One frequent and vociferous correspondent to SF has said that she feels she and fellow Christians are often under attack here. I propose a thread to discuss this. In one recent thread, several correspondents considered the activity to be "discussion" and repeatedly emphasized the hypothetical nature of the thesis, whereas several other correspondents considered the very same activity to constitute an "attack" on their faith, an attempt to undermine or destroy their faith, and a few even imputed evil intent, citing 'satanic' passages from the Bible. How can the same activity be viewed so very differently, as open and rational discussion, and as a satanic attack? It bears investigation.
To start, I propose two theses. Not exhaustively; no doubt others will propose more.
Thesis 1. There happen to be more active Christian posters to SF than, for example, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucianist, Shinto, pagan, wicca, or whatever, so just on the basis of statistics, Christians would probably find themselves fielding more posts of all flavors, constructive, neutral, and critical. Seems plausible, but still does not explain why they feel under "attack" when others feel it is "discussion".
Thesis 2. The frequently expressed feeling of being under attack is due to the nature of Christianity itself, and distinguishes it from, for example, Buddhism, paganism, and other religions.
I suggest that other religions are not like Christianity, only with the wrong god(s); they are really fundamentally different. (Whatever else it may be) Christianity is: a) belief-based and b) exclusivist, and these two aspects are relevant to the topic, why Christians may feel themselves to be under "attack" when non-Christians "discuss" what Christians believe.
A) belief-based: whatever else a Christian must do, he must assent to a body of propositions held to be true. Including: that Jesus was God incarnate, that he died to redeem man's sins, that he was bodily resurrected, etc. Once you assert propositions as truths, and not as edifying stories, then you enter a universe of discourse where claims (not only religious ones) are subject to critical analysis and verification. The techniques and criteria include, but are not limited to, determining historical accuracy and continuity, assessing the credibility of alleged eye-witnesses, logical coherency, compatibility with other empirical evidence, the possibility of errors and corruptions due to transcriptions and translations, the dating of physical evidence (by well-known and repeatable experiments), and so on.
Ancient paganism, Hinduism, Buddhism (incl. Zen), Taoism, Shintoism, Confucianism, and yoga are practice-based. Practice-based means: it does not matter what you believe, what matters is mastering a technique (performing rites, meditation, mindfulness, purification, tantra, or whatever). The whole ediface of presenting evidence, generating arguments and proofs leading to putative truths is irrelevant to these other religions. Arguments and proofs, eye-witness accounts of miracles, assent to a body of putative truths, all that is peculiarly (Judeo-)Christian. When Christians claim theirs is the only true religion and make claims about the historical veracity or inerrancy of the Bible, they should expect a response in kind, with counter-evidence, counter-claims, and rebuttals. Why? Because that is the intellectual playing field Christians themselves have chosen to play on.
There is no such thing as rebutting meditation, or yoga, or tantra, for example. Either you do it or you don't, but there is nothing to argue there.
Buddhists say it does not matter whether the universe had a beginning or no beginning, so they do not get entangled in arguments about whether it was created 6,000 years ago, and so do not feel attacked by putative evidence that the universe is much older. Buddhists also have no problem accepting evolution, since it is irrelevant to the practice of exercising mindfulness, so they don't feel that their religion is undermined by putative evidence that evolution really happened.
B): exclusivism: Judaism and Christianity are peculiar in claiming to be the only true or legitimate spiritual path.
When one party sits down at the table with an attitude which comes across to the others as "I'm the only one here in possession of Absolute Truth, the rest of you nitwits are damned liars whose minds have been poisoned by satanic delusions" [/hyperbole], it is that attitude itself which taints what might have been an open and rational discussion and turns it into an emotionally charged battleground where someone is liable to feel threatened. I think it is fair to say that several Christian correspondents to SF do come to the table with that attitude, even though they may not state it quite so hyperbolically. Equally, quoting divine-threat and damnation passages from the Bible, in essence saying "If you don't agree with this, you're going to hell and I'm not," seems calculated to provoke a robust rebuttal.
I close with a verse from the Koran: 'to every people a messenger is sent; it is not needful that you (Mohammed) know who the other messengers were.' By implication, it is not needful to know the content of the other messages or whether they are the same. That is a model of non-exclusiveness which I personally find worthy of being embraced.
Sorry this has gotten so long.
Mindful that there might be a storm of protest from one camp and a discussion from the other camp, please accept my personal statement of intention here to discuss an issue in general and not to attack any individual (this means you, Suzi), as genuine.