You’re a smart person, you stand up for secular values, you contribute to society in meaningful ways, you like gay people, you believe in climate change, etc. And you’re a Christian. But in your unique stance — balancing somewhere between faith and reason — are you being true to yourself and is your way of seeing the world helping to reduce the suffering of others? Maybe not…here are ten signs you might be a moderate Christian, the problems that come along with being moderately religious, and what you can do about it.
- You “believe in” evolution, but feel like God must have played in role in it.
The problem: If you really understood evolution, you’d be unable to honestly hold this belief. Science and religion don’t mix. Evolution contradicts the Biblical account of creation. If you believe in evolution, then you are saying that you don’t believe the Bible’s account of creation. If the Bible was wrong about this, how do you know that it wasn’t wrong about everything, including the existence of God?
- You refuse to criticize Christian fundamentalists.
The problem: In effect you’re supporting the fundamentalists, giving cover to them by validating the idea that one should believe something without a good reason. You don’t speak up when fundamentalists go too far, masking your silence under the guise of tolerance.
- You believe fundamentalists are a minority and that they hold no real power.
The problem: By now we all know this isn’t true: http://www.thedailydolt.com/2012/10/05/tea-party-rep-paul-broun-evolution-and-big-bang-are-lies-straight-from-the-pit-of-hell-why-yes-he-serves-on-the-house-science-committee-with-todd-akin/
- You believe churches and other religious organizations that give back to society shouldn’t be taxed.
The problem: When those institutions want to use their influence over their members to affect how those people vote, they are no longer simply religious institutions, they are political ones, and therefore should be subject to the same rules as any other political organization. If they do in fact give back to society, they should apply for tax-exempt status like every other tax-exempt organization.
- You believe faith is a virtue.
The problem: Faith-based thinking closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality, ethics, and the building of strong communities.
- You do not want anyone to kill anyone in the name of God, but you want us to keep using the word “God” as though we knew what we were talking about.
The problem: People who think they know what they’re talking about kill people in the name of God.
- You prefer to relax your standards of adherence to ancient superstitions and taboos while otherwise maintaining a belief system that was passed down from generation upon generation.
The problem: Your belief system was passed down by men and women whose lives were simply ravaged by their basic ignorance about the world.
- You don’t think homosexuality is wrong and evil like your church says it is.
The problem: The Bible doesn’t like gay people, and is crystal clear about it (you can Google it, or, just read the Bible). Making up your own version of the Bible makes you actually less rational than the fundamentalists who live by it word-for-word. Your beliefs, in contrast, are based on nothing in particular—not scriptural knowledge nor empirical evidence. By failing to live by the letter of the texts—while tolerating the irrationality of those who do—you are betraying faith and reason equally.
- You live your life with an emphasis on feeling good rather than thinking critically.
The problem: This is the same type of thinking we see in climate change denialists. Thinking critically is a long term investment in feeling good.
- You accept secular values.
The problem: You attribute your morality to the Christian God of Abraham without even the most basic understanding of the scriptures that describe such a God. You’re deeply confused about the history of your own faith and the science regarding the natural emergence of morality.
So what can you do about it? The first step is to really study the Bible and understand the scope and context of what you’re reading and supposedly basing your life on. Then, admit to yourself that you need to take a hard look at your beliefs and either come to terms with the fact they’re not compatible with Christianity or join the fundamentalist Christians and stand up for everything the Bible represents. But choose quickly! You can’t have it both ways and be taken seriously for much longer. The rest of us are on to you.
“Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and religious ignorance.” – Sam Harris