Agnostic.com

Can an atheist be a proud Secular Christian?

By Admin 2 years ago

Thomas Jefferson had an interesting hobby. In his spare time, he would use a razor to cut out the things in the bible that were said to be spoken by Jesus and didn't contain religious hocus pocus. He called it "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" or what's now called the "Jeffersonian Bible". As Jefferson was a strong advocate for the separation of the Church and State, he was interested in what could be consider common ground between believers and non-believers like himself. Jefferson saw value in the teaching and wrote, "A more beautiful or precious morsel of ethics I have never seen; it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."

For me, as someone who grew up in a devote Christian household, I spent a decade hearing stories and parables attributed to Jesus. When I later left the faith, I was often hostile to religion for the wrongs I perceived it did on me and on millions throughout history. However, as I've grown older and especially in recent years, I am more aware that I did benefit from the experience especially in how to treat those who disagree with me or could be consider enemies. The concepts of "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", and "take care of others outside your tribe (good Samaritan)", while obviously not exclusive to Christianity, were taught to me in a Christian context. The phrase "Be like Jesus" or "What would Jesus do?" are shorthand reminders for me to try to be a better person... and something that to be proud of.

What do you think?

Can an atheist be a proud Secular Christian?

  • 11 votes
  • 21 votes
  • 3 votes
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website or its members.

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33 comments

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6

I say absolutely one can be atheist, secular and still follow the basic principals found in the teachings of Jesus, thus considering themselves a Christian. More fundamental Chrstians would certainly disagree due to their belief in a Supernatural God and the designation of Jesus having been his son, but for those who do not believe in a deity, it fits together quite logically. I have read the Jefferson Bible and found it to be a relevant piece of work in encouraging that there is no need for a God in order to be a 'good human'. Whether or not Jesus actually existed, the teachings abscribed to him are rather unarguably a good set of precepts to follow if one seeks to be a kind, compassionate, forgiving human that has a positive and mindful impact on his fellow earth dwellars. One can simply view him among many wise teachers that came before our time and provided a guide to what is now more along the lines of a humanistic view on life, once all the dogma inherent in a belief in a God is removed. Simply because we have morphed those teachings into the supernatural and diety driven force of moralism that we now see in most religions, doesn't necessarily make the wisdom itself irrelevant.

6

I learned a lot more about being moral from seeing what the adults around me did for others - regardless of religious affiliations - than what I ever saw/heard in a church.

Frankly I think we can find far better ways of 'being' in present times without believing in the make believe (we have no proof Jesus actually existed and wasn't actually an amalgam of prior gods).

[thesatanictemple.com]

TST has some lovely tenets without being religious in the least (they're an atheist organization):
(BTW - These tenets require zero magical thinking - and not a lot of memorization to figure out what might lead to a better life for everyone).

There are The Seven
FUNDAMENTAL TENETS

I One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason

II The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

III Oneโ€™s body is inviolable, subject to oneโ€™s own will alone.

IV The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one's own.

V Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.

VI People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one's best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.

VII Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

It's good to have rules and tools to help one be the best version of themselves. Good comment ๐Ÿ™‚

6

Secular is defined as values which are without any religious basis. Calling someone a secular Christian is like calling someone an ethical bank robber.

The universal value of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is present in almost every known religion. I still remember and Episcopal friend of mine that we helped clean up her yard after a bad ice storm telling everyone that Kenneth and I were the best christians she had ever known and she knew I was an atheist. She meant it as a compliment but you cannot be a secular Christian. You can be and ethical atheist though.

Interesting comment! If someone did 50 things that required a good set of ethics and then robbed a bank, are they then an unethical person? Or would they be mostly-ethical? It is obviously easier to be proud of someone who has a perfect ethical score... but is that too high of a standard? If you have kids who are good 95% of the time, can you still be proud of them?

@Admin Ethical person that robs a bank is just a bank robber which is not an ethical act.

Children that are good 95% of the time are miracles. Regardless of the percentage blood is thicker than water and almost all children are basically good.

@TheMiddleWay
I think you're playing word games here and I think you know it. You're not a bank robber if you work for the bank testing security and don't steal anything (or intend to steal anything).

@Admin
Let's pretend her analogy was 'ethical serial rapist'. She probably didn't feel the need to go that dark, but it seems to solidify her point. I personally don't think there are any number of 'good deeds' one can do to mitigate that.

@Lorajay
Almost all children are just like almost all other types of people: basically bad. Have you seen how they behave to each other? And that's when they have to power, no needs they have to meet on their own, and generally no stressors. It is because of that, that I can completely agree that children who behave 95% of the time would be a reason to believe in miracles. ๐Ÿ˜

@TheMiddleWay
Wikipedia disagrees with you.

@TheMiddleWay Ethical hacking may be a thing, no one said it wasn't. But I think her point was that robbing banks is not ethical. And "ethical bank robbing" isn't robbing a bank any more than killing someone in virtual reality is murder. You're adding a word to it which necessarily changes what the thing is. If I add 'vegan' in front of 'cheeseburgers' we're no longer talking about the same thing we were before.

