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Old 1st March 2017, 11:52 PM
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Default Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

I know this is a strange question to ask of atheists in an atheist forum, but I would like some advice on whether it would help my discussions with Christians if I were to study some of their books to better understand their beliefs.

Please bear in mind that I have had virtually no Christian upbringing at all, unlike most other atheists. My family simply wasn't interested in religion. I don't think that I could stomach reading C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Billy Graham etc, rather I would be interested in what they (Christians) believe in each of the major denominations. I suppose I could just Google it, but I would rather get your opinions because of your broader experience and knowledge.

Are there any such resources that you could recommend or am I barking up the wrong tree?
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Old 2nd March 2017, 12:52 AM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

I hear The Bible is fairly well regarded in certain circles.

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Old 2nd March 2017, 04:26 AM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

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SEG said View Post
I know this is a strange question to ask of atheists in an atheist forum, but I would like some advice on whether it would help my discussions with Christians if I were to study some of their books to better understand their beliefs.
Not nearly as much as understanding classes of argument, because they all reduce to basic arguments and, once you can spot the underlying hierarchy, finding a rebuttal even to an argument you've never encountered before becomes a fairly trivial matter.

I watched a video a couple of days ago that you might find useful. I don't agree with everything Matt says here, but the broad classes of arguments are fairly useful, even if I'd categorise some of them differently.

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Old 2nd March 2017, 07:49 AM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

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Not nearly as much as understanding classes of argument, because they all reduce to basic arguments and, once you can spot the underlying hierarchy, finding a rebuttal even to an argument you've never encountered before becomes a fairly trivial matter.

I watched a video a couple of days ago that you might find useful. I don't agree with everything Matt says here, but the broad classes of arguments are fairly useful, even if I'd categorise some of them differently.

Thanks Hack, I'll have a listen to that later on. The reason I ask is that I'm talking to Christians on another forum and I seem to be missing the mark pretty regularly on what most consider literal vs allegorical interpretations.

I've never read any Christian books beyond the Bible and as you know their belief systems are really diverse. I know there are over 35,000 denominations of 'em, but I would like to know what the majority believe if that is reasonable?

I don't want to immerse myself into CS Lewis or Max Lucado books, but I would like a better understanding of what they are preaching to Christians.
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Old 2nd March 2017, 08:08 AM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

If it's purely about literal versus allegorical, then you needn't go any further than ask them what their metric is for determining that. You'll find that, at bottom, the horse they rode in on looks like this:

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Old 2nd March 2017, 02:59 PM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

Just read the Old testament,,,
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Old 2nd March 2017, 03:22 PM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

The Sceptics Annotated Bible is an excellent reference:-

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/

However, given the cherry-picking, lack of knowledge about what the bibble actually says, or vastly diverse opinions about what believers believe the bible means, you have to ask individuals what they believe.

With something like 40,000 sects of Christianity, the beliefs, dogma, morals, etc of individual members can vary quite a bit, often over minute trivia.

The general mental processes of the religious go something like this.

They believe X, so they will look for "evidence" that X exists, and probably ignore, disbelieve or deny any contrary evidence. Evidence can be cherry-picking from the Holey Wibble, wot some preacher said, some hallucination [personal revelation] or whatever. Or asking "why" questions, which most people with brains don't ask.
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Old 2nd March 2017, 03:37 PM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

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Just read the Old testament,,,
Yes and the NT gets even worse because of the introduction of Hell, infinite punishment for finite crimes and thought crimes.
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Old 2nd March 2017, 03:53 PM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

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Yes and the NT gets even worse because of the introduction of Hell, infinite punishment for finite crimes and thought crimes.
Thought crimes are the very worstist to the religious mind, bekause free will!

This leads to absurd and sick notions of pastoral care. Torture until the victim recants their sins, then kill them quickly to save their souls. Of course, modern practice in most parts of the world is more subtle, but that is the idea of spreading god's "love".

Exactly the same mental processes are involved when some god-botherer is against an abortion for a 12 year old pregnant rape victim. Here the soul is important [two souls actually], not the suffering or danger to child and fetus. The same moral "reasoning" can make it rational, even an act of "love" to kill a doctor who does abortions. Not only to save the souls of the unborn, but the abortion-er. They weigh the balance of an [imagined] infinite life in heaven [or hell] and find the mortal years of life almost irrelevant, or at least insignificant, compared to the gravity of an afterlife. Pascal's Wager really. Fallacious reasoning with assumed "truths".
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Old 2nd March 2017, 05:05 PM
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Default Re: Any Recommendations of Christian Books?

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With something like 40,000 sects of Christianity, the beliefs, dogma, morals, etc of individual members can vary quite a bit, often over minute trivia.
Yes, this squabbling can go between two members down to the level of their local church and thus as you say can be an individual belief.

I'll start from the beginning, which I should have stated in the OT. This is where am being accused of being ignorant of Christian beliefs from a fellow (ex-christian) atheist in the USA:

I read someone's on a debate page on Conservapedia http://www.conservapedia.com/Debate:...not_lift_it%3F

that said:
Quote:
...it says in Genesis it took him six days to create the universe. A perfect, all-powerful god would have created it instantly. And some say that maybe he took his time, etc. That doesn't work either, because if he was perfect, everything he did would be as efficient as possible, and that would mean instantly. And, on top of that, he had to rest from the effort. Now, granted, creating a universe in only six days, and only resting for one is still pretty impressive, but that doesn't mean omnipotence.- Bob Sanchez
I have always thought that way myself. Apparently according to the ex-christian atheist that argument is countered easily by Christians who believe that six days and resting is only figurative and is God's way of setting the working week. He didn't literally rest or didn't literally need to rest; instead, God is telling us that balancing work with rest is important," or something like that.

In other words according to my atheist friend, the Christians that believe he took those six days -- either figuratively or literally -- to make a symbolic point.

I didn't know about this "symbolic point" that most Christians would know, so (according to the ex-christian atheist) I am ignorant on what core values Christians believe and should go and read up on some recommended Christian literature so that I can understand where they are coming from and thus make my arguments stronger.

Rather than read these type of books, I would rather get a summary of them just so I can second guess and understand their beliefs better. I was hoping that there was an online resource I could go to that wouldn't try and convert me into Christianity.

Alternatively I could just take everything in the Bible as being literal unless I know that they believe the passages are only figurative. As you say, ask individuals what they believe beforehand and as Hack said, ask them what their metric is for determining that.

Yeah, I think I will stick to try being rational, it's a lot easier!
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