languages to most Americans, myself regrettably included. Thus, the lazy route is just to think of Africa as Africa.

    For most people, I think this may be what gets to us with religion. There are so many tiny, close together varieties, that, even if one wanted to, one could never learn about all of them. Thus it is tempting to give up trying because one can never fully succeed.

  17. People here do seem to have some stereotypes about liberal Christianity. We are actually the mainstream of the religion, and fundementalism/evangelicalism and its doctrines are quite new historically speaking. Just because they are the loudest doesn’t mean they are the majority and it certainly doesn’t mean their version is somehow more Christian – it actually warps any long-established traditions and doctrines. Tosay you can’t tell what they believe, or that they don’t really believe in Christianity, or don’t commit to a belief, or are “wishy-washing” is just judging something you aren’t really familiar with. Catholicism, for instance, if a tough example, because they share some doctrines with fundamentalists but not others – officially, not secretly. Whether leaders in a particular denomination believe the official line is a completely separate question. Many denominations officially have liberal views and don’t hesitate to say so. And they firmly believe that those liberal doctrines ARE what Christianity is about and will tell you why. It’s not watered-down, it’s just different.

  18. Christine, very nicely voiced what I was about to say. I grew up Presbyterian USA, one of the main line denominations, and I later grew into a more evangelical/biblical literalist faith, which was a far cry from the church of my upbringing. Sadly food ministries and the other community services provided by liberal/progressive churches don’t make for anywhere near as exciting news as Koran burnings and other controversial things done by extremist churches.

  19. hjaltirunar

    Christine, I think this idea that fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon is really just liberal propaganda. While the label “fundamentalism” was new, if you look at the points of fundamentalism, those were points that had been believed for a long time. Take for example the virgin birth (one of the points), I’m pretty sure belief in that isn’t some modern thing, but the fundie stress on that was a response to the widespread rejection of that doctrine in modern times.

  20. Earnest

    @ hjaltirunar: as a wishy-washy Christian, and in defense of Christine, the fundamentalist ideas may not be new, but the churches of the proponents often are. I think you will find in general that the most durable churches with the most followers tend to be more moderate and/or mutable in their stated beliefs. I don’t have any hard numbers for you, but I imagine that the Catholic church for example is far less followed in the US now compared to the past. If the Catholic church is growing now, I imagine this growth is in developing nations. I assert this is from the top-down approach to dogma in Catholicism.

    Europe also has many churches going vacant if their belief systems stay static, while new churches do spring up with new versions of an old theme. I assert it is the newness of the version, and its resonance with the feelings of local young people that makes these new churches arise and thrive.

    History is littered with examples of Christian groups that died out when their belief systems over time did not match local custom. The Shakers are an obvious example in America.

  21. I agree completely that we atheists tend to over-generalize religion. I have recently become quite aware of it in myself. (I generally save my rage for the Cesspit of Misanthropic Evil (Vatican) and Poop Bene-dick’s slavering hierarchy minions.)
    However: Despite the foolishness and misanthropic nature of their shared beliefs, there are many stripes of Christians that we never hear from. I call these the moderates. These moderates are to Christianity as the Silent Majority was to Republicanism.
    The entire diadem (heh heh) of Abrahamic religions will continue to suffer this over-generalization as long as the extremists hold the microphones – and they’ll hold those microphones until the moderates rise up and silence them.
    Even so, Christian beliefs are and shall remain both foolish and misanthropic.

  22. @ Fester
    You agree and say:

    “I agree completely that we atheists tend to over-generalize religion.”

    Then you conclude:

    “Even so, Christian beliefs are and shall remain both foolish and misanthropic.”

    I contend that you contradict yourself. What thinkest thou?

  23. @DaCheese & James
    I see a few reason most Atheist blogger do not criticize Islam:
    (a) They are unfamiliar with it
    (b) It is not the dominant faith in their area and not a threat
    (c) they hesitate to criticize Islam because they fear death threats and such?
    (d) they fearing sounding politically incorrect

    I don’t agree with you that it is (d) is a major influence in their decisions. And I think (b) is not as influential in their choice as you’d imagine. But I could be wrong.

  24. @ sgl,
    Good correction, thanx — done. Hard to be diligent, isn’t it?

  25. Sabio – My apologies. No contradiction, merely a lack of qualification. Read instead: “Even so, the core Christian beliefs of original sin and redemption by crucifixion and resurrection are and shall remain both foolish and misanthropic.”
    I’m a little surprised I’d have to spell that out for you.

