There Are No Christians!

A tongue-in-cheek letter to the Christian who denies there are Atheists:

You think you believe but you really don't. You see, your behavior itself tells on you. You don't live every waking hour of every day the way you would if you truly believed. I don't even have to know you, but if you're a man you probably peek at pornography on the web--say it isn't so? You don't give your money to Christian causes like you would if you truly believed. You don't pray enough. You don't read the Bible like you should, or evangelize as you should. You're not truly grateful for the purported sacrifice Jesus made for you that saved you from hell. Nor do you really care about the fate of unbelievers who are heading to hell. If you truly believed unbelievers will be eternally punished for their unbelief then your whole life would be radically different. So your behavior tells on you. You do not believe. Underneath all of the protestations to the contray you simply do not believe. You are in denial. You deny that you are an atheist.

You probably have someone in your life that rubs you wrong—a relative?—that you simply cannot forgive, and you may even dislike someone to the point where you may even hate them. Some Christians are even having extra-marital affairs right now, or they are pilfering from the church treasury, or beating their wives. Are you? You have guilt running through your veins for all of this and yet you claim that you stand forgiven in the eyes of God—is that not a contradiction?

You claim to believe you should or should not do this or that, and you even claim there is a Holy Spirit who only helps Christians, but you continue to behave as you actually believe, which is not much better than non-Christian neighbors you know.

If I believed there was a brick wall in front of me, I wouldn't walk into it. But your life is nothing but walking through your self proclaimed wall of beliefs. You daily walk through that wall because you really do not believe there is a wall where you claim it is!

So don't tell me I really believe. I do not. It's you who are in denial. You simply are going through the motions because of the social benefits of the people whom you respect and whom are your helpers through life. You need some father godlike figure in the sky so you can feel secure and comforted both here and in the afterlife, so you believe this father figure in your mind. But he just doesn't exist, and deep down you know this.

You claim I believe. I claim I do not. What do you think about my case? Do you really believe or not? I think my case is much stronger than yours.

--End of letter.

21 comments:

Paul Manata said...

hello,

I address an attempt to reverse my thesis in my article. To bad it wasn't consulted. Anyway, I'll point out one error, among many, in what you wrote.

You claim as evidence that "there are no Christians" the fact that some Christians "engage in extra-marital affairs." Now, the problem here is that sin is part of our worldview! Our worldview actually makes the claim that people, even Christians(!) will continue to sin. Therefore, your "evidence" is actually confirmation of my thesis, not disconfirmation.

Frankly, I find it funny that someone who brags about his knowledge of Christianity doesn;t even know the doctrine of indwelling sin and progressive sanctification.

So, your paper was intellectual childs play to refute.

regards,
Paul

John W. Loftus said...

Paul, Paul, Paul. I never thought I could prove my case against there not being any Christians, precisely because Christians have ways of explaining why they don't always act consistent with their beliefs. My attempt reveals the basic ignorance that you display when you say there are no atheists. It's a parody of your own silliness, in my opinion. It was tongue-in-cheek. Exaggeration to make a point, just like what follows:

I suppose you also think there are no homosexuals, or that there are no Muslims or Jews, and that there are no pantheists--why not say that? Why not just go ahead and say that there are only Christians in disguise? [Oops, you can't say that, can you, 'cause then everyone will be in heaven].

I'm just having a little fun at your sophisticated defense of a claim that even Christian philosopher Victor Reppert thinks is just "silly."

I can tell you're a good thinker otherwise, though. Thanks for complimenting me in a like fashion--not!

Paul Manata said...

John John John,

It is clear that you did not read what I wrote. Maybe you could show the connection between what I wrote and how it is analagous to what you wrote. Mine looks like this:

X says he believes P but P is not consistent with his worldview. P is actually consistent with Y's worldview. So, X believes P and by doing so is presupposing Y's worldview. Furthermore, Y's worldview says that this is evidence that X knows that Y's worldview is true.

