Christianity was created in tribal times. Even to this day, it works by tribal loyalty and submission to authority. For example, Christians, for the most part, don’t make up their minds individually on issues of the day. They have been trained in tribal loyalty to support the church position. By knowing someone’s Christian sect, you can pretty well tell how they feel about abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, a given war… For a Christian, what counts most his how his tribe believes. Arguments for and against any individual belief are all but irrelevant. Christians will happily defend any absurdity, or its opposite, if the church advocates it.
Christians feel little responsibility to defend their beliefs or to ensure they are consistent. That is the church’s job. By analogy, the constant probing of atheists feels to Christians like asking them to defend the medical decisions of their doctors. They trust their doctors. Christians are not experts in medicine. Christians don’t feel qualified to engage atheists in debate or to trust atheist arguments so matter how logical they seem. The best they can do is parrot the responses they have been taught to fend off atheists.
In contrast, atheists generally are people who broke with their fellows. They think out each social issue separately, independently of what their associates think. Knowing they are atheists won’t tell you all that much about their other beliefs. For example, the late Christopher Hitchens cheerlead and apologised vigorously for the Iraq war where I decry anyone who supports it as a psychotic monster. We are both atheists, but atheism has nothing to say either way about supporting war. Pretty much all Mr. Hitchens and I have in common is we don’t buy the snake oil of the churches.
The essential problem is Christians have been taught atheists are evil with an unspeakable hidden agenda and that even when they sound perfectly logical, they must be pulling some dirty trick. The first step must be to persuade Christians to trust their own integrity more than the churches’. That might be accomplished by attacking the fallible, crooked people who run the church, rather than its nutty doctrines directly. You could think of it as a divide and conquer approach.~ Roedy (1948-02-04 age:69)