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10 Things Christians and Atheists can -and must- agree on (or "Come together, right now...over me)

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posted on May, 21 2011 @ 06:47 PM
Thanks again to our good friends over at Cracked for a humorous yet sanity-filled breakdown of a long standing debate (DISCLAIMER - I would really like to not see this thread devolve into debate, so would request that we try to focus here on agreement and collaboration, with any dispute being opened in a separate thread, if such is desired).

With all the things going on in the world, constant distraction by two somewhat-constantly warring factions of mankind seem to be doing little to help either side while aiding those profiting at the expense of both in the upper echelons of political and social power structures by diluting our attention to more pressing issues.

As such, I'd like to present a list of things BOTH sides can (*hopefully*) agree on, in hopes that we might realize where we can stand together as well as acknowledge our own faults on both sides, with my personal desire for reconciliation and unity to face common threats united instead of divided and bickering.

For your pleasure (and there is, of course, further elucidation on each point in the article itself...definitely worth reading, even if only for a head on over and check out the rest):

1. You Can Do Terrible Things in the Name of Either One

All I need from you is agreement that it's entirely possible for either an atheist or theist world to devolve into a screaming murder festival. The religious leader sends his people into battle because he thinks God commanded it, the Stalins and Maos of the world do the same because they see their people as nothing more than meaty fuel to be ground up to feed the machinery of The State. In both cases, the people are equally dead.

Yeah, yeah, I know the Christians are saying that the guy who fights an unjust or needless war is violating God's law, and thus isn't a good Christian. Meanwhile, the atheists are saying that Stalin was merely bloodthirsty, separate and apart from his disbelief in a higher power. Both believe, then, that it is a corruption of their belief system that allows unjust slaughter to happen.

But for this project, All we need to agree on is this: it happens in both cases. And if the opposing belief system vanished tomorrow, war and bloodshed and terror would still take place...

Everybody still on board? Good.

2. Both Sides Really Do Believe What They're Saying

Atheists, you know that Christians have freaking died because they refused to walk away from what they believe. That goes beyond simple human stubbornness...You can say they're wrong. You can say it all day, you can etch "YOU'RE WRONG" into the surface of the moon with a giant laser. But you'll have a lot less angst if you remember that the thing they're wrong about is something they honestly believe, down to their roots. I guess you could just call them crazy, but it's a little silly to use that word when believers are the norm in human population.

Christians, same deal. Every one of you have got friends and family who aren't believers. And I bet some of them are good people. Earnest people, thoughtful people. Charitable. Kind. So... doesn't that kind of kill the premise that these people are avoiding God out of sinful rebellion or fear of having to live a godly life? After all, you've got people who are doing the hard part (self-sacrifice, patience, giving up all sorts of sinful pleasures) but are avoiding the easy part (praying and listening to a preacher talk for one hour a week). If God and the danger of Hell were that obvious, why wouldn't they just go all the way with it?

So, we've agreed that the other guy, no matter how irritating he or she is, is likely making an honest mistake.

3. In Everyday Life, You're Not That Different

You Christians, if the transmission in your Camaro explodes, are you going to use prayer to reconstruct it? No, you'll call a mechanic. When your tooth hurts, you don't assume it's possessed by demons. You look for a cavity. Basic, everyday troubleshooting.

Well, at the very worst, the atheists are just applying the same common sense, real-world troubleshooting to the God question. At the creation of the universe and in the heart of mankind, they expect to find the same physical, tangible answers they'd find inside a burnt transmission. If they're wrong about God, they're only wrong in that they've taken the tried-and-true troubleshooting we all practice one step too far.

On the other hand...Atheists, even if you reject the idea of God completely and claim to live according only to the cold logic of the physical sciences, you all still live as if the absolute morality of some magical lawgiver were true...

Even though there's no "wrong" molecule floating in the air and there's no "justice" element on the Periodic Table. You don't think of the swindler as just a fellow animal who happens to behave differently than you. You think he should have acted some other way, according to an invisible ideal that everybody is aware of and knows they should obey...

Well, at the very worst, the Christians are just taking that same moral impulse and applying it to the God question. At the creation of the universe, they expect to find the same invisible hand that pushes us to be fair and loyal and kind. If they're wrong about God, they're only wrong in that they've taken that absolute morality and put a face on it, made an idol out of it. Taken it one step too far.

