Animosity Between Christians & Atheists

Three things you should never talk about at the dinner table are sex, politics, and religion which is the reason why the internet postings between christians and atheists are so contentious. People are not used to talking about differing viewpoints without things getting heated up when it come to the most personal and important paradigm of our existence.

The contentious escalation stems from insulting the other in a superior fashion that is more self serving for the person's ego rather than a true conversation between two respectful persons. The stereotypical attitude of a bible thumping christian is that atheism is the opposite of religion and therefore atheists are satanists or believe in nothing at all. The atheist attacks the fundamental belief of a christian as illogical and therefore naive at best and stubbornly stupid in the face of overwhelming logical proof. "Dispelling myths about religious and scientific communities could lay the groundwork for a new kind of dialogue — one based more on serious thinking and scholarship than caricature."[1]

This animosity is recent because historically science and religion are not mutually exclusive paradigms. The myth of animosity between science and religion began with John Tyndall in 1874 in his address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science followed by Andrew White in his book, 'The Warfare of Science' in 1876. For more information on the Victorian birth of this fake war read the hub 'The War Between Church, Science, and History' by Radical Moderate.

In the book 'Galileo Goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science' by Ronald L. Numbers, he wrote that, "The Italian Inquisition did incinerate the sixteenth-century Copernican Giordano Bruno for his heretical theological notions." The mythbusting book outlines fallacies taken as historical truth that perpetuate the ongoing animosity between christians and atheists today. One example is that a scientist does not have to be an atheist.

Different beliefs about the nature of god has led to the French Crusades wiping out the heretical christians who believed that the god that Catholics worshiped was not the true god of creation but an evil god. The Albigensian Crusade was "an alliance between the Church looking to suppress a heresy and northern French nobles looking to seize new lands."[2] A more contemporary argument reflecting the disbelief that this world was not made by a all-good God using present day knowledge is, "If, however, we annoy a God who, as the Christians assure us, has in common with humans the emotional behavioral trait we refer to as vengefulness, in spite of presumably having neither an amygdala, orbital cingulate cortex, or any other of the bits of gray matter responsible for expression of the trait in mere mortals, then, unless we don’t at least make a convincing show of pretending to do what he wants, we stand to burn in hell for quadrillions and quintillions of years to satisfy the requirements of divine justice."[3]

Is there a way for two friends with different beliefs to talk to each other without the goal of proving the other wrong? Yes. Start with a common belief, premises and assumptions. Math is considered a common language that even ETs in UFOs can relate to. "In mathematics, a proof is a demonstration that if some fundamental statements (axioms) are assumed to be true, then some mathematical statement is necessarily true"[4]

Unprovable Assumptions

Mat Grime wrote, "Ultimately, the only thing that matters is that the axioms we choose are (preferably minimal and) consistent with themselves. They are not absolutely true, and no mathematician I can think of would claim they are. If in this system we can do something practical (ie that models the world in a repeatedly verifiable way) then all well and good."[5]

A good counter argument to the myth that a person can never prove a negative, so therefore atheism requires as much faith as religion can be found at 'Atheism: Proving The Negative', (Analyses of God beliefs, atheism, religion, faith, miracles, evidence for religious claims, evil and God, arguments for and against God, atheism, agnosticism, the role of religion in society, and related issues), this website could be described as an example of evangelistic atheism.

Next time on a online debate about christians and atheists - try not to attack the other person as stupid or evil but use instead standard logic. A good example is Kurt Gödel's ontological proof; "God, by definition, is that for which no greater can be conceived. God exists in the understanding. If God exists in the understanding, we could imagine Him to be greater by existing in reality. Therefore, God must exist."

1 - Elaine Howard Ecklund, 'Myths widen the science-religion divide' 07.18.2010
2 - Tom Oberhofer, 'The Albigensian Crusade: People, Coinage, Places' 07.27.2011
3 - Helian, '…and One More Thing about Religion' 02.15.2012
4 - anon, 'Mathematical Proof' 2.18.2012
5 - Matt Grime 'Mathematics and unprovable assumptions' 11.28.2004


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Comments 19 comments

Tricia Ward profile image

Tricia Ward 4 years ago from Scotland

Fantastic hub, I could not agree more. As a Christian, I may not agree with other folks faith or lack of it in some cases but I still respect the person. I have commented on places and mass generic assumptions were made of Christians. I did point out that I go on my experiences and journey thus far and the difference is acceptance of faith. I can not make someone believe, it is down to the free will of the person. I can convey what I believe and debate but not make them decide. But there is no need to call someone irrational or stupid.

