After many years now of being an atheist, I think I’ve finally reached the point where I no longer believe in Christianity. I don’t mean I’ve just stopped believing that Christianity is true–I did that 13 years ago. I mean I’ve reached the point where I do not believe it even exists.
Granted, there are plenty of people who consider themselves Christians, and they all surely believe in something. The problem is, it’s not always the same thing, and in fact it’s not uncommon for the same people to hold multiple incompatible beliefs that they regard as being equally Christian. Not only is there the absence of a common Christianity between believers, but a consistent, well-defined Christianity is missing even within the individual believer!
What we have instead is a cloud of individual beliefs drawn from vast pools of superstition, ignorance, mythology, peer pressure, paranoia, and pride. At various times people will point to isolated belieflets within that cloud and declare them to be part of their Christian faith. Then they’ll point to other belieflets farther along in the cloud, and declare, “That’s not real Christianity, and anyone who believes that is no true Christian.”
Or they’ll try and defend or apply some particular belieflet, only to find that it doesn’t really work. Their argument ends up making Christianity look bad, or their attempt to walk by faith leads to some undesirable end. Then that belieflet blows away like any other wisp of fog, and “Christianity,” in their estimation, turns out to be some other part of the cloud. The twin swords of reason and reality cut through it with ease, but draw no blood and leave no scars. There is no actual Christianity there for them to attack.
I know it’s tempting to attack Christianity, and often times it poses an easy target. But poking holes in Christian beliefs is (to switch metaphors for a moment) aiming the extinguisher at the smoke instead of at the base of the flames. What we need to address are the underlying conditions that make people susceptible to the pools of superstition, ignorance, mythology, and so on. Starve the cloud at its source. That’s not necessarily an easier task, but it’s one where I think we can achieve more durable results.