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Response to Ask an Atheist: The Truth About Christianity



In the article “Are Eastern religions a good alternative to Western ones?,” one of the authors, Brian Gallagher, made many assertions about Christianity that were inaccurate and misconstrued the teachings of Christianity. Gallagher claims “In Christianity we are commanded to love … and fear, a being who … may torture us as he pleases. We are told to pray … worship … beg for forgiveness, and to imagine ourselves as … watched, judged and scrutinized.” While some of these comments are correct in that God does command certain things, the picture that Gallagher paints is incomplete. He is missing the grace aspect. Christianity is neither a religion of forced worship nor a religion of pure justice. Rather, it is a religion that man is sinful and wholly unable to fix himself but is saved by a God that is able to right the wrong and gives forgiveness to men who are utterly flawed. God calls us to love Him and to love others, a command which can only better the world if followed. This is something that comes naturally when you begin to understand the depth of His love for us. Fear of God is also something that comes easily when you ponder the awe-inspiring nature of a God that created heaven, earth, man and animal. A god that powerful is one that should be revered and respectfully feared because His power is unfathomable. Job 37:23 states “The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power; in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.”

The Christian God is not a god that “tortures as he pleases,” but rather a God that loves unconditionally and “pray(ing), worship(ping) and beg(ging) for forgiveness” is how men can return that love and pursue a relationship. God’s judgment, too, is not as Gallagher described. God’s grace comes before His judgment after He has countless times extended His grace and forgiveness and we have freely made the choice to turn away from Him. Because of man’s inherent sinfulness, justice is always deserved, but mercy is given instead. This mercy was Jesus, sent to earth to pay the price for man’s past, present and future sins so that we would no longer be separate from God because of unworthiness, but could instead have a relationship. Still though, humans choose autonomy from God because human nature drives us to be selfish, hateful and egotistical; we refuse to accept that we cannot make our lives better through our own works and thus ignore the free gift of salvation. The only requirements that God places upon man are best described in the book of Micah which claims “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Christianity is not a religion of judgment and malice by an uncaring god, worshipped by manipulated adherents, but rather a religion of individuals who are unworthy to have a relationship with God, but have been offered a sacrifice which enables imperfect men to approach a perfect God. The discussion of religion is an important one and should thus be factually correct when presented so individuals can get an accurate depiction of Christianity and the bigger questions in life.

Emily Badraun is a fourth-year political science major.

 

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28 Responses to Response to Ask an Atheist: The Truth About Christianity

  1. Jesus Reply

    February 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    With respect to David’s suggestion about aliens, I would like to invoke a quote by Voltaire: “Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung”.

    • David Reply

      February 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      I don’t understand your point here. Are you trying to say there is not a possibility of life on other planets? Because ruling it out altogether is beyond me at least. The famous Drake equation puts a quantifiable probability to the question. Very basically, the number of stars times the probability the star could have life on the planets around it to contact us. Essentially, many scientists believe the probability of life on other planets in the universe is extremely high, and I would agree. If, however, you are merely looking for a comment that you can exploit to bash on anyone who doesn’t agree with you, I’m sure you’ll find it anyway. I look forward to an edifying discussion when you’re ready for it.

  2. Zoltan Reply

    February 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    My fellow columnist was comparing and contrasting various religions. The central point of the article was not Christianity. This was a 250 word article, and obviously he can’t discuss every aspect of your religion. His point was a fair one, and there are many Bible versus to back up his point. Here is one example of it:

    “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” (Exodus 20:5, KJV)

  3. Matthew Reply

    February 10, 2012 at 7:40 am

    “what you assert without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”

    • Emily Reply

      February 10, 2012 at 9:42 am

      What type of evidence are you specifically looking for Matthew? I will be the first one to admit that you cannot fully prove God’s existence. There is a certain amount of faith that plays in as well. I would argue, though, that a certain amount of faith plays into any other belief as well.

      • Brian Gallagher Reply

        February 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm

        Just because knowledge is rarely certain doesn’t mean that all beliefs depend on faith. Do I need faith to believe that tomorrow is Sunday? No. Do you need faith to believe that Sunday is when God rested after having universe-created in six days? Yes. The truth of a belief can be more probable or not based on the grounds supporting it–in other words, our confidence may come in degrees. But faith is not a matter of degree based on the strength of supporting grounds: rather, it’s binary–either you have it or you don’t.

