I Challenge Conservative Christians

You realize, don't you, that there are many more choices than just between Christianity (i.e. Evangelical Christianity) and Atheism (as I define it, the denial of all gods)?

We are poles apart, that's true, which makes it hard to discuss these issues with Christians. It's hard to make them see what we do, or to think like we think. People who are poles apart sometimes don't even use the same language. We dispute each other's facts. We have different control beliefs. We live in different intellectual universes.

The differences might be like a mountain climber who expects some person off the street to join him in climbing up Mt. Everest, or a skydiver who does tricks who expects a novice to do the same. Such things are far beyond someone not already used to doing likewise. It takes training and work and time, plenty off it. No one can expect someone to think of doing likewise, much less do it. That person might even be scared of heights! It takes baby steps. One must crawl before he can walk. And one must walk before he can run. And one must run before he can climb, and so on.

Evangelical Christians recoil from our arguments. They don't trust us. For most of them we represent the devil. A friend of mine read my book but before each time she said a prayer that God would not let her be deceived by what was in it, and you know what, she walked away still believing. Surprise! Maybe some Christian visitors do the same whenever coming here to DC, who knows. Some come to do battle against the forces of evil. They're not open to what we have to say at all. Why? Because of the distance between us and the trust factor. They "know" we're wrong from the get go.

There's nothing that can be done about this. It's just the way it is.

I just want to remind everyone that there is some sort of continuum of beliefs and the choices are not limited to just evangelical Christianity and Atheism (as defined). There are a whole range of intermediate religious views between us. This is nothing new, of course, but a reminder of this is good. Why? Because the range of Christianity begins way over to the right, with snake handlers and the KKK (yes, they claim to be Christians), to the Fred Phelps hate group, to King James version only Christians, to Bob Jones University, to non-instrumental Churches of Christ, to Pentecostals like Pat Robertson, to Evangelical minded (who often distance themselves from others to their right), to open theists, to liberal Christians of various sorts who can be described as existentialists, mainline Christians, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong types, feminists, panentheists like Marcus Borg, Liberation Theology, and Universalists. There are Arminian, Calvinist and Catholic versions of these types of Christianities, I presume. Then there are Deists, agnostics, and Atheists. This is quite a long, varied continuum of beliefs. One could probably start out a snake handler and with more and more reading go through several of the stages of thinking over the years and became an atheist. Hardly ever does the trend reverse itself, although there are probably a few rare cases, I presume.

What happens when one thinks through a theology and moves to the left isn't usually because he read a book out of bounds of what's considered possible. I remember reading John Gibson's commentary on Genesis 1-11 and rejecting it outright because it was too far from what I would consider possible. I have now come to embrace his conclusions. The stories of Genesis 1-11 are parabolic stories, myths. As I moved from being a Pentecostal to an evangelical to a liberal to a panentheist to a deist then an agnostic and finally an atheist I would only consider those books that challenged me and they were just a bit to the left of where I was. Anything farther away than that would throw up all kinds of red flags in my head.

So, if Christians here don't want to take the Debunking Christianity Challenge because it's too far removed from what you consider a possibility due to the fact that you don't trust atheist authors, then do what I did. Read books that challenge your thinking by Christian authors outside your safe zone. Read open theist literature. Read liberal Christian books. If you're in college, study with professors who will challenge your faith.

I remember when considering which seminary to attend many people thought I should go to Cincinnati Bible Seminary rather than Lincoln Christian Seminary because the liberals were there. But I went anyway and didn't find any liberals there at all! Then I went to Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and was told that such a college was outside the bounds of my own denomination, so to be careful, that some liberals were there who didn't think the way Church of Christ people did. But they were conservatives after all. Then I finally attended Marquette University and I finally met the liberals. But more and more I found the arguments to the left of where I was at much better.

So here's a challenge to conservative Christians. How do you know you're right about that which you were raised to believe? Challenge yourself to read outside your safe zone. See why these authors think the way that they do. You'll find they have some good arguments. See if your beliefs can withstand their arguments. There are a host of Zondervan and Inter-Varsity Press books that have four or five views of certain issues from the millennium to women to apologetics to hell to creation to atonement theories to sanctification to salvation to the Bible, and so on. Read them all, one at a time for starters. In my case my beliefs changed in the face of these other books and articles and professors. It was slow, and I faced a crisis. But the conservative Christian arguments are less than persuasive in the Christian literature.

My challenge is for Christians to begin reading the list of books Anthony provides in this post.

