Christian Apologists don’t have enough faith

I don’t normally blog on religion, but there has been an jump in foolish writing coming from the wacky end of the religious spectrum. On the top of the list are folks like Vox Day and Geisler and Turek (I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST). For some Christians, faith isn’t enough, apparently—they want logic and science to be on their side. Apologists perform some crazy cognitive acrobatics to try to prove that their beliefs have some objective reality. (Huge hat tip to Deacon Duncan over at Evangelical Realism.)

Apologists like to think that they are persecuted for their pursuit of “truth”. For example, to Apologists, there is a vast anti-Christian conspiracy. Whether it’s the crazy atheists keeping all that good Creationist learnin’ out of the public schools, or the New Atheists’ attempt to TAKE OVER TEH WORLD!!11!!, conspiracies are a major part of apologist thinking. As a non-Christian and a true minority, I can tell you that to the rest of us this seems truly bizarre. Every president of my country, the vast majority of Congressmen and women, and most of the residents of the United States are Christians of one sort or another. It hardly seems likely that there is or even could be a conspiracy to oppress them in some way. The U.S. is remarkable in its ability to tolerate every kind of religious wacko, mainstream or not. There has never been a nation more friendly to the religious freedoms of individuals. I’ll tell you what—next time a teacher says in class, “all of the Jewish students may now follow me in the Shema. Anyone who is ‘other’ may sit in a moment of silence. If you are a follower of Jesus the false messiah, I pity you,”—next time that happens to someone you know, I’d like to hear about it. Next time a teacher tells your kid, “Well, Saturday is the Sabbath, not Sunday. I’m sorry, but you fail this quiz,”—next time that happens let me know. I’d especially like to know about the next time someone spray paints Jewish stars all over your church and says, “Nero was right—to the cross with all of you.”


So Apologists come from a strange place, a different America where Christians are a “persecuted majority”.

But what of their beliefs? Frankly, I couldn’t care. My general attitude toward religion is typically American—go believe in what you want, just don’t bother me about it, and I’ll leave you alone too.

That’s not enough for the Apologists. They want me to believe so badly that knocking on my door to save me isn’t enough—they want to prove to me that they are right.

This is impossible. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve read about that God. Where the hell is he? If he is so omnipresent, why hasn’t he given you a hand in your attempt to prove His existence? In fact, God behaves exactly how one would behave if they wanted you to think they weren’t real—he never shows up, never leaves proof, never acts in the real world in any way that would be different if He didn’t exist. In other words, whether or not God exists does not affect our perceptions and manipulations of reality. This makes him no different from any other deity.

Still, if believing in Him gives you comfort, fellowship, moral guidance, then good for you. But don’t try to prove to me your beliefs are any more correct than anyone else’s.

Folks who try to foist unproven and unprovable beliefs on others are bullies. They ultimately try to change the way we all do things—such as trying to displace science in favor of Creationism. What is it about this corner of Christianity?

My interpretation is that they simply don’t have enough faith. True faith requires a suspension of disbelief, a willingness to believe in that which is not apparently there. For some, this is an essential part of religion itself, a measure of devotion. For some, it is seen as a gift given by God. For the Apologists, it is an impediment. They really, really wish that reality gave proof to their beliefs.

Look, you either believe in your religion, or you don’t, but let’s not pretend that science and logic is on your side. It isn’t.

Have a little faith.


Comments

14 responses to “Christian Apologists don’t have enough faith”

  1. sinned34

    This is impossible. I’ve read the Bible. I’ve read about that God. Where the hell is he? If he is so omnipresent, why hasn’t he given you a hand in your attempt to prove His existence? In fact, God behaves exactly how one would behave if they wanted you to think they weren’t real—he never shows up, never leaves proof, never acts in the real world in any way that would be different if He didn’t exist. In other words, whether or not God exists does not affect our perceptions and manipulations of reality. This makes him no different from any other deity.

    Excellent quote! I shall have to steal that!

