Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Gallup polls show that men are more pro-life and more pro-marriage than women

Note: in this post, I will be addressing the views of young, unmarried women, who tend to be more liberal than married women. Married women are not being targeted in this post, because their views tend to be more pro-life and pro-marriage.

First, abortion. The latest Gallup poll shows that men are far more pro-life than women. Men are strongly pro-life by a margin of 8 points, 50-42. Women are more pro-abortion by a margin of 1 point, 47-46.

Second, marriage. Polls show that men are far more pro-marriage than women.

Excerpt:

A new national poll points towards a gender gap over same-sex marriage.

According to new numbers released Monday morning from Gallup, 50% of Americans say same-sex marriages should be legal. But break it down by gender, and 56% of women say same-sex couples should be legally allowed to marry, but only 42% of men feel the same way.

In addition, exit polls from the 2008 and 2012 elections revealed that about 70-80 percent of young, unmarried women voted for Obama, whose views on abortion are somewhere to the left of Kermit Gosnell. And Obama supports gay marriage. Men are more likely to vote conservative than young, unmarried women, especially married men.

Now some of you may find this data about men being good very surprising. According to many people these days, all young men do is look at porn, order in pizza and leave the boxes scattered around, play video games, binge drink, live in their parents’ basement, underperform at school, and fail to find jobs so they can man up and marry these pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage women. None of this bad performance is caused by institutionalized feminism, or the effects of feminism on the family. It’s all just bad, bad men being bad – so were are told. But somehow, despite reports that all men are losers, they seem to have better views on abortion and marriage than women.

What does it mean?

Think about what it means that a young, unmarried woman is pro-abortion.

Being pro-abortion means that a men and women should be allowed to have recreational sex before marriage, and then if a baby is conceived, then they should be able to terminate that unwanted pregnancy, and send taxpayers the bill. Pro-life doctors and nurses who don’t want to perform the procedure must be forced to do it, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Pro-life organizations who don’t want to offer abortion-inducing drugs as part of their medical insurance must be forced to provide it, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Pro-life taxpayers who don’t want to pay for the recreational sex risks of others must be forced to pay for them, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended.

Now suppose a man is considering marriage to a young, unmarried woman. It’s likely that she supports abortion, given what polls show and what exit polls show. Now if a woman thinks that it is OK to kill an innocent unborn child in order to avoid being burdened with that child’s needs, even though she consented to the recreational sex that produced that child, then should the man marry her? I think that a man should not marry such a woman. After all, if a woman is willing to kill a baby in order to protect her happiness, then she will certainly divorce her husband to do the same. Husbands are much less innocent than babies.

Now think about what it means that a young, unmarried woman is pro-gay marriage.

Being pro-gay marriage means that two men and two women should be able to adopt children away from one or both of their biological parents and raise them. Churches who don’t want to perform the wedding ceremonies must be forced to perform the wedding ceremonies, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Christian companies that don’t want to treat gay couples as married must be forced to treat gay couples as married, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Christian taxpayers who don’t want to pay for the next generation of children to be indoctrinated to believe that marriage can be between two men or two women must be forced to pay for government to indoctrinate children to believe in redefined marriage, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended.

Now suppose a man is considering marriage to a young, unmarried woman. It’s likely that she supports gay marriage, given what the polls show and what exit polls show. Now if a woman thinks that it’s OK to deprive a child of a mother or of a father and expose children to a notion of marriage that deprives them of stability, sexual faithfulness and permanence, then should the man marry her? I think that a man should not marry such a woman. After all, if a woman is willing to deprive a child of a mother or a father and of the interaction between a man and a woman cooperating in marriage, then she will certainly be willing to deprive any children she has with him of his presence, since she already believes that fathers are expendable and that the selfishness of adults trumps the needs of children.