You think of it that way, and the amount of overlap between the two of us is actually pretty striking. Right?

4. There Are Good People on Both Sides

Atheists, you can despise a Falwell or the gay funeral protesting guy, but you've known Christians who did it right. Famous ones like Martin Luther King Jr., or just common ones you've run across who seem to have an inexaustible well of generosity and good cheer. You know how many charities have crosses on their logo.

Christians... look. The church loves to phrase it like: "The faithful will be joined with their father in Heaven, while the liars, the murderous, the treacherous will be cast down with Satan and his hordes."

See the gap there, between the first part of the statement and the second? What about all the people in between? The atheists and Muslims and Buddhists and Scientologists who aren't murderous or treacherous or liars?...If God alone can deliver us from temptation -and- some people who don't believe in God are also able to resist temptation -then- God must offer his protection against temptation even to some who don't believe in God. One could even say that God aids the atheist's honest desire to follow one of God's rules... even while he continues to deny God.

But all that is speculation. In order to move on, we only need to agree that such good people exist. Easy.

5. Your Point of View is Legitimately Offensive to Them

Everybody is aware that something can be both true and offensive, right? You see a friend holding a newborn baby and you say, "You know, there's a chance he'll die tomorrow." Or you stand over the casket at your uncle's funeral and say, "He'll definitely be consuming fewer of the world's natural resources now." Both statements completely, 100% factually correct, and can be defended to the end of time by cold, undeniable logic. And both are incredibly offensive...

So Christians, knowing what we just said about how it is possible to be a true, honest atheist, that people walk around every day and truly see no evidence of God, can you understand why it's offensive to them to hear that they, and their family, and their children, and their friends, are going to burn for eternity for it?...Again, I'm not asking you to stop believing that people, or even these people, are in danger of Hell. I'm simply asking you to accept that, if the situation were reversed, you also would be offended. After all, don't you get offended when a Muslim says you're going to Hell?

Atheists. Same deal. It's irritating to you when they say you and your friends aren't going to Heaven because of your beliefs. But it's just as irritating to them when you say they're not going to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. And the irritation happens on the same grounds, which is, injustice. You hate the idea of all non-Christians burning for eternity, but you're telling them that the mass murderer and kindly grandma will draw the same eternal reward (or lack of).

Now, again, both of you are saying, "But I'm factually right in what I'm saying!" And that's fine. For this, all we're doing here is understanding why they're offended by what you say. That's it. Putting yourself in their shoes. Basic human empathy. That's all.

Everybody still on board my theological peace train? Sweet.

6. We Tend to Exaggerate About the Other Guy

Anybody can memorize facts. But you remain a clumsy, intellectual oaf of a person as long as you keep looking for sheer black and white in every situation...

So please, please, please, when we get into these atheist vs. Christian arguments, can the atheists stop acting like Christians want to abolish all science and live in grass huts? Just because some Christians reject the science on evolution, doesn't mean they reject all science.

And Christians, will you please, pretty please, with sugar on top, stop implying that the atheist lifestyle is one long drug-riddled blood orgy? You take a country like Japan, where just 12% of the people say religion is important to their lives and yet have some of the lowest crime rates in the world...

7. We Tend to Exaggerate About Ourselves, Too

In reality, there are very few Christians who do or even try to follow the Bible exactly, including all the obscure rules about church women staying silent and hatted. Word of God or not, the faith changes, adapts with the times. That is, in fact, the entire point of Christianity. Jesus was a reformer, and set that precedent. It continues to this day, it's what I like about it.

Now Christians hate to admit that, because it opens the door for the other guy to say, "See! If it's not the word of God then you admit it's all a big pile of fly-ridden crap and that atheism is the one true belief system!" So, the Christian digs in and pretends they've never experienced a moment of religious doubt in their lives.

Conversely, atheists like to pretend they're islands of pure, rational thought in a sea of wild-eyed craziness. But we all have a little crazy in our world, and we all depend on some fantasy that floats outside the boundaries of cold reason.

Atheists still tell their girlfriends they "love" them, and not that they simply feel a psychological artifact of a biochemical bond generated by the mating instinct. They still refer to their "mind" as if it's something more than chemical switches. And remember what we talked about with "justice" and "right" and "wrong." None of it is scientific.