  2. “When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Stephen F. Roberts

  3. Blind Watchmaker

    When I do good, I feel good;
    when I do bad, I feel bad,

    and that is my religion.
    Abraham Lincoln, (attributed) 16th president of US (1809 – 1865)

    The history of our race, and each individual’s experience, are sown thick with evidence that a truth is not hard to kill and that a lie told well is immortal.
    —Mark Twain.

    RAmen

  4. Blind Watchmaker

    Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.
    —Mark Twain.

    Sorry for the above duplicate post.

    RAmen

  5. Hank Roberts

    What do you suppose this means?

    ——
    Like the tobacco companies, the drug manufacturers, and the environmentalists, they need only the shadow of a doubt to make their case: If evolution might be wrong, then God might be right.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2189178/
    ——

    I’m still perplexed by the above sentence. I think he’s misplaced his colon.

  6. I think he’s misplaced his colon.

    That can be very serious. Trust me, I’m: a doctor.

  7. Trust me, I’m: a doctor.

    Which means you’re part of Teh Big Pharma Lizards Troofer conspiracy!</snark>

  8. Well, you’re exactly wrong. I am a Christian, and if you take a look around, we can’t do anything without being castigated for it. No prayer in schools or someone is sued. No Ten Commandments in government buildings or someone gets fired. No believe that there is a God or we are publicly ridiculed. No respect for Christians who lead decent lives and just want to be at peace with the world. Turn back the clock 50 years and we see a totally different, Christian America, where there was a general respect for other people, property and God.

    But I had to sit through school and read the textbooks you assume to be valid about evolution, and accept it as the truth or get a failing grade. Yet we can’t have an open discussion about the Bible because so few have read it. Really. Atheists and most “Christians” don’t really know what the whole point of it is. They think it’s a bunch of “thee’s” and “thou’s” and “do this” and “don’t do that”. How could anyone read the words of Jesus and not come away with at least the fact that He is trying to get people to get along. To not hold grudges. To FORGIVE when we don’t want to. To LOVE one another when we don’t feel like it. To GIVE to those who are in need.

    Not convinced? What is the probability that 66 books, written by 40 different people, spanning thousands of years, all point in the same direction and had hundreds of prophesies that have been fulfilled? You can’t even get the Democratic National Committee to agree who their candidate should be!

    Stick that in your calculator and see what happens. Because if anybody thinks we just “happened”, then they need to ask themselves how all this “stuff” (matter) just magically got here. Talk about faith. It must take a lot of faith to close your eyes and keep saying “It just happened. It just happened”.

    I am betting someone got us here, thank you very much. And it’s best if we listen to Him to see what He has to say.

  9. Anonymous

    “No prayer in schools or someone is sued.” To give one group the right to pray and deny it to everyone else is discrimination. therefore they simply say to keep your religious practices at home unless they are a subject of study. Or, if prayer during school is that important, you can send your child to private school. No one is forcing you to use the public school system.

    “No Ten Commandments in government buildings or someone gets fired.” I’ve never understood why people want this. The separation of church and state has worked for 300 years and now you want to change it? And again, this is forcing your belief on other people. Which aside from being illegal, is immoral, even in Christianity.

    “Turn back the clock 50 years and we see a totally different, Christian America, where there was a general respect for other people, property and God.” Turn the clock back 50 years and you get entrenched racism, defended by Christians. You still don’t get prayer in school or the 10 commandments posted in official state and federal buildings. But you do get some really scary persecutions, such as McCarthyism. You get religious persecution against everyone not Protestant. You get legalized sexism, in which banks wouldn’t let women have bank accounts in their own names, for example. How are these things indicative of “a general respect for other people”? Christians at that time weren’t persecuted, they were they persecutors.

    “How could anyone read the words of Jesus and not come away with at least the fact that He is trying to get people to get along. To not hold grudges. To FORGIVE when we don’t want to. To LOVE one another when we don’t feel like it. To GIVE to those who are in need.” Then why can’t you do these things for others? Why are only members of your church worthy of forgiveness? Didn’t Jesus preach forgiveness to everyone? So be a true Christian and show compassion for your fellow man by respecting his or her choices. Do not punish or tease or insult because they follow a different path than yours. For many people their problem with Christianity isn’t with Jesus, it’s with his followers, who are well-known for making others miserable.

    “What is the probability that 66 books, written by 40 different people, spanning thousands of years, all point in the same direction and had hundreds of prophesies that have been fulfilled?” What is the probability that when you strip all the pomp and circumstance from the world’s religions you get the same message: “stop fighting and love thy neighbor already!!!”

    Oh, wait. The odds are pretty good, because that is what happens, no matter what religion you are talking about. So as long as we’re learning “creation of the world” stuff, why choose the Christian genesis story? Why not one of the thousands of others?

  10. lukkystarr

    …if you take a look around, we can’t do anything without being castigated for it.

    Bullshit. The only people getting castigated are those that feel everyone should believe as they themselves do, that insist on things of others based on their personal belief system alone. There is a good reason the founding fathers sought to keep religion out of government, they actually took the time to learn from our thousands of years of recorded history to see that the alternative always fails miserably. Those being castigated are those that use their religion as a shield presented to the rest of the world as evidence of their sainthood. A christian friend of mine with some sense sees this is well, and is distraught. He says he won’t do business with someone that declares their ‘faith’ up front, it always means they are devious. Not some of the time, always. Those being castigated are those whose actions speak louder than their words, those that do not admit to themselves that humans are fallible, that cannot admit the faults in themselves and work on them, and leave others to work on their own.

  11. Chuck: “What is the probability that 66 books, written by 40 different people, spanning thousands of years, all point in the same direction and had hundreds of prophesies that have been fulfilled?”

    You mean prophesies like this one? Ezekiel 37:15-22

    The word of the Lord came to me: Mortal, take a stick and write on it, “For Judah, and the Israelites associated with it”; then take another stick and write on it, “For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with it”; and join them together into one stick, so that they may become one in your hand. And when your people say to you, “Will you not show us what you mean by these?” say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hand of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with it; and I will put the stick of Judah upon it, and make them one stick, in order that they may be one in my hand. When the sticks on which you write are in your hand before their eyes, then say to them, Thus says the Lord God: I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from every quarter, and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all. Never again shall they be two nations, and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.

    There still is no returned tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh, let alone the other tribes forming the rest of the people of Israel.

    What of the prophecy against Tyre in Ezekiel 26? Nebuchadrezzar did not utterly destroy Tyre, and attempts to say that the “They” in verse 12 of the passage refers to Alexander the Great’s sack of Tyre, even though there is no implication of a 250-year gap between verses 11 and 12. While there is no shortage of bad critiques of the Bible, Dave E. Matson’s dissection of the Ezekiel passage and attempts to defend it is not one of them.

  12. What is the probability that 66 books, written by 40 different people, spanning thousands of years, all point in the same direction and had hundreds of prophesies that have been fulfilled?

    That’s why all the Jews accept Jesus as the Messiah, right? Because he fulfilled all their prophecies?

    No, wait. That’s not right.

  13. Josh in California

    Well, you’re exactly wrong. I am a Christian, and if you take a look around, we can’t do anything without being castigated for it. No prayer in schools or someone is sued.

    Wrong. You can pray in school all you want, but school employees cannot force students to take part in any kind of religious ceremony.

    No Ten Commandments in government buildings or someone gets fired.

    Mind if I put up a monument of mine next to yours? I’m sure you’d mind a lot if I put up a monument to rationalism in a public building.

    “No believe that there is a God or we are publicly ridiculed.”

    Oh, please. This is the most religious country in the western world. Even the scientologists barely get ridiculed for their belief that evil alien overlord trapped in a Hawaiian volcano is responsible for all of the unhappiness in the world. Wacky religionists in this country get a free pass to say whatever they want, so long as they’re not a member of an ethnic minority.

