Minor Fallout Over Christian Retards: A Response

6611399My guest post on Godless Mom’s Blog, originally entitled ‘Many Christians are Retarded’ (reposted here), caused a response on Twitter.  Plainly it was a contentious title and deliberately designed to be so.  But let me quite clear about this, the term was used in its truest meaning: “to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.”

A few people couldn’t get past the rather negative connotation of the word, but one Christian apologist could and even went so far as to state that he could, using my own reasoning, write a blog post entitled, ‘Atheists are Retarded.’So I challenged him to do so.It hasn’t happened yet, and if it does, I will repudiate it here.What he did do though was point to me to a blog post of his that he felt explained his position… So that’s what I’ll look at now.

I am a Christian. I believe in the God of the Bible and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I hold these beliefs because I’ve analyzed the evidence for and against Christianity, and found the evidence to be in Christianity’s favour.

Okay. Will you be sharing it with us?

I began my exploration into this topic when I was around 19 years old. After hearing some of the strange things Christians believed, I thought it would be fun to go onto the internet and anonymously mock these stupid Christians.

Me too, except I came it a little later in life. Also, I would say emotionally stunted and misguided rather than stupid.

However… my anti-Christian attitudes didn’t last very long. I began to read the arguments for and against Christianity, and to make a very long story very short… I became a Christian.

Oh Dear. Perhaps your critical thinking skills weren’t developed enough for the task.

I did not form my beliefs because of family tradition or any other non-rational process. Nothing really compelled me to embrace Christianity, other than the evidence itself.

To be fair, I was raised in a home that went to church sometimes, but we were allowed to cut corners and only go to Sunday school. And that was great because Sunday school had snacks and the main service was long and boring.

You keep talking about the evidence. When are you going to show it to us?

The reasons that compelled me to embrace Christian theism are many.

Here we go!

I believe the natural world has a cause, and that cause must have characteristics typically attributed to God. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

I believe that a metaphysically necessary being is absolutely essential from all perspectives, and God is the only option that doesn’t come with insurmountable difficulties. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

I believe the fine-tuning of the universe is inadequately explained by chance processes or necessity and points to a cosmic fine-tuner. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

I believe that our inner moral convictions are best explained by the Christian perspective of being made in the image of God. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

I believe the historical evidence is in favor of the actual resurrection of Christ, with no special treatment given to the Biblical texts during historical analysis. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

I believe the Bible has attributes that point to it being a book that is not merely a book by men, but a book that has been divinely inspired, in one way or another. I don’t think we have to assume inerrancy to come to that conclusion. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

If God does not exist, then belief in God is the result of evolution. That belief is pervasive throughout human history, believed by nearly everyone. This entails that evolution is responsible for extreme error in our belief forming systems. This is not a point against evolution, but a point against naturalism when taken together with evolution.

I’m not sure how you managed to arrive at this conclusion. Anyway, it is clearly the Argumentum ad Populum in disguise. Because there are so many believers, the theory of evolution must be unworkable due to an aspect of the human brain that would be flawed… Therefore God.  This also shows that you have a limited understanding of how evolution works.

Let me explain. Evolution is a series of changes over time at the genetic level. Mutations if you will. Now, evolution doesn’t look into the future, it just describes mutations. Some work and some don’t. Those that work increase the survivability of the organism and thereby increase the chances for that particular mutation to be passed along.

And to talk about ‘naturalism taken together with evolution’ is just an exercise in wordplay as evolution is obviously a function of naturalism.

I believe naturalism entails a complete lack of free will. If we are nothing more than complex matter, it doesn’t seem possible that we can have free will. However, free will’s existence is obvious. Another point against a naturalistic perspective. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

You state that ‘it doesn’t seem possible that we can have free will’… Eh? Care to back that up with an actual argument?

I have studied many of the other world religions and find them to be lacking in critical areas, from the question of man’s purpose to the question of man’s problem. =/= Evidence, merely opinion.

Also, comparing one religion against another isn’t the full story. When will you talk about comparing any religion against Atheism? Looks to me like you didn’t complete the study process.

 I also believe that my personal religious experience is best explained by the Christian worldview. I realize that appealing to personal experience is easily dismissed,

Agreed…About the dismissal of personal experience, not about the Christian world view being the best explanation.

… but only when done in isolation. If Christianity is true, then my personal experiences line up perfectly with reality. If Christianity is not true, that would be a defeater to my personal experience.

But you have done it in isolation. And you still haven’t explained how your personal experience lines up perfectly with reality. All you’ve done is use many words to say, Christianity is true because I believe it because Christianity is true.

There are a handful of additional reasons why I believe that Christian theism offers the best explanation of the evidence, but I don’t want to sound like I’m “gish-galloping” or just being overly preachy.

Let’s hear them then.

I believe as I do because I believe Christian theism explains the world better than any other perspective.

When are you going to support your claims with this evidence you keep talking about?

However… the truth of Christianity ultimately hinges upon the resurrection of Christ. To quote Paul in his letter to the Corinthians:
“… if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom he did not raise.”

A little later Paul says,

“… if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied”

I think Paul has it exactly right. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then Christianity is not only false, but Christians are testifying incorrectly about God. However, if Christ was raised from the dead, then we can be reconciled to God in a way that is impossible without Christ.

I agree with you on this. But there is absolutely no evidence to support it.

