This is my question for you, to tickle your little gray cells and offer you a few words of encouragement in our discouraging days of increasing Nones (people expressing no religion). I stumbled onto this answer while attending an apologetics group I mentioned in a recent article. As I watched three assigned videos I was surprised to see and hear well-known atheists coming to the defense of Christians being unfairly maligned.
These atheists were on talk shows discussing militant, fundamentalist Islam. In the secular media it’s often portrayed as not much different from right wing, fundamentalist Christianity. These atheists, however, would not allow such a comparison.
Comedian and atheist Bill Maher was on the Charlie Rose Show when he emphasized the incomparable difference between Christians and Muslims. He declared that “the vast number of Christians (in contrast to Muslims) don’t believe you should kill people for leaving the religion, don’t treat women as second class citizens, and don’t kill you for drawing a picture of Jesus.” He cited Saudi Arabia for beheading 19 people, some for just being homosexuals, noting how there would have been a much greater outcry if it had been carried out by Christians in Vatican City.
He went on to refer to the “soft bigotry of low expectations” regarding the willingness of liberals to criticize and condemn Christians for a not living up to the highest standards, but their obvious unwillingness to say anything about the most barbaric and brutal behavior by Muslims. Maher is bold and blunt when he says “Islam is not like other religions,” and no one should suggest that Christians would carry out such atrocities!
Dr. Michael Brown points out how liberal commentators often casually and flippantly “compare Christians to Islamic terrorists.” When a former Muslim-now-atheist asserted on his show that if evangelical or fundamentalist Christians really did believe in the inerrancy of Scripture they would be killing people like ISIS, atheist Sam Harris would have none of that! He quickly interrupted the host to declare that Christians don’t do what Muslim terrorists do because they have this notion about “Jesus and his grace, His Sermon on the Mount, and His benign attributes.”
Even though Harris is no advocate for Christians per se, even when he describes us as “Bible thumping ignoramuses” he still acknowledges that there is “no basis for holy war in Christianity.” We are a far cry from Muslims and their war cry “Allahu Akbar.” He draws a definitive distinction between Muhammad and Jesus, declaring in no uncertain terms that Muhammad had much in common with “Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan” while Jesus was a man of love, peace, and grace. He cites how Christ did not countenance cutting off people’s heads!
I would add that Christ did not even sanction cutting off their ears. While Christ launched a faith to be shared through communication, Harris underscores the fact that Muhammad’s central message in the Koran was to spread Islam by violent conquest.
Another atheist/secularist portrays Islam in a completely different light from Christianity. Wafa Sultan, a psychiatrist who still identifies herself as culturally Muslim, has become an outspoken critic of the Islamic Terrorism. In scathing Arabic she has pointedly emphasized that the clash we are seeing is not one of religions or civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, two eras, a mentality that belongs in the Middle Ages and one that belongs in the 21st century; a clash between civilized and primitive, rationality and barbaric, freedom and oppression, democracy and dictatorship, human rights, on the one hand, between those who treat women like beasts and those who treat them like human beings.
She then went on to quote Muhammad from the Koran: “I was ordered to fight until people believe in Allah and his messenger.” She reminds us that Muhammad started the clash, the fight, the war! She explains: “Any belief that chops off the heads of its critics is doomed to turn into terrorism and tyranny. This has been the state of Islam since its inception to this day.”
Dr. Sultan does cause us to pause and prayerfully ponder this statement: “The problem with Christians is they aren’t as good as Jesus. But thank God most Muslims are better than Muhammad.”
We are thankful that the better-than-good Christ is not dead and buried, as is Muhammad, but offers His life-transforming Spirit to inspire and empower our lives. It is His presence and power that can enable us to overcome not only the evil out there but what lurks within us all.
Our prayer is for open-minded atheists to take a humble and honest look at Jesus who is not only incomparable to Muhammad but any and every person, even the best of human beings. He is the Son of the Living God, Savior and Lord.