You don't have to admit this one out loud. I know you lose debate points for it. Just keep reading if you agree.

8. Focusing on Negative Examples Makes You Stupid

That guy, the "God Hates Fags" guy who runs the protests I mentioned back on the first page? Fred Phelps? His church (Westboro Baptist) has become world famous for those dickish demonstrations. Which is amazing, considering that the "church" is made up entirely of Phelps' family and a few friends. That's it. And they're world famous, mainly because atheists looooooove to hold them up as an example of what dicks Christians are. When you need an icon of intolerance, they're as useful to have around as Hitler.

Smearing all Christians with Phelps' bile is a cheap shot, like saying all atheist schoolkids are potential Columbine shooters. At worst, that kind of stereotyping is dehumanizing and divisive. At best, it's a recipe for mediocrity.

It's just another form of hypocrisy, and if there's one thing we can agree on, it's that hypocrisy sucks.

9. Both Sides Have Brought Good to the Table

Christians, I'm not saying that atheists have brought good things to the world by telling people not to believe in God. I'm talking about the thing that drives atheism, the philosophy behind it. I'm talking about rationalism. I'm talking about the philosophy that started saying, centuries ago, that it's not demons that cause disease. It's microbes, and genetic defects, and chemistry. And that we can find those causes and we can find cures. Cures in the physical world, without consulting the priest, without going through a ceremony.

Think about what I said before. If atheism is wrong, it's only wrong in that it takes rationalism too far, beyond the edges of the universe. But you don't have a problem with the rationalism itself. There are people you love who would not be alive without it. You can pray that grandpa's heart holds out for another year, but rational thinking invented the pacemaker.

Atheists. You hate wars. You hate genocide, you hate iron-fisted dictators who line up peasants and jump over them with monster trucks. You hate it when corporations steal your money, and when fat suburbanites will let a million Africans starve before they'll donate. You hate guys who treat women like lifeless sex dolls, guys who lie and leave...

Religion - whether it was handed down by God or just invented by a bunch of guys- serves mainly to fight that. It makes humanity sacred, and the moral law moreso. You can hate the methods it uses, you can say that there are other ways, you can say that it only replaces one cancer with another. But most of what it's trying to get you to do - treat other humans as sacred and put morality above your own impulses - you already do. And you criticize religion mainly for not doing it...

Whew. Last one, for the people who are still reading.

10. You'll Never Harass the Other Side Out of Existence

Remember when I said that, when somebody comes on too strong, no matter what they're selling, we tend to run the other way? I mean, sure, the "God Hates Fags" guy has changed tens of thousands of minds. But not in the direction he intended.

People are not convinced that way. The sarcasm, the disdain, the laughter. It makes you feel better, and rallies your friends, but it does exactly nothing to change minds on the other side. Conservatives may like to read Ann Coulter, but nobody else does.

No, in reality, if changing minds is your thing, there's only one way to do it: Lead by Example.

There's a thing the church has been doing for centuries, that I don't think it can do any longer. It goes like this:

"Jesus is the son of God."

"How do I know that?"

"Because if you don't know that, then you will burn in Hell for eternity."

No. Uh-uh. If you want people to live their life in a certain way, based on a certain fact, you can't substitute a threat for evidence. You have to lead by example.

Atheists, same thing. you want to show me that atheism is the key to a balanced, satisfying, confident life? Show me.

Trust me, if they introduce a new energy drink tomorrow and I observe that everybody who drinks it suddenly can dunk a basketball from their knees, I'm going to notice. So will everyone else. That drink will be unstoppable.

So if you want to criticize the Christians' intolerance, then be tolerant. Show them how it's done. Shame them with your tolerance. You won't have to say they're awful. They'll look awful by sheer comparison to you.

And don't show up in a room full of Christians and start making fun of their taboos, immediately talking about boobs or whatever, as if the only reason people adhere to a rule is out of fear of experiencing the awesomeness of breaking it. You've got taboos, too. All of you. Things you don't like to see or hear in polite conversation. This is the internet, I can show you the pictures.

Be tolerant. Lead by example.

Both of you.

And don't think of it as a tactic to win converts. Think of it as common courtesy.

I love all of you - even if both sides occasionally drive me nuts as well - and I hope we can find some common ground here to at least continue our disagreements in love and amusement instead of sniping and discontent. Let's all work with each other to do what we can to make this world a better place from our respective ends.

