In the United States, a.k.a. God's Country, if you're not a Christian, you best be sumthin' else or else.... They can relate to their kissing cousins in other religions, and on the whole don't really question others' "choice" of religion. But if you're an atheist, expect to be challenged.
First, there's the atheism catechism. Christians assume that all religions ask and answer the same questions, so they believe an atheist must have asked and answered them too. "Where do you go when you die?" "If there's no rules there's mayhem, so what keeps you from killing and stealing?" "So you think you're God?"
Next, there's the no true atheist fallacy. You just don't "know Christ" well enough, or in the right way, or you haven't tried enough, or you're in denial. When you're in that foxhole, atheist, you're going to beg God to forgive your sins and let you into heaven.... but you better do it fast because unlike us Catholics who clean up our sins weekly, or us Baptists who got one good scrubbing, you have a lot of truth-telling to do! When that final minute comes, you'll change your tune!
Then there's the "angry-at-God" fallacy. They get angry at God all the time. It's a constant challenge for them to handle the many many unanswered prayers and acknowledge God's seeming indifference. They pray for everyone who gets sick, and not all of them get well. WTF? Hey how come Mr. Jerkface down the street wins the lottery and my house gets struck by lightning? Why does my chain-smoking father-in-law cling to life at 90 but my 3-month-old baby gets meningitis and dies? Yep, if there were a God, there would certainly be reason to be pissed at him. Luck is a much more fickle God than even the asshole god who lets babies die (so their pastor tells them). So atheists couldn't possibly intentionally place more "faith" in luck! You'll get over your anger as soon as someone you love goes into remission or you get a promotion, they assure us.
The funniest ones are the professional theologians. I gave up dialoging with one when he switched platforms but it was fun to watch the mental gyrations it takes for someone who's actually read the bible and studied its sources to keep up a belief in it. It's rather too easy to make them angry, too. They've faced their doubts, the bible's errors, the political history of their religion, and all the philosophical conundrums their belief system creates, and they've stared them down. In a metaphysical game of chicken, they're way out ahead of the rest of us. They'll toy with us unbelievers until they get frustrated by our lack of education, then finish us off with the ad hom that we just don't know what we're talking about so we're not justified being atheists.
I always interpret this as a win on my part, of course. If I ask why Jesus has two genealogies if 1) the bible is inerrant and 2) the gospels are historical and 3) he wasn't a descendent of Joseph... apparently I'm showing my ignorance. *snicker*
Today I was talking with a co-worker about the church I went to when I was still trying to believe. The sermons were very psychologically oriented, which made it worth the trip, but I knew the whole time I went that I didn't believe most of what I was mouthing on Sunday mornings. After this discussion I remembered part deux of that experience: Bible study.
I went to Bible Study because I thought that if I just understood the Bible better, I would come to believe that all that stuff was true and then I'd be a real Christian. Alas, I asked the wrong questions in Bible Study too. The one I remember best is when I defended Pontius Pilate. It went something like this: If Jesus was destined from the beginning to be sacrificed, then Pilate must have been part of the plan, so Pilate was really carrying out God's will. Besides, under the circumstances, Pilate didn't have a lot of choices.
That didn't go over too well.
So... how much do you have to know? Do you have to know more than the theologian with a Ph.D.? more than a pastor with a seminary degree? More than your Sunday School or Bible Study teacher?
Shhhhh don't tell Christians, but if you don't believe the fairy tales in the first place the more you learn the more ridiculous Christianity seems.
One of the top apologists for Christianity is, in my opinion, on the ropes. He claims that belief in God is "properly basic," which means that none of the arguments against Christianity and God mean squat if you believe what you believe. ...I think. Sadly, I've never put my head so far up my arse as to be able to type in philosobabble, so I'll let William Lane Craig mumble for himself:
Yes, he really is as stupid as he seems: