Christianity and its discontents
Excepting what are commonly termed as doomsday cults, the Abrahamic religions seem unique in their ability to induce discontent in others, which is exceeded only by their ability to induce discontent between each other and within themselves. Or as someone puts it more eloquently than me: "these religions either 3 corner fight amongst themselves..or go kacau others."
Adherents of said religions sometimes wonder why non-adherents can get so upset with them or their faiths. Meanwhile some non-adherents wonder how and why the Abrahamic religions can get non-believers so agitated and worked up, and why some people can crusade for freethought. This phenomenon is especially curious, since often the discontents share a similar or the same socio-economic background, race, educational level and upbringing with the adherents, which by right should result in a low likelihood of said discontent occuring. This article shall list and explore (not in any order of importance) some of the reasons why some are so discontented with Christianity, from a secular humanistic/skeptical point of view.
It might be said by some that it is Christians who induce the discontent, and not the religion itself. That is true to some extent, but if religion cannot be blamed for anything, so too can it not be praised for anything. Besides which, some of the points below are about the religion itself, rather than its practitioners.
1. Loathsome nature of fundamentalism
Much, or perhaps a majority, of the discontent with Christianity is a reaction to the fervor and distasteful, often sanctimonious nature of Christian fundamentalism, which often turns a religion supposedly based on love into one seemingly based more on hate.
2. Intellectual Suicide in justifying their beliefs
To attempt to find intellectual justification for their beliefs, Christians follow one of two routes. The more popular is that of patently bad logic. Ridiculous and disingenuous arguments, which in any other arena would not be accepted and indeed would be laughed down as the puerile thoughts of a schoolboy, are taken as convincing and veracious, often by otherwise bright people. Prime examples of such logic include using the bible to justify Christianity or itself, and of assuming that since 1/10,0000 radiometric datings gives an erroneous result, radiometric dating always gives erroneous results.
The other, rarer route climbs into heights of intellectual reification. Sometimes reason is denigrated or demolished (ironically using reason itself, making the demolition suspect). At other times, theodicy or other arguments (eg Positing the Christian god as the source of Reason, which otherwise supposedly cannot be taken a priori) are used to prove that it is not impossible for the Christian god to exist, or that deities or higher powers of some kind must exist. However, even if one accepts the truth of such arguments, it does not follow that the Christian god *must* exist - one is committed, at the most, to Deism.
Of course, when Christians are shown the flaws in their logic and the incoherence and unintelligibility of their arguments, cognitive dissonance sets in and they either turn their eyes upwards and talk in a dreamy voice of the power of "faith" (the former group, usually), aim to drag everyone into epistemological nihilism (usually by attacking reason) and offer their religion as the only way out or alternately blandly restate their points as if they have not just been soundly demolished.
3. Refusal to accept reality
Some Christians refuse to accept essentially proven scientific facts such as Evolution, the Age of the Earth and that the expedition to Mount Ararat never did find any remains of an ark.
4. Personal trauma caused by Christianity
Most of the most vocal and outspoken of Christianity's discontents are apostates (ie Ex-Christians). Perhaps all are saddened and disgusted by the years of their life wasted in pursuit of falsehood and false promises: the bible contains a lot of claims that people will be healed or changed or that life will be abundant or Christians will be able to accomplish great things and that God will be responsive to prayers.
Some, usually those previously from fundamentalist denominations, are especially vituperative, trapped as they were for many years in a cage of their own making, ridden with guilt, doubt and shame.
Similar principles lie behind why Holocaust Survivors are so anti-Nazi.
5. Relentless evangelism
Christianity is probably the only major world religion which is like the Borg - it actively seeks to grow, expand and assimilate. That in and of itself is not really a problem, but the problem lies in how the expansion is sought.
Evangelical Christians tend to come at their prey relentlessly. Even if they are told to cease and desist, many persist in annoying, despite strong resistance. Telling them to stop, or that you are not interested does not always work.
Furthermore, evangelists often prey on the helpless - people on the streets, people in disaster zones (eg The December 2004 tsunami), people in remote or backward areas, young people who don't know any better et al. It is true that they are doing some degree of good, but too often the help is not given with no strings attached.
6. Demeaning of the individual
Christianity belittles and demeans individuals, exulting instead its god. It is claimed that life is useless, meaningless and ultimately empty without the Christian god. In a way, this is an affront to humanity itself.
7. Eagerness to show others the error of their ways, while being unwilling to question their own beliefs
8. Slamming of others' religions
Monotheism is inherently more intolerant than polytheism, and fundies like to denounce other religions as false, involving devil worship, and gloat those of other religions are going to hell.