Atheists, I'd imagine it's just what you would like to see - christians, as much and more is (bluntly enough) commanded of you.

Be well, all.
edit on 5/21/2011 by Praetorius because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 06:55 PM
reply to post by Praetorius

A lot of what you said makes sense, except that I would never do a terrible thing in the name of God.
Neither would a lot Christians I know.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 06:58 PM
reply to post by goos3
Thanks goos - I'd like to agree, but I have to recall the crusades, which were committed very much in the name (unfortunately though, far from the SPIRIT) of god.

I also have to keep in account the number of christians who approve of our current wars, in contradiction of the commands of christ, along with 'enhanced interrogation' and a host of other atrocities.

Thanks for posting, and I hope you're sincere in that and take these examples to heart so as not to partake in them.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 06:59 PM
I would add a category for people who believe in a higher power, but don't subscribe to any religion of men.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 07:01 PM
why don't atheist spend as much time trying do disprove the existence of santa claus or the easter bunny.

they spend more time talking about God than the pope does.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 07:02 PM
Never thought I'd star and flag someone posting a cracked article lol...

Love cracked articles, although not the bastion of accurate reporting still good article.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 07:02 PM
reply to post by randomname

Tsst! This is no the thread for that, my friend. Not trying to give you a hard time, but I'm not seeking dissent on this one.

Christians have a mound of our own problems to deal with, so I simply cannot sanction backbiting here.

posted on May, 21 2011 @ 07:21 PM

Originally posted by goos3
reply to post by Praetorius

A lot of what you said makes sense, except that I would never do a terrible thing in the name of God.
Neither would a lot Christians I know.

I understand why this would lead you to think this about Christians, but anyone for war and hate can not clame to be a Christian.
Jesus said love your enemy.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 07:35 AM
reply to post by randomname

Because a belief in God can cause severe delusion and severe harm. If a preist tells someone that God has commanded them to cut of child's genitals, they will do it if they think it is divinely warranted. (or warranted on "holy order)

Could an Atheist use the same reasoning? Would his act be considered Holy?

a challenge: Name a moral act that can be performed by a religious person, that cannot be performed by a non-believer.

After you've answered that, ask yourself, what could someone with religious faith be lead to do or say in the name of God?
edit on 22/5/11 by awake_and_aware because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 08:54 AM
An excellent article, genuine food for thought. I suspect that those who will leave snarky "I'm still right" comments either didn't read it or it went over their heads.

The only bit that stood out as an obvious misstatement was:

Nobody hates the idea of a creator, or of there being some kind of ultimate justice in the universe.

That "nobody" is patently false -- ATS has plenty of members who hate the idea of a creator, and who hate the idea of some kind of ultimate justice.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 09:14 AM
Yes, excellent OP. I honestly didn't see this until just now, though the rant I posted last night is roughly along the same lines. Of course I see some straw men in some of the details, but the "meta argument" is very good. (And FWIW, I also call out my fellow believers if they angrily fume, "You're not being loving!")

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 09:52 AM

Christians, I'm not saying that atheists have brought good things to the world by telling people not to believe in God. I'm talking about the thing that drives atheism, the philosophy behind it. I'm talking about rationalism. I

Atheism isn't about an agenda, there are no pre-subscribed dogma or philosophy to adhere to. There are many types of Atheists; pro-abortion, anti-abortion, nihilist, humanist, gnostic, agnostic.

Atheists have only one thing in common - a lack of belief in a deity.

Atheism can be a positive claim, but I don't consider that rational. Unless someone defines a God that can be falsified.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 10:01 AM
Excellent thread! S&F! I agree with all 10. I am very willing to embrace my fellow human beings, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. And I do.

I do believe strongly in separation of church and state and I think if we truly had that, then there would be MUCH less reason for the division. Laws should not be based on religious beliefs and some now are. I actually think this is what causes a lot of the current rift between the two elements.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 10:17 AM

Originally posted by awake_and_aware

Christians, I'm not saying that atheists have brought good things to the world by telling people not to believe in God. I'm talking about the thing that drives atheism, the philosophy behind it. I'm talking about rationalism. I

Atheism isn't about an agenda

Atheism as a belief? No.

Atheism as a crusade? Of course it has an agenda.

