…do I really believe that Jesus was really bodily resurrected, in contrast to everything we have observed, and everything we know and understand about human physiology and the decay that happens even shortly after death?
Let me give you a wholly unsatisfactory answer: probably not.
There you have it, he believes that the balance of the evidence leans against the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That being said, I’m a big believer in vox populi, vox Dei (“he voice of the people is the voice of God”). As an atheist I don’t believe in “God’s Book” where all truths are inscribed, and I don’t believe in one definition for Christianity. More power to people like Rob who would make the world a better place for the likes of I. Rob may label himself a Christian, and so slot into the same general category as Jerry Falwell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if cognitively on most characters Rob and I have more in common than we do with Falwell, despite the nominal differences between us.
That being said, there is one issue I would like to moot, and that is that I believe at the end of the day many moderate and liberal Christians of less reflective bent are less charitable to atheists than they should be. The recent poll that suggested that atheists are America’s most distrusted minority tells me that antipathy toward the likes of I runs deeper than just amongst fundamentalist Christians. Some latitudinarian Christials, like the great John Locke, singled out atheists as one group that did not merit respect or toleration. In the new pluralist dispensation some religionists seem willing to accept all doxies accept the one of nullification.
In a previous post I said that:
1) There are things people say they believe
2) There are things people really believe
3) Things that people do
If I had three categories, liberal Christian, conservative Christian and unbeliever, I think that the two Christian groups would match in #1 & #2, while the liberal Christian and unbeliever would match in #3. My last contention is drawn from The Future of Religion, where Rodney Stark and William Bainbridge show that conservative Christians are the behavorial outgroup (eg., they watch different movies from the rest of the population). Cognitive science of religion tells me that #2 is probably true, that most religious people, no matter their flavor of belief, tend to intuitively accept the plausibility of the same supernatural entity and are drawn to similar conjectures about the world around us. As for #1, even mainline Christians accept some basics of creed. One reason the Unitarian-Universalist Association is not allowed to be a member of the liberal National Council of Churches is that UUs do not acede to the Nicene Creed. Operationally of course many liberal Christians seem to have creedal doubts, but by adhering to a Christian denomination they tacitly support at least the outward forms of orthodoxy.
My point here is that sometimes I suspect we atheists feel toward liberal and moderate Christians how some radical lesbian feminists feel toward heterosexual feminists: why are you sleeping with the enemy??? The saying is that “feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice,” well, I suspect that many unbelievers can not understand why theists of broad plural modern convinctions give lip service to a faith of ancient, no, primitive, origin. I think the answer is the same as why heterosexual feminists remain heterosexual: people are biased in particular directions because of their cognitive architecture and socialization. And importantly, sexual orientation doesn’t really matter as long as people have free choice in the matter and treat others with courtesy, gentility and respect, and belief in a supernatural agent in the most attenuated reading is a matter of personal preference that does not necessarily speak to other aspects of someone’s character. Religion is natural, and I think atheists need to simply get used to it and try and rearrange the world to our benefit. People like Rob are a Good Thing, and though we’ll always have our disagreemants both unbelievers and liberal believers need to forge an alliance against the fury of the fundamentalists while acknowledging that deep seated differences of opinion about the world do separate us.