9. Claimed monopoly on truth
Christians like to claim a monopoly on truth, and that everyone else is mistaken. In truth, even within their religion they differ greatly in their interpretations.
A leaf should be taken from the book of Christian mythology: "What is truth?". Indeed.
10. Evil done by Christians
Many Christians do bad things. Some say that a few bad sheep should not reflect upon the flock. This is true enough, but on the other hand, if Christianity cannot be judged by the actions of its evil adherents, so too can it not be used to judge the actions of its good adherents. It is also dishonest to magically label all who do evil as "un-true" Christians while those who do good, happily enough, are "true" Christians.
Besides which, Christians sometimes say that we should judge religions by the fruits they bear. Why should Christianity itself not be so judged? (We judge communism/neo-Marxism, after all, by what happened when people tried to put it into practice)
11. Imposition of beliefs or consequences thereof on others
In the name of their morality, some Christians seem fond of imposing their beliefs on others who do not share it; discrimination against homosexuals and attempts to outlaw or impede abortion, for example.
In addition, to fulfill their misguided interpretations of biblical prophecy, fundies seem willing to send the rest of the earth to hell.
See: Supporting Israel's oppression of the Palestinians and ruining the environment to bring on the Rapture and the Apocalypse.
12. Acclamation of evil and the immorality of theodicy
Christians almost always condone, accept and even inflict evil inflicted (or allowed to happen) by their omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent god. Yet, they are somehow able to claim that this is good, proper and just, and proclaim that their god is good and worthy of respect and worship, even when he goes against morals and strictures he purportedly set down himself.
Respect must be earned, it cannot be demanded, and from his actions, this god patently does not deserve any respect. And to passively accept, even condone and encourage the occurence of a crime is in itself a crime, albeit a lesser one.
Furthermore, there is the immorality of theodicy. If all evil and suffering can be justified, does this not invalidate the concept and meaning of evil? If nothing is evil, the concept of good becomes meaningless.
13. Repulsiveness of the Christian god
People are repelled by the anthropomorphic, egomaniacal, abusive, capricious and bloodthirsty Christian god who, though supposedly perfect, makes imperfect beings and blames his creations for their mistakes.
14. Self-justifying nature of faith
Faith is recursive, and supports itself, and Christians often trust in faith to the exclusion of reason, common sense or even morality.
For example, if a Christian is involved in an accident, no matter what happens, their god can always be praised. To wit:
If they come out uninjured - "Praise be to God! I am uninjured! It's a miracle!"
If they are slightly injured - "Praise be to God! I am barely scratched! He's watching over me!"
If they are injured - "Praise be to God! I am injured, yet since I have faith in him, I have come out stronger. Hallelujah!"
If they are badly injured - "Praise be to God! This is a warning to me, to tell me not to be so careless next time. Thank you God for protecting me from death this time. I will take better care of myself next time."
If they are crippled for life - "Praise be to God! Though I am crippled in body, I am whole in spirit. I will strive to extol him and glorify his name further. I will serve as a testament to his mercy and grace."
If they die - [Said by others] "Praise be to God! He has taken xxx to his side, and saved him the torments of his life. His time was up, so he was taken according to God's plan. Amen."
Basically, there is no falsifier to faith. Heads the christian wins, tails logic loses.
In fact, it is a good bet that even if their god came down and told them that they'd gotten some or even most parts of their religion wrong, they wouldn't believe him - thanks to their faith.
As a matter of fact, this has happened before - to the Jews (if one assumes, for the sake of argument, that Christian mythology is true). As Ingersoll observed:
"Suppose, however, that God did give this law to the Jews, and did tell them that whenever a man preached a heresy, or proposed to worship any other God that they should kill him; and suppose that afterward this same God took upon himself flesh, and came to this very chosen people and taught a different religion, and that thereupon the Jews crucified him; I ask you, did he not reap exactly what he had sown? What right would this god have to complain of a crucifixion suffered in accordance with his own command?"
Of course, not all these problems are unique to Christianity, or even theists (ie everyone can be guilty or some of the above), but in Christianity the factors above manifest in a potent combination.
The important thing is to adopt the "hate the sin, love the sinner" mentality that many Christians claim to have but which some do not seem to follow, instead hating both sinner and sin, in the battle for reason and knowledge - candles in the dark in our demon-haunted world.
Christianity's appeal, most especially to the young, will receive consideration in the sequel, which shall follow at an indeterminate date. (Sequel is up: Christianity and its Adherents)