Anyway, that's something of a sketch. Therefore, your "parody" is disanalogous.

Victor reppert also thinks some of the things you believe are silly. Does that bother you?

Also, if I "display an basic ignorance" then maybe you could show it. Your "attempt" to show how I did was not a parody of my argument, but of a straw man. So, you show my ignorance by not critiquing my position?

I think there are homosexuals. I think there are Jews, etc. I even think there are atheists. If you had read what I wrote you would know how I can think this.

Furthermore, they are not "Christians" in disguise. The Bible telsl us that even the devils believe that God exists, when you were a Christian did you think that that was saying that devils "were Christians in disguise?!" Also, again, I must point out that my paper, which you did not read, draws a distinction between the knowledge of God that a Christian has and one that a non-Christian has. And, lastly, depending on how "Christian" is defined, I do not think that "all Christians will go to heaven." I am reformed and as such hold to a, if you will, two-circle view of the covenant.

Lastly, I never meant to say you were not a good thinker. i think i pointed out that *in this area* you did not exhibit good thinking skills, there's a difference.

But, the more we progress, I do find your claims about being knowledgable about Christianity to be somewhat suspect. At the very least, you should know where your opponent is coming from as well as read what he writes.

~Paul

Paul Manata said...

P.S. I find it interesting that you note that "I have a way out of your critique" when I think that you don't have "a way out" of mine. So, you don;t have a way out and I do. :-)

Christianity: 1

Atheism: 0

Anonymous said...

You went to TEDS. They require testimony not only from you but others. Have you lived as to deceive all you know of your true identity? Did you wax philosophical an elegant testimony of how you met Jesus, how he redeemed your soul?

Jesus knows you. He already spoke about you.

Perhaps you are the weedy soil that life choked the faith out of you (Matthew 13:22)
Perhaps you are the hard soil that faith could not take root (Matthew 13:21)
Or maybe you have been the target/pawn of Satan all along (Matthew 13:19)

For certain, what truth may we obtain from your lips? You have deceived in the past, perhaps you deceive now.

I suggest that look at yourself first before you condemn others. You set up the straw man... realize it is you.

For that, you deserve much prayer, and will get it.

There is no comparison to the things I have seen and no end to the joy I have in what I endure for the sake of Jesus Christ. Jesus lives.. I'm just sorry you can not see that.

SolusChristos (Peter)

John W. Loftus said...

Paul,

You're right. I didn't read all of your blog. Perhaps I will. I just think the whole idea is not worth my time, except to poke fun at it.

Although, maybe I shouldn't have poked fun at it, since it's a sincerely help belief of yours.

But on the other hand, for you to consider whether or not you are a Christian is something you won’t spend much time on either.

You and I live in different worlds. I am an atheist and you propose to tell me that I am wrong and that God exists, and I know it, whether or not I accept it. That’s what you’re doing. From my perspective that's just laughable. Just show why you think God does exist, and why you think the Bible is the word of God. The argument you’re making is just another round about way to claim we’re wrong. It's as if I were to tell you that you're not a Christian, and that was my point. I would be better off debating you on the specific beliefs of Christianity rather than wasting bytes on arguing you’re not a Christian.

But I will check in on your blog from time to time just the same.

Paul Manata said...

John,

Thanks. I understand that you may think it is "laughable" and I think some of your views are (or, worse, sad). But notice that my "laughable thesis" was defended by argument where yours was not. So, i don't have a problem with laughing at my views as long as you've got more than emotional, subjective utterences to back up your gufaw.

Anyway, you show another instance of ignorance in writting that I don't spend time on "consider[ing] whether or not you are a Christian.".

Indeed, this is something all Christians should spend a lot of time on. We are to examine if we are trusting in Christ. Indeed(!) a central characteristic of partakers in the Lord's supper is to "examine themselves." SO, I think your claim is false and shows an ignorance of Christian theology.

