I have just observed a response on this website to Richard Dawkins book titled The God Delusion. The response seems to be written with a sense of aggresive defence, why is it that religious people tend to become immediatly angered when their faith is questioned or is it aggression as a chosen emotion to disguise fear, the fear of being proven wrong and then having only your own life to concentrate on rather than focusing constantly on a religion?
Before becoming an athiest I felt it would be important to explore religion one of which was christianity. After asking many people about the bible and its importance many people’s response was that it provided moral guidlines for life however when reading the bible I found it very sexist in a large portion of the stories in both the old and new testement and felt its influence could be damaging to modern culture. As an athiest I have strong morals which have been influenced by my upbringing and the people who surround me, I am studying a degree in design an have recently recieved funding for a project that helps people with eating disorders overcome their confidence issues. My christian friend spends her time working in a shop and going to church, she is also unfaithful to her boyfriend and can act very selfishly. It seems that a religious faith does not influence you to be a better person at all, everyone infact decided their own morals religious or not and individual pers
onalities allow you to select these. What is your response to this?
I request that you explore these questions with an open mind as I have in the past regarding religion,
Thanks for your comments. First of all, what was defensive about my article? What sentence or paragraph that I write did you find "angry" or "defensive?" I recognize that many Christians have reacted this way, but I do not happen to see that my article fit this description, so please help me and let me know what was defensive about the article. I wrote an honest and respectful review of Dawkins’ book. I am personal friend of Michael Shermer, the head of the American Skeptics Society and a good friend of Dawkins. Even he felt, when I asked, that Dawkin’s book was kind of a hack job. I really appreciate Michael Shermer’s approach, even though I do not agree with his conclusions. In fact, I use his atheist-oriented book in my Intro to Scientific Thought class at my college. We set up a debate between Michael Shermer and a good friend of mine and he and Dr. Jacoby have had more than one follow-up event because they have so much respect for one another. I believe this is how people discussing such important questions ought to behave. Unfortunately, Richard Dawkins does NOT act respectfully toward believers. He uses is platform as a scientist to make emotional, angry, bitter and irrational attacks on believers. I like to think that you would not defend such behavior. I am not angry at Dawkins–at least I hope not. To be honest, I feel sorry for the man because it is rather clear that he is being torn apart by unresolved anger and bitterness.
I have often directly confronted Christian writers who use agressive and defensive tactics. I agree with you if you claim that many Christians have set a very poor example in demonizing people they do not agree with. Many behave as poorly as Dawkins and even worse!!! It is an embarrassment to Jesus, I am sure. Just in the last month I have had a few opportunities to ask Young Earth Creationists to change their writing style. I find many in this camp to be hypocritical for being biased and unloving in their approach to defending Christianity. I say that Christians should go way above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak, of using respectful, unbiased, open-minded, clear-thinking, rational arguments when defending Christianity. When they do not do so, they bring shame on the name of Jesus. For myself, I do not hesitate to confront such behavior when I see it.
Again, I ask you what did you find to be angry or defensive in my article? I feel my response to his book was measured, rational, reasonable and fair.
I have had many atheist friends. Some of them are quite nice people. One of my closest partenrs in my work as a science professor is an atheist. We have enjoyed team teaching together for several years.
Having said that, I do not agree that atheists have morals. They may have good ethics, but the atheist rejects morality as a concept. Morality has to do with authority–with absolute right and wrong. Morality has to do with good and evil, but atheists do not even believe in absolute morals, good or evil. I agree that atheists and agnostics can develop a strong sense of ethics, but in choosing to reject religion and a belief in any absolute moral truth, they, by definition, reject morality. If you say you believe in objective moral truth, then you are saying that you believe in a meta-reality above the random undesigned accidental world that atheists believe in. Atheists, without exception as far as I know, do not believe in purpose or meaning to life. When Christians act out of anger or selfishness or greed, they are breaking a moral belief that they believe in. For an atheist, there is no morality, although many do behave quite ethically. Anyway, I am really glad that you help people with eating disorders. That is a commendable thing. I certainly have nothing to say against that, and I have never claimed that atheists do not ever act ethically. Many of my agnostic friends have a strong sense of ethics.
As for sexism, Jesus was probably the greatest revolutionary in all human history in defense of the dignity and role of women. He was definitely not a sexist. I challenge you to read the gospels and tell me that Jesus was a sexist. Look at his conversation with "the woman at the well" in John chapter 4 or the woman caught in adulter in John chapter 8. If you are claiming that in the history of Christianity many supposed Christians have used their belief as a bogus excuse for acting in a sexist way, I will concede, but Jesus was the greatest supporter of women and women’s "rights" of his time, bar none! I believe that if you or I follow the example of Jesus, we will be doing just fine.
As for culture, I do not know what you are talking about. I suppose if you are talking about the Christian refusal to accept pornography and abuse of women, then I will plead guilty. If you are talking about Christians who find extremely violent entertainment problematic, then I guess I will plead guilty. What about real, biblical, New Testament Christianity will hinder culture? Maybe you have a point there, but I do not know what it is. We might just have to disagee on that one.
About supposed Christians who sleep around or behave in blatantly selfish ways, you can be fully assured that such a person is not a Christian, but an imposter. Your "Christian" friend is a hypocrite and not a true Christian. I am very sorry that you have had hypocritical so-called Christians confuse the situation for you. There is nothing I can do about that. This is nothing new. Most who claim to be Christians are not. I wish that were not so, but it is the case. Jesus obviously does not approve of such behavior. I wish I could introduce you to the church I am part of. We are a true New Testament community of believers. Such behavior is not acceptable in a Christian fellowship. We are far from perfect, but I guarantee you would find the kind of love, service to the poor, ethics and moral behavior to be truly extraordinary.
I hope this response can help you to gain some perspective, and please, let me know the specific material in the article you read which you found to be objectionable.
John Oakes, PhD