The way forward

What can we do to fix young, unmarried women so that they are more pro-life and more pro-marriage, like men already are? Well, men are pro-life and pro-marriage because we read pro-life and pro-marriage books and because we watch debates on abortion and marriage. Men like to focus on things like logical arguments and scientific research. Men like to see pictures of the different development stages of unborn babies and read research papers about how same-sex marriage harms children and how welfare policies encourage women to have babies out of wedlock. Men are not inclined to decide moral views based on feelings, peer opinions and popular culture. In order to make young, unmarried women more pro-life and more pro-marriage, we should try to introduce them to more books and debates and scientific evidence, so that their views will change based on what is true, not based on feelings and peer pressure and cultural trends.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UK Supreme Court rules against Christian B&B couple’s conscience rights

Dina sent me this article from the UK Telegraph about a recent Supreme Court decision from the UK.

Excerpt:

The devoutly Christian owners of a Cornish hotel who refused to allow two gay men to take a double room have lost their final appeal to the Supreme Court. It ruled that Peter and Hazelmary Bull had discriminated against the couple, even though they had long operated a rule that unmarried guests had to sleep apart. One of the judges, Lady Hale, said such a case would have been unthinkable less than two decades ago, and it is a measure of how both the law and societal norms have changed that the Bulls should have found themselves in such a predicament.

It is also a pity this matter was not settled amicably when the Bulls made an offer of redress; but campaigners were intent on making an example of them. The aggrieved men, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were in a civil partnership, were supported by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The Bulls were perplexed as to why the EHRC should act against them, since their right to exercise their religious beliefs was being set against that of the men not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Dina also sent me this article from the pro-gay Spiked Online.

Excerpt:

[A]s the systematic unequal treatment of gays has ended, so another problem has grown. One pernicious social force has been replaced by another: the willingness of the state to outlaw minority or eccentric views and behaviours. State-backed oppression has yielded to state-backed intolerance.

The Bulls have been hauled before the courts and told they can no longer practise what they preach. To deny a couple the right to make a living in a manner consistent with their Christian values is draconian. The Bulls’ fate is similar to that of Lillian Ladele, an Islington marriage registrar, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, who were both sacked after declining to provide their professional services to lesbians and gays. Equality laws did for them all.

The problem here is not, as it appears, merely a slap in the face to Christians. It is a slap in the face to the right of all individuals to act free of state control absent a compelling reason for intervention. As John Stuart Mill put it in On Liberty (1859): ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’

As if to satisfy Mill’s harm principle, the Supreme Court went in search of Preddy and Hall’s ‘harm’. What they found was that when the Bulls’ house rules were explained to Preddy and Hall, they found it ‘upsetting’ and ‘very hurtful’. Even in the touchy-feely twenty-first century, where self-esteem is seen as so important and so fragile, this is pretty lame.

The Supreme Court judge, Lady Hale, may have been aware that this ‘affront to their dignity’, as she put it, was not the sort of harm, in the Mill sense, that should justify the state’s coercive power. She bolstered her argument by linking Preddy and Hall’s hurt feelings to a bigger historical picture. ‘We should not underestimate’, she said, ‘the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world’.

Fascism happens when the normal desire for compassion is taken out of the family context and becomes the policy of a powerful feminist welfare state. And that’s when it becomes a threat to the right of individuals to make moral judgments and to exercise religious liberty.

The EHRC, you’ll remember, was a project of the Labour Party of the UK, which is the socialist party in the UK. There is also a communist party called the Liberal Democrats. The striking thing is that many church-attending Christians not only vote for the Labour Party, but they also vote for the Liberal Democrats, which are even more liberal. A lot of this is because British Christians are so far to the left on economic issues that they sort of go along with the assault on their own religious liberty out of ignorance. They vote for bigger and bigger government, and then they are surprised when they actually get it.

The same thing happened in Canada with the Liberal Party and their introduction of Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Tribunals, which criminalize offending people with free speech. The very Christians that voted for expanding government to reduce poverty were the ones who were then persecuted by the same big government they voted to create. This goes to show why we need to have better economics knowledge among Christians, because many of us are voting for left-wing parties because we think that private, voluntary charity can be replaced with government-controlled redistribution of wealth. Not only does that not work to reduce poverty, but in the end, we lose our liberties, too.

