Research that demonstrates that some atheists have more factual knowledge of the precepts of the world’s religions means very little in this debate. I am talking about attack on faith, religion is not the same as faith.
To expand that a little further and in as simple a way as I can: ‘religion’ is Man’s efforts to reach God… the Christian faith is about God reaching out to Man. And whilst we are on that topic – this is also what differentiates Christianity from other world ‘religions’. Islam, Buddhism etc are all based on what Man must do to reach ‘god’ and be saved from wrath. Christianity is about what God did to reach Man – and He did it for all of us, for free, and to make us free and without ANY requirement on our part. It is THE only faith based on grace.
All other religions are based in trying to be ‘good’ and behave in a satisfactory way at all times to earn the right to salvation (whatever form that may take). God makes it clear in the Bible that is an impossible ask due to free will and Man’s selfish nature and so, simply put, He fixed it for us – He fixed US for us. That is where Love comes in. Religion is rarely, if ever, about a love relationship.
If I wanted (for some obscure reason) to spend my life ranting at people who believe something that I do not, then I would study up too as best I could. However, interpretation of scripture without faith – and a little thing believers call revelation, is pointless so naturally atheistic views on scripture will always be lacking even if they score 10/10 on religious factoids.
Literal statements of truth as opposed to allegory, parable, opinion or poetry are usually pretty easy to spot. I have little trouble telling the difference after 22 years+ of reading the books of the Bible and any other writing for that matter.
Have I mastered understanding scriptures? No.
Will I ever? Definitely not.
Am I meant to master it? No; I am meant to let it master me and being a mere mortal, that will take more than a lifetime.
Do I need infallible Biblical knowledge to love and trust God? Nope.
Does God accept me and relate to me just as I am and whether I have ever set eyes on a Bible let alone read and understood it? Yup.
Is that frustrating for atheists who poke holes in a Christian’s knowledge of the Bible? As sure as Hell it is.
Unfortunately for atheistic, dry scholars of the Bible, it employs every type of writing style and for many different reasons. Clearly, to say that parts of scripture will therefore be confusing – to believers and agnostics alike and debate will of course follow, but it shouldn’t take any genius or a doctorate in scripture to know that any form of murder, discrimination and hatred is a direct contradiction not only of God’s will but our intrinsic moral compass.
If I am mis-diagnosed, mis-treated or even abused by a quack doctor, would it be wisdom or folly of me to refuse any future medical help? I may well question the credentials of my new GP more closely but there is no logic behind dismissal of the entire discipline of medicine on the basis of a minority who don’t know what they are doing or worse; e.g. Nazi’s who very deliberately propagate evil acts in the name of science/faith/etc .. Of course that is abhorrent and wrong – and Christians who know their God of love, are first in line to condemn it.
I have also already made it clear that church and God are not one and the same. I may travel to work on my bike, but my work is not cycling. Church is an expression, one tool in a spiritual toolkit ; church is many things but it is not God. How many of your ex-clergy atheist were hurt, offended or abused by the ‘church’? The vast majority I believe.
God was not the problem, people were – and the explanations for that is summed up in one word : sin – as rampant in a church building as anywhere else, perhaps more so in the same way a hospital attracts sick people.
Of course there is also actual loss of faith, clergy or not, but that neither disproves God’s existence nor is it the end of the story, but very often a season in a person’s life – and one where that person still, at the core, seeks God and meaning to life. No one said it would be difficult to lose faith in church.
Onto science and my breathtaking ignorance. No amount if scientific discovery will answer Man’s deepest question : “WHY?”
Science, has absolutely not disproved the existence of a Creator. In fact quite the opposite as creation (or evolved life as you see it) only increases believers’ wonder at an amazingly creative God. How frustrating that must be for atheists..
What science has begun to do is uncover a mere slither of the laws and ‘chemistry’ of the ingredients of life. You may read Theory M, tales of the theory of multiverses etc but even Hawkins knows fine well there was a beginning and that a powerful, living force was the Beginner. The ‘facts’ of that beginning are clear in the book of Genesis, whereas Hawkins goes a little fuzzy at that point…
Again; theory, pattern, law cannot ever produce one atom of physical matter. Scientific discovery is so-called because it is the unveiling of the mysteries of HOW our world works,
not the WHY.
The Bible is simply about the Who and the Why of our existence – it was never intended as a science manual in the same way reading a newspaper is not about teaching you how to make paper and ink. God left us the phenomenal fun of getting to figure it out much of how this world works for ourselves – and why shouldn’t he when we have such a thirst for knowledge!
Back to point: the How of life (science) has no contradiction on the Who and the Why. To emphasise my point yet again: science (how, when, what) and faith (why, who) are compatible.
I have personally never subscribed to religious ritual for healing, using birds or any other winged creature. Since you mention healing let’s go there.
There are varying levels of ‘healing’ – all of which are attributable to God.
1 – natural biological repair e.g. a cut in your finger, an amazing evidence of intelligent design of our bodies. The body’s ability to repair is breath-taking.
2 – Scientific (medical) assisted repair i.e. medication, surgery. God the Educator at work!
3 – Unexplained or ‘super’ natural healing i.e. inexplicable restoration which is evidenced and has medics scratching their heads. Sometimes prayer was involved sometimes not.
I thank God for all 3 – and see no incompatibility with belief in a Creator.
When my daughter was on the edge of death I sure gave prayer a good shot. She is now alive and well.
Was it prayer? Was it natural biological repair? Was it medical intervention?
It was actually all three – and even if it satisfies you to remove the prayer from the list – I still thank God for the other two.
Edit: edited to add that the post below “Atheists Without A Clue” and the comments attached to it will be of interest to you and help put this post in context 🙂