Fantastic well said!!!


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

Thanks TriciaWard.


Mark Pitts profile image

Mark Pitts 4 years ago from United States

It was so refreshing to read a piece about this topic that was not an attack on someone else. Great work!


Jeremy Pittman profile image

Jeremy Pittman 4 years ago from walker la

agreeing with mark here, also well written and quite logical.


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

How about between Christians and Other Religions.

Out of the billion people population how many are Christians.


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

Thanks you all - I limited it to Christians and atheists only because the answers section of hubpages is mostly that and not others.

I've never seen christians denigrate buddishts. It seems that it's OK to be prejudiced against atheists in the USA but taboo to appear religiously intolerant to other faiths.


Mark Pitts profile image

Mark Pitts 4 years ago from United States

I find it perhaps revealing that the focus of your purpose statement was to note the attacks by Christians directed at atheist....atheist are dismissive and derisive of all faiths, but in this country are more focused on Christians than any other. At least some of the statements made by Christians toward atheist are feeble attempts at defense. Of course, in fairness it must also be said that what Christians say is sometimes nothing more than the judgement they wish to make on others, which is just as offensive as anything directed towards them. Neither attack, whether it is from a person of faith against an atheist or vice-versa, is justified.


donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers

Thanks for sharing your link. A lot of interesting things in here. I am still observing the battle and trying to find my footing from where I fell out. I guess some day I will but meantime I must be a faithful follower of the one I have chosen and seek His guidance.


wilderness profile image

wilderness 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

It seems to me that the biggest difference, and that causes the greatest dissent, is that Christians and atheists do not share the same concept of reason, evidence or proof.

The definitions of each are vastly different, and because of that no form of logic can apply to both. Neither can recognize that the reasoning process of the other has any validity.


Robert Pummer profile image

Robert Pummer 4 years ago from Kentucky, USA

You cover a lot of territory in a small article. It would be far better for persons like myself if you focused on one subject and stayed with that point rather than sweeping ...


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

There can never be any mutual understanding. There never has been. Fortunately - Christians are no longer able to murder atheists for not believing. How funny that you think the "animosity is recent" - are you not aware that it was illegal to be an atheist until recently? Are you not aware that atheists were being put to death by Christians just a few hundred years ago?


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

The ruling Christians were killing off anybody that didn't agree with them I.E. the Cathars of the French Crusade. Didn't know being an atheist was illegal per se - just whoever was king you had to agree with.


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

Are you really that ignorant? Seriously? Salem?


donnaisabella profile image

donnaisabella 4 years ago from Fort Myers

Mark Knowles, the arguments produced about atheism and Christianity sometimes are so extreme either way it is almost as if people cannot argue logically but rather throw sticks and stones at one another like kids in the market place. To say that Christians were killing atheists a few years ago may be a proven fact, but to say that Christians are like that is to be guilty of dangerous generalizations which a world like ours does not need. White people hang black men only a few years ago just for being black. It would be wrong for me to call all white people murderers, haters, or racists, some are not. All sectors of humanity are guilty of misdeeds that cannot be undone, but that does not mean all the good ceases to exist. I am a Christian and very proud of my faith because I identify with the good it stands for.


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

supercilious know-it-all: I did not mention Salem. I guess you didn't read the hub and just posted to let everyone know how condescending you are.

donnaisabella: Thank you for the comment.


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

No - I read it. You just missed my point completely. My point is that the animosity is NOT recent as you claim and Salem was an example of Christians murdering non Christians in the USA.


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

You are right - I am missing your entire point because I don't know what you are referring to when you said in above comment "Are you really that ignorant? Seriously? Salem?"

WTF are you talking about? The Salem Witch Trials of 1692? that has nothing to do with atheists. What are you trying to say?


Mark Knowles profile image

Mark Knowles 4 years ago

Witches being put to death by Christians? It being illegal to be anything other than Christian? The animosity not being recent?


ptosis profile image

ptosis 4 years ago from Arizona Author

Oh, OK, I agree with you Christians are murderous. The women were accused of witches. The people of those days did not get killed for lack of belief in a god of Abraham but of being consorts of Satan.

Satan was not believed to be an atheist - See James 2:19 that says "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder."

So your nasty comment has been exposed as just that. I think it's time for you to offer a complete and utter retraction. That your imputation was totally without basis in fact, and was in no way fair comment, and was motivated purely by malice.

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