Anyway, the full post (found here) is responding to someone's list of questions they would ask an atheist if given the chance. Posted by Martin Wagner, he addresses each one. This is the first question, I haven't even read the rest yet, but his answer is perfect and I just wanted to share. If you are religious and reading this, please try not to get defensive and just read his response (I know it's hard to do, I get defensive about my views as well), it might help you understand where I'm (and other atheists are) coming from.
Here it is, question first, followed by response:
Apologist Mike Licona: "What turns you off about Christianity? Irrespective of one's worldview, many experience periods of doubt. Do you ever doubt your atheism and, if so, what is it about theism or Christianity that is most troubling to your atheism?"
I'm glad this question came first, as it's actually the first time I've heard a question phrased this way from any Christian. Notice Licona doesn't ask why I don't believe, he asks why Christianity is a turnoff. Which is quite a different matter. Licona has noticed that, apart from disbelief, there is something about religion in particular that rubs atheists the wrong way. Very astute, Mike. (Except, of course, for slipping in the mistaken attempt at equivocation with the ever-popular Christian weasel word "worldview." Atheism is not a "worldview." It is merely the disbelief in gods.)
I'll take the final question first. When credible evidence for a deity comes to light — a thing theists have singly been incapable of providing — then I will doubt my atheism. This does not mean I have a closed mind towards the idea. Even when I say, with full confidence, that I don't believe in any gods, I'm not making a dogmatic proclamation of absolute knowledge. But here, it's like the question of leprechauns. Would I believe in leprechauns if evidence for them ever made it sensible to do so? Sure. But in the absence of such evidence, I'm quite confident in maintaining my disbelief in leprechauns. Ditto gods.
There's nothing about Christianity troubling to my atheism, per se, so much as troubling to my humanism and ideas about goodness and decency. What turns me off about Christianity is that I consider it morally confused at best, and morally bankrupt at worst. Indeed, the Doctrine of Hell alone forever disqualifies Christianity as a moral belief system of any kind. Put bluntly, any religion that not only uses threats of eternal torture and punishment to enforce compliance, let alone considers eternal torture morally acceptable in the first place, simply for the "crime" of not being Christian, can only be considered not merely immoral but evil. Let us, for the sake of argument, say God exists. Am I to understand that this deity — said to be omniscient, omnipotent, omnific — is so insecure in his rule over his creation that he would find it necessary to consign me to eternity in hell merely for using my reasoning capacities (which he presumably gave me) to doubt his existence, especially when this God has deliberately chosen to refuse to reveal his existence unambiguously? Am I supposed to consider such a being worthy of my admiration, let alone my love and, most incredibly, my worship?
I often ask people who call the television show to imagine an abusive spouse, who tells his wife the following: "Honey, I love you with all my heart. But I swear, if you ever leave me, if I ever even think you're looking at another man or thinking about breaking up with me, so help me, I'll break your neck!" Now, is this a man you'd introduce your lady friends to? Is this someone you'd consider, not only a good man, but the best and most moral kind of man possible? No? But look closely. This man is your God. Don't worship him to his satisfaction, don't accept the divine love he so generously offers you, and go directly to hell, boom, no passing "Go" or collecting the proverbial two Benjamins.
Honestly, can you really be so clueless as to why Christianity turns atheists off, when it offers such an appalling deity for our devotion?
The immorality of Christianity doesn't stop there. This is a religion that preaches "love one another," and yet encourages the most virulent forms of hate. True, Islam does this to a degree Christianity can only dream of, but Christianity is still pretty objectionable. It is Christianity that inspires essentially 100% of the homophobia that is practiced in this country, and it informs most of its racism as well. You could say that this activity is merely bad people misinterpreting Christianity to their own ends. But it's hard to sell that excuse when passages in Leviticus calling for the execution of gays, and similarly hateful passages in Romans exist.
And why do so many racist groups openly identify themselves as Christian, giving themselves such pompous names as "World Church of the Creator"? This, I'd say, is perhaps not something particular to Christianity as it is to the very nature of religion itself: religion has historically been a tool for people to justify violence, atrocities, bigotry, oppression, even outright murder by giving such activity the divine stamp of approval. Todd Rundgren comments eloquently on this in his song "God Said," in which he imagines God replying to the prayers of a desperate and insecure believer.
You are not serving me, you're serving something else
Cause I don't need to be pleased, just get over yourself
You can't suck up to me, I know you all too well
But I don't dwell upon you, so get over yourself
Cause you're not praying to me, you're praying to yourself
And you're not worshiping me, you're worshiping yourself
And you will kill in my name and heaven knows what else
When you can't prove I exist, so get over yourself
You might say, again, that religiously-inspired hate and violence is man misusing religion, and doesn't come from God. But outside of Rundgren's song, I don't see God doing much to put a stop to such activity in his name. And when you consider, as I (and Todd) have, that what people call God is pretty much always simply their own idealized self-image, projected upon the universe, is it any wonder that religiosity has so often taken such an ugly form?
Another thing that turns me off about religion in general and Christianity in particular is the way such beliefs encourage delusion and bankrupt knowledge. I could go on (and have) at length about the way Christian fundamentalists in America are engaged in an all-out war on science education, specifically the study of a subject — evolutionary biology — that is vital to the understanding of our health and of our ability to treat disease. And the roster of scientific all-stars suppressed (Galileo) or just plain murdered outright (Giordano Bruno) by the Church is a stain you'll never wash off. But this post is going to be long enough as it is, so I'll move on.