If you read through the comments in my Reader's Challenge post, you will see something quite interesting.
I think, I am trying to discuss a fact.
Carl is trying to talk about belief.
The two things are very different.
I stated in one of my sermons that Christianity is unique because it alone of all religions and philosophies states that salvation and the satisfaction of justice comes not through any actions of humankind, but solely through the actions of God.
This is a statement of fact. It can be falsified rather easily. If there is another religion that proclaims this, then my statement is untrue. My statement is not narrow, if it is true anymore than the statement two plus two is four is not narrow. It is simply a fact.
Beliefs are another matter. Beliefs are not easily falsified. For instance:
Christianity claims/believes that Jesus is God in flesh. Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice of atonement and was raised from the dead.
Islam claims/believes that Jesus was a prophet; he was not the Son of God; he didn't really die therefore was not raised from the dead.
These are two completely contradictory beliefs/claims.
Either they are both false or one is correct. They both cannot be true. You cannot say that Jesus was the Son of God and he wasn't the Son of God. You cannot say that Jesus was raised from the dead and he was not raised from the dead. Factually, this is impossible.
Similarly, the most basic difference between atheists and theists is the following:
Theists believe there is something beyond this physical universe.
Atheists believe there is nothing beyond this physical universe.
One of these statements is true. The other is false. They cannot both be true.
The question is: which one is ultimately true?
The answer is: we don't know for certain.
There is no way to scientifically test whether or not Jesus was the Son of God or if he was raised from the dead. There is no way to scientifically test what is beyond this physical universe. You can only make that decision based upon how you read evidence and which authorities you trust.
If you trust that Mohammed is Allah's prophet and his words are true, you will be a Muslim and believe Jesus is not God's Son and that he was not raised from the dead.
If you trust the biblical witness you will be a Christian and believe that Jesus is the Son of God and was raised from the dead.
If you look at the evidence and conclude there is nothing beyond this physical universe, you will be an atheist.
If you look at the evidence and conclude there is something beyond this physical universe, you will be a theist.
There is plenty of room to argue the evidence for these matters. There is plenty of room for open dialogue and discussion of these things. Facts can be laid out. Arguments can be made for the authority of the Koran or the Bible. Evidence can be pointed out for something outside the universe, and evidence can be pointed out for the non-existence of something outside this universe. Weaknesses of arguments can be pointed out. Such things can be done because we are dealing with beliefs--points which can be disputed.
But you cannot dispute a fact.
You can show your ignorance.
You can pretend the fact does not exist.
You can uncover evidence to prove that what was thought was fact was indeed wrong. (Science progresses in just this fashion!)
But in the absence of such evidence, you must admit that a fact is true.
Islam and Christianity have very different beliefs about who Jesus is.
Atheists and Theists have very different understandings about what lies beyond this physical universe.
And Christianity is unique among world religions and philosophies in that it claims that salvation and the satisfaction of justice are brought about by God's action alone and not by our own.