  26. @ fester
    Sorry to surprise you, mate. Since this post is exactly about that issue, sgl corrected me too. And I went back and corrected the post. I was happy for his correction. It think it is very important to take care in these issues. Much of my blog is focused on that very principle.

    For instance:
    As you know, there are many very different flavors of Christianity. So I don’t think we can talk about “core Christian beliefs” unless we specify the particular sect of Christianity you wish to discuss.

    For example:
    There are many different atonement theologies and each has different ramifications in a believer’s life. (see my post here). I think some atonement theologies are more harmful that others. And indeed I think many Christians hold their atonement theology in non-harmful ways. I am not discussing the “truth” of their propositions, but how those propositions influence their lives — those two notions are very important to keep separate.

    Does that make sense?

  27. sgl

    originally i meant to have winking smiley icon after my “follow your own advice,” but glad you corrected it anyway. in practice, putting in too many qualifiers – particularly of the “some”, “often”, etc type – turn the message into fuzzy mush.

    perhaps the real issue is not clearly defining the subgroup or behavior you’re really concerned about.

    for example, in my own mind, i divide religious people into 2 types — those that use religion to try to improve themselves, and those that use religion to try to improve everyone else. the first group, of the ones i’ve met personally, are some of the nicest people i’ve met. however, the second type that tries to improve everyone else, are (in my opinion) at best obnoxious and arrogant, and at worst dangerous and evil.

    and that’s why i pointed out the example of the amish/mennonites, as they keep to themselves and don’t try to boss anyone else around (so far as i know).

    (of course, there are probably other categories and subcategories, such as christian scientists and jehovah’s witnesses whcih refuse medical treatment for their children due to their religious beliefs, and all those other sorts of subcategories would have to discussed too for a complete analysis. but the bossy/keep-to-themselves axis is the primary one i use personally.)


  28. Yes, that makes sense – but it also makes sense that ALL CHRISTIAN sects believe in original sin and redemption by crucifixion and resurrection. That’s what makes them “Christian” by definition. If they don’t hold those core beliefs they’re not Christian.

  29. @ Fester
    Again, even “original sin” has all sorts of very different variants, and as I said, “redemption” has many variants.
    I think you are trying to tell us what the definition of “Christian” should be. Don’t you think that definitions vary from person to person? And so when talking to people, it is important to come to common terms with each other.

    See what you think of my post today called, “Expecting God” — I thought of you when I wrote it.

  30. One-Story anything limits conversations on any front. Also it would be interesting to know what everyone defines as being familiar with a religion. I’m sure definitions vary greatly.

  31. I’m not telling you what the definition of christian *should* be, I’m telling you the definition as I understand it and have understood it for the last 40 years.
    But I get your drift now – along with one-story atheism you’re promoting one-person-christian-theology. That’s accommodationism on a massive scale. How can you hope to sustain that? Alice in the Ukraine believes “A” and Alice in Milwaukee believes “B” and Alice in Boulder believes “C”. Do you hope to coax christians out of their one-story-christianity one individual at a time? What a nightmare!
    Personally, I reject accommodationism: belief in things that cannot be proved do not reserve accommodation or respect. People who believe in things that cannot be proved DO reserve respect – but they’ll not get accommodation or respect for their beliefs from me.

  32. Earnest

    @ Sabio: Exactly.

    @ Fester: there may be more diversity in Christian belief types than you currently perceive. Sabio (and others) have some great posts on high and low christology. I would suggest that your position has its greatest validity with regard to high christology. On the other hand, the lower the christology becomes within the believer the more personal and less doctrinal the system can become. So there are some who declare themselves to be Christians who do not necessarily require these specific things that you mention to be true for an intact faith. Just to be clear.

    I think that you have every right to claim that any one of my Christian beliefs is silly. However I would suggest caution if you attempt to define what proper Christianity should or should not be. Such talk contains a certain flavor of religiosity.

    So back to Sabio’s point. Compare the following two statements:
    “All Christians are delusional”
    “All people who believe that their own body will be magically exhumed from the grave at the Second Coming of Christ to walk the streets of Jerusalem is delusional”

    I think you will agree that the second statement is more difficult to assail than the first. The point is that you may be more difficult to argue against if you cultivate a perception of the diversity of beliefs in your potential opponents, and go after specific beliefs you find troubling with your arguments.

  33. @ Jessica:
    You’ve got it! I agree with you. But you beat me to my next post. You’ll see.

