The Christian Delusion - Why Faith Fails, by John Loftus: Chapter 1.
This should be fun. Apparently John Loftus is being honored as a great atheist philosopher, and he has assembled a book of great atheist writings that purport to show the failings of Christianity. To be fair, each chapter tries to cover a lot of ground, making sweeping generalizations and oversimplifications necessary. So I will acknowledge this before beginning my critique ...
"Christianity, like any religion, is a Culture." - The Cultures of Christianity, by David Eller, Ph.D.
Smirk! This is the first major premise. The next is that there are numerous culturally or organizationally distinct cultures of Christianity. The unspoken conclusion is that at most, only one of these can be true Christianities, and it is just simpler to assume none.
The first premise is, however, a disaster area as far as evidence and logic is concerned. Culture is driven by history, geography, ethnicity, natural resources, economics, proximity to other cultures, and countless other non-religious factors. Comparing an Arab Bedouin to a Malay, we can find Muslims among them both, yet their cultures are drastically different. Both are required to avoid pork by Islam and participate in Ramadan, as well as perform Islamic prayers. Religion is related to culture a bit like a boat in water. The boat will make waves in the culture, but "boat is water" and "religion is culture" are equally illogical statements.
Taking things the other way, Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It was multicultural from the start as the Grecian and Jewish Christians worked things out, followed immediately afterward by Greek and Latin Christians, yet the commonality of the relationship is with Jesus Christ. As we look at the large number of Christian "sects", it is quite clear that the cultural differences are a key factor in the multiplication of organizations, yet at the same time the underlying church still remains unified on the basis of Jesus. Other religions have their own premises, with Islam having major cultural mandates, thus, they really need to be treated independently rather than trying to treat all religion as alike.
The section on the spread of Christianity to other cultures suffers primarily because it doesn't distinguish between colonialism and proselytizing. The attempt to digest 2,000 years of missionary work into two pages is hopeless. But what of atheism itself when put under the lens of anthropology? We will find that atheist communities only exist either in Christian communities or post-Christian communities. Without getting into the details, it seems that atheism is a Christian sect. Perhaps something to explore more later ...
Dr. Eller also includes this statement: "... evidence and logic - the atheist's stock in trade". My own sense is that on a practical level, atheists are neither more nor less capable of "evidence and logic" than Christians. On an abstract level, however, Evidence and Logic take on a mythical character. In reality, Evidence is very hard to obtain and even harder to be certain of, while what is Logic when the questions are intractable? Thus, we have the E&L Myth, which the atheist has mindlessly bought into, and only consists of atheist meta-narratives.