        If you have “faith” in the truth of a belief, then you believe without grounds in support of it, and therefore you shouldn’t be at all confident that what you believe is true. But most Christians, and evidently you in particular, take pride in how swollen your confidence in Jesus is in spite of the very absence of what such confidence demands. To uncritically grope about for truth in the manner you condone is not only imprudent but also unethical.

        • John Reply

          February 11, 2012 at 10:40 pm

          -“If you have “faith” in the truth of a belief, then you believe without grounds in support of it, and therefore you shouldn’t be at all confident that what you believe is true.” –

          This is unfair understanding of a Christian’s faith in God. No one has faith in something that their intuition and understanding would tell them to be a scam. There is good reason to believe in God described in the bible. For a quick example take the the life of Christ and his death and resurrection as described in the NT. If you believe the historicity of documents by aristotle, plato, and homer (which nearly every one does) then why not in the historicity of the new testament manuscripts. The NT manuscripts are far more numerous and better preserved, and have proven to be consistent when cross checked for accuracy. Further there are many documents written by people inside and outside the early Christian church that corroborate to what is said by the NT. To say that Christians believe without grounds of support is untrue.

          Also, consider your accusations. Wildly accusing someone for being uncritical and prideful in their argument does nothing for the discussion. Slamming someone with nonsense like this is only going to entrench you in your ideas and make whoever you accuse more set in their ideas. Before you make wild accusations like this thoughtfully and carefully consider the claims of Christianity and the evidence there is out there for it. I encourage you to doubt your doubts about the Christian faith. If you do, my suspicion is that you will find they are not as well rooted as you believe them to be.

          • Zoltan Reply

            February 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

            The historicity of Socrates can be brought into question because we only know of him from a couple of writers, including Plato. However, it is irrelevant whether he was historical because it is his ideas that count. No one takes for granted the biography of Socrates like you wish us to take Jesus’ biography for granted. All you have done is set up a straw man.

            Once you tell me that the resurrection is irrelevant and it is the ideas that are attributed to Jesus that count, your comparison might have some validity. Of course, you would still have to have the scepticism about the ideas themselves that a modern day admirer would.

            • John Reply

              February 12, 2012 at 4:23 pm

              Zoltan,

              What is your goal? Are you really trying to promote good discussion, or do you really just like arguing for the sake of arguing? I say this because of your satirical reply to emily in which you merely replaced God with Kim Il Sung, and this comment which really had no serious regard to the point I was trying to make.

              You are right, people probably do question the historicity of Socrates as we know him. And like you said, this is because there isn’t too much written about him (contrary to the abundance of writings and historical events surrounding the life of Jesus). Never the less, this does not refute my point that Christian faith is (in most cases) based on reason just as your faith in the nonexistence of god also requires some reason. I was merely trying to point out the vast historical evidence of the early Christian church as a reason for belief. And like you said, for Socrates it may not be important if he really was who we believe him to be but for Christ the historicity of his death an resurrection is of utmost importance. If we say that “the resurrection is irrelevant and it is only the ideas that are attributed to Jesus that count” Christians are to pitied among everyone. For if Christ did not die and rise (Christians) are not saved from our sin but have invested our precocious short lives in a lie. My comparison, it is still a valid one. Do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States? Maybe you shouldn’t? Maybe it was a scam? After all you can’t set up a valid repeatable experiment and prove it with the scientific method so why should you believe it? Historical evidence is a valid reason for belief. When it comes to looking at the historicity of the account of Jesus, the same standards should be held as when comparing to other ancient historical figures.

              And please do not expect me to respond to any off topic remarks that fail to address the point of my arguments. My time and energy are limited and I do not wish to squander them in unproductive debate. I hope you understand

              • Zoltan Reply

                February 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm

                The article was complaining about my fellow columnist making the Christian god out to be tyrannical. I was showing that just by making a few changes to what Emily wrote, you can have her description of God sound like propaganda for a dictator. I think my satire was relevant.

                There is a large amount of firsthand, independent account of George Washington’s life and presidency. We also have a great deal of personal and legal documents for this person. Do you have any of these things for Jesus? Stories about cherry trees and not being able to lie are commonly disregarded because of a lack of evidence for them.

                The Gospels were highly stylized non-eye witness accounts. Matthew, Luke, and Mark used the same pool of traditions for Jesus. John used a different source, and, not surprisingly, paints a different picture of Jesus. It has little in common with the three “synoptic” gospels. All the Gospel writers are biased and wish to make the point that Jesus was the Messiah. Where is your independent eye-witness account? As far as miracles and the resurrection goes, I would apply the saying “Extraordinary claims, require extraordinary evidence.” The Gospels aren’t extraordinary.