The reason I wrote my book is because I could not answer the arguments of the people to my left. I am an atheist because atheists have the best arguments down the line. Atheism is the position of last resort. Once all other views are eliminated it’s the one to fall back on. I would never have considered it unless I went through several theology changes by reading authors I could trust. Try it. Challenge your beliefs, not by our writings, if that’s too much to ask. Read authors outside your safe zone. If you’re a conservative then read the books of moderates. If you’re a moderate then read the books of the liberals. If you’re a liberal, then read atheist literature. See what happens. Keep stretching your mind. Do not simply read literature that you’re comfortable with. That’s not a challenge at all. Challenge yourself. See if your present views as a conservative can withstand this challenge. They didn’t with me. I suspect you’ll find it won’t with you. Test your beliefs. How do you know your theology is correct? The only way is to test it with other authors just a bit farther to your left. This is my challenge to you. It may be the best challenge I can lay down.

10 comments:

Lemaro said...

I am an Evangelical Christian and I own a copy of your book : "Why I became an Atheist" and many other writings in defense of Atheism (The non-existence of God, The Cambridge companion to atheism, God is not great, the God delusion, God the Failed Hypothesis, etc.)

Although I strong recommend Evangelical Christians NOT to read these books without a ROBUST knowledge of Christian Apologetics from J.P.Moreland, William Craig, Geisler, etc. Since if you do not know the Truth (I am pre-supposing here) you will not be able to distinguish between fantasy and history, truth or lie, or even probability and reality.

But I still believe in the JESUS for many reasons (as stated in books below in the reading list) I personally think that some of your arguments in your book are rational but not conclusive. The arguments have enough reason to encourage one to reconsider one's position and look at it in a more refined position, but it does not have such force that it push one over the edge [especially the historical Jesus, creation of the Universe and moral sections] especially when it is compared with about 3 or 4 Apologetics books and their responses.

I do think that is an impressive effort of scholarship as you seem to refer to many books about the subjects. I think the book is lacking in interacting with those sources substantially as sometimes you simply name the source and then move on without pointing to the notable objections to atheist belief. Example, pg 91 of your book Why I am an Atheist, simply says: "In the Reason for the Hope Within, Robin Collins lists and defends five independent reasons to reject any kind of many-universes hypothesis." And then that you don’t even list the reasons, but instead say:

Dawkins says of individuals like Collins that: "[they] have not had their consciousness raised by natural selection." ?? That is not a rational response.

Let me list (4 of the 5) reasons given in Reason for the Hope Within [ get the book for the fifth  :

1. The first reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis, and preferring the theistic hypothesis, is the general rule: everything else being equal, we should prefer hypotheses for which we have independent evidence or that natural extrapolations from what we already know.

2. Many-universes hypothesis is that the "many-universes generator" seems like it would need to be designed.

3. A third reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is that the universe generator must not only select the parameters of physics at random but must actually create or select the very laws of physics themselves.

4.The fourth reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is that it cannot explain other features of the universe that seem to exhibit apparent design.


Now on to Hume. I reject that one should always portion one's self to the evidence that he or she has in order to be "rational". After all is Love rational? But I am sure that you are wildly in love with your wife and would do even the irrational for her?

For example if your wife gave you a phone call and told you that she was kidnapped and was in Australia and hung up. Would you not board a plane with gathered help to seek her safe return? That is not rational? You need proof! After all it is MORE PROBABLE she is playing a trick right? Would you wait out a week without evidence or two? (Even that is not enough evidence?) [Of course these examples are flawed but love one of the greatest Virtues does not seem to care too much to proportion one’s belief to the evidence]. A quick question to prove this is to simply ask: How much evidence would it take to convince you that your wife committed a murder? Would a video tape do? For many the answer is simply NO! (we would reason it was a look-a-like right?)

Or even furthermore consider the fact that using HUME standards, it means that you could NEVER believe in a miracle. Potentially even if you experienced one! For example if you were an Amputee but then God restored your limb, you would be forced by Hume points to believe that you never actually ever lost a limp since it is more probable that you had a delusion than God restored an Amputee limb's right?

Furthermore I think that there are many things that still need to be worked out in terms of definition as what constitutes evidence for one person does not constitute evidence for another. For example let’s say that God appeared to you and offered to prove his existence to you, by holding the SUN still, depositing a Billon dollars in your bank account, or whatever else you have asked. That would have constituted a proof for you and if you returned to Christianity the other Atheists on this blog would have considered you irrational since you lacked the evidence to do so, since the Sun's moved was an abnormality which science is working on and will soon explain, the billions dollars could have been deposited by Christians or been an error in the banking system that went by undetected?