Even though i disagree with Craig over many isssues, I have to think that maybe you didn't really pay attention in class. :-)

best regards,
Paul

John W. Loftus said...

Earlier I wrote: "For you to consider whether or not you are a Christian is something you won’t spend much time on either."

When I wrote this it was in the context of this whole discussion. I was refering to an argument that third person outside observers might make about your status as a Christian, such as I did earlier. And my point was that you would not spend much time arguing with ME that you were indeed a Christian. I never said or indicated that you might not wrestle with it yourself.

In fact, I would suppose with the guilt that Christianity imposes on you even for the things you think about, it's no wonder you do wrestle with this.

Besides, you would laugh if I truly made such a claim, wouldn't you?

Paul Manata said...

Hi John,

"When I wrote this it was in the context of this whole discussion. I was refering to an argument that third person outside observers might make about your status as a Christian, such as I did earlier. And my point was that you would not spend much time arguing with ME that you were indeed a Christian. I never said or indicated that you might not wrestle with it yourself."

i. But the argument wouldn't fly.

ii. So, your context was about us sinning, and *in that context* we do consider whether we are in Christ.

iii. I don't "wrestle" with it.

In fact, I would suppose with the guilt that Christianity imposes on you even for the things you think about, it's no wonder you do wrestle with this.

i. I don't "wrestle" with it. I also don't know what "guilt" you're referring to, nor hjow "Christianity" imposes it on me. Care to enlighten me so that I can see your knowledge of theology. I mean, it sounds to me that all you're doing is giving external criticisms. Those criticisms are easily answered with a Christian worldview. So, your position amounts to this: "If Christianity were false then we'd have reason to doubt it." Sorry, uninteresting.


"Besides, you would laugh if I truly made such a claim, wouldn't you? "

i. Depends on the argument, wouldn't it? :-)

ii. If the above was your attempt at an argument, then I do scoff. I scoff because it was a sad, sad argument.

The Jewish Freak said...

I may be able to shed some light on this issue. First of all it has been my experience that christians confuse a stated belief with an actual belief. There are many christians out there who would be very happy if I professed a belief in jesus, even if I never did anything else about it (yay! we got a Jew!).
Secondly, acording to christian theology, belief in jesus changes the nature of a person so they are no longer a "slave to sin" as compared to the rest of the world. So therefore I don't understand Mr. Manata's claim that "sin is part of our worldview". Christians, just as much as the rest of the world (or perhaps even more so) succumb to "sin", and so, even if christians continue to sin as Mr. Manata says, one would expect to find significantly less sin in this population. I can assure you though, that it was christians doing most of the major sinning throughout history. For anyone who doubts me I would refer them to any book of Jewish history.

Paul Manata said...

" may be able to shed some light on this issue. First of all it has been my experience that christians confuse a stated belief with an actual belief. There are many christians out there who would be very happy if I professed a belief in jesus, even if I never did anything else about it (yay! we got a Jew!)."

I never make this "mistake" and I do not care for empty professions. So, it looks like you just had rhetoric you wanted to talk about even though it was irrelevent to what I wrote.


"Secondly, acording to christian theology, belief in jesus changes the nature of a person so they are no longer a "slave to sin" as compared to the rest of the world."

That's correct. But "not a slave to sin" is not the same logically as "less sin." Christin theology teaches that no matter what we do, all our works are still tainted with sin.

The "Westminster Confession of Faith" tells us

"because [works], as they are good, they proceed from His Spirit,[18] and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled, and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God's judgment.[19]"


So, your view of Christian dogma is inferior and is justenough to get you in trouble.

" So therefore I don't understand Mr. Manata's claim that "sin is part of our worldview"."

What don't you understand? I John says, "He who says he is without sin is a liar." Also, the doctrine of indwelling sin can be seen in Romans 7. Furthermore, definitive sanctification only takes place upon our death. We will be without sin only when we are glorified and definitively sanctified. So, it sounds like you don't understand basics of our worldview.