This brings up another interesting point that I wanted to make.

If there were reasons to reject the idea that Christ was raised from the dead, I would still believe in God, for many of the reasons I listed earlier. It would just be a version of God that wasn’t revealed accurately through any holy text. I’d probably lean exclusively on natural theology, discouraged by the fact that the God who is so evident in nature hadn’t accurately revealed himself in any religious tradition.

Hang on, hang on! You have just directly contradicted yourself. You agreed with Paul that Christianity hinges on the divinity of Jesus which would be confirmed by his rising from the dead, then immediately followed that by saying that if he didn’t then you would still believe in God. All you do is change the definition of the God you claim to believe in.

You can’t have it both ways. I would have more respect for your arguments if you didn’t use get-out clauses to justify the unjustifiable.

Consider this a challenge to the listeners of this podcast. Examine the evidence for Christianity; don’t just repudiate or dismiss it. I firmly believe that the evidence will lead you to the conclusion that Christian theism is true. And if Christian theism is true, then we have the opportunity to be in a relationship with the creator of the universe, through Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.

I have. I found it wanting in every respect. Therefore I repudiate and dismiss it.

And that’s pretty awesome.

Or at least, it would be if it were true.

I’m not going to suggest that the case for Christian theism is totally rock-solid

Clearly!

There are some questions that I still have regarding Christianity. But these questions tend to deal with discussions within Christendom, not questions that would make or break Christianity as a whole.

Cool! What are they?

Earlier you said Christianity hinges upon the divinity of Jesus, then told us that it didn’t, at least not for you. Now you say you have questions that don’t break your ideology. So what’s the point of asking them? Especially as you have already shown that they would have no effect, even if the answers were to pass the scientific method and possible prove that religion is a false ideology.

If I may, it isn’t questions that break a religion, it is definitive answers.  Religion has none and doesn’t look for them either, Science is at least looking and although it doesn’t have all the answers, the ones it does have (and keeps finding) keep pushing religion into a tighter and tighter corner.

Your gaps are getting smaller and hopefully the day will come when the gaps don’t exist any longer… But I suspect that your mind will still be welded to an outdated, morally questionable and untenable position.

So… what would cause me to change my mind about God? Well… I would imagine that my current beliefs would have to be dismantled, systematically.

Sorry, you’ve already made it quite clear that your faith is unshakeable.

And that’s not me being closed-minded or arrogant or anything…

Yes it is.

… that’s just because my current beliefs about God are interwoven with each other, as well as some of them standing alone as independent reasons to be a Christian theist.

Based on my previous list, if it was definitively shown that Christ did not rise from the dead and that the Bible is unreliable as a historical document, that would cause me to go down a notch from Christianity to some vague form of theism.

But still theism.  A quick way to say that you lack the intellectual courage to face up to life without an artificial crutch of belief. The only faith you should need is in yourself.

And if the “being made in the image of god” explanation failed as a way to explain moral epistemology, that would also push me away from Christian theism.

At this point, I would probably look into other religions. Although I can’t imagine that I would be satisfied with their explanations. After all, I did look into them already.

But I’d give them another chance, because rejecting Christianity and still maintaining a belief in God would probably push me there.

I reiterate, still theism.

In order to go a little further, I would have to be shown that the natural world has a more reasonable cause than God, or that the universe doesn’t actually need a cause. Something would have to be presented as an alternative to God as a metaphysically necessary being. The fine-tuning of the universe would have to be shown as either a result of chance or necessity…  or I’d have to embrace an a-priori, anti-teleological view of the world, as many naturalists seem to do.

A more reasonable cause than a mythical figure of unlimited power who either:

Created a universe, waited billions of years, created a planet, cooked it for another 4 or so billion years, caused basic life to come into being, snoozed for a few more millions of years, created mankind, set up some arbitrary rules and regulations and then insisted that we worship him in all his greatness.

Or:

Creates the universe and everything in it in 6 days, sets all living things on the planet and then plants false evidence to make it look like the universe is billions of years old, the planet is billions of years old and dinosaurs, ediacarans, etc. existed millions of years before the planet was created.

Yep! What could be more rational then that?

If all of this was done, I would still not embrace a naturalistic perspective. I would have just rejected theism. I would probably be rather frustrated at the fact that both major metaphysical perspectives have horrible flaws, so I’d probably default to pure agnosticism.

See? Yet again you state that your mind will not truly be changed.  You haven’t said that you would reject theism, you just said that you’d modify your religious faith, but still rely on a mythic ideology to complete your world view. Also, Atheism and Agnosticism are two separate animals.

Embracing naturalism would be yet another step in this systematic belief disintegration.

Which you plainly will not do!

Someone would have to offer a great answer to Plantinga’s evolutionary argument against naturalism. … and I’d have to be shown that free-will is either an illusion, or be shown that naturalism can account for the freedom of the will.

Alternatively, you could think for yourself.

And there you have it. If you want to dismantle my current beliefs about God, that’s probably how it would be done.

So… Regardless of any evidence provided, regardless of how you have failed to provide any of your own, regardless of the contradictions you subscribe to, your mind cannot be changed.Is this where you tell me I’m ignorant and stupid, and then storm out of the room, slamming the door behind you?I now have two questions for you:

  1. Where is the evidence you mentioned?
  2. When are you going to refute my initial statement that Christians are retarded?

I’m not holding my breath as I wait.

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