Three r/atheism Images in Need of Debunking

Like many people, I have a fascination with the grotesque. Every few weeks, I find myself returning to the subreddit r/atheism.

Today I’ll be responding to a few of the (non-profane) images that I encountered on my latest reddit safari.

Numero uno:

When I saw this quote, I thought it seemed a little over the top (even for Hume). I did some double-checking, and it turns out that this is taken from Hume’s “A Treatise of Human Nature“. The sentence originally included a qualifier: “Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”

It’s still a pretty bold claim. I give a few counterexamples.

Social Darwinism
Moral Relativism
– National Socialism
Will to Power

Next up:

I’ll tackle this one point-by-point.

“…every single bit of progress in human feeling…[has been consistently opposed by the organized Churches of the world].”

I’m not quite sure what’s meant by “progress in human feeling”…but one could fill tomes with the names of poets, artists, composers, and authors who haven’t been antagonized by organized churches.

“…every improvement in the criminal law…[has been consistently opposed by the organized Churches of the world].”

What about the post-Constantine Christian leaders, who reformed Roman law to prevent abuses against women and children? What about the role of the Justinian Corpus Juris Civilis in establishing an early basis for western civil law – including procedural justice and legal equality for women? What about the Judeo-Christian understanding of natural law, and the idea that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”? What about the Catholic Church’s stance against torture, suicide, and euthanasia?

“…every step towards the diminution of war…[has been consistently opposed by the organized Churches of the world].”

What about the numerous Christian contributions to just war theory? Or from another perspective, what about the admirable nonviolence of the Quakers (an organized Church, last time I checked)?

“…every step towards better treatment of the coloured races, or every mitigation of slavery…[has been consistently opposed by the organized Churches of the world].”

Why, then, was the American abolitionist movement spearheaded largely by clergymen? What about William Wilberforce and the Second Great Awakening? What about the many thousands of church-supported Christian missionaries who have left their homes and families to bring spiritual, material, and medical support to the most impoverished corners of the world?

This Hitchens quote is a complete non sequitur. Let’s apply the reasoning to something besides religion.

“Since it is obviously inconceivable that all [economic theories] can be right, the most reasonable conclusion is that they are all wrong.”

Or imagine that I ask 100 people for directions to the nearest post office, and I receive a hodgepodge of different, often conflicting answers. It’s possible that all the directions are wrong…but it’s also possible that one or more of them are right. Dismissing all of the competing claims outright isn’t “the most reasonable conclusion”; it’s just the most intellectually lazy.

(In a previous post, I tackled this issue from the perspective of a Christian who de-converts, in part, because of the competing claims of the numerous world religions.)


10 thoughts on “Three r/atheism Images in Need of Debunking

  1. I don’t have a substantive response to your article, but I will say I share your fascination. The other day I was at RedState after President Obama won re-election.

  2. Regarding the Hitchens quote: one could even just change “religions” to “worldviews” and include his worldview in the mix. It’s a ridiculous statement.

    • My own stance on abortion:

      I think it should be illegal in all cases – except when the mother’s life is in danger. It’s hard for me to pass judgement on this specific case without knowing all of the medical details.

  3. The thing about Religion is that if you think Christianity and Jesus dying for your sins is right, You mean that Islam and Jewish and Hindu religions are all wrong in your view. In my view a Loving God is that which wants to do good,protect and care for his creations, not a God that wants to be praised all the time and makes you to love him or you’ll burn in an eternal hell. Doesn’t make sense to me

    • All of the major world religions make exclusive truth claims – not just Christianity. How can they all be correct?

      Anyway, I do think that the God of Christianity is *very much* interested in protecting and caring for his creation. How else to explain the tremendous sacrifice of Christ? To quote Plantinga:

      “…as the Christian sees things, God does not stand idly by, coolly observing the suffering of his creatures. He enters into and shares our suffering. He endures the anguish of seeing his Son, the second person of the Trinity, consigned to the bitterly cruel and shameful death of the cross. Some theologians claim that God cannot suffer. I believe they are wrong. God’s capacity for suffering, I believe, is proportional to his greatness; it exceeds our capacity for suffering in the same measure as his capacity for knowledge exceeds ours.”

      I think the common *perception* of the Christian God as being aloof, self-serving, and egocentric is seriously misaligned with what the Bible actually teaches.

    • Thomas Merton writes that in prayer, humanity reaches its highest level of reality (No Man is An Island). Thus, God’s command that we praise Him is not an act of eccentricity, but an invitation into His very own goodness. If God is absolute truth beyond our comprehension, and this truth is our life (John 14:6), His exclusiveness is praiseworthy because it is meant to protect us from non-truth and thus death. As for hell, we have done a remarkable job as humans in making our own finite versions; hell in the afterlife is merely our freedom to do so i finitely. God bless you. Those are great questions (and I don’t pretend to have fully answered them).

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