In the UK, you’ll find a lot of Christians who think that rent control is a good thing, that price controls are a good thing, that raising minimum wage is a good thing, that tariffs on imported goods are a good thing – positions which are generally viewed as incorrect by academic economists across the ideological spectrum. That’s why churches need to teach the Christian worldview, including economics. The UK church should be training Christians to undo this ignorant, patriotic confidence that UK Christians have in their welfare state. We all have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves on how the Bible applies to the real world (e.g. – economics), or else we will end up undermining our own liberties.

Additionally, I find it very frustrating that so many churches are so focused on providing emotional comfort and a sense of community to the people in the pews that they neglect to talk about these religious liberty issues. Pastors don’t want to alert ordinary Christians about how dangerous it’s becoming to take unpopular stands on issues like gay rights in public – it’s scary and divisive and drives people away from church. You’re not going to hear them trying to apply the Bible to moral issues or economic issues, etc. from the pulpit, because that spoils the “experience” and “the show” – the comfort and entertainment that people expect from church. We need to do better at helping Christians to be aware of threats to our liberties. They need to be trained to connect their faith to specific laws and policies in the real world.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig writes on “The Feminization of Christianity”

Look, here is a question on the Reasonable Faith web site from a feminist from Canada who objects to the idea of sex differences:

Dear Dr. Craig,

I have usually found your words to be a source of information and reassurance in my Christian faith, and have often sought out your writings and videos in times of doubt or questioning.

So I was really disappointed, almost shocked, when I read your newsletter of April of this year in which you casually stereotypes men and women, and complain that the church is becoming increasingly feminized, and has difficulties in attracting men.

Your compared the audiences at a couple of your speaking engagements to the audience from a clip of a Downton Abbey Q&A at another location – concluding that they were all men at the former and almost all women at the latter “simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.”

I believe that you are using stereotypes here, which you justify by making a ridiculous comparison that holds zero statistical significance. Not only is your statement unreasonable, it is potentially damaging – especially when made so carelessly. Stereotypes are shortcuts in classifying people. They can, and often do, limit and distort the way we perceive others and the world. Stereotypes are a lazy way of thinking that can lead to discrimination, and their use should not be encouraged.

I’m also a little disturbed by your claim regarding the feminisation of the church. What do you mean by that, and how do you support that statement?

I’m curious because the church has historically been a largely male-dominated institution (sometimes criminally so), and the bible’s instructions to and about women are often difficult to swallow. If anything, the church has had difficulty in attracting women. And if we are truly seeing more women in leadership roles at the church (I have to assume this is what you meant by feminizing), I believe this is not something to fear and resist. It would be a welcome change, and has every opportunity to challenge how we think about each other – allowing us to love each other better and see each other more clearly.

This newsletter called your expertise in some areas into question for me. Could you help to rebuild some of the faith I’ve lost in your words? I would very much appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Alexandra (Canada)

Canadians are sooooo liberal, especially on social issues like feminism, abortion and marriage. I’m sure this woman has been influenced by feminist ideology so much that she just can’t deal with the fact that men are women are very different.

Anyway, here’s a snip of Dr. Craig’s response:

Third is my claim that the church is becoming increasingly feminized. What I mean by this is that church services and programs are increasingly based on emotional and relational factors that appeal more to women than to men. The problem of the church’s lack of appeal to men has been recognized by men’s movements like Promise Keepers and books like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. Nowhere is this feminization more evident than in contemporary worship music. Someone aptly remarked that if you were to replace references to God in many praise songs with “Baby,” they would sound just like romantic songs between a man and a woman! This is not true of classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress” or “And Can It be?” Talking with young men, I find that many of them are just turned off by these touchy-feely worship services and would rather not go.

We see this same feminization though relational factors in network coverage of sports, traditionally a male bastion. Coverage of Olympic Games has deliberately targeted women in order to increase viewership by the addition of personal stories about athletes’ lives, rather than simply televising the events themselves. In professional sports have you noticed how in recent years television networks have engaged female reporters to go down on the field and interview baseball or football players, usually about how they felt about this or that? Jan and I had to laugh when, following the Broncos’ recent blowout of the Ravens, the female reporter asked Peyton Manning, “Didn’t you feel bad for the other team when you looked up at the scoreboard?” Uh, I don’t think so!

