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Exposing Myths About Christianity: A Guide to Answering 145 Viral Lies and Legends

   
Jeffrey Burton Russell

“Currently there are two billion Christians—two thousand million—in the world, and the number is growing. At the same time, myths about Christianity are widespread among Chrisians, non-Chrisians and atheists. The result is that it has become difficult to discuss Christianity openly, knowledgeably and fairly. Because Christianity is an important worldwide phenomenon, it needs to be understood and engaged intelligently rather than either defended or attacked on the basis of prejudice or disinformation. This book is a guide to what is true and what is not. It presents what we think we know about Christianity, what really is so, and what is open to question, so that you will be able to choose what to accept or discard. I hope you will find this book relevant as a practical resource for sorting facts from fallacies. It presents a wide range of myths along with their origins and history from early Christianity to the present.”
—“Introduction”

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chronology
CHRISTIANITY IS DYING OUT
1. Christianity is uncool and old-fashioned
2. Christianity is outdated and dying out
3. Christianity is boring
4. Christianity is a fairy tale
5. Christianity is confusing
6. Christianity is a superstition
7. Christianity is a myth
8. Christianity is magic
9. Christianity is antiscientific
CHRISTIANITY IS DESTRUCTIVE
10. Hitler was a Christian
11. The Inquisition executed millions of heretics and witches
12. Christians are intolerant fanatics
13. Religion causes more war and suffering than atheism does
14. Corrupt clergy show that Christians are hypocrites who do more harm than good
15. Christianity supported black slavery
16. Christianity consists of “thou shalt nots”
17. Christianity stunts self-development and personal happiness
18. Christianity is insensitive to other beliefs
19. Christianity is mainly about sin
20. Christianity impedes progress
21. Christianity supports war and the death penalty
22. Christianity favors the rich
23. Christianity is anti-environment
24. Christianity is anti-sex
25. Christianity is anti-choice
26. Christianity is sexist
27. Christianity is homophobic
28. Christianity is antisemitic
29. Christianity is racist
30. Christianity is antidemocratic
31. Christianity is a religion of reward and punishment
32. Christians believe in Christ because they are afraid of death
33. Christians need a crutch
34. Christianity is immoral
35. Christianity warps children
36. The Christian community has repented for its sins against others
37. Kings, popes, and other leaders used Christianity to justify their power
38. Christianity is Eurocentric and colonialist
39. The crusades were imperialist aggression
40. Christian missionaries degraded indigenous cultures
41. The great cathedrals were built with slave labor
42. Christians burned down the Great Library at Alexandria
43. Christianity has nothing to do with law and justice
CHRISTIANITY IS STUPID
44. Bright people don’t believe in God
45. Scientific evidence has shown that there is no God
46. Christians persecuted Galileo for saying that Earth revolves around the sun
47. Christianity differs from atheism in being faith-based
48. Most leading atheists are scientists
49. Medieval Christians believed Earth was flat
50. Christianity represses free thought
51. Christianity is irrational and unreasonable
52. Belief in Christianity is incompatible with science
53. Science did not originate in Christianity
54. The evidence of evolution points away from Christianity
55. Christians are creationists who deny evolution
56. Christians object to evolution on the basis of literal reading of the Bible
57. The legal system and the media understand the relationship of Christianity to evolution
58. There is no evidence for theistic evolution
59. Science is about facts, religion about values
60. There is no evidence in nature for intelligent purpose in the cosmos
61. There is so much Christian art because the church paid for it
62. The Renaissance prevented Christianity from stamping out the classics
JESUS AND THE BIBLE HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE FALSE
63. The original Bible exists
64. Christians worship the Bible
65. Christians take the Bible literally
66. The text of the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) is uncertain
67. The New Testament can be understood without the Old Testament.
