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Former Believers Had Severely Underdeveloped Theologies

Daniel Florien, curator of Unreasonable Faith, proves once again that former believers never actually took the time to understand theology. By quoting Robert Price, another ex-believer who also lacks a full understanding of good theology, Florien unsuccessfully tries to make the point that religious belief (specifically Christianity) stunts people’s moral, intellectual, and personal growth.

In the morality department, Florien once again cites fear of hell as the only reason that Christians are moral. No good for goodness sake; only goodness because of a reward in heaven.

I have a newsflash: Christians have nothing to fear from hell. The Christian’s faith in Jesus removes all need to fear going to hell. All of the good done by a Christian should never be because of fear of punishment. Instead, it should flow naturally from a heartfelt desire to please God. This is what saving faith is really about.

Christianity stunts a person’s intellectual growth, according to Robert Price, because wrong beliefs about theology will send you to hell. The safest path here is to not question anything. But this just isn’t right. I’ve said it time and time again that we go to hell because of our sins, not because of mismatched theology. It doesn’t take believing in something, it takes faith in Christ for eternal life.

I should point out that right doctrine and theology pleases and glorfies God, as C. Michael Patton argues here. That goes along with loving God with all of your mind. But it isn’t the main point–the main point is still faith in Christ.

Finally, Christianity stunts personal growth by teaching others a party line of morality instead of teaching them to think for themselves. In this post, I’ve argued that mankind is born into sin. We deserve the penalty for sin even when we’re fresh from the womb. Our entire nature is sinful. So, according to these guys, I’m supposed to adopt my own set of morals and beliefs based on what exactly? My sinful flesh? That’s a great idea.

A look at history should satisfy anyone that humans cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Ever. Not without a moral compass or some sort of guide. To the Christian, the Bible is that moral compass. Thinking for oneself when it comes to morals is just dangerous. This is moral relativism and the idea is a major philosophical failure.

How does atheism, on the other hand, promote moral, intellectual, and personal growth? Atheism has no moral compass, so it must rely on either moral relativism or some other philosophical system of morality. Usually, atheism assumes a Judeo-Christian system of absolute morality while trying hard to distance itself from God. So it looks like the Bible may be the atheist source of morality after all, they just don’t want to admit it. See this essay.

Friendly Atheist once posed the question If a miracle occured, would you believe in God? to its atheist readership. For humor, it added a webcomic where one character, a theist, asked another character, an atheist, what would it take to make him believe. The atheist said that if God printed a personal message to him in the stars, that would work. The next night, that happened and the atheist still found a reason not to believe. The comments section of that post was filled with agreement–the atheists almost universally declared that there is nothing that would make them believe–not even witnessing a bona fide miracle.

My point is this: who is more close-minded? Religion doesn’t close minds, atheism does.

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About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on March 5, 2009, in Apologetics, Morality, Theology and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “The comments section of that post was filled with agreement–the atheists almost universally declared that there is nothing that would make them believe–not even witnessing a bona fide miracle.”

    That depends on what you mean. Would a single miracle make me believe? No. After all, I may well have has a mental fugue. Or any other countless natural explanations.

    Now, if a personalized message appeared in the sky, and it read exactly the same except for the name for every person on the planet, and even appeared to be in different languages despite being in the exact same location for everyone? That would get me close. I’d certainly accept that something massively powerful or intelligent had done that thing.

  2. Yes, if only I had read more. I’ve read a dozen different conservative systematic theology books. Obviously that isn’t enough for me to understand such sophisticated ideas.

  3. Obviously you didn’t go to the same church that I did. In my sect of Christianity – which is the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, if their claims are correct – Jesus is not enough to save you from Hell. You must also submit your entire life to God and never commit another sin again – and if you do, beg Him for forgiveness. It’s an ongoing struggle to keep from being tainted.

    A very popular phrase among our disciples is “I know I don’t fear God like I should…” Fear is a primary tenant of our teachings. That you presume to know what every Christians have to fear is a fact I find extremely disturbing.

    A look at history should satisfy anyone that humans cannot be trusted to do the right thing. Ever. Not without a moral compass or some sort of guide. To the Christian, the Bible is that moral compass. Thinking for oneself when it comes to morals is just dangerous. This is moral relativism and the idea is a major philosophical failure.

    You assert, then, that it is correct to stone a woman to death if she is not a virgin? Or to kill a stubborn son? Tell me, sir, when was the last time you ate a bacon cheeseburger? All of these behaviors are taught in the Bible. In fact, the second one is confirmed by Jesus as acceptable.

    Here’s a flash for you: “Moral relativism” is what led us to decide that slavery was wrong. The Bible does not condemn slavery – in fact, it provides helpful advice on how slaves can better serve their masters. It was a bunch of people who thought for themselves that decided that it was immoral to keep slaves. Do you support slavery?

    • Er — I meant to say that bacon cheeseburgers were condemned in the Bible, not encouraged. Slight mistake on my part.

    • You obviously haven’t brushed up on what the Bible actually teaches about slavery. First, part with the notion that just because it is in the Law, that God condones it. Jesus makes it clear that God doesn’t condone divorce, even though it is in the Law. Second, read this and then read this. The Mosaic Law doesn’t represent the ideal standard; it is far from the ideal standard. But it does point the way to the standard.

      Now, let me try to make this as clear as I can: WE ARE NOT BOUND TO THE MOSAIC LAW ANYMORE. We are not under law, we are under grace. This means that we are, to some degree, able to pick and choose what we adhere to. I say “to some degree” because there are three parts to the Law: universal moral precepts (applicable at all times, everywhere), cultural norms (the letter of which makes no sense to adhere to today, but the spirit of which makes perfect sense), and ceremonial laws (which are out the window completely). The penalties are no longer ours to enforce, no matter which section of the Law they came from. But, the penalties do provide some insight as to how severely God views disobeying parents and staying in-bounds with sexual relationships.

      What irritates me about your comment, sir, is that I have answered all of these things in my other writings. Other apologists have offered answers to this material too. There is a plethora of solid biblical responses to the charges that you level. Yet, you appear completely ignorant of all of them. What’s your REAL reason for not believing in God? Did he not give you that pony your prayed for when you were six?

  4. “Christians have nothing to fear from hell.”

    Your theology is clearly underdeveloped and is nothing but vain and profane babbling that increases unto more ungodliness.

  5. All of the good done by a Christian should never be because of fear of punishment. Instead, it should flow naturally from a heartfelt desire to please God. This is what saving faith is really about.

    This is precisely the kind of lame thinking which shows how “religious belief… stunts people’s moral, intellectual, and personal growth.”

    I don’t think Christianity per se is worse than any religion… And for “religion” you can substitute any ideology which insists on it being absolutely right and everyone else being absolutely wrong (e.g. soviet communism)… But right here and now, in the western world, it’s Christian Fundamentalist gibberish which is the problem.

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