    @ sgl:
    You divide religious people in 2 piles — intersting. I think people are very complex mixtures: depending on settings, some people may be both a person who tries to help self and someone who tries to change others. Heck, your web presence is you trying to change others. I don’t think that is a bad thing either.

    I have know pushy mennonites and read about pushy amish too — I think your dichotomy is not as clean as you’d imagine.

    @ Earnest:
    I agree.

    @ fester:
    I agree with Earnest who wrote it very clearly — even if Earnest is a totaly befuddled, sloppy, Christian-of-sorts. 🙂 [note, Earnest is a personal friend]

    I may be an “Accomodationalist” but that would defend on your operational definition of the word.

    I do think my approach as useful, but I can see why perhaps you would think it delusional and useless.

  34. I think there’s a lot of difference in terminology here. I certainly wouldn’t classify belief in a virgin birth as fundamentalist. That indeed has been around forever and most of Christianity still holds it as official doctrine.

    For instance, I would see fundamentalists as having an inerrant (not just infallible – there is a difference) view of scripture along with sola scriptura (the bible is ALL they need). This is often combined with proof-texting and ultra-literal “plain text” interpretations. Not only does that lead to particular (often, but not always, ultraconservative) views, but a particular attitude about truth and certainty which makes them… well, obnoxious.

    In my definition, then, Catholicism is not fundamentalist. And it IS mainstream, by any definition. They have a much more thoughtful view of scripture (the inerrant stuff is indeed new). They have common positions with fundamentalist, but not always. They believe in evolution, for instance. And although they are socially right they are economically left (unusual in the fundy circles).

    The church I’ve been attending lately is Anglican. Definitely mainstream and very traditional in terms of liturgy. They believe in a physical ressurection and (likely) a virgin birth, and evolution. They explicitly do not have an inerrant view of scripture and admit more than just scripture as authority. They are HARD to the left socially and economically and put their time and money where their mouths are in this regard. Inclusive since before inclusion was a term. (Women in business in the 40s, LBGT ministries in the 80s.) They’ve been marching our Pride for twenty years or more. But they are one congregation in The Anglican/Episcopal fold, which is quite split these days over the left/right divide (but interestingly still on the same page in terms of what scripture is and how to use it).

    Fundy or not is different from mainstream or not is different from left or right, or even asshole or not asshole. It’s much more complicated than that and lots in between.

  35. @ Exrelayman:
    Your said:

    I don’t find it necessary to know all the intricacies of all the worlds faiths in order to reject them if they advocate belief in things for which there is only weak or subjective evidence.

    I think a problem here is that some people confuse “rejecting a belief for themselves” vs “thinking other people’s beliefs are so stupid that they can’t serve that person well.”

    Such a confusion, muddles the discussion.

    @ CRL
    I agree, the sheer number of religions is mind boggling. As long as they don’t tell me that other believers are going to hell or can’t marry their believers, I have no problem. Well, and don’t oppress women, gays, children, stop science ….🙂
    Ooooops, tall order for many religions, isn’t it?

    @ Christine,
    There are lots of varieties of ‘liberal Christianity’. I don’t want to get hung up on that here. I especially don’t want to try to decide which group is bigger. “Bigger” in my book, doesn’t matter in religion.
    BTW, my list was meant to be a list of what is often said. My theme here is that learning about faiths outside of your own can change the conversation immensely — for theists and atheists alike. Sort of non-controversial, you’d think.

    As to your last comment, Christine, you do understand that this post is not about trying to define the various flavors of Christianity, right? It is about the value of learning about other non-Christian religions — especial non-Abrahamic and how that influences inter-religious dialogue. You may enjoy my short post on “Religious Prescriptivism

  36. I was reacting to the responses to my previous post re: fundamentalism has been around due to virgin bith views and on the fundamentalism of Catholicism. Unless we mean the same things by the terms, can’t really have a meaningful discussion. Was explaining terms in my pervious comment…

  37. But, yes, thanks for the reminder we’re not allowed to talk about anything other than the strictest sense of the intent of your original post. I thought it was ironic that on a post about understanding different denominations and faiths that people seemed to think they got the differences and yet really stereotyped them. But, yes, how dare I talk about that… See ya.

  38. Christine, I was simply trying to draw the focus back on target. A lot of the atheist commentors were getting off on telling us what Christianity *ought* to be — I suggesting to reign that in. It is a policy of this blog (if you’ll read it) to try and discuss the blog topic. So I occasionally try to return to that issue if I people wander off too much. It is not strict, just a suggestion.