By Humes standard one could possibly argue that the probability of earth's existence coming into existence by chance is so improbable that one should NOT believe in it if he or she is rational and the same can apply to the multi-verse theory or even evolution for that matter. After all we have the fossil records, but is that sufficient evidence to believe in macro-evolution, especially one without a guided designer?

I also find it interesting that you quote Stenger who says, "the hundreds billion galaxies of our visible universe, each with a hundred billion stars, is but a grain of sand on the Sahara that exists beyond our horizon, grown out of that single, original bubble of a false vacuum. An endless number of bubbles can very well exist, each itself not a grain of sand on the Sahara of all existence. On such a Sahara, nothing is too improbable to have happened by chance."

The problem with the above statement is that:
1. This is Victor Stenger's Physics theoretical approach there are many more say differently – This is not a confirmed truth.

2. It shows the faith of the man to believe that that are many more universes that are beyond our Horizon? Isn't it more probable that there is a God beyond our horizon?

3. "On such a Sahara, nothing is too improbable to have happened by chance." Well then EVERYTHING is possible, forgot HUME, who needs evidence (does this Stenger’s comment negate Hume or does Hume negate this Stenger’s comment)? How did Jesus rise from the dead, well : "On such a Sahara, nothing is too improbable to have happened by chance." Not one atheist buys that explanation of Jesus rising from the dead? But many concede that there are numerous unseen universes? Rational belief or selective belief?

4. He ignores the infinite regress problem. He seems to like it as he says, "An endless number of bubbles can very well exist"? I thought Hibert dispensed with that notion [see Hilbert’s Hotel]? Really? But an uncreated creator cannot or is not more probable? One seems to be a logical contradiction the other is not?

Finally I would like to look at the title of the book: Why I became an Atheist. The reality of the situation is that you might think that you have logically rejected a theistic God (I don't think so) but you did not disprove the notion of God. In fact your move from deism to atheism was not logically or rational. As you have said, "I am an atheist to protest the fact that even if he exists he has not revealed himself clearly to his creatures, or shown us divine compassion. Even if there is a God after all, I will shame him for not providing sufficient evidence and reasons for belief" This is an emotional reason not an rational or logical move (And it can be argued that a better technique of shaming God is believing in God in spite of not providing sufficient evidence - similar to Biblical notion of heaping coals on another's head by return evil with kindness?). In fact this decision can also be irrational because more people in the world have attested to have seen "sufficient" (such as subjective term) evidence and reasons for believing than not! I often wonder what would be "sufficient" evidence for you? I think you would be the first to agree with my critique (in this part) as you have said in the introduction that your leaving was both emotional an intellectual. But if so you should not say Why I became a Deist? And then your goal would be to then really see if it is philosophically possible to justify the nothing that God does not intervene in the world today nor communicates and speaks to his creatures.
And philosophically I don’t think Marcus Borg statement can be justified, "there is little difference between a distant and absent God and no God at all."

After all I think there is a bigger leap or difference to denying God's existence to adding another property to Him, benevolence. In other words a bigger distance lies in saying to me you do not exist than to saying me you are kind or vengeful.
Well I will continue praying for you and in response will issue a challenge for you to list an Atheist Challenge Reading List. Would be so kind and fair as to create a separate post on the site and challenge Atheists to read these books as you have challenged Christians to do likewise? These are books written at the “popular level” (nothing like the Existence for God by Swinburne) and not listed in any order particularly but I do strong recommend that you look at the Case for the Existence of God as it seems to me to be VERY SOLID and straight to the point (not saying the others aren’t but this is sweet).

1. A Case for the Existence of God by Deal L. Overman

2. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by
J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig

3. Scaling the Secular City by J.P. Moreland

4. Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig

5. The Resurrection of the Son of God by N .T. Wright

6. Beyond Death by Gary Habermas and J. P. Moreland

7. Does God Exist by J. P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen

8. The Reason for God by Tim Keller

9. Pascal's Wager by Jeff Jordan

10. Warranted Christian Belief by Alvin Plantinga

11. Handbook of Christian Apologetics by Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

12. Why I am a Christian by Geisler and Hoffman

13. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

14. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel

15. Loving Wisdom by Paul Copan

16. Jesus Under Fire by Wilkins and Moreland

17. Is Jesus the only Saviour? by James Edwards

18. Reason for the Hope Within

19. God the Evidence by Patrick Lynn

20. The Devils Delusion by David Berlinski

21. Creation out of Nothing by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig

22. Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham

23. The Language of God by Francis S. Collins

24. Nature's Destiny by Micheal Denton

Shygetz said...

