Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
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13-05-2015, 12:07 PM (This post was last modified: 13-05-2015 12:12 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(12-05-2015 07:27 PM)BlackEyedGhost Wrote:  Or is there a line at all? If we define being a Christian as many Christians do and say that a Christian is a "Christ-follower", then what happens when you follow his teachings in how you conduct yourself, but don't believe a God exists (or even that Jesus existed)? Is it possible then to be both an atheist and a Christian? Are the two mutually exclusive as we tend to regard them? Where would you draw the line on this issue?

Ultimately, this is a semantics question. It comes down less to questions about actual facts and more about questions of artificial categories and definitions. By massaging the definitions in creative ways, we can produce Christian atheists.

As used in this country (United States), "Christian" and "atheist" are about what you do (or don't) believe, and they are pretty much mutually exclusive. In other societies, they may refer more strongly to some manner of affiliation. (The old anecdote comes to mind about an Irish atheist during the worst of the sectarian violence being challenged to identify as either a Catholic or Protestant atheist.) In this sense, it might be possible to have a Christian atheist.

One can also use the word Christian as a modifier, to emphasize WHICH god (and associated other doctrines) someone doesn't believe in. My mother firmly identifies as a Jewish atheist, to specify which god it is she doesn't believe in. (Though she doesn't believe in the others as well.) In this sense, being a Christian atheist is quite plausible.

As jennybee said, you can be a Christian atheist in the sense of being an atheist who identifies as having a Christian background or heritage. (That's the other way in which Mom identifies as a Jewish atheist.)

And as you point out, it's possible to identify as a follower of Jesus's philosophy and teachings without believing in a god. ... granted, those teachings as expressed in the Bible (and where else are we going to find them, save the Bible or some work dependent upon the Bible?) kinda place some pretty firm emphasis on believing a god exists. You'd have to be very selective about WHICH teachings you follow and essentially edit out and ignore the ones you disagree with. Oddly enough, this does not keep you from being a Christian, to judge by the vast number of Christian theists who do exactly that.

But, HAVING SAID ALL THAT...

... this IS fundamentally a question about semantics. It's about what words mean and how they are defined, and the principle purpose of such is to communicate underlying concepts clearly to an intended audience. For most audiences, "Christian" and "atheist" ARE mutually exclusive, and so identifying as both will engender such confusion as to prevent clear communication. If I felt COMPELLED to appropriate the term "Christian atheist" into an identifier for some reason, I would immediately explain what I meant by the odd juxtaposition, because I would know that having said the words would not have conveyed the idea. And for this reason, I would not use the phrase "Christian atheist" in the first place. It wouldn't communicate what I was trying to say.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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13-05-2015, 04:06 PM (This post was last modified: 13-05-2015 04:22 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(13-05-2015 12:07 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  For most audiences, "Christian" and "atheist" ARE mutually exclusive, and so identifying as both will engender such confusion as to prevent clear communication. If I felt COMPELLED to appropriate the term "Christian atheist" into an identifier for some reason, ...

Well you wouldn't be the first to appropriate it. There are serious theologians who claimed it first.

(13-05-2015 12:07 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  ... I would immediately explain what I meant by the odd juxtaposition, because I would know that having said the words would not have conveyed the idea. And for this reason, I would not use the phrase "Christian atheist" in the first place. It wouldn't communicate what I was trying to say.

Yes, that is a good reason to avoid it. Unless of course that is precisely the dialogue I'm trying to provoke and pursue.

Another reason I avoid it is that it erroneously implies that the Golden Rule is somehow attributed to Jesus when it predates him by millennia. Despite the fact that the Christ's message is to worship The Word, most Christians worship the man and are deaf to The Word. Be like misplacing the worship of The Stark for coming up with the "Don't be a dick." variation of the Golden Rule instead of worshiping the starkness.

#sigh
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13-05-2015, 05:21 PM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
What the? You people make me cuss.

Followers of Christ don't have an exclusive claim on general morality.

If that's the case, I teach general logic. If anyone follows the general logic I teach then they are my followers; my minions even if they don't know it.

