On the flip side, I have encountered some (thankfully few) atheists with irrational beliefs, thinking that all Muslims are plotting a violent overthrow of the West, that atheists are immune to sexism, and that Christianity is without a single redeeming feature.
It is the final point I've wanted to address for some time. Even the most hardline of my godless compatriots would be forced to admit we have Christianity to thank for freeing us of some more odious religions that promoted such beliefs as child sacrifice and mutilations. But this is setting the bar rather low, and I had hoped to instead write on how Christianity took Jewish opposition to Jewish infanticide and made it a universal concept in the Roman empire. Beginning by rescuing and raising infants left to die by disinterested parents, they used their initial influence to change inheritance laws to benefit those abandoned, and finally succeeded in outlawing the practice.
This undeniably positive development is documented beyond contestation and no rational person could know of it and maintain that Christianity is without a redeeming feature. Still, with much on my potential blogging list it seemed unlikely I would find the time to raise this point.
Luckily for me, Daniel Rodger (pictured) has done a rather good job of tackling the subject. He's given me permission to use his work, and I include a brief sample below. (Naturally, I cite my sources.)
"It was Christian love that compelled the early Christians to rescue children who were abandoned to die by their parents, Frederic Farrar noted that ‘infanticide was infamously universal’ in Greek and Roman culture in the early years of Christianity. It was so prevalent that it led Polybius to conclude that the population decline in ancient Greece was due to the practice . Infanticide and abandonment was so ingrained in Greek and Roman culture that even some of their mythology stemmed from its reality. The founders of Rome were allegedly Romulus and Remus, two boys who had themselves been left to die. In Greek culture, there is Oedipus who was abandoned to die as a child by king Laius of Thebes, as-well as Poseidon and Paris, famous for his part in the Trojan war .
It took Christians to actively oppose the practice through appealing to our universal value and worth through creation in the image of God, rescuing children and arguing that infanticide was no different to murder. Lactantius, one of the early church fathers said that ‘it is as wicked to expose as it is to kill’ . It was Christian love that drove the early Christians to rescue and bring up and adopting the abandoned children of prostitutes, prisoners, thieves and runaway slaves even in spite of daily persecution just for being Christians and failing to worship the Roman pantheon. This hard work eventually resulted in the Roman emperor Valentinian outlawing infanticide in AD 374 and making it a criminal offence to abandon your child."As a Christian Daniel develops the point a little differently than I would but I endorse his research on infanticide. I encourage you to read the full article. Drop him a comment, I've had interesting conversations with the chap.