Good Reading Skills

Over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s NCR blog, we have an atheist who styles himself Duke York that has demonstrated his extremely careful and meticulous reading skills when he says this:

You don’t really think about your beliefs; you just assert them as a tribal marker. If you claim to believe these ridiculos things, you have the safety of being in a majority and license to condemn an out-group (atheists now, although you Catholics got plenty of mileage against the Jews. How did that work out again?.)

Since it’s Jen’s blog, then I assume he’s addressing her directly. This is absolutely laughable.  Asserting that Jen doesn’t think deeply about her beliefs can only mean one thing: York read the article, but never tried to figure out who wrote it.

This is laughable for one reason: Jen used to be an atheist!  She has written about how she thought through the issues and realized that belief in God is warranted and rational.  Evidence and logic brought her to that conclusion! (summary of that journey)

But, you can’t tell the Duke anything about Christians.  When people in the thread sarcastically find it amazing that Duke knows exactly what they think, he replies:

I know what you think because you’re a Christian. If you’re a Catholic, you literally have no choice about what you believe. That choice would make you a heretic, which, after all, comes from the Greek for “choice”. If you’re choosing, you’re doing it wrong.

In other words, “I’ve made up my mind and I’m not listening anymore.”  Can’t argue with that.  Fortunately, as has been proven again and again, my atheist readers aren’t this close-minded and ignorant.  Thank God for that.

Question: Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know everything about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology? I’m an ex-Catholic, and though I know quite a bit about Catholic theology, I’d never claim that I know everything.  There’s quite a bit I don’t know, and I’m willing to learn (I have a few hardcore Catholic friends on Facebook that help me learn; thank you Sean Hutton and Ross Earl Hoffman!).

But certain atheists are unwilling to learn about Christian thought and theology.  They know what they know, and what they know is “right.”  When the Christian points out where the atheist is mistaken, the atheist just puffs his chest out and asserts that the Christian is wrong–without explaining why.

When I used to be an assistant manager at Burger King, customers would occasionally lecture me on BK policies and procedures.  Usually when they didn’t like whatever had just happened.  The customer’s “expertise” on BK derived from working at a BK in a different state for six months–20 years ago.  He would have a shallow grasp of procedures at best, and based on his current age, would have been 15 at the time of employment. I seriously doubt he cared a lick about learning BK policies in the first place.  In other words, he wouldn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

It’s the same thing here.  Atheists who are ex-Christians usually had a shallow understanding of Christian issues to begin with, but as far as they’re concerned this flawed understanding is right while my deeper and more studied application of Christian thought is wrong.  If I say otherwise, they yell some random logical fallacy at me (which never applies, by the way: and the top 3 are ad hominem, special pleading, and no true Scotsman) and I never hear from them again.


About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on February 28, 2011, in Apologetics, God, Roman Catholicism, Science and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You’re setting up a straw-man here; “Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know everything about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology?”

    No one can claim to know *everything* about anything, so it’s easy to dismiss your question on that basis alone. But for the sake of argument I’m re-phrasing it to “Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know a lot about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology?”

    You’re forgetting that a lot of these atheists used to be serious believers and some even ministers/priests, so by virtue of having been so immersed in their religion I think it’s very fair to say that they know quite a lot about it, in fact they’d know more about Christianity than you know about atheism.

    But I understand that it’s popular to bash on atheists knowledge of Christianity by saying they *really* don’t understand some exegetic point. But that’s actually not what’s going on. They’ve rejected the foundation on which exegesis is based based on knowledge of that platform; it’s not that they don’t understand the theology, they’re mostly saying the basis for theology is on shaky ground. In fact, why is there even a need for exegesis in a supposed clear and perfect book? This is not me not understanding some minutiae detail of penal substitutionary atonement or not being able to do exegesis to find basis for it, it’s me saying that theology as such have a problem when there is a *need* for exegesis.

    Take the example of catholics. The Duke is not wrong when he states that if you believe in stuff that’s different from the catholic doctrine, you are by the catechism a heretic. The Pope is the man, and if your theology differs from him, you’re not a catholic. If you do something non-catholic, you’re out. End of discussion. There is no leeway here; it’s the fabric of catholicism and the structure put in place, and denying so is, um, a bit naive. I’m assuming there’s a good reason you’re no longer a catholic; you didn’t agree with parts or wholes of it. Good thing we’re in modern times when you aren’t risking your life for thinking differently.

    Oh, and not to mention that you for some reason think that ex-Christians all obviously for some reason have fault faculties, that they were all not *real* Christians by some mysterious criteria that I bet you can’t use to tell your Christian church-goers apart by. It’s terribly, terribly arrogant, but I can understand you *need* to think this way.

  2. Cory Tucholski said: “Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know everything about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology?”

    Which specific atheists think this?

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