                Your low standards for historical evidence would mean that the Quran would have to be true as well. Maybe even the Book of Mormon would pass this bar. So are you Muslim or Mormon too? Why not?

              • Brian Gallagher Reply

                February 13, 2012 at 3:35 pm

                I could not have put the challenge better than Zoltan just has.

  4. DKeane Reply

    February 10, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Your god has taken the majority of the human population and banished them to hell because they were Hindu or Muslim or an atheist – your version of love is monstrous.

    • Emily Reply

      February 10, 2012 at 10:02 am

      I would argue that perception of God is incorrect. If God is the creator of the world and everything in it, which I believe Him to be, than the assumption to be made is that God is a God of love. He created for pleasure and out of love. Every person that God created was created to be loved, no matter their religion or life philosophy. Humans chose to turn away from God’s love for the sake of pursuing their own interests and autonomy. I think we can both agree that humans are sinful…or at least flawed. How many people do you know that are genuinely “good people,” who are selfless with their time, energy, resources, etc? I certainly do not know anyone like this. I myself am not even close to this picture of a “good person.” In light of this, the blanket statement can be made that all humans are inherently flawed. Because of this God sent himself, in human form, to take on the sins of man because humans are unable to make themselves better. Humans can make themselves better on the outside by being nicer to people or more giving, but I don’t think that humans can change their heart or motives on their own. Sorry for getting off on a tangent, continuing on… God sent Jesus to save the sins of ALL men, because all men need saving. This includes the Hindu, Muslim, Atheist and even the Christian. God wants to, and does, love all of His creation, it is just a matter of accepting that love and realizing that our desire to do things on our own and pursue our own self interests will only lead to our downfall, not simply for eternity, but also on Earth. Human selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, greed, malice, envy, hatred is what leads to much of the evil in the world, leads to rejection of God’s grace, and ultimately leads to the choice of where to go at the end of life.

      • DKeane Reply

        February 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

        Please site evidence for anything you said – I am positive most christians would point to the bible and disagree with you.

      • Zoltan Reply

        February 11, 2012 at 10:16 pm

        God is the original dictator! Just a few changes in your post, and it could be about some tyrant:

        I would argue that perception of Kim Il Sung is incorrect. If Kim Il Sung is the creator of the North Korean nation and everything in it, which I believe Him to be, than the assumption to be made is that Kim Il Sung is a Leader of love. He created for pleasure and out of love. Every person that Kim Il Sung made a North Korean citizen was created to be loved, no matter their religion or life philosophy. Humans chose to turn away from Kim Il Sung’s love for the sake of pursuing their own interests and autonomy. I think we can both agree that humans are sinful…or at least flawed. How many people do you know that are genuinely “good people,” who are selfless with their time, energy, resources, etc? I certainly do not know anyone like this. I myself am not even close to this picture of a “good person.” In light of this, the blanket statement can be made that all humans are inherently flawed. Because of this Kim Il Sung sent himself to take on the sins of man because the North Koreans are unable to make themselves self-sufficient. Humans can make themselves nicer on the outside by being nicer to people or more giving, but I don’t think that humans can change their heart or motives on their own. Sorry for getting off on a tangent, continuing on… Kim Il Sung sent Kim Jong Il to save the sins of ALL men, because all men need saving. This includes the Hindu, Muslim, Atheist and even the Christian. Kim Il Sung wants to, and does, love all of His people, it is just a matter of accepting that love and realizing that our desire to do things on our own and pursue our own self interests will only lead to our downfall, not simply for eternity, but also on Earth. Human selfishness, pride, self-righteousness, greed, malice, envy, hatred is what leads to much of the evil in the world, leads to rejection of Kim Il Sung’s plan, and ultimately leads to the choice of where to go at the end of life.

      • Joshua Reply

        February 14, 2012 at 2:09 am

        great, another hippie Christian.

        how arrogant of you to project your own morals onto God!

        Wake up girl, you’ve been hoodwinked into believing in Santa for a second time.

        watch some george carlin, take a load off and live your life.

        you dont care enough about your religion or your beliefs to actually take the time to study them, to get educated about them.
        The thing that is supposed to be the most important thing in this life, seems to be easy enough to look up in a wikipedia entry filled out by someone else.
        You dont really care about the truth, whats worse, you seem to be content to be self-righteous enough to tell others you have pity for them, that if only they knew what you know, if only they had faith, when the truth is that you dont really believe, you dont really care and at heart you are a hypocrite.

        Just by what I read in this article and in the comments, I can already tell that you really have had no interest in looking at any real criticism of your beliefs, of Christianity as a whole or of religion and even theism as a whole.