@TheMiddleWay So then he's not a bank robber he's an ethical-bank-robber. We are having major communication issues this evening. Look at what you said in your reply.

Yes, I am adding a word that necessarily changes the whole thing

and

Hence adding ethical in front of bank-robbing modifies bank robbing

Does it modify it, or does it necessarily change the whole thing? 'Cold' modifies soda, 'empty' completely changes it.

@TheMiddleWay
Nope. There must have been an update today because the reply button swirls now. @Admin aware of the quote box glitch?
Also, I missed the magazine thing. How does that all work? Do you have to submit something to be an article?
And is there a list that shows how to make all the text styles like bold and strike through?

How about it @FearlessFly @Fernapple? Can you figure this out for us?

@JeffMurray . . . until it was mentioned, I had been oblivious to the existence of the quote button ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
I haven't noticed anything odd about 'Reply'.
I have 'reported' "Report" not apparently working, and that I'm not getting expected alerts.

@FearlessFly Thank you for that info.

Any thoughts on calling someone a bank robber when their job is ethical-bank-robber?

@TheMiddleWay Those are not real bank robbers or real hackers.

@JeffMurray I would call them a 'pen tester'

@TheMiddleWay, @JeffMurray I Disagree that most children are bad or that most people are.
I think nvironment and socialization often creates so called bad actions in children. I had 2 children and I watched them navigate through their environment and the people they were exposed to. Yes I probably had an excuse for each of their bad actions but I still think that people are intrinsically good when given the opportunity.

@TheMiddleWay But the intent and actions aren't the same. The intent of a bank robber is to steal money, the intent of the ethical version is to test security to defend against theft. The actions of a bank robber are to remove money, most often at the threat of harm or death, and keep that money as a source of income. The actions of the ethical version probably involve some similar characteristics, but without the permanent removal of funds for personal gain.

@Lorajay
A lot of people disagree with me on that, so I'm not surprised. I believe all people (including children) are intrinsically bad. People are selfish and greedy, and need only the right motivation and opportunity to reveal it. The more advantageous the bad act is and/or the less risk involved, the more likely any given person will take advantage. The "less badness" of a person is judged (by me) by how great the advantages and low the risk has to be before it motivates a bad act.

@TheMiddleWay NO YOU DIDN'T!! I'm not disagreeing just to disagree. You just said:
.
.
.
.

the actions are the same, but the intent is different.

6

I think if you had non-Christian parents they would have found other stories and phrases to instill the same values that you have now, you know, like the billions of families that aren't Christian that find a way to do it anyway. The idea that the Bible is a way of teaching morals and ethics or how to treat other people can only be assumed by a cursory reading of the book. Which explains why most Christians use it as such.

And maybe more importantly, the parents used their own moral compass to decide what in the Bible was something they should teach while likely leaving out all that inconvenient shit about killing your children or selling them into sexual slavery.

5

I had an online friend who called himself a "Christian atheist." He explained that while he did not believe in a deity, he followed Christian moral codes. Other atheists ridiculed him. I was pagan at the time, but I knew what he meant.

However, Xtianity does not have a monopoly on moral codes. Religious codes grew out of secular social mores and standards, i.e. the Hammurabi Code is a set of laws, not religious edicts. Unless one is a sociopath and born without empathy, having ethics is following one's empathetic leanings and the laws of the land are enough (not that all laws are ethical).

One might as well be a Secular Buddhist--it serves the same purpose.

I am a pagan atheist. I do not believe in a deity, but there are aspects of paganism that still appeal to me.

5

Since there are so many different forms of Christianity, it is a virtually meaningless term and can therefore be anything you want it to be. So that if someone, like everyone else, wanted to cherry pick out the bits they like and then call that Christianity, then they are no different from anyone else, and are perfectly entitled to call themselves a Christian if they wish. Personally if they believed in "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", and "take care of others outside your tribe (good Samaritan) " I would probably call them simply a, good person instead, because I think that they are better than that religion. Or even better than Jesus who if we take the New Testament as half true, also said some really horrible things.

4

No, there is no such thing as a secular xian.
Firstly, you don't need the (supposed) words of jesus to be a moral person.
Secondly, when you do that (taking passages that you like) you're simply doing the same thing as the scamgelicals- picking-and-choosing what sayings suit youy.
Thirdly, according to paul, you have to believe in the resurrection to be a xian.
Fourthly, to be a xian, you have to accept the old testament. Do you really want to do that?

4

The person in question would have to remain ignorant of the preceding 2,500 years or so of recorded history. He or she could just as easily be a proud Confucianist or Taoist or Hammurabist or Hindi or Zoroastrian as all or most of the doctrines attributed to Jesus were already codified in older texts and/or passed down through oral traditions. I suspect that most proud Christians are ignorant of the history of the ideas they believe originated with Jesus. In the end, being a proud any kind of Christian looks like little more than brand loyalty - like being a proud Tide laundry detergent user vs. a proud Cheer laundry detergent user

4

A Christian is atheist about the other 4,999 or so gods that are floating around.

