The solution to Christians becoming atheists


Former believers sometimes explain it as analogous to an adult trying to believe in Santa Claus. It’s easy for kids to believe in Santa because their understanding of the world is so primitive and ignorant that the Santa story can fit within it without much difficulty. But as they get older and their understanding of the world grows it squeezes out any room for Santa. [… Long snip … ] As in the case with Santa, the only way to resolve the tension is to admit what they know is true. God does not exist.

We give rules to children to help them learn to get along in the world, and religion and offers a time tested set of rules for that. As children become adults the motivation for those rules changes. It’s no longer enough that a grown adult tells you what God’s rules are, there is need to understand why those rules are a good idea.

Sometimes I talk about the value of belief. If a belief has no value it is unlikely to persist in face of evidence to the contrary. IF the belief is perceived to bring some benefit, then there is reason to think that belief is “good” and has value.

Without going into it, even an agnostic can see how many people place value on belief.

First, we need to do a better job of doing apologetics. I appreciate you and your work because it is measured, articulate and you know what you are talking about. So much internet apologetics and even published works at the popular level are unhelpful.

Again, I would ties this back to value. What good is defending Christian beliefs without first establishing the value of belief? Among those Internet apologists I see many who seem to have forgotten what Christianity is about, and instead defend their own personal beliefs.

[Sam] Harris seems to have no awareness that he has a worldview no less than the “religious” people he disparages.

Oh for Hitchen’s sake - Not this again. If Atheism is “just another religion” then all religions have the same value as Atheism. I don’t think I am likely to draw much support from my religious friends here with that statement. :slight_smile:

Worshipping a Flying Teapot? What to do when Christianity looks ridiculous.

ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY TEAPOT!!! :slight_smile:


It seems as if you are very close to saying that we should believe in something because it’s to our benefit to believe. What happens to “truth” in such a case?

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More than close. I’m defining Value as a utility function, so it could mean different things to each person. Something that is scientifically true will be useful in that sense. There other things people may value that are not true in a sciencific sense. The most relevant example here might be membership in a church h community, which offers the value of social support at the very least.

We could look at other examples in this light. Take Flat Earth beliefs, which seem completely irrational to most of us; what is the value of FE belief?

And so we are back to the war between science and religion, apparently. Science values truth, religion values…comfort? I find that value repellant.

We have to mention empathy and compassion, which are positive values. Religion teaches these, or it should, and that is my suggestion here: teach that things like empathy and compassion are valuable behaviors.

Strictly speaking, religion isn’t necessary to this, but it works for some people.

You don’t have to teach empathy and compassion. They’re innate. You can strengthen them and you can expand (or contract) their focus through education. I don’t see why the religious baggage is necessary or even useful. Commonly, it’s been thought, by the self-described elite, necessary to teach the lower classes that way. I find that condescending.

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I think Christians can be their own worst enemy. Our instructions are as follows:
“If you love me, keep my commandments”. What does that involve?
“Do not only love those who love you…, but also love those who hate you”. “Do not judge others, lest you be judged”. “If someone asks for your shirt, give them your coat as well”

How are we doing with this? I know I could be doing a better job of it. I think if we lived to our beliefs, there would be no need for welfare or social security as those in need would be more than adequately provided for.

What we do have is complete freedom from guilt and fear and a promise of eternal fellowship with God, no matter how poorly we follow His commandments.

I would say that is pretty good value for the individual and hopefully the society.