    No respect for Christians who lead decent lives and just want to be at peace with the world.

    I have a great deal of respect for christians who lead decent lives and want to be at peace with the world, and every atheist I know personally feels the same way. (We don’t necessarily respect their beliefs, but we still respect their ethics.)

    On the other hand, I have little or no respect for:

    – Christians who rail against homosexuality in public while practicing it in private.
    – Christians who commit or cover up child abuse.
    – Christians who use their “ministry” as a tax shelter.
    – Christians who beat or kill people because of their race, religion, or sexual preference.
    – Christians who start horrible wars on false pretenses.
    – Christians who think that there’s no contradiction between America being “a Christian nation” and America spending as much money on its military as the rest of the world combined.
    – Christians who don’t think there’s a moral imperative to provide medical care to other human beings.
    – Christians who want to turn their bronze-age beliefs into law.
    – Christians who pretend to practice science to fool people into believing their claims.
    – Christians who think it’s okay to lie, cheat, and steal to make sure that “the good guys” win.
    – Christians who don’t have any problem with torturing human beings.

    I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

    Turn back the clock 50 years and we see a totally different, Christian America, where there was a general respect for other people, property and God.

    So long as the people were white protestant christians who weren’t interested in changing the social or political order…

    But I had to sit through school and read the textbooks you assume to be valid about evolution, and accept it as the truth or get a failing grade.

    There’s no need to assume anything in science is valid. You’re more than welcome to challenge 150 years of biological research, but you’d better have evidence to back up your claims. Unfortunately for you, ancient myths don’t count as evidence.

    Yet we can’t have an open discussion about the Bible because so few have read it.

    I agree whole-heartedly. For example, what’s all this pro-life nonsense? The christian god supposedly killed lots of children, and the bible talks about dashing infants against rocks and slicing open pregnant women. Hell, yaweh even let his own son be tortured to death.

    I really don’t think that an honest discussion of the bible will help your case.

    Really. Atheists and most “Christians” don’t really know what the whole point of it is. They think it’s a bunch of “thee’s” and “thou’s” and “do this” and “don’t do that”.

    You forgot the violence, misogyny, talking snakes, and genealogy.

    How could anyone read the words of Jesus and not come away with at least the fact that He is trying to get people to get along. To not hold grudges. To FORGIVE when we don’t want to. To LOVE one another when we don’t feel like it. To GIVE to those who are in need.

    Good question. What’s up with most American christians, anyway?

    Not convinced? What is the probability that 66 books, written by 40 different people, spanning thousands of years, all point in the same direction and had hundreds of prophesies that have been fulfilled?

    About the same as the probability that any other set of religious texts is factual.

    You can’t even get the Democratic National Committee to agree who their candidate should be!

    Religionists all seem to lump the groups they don’t like together. It doesn’t make much sense to me, but I guess it’s necessary for portraying themselves as perpetual victims of a vast conspiracy.

    Stick that in your calculator and see what happens. Because if anybody thinks we just “happened”, then they need to ask themselves how all this “stuff” (matter) just magically got here. Talk about faith. It must take a lot of faith to close your eyes and keep saying “It just happened. It just happened”.

    How’d your god magically get here?

    I am betting someone got us here, thank you very much. And it’s best if we listen to Him to see what He has to say.

    I listened for 20 years and didn’t hear a thing. I truly regret not having spent those years improving my mind instead of chasing faeries.

  14. not completely useless

    The thing about faith alone is that it doesn’t generate any claims about the world. You need some experience (religious experience or perception of the world, etc.) to pose a factual claim. Faith must be associated with something created from another source to even make sense as a concept.

    That means you must be faced with the question of why you have faith in some particular claim. Of course, this is where reason comes in, and one’s reasons may be more or less valid. Reasons for religious faith always seem to reduce down to “someone I trust told me” or, in very exceptional cases, a personal religious experience.