You’re right that the predominance of women in Christianity is a relatively new phenomenon. It is only over the last 200 years that Christianity has become increasingly female in its demographics. I’m very worried that the church is on a course that will end in relatively few men’s being active Christians.

Fourth is my claim that apologetics is a key to making the church and Christian faith relevant to men once more. People think that by having sports programs or men’s barbecues the church will draw in more men. But I’m convinced that the best kept secret to drawing in men is apologetics. Men need to see that Jesus of Nazareth was not only a tough guy but a smart guy. I never suspected that apologetics would have this special effect on men. I had no intention of ministering particularly to men in this ministry. But the appeal of apologetics to men is just undeniable. In my Defenders class we’ve got guys who don’t even attend church but who regularly come for my lectures on Christian doctrine and apologetics. One woman in the class told me, “I don’t understand a lot of what you say. But I’m glad to come because this is the only spiritual activity that my husband will participate in with me.” Wow!

Wow, indeed. Apologetics gets men to engage more in Christianity, and the church should leverage that to bring men in. That’s a fact. So, I’m glad Dr Craig didn’t give an inch to this fact-averse feminist from Canada.

My own post critical of the feminized church can be read here. Keep in mind that this is from two months after I started blogging – very raw stuff.

By the way, Dr. Craig’s ministry Reasonable Faith has a huge matching grant again this year, so if you’re looking for a great ministry to donate to, Reasonable Faith should be on your list!

Related posts

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Should Christians expect to know God’s will by means of feelings and intuitions?

There are two views on the topic of decision making and the will of God. The view you learn in the church is called “the traditional view”. I call this view the feelings/intuition view. This view that elevates feelings / intuitions to the level of divine communications from God. The more practical view is called “the wisdom view”. I call this view the battlefield commander view. I am a proponent of the wisdom / commander view.

Let’s learn about the two different views:

[The traditional view is] that God has a plan for our lives and that we receive guidance through methods such as “open and closed doors”, “feeling led” and “the still, small, voice”.

[The wisdom view] holds that God does not have an “individual will” for our lives, but rather that all of God’s will can be summed up within two categories, God’s sovereign will and God’s moral will. Basically God’s sovereign will is all the things that god decrees will happen. It is hidden (mostly) from us, and does not play an active part in our decision, although some of it is revealed in the bible. God’s moral will is the part that we must concern ourselves with in making decisions. It is fully revealed in the bible and our decisions must be made within it. We may use wisdom in applying god’s moral will to our lives, or we may be in an area not covered by god’s moral will. We must finally submit in advance to God’s sovereign will, being prepared for him to sovereignty intervene and redirect us through whatever means he wills (see James).

Here’s a bit more from someone else:

Regarding the view that God has a personal will for us individually that we have to discern and find, J.I. Packer says, “The first thing to say is that the idea of guidance is actually a novelty among orthodox evangelicals. It does not go back farther than the last century. Second, it has led people to so much foolish action on the one hand, and so much foolish inaction on the other, as well as puzzlement and heartbreak when the ‘hotline’ to God seems to go silent, that it has to be discredited. Third, it must be said that Scripture gives us no more warrant constantly to expect personal ‘hotline,’ ‘voice-from-the-control-tower’ guidance than to expect new authoritative revelations to come our way for the guidance of the whole church.” (Hot Tub Religion, page 118).

As to the point of the question, how do I make decisions, I attempt to make decisions in light of three factors: God’s moral will, wisdom, and my personal desires. If something is opposed to God’s moral will, then I should obviously flee from it. If it’s not opposed, then I consider the wisdom of the choices. For example, would it be wise for me to marry a woman who loves Jesus, though we have nothing else in common? Probably not. If the options pass the criteria of wisdom, then I’m free to choose how I wish. If I’m offered two jobs, and both are honoring to God, and both would be wise to take, then I’m free to choose the job I would like more. I don’t need to put out a fleece or await some other confirmation from God. If it’s moral and wise, then the only question as to whether or not it will honor Him is my attitude.

Some examples of this model used in the Bible (in theological circles referred to as the Wisdom Model) are in Paul’s planning of a mission to Rome in Romans 1:9-15, 15:22-24, the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-29), and Paul’s instructions for legal disputes (1 Cor 6:3-6).