3

Can a Turkey proudly celebrate Thanksgiving?

3

I voted yes.. The way Jefferson did this with the bible is very interesting...

3

I have voted no...because the morality and the examples shown by Jesus Christ did not originate with him, he in fact adopted an empathy and morality towards others that was already inherent in humans. It is an admirable philosophy of philanthropy and compassion, and an ethos of caring for others than I wish more people, whether Christian or not, would adopt, but it did not originate with him. Unfortunately, it is impossible to single out the teachings of Christ and leave the rest of the baggage being a Christian comes with, and for that reason I cannot agree with the premise that itโ€™s possible to be both an atheist and a secular Christian.

Is it possible to admire any teaching of any religion that has a spiritual component? My guess that the cultures that were precursors to the "common sense" teachings of "Jesus" also used it in a spiritual capacity. You do make a good point ๐Ÿ™‚

2

I vote no, Christianity is nothing but lies.

Secur Level 5 Nov 22, 2020

King David existed. And there is some truth about eating from the tree of knowledge. Enslaved Jews in Egypt outside the bible? Romans putting a hit on Jesus (never mentioned in one record ever and they recorded everything). I think the jeebus thing would have made it into some other work somewhere...

@TheGreatShadow Rave on Avon, the entire Goat-herders Guide to the Galaxy has absolute NO foundation/s in historical factuality what- so-ever.

@TheGreatShadow : Please expand on this supposed truth about the tree of knowledge.

2

They may not use that label, but I think most of the people on this site fit that category: Having ditched the theological/โ€œgodโ€ part of Christianity, they still often uncritically embrace the moral/ethical ideas for which the Jesus character is the front man.

2

Morals have nothing to do with Christianity. There are many different reasons, some choose religions, others karma or energies, and there are still other ideas that demonstrate or explain our need for morality. Pick whichever you choose as long as you pick something to motivate your morals!

1

That's why I use "spiritual not religious". I get crap for saying that, but whatever. I am an electronics nut. Energy can only be converted, not created or destroyed. So to me god is electricity. We know it exists. We can't see it either. The only reason why we know it does is because of the after effects of something else. So I guess both are believeing in something you can't see?

Good write up! Also was it cut with razors? Did they exist at the time? We do know he wrote that book, that's not my point, I'm just curious.

1

Please use another photo other then this demented creep. It's surreal and offensive.

1

It doesn't work that way.... Jefferson was a believer he just didn't think of Jesus as the son of a god his beliefs were more in line with Muslims who speak of that imaginary being as a Prophet instead.

1

Click bait

1

An atheist can not be a proud secular Christian as these are mutually exclusive. One can try to be a good person (be a good Christian in the colloquial sense) but that is a cultural nuance. Just because a particular belief system claims to have moral standards does not make the standards moral nor does it make a particular belief system the origin of morality.

I understand the cultural equivocation but that cultural equivocation is not objective.

Just another note. President Jefferson did believe in the separation of state and government as he put it.
His idea was almost the opposite of what it is understood to be today. He believed that government should not interfere with religion. He never said that religion should be banned IN the government. I am however very glad that we have it wrong!

In this video I go into further detail about the subject.

Love the shirt. Should 45 prevail then I would, again and more forcefully, advance the idea that the remaining 3 years of AntiChrist rule has begun. Those Jews who follow Christianity will allow non-Jesus Jews to be shot in order to bring the prophecy into reality. Only the converts will be left.

1

Any atheist called Christian ?

Do they call him "Chris"?

@Admin Maybe.

@Admin As they do Kris Kringle?

1

I heard that Hitler was a stickler for dining etiquette and table manners, so since many learned those habits in that context, I suppose we should call them polite or dignified Nazis.

You can use shorthand like this, but you're going to waste more time on all the invited questions than it's worth.

Well, if table manners wasn't a popular thing until HitXXX promoted it, those of us who think good table manners is common place, might have to... ugh... never mind. Ha!

@Admin I know you're just kidding, but to be fair, the article kinda stated the opposite of that.

The concepts of "love your enemies", "turn the other cheek", and "take care of others outside your tribe (good Samaritan)", while obviously not exclusive to Christianity, were taught to me in a Christian context.

So even if table manners were common place, the Hitler youth that learned them in that context...

I was mostly joking, but kinda making a little bit of a point.

@Admin Oh, and is the quote box bug fix in the works?

0

Give up on being a Christian and move on.

Toni Level 4 Dec 28, 2020
0

Why, in the name of all things logical and reasoning, would they wish to be so since We have shed the shackles of religion, thrown of the chains, etc, of superstition and embraced with open arms all things REAL and True?

0

Two out of three ainโ€™t bad.

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