I Could Never Be an Atheist

I couldn’t be an atheist. I’m not inconsistent enough with my beliefs. Reference this article by VorJack of Unreasonable Faith fame. He quotes Geds of the Accidental Historian:

There was absolutely nothing special about the persecution of Christians.

The Roman authorities saw Christianity as a potentially destabilizing force in exactly the same way it saw criminals and revolutionaries as a destabilizing force. The only reason we’re lead to believe the stories of the Christian martyrs are special is because we have a lot of them.

Okay, then, might I make the same claim about the Crusades and the Inquisitions? “There was absolutely nothing special about the persecution of indigent tribes of nonbelievers, witches, or heretics. The Christian authorities saw them all as potentially destabilizing forces in exactly the same way as it saw criminals and revolutionaries as a destabililizing force. The only reason we’re lead to believe the stories of the nonbelievers, witches, and heretics’ torture and death are special is because critics of Christianity try to use them to argue against the faith.”

If the martyrdom of the early Christians at the hands of the Romans isn’t something to get excited about, neither is the later persecution of heretics at the hands of the Christians. The sword cuts both ways.

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 July 29, 2010, in Heresy, Religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I agree with you. The persecution of Christians was wrong, as were the inquisitions, witch hunts, persecution of Native homosexuals, 9/11, other persecutions of religious groups, ect…there is no reason to single out this one from the others…Yes, the Romans did see Christianity as a growing sect, dangerous with its meetings in synagogues, etc, but it also wanted to save the Empire from infidels (people who would not help pray to the gods to appease them).

    I’ll add that I think faith-based persecution arises when religious folks start thinking their gods (God) are evil, that their gods will punish the whole for a few. As some Christians think today about homosexuality. As that Islamic leader said about women “indecency” and earthquakes. In the case of the Romans, they didn’t even think their gods were good…I guess they saw them as bullies you had to pay your dues to…

  2. But, actually, when you read the beginning of the statement, he’s saying that there was “nothing special”, and I could agree with him on that…there’s no more a reason to single out that persecution from others…

  3. So, if one historical event is treated a particular way, all historical events like it must be treated the same way?

    How about each historical event being judged on its own merit?

    Romans persecuting Christians was the state persecuting a religious sect.

    The crusades, inquisitions, etc were a religious sect (since state and sect were one) persecuting other religious sects or heretics within their own sect.

    I hope you will some day learn that the sword you brandish actually cuts many ways.


    • Your argument fails. The Roman Emperors were considered to share divinity with the gods. The state and the religion were very closely linked in ancient Rome. So one is the same as the other.

      Therefore, see here.

  4. Similar does not equal same. Plurality of gods does not equal one God.

    So shall we trade your argument fails quips?

    • So you’re actually arguing that because the Romans were polytheists and the Christians were monotheists that that makes a difference? I hope I’m not reading that right, because if I am, that is the LAMEST special pleading argument that I’ve ever heard.

  5. Edward T. Babinski

    Cory, I’ve never called myself an atheist. I’d call myself agnostic, more or less. Could you ever be a moderate Evangelical? Liberal? Mystic? Agnostic?

    • While I lean more conservative Reformed, I definitely used to be a theological liberal. I once even espoused open theism for crying out loud! I used to be swept up in the New Age Movement, but it isn’t a unified movement to begin with. I mostly used it to draw my concept of God–which I then found out is pretty close to the original Jewish concept. God is essentially the unified mind and will behind a plurality of powers. I would have seen Jesus as an avatar: one of many human forms that God has taken over the centuries to speak to people about becoming more attuned to the divine.

      Of course, I’ve come as far away from that as you can get. I hated the idea of meticulous sovereignty. I like to be totally free! But, as I’ve studied the Scripture, I’ve concluded that God is sovereign and man is, well, not. We have a free will and can act within specified boundaries, but we only have a free will inasmuch as God granted it to us. From that, becoming increasingly conservative and even becoming a reluctant Calvinist was never far behind.

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