  39. Christine, I’ve enjoyed you comments, along with the whole discussion. As I stated earlier, I appreciated your clarification and defense of liberal Christianity. Despite my not being a Christian, I have many wonderful Christian friends, with sometimes greatly varying beliefs, but all held just as dear, and lived to the fullest.

    Clarity is something that is important to Sabio, he often adds to or corrects his posts where need be, and tries to make sure the discussion doesn’t get too far off track.

    I agree with your statement “I thought it was ironic that on a post about understanding different denominations and faiths that people seemed to think they got the differences and yet really stereotyped them.” I felt that way too.

    I hope to see you comment here some more.

  40. There is a general tendency in the comments sections of the triangulations posts to argue tiny details – details that often have little to do with the main point of the post or, certainly, the main point of a comment.
    I’ve seen this over and over again.
    I do not find this splitting of theological or philosophical hairs either stimulating or enjoyable. Such activities are too similar to those I experienced in seminary – in my opinion just so much worthless mental masturbation not worth serious consideration on any level. That’s one of the reasons I left the seminary.
    And that is why I leave following this blog.
    Enjoy yourselves – I have bishops and cardinals to discredit and battles to fight against Christian Privilege and battles to fight against the incursion of religion into the politics of my city, my state and my nation.
    You all enjoy yourselves.

  41. Bon Voyage, Fester. When you first visited this blog, I clicked on your name, visited your blog and said to myself, “This fellow will probably not stay around long.” And when I challenged your comment on this thread, I said to myself, “Fester is not going to take well to being challenged.” It is good to know my intuitions are fairly accurate. I agree with you: I don’t think my writing or picky, detailed thinking serves your cause at all. Live long and Prosper Fester.

  42. rautakyy

    @ Sabio Lantz, I know a bunch of other religions than the Abrahamic ones, though most of the other religions I am familiar with are ancient and most of them have either died out, or represent very small minorities in the world today. They give interresting perspective to how religious thinking evolves within cultures.

    I am perfectly happy to respect peoples beliefs, as long as they find such values as compassion and love as the most significant messages in their faith.

    However, religions do tend to have strong defence mechanisms and stronger these sociological mechanism are the more people these religions seem to controll. Politics and religions are difficult to separate, because politics are based on our values.

    Liberal religious people, wether Christian, Muslim, or what have you seem less prone to use their religion as an excuse for hatred, discrimination and violence. And of course, atheists are just as capable of being assholes as any religious fundamentalist. It is just that atheists do not draw their ethics from any supernatural source, wich could not be questioned. However, in politics, when values are formed from ideologies, questioning and skepticism may just as well be forbidden, though the ideology was not a religious one.

    People have a legion of reasons to have faith in the supernatural and a nother religion not to have that same faith. I think in general atheists are better informed of other religions, than most theists are.

    The other religion, is most often seen as wrong and even evil by the theist, so it is interpreted by the very worst representations it gives of itself. And this is an attitude taught for generations. Religion gives myths as facts and the atheist is simply a person who asks why would this be so. Because myths are hardly ever actual facts, or easily proven to be such the theist is offended by that question.

  43. @ rautakyy: I agree. Well said.

  44. Sweet of you, Mike. But I am indeed aware of Sabio’s blog policy (it was genuinely a reminder) and I find it insanely frustrating, which is why I almost never comment here. I found people’s views of liberal Christianity to be strange to me, which was fascinating, but, alas, I came to this fascination here, where it’s relegated to the vast world of “off-topic”, so I suppose I’ll never know. I’ll try to restrain myself from commenting in future, as is my normal approach, so I don’t end up getting too interested in what people are saying.

  45. decourse

    I’m a little late to this discussion, but let me add an observation. Note that I am an ultra-liberal Christian, so perhaps I’m projecting here, but nonetheless…

    A liberal Christian may believe in a literal resurrection, but probably doesn’t believe that you should. This is one of the key distinguishing features.

    James asked the question about what in liberal Christianity is “Christian” in a historic sense. I would argue that modern liberal Christianity is closer to modern mainstream Christianity than modern fundamentalist Christianity is. And both are equally far from early pre-Constantine Christianity. If you brought Paul of Tarsus into a modern megachurch, I doubt he would recognise it as “Christian”.

  46. @ decourse,
    Do you feel that “One-Storied” Atheism affects religious dialogue? [the poll shows that about 30% don’t!]
    Why or why not?
    Are you significantly familiar with any non-Abrahamic religions and has that influenced your “ultra-liberal Christian” position?

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