1. The first reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis, and preferring the theistic hypothesis, is the general rule: everything else being equal, we should prefer hypotheses for which we have independent evidence or that natural extrapolations from what we already know.

We have no independent evidence or natural extrapolations that lead us to god(s). Many-universe is one possible natural extrapolation from quantum mechanics.

2. Many-universes hypothesis is that the "many-universes generator" seems like it would need to be designed.

No, it really doesn't; and even if it did, we all know from evolution that things that "seem" to need to be designed very often don't.

3. A third reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is that the universe generator must not only select the parameters of physics at random but must actually create or select the very laws of physics themselves.

Several problems here. First, we do not know what the variability between different potential laws of physics are, as we cannot observe other universes and our maths do not yet describe them. So, it may be that multiple universes have no potential variability in the "physical laws" that govern their interactions. Second, if there is variability, the "physical laws" may vary between potential quantities at random, or by some other fundamental underlying mechanism. We don't know, but there is certainly nothing demanding an intelligent agent as a "selector". Finally, there seems to be a fundamental assumption on your part that the "physical laws" are some kind of metaphysical object as opposed to a human rationalization of observed patterns in nature.

4.The fourth reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is that it cannot explain other features of the universe that seem to exhibit apparent design.

Like what? Many universes isn't meant to explain everything by itself--it's meant to explain QM.

2. It shows the faith of the man to believe that that are many more universes that are beyond our Horizon? Isn't it more probable that there is a God beyond our horizon?

Let's see...we have observed one universe, so we know that universes are possible. We have observed no gods. So, it is more probable for other universes to exist than for gods to exist, although no evidence is near conclusive.

He ignores the infinite regress problem. He seems to like it as he says, "An endless number of bubbles can very well exist"? I thought Hibert dispensed with that notion [see Hilbert’s Hotel]?

Nope, Hilbert's paradox did not say that infinites are impossible; it's point was that mathematical axioms did not translate exactly into narrative language, leading to unintuitive results from the translations. The answer is that in set theory, some infinities are larger than others (see Cantor's continuum hypothesis).

The reality of the situation is that you might think that you have logically rejected a theistic God (I don't think so) but you did not disprove the notion of God.

The scientific burden of proof is upon the positive claim. You claim that God altered the universe, I claim that gnomes altered the dewdrops in my garden. You have the burden of proof to support God, and I have the burden of proof to support gnomes.

Shygetz said...

John, I think you might be on to something here. Perhaps we should try a collaborative project here. Why don't we briefly team up to debunk a second religion? It might give us some common ground to better understand the types of arguments necessary to discuss religion.

Christ Follower said...

"We have no independent evidence or natural extrapolations that lead us to god(s). Many-universe is one possible natural extrapolation from quantum mechanics."


This comment only leads me to ask: Where did quantum vacuum come from? After all a quantum vacuum is not nothing. For one the design in the universe is already evidence that should cause us to search out an intelligent cause. Without evolution only some of the design is explain by random processes over a period of time. For example if you say a Pepsi building you would not point to John and say hey, that building came into being by a common ancestor, and a combination of random mutations and natural selection. When there is a design a logical assumption is that there is a designer and only when we can do away with the designer can we can posit an unintelligent cause.
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"Let's see...we have observed one universe, so we know that universes are possible. We have observed no gods. So, it is more probable for other universes to exist than for gods to exist, although no evidence is near conclusive."

I will grant you this point to make a point :)

Yes we have one observed universe, so maybe it is more probable to assume that there are more universes out there, right? But let us not forget that there this universe that we know see is finite, so the only logical inference that we can make is the inference that there are other finite universes out there which still leaves us either with an infinite regress or an uncaused cause : God.
---------------------------------
The fourth reason for rejecting the atheistic many-universes hypothesis is that it cannot explain other features of the universe that seem to exhibit apparent design.

Things such as the basic laws of physics exhibit an extraordinary degree of beauty, elegance, harmony, and ingenuity.

Paul Davies says, "If nature is so 'clever' as to exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the universe? If the world's finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper working of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance?"
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If you want to debunk another religion have some excellent suggestions: Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda

Let me know if you need any HELP !!

