I don’t understand. I really and simply cannot understand. Why do the most vociferous atheists treat Christians like they are unable to reason coherently?
Let me make very clear before proceeding that I don’t mean all atheists. I have great and fascinating and enriching conversations with atheists, and non-Christian believers for that matter, that eschew all such superiority-complex based arguments. Frankly, I know well enough that I am imperfect and so listening to the views and beliefs of others is something I like to do.
This aside, I also realize the deep level of importance of personal beliefs. Whether one believes in a deity or not, everyone holds some kind of philosophy of life. No matter what that is in particular, they deserve more than a flippant, and usually uncivilized and unfair, argument.
And that brings me to my first point of contention. Instead offering a well-reasoned disagreement, and I realize not all individuals would accept such an attempt, those of whom I am writing offer shallow satire in its place. The most notable and visible example is the church of the flying spaghetti monster. I can’t fathom the reasoning behind such an invention in terms of meaningful satire. It is clearly, and as with all such unmentioned examples, merely intended to provoke those who disagree. I would make allowance that the original argument could be considered meaningful to an atheistic perspective, but the resultant organization is a study in self-affirming and masturbatory, pubescent antics.
To my second my point, this is relevant in that these same people believe that anyone who believes in a deity is an excerebrate lackwit. To be blunt, this is intellectually dishonest at best. I can’t say I have ever heard this type offer a well-reasoned disagreement of Kalam’s Cosmological Argument (which exists, but I also ascribe to a slightly different form of the argument). Calling someone stupid, and treating them like they are, does not foster understanding and certainly not true debate. Boiling down such satire finds this as its essential argument. There may be witticisms here and there that poke at some difficult theological questions, but to choose to articulate them in such a juvenile manner is infecund, even to their own ends (assuming the ends are so noble as seeking Truth).
Even aside from such overt arguments, I find the particular verbiage chosen reveal more than any actual disagreement could. I have actually had a person say to me, “I’m surprised you are a Christian. You seem intelligent.” This wasn’t said maliciously or viciously, but casually, which I think scares me more. After having a great conversation with him, I realized that he simply didn’t know much about Christianity and he realized that not all Christians are bereft of intelligence(not that our talk changed his mind anyway). He knew some of the words of the Bible, but didn’t have knowledge of what it all means. There is a massive amount of eisegetical readings that happen on both sides of the Bible, and regardless of which faction is doing it, it is cherry-picking at best and outright dishonesty at worst.
I am a Christian and one who seeks to understand those who aren’t. To those who disagree, I simply say this: try to understand those who believe and why they believe. At the least, consider that you are as human, and thus prone to mental failings, as much as the next person. I can’t promise that all Christians will listen to you, but I hope you would take the time to listen to them, not just hear, but listen. Read the arguments by scholars on both sides with an objective and open mind. Both sides are guilty of not doing that, but that will only change if we take the time to do so.