May 212012

There is one dominant criticism of Christianity.

I hear a lot about hypocrisy, but that’s a red herring. Hypocrisy, as a basis for criticism, varies based on what you are being hypocritical about. If, for instance, Christians espoused eating babies, but were hypocrites who failed to eat babies, no one would complain that we were hypocrites. They would be glad we weren’t eating babies, not upset that we were hypocrites.

The other red herring is that it’s about our belief in God. I hear that some, but it’s not what most atheists complain about. If it was, they would vilify liberal and Fundamentalist Christians alike, but they don’t. Instead, atheists mostly tolerate liberal Christians, and they crucify fundamentalists.  Why? Why are Fundamentalists skewered so readily, and liberals left alone?

Because the main criticism atheists throw at Christianity is about the values of Fundamentalist Christianity. Most of the critics of Christianity value loving others, caring for others, serving others, and they let Fundamentalists have it when they fail to do that. That’s their real complaint. The rest is really just fuel added to the fire.

The irony, of course, is that those values atheists hold so dear come out of Christianity. Before Christianity became the dominant religion, these values weren’t valued at all. It wasn’t until Jesus came along that love, joy, peace and kindness were adopted as virtues. What atheists miss, though, is that Jesus didn’t teach them as values by themselves. They existed within the context of a relationship with God. Establishing those values were not Jesus’s goal or his point. Jesus taught people to love both God and  neighbor. That was the point. So if a Fundamentalist loves God but not their neighbor, they’re only half right. If an atheist loves their neighbor but not God, they too are only half right.  Both groups are half right.

No wonder they can’t stand each other.