The title of this post is intentionally provocative. It reverses the similarity that some conservative religious believers (and some atheists) will at times use polemically, claiming that liberal believers are, for all practical purposes, no different from atheists.

I don’t want to deny that there is a distinction, or that there are similarities. What I want to say is that, to the extent that there are similarities, the resemblance and direction of influence is in most cases the other way around.

When atheists point out errors, historical issues and stories that defy belief or moral acceptance in the Bible, for the most part that information (when it is accurate) derives from the scholarship pioneered and for the most part carried out by liberal religious believers. Liberal Christians have been denouncing much of popular piety as superstition long before atheists, advocating pioneering, expanding and embracing scientific understanding even when this infringed on what was traditionally considered God’s turf.

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