        How SAD, that someone at a researched university cant be bothered to do some basic research into her own religious beliefs, the beliefs she has proclaimed to be at the epicenter of her value system.

        • Matt Reply

          February 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

          Why do you needless attack the author here? It seems you have no other purpose except to stir up anger and start a fight. You claim the author is wrong on several occasions, and ruthlessly attack her character yet provide no evidence or even an argument for why that is the case.

          Disagreements, augments, and new perspectives can be extremely productive, change opinions and make the world a better place. Personal attacks and name calling has never accomplished anything productive.

          It is also important to note that there is no way to know for sure that any one view on these matters is correct. Death is a barrier that prevents us from retrieving any direct evidence or firsthand accounts. Thus there is no way anyone can be 100% sure that their view is correct; meaning that no matter what you believe, there is a chance you are wrong.

          • Joshua Reply

            February 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm

            I am perfectly within my right to attack the author here. The author is not open to changing her mind, listening to other points of views or educating herself on the question being discussed. This is just my opinion, based on what I know, and where she is coming from, I cant see her spending too much time on the issue. This just stems from the things she asserts through out her writing and in the comments, if that is actually her defending her own article.

            She is oblivious to the number of Christian denominations that would gladly take her to task on the many points she makes in her article.
            Justice v. Mercy, unconditional love, salvation, prayer, worship, original sin, forgiveness and salvation, good works v. faith.
            She speaks as if speaking for every Christian.

            There are nearly 3000 Christian denominations just in the United States, each with its own set of beliefs and dogma. They all have different interpretations for different passages in the Bible, they each assign different priorities, translations and emphasis to each book in the Bible. She says “The discussion of religion is an important one and should thus be factually correct when presented” yet she fails to realize that her entire article was nothing more than her own personal views of what Christianity is to her, she did not present any facts, just her opinion, she did not even recognize that its one of 3000 views of what Christianity should be.

            Second, the things she actually believes and defends, actually have no basis on scripture, or logic. Take for example her comment on February 10, 2012 at 10:02 am, stating that all men… including Muslims Hindus & Atheists [paraphrase]. How would someone that lacks belief in a God, accept his love? If a Hindu accepts the love of his God(Krishna for example), is that the same as accepting the love of Yahweh? If he doesnt have to believe in Yahweh, just as long as he believes in a God, then whats the point in accepting Jesus? If he does have to accept the love of Yahweh and salvation of Jesus, doesnt that mean he is now a Christian? Isnt there a Commandment explicitly saying we may not have other Gods before “Him”?

            Lastly, her entire article is nothing more than an argument about the framing of the question. She does not care to argue in favor of her claim that a Christian God exists, she is only arguing about the way the question is framed or posed, and about how her God is portrayed in an opinion piece. She is not here to argue about whether or not God exists, she is here to argue about whether or not God is nice.
            It begs the question “is there a god” and it shifts the entire discussion on ground that favors her own biased position, where she is happy to give out her two cents, without any real danger of putting her own core values at risk.
            The worst case scenario is that she ends up thinking that perhaps God isnt such a nice guy after all, but he is God so “Oh well”.

            She doesnt care to actually read about the historicity of the bible by contemporary scholars in their field, from archaeology, anthropology to religious studies and philosophy. From the way she presents arguments, she regurgitates mantras that she has been fed from sources she trusts to agree with her core views, and has little understanding of any real objections to her views. And on top of that, she is happy to fall back on faith, “evidence alone is not going to prove the “god hypothesis.” Faith is a crucial aspect”. Which essentially means that she is not interested in truth, she is only interested in believing what she wants to believe.

            When someone is ignorant of a particular topic, what they should expect is to be lectured by those who know. She is ignorant but refuses to learn, thats why I am calling her out! If she cares about this, she shouldnt let harsh words block her from the truth. If personal attacks are too much to handle, she can just leave. She wants to be an activist and part of the debate? She should get thicker skin, enough said.

            When it comes to important stuff, you need to follow, lead or get out of the way, simple as that.

            And regarding your last comment, you need to think about what you are saying first, because even if there is no after life, a God can still exist, and even if there is an afterlife, a God could still not exist.
            You should also consider what kind of standards of evidence you are willing to accept for things that are said. This has never been a discussion about what the TRUTH is, this has always been a discussion about what claims we should accept and live with as if they where true.
            The position of an atheist, is the same as that of an agnostic, we accept that there is no way to know or acquire knowledge of God’s existence, but we argue that there simply isn’t enough evidence in favor of the “god hypothesis” to compel us to act as if God actually exists.

