You tell me you’re a Christian
And I’ll take you at your word
Though you’re quick to note, the bible
Has some bits that are absurd.
In your eyes, it’s not a science book;
No reason to believe
That there ever was an Eden
With an Adam and an Eve
And the flood is just mythology
Not literally true,
(the majority of Christians,
As you know, agree with you!)
And there isn’t any evidence
For Heaven or for Hell
Or an afterlife of any sort,
But hey, it’s just as well.
You don’t really think that Jesus
Turned some water into wine;
And you couldn’t care the slightest
If He really was divine.
If the miracles are hogwash
And the resurrection hype—
If your Christ is just a mortal man—
The magic all is tripe…
Is “Christian” just a label, then?
Is “Christian” just your tribe?
To which beliefs—if any—
Do you Christian folk subscribe?
If your faith makes you a Christian
But you tend to disagree
With the others of your label—
It’s confusing, don’t you see?
You tell me you’re a Christian
And I’ll take you at your word…
But the label you have chosen
Is, I’m telling you… absurd.
Yeah, so anyway… I know full well that most Christians aren’t young-earth creationists. I don’t actually know any young-earth creationists personally. I know a lot of liberal Christians; some of them are related to me (I do know one or two old-earth creationists who are also related to me). My parents, for instance, are Christians, but know full well the history of the writing of the bible, and are (as former science teachers) perfectly accepting of the evidence for evolution. They don’t even argue for the divinity of Christ; I honestly don’t know whether they believe in that or not (and yes, it comes up in conversation, as all of their siblings are very religious).
The truth is, not only are “theists” as varied in their beliefs as atheists, but frankly, any segment of believers–any small portion of the theistic spectrum–are themselves a spectrum (or, more probably, many spectra across many orthogonal factors). People are people, and they vary. It makes perfect sense that no two atheist need share the same beliefs–after all, atheism is negatively defined–but it should not surprise us that any two believers, even of the same sect, need not share the same beliefs. As important as religion is, it is not 100% of anyone’s belief system. Not to mention… the members of any one specific (no matter how specific) belief system do (and must!) differ from one another in the particulars of their belief.
So it should not surprise me at all, but of course there are Christians (I could say “self-described Christians”, but frankly that’s an insult) who don’t believe in Eden, in Adam and Eve. Who don’t believe in original sin (except as a metaphor). Who believe Jesus’s sacrifice was meaningless, if it happened at all. Who don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, in Heaven, in Hell, in sin or redemption. Who laugh at the notion of transubstantiation (this includes some Catholics). And yet, who are Christians, every bit as much as any other group can claim the name (I’m looking at you, Westboro Baptist Church).
Which, frankly, doesn’t surprise or bother me (like I said, I see it in my own family). But… Why on earth would they want to keep the name? Strange bedfellows, Christianity begets–people who disagree more than agree lay claim to the same name. People who make war with one another over these very beliefs lay claim to the same name. My goodness… I’ve known people who legally changed their names to cut ties to parents they disagreed with. Why would good people like my sister, like my parents…like hundreds of thousands or millions more like them… want to share a label with people who believe things they find ludicrous?
Yeah, I guess they’d rather the other folks change their label. And sometimes they’ll pretend that already happened–that those other people “aren’t real christians”. But the thing is, the whole spectrum claims that label. I’d rather not be caught in a “no true Christian” fallacy, so…
I’ll take them at their word.