I know your latest comments were in response to Serephino's post, but I hope it's okay for me to respond to some of your general points, as part of the larger discussion in this thread. I wouldn't want to try to speak for Serephino, of course. Also, full disclosure: I am a Christian, as some people may know from posts I've made elsewhere.
I was raised Catholic and I believed. But it occurred to me that my feelings were very me centric. How could it be that I was right and all those ancient Greeks, ancient Romans, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, ect. were so wrong? It would be arrogant for me to think they were any less convinced of their own 'rightness'. How could we all be so sure and yet someone had to be wrong?
It doesn't seem fair at all, does it? Yet that is exactly what Christianity claims, and that claim is so arrogant and unfair as to be downright offensive, I think. I think it ought to upset you and ought to upset everyone else, too ... including all Christians, even after they become Christians.
For me, it seemed most likely we were all equally wrong.
Doesn't it sound too good to be true that there is an all powerful, all knowing god who knows you personally and loves you unconditionally?
I just want to point out that, as everyone knows, just because a view seems more likely or more appealing does not necessarily make it a correct view.
But I can not just trust my feelings. I need proof.
I believe that both feelings and rational evidence -- proof -- point any sensible person away from Christianity, not towards it. I also believe Christianity is true, in spite of those things.
What makes you so special compared to every other being on the planet? Did he love Hitler just as unconditionally? Does that really make his love for you special?
Aargh! This is such a sensible and thoughtful response to certain Christian teachings. However, I want to point out (you may know this already, MM, I don't know) that Christianity teaches that all people are basically equal, and from God's perspective, none of us are any better or worse than Hitler, and no more or less deserving of either favorable or unfavorable treatment. I believe that personally, although I suppose it does sound rather extreme and somewhat unreasonable.
But didn't you just question their basic honesty and/or intellectual capacity in that paragraph, if we get right down to it?
Okay, I'll concede that point ... sort of. :)
I do not hesitate to point out shortcomings and express criticism of religious people. Partly that's because I am one myself, and I don't exclude myself from the criticisms I express. I basically have all the same shortcomings as other religious people, and I strive to minimize those shortcomings, sometimes with more or less success -- just as they do.
Being far less rational is certainly an intellectual deficiency, if one that can be remedied and we all share from time to time. In a way it's a form of dishonesty too, if more of the lying to yourself variety than lying to others. Of course we all do it from time to time, which makes it all the more important that we try to be aware of the pitfalls of human psychology and refine our rational arts to keep good epistemic hygiene.
I see here that you also are charitable enough and sensible enough to acknowledge that you have shortcomings. Very good, then we're all together on that. :)
I understand that people don't like to hear that they may be mistaken. I am no exception. But I don't see how it would be disrespectful to point out that someone's behavior doesn't match their words in any context, unless there's something else going on.
I think it's one thing for a member of a group to criticize it from within, especially if one includes oneself in the charges one raises. I think it's a very different thing for a person to make harsh, sweeping criticisms of all the members of a gigantic group that one does not consider oneself to be any part of. In your previous post, you levelled accusations at religious people en masse that were tantamount to calling them bald-faced liars and hypocrites. I think that's disrespectful, and no one else pointed that out, so I felt compelled to do so. (Incidentally, I would consider it just as disrespectful for anyone to call into question the sincerity or intelligence of most atheists or agnostics.)
Is your opinion just as low of religious people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, all the Popes throughout history, all the Christian martyrs, and almost all the American Presidents, not to mention the Dalai Lama and Gandhi? Do you think all those people didn't really believe the things they said they did? What about all the religious people you know personally -- do you consider most of them to be insincere and hypocritical? Perhaps you do, and if so, it pains me to think of what misbehavior from religious people towards you brought you to such a low opinion of them (and of me, by my association with them).
I hope your opinion isn't as negative as it sounded to me. On the other hand, if that is your view, you have every right to it; and though I consider it to be a surprising and disrespectful view for anyone to have about any huge group of people, I also have a certain sympathy for it, considering how well-acquainted I am with so many disreputable and unlikable religious people. And again, if I have misinterpreted or misrepresented your previous remarks, I apologize, and I would appreciate your helping me to understand your viewpoint better.