If you want to go sit in a corner, shut up and just not have a belief, you're welcome to not have an agenda, not have a philosophy, not have any reasoning behind what you don't believe.

But if you run around, proclaiming your lack of faith, attempting to convince others to believe (well, not believe) as you do, and criticizing the beliefs and philosophies of others, then the agenda, philosophy and reasoning of Atheism comes with the territory.

Atheists have only one thing in common - a lack of belief in a deity.

Evangelical atheists have another thing in common -- the desire to have everyone else think the way that they do.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 10:21 AM
reply to post by adjensen

Atheism as a crusade? Of course it has an agenda.

LOL - Atheism is a lack of belief in a deity. Sometimes a response to the positive Theist's claim that there is a God, sometimes a positive claim in itself, the latter being as irrational as the claim that there is a God.

Whether you go on a "crusade" is up to your individual ambitions, There is no agenda to convert people. And criticising religion is not a "crusade"

Evangelical atheists.

Honestly you make me laugh. Obviously i can name an Evangelical religious organisation. Please tell me where this group of Atheists who want to convert everyone are?

Is Sam Harris an evangelical atheist? Just because he debates Christians and people of other religious belief.. What a load of rubbish you're preaching; get over this "crusade" nonsense, we're not raping women and killing people like the religious crusades of the dark ages.

S+F for OP - Church should be separated from state;

Let work towards Jefferson's goal, let's build that "wall" up
edit on 22/5/11 by awake_and_aware because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 10:39 AM
reply to post by awake_and_aware

So a person who promotes their religion is an evangelist, but a person who promotes their lack of religion is not an evangelist.

Gotta hand it to you, your lack of basic common sense seems to know no bounds.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 11:11 AM
reply to post by awake_and_aware
I really don't want to present any debate on this thread or see any strife, but I will try to answer your questions since they were asked.

If a preist tells someone that God has commanded them to cut of child's genitals, they will do it if they think it is divinely warranted. (or warranted on "holy order)

Could an Atheist use the same reasoning? Would his act be considered Holy?

I wouldn't couch it as 'holy', no, since holiness deals firmly with the realm of divine mandate as far as I'm aware, but justified and approved, yes. Circumcision itself being a prime example. I don't believe my own had anything to do with faith, I'm not jewish, and I'm not aware of it ever being a mandate for christians regardless. There's scientific and medical debate on the issue - I'm not aware of much spiritual debate as this was already clearly addressed by the faith itself.

a challenge: Name a moral act that can be performed by a religious person, that cannot be performed by a non-believer.

Other than those directly involving the acknowledgement and worship of a perceived creator, there are none. Believers do not have a monopoly on morality (as our good friend Mohandas and others have proved), they only have a monopoly on belief in their creator.

After you've answered that, ask yourself, what could someone with religious faith be lead to do or say in the name of God?

Quite a few things - just as someone without religious faith can be lead to do in the name of eugenics, 'just following orders', "the Great Leader", and a host of any other ideological bases. Believers also do not have a monopoly on perceived craziness - that's firmly within the realm of humanity and ideology itself, which can in some cases have nothing to do with any number of alleged deities.

Be well, friend.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 11:15 AM
Guys, while I can't and don't even want to try to order you off the thread, I really do wish we could focus on areas of agreement here, as well as faults & misconceptions on both sides.

There are plenty of other threads to be had or started elsewhere if some want to yet again continue divisiveness and an utterly fruitless carrying-on of this debate ad nauseum.

I would like to issue a prediction of my own for once, though - neither side will ever convince the other through such, and will only continue to foster enmity and division when we have much bigger fish to fry and limited time in this life to do so.

Thanks. Love you guys.
edit on 5/22/2011 by Praetorius because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 11:18 AM
reply to post by Mactire

I have no issues with such, but this thread is primarily to address christians and atheists specifically due to the ongoing debate and animosity between the two.

So, general deism is your bag? I'm not too familiar with it, is that along the lines of a creator started everything moving and then went on to take care of other things without dipping his toes back into the water throughout history (kind of like Jordan's Wheel of Time series, perhaps?).

Thanks for any clarity you can lend here, and no exclusion was intended.

posted on May, 22 2011 @ 11:33 AM
reply to post by randomname

Because nobody takes either the Easter bunny or Santa seriously after a certain age. It's sort of an odd comparison to make, isn't it?

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