Christian Division and Atheism

Christian Division and Atheism

I have run across many unbelievers that feel that the division in Christianity weakens its argument for the existence of its God.  However, the opposite might be true. Division over many subjects about God should be expected, seeing that we are talking about an infinite God that is beyond human understanding, because of this, a difference of opinion in many areas would be normal and expected.[1]

Yes, Christianity is divided on a number of issues however most agree on the essence of the faith outlined in the Apostles Creed. Even the majority of the so called cults could confess their faith in the doctrines proclaimed in the ancient Creed, for the Creed simply set forth the basic facts[2] of what the Bible teaches. Christians for the most part (except for some far-left liberals) agree on the basic points of the Creed. However, some are not in agreement as to their interpretation of some of those points. This is where the division begins to creep in as it does in any discipline which is based on facts. Facts must be interpreted and it is in the interpretation where the division comes in[3]. For the most part, Christians agree on their facts.

Facts are claims or ideals corresponding objectively with something that has existed in reality, independent from one’s interpretation or a point of view. For example, I point to a stone on the ground and say that is a stone. Of course, if it was a banana it would not be a stone. Facts also must be identifiable by the right word or label to be understood. However, a fact can be qualified and interpreted by one’s world view or ideology, e.g. the resurrection is a fact of history for the Christian, but not for the atheist. Now, the atheist might believe that Jesus lived and died, but deny that he was resurrected because he does not believe in the supernatural. This would lead us to say that some aspects of a fact can be questioned while accepting others. This rejection or acceptance can be based on one’s point of view.

A good example of the power of viewpoint is a person walking into an empty room without any furniture and saying the room is empty. Yes, from a pragmatic point of view it is empty however, from a scientific point of view it is filled with air and atoms. The reason that the person said it was empty was that he was dependent on his sense of sight. If he was asked the question if there was air in the room he would take a deep breath and reply yes. If the individual was blind, he would have to depend on his sense of touch to determine whether there was anything in the room and it would take an extreme amount of time to make a judgment. However even after the judgment was made, he would have to admit that he did not know for sure because during the time it took him to touch and feel everything in the room someone or something could’ve entered the room, e.g. an insect.

The question arises then what point of view could be called the truth? The one based on sight, the one based on science or mathematical probability, the one based on personal experience (inhaling the air in the room) or touch? It would be an interesting exercise to figure out which of the forms of knowledge would best reflect the human condition and best serve that condition.

Another question that might be asked is, what would the effects of a presupposition about existence have on the person walking into the room?  How would a presupposition affect their vision of what’s in the room? Is seeing believing or do you have to believe to see? Would you ever find something microscopic without being told that something was present? Because of this, what worldview or viewpoint would be more open to that infinitely small and infinitely big, materialism or theism?

[1] Atheist are as divided in their opinions about many things as the religious note John Gray’s book “Seven Types of Atheist”.

[2] The Apostles Creed is based on twelve statements that Christians believe are facts.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

[3] Two examples of this is science and philosophy.