            • Matt Reply

              February 16, 2012 at 6:37 pm

              You are in your right to attack anyone you please.

              But you accomplish nothing.

              • Joshua Reply

                February 16, 2012 at 7:08 pm

                Lol, Im actually fighting in real life. Im politically active and up to date with current events.

                I dont usually rant in the Daily Nexus, but when I do it to unwind.

                If you think sitting on your ass and arguing with people on the internet is your way of “contributing” to a cause, “one mind at a time”, I think you should probably get real and do something more meaningful with your life.

                The Daily Nexus is SHIT, Ive already ranted about this, I cared about a year ago about what people where writing here, now I just dont really give a shit. I have a job, I have a cause and unlike you I will be phone banking and volunteering next election cycle.

  5. Kieran Reply

    February 10, 2012 at 3:09 am

    You seem to be very certain about the exact nature of god. What evidence do you have to offer in support of any of your many bold assertions about god. What is it that grants this god hypothesis any credibility at all, any more than belief in dragons or fairies or that the earth is flat?

    • Emily Reply

      February 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

      Like I said above, evidence alone is not going to prove the “god hypothesis.” Faith is a crucial aspect. I know this is something that many nonchristians claim is a cop out. It seems too simple and convenient. i don’t know though. I think a degree of faith has to do with most of the things that we believe. Macro Evolution, for example, which some Christians do believe in, is a very likely explanation for the origins of the Earth. That is where science has led us. I would make the bold statement that belief in evolution requires some faith. Have you seen the fossil records that show the exact transition between every species on the face of the Earth leading up to humans in all of history? Yet you take it as fact because it seems probable based on the evidence we do have or that you know of. Science and God work together pretty nicely, actually. The difference between the “god hypothesis” and dragons, fairies and the belief the the Earth is flat is that science, and history, for that matter, have proven these things incorrect. Neither science, nor history, have proven that God does not exist. With regard to evidence, Professor of Astronomy Edward L Wright, PhD, of UCLA found that:

      “It turns out that the universe could not have been much smaller than it is in order for nuclear fusion to have occurred during the first 3 minutes after the Big Bang. Without this brief period of nucleosynthesis, the early universe would have consisted entirely of hydrogen. Likewise, the universe could not have been much larger than it is, or life would not have been possible. If the universe were just one part in 10 to the 59th power larger, the universe would have collapsed before life was possible. Since there are only 10 to the 80th power number of baryons in the universe, this means that an addition of just 10 to the 21st power number of baryons (about the mass of a grain of sand) would have made life impossible. The universe is exactly the size it must be for life to exist at all.”

      • Emily Reply

        February 10, 2012 at 10:33 am

        point of clarification: the numbers listed are Prof. Wright’s work, not the conclusions drawn from them. I don’t want to misquote him.

      • Brian Gallagher Reply

        February 10, 2012 at 3:31 pm

        It’s very arrogant to think that the universe was created with human beings in mind. Other species exist, too. There are probably aliens in other galaxies. Was the universe not created for them? Do they have their own god? Their own Jesus? It’s important to think about these questions. When we realize how many questions we don’t have the answer to, it should make us more humble; but you seem to be more confident with the less you know. Jesus would disapprove.

        • David Reply

          February 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

          Speaking to the arrogance of imagining a universe created for humans, Genesis speaks of a God who specifically creates us, humans, in the image of Him, in an act that shows the dignity of life and the god-imaging aspect of it, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'” (Genesis 1:26). Life’s dignity is in that we alone on earth are made as mirrors of God’s image, and as such have a calling to, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). I disagree that Jesus would disapprove of Emily’s defense of her faith, as Peter states, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (I Peter 3:15-17). Finally, as to aliens, a Christian artist in the 70’s (Larry Norman) once sang, “And if there’s life on other planets, then I’m sure he’s been there too…” and he’s died to save their souls. There is certainly room in the Bible for the possibility of life on other planets with God-fearing lifeforms of their own as He created the heavens as well as the earth.

          • Brian Gallagher Reply

            February 11, 2012 at 7:21 pm

            You’ve cited your quotations well.

            • David Reply

              February 11, 2012 at 9:31 pm

              Thank you. I don’t think anyone argues that a discussion of these topics isn’t important, so I’m glad we’re all having it.

      • Brian Gallagher Reply

        February 11, 2012 at 7:50 pm

        The only thing of which faith is a “crucial aspect” of is the evil humans wreck upon one another.

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