Shygetz said...

This comment only leads me to ask: Where did quantum vacuum come from? After all a quantum vacuum is not nothing.

This question is nonsensical as a response to my comment. The quantum vacuum "came from" the same place the universe "came from". It is a physical property of space, and does not exist outside of space as far as we know. Therefore, the quantum vacuum as we know it had it's "beginnings" at the initial expansion, and it's existence outside of this expansion (I say "outside" instead of "before" for reasons I will get to shortly) is currently only a matter for speculation.

For one the design in the universe is already evidence that should cause us to search out an intelligent cause.

I'll say it again...there is no evidence for design in our universe. We do not know the potential values for the physical constants; we do not know the number of iterations of the universe; we do not know the number of conditions under which some form of life could exist. Until we know these values, we cannot make a probabilistic case for or against design based on the Strong Anthropic Principle.

For example if you say a Pepsi building you would not point to John and say hey, that building came into being by a common ancestor, and a combination of random mutations and natural selection.

Show me an interstellar Pepsi building and I will grant your point.

When there is a design a logical assumption is that there is a designer and only when we can do away with the designer can we can posit an unintelligent cause.

Neither you nor anyone else has ever shown a design. You have shown factors that can easily be explained by the weak anthropic principle. Remember, regardless of the situation, the conditional probability that you will find yourself in a universe that is compatible with your existence is always 1. The fact that you are here doesn't prove anything other than that you are here; to provide evidence for any design in your existence requires that you fill in the blanks I provided above.

But let us not forget that there this universe that we know see is finite, so the only logical inference that we can make is the inference that there are other finite universes out there which still leaves us either with an infinite regress or an uncaused cause : God.

A few problems here. First, the assertion that the universe is finite is not in evidence. The universe in the condition that we know it is finite, but there are multiple hypotheses out there for infinite recursion of the universe. Second, I find it amusing that you plead the intractable difficulty of an infinite regression for an iterative universe in the same sentence that you postulate an "uncaused cause". Nothing requires an iterative universe to be infinite, just arbitrarily large; it could be an "uncaused cause". So, if you prefer, you can think of an arbitrarily large number of universes, the "first" of which was an "uncaused cause".

Now you are left with the dilemma of rationalizing why a god can be an "uncaused cause" while a universe cannot, all without resorting to special pleading. Good luck.

All of this, however, fails to come to grips with what appears to be a central misunderstanding you have; that is, you notion of causality. What is "cause" without "time"? In the absence of space-time, how do you define a causal relationship? Physics can't do it; relativity requires a future light cone to define causality, which does not exist outside of space-time. When you take space-time and crunch it to a singularity, you need to be prepared to throw causality out the window.

Things such as the basic laws of physics exhibit an extraordinary degree of beauty, elegance, harmony, and ingenuity.

Wait a second...you're telling me that because you find physical laws aesthetically pleasing, they must be designed? Surely you're not asking anyone to take this "argument" seriously?

"If nature is so 'clever' as to exploit mechanisms that amaze us with their ingenuity, is that not persuasive evidence for the existence of intelligent design behind the universe? If the world's finest minds can unravel only with difficulty the deeper working of nature, how could it be supposed that those workings are merely a mindless accident, a product of blind chance?"

The term "ingenuity" begs the question; the uncolored observation is that the physical laws work to maintain a universe consistent with my existence, which again is simply a truism. Outside of being merely functional, what is "ingenious" about them? That they just so happened to make you as opposed to some other form of observer? Such a conclusion reeks of arrogance--there is no reason to assume that the current state is a privileged state that was pre-ordained by the universe.

The fact that something is complicated does not argue for it being designed (indeed, simplicity is a hallmark of good design). Let's take evolution as an example. Here, we have a system whereby rules exist to order an initially "random" arrangement of parts. These rules (or selection criteria) are different for different systems, and change over time. Yet, in many different cases, they produce consistent, stable results. And, in fact, these results are sufficiently complex to continue to employ thousands of full-time scientists, and are so "apparently" ingenious that numerous people have confused them for intentional de novo design, when in fact they are just the application of selection criteria to a given starting point.

Now don't get me wrong; I am not saying that the universe evolves by classical standards. The analogy is meant to point out that it is simple to formulate a set of relatively simple rules that generate complex results, and many different combinations of simple rules will generate complex results.

