22 August 2022

An error for atheists to avoid

One tactic which atheists sometimes use against Christians is, "What do you think of Zeus (or Odin or Brahma or Aton-Ra or whatever other non-Abrahamic deity comes to mind)?  Well, we think the same of the Christian God."  The assumption is that the Christian does not believe in the non-Abrahamic god(s), indeed regarding them as absurdities, and will understand that our own non-belief in the Christian God is similar.  This expectation, however, misunderstands how a lot of Christians perceive the deities of other religions.

It's a fairly common view among fundamentalists that the "gods" of other religions do exist, but are actually demons.  This fits well with their overall world-view, which is dominated by the idea that Satan is at work everywhere, churning out evils to seduce humans away from the "truth" so that they will end up going to Hell.  Obviously one of the most effective strategies to accomplish this is to create "false" religions for people to believe in.  So Satan dispatched demons to various parts of the world, to play the role of various gods and attract the worship of deluded people.

So according to this view, Zeus, Odin, Brahma, the various animist deities of Africa and the Americas, the neo-pagan Mother Goddess, etc are not non-existent -- they are demons who have tricked people into worshiping them instead of Jehovah.  When dealing with a Christian who believes this, the tactic in the first paragraph above can actually reinforce a common Christian error about atheists: that we really "know" the Christian God exists, but hate him for some psychological reason.  The fundamentalist will think, "Yes, I believe all those pagan gods exist, but are evil demons.  So you're saying you accept that the Christian God exists, but you think he's evil?"  This misrepresents our view and promotes confusion.

Not all Christians hold the "other religions' gods are demons" view, of course, but it's quite common among fundamentalists.  I don't know how common it is among hard-line Catholics or non-fundamentalist Protestants.  But when trying to debate, it's important to understand the position of one's opponent as accurately as possible.


Blogger Jack said...

Good point. It does help to know in advance (or make the effort to learn) what kind of Christian one is dealing with. Most of the fundamentalists I know don't believe that any gods but theirs exist. They view classic gods not as demons but as mistakes by humans (who were probably misled by demons). There are some exceptions. Like you said, some want to make everything into demons. They must like Halloween even more than I do!

22 August, 2022 04:02  
Blogger Daal said...

interesting & thanks for the eye opener - you're brave to ever try and debate. I just want to run when I find someone who thinks that way. or at least talk about the weather instead. a neighbor just got back from 2 weeks in Albania & here I was, all excited about learning of Albania. unfortunately neighbor only spoke of her expedition to convert people to her religion

22 August, 2022 16:13  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Jack: There are some who see demons everywhere -- gay people are gay because they're possessed by demons, for example, and rainbow flags have demons in them (I got that one from a Catholic website, not a fundamentalist one), so it's only natural to believe that non-Christian gods are demons as well. You see this in Chick tracts, for example.

Daal: I don't engage in debates any more, but many people do, and I sometimes post things which I hope will be helpful to them.

Great, go to a foreign country for two weeks and focus on being a pain in the ass to the locals instead of experiencing a foreign culture. Albania was formerly Muslim and is now mostly non-religious. I bet they didn't take kindly to some foreigner pestering them to convert to some version of Christianity (assuming that's what her religion was).

22 August, 2022 18:53  
Anonymous Reaganite Independent said...

Thanks for thinking of me, Infidel- much obliged

23 August, 2022 00:34  
Blogger dellgirl said...

You always have such good information and so many interesting insights in your blog posts. I always learn something helpful/useful reading your posts. Thank you for sharing this information.

Wishing you all the best, Have a wonderful week.

23 August, 2022 16:59  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Reaganite: Thanks for your posts -- I check your blog pretty regularly now (I assume you meant to post this comment on the link round-up).

Dellgirl: Thanks! I always hope to be informative.

24 August, 2022 01:25  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Yes, this was a facet I hadn't thought about. Anything to justify themselves.

24 August, 2022 09:34  
Blogger jenny_o said...

Good point. I would rather poke my eyes out with a hot stick than debate religion, but I'm saving up your and Jack's ideas just in case I ever get cornered!

24 August, 2022 17:42  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ricko: They always "demonize" their opponents one way or another.

Jenny_o: Always happy to supply a little ammo, even if I don't participate in the battles any more.

25 August, 2022 06:13  
Blogger Richard said...

I don't criticize Christians or Moslems. I try to avoid them. From my point of view, they look pretty much the same. I keep my beliefs to myself, and i love Halloween and the Easter Bunny. I don't go around telling people to lay eggs. If they are allergic to pumpkins, it is no big deal.

26 August, 2022 15:01  
Anonymous spirilis said...

Atheists do know more about gods and religions and demons and crap then most of the "christian s" I know. I don't believe in atheists. Also why do you look for the creator in the creation? Do you expect to find Leonardo in the "Mona Lisa"?

26 August, 2022 23:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Richard: They're a lot more similar than either of them realize.

Spirilis: That makes no sense to me. Nothing in this post is about "looking for the creator".

27 August, 2022 00:01  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

well, the good christians of the vfw in west just tossed me out because I'm a pagan..ain't that grand?

29 August, 2022 05:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: Far from grand. But typical, and to be expected. :-(

29 August, 2022 06:26  

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