The best book on this topic is Garry Friesen’s “Decision Making and the Will of God”. In it, you’ll find a full assessment about what the Bible teaches on this topic.

When I am trying to decide what will be effective, I look at Christian scholars, at their papers, books, and public debates. That’s effectiveness because it is addressed to a non-Christian audience in public with the force of reason and evidence. It is persuasion and it is addressed to rational minds. I want to change the minds of people who have a large influence on society on the whole. I don’t think that offering Christianity as life-enhancement or self-help is really “having an influence”. I think that offering Christianity as truth, with support, is “having an influence”.

So let me be clear about what I believe:

  • I don’t think that God normally talks to people directly
  • I don’t believe that life is an Easter egg hunt, filled with clues accessible only to emotion and intuition
  • I don’t believe that God expects people to discover a specific will for their lives using non-rational means
  • I think that people make up their own life plan that is consistent with the Bible
  • The goal of the life plan is to be effective, and there are no other considerations
  • I think that there are many good things a person can do, but that some are more effective than others
  • I think that with respect to the goal of serving God effectively, my happiness is expendable
  • I don’t think that the purpose of doing something for the Lord is to feel good about ourselves
  • I don’t think that people should choose ineffective things to do just because they like them
  • I don’t think that people should choose ineffective things to do just because they are good at them
  • I think people should do hard things that they don’t like – as long as it’s more effective
  • I don’t think that any course of action is as effective as any other – some plans accomplish more
  • I don’t think that life is totally unpredictable and irrational and subjective
  • I think that we can know what is or is not effective by studying and learning about the world
  • I think life is like a battlefield that must be surveyed, understood and acted upon deliberately

I think that every person is the commanding officer of his or her own life, and each person must study everything they can, make a plan that is consistent with the Bible’s moral prescriptions, execute the plan and achieve whatever they can achieve for the Lord. And the goal is not comfort or happy feelings, but real achievements. Not for the purpose of being saved, of course, because salvation is a free gift of God because of what Jesus did on the cross. Life is more like a battle than a vacation resort or a buffet or a shopping center. God’s will for us is not have happy feelings, but that we freely choose to sacrifice ourselves out of obedience and service to him. In my case, that means studying hard things, making money, saving money, and giving money away to good scholars, sponsoring good events and being persuasive to non-Christians. None of this necessarily makes me happy, but it does work to bring glory to God. I cried when I had to learn calculus, because it was so hard. But who cares? The main thing is that I have money now to sponsor Christian speakers or to give books to Christians to read, and God is happy with that.

I think that it is very important to realize that God is not impressed by our not being smart and not being effective. If we have the ability to be smart, then we should be smart, whether it makes us happy or not. If we have the ability to make money, then we should make money, whether it makes us happy or not. If we have the ability have a great influence, then we should have a great influence, whether it makes us happy or not. There will be plenty of time for happiness after we’re dead. But this life is a time of serving, and we should try to serve effectively, whether it makes us happy or not. With respect to God’s purposes in the world, my happiness is expendable.

Whenever someone questions my goals and plans by saying that I am asserting my will over God’s will, the first question I want to ask that person is this: “how do you know what God’s will is?” and “what is your basis for thinking that my plan to serve will not be effective?”. I want to know if I have misunderstood something about the way the world is, or miscalculated in some way. I want someone to look at my calculations and show where they are going to produce a less optimal result for the Lord. That’s the only concern I have – effectiveness for the Lord. Usually what I have found is that the other person wants to make the purpose of life their own happiness, and it makes them happier to choose what to do moment by moment, without having to study anything or make plans. It’s not that they have better goals (for God) or better plans (for God). It’s that they want their goals to be above God, and they don’t want to make plans other than to do whatever makes them happy.

This article by Greg Koukl may be helpful.

And I also found this summary of the Friesen book useful:

In nine parts.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Does the church do a good job of equipping Christians to talk to non-Christians?