The only way one would mistake such a conglomeration of rules as "ingenious" is if one assumes the end results as a foregone conclusion, with the rules selected to reach this conclusion beforehand; however, the universe did not conspire to make YOU. It could easily have been a seven-legged Thunderbeast based on a quorton-reduction biochemistry exclaiming "I am so wonderful that the universe must have been made specifically to entail MY existence!"

John W. Loftus said...

Shygetz, thanks for helping me out here. other than what you wrote I found Lemaro's comments to be non-responses to my actual arguments. And I do say what evidence would convince me on pages 192-195.

But I'm not sure what kind of project you might be suggesting in debunking a second religion, unless you mean liberal Christianity.

Shygetz said...

The project I would be suggesting is not a long-term project. It would be more of a one-off kind of issue, where atheists and Christians work together to debunk a second religion (doesn't really matter which one). We would probably need one or more Devil's Advocate to advocate for the second religion (doesn't matter which one).

This exercise would serve an educational purpose. It would allow atheists to see what kinds of arguments each Christian participant finds persuasive. It would allow Christians a chance to experience the peculiar joys of trying to debunk a mythology. And finally it would quite probably serve as an illustration of the special pleading required to defend Christianity while refuting other religions.

Just a thought...it probably wouldn't work because people would probably not participate in good faith and sufficient numbers to learn anything.

daniel hutchinson said...

Hi John, this blog is quite something.

You mentioned you "started" as a "pentecostal" - could you elaborate a little? Do you mean you were filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues? Or do you mean something else?

If you respond to my question, I'd like to engage with you a little more on your "take a step to the left" proposition, if that's ok.

John W. Loftus said...

daniel, yes, that is what I claimed at the time. I was a Pentecostal just like others today claim to be Pentecostals.

ZAROVE said...

I have a problem with your defenitions of terms.


You seem to link the Extreme Right Wing with Christianity and the extreme Left Wing with Atheism. You then posit the KKK and Fred Phelps as representritives of the extreme Right Wing,, and mention Evangelicals as Right Wing, but who often distance themselves from others to their right.

This implies, rather it was intended or not, that the KKK and Phelps are mroe right wing than the Evangleicals, which isn't nessesarily true.

One can be more right wing than the KKK (And often members of the KKK have leftist views in soem areas) and STILL distance yourself form them.

You also tend to link Athiesm with left wing ideologies. This really isn't true either as many Atheists are right wing in their political alignment.


The way you present it, peopel who are Christian but left wing are htose hwo have basiclaly drifted away from their Faith btu cling to soem aspect of it, hovering soemwhat above (Or below) Atheism.

THis just isn't true.

It sliek you put it all on a line, and its a straight fix.

The truth is, the continuum is far mroe compelxe than this.

Look at ROwan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Politiclaly he is Left Leaning, with his support for womens ordination, Gay Rights, and even social justice, he simply holds ot left wing beleifs. By your reckoining, then, he shodul also be a follower of RTIllich or some othe rliberal thinker who perhaps see's God as a mystical other or ground of beign, btu not as a literal being. He'd also be expected to allow the Gospels ot be read metaphoriclaly and not litelaly.

Well, thats nto true of Williams's theology. He acutlaly holds to a highly traditional, nealry Cahtolic theology. He beelives in a Literal Tirnity, a Literal ressurection, a Literal Virgin Birth, and all the reat. If you omit his views on society and morality, and just read his theological writings that deal with God, Salvaiton, Redemption, and mans relaitonship t God, you iwll find that he is extremely tradiitonal, and woudl be considered hten a COnservative.


On the other hand, there ar emany socially conservative CHristians who hodl to a theology that is far from traditional.


You also seem to link extreme right wing with racism and hatred. That may be a nice sterotype but tis not true. Many peopel on the far right arne't racists and don't have much agasint people of other naitonalities, and don't spent their time in evil mutterings.

Justa s many far left wing zealots ar einto anarchy and revolutioanry movements. It doens't implciate all of them.

Thus back to the beginning, when you mentuion the KKK and Phelps and say Evangleicals often distance htemselves form peopel on their right. the KKK and Phelps arne't nessesarily to their right, just as a Liberal isn't nessesarily followign a liberal theology.

Your statement then is flawed. Liek I said, it imagines this continuum as a straight line, wiht the more right wingyou become, the more CHristian, and the more left iwng the more Ahtiestic.

As if somehow Ateism and Christianity can be linked to these political ideologies, and as if the range is limited ot this.