All hail KC! Derp.

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13-05-2015, 05:53 PM (This post was last modified: 13-05-2015 07:23 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(13-05-2015 05:21 PM)kingschosen Wrote:  What the? You people make me cuss.

Followers of Christ don't have an exclusive claim on general morality.

If that's the case, I teach general logic. If anyone follows the general logic I teach then they are my followers; my minions even if they don't know it.

All hail KC! Derp.

You ain't one of the Christians deaf to The Word, brother. Which is why you can't seem to find no congregation except here. Them fuckers ain't Christian.

#sigh
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13-05-2015, 10:29 PM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
No I don't believe in god and yes I can turn water into wine.
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15-05-2015, 01:54 AM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
For me they are not mutually exclusive- I identify as an Atheist- I don't believe in God- if I use the term, I mean it as a personal construct of my own conscience that I have created, and not as a deity separate from myself. That said, I view Jesus as my moral teacher, and follow the majority of his teachings, although I don't agree with everything he says. Therefore, I identify as a Christian as I am a follower/disciple of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings. To me, he was a wise and compassionate man, his words carry much weight and resonance for me, but he is not a deity or a messiah.
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15-05-2015, 02:56 AM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(12-05-2015 07:41 PM)BlackEyedGhost Wrote:  
(12-05-2015 07:39 PM)pablo Wrote:  Jesus was said to be the son of god, and also god himself.
If you follow the teachings of jesus, it follows that you believe he existed.
That makes you a christian, christians believe in god. Christians cannot, by definition be atheists.

Therefore someone who follows all of Jesus' moral teachings without believing in His existence is an atheist?

Maybe. He or she is also a blithering idiot for somehow imagining Jesus' teachings were moral.
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15-05-2015, 03:36 AM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(15-05-2015 01:54 AM)Nagoda Wrote:  For me they are not mutually exclusive- I identify as an Atheist- I don't believe in God- if I use the term, I mean it as a personal construct of my own conscience that I have created, and not as a deity separate from myself. That said, I view Jesus as my moral teacher, and follow the majority of his teachings, although I don't agree with everything he says. Therefore, I identify as a Christian as I am a follower/disciple of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings. To me, he was a wise and compassionate man, his words carry much weight and resonance for me, but he is not a deity or a messiah.

"To me, he was a wise and compassionate man, his words carry much weight and resonance for me,..."

No. Most definitely no. I suggest you go back and reread the words of Jesus.

"He" was a dimwitted fool.
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15-05-2015, 06:28 AM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
(15-05-2015 01:54 AM)Nagoda Wrote:  For me they are not mutually exclusive- I identify as an Atheist- I don't believe in God- if I use the term, I mean it as a personal construct of my own conscience that I have created, and not as a deity separate from myself. That said, I view Jesus as my moral teacher, and follow the majority of his teachings, although I don't agree with everything he says. Therefore, I identify as a Christian as I am a follower/disciple of Jesus of Nazareth and his teachings. To me, he was a wise and compassionate man, his words carry much weight and resonance for me, but he is not a deity or a messiah.

I understand what you are saying, and you have every right to call yourself whatever you want to, but using the word Christian implies a great deal of other baggage that just confuses the issue in my opinion.

Being Christian is sometimes used to mean being a good, moral person but using it that way makes it easier for theists to claim that to be good you must be Christian. It probably makes deconversion easier since keeping the label makes it seem less of a jump but in the long run I think it is a disservice to yourself and to others.

Some decent things are attributed to Jesus but if you look you will likely find that they aren't original to him. There are also many things in the Jesus myth that are, at best, questionable. By all means, take any teaching from Jesus that you find to be moral but don't limit yourself to that with such a restrictive label.

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15-05-2015, 06:45 AM
RE: Where do you draw the line between atheist and Christian?
I think a Christian research study in France found out that half of those who were Catholic in France did not even believe in God.

But to actually be Christian means one cannot also be an atheist. To be Christian, one must knowledge the Trinity.
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