"Christians, just as much as the rest of the world (or perhaps even more so) succumb to "sin", and so, even if christians continue to sin as Mr. Manata says, one would expect to find significantly less sin in this population."

I don't understand this. Maybe you could flesh this out. Perhaps more so and less sin, seems inconsistent. Also, what population? ANd, what is sin? And, why should be find "less?" And, what do you mean by "finding less?" There is no way we could even verify this since many many sins are sins of the heart and we don;t even know that we do them, only God does.

" I can assure you though, that it was christians doing most of the major sinning throughout history."

Define "Christian." I do not consider Roman Catholics to be Christians. Anyway, the majority of bloodshed has been done in the name of atheistic communism.

"For anyone who doubts me I would refer them to any book of Jewish history."

Any one? Didn't the Jews commit the greatest sins? That is, killing the son of God and all of God's prophets. I don't know what the above means. Seems muddle headed.

Lya Kahlo said...

"I just think the whole idea is not worth my time, except to poke fun at it."

Follow your instincts, John. They're right on the money.

Zachary Moore said...

John-

Welcome to the world of Paul Manata. Prepare yourself to reap the whirlwind!

Surly Dave said...

John,

Just wanted to let you know that I came and read your post.

At first, you sounded like some 'evangelists' I once knew, motivating the church through guilt therapy.

"Can't you pray a hour a day?!"
"You don't give enough!"
"Try harder!"

If I claimed to be perfect, I would be a lair. I strive, and fall short. But it's a race to be run, and I'm just ungracefully gallumping along.

Bob Wagner said...

Sorry, but your case is not that strong. Just because someone cannot or does not follow what they belive in, it doesn't mean they don't believe it. I most certainly believe that if I exercize, and lose a few pounds I will be healthier but I haven't yet built up the disciplne to do so and if I do not put forth the effort, I may never do so. Doesn't mean I don't beleive it.


Do most Christians act like Christians? Of course not. The majority do not and thus the reason why so many negative claims are made towards them; it doesn't make the claims right.


As a transparent pastor I have many times questioned my faith, the existence of God, especially during hard times, but just because my finite mind cannot understand everything, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. The problem with intellegence, is that we feel we MUST be able to figure everything out and until we can, we generally say it doesn't exist. That is pretty ignorant isn't it?


Have they found the cure for cancer or the common cold or aids yet? No, but it doesn't mean it is not possible. It just means we haven't found it yet. And the same with God, maybe He is just outside your circle of knowledge and you haven't found Him yet or proof that He exists. To make a statement that Christianity is wrong or there is no God without exausting all efforts to find him is prett ignorant to me.


To say there is no God is about as smart as saying the cure for cancer or aids or the common cold doesn't exist. Sure it does, we just haven't found it yet. The most logical statement an intellegent mind can make would be: "Based on the research I have done and the intellect of my mind, I cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God."


Even as a pastor I have a real problem the church in America, as a matter of fact I just finished a book titled "Hey Church! Your Fly is Open!" They make false claims about how a Christian is supposed to act and what they can and cannot do that do not line up with scripture, yet don't live it themselves. The bible talks about Drinking and having a merry heart, It talks about how real lust is among men and women, it speaks about building relationships with the unchurched etc.


I guess the main thing I wanted to get across is please don't assume every Christian is like the majority because there are a few, who are different.
Jesus had at least 10,000 men woman and children following him but only 120 stayed firm in the end. around 1% Pretty small percentage wouldn't you say? Don't judge the 1% based on the actions of the 99.


That 1%? They had an encounter with God few people have. That encounter gave them the strength to die for their beliefs. I had an encounter that did the same for me. Something no amount of intellect could sway me. You may know more, be smarter and have all the right questions, but my friend, somethings just can't be explained away with logic. Oh! they will try; stress, manipulation, depression, mind control, hallucinations, abused as a child and looking for love and a crutch. All the logical reasons why people keep the faith. Sorry about that, at least in my case my faith overrules your logic because of the evidence and testimony of my experiences. Experience and evidence is what pushed scientists to find out how the Bumble Bee can fly when logic said it couldn't.

