Tuesday, 17 June 2008

If you were born in the Middle East, you'd be a Muslim...

This is one of the questions I find most difficult to answer - and one that was posed to me at Lancaster University CU's Grill-a-Christian panel last night by some members of the Atheist and Agnostic Society (yes, it really does exist!).

I've been mulling over this question a bit today, and found Paul Copan's article here helpful. I quite like this line: 'The same line of reasoning applies to the pluralist himself. If the pluralist grew up in Madagascar or medieval France, he would not have been a pluralist!'

This is a start of an answer. Another would be that just because investigation of Christianity is more easy in 'Christian' countries like Britain doesn't necessarily invalidate its truth. Another would be that Christianity has been accepted as truth across many cultures, geographically and historically diverse.

Anyone else got any further ideas?

On another note, I was reading a review of the Grill-a-Christian by one of the aforementioned atheists / agnostics and I was described as 'clearly intelligent and well read, but very, very lost' - there we go!


gazleaney said...

Ha ha, that's a great description of you. Where's the review?

I think you're right that if something is easy to find out that doesn't invalidate it - in fact, I think this is the most compelling response you mentioned. It's a romantic idea to assume that the easy answer has to be wrong - the biggest changes in history have come about when this has been true. And I suppose this is the natural position for someone who holds a 'radical' view (like Atheism) - everyone else has to be wrong and deluded, otherwise it's you who is. And from that point of view, the fact that large numbers of people believe something actually becomes a negative thing. But as you say, it doesn't necessarily follow that the easy conclusion is wrong.

This is an argument which sounds really good on paper, but I'm not sure it bears much weight when you actually think about it in real terms. Can Britain really be considered a 'Christian' country? Is it your Britishness which has made you a Christian? And if it is, why isn't everyone in Britain a Christian?

peterdray said...

Yeah it was on Facebook!

I think your comments are helpful -it's actually pretty arrogant when you think about it to claim to sit over all religious beliefs as atheists do, merely wanting to reduce them to sociology or anthropology. In fact, both geographically speaking and historically speaking, such a form of atheism would be vastly a minority view.

Thanks for your comments.