Nearly ten years after Richard Dawkins said that "a serious historical case" can be made that Jesus "never lived" (even if he admits that his existence is probable), it is astonishing to me that some atheists still agree with him. New Atheists should accept the academic reality that the vast majority of specialists in secular universities throughout the world consider it beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus lived, taught, gained a reputation as a healer, was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and was soon heralded by his followers as the resurrected Messiah.Unless skeptics can begin their arguments from this academic baseline, they are the mirror image of the religious fundamentalists they despise—unwilling to accept the scholarly mainstream over their metaphysical commitments.
Before beginning, though, I want to point out that these tips don't necessarily concern atheists in general. Obviously, there are vast and varied beliefs among atheists.
But the advice here applies to some of the most common beliefs I've encountered.
I don't just mean that anyone who dips into Christian history will discover that the violence of Christendom is dwarfed by the bloodshed of non-religious and irreligious conflicts.
I mean that those who find themselves, or their loved ones, in genuine need in almost any country in the Western world are very, very likely to become the beneficiaries of direct and indirect Christian compassion.
It is not enough to quip that "intellectual" and "church" are oxymoronic.
Origen, Augustine, Philoponus, Aquinas, and the rest are giants of Western thought.Moving from science and philosophy to sociology, I regard New Atheism's "religion poisons everything" argument as perhaps its greatest faux pas.Not just because it is obviously untrue but because anyone who has entertained the idea and then bumped into an actual Christian community will quickly wonder what other fabrications Hitchens and Dawkins have spun.But mainstream Christianity for decades has dismissed Six-Day Creationism as a misguided (if well-intentioned) project.Most Christian theologians and seminaries have taught for years that Genesis 1 was never intended to be read concretely, let alone scientifically.But in the interests of a more robust debate, I want to offer my tips for atheists wanting to make a dent in the Faith.