68. The Apocrypha are not part of the Bible
69. Modern scholarship debunks the Bible
70. Jesus is _______ (fill in the blank)
71. The Jesus of history is different from the Christ of faith
72. The Apostle Saint Paul invented Christianity
73. The earliest followers of Jesus did not believe him to be divine
74. Early Christians suppressed the true religion of Jesus, and the truth about Christianity is found in secret codes and documents
75. Gnostics are Christians
76. Little or nothing is known about Jesus
77. Jesus was illiterate
78. The New Testament was composed long after the death of Jesus
79. The Gospels contradict one another
80. Christianity is a remodeled pagan mystery cult
81. Christmas is the main Christian holiday
82. Christians believe that the book of Revelation predicts the future
83. The canon of the Bible precedes the creeds
CHRISTIAN BELIEFS HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE WRONG
84. The church changed the Bible to fit its doctrines
85. The creeds are irrelevant to modern Christianity
86. Christians believe that God is found only in church
87. Christians believe in three gods
88. Christians are dualists
89. Christians believe that Jesus is a son of God just as we are all sons and daughters of God
90. The Christian God killed his own son
91. Christianity is about dogma
92. Christianity is about rules and rituals
93. Christianity is based on feelings
94. Fundamentalism is ancient Christian teaching
95. Christians believe in the immortality of the soul
96. Evil doesn’t exist, and the existence of evil disproves Christianity
97. Christians believe in evil
98. Christians believe that everything that happens is God’s will
99. Christians believe in hell
100. Christians believe in the Devil
101. Christians believe in original sin
102. Christians believe in predestination
103. The diversity and number of denominations disprove Christianity
104. Eastern Orthodox Christians are a fringe group
105. Catholics are not Christians
106. Protestants are heretics
107. Orthodox and Catholics worship idols
108. Orthodox and Catholics worship Mary
109. Orthodox and Catholics belittle the Bible
110. The Catholic church discourages reading the Bible
111. The Catholic church is monolithic
112. Purgatory is an early Christian idea
113. Catholics invented the sign of the cross
114. Protestants had no reason to divide the church
115. Protestantism is puritanical
116. Rome’s claim to be central to Christianity is a power play
117. Pentecostals, evangelicals, fundamentalists, and creationists are all the same
118. Christianity has no spiritual tradition as Eastern religions do
119. Christians believe that they eat the body of Jesus
120. Christians believe that Jesus created the world
121. Christianity adopted pagan practices
MIRACLES ARE IMPOSSIBLE
122. Miracles are explained away by science
123. Christianity is false because miracles can’t occur
124. The resurrection of Jesus has been disproved
125. The resurrection of Jesus was a “resurrection experience” rather than a physical resurrection
WORLDVIEWS CAN’T BE EVALUATED
126. Few people believe in God anymore
127. God is the product of structural and chemical arrangements in the brain
128. If there is a God, he has a lot of explaining to do about suffering
129. Atheists oppose Christianity mainly on intellectual grounds
130. Christ couldn’t have had any impact, since things haven’t got better since his time
131. “I don’t know” is the most defensible position
132. Christians believe that Christianity is one of a number of equally valid paths to God
133. What we believe about Jesus and God affects who Jesus and God are
134. Extraterrestrials are more probable than angels
WHAT’S NEW IS TRUE
135. The latest religious theories are the best
136. New Age and Christianity are compatible
137. Reincarnation is compatible with Christianity
138. Christianity leads to wealth
139. The Da Vinci Code is fact-based fiction
140. The real founder of Christianity was Constantine the Great
141. Christians believe in the Holy Grail
142. Archeologists found the family tomb of Jesus
143. Religion needs to be removed from the Public Square
144. Christianity is different from what it is
145. Nothing is true
Bibliography
Persons Index
Subject Index

Item Number: BKIV671
Publication Data: Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2012
Format: softcover
Number of Pages: 361
Dimensions (l × w × h): 22.9 cm × 15.2 cm × 2.5 cm
ISBN-10: 0‒8308‒3466‒4
ISBN-13: 978‒0‒8308‒3466‒2

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