John W. Loftus said...

Bob, aren't you the first one to say that the Holy Spirit resides in Christians, and he does so exclusively? Then why isn't there a difference in how we all act?

jamesisme1 said...

Christianity, as well as all other religions beginning with Sumer, and perhaps beyond, have had one thing in common; they all reinforce the social rules (laws) of a given society. While there are sins that are common to most social groups there are also some that are particular to a given group. Since no police force can monitor on a 24 hour basis something that can is necessary, ergo god. The kings were priest kings and Christianity has maintained this tradition. The European kings were all "Ordained" by god no matter how corrupt or cruel they may have been. What is necessary in not religion but rather reason and self control so that society may exist with tolerance and concern for each individual.

Rick said...

Jamesisme1: "all other religions ... have had one thing in common; they all reinforce the social rules (laws) of a given society."

Wow, that is some insight - not. Imagine that, the laws of a society actually reinforcing what they believe! As opposed to what? Creating laws to destroy what they believe is precious, valuable, and righteous? It's merely a society being consistent.

All law either directly has a moral basis, or works to support moral laws.

AJCSIV said...

I would like to agree with all the Christian arguers on this, especially Bob Wagner and his comment on "Based on the research I have done and the intellect of my mind, I cannot prove nor disprove the existence of God." Believe me I know that one all to well {Much to my increasing annoyance, not so much at the question but to the scenario in which I had to raise it}.

In any case, when it comes down to it, I actually still concur with the original post in its conclusion. I base this on the fact that no self-proclaimed Christian's beliefs are actually based on the bible. They are based on what people are told by their parents, local priests etc and most of that harks back to the exagerated writings of theologians rather than the core teachings of the bible.
The fact of the matter is that, even if you can argue for the latter, every individual tends to have their own interpretation of God which can be radically different from the 'Christian' next to them of the same denomination. There's already enough arguements in existence against the inherent 'stupidity' of a personal God as it can't even call on popular/mass suport.
Basically, the original argument put forward is a really bad strawmen. But if Christians are people who follow God/Jesus' teachings, and these teachings are written in the NT {ignoring the OT here}, it stands to reason that a Christian should derive their beliefs and such directly and preferably solely from the bible {excluding again the apocrypha, the Dead sea scrolls, etc, etc}. This is most definately not the case as it takes very little effort to find something in the Bible that Christians either get so very wrong or they just make up/interpret to suit their own means, even if that comes about as something like "The Bible said the Earth was round before Galileo!" And then point at a passage that explicitly says it's tent shaped.
On the other hand, if you define Christians as "people who believe in the God spread by the Christian Church" then despite it's circular argument then there is such a thing as Christians. They just don't realise what it is they should actually be believing according to the bible as opposed to what they do believe.

zifnab said...

Christianity is amazing. Belief in God is just that, a belief. We know He exists, as you know the brick wall you mentioned above exists.True Christians try to follow the laws set forth for us, but even so we are only human and therfore cannot do it perfectly. As someone said above, if you believe a brick wall is in front of you, then you will not walk into it. As I believe God exists, that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin, then its just like your brick wall. I believe in it, therefore it does exist to me. So why are you on this blog, trying to ruin Christianity for people who might want to learn more about it, and not your misunderstood views of it?

Stephen said...

Brilliant.

As for me I find it very hard to accept that the supreme master of the Universe has chosen the lowly human being to get the word out. It is practically impossible for me to accept a faith that is presented by my fellow Man (or woman). Even worse men who, 2000 years ago, would have considered an event we now call a Lunar Eclipse, to be a miracle of God - simply put, this individuals judgment was slightly off to say the least.

Furthermore, the greatest evidence I see around me to dispute Christianity sadly enough comes in the form of the very followers who profess to believe.