One of the positive things about discussions with atheists is that most of them insist on rational discussion. They say they want to discuss things reasonably. It’s disappointing therefore when the conversations sometimes end up with atheists descending to profanity, emotional rants, ad hominem attacks and blasphemy. Nevermind. Some Catholics are fond of irrational rants too.
If we leave the irrational ranters from both sides out of the discussion, it is important for atheists to understand the religion with which they are disagreeing. No doubt many of the new atheists have had negative experiences of Christianity. It could be that their only encounter with Christians has been with noisy and ignorant fundamentalists, schmaltzy emotionalist Evangelicals, hard bitten reactionary Catholics or hypocritical and indifferent Christians. The impression they have received about Christianity would, understandably, have been negative and easy to attack. Furthermore, they may well have been brought up by such people and felt betrayed and hurt and conned by such Christians.
In addition to these negative examples and experiences of Christianity, Americans–for all their claiming to be ‘a Christian culture’–are incredibly ignorant about basic, historical, classical Christianity. Read more.