Most churches these days are not doing a good job of helping Christians to understand how to explain and defend Christianity to non-Christians. They tend to be focused on providing comfort and entertainment, which is why so much of the focus is on compassion, singing and being “nice”. Logical arguments are out. Scientific evidence is out. Historical evidence is out. There is a terrible fear of disagreeing with anyone. Everyone is focused on being “nice” and being “liked” by non-Christians. Instead of teaching people what Christians think is true, we teach people how to recycle cans and how to color pictures of Jesus.

Church is typically a mishmash of mysticism, piety and emotivism. Pastors in particular are often opposed to connecting anything the Bible says to evidence outside the Bible, whether it be research or experiments or philosophical arguments. Even the very best preaching pastors just assert things and then expect people to accept it because “the Bible says so”. It’s almost as if it dirties up Christianity to test it against what we know from other disciplines like cosmology and ancient history. People who are regarded as Christian leaders seem to never get around to explaining why anyone should accept the Bible as true.Accepting the Bible is just left up to your feelings, or maybe whether you think the pastor is “nice”. That’s it.

Now how well does this simple, blind-faith be-nice approach work on a real non-Christian?

Mary sent me this article from the New Statesman that explains how it works.

Excerpt:

It’s 7.30pm on a Tuesday evening and I’m at a small church in East London. A man called Adam* hands me a name label, pours me a plastic cup of squash and says dinner won’t be long. I pull up a seat and introduce myself to ten strangers. It’s all rather awkward.

The reason I’m at church isn’t because I’m religious (I’m not) or because my fridge is empty (it is). It’s because I’ve signed up to Alpha, a weekly course run by churches all over the world in order to spread the Christian message. Although I’m an atheist, I don’t have a problem with people who subscribe to religion. I am, however, wary of brainwashing, I think most religious beliefs are kind of stupid and I strongly suspect that organised religion is a horrible thing.

[...]Adam, the course leader, is wearing a Superdry shirt. After dinner, he explains that it’s customary to sing. Rebecca plays the acoustic guitar and Adam mans the PowerPoint presentation, which would have got an A* if it was a piece of ICT GCSE coursework because the lyrics make noises when they appear on the screen.

Now, why on Earth would you make a non-Christian sing?? That makes no sense. If they don’t accept Christianity, why would they sing about it?

More:

After singing comes talking. Specifically, Adam talking. Over the next six weeks, his talks will cover: “Is there more to life than this?”; “Who is Jesus and why did he die?”; “How can we have faith?”; “How can we read the Bible?”; “Why and how do I pray”; and “What about the Church?”. After each talk, we’ll break off into groups and discuss what we’ve learnt.

The first couple of sessions are similar. They involve Adam handing out copies of the Bible and saying things like, “So let’s assume Jesus does exist and came to Earth to save us…” I’m genuinely the only person who is annoyed that Adam makes no attempt to prove Jesus’s existence.

The first questions to address are thing like “Does God Exist?” and “Did Jesus Rise From the Dead?” and “Why Should People Think the Bible is Historically Reliable?”. But those questions cannot be asked by Christians, because they are totally unaware, thanks to years and years of avoiding apologetics, that those questions come before praise hymns and Bible study and prayer. Christians are so unaware that they don’t even realize how to discuss Christianity with a non-Christian, using authorities like logic, science and history, which non-Christians accept.

More:

Adam’s big points in the first two weeks are that we should love Jesus because he loves us in spite of our tendency to sin and that we should try to emulate his behaviour, because it’s nice to have a role model.

Discussion time isn’t fruitful. Natalie asks me how I’m able to distinguish between moral and immoral behaviour if I don’t base my actions on Jesus’ example. I explain that I work out what makes my peers happy and try to do those things. Everyone laughs, which I find confusing because I’m not joking. I agree that having a role model can be helpful, but ask how they know Jesus is the best one. Anna and Will, who are married, tell me that it’s because the Bible said so. But how do they know the Bible is right? “No offence, Tabatha,” replies Louise, “but the Bible is quite far-fetched. I don’t get why someone would have made that stuff up if it weren’t true.” It sounds like I’m lying, but I’m not.

[...]This week, Adam’s main point is that Christianity isn’t about rules. Fine, but there’s still no attempt to prove God’s existence.

What is going on here? It’s that Christians are basically no different than cultists. We think that it’s our jobs to just tell people things without ever proving anything with science or history. We don’t know how to construct logical arguments. All we do is say what we believe and then hope that the person listening will accept it because “the Bible says so” or maybe because it makes the person feel like a nice person to accept it.

More:

Then we talk about which bits of the Bible we should take literally. Louise tells me I’ll work it out if I read the Bible. I tell her I’ve read it. She says I will never develop a full understanding because I’m not God so I can’t understand everything. This is becoming a recurring theme. These people have answers to some problems, but as soon as they hit a brick wall they settle for not understanding God and refuse to think through alternatives.

Wow, how do Christians handle questions that they don’t know the answer to? By going and finding the answer? NO! We think that it’s not our job to find answers to this skeptic’s questions, it’s the skeptic’s job to find answers. We hand the work to the skeptic to do, instead of doing the work for them. Finding answers is work, and if Christianity is about anything, it’s apparently about avoiding work. That’s what we learn in church, anyway.

More:

This week, Leslie, a priest from the church, speaks about evolution, which has to be our most interesting topic to date. “How do I know evolution isn’t true?” he begins, continuing: “Because God revealed himself to me through scripture.” This annoys me: these people keep saying really obscure things and not explaining them. Leslie explains that scripture is “God-breathed,” so when you read the Bible, God is speaking directly to you. I’m not an idiot but I have absolutely no conception of what that means.

This is pretty much the answer you’re going to get from most pastors and church people, even in a time where we have amazing arguments coming out of the intelligent design community about the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion. And even without talking about evolution, we could be talking about the Big Bang cosmology and the cosmic fine-tuning. But those things can’t be talked about because they are just too “real” and we want to keep religion in the realm of try-it-and-see-if-you-like-it bromides.

More:

Leslie goes on to offer practical Bible-reading advice: you should read it for 15 minutes a day and ask God questions by verbalising your thoughts. By this stage, I’m annoyed. I want to know why we should read the Bible, how they know it’s true, what God sounds like and how He chooses which prayers to listen to. Instead, Leslie says things like, “If we pray, we become trees. Trees grow fruit, so we will live fruitful lives.” This kind of obscure, metaphorical chat is driving me mad.

[...]In discussion time, it becomes clear that although these people are interested in religion, they’re uncritical of it. It’s really starting to bother me that this institution encourages blind faith at the expense of scientific enquiry.

Again, Christians are incapable of understanding that they have to prove claims using arguments and evidence. They just want to state their beliefs, like cultists do when they knock on your door. What exactly is the difference between us and the cults if it’s not that we are able to make a case for our views based on evidence, not feelings?

More:

Adam tells a story about his wedding ring. It’s a more elaborate version of this: Adam went to Costa. He left his wedding ring behind. He realised what he’d done. He said a quick prayer. He went back to Costa. He found his ring. He reckons God answered his prayer.

[...]Louise claims that God once answered her prayer to get her to the airport on time. Alasdair thinks God stopped a wave breaking on him when he went surfing as a teenager. Robin tells us that God warned him to wear a helmet when he snowboards.

[...]“Anyone feel unconvinced by the power of prayer?” Natalie asks. “YES,” I feel like shouting. “YOU’RE IDIOTS. ALL OF THOSE THINGS WERE PROBABLY COINCIDENCES THAT YOU’RE READING TOO MUCH INTO.”

Sigh. Well I hope that this is helpful so that everyone understands what non-Christians really need from us. I think we need to focus on studying apologetics, so that we can answer questions. Instead of focusing on telling people weird things, we should just focus on the basics: God’s existence, the minimal facts case for the resurrection, intelligent design in nature, the moral argument, the problems of evil and suffering. The basics. And stop trying to talk about our own lives or our own weird experiences, because you can’t prove anything by telling stories or mystical experiences or pious feelings. We really need to stop treating religion as something different from practical things. We don’t hire employees or pick stocks or buy medicine on the basis of how we feel about them. We study things carefully, we look at evidence, we use reason. Truth is the point of religion, not feelings, and when we focus on feelings when talking to non-Christians, we look like idiots. And rightly so.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 3,944,904 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,731 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,731 other followers

%d bloggers like this: