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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Good Reading Skills

Over at Jennifer Fulwiler’s NCR blog, we have an atheist who styles himself Duke York that has demonstrated his extremely careful and meticulous reading skills when he says this:

You don’t really think about your beliefs; you just assert them as a tribal marker. If you claim to believe these ridiculos things, you have the safety of being in a majority and license to condemn an out-group (atheists now, although you Catholics got plenty of mileage against the Jews. How did that work out again?.)

Since it’s Jen’s blog, then I assume he’s addressing her directly. This is absolutely laughable.  Asserting that Jen doesn’t think deeply about her beliefs can only mean one thing: York read the article, but never tried to figure out who wrote it.

This is laughable for one reason: Jen used to be an atheist!  She has written about how she thought through the issues and realized that belief in God is warranted and rational.  Evidence and logic brought her to that conclusion! (summary of that journey)

But, you can’t tell the Duke anything about Christians.  When people in the thread sarcastically find it amazing that Duke knows exactly what they think, he replies:

I know what you think because you’re a Christian. If you’re a Catholic, you literally have no choice about what you believe. That choice would make you a heretic, which, after all, comes from the Greek for “choice”. If you’re choosing, you’re doing it wrong.

In other words, “I’ve made up my mind and I’m not listening anymore.”  Can’t argue with that.  Fortunately, as has been proven again and again, my atheist readers aren’t this close-minded and ignorant.  Thank God for that.

Question: Why do some atheists think that by virtue of being an ex-Christian they know everything about Christianity, Christian thought, and orthodox theology? I’m an ex-Catholic, and though I know quite a bit about Catholic theology, I’d never claim that I know everything.  There’s quite a bit I don’t know, and I’m willing to learn (I have a few hardcore Catholic friends on Facebook that help me learn; thank you Sean Hutton and Ross Earl Hoffman!).

But certain atheists are unwilling to learn about Christian thought and theology.  They know what they know, and what they know is “right.”  When the Christian points out where the atheist is mistaken, the atheist just puffs his chest out and asserts that the Christian is wrong–without explaining why.

When I used to be an assistant manager at Burger King, customers would occasionally lecture me on BK policies and procedures.  Usually when they didn’t like whatever had just happened.  The customer’s “expertise” on BK derived from working at a BK in a different state for six months–20 years ago.  He would have a shallow grasp of procedures at best, and based on his current age, would have been 15 at the time of employment. I seriously doubt he cared a lick about learning BK policies in the first place.  In other words, he wouldn’t have a clue what he was talking about.

It’s the same thing here.  Atheists who are ex-Christians usually had a shallow understanding of Christian issues to begin with, but as far as they’re concerned this flawed understanding is right while my deeper and more studied application of Christian thought is wrong.  If I say otherwise, they yell some random logical fallacy at me (which never applies, by the way: and the top 3 are ad hominem, special pleading, and no true Scotsman) and I never hear from them again.

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Comment Section Facepalm

Reading the comment section of this post from the Catholic Champion blog, the only appropriate response is a resounding facepalm.

The main problem I had with the post is how misleading it is.  The headline implies that more Protestant denominations are caving on homosexuality (a sin, to be sure).  The linked article shows the opposite: the United Methodist Church is not caving on homosexuality; but a large number of former bishops are pressuring it to do so.  The article is applauding the denomination for being one of the few mainline Protestant denominations for standing on biblical ground when it comes to this sin.

That aside, I come to an interesting comment from a user called scotju.  It was in reply to the following comment from Neil Parille:

I don’t think this is a very good argument against protestantism. The protestant reformers (and in this case Wesley) opposed homosexuality. So I don’t find it any more significant than some catholic priest or bishop dissenting from church teaching.

And the catholic church has become pretty liberal on some issues. The current pope doesn’t believe the opening chapters of Genesis are historical and one member of the PBC compared Gen. 1-11 to Little Red Riding Hood.

Personally, I don’t like using the arguments of specific personages because then scotju is free to make this (facepalm-worthy) reply: Read the rest of this entry

I So Meant to Post this on Sunday

This song, an old hymn, really spoke to me this past Sunday.  I meant to post it then, but I forgot.  Ooops.  So, here it is now:

Read the history behind this song carefully.  Horatio Spafford suffered immense loss, first with the Great Chicago Fire and then the shipwreck of all four of his daughters.  Despite this, he didn’t waver in his faith (as far as I know).  He certainly would have been justified had he done so.  He and his wife then became missionaries to Jerusalem.  It would have been at his lowest point, passing the watery graves of his daughters, that he wrote “It is Well with my Soul.”

Contrast that with this:

I received a letter a month or so later telling me that they could not recommend me for ordination at this time. They did however, outline a process I should work through in order to clear up the issues in my life and with my theology. They provided a long list of books I should read and asked that I meet with Doughboy on a monthly basis for further counseling.
So let me vent for a moment.

I’m living in a town 10 miles from the church I once pastored and they want me to attend the sister church of that congregation because my choice to attend a Baptist church shows that I have unresolved theological questions. I drink wine on rare occasions and smoke a good cigar on a quarterly basis so I am obviously morally bankrupt. I can go out and spend $19.95 online to get ordained but these wind bags have decided I don’t meet their criteria.

Have I told you that I hate Christians. . . ?

I don’t really think it would have mattered what I said to them because what small minds these folks possessed were already made up before I arrived.

This is one of the episodes that cemented my position as highly critical and pessimistic about the Church. (source)

So, petty in-fighting and stupid inter-denominational bickering causes this guy, going by Slow Break, to lose his faith and resign his pastorate (elsewhere in the article, he’s clear about not being a Christian anymore). On the other hand, Horatio Spafford loses all his material goods followed closely by 2/3 of his family, but remains firm.

Obviously, Spafford had it rougher.

Though, in the interest of full disclosure, Slow Break is having a difficult time making a living since resigning his pastorate.  He’s currently working in a crime-ridden part of town as a car salesman but can’t make any sales and so lacks two pennies to rub together.  He admits this is a low point for him.

Some may fail to see the difference between Spafford and Slow Break, but there is a huge difference. The fix Slow Break finds himself in is his choice. He voluntarily resigned, and so far as I gather from the article, could have taken another church but refused. Spafford’s circumstances were a matter of events beyond his control, seeming to conspire against him.

What happened to the ex-pastor was his own doing.  He chose to leave his post.  He chose not to accept an alternative one.  Spafford did not set the Chicago Fire. He did not pilot the opposing vessel which sank his daughters’ transport.  God, however, was always in control of those things.  Knowing this, Spafford muscled on and did not blame God for his troubles.  He remained faithful to God, and God mightily used him in missionary work.

I wonder if Slow Break blames God for all his trouble?

Why Aren’t Christians Better People?

C. Michael Patton began a series on questions he hopes no one will ask, which relates to my own series on DaGoodS’s questions that Christians hope no one will ask.  I examined a few of his questions in brief already, and I had intended to continue examining them as he posted more.  In the interest of time, I wanted to just write a small snippet on each and combine several in a single post.

That didn’t happen with the question of why Christians aren’t better people. Read the rest of this entry

When I’m Wrong, I’m Wrong

It appears as though I made a sweeping generalization in my last post that was unwarranted.  I claimed that atheists lauded this idiot, who made a homeless person jump through hoops for his own amusement before he would give the needy man $20.

I found the video via ex-Christian.net.  The comments section on ex-C.net contained things like this:

  • Actually the film maker didn’t seem arrogant or particularly condescending to me. It did make the man uncomfortable (although not the woman to my eyes), but its never comfortable when our deepest held values and beliefs are up for public scrutiny by someone who disbelieves them. Maybe it will give him the impetus to do some self-examination. Certainly if someone had just given them $20 without the discussion, these parents would have seen it as “a gift from the Lard!” & “God’s provisioning!”
  • Hey, if it’s OK to casually ask for money on the side of the road (and guilt people into donating using “God”), then what’s wrong with casually asking someone to cross out a word in exchange for money?
  • The christbots still found and jumped through a loophole to get the money.  I really wish the film maker had had ten thousand dollars in cash to really “test” their faith.
  • Does anyone really believe that if he had a million bucks, as opposed to 20, that they wouldn’t have accepted? Please.
  • Exactly! And if by some slim-to-none chance they wouldn’t have taken the million bucks, that alone would prove the extent of their brainwashing… or sheer stupidity.
  • Sad, there they are living in an RV homeless and yet somehow think god is for them? So sad. Sadder even I used to be that stupid. Then I did what the guy in the video said, took accountability for my life.  TADA!!!!! It worked! Well what do you know? Read the rest of this entry

The Moral Bankruptcy of Atheism

Let’s try this thought experiment:

On the side of the road is a man, his wife, and a child.  They are holding up a sign that reads, “We lost our home.  Help would be appreciated.”

Moved by their plight, I’m compelled to help them.  I pull my car over to an out-of-the way place.  I exit the vehicle and approach the family.

“Hi,” I call to them.

“Hello,” the man says.  His wife and daughter remain silent, though his wife offers me a tenative smile.

“I feel for your plight, sir,” I say.  “I’m going to give you $20.”

“Thank you,” the man says.  His wife smiles more broadly this time, and she extends a hand to thank me.

“But first,” I say, dangling a twenty dollar bill from my fingertips, “I want you to do a little something.”

The woman drops her hand to her side.  The man looks at me, while the woman raises a quizzical eyebrow.

Then I propose my deal.  “I have a hula hoop, clown shoes, and a colored wig in my trunk.  I want you to strip all of your clothes off–totally naked–and wear nothing but the wig and clown shoes.  Then, I want you to spin the hula hoop as many times as you can while chanting, ‘I can’t provide for the basic needs of my family, so I’m begging people for money instead of looking for a job!'”

Awkward silence.  I dangle the twenty dollar bill even closer to the man’s face.  “I don’t think so,” the man growls.

“I’ll make it $50 if you do this at the busiest mall in town,” I say.

The man just shakes his head vigorously.  His wife won’t look at me anymore.

In this example, I think that we can confidently conclude that I’m an asshole who should be shot.  Making the homeless jump through hoops for my own amusement is reprehensible behavior. People who engage in it deserve the label “asshole.”

Well, what have we here:

Though no one would praise my actions in the itallicized example, folks on ex-Christian.net are applauding the actions of the maker of that video.  Had the asshole done what I did above in the thought experiment, they (hopefully) would have universally condemned him.  Yet, when he asks the homeless person to deny God for money, that somehow is awesome.

To recap:

  • Make a homeless person jump through sadistic hoops for money = immoral.
  • Make a homeless person deny his Creator for money = strong commentary on religion.

Conclusion: Atheists have little moral compass, especially when it comes to making religion look bad.  Anything goes.  This is so disgusting that I can’t even come up with words for it.

Remember, the spirit is more important than the flesh.  Denying God has spiritual consequences greater than the physical consequences of turning down $20 from a complete asshole:

If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:4-11)

And:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. (Mt 10:29, 31-33)

Help for Family

From left: Destiny, Denise, Joe (Destiny's husband, Denise's son)

As I stated in a previous post, my cousin (Destiny) and aunt (Denise) were injured in a propane blast on the evening of February 13.  It was powerful enough to blow the back door clean off the house.  Both received 3rd degree burns and are currently in the burn unit at St. Vincent’s Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, OH.

Logan James Nicholson

The real problem was that Destiny was pregnant, and the baby had to be delivered by emergency C-section on Valentine’s Day.  Not the way you want a little one to enter this world.  But he is doing well.  He’s in NICU for a few more days, and on antibiotics as a precaution.  Logan weighed five pounds, four ounces and was 18 1/4 inches long.  He was born three weeks early.

Continued prayers would be most appreciated.

Unfortunately, Joe and Destiny lost most of their possessions. Their house (which was a fixer-upper before) is in serious disarray.  If you can offer any financial help, please visit their support website to donate.

If you’re on Facebook, you can join the Support Destiny Nicholson Group to receive updates and offer moral support.

E-mail isadj1@gmail.com with any additional ideas, comments, or questions.

Returning to the God is Imaginary Rewrite

It’s been a while, but I’m now returning to the rewrite of my refutation of God is Imaginary. After reading some of my original disproofs, I’m happy to be doing the rewrite because some of my original apologetics were terrible. I’ve grown as an apologist, I’m proud to say.

Like anything, it’s a learning curve.

I have no set schedule for completing the proofs. I hope to also tackle Why Won’t God Heal Amputees in the near future as well.

What I’ve done so far:

And, co-author Dr. Joshua Rasmussen has put up his first article:

I’m probably going to edit that article a bit this week, since Dr. Rasmussen makes some points that I would like to expand on.

Prayer Request

I don’t normally put prayer requests out on the blog since the audience tends to be mostly atheist or agnostic, but the accident is serious enough that I wanted to do so anyway.

My Aunt Denise and her daughter-in-law Destiny were in Destiny’s new house when the hot water tank exploded.  The were life-flighted to the hospital with 3rd-degree burns.  Destiny is 8 1/2 months pregnant, which is the worst part of this.

I’ll post updates when I have them.  For now, any prayers would be appreciated.  Thank you.

So Far, I Remain Unimpressed

There are two basic classifications of atheist. The negative atheist simply remains unconvinced that God exists. The atheist doesn’t affirm the existence of any deity, but never explicitly denies the possibility one may exist somewhere.

Most folks I argue with here fall into the category of negative (sometimes called “weak”) atheist. It is often asserted that this is the default position in life and one should remain at this point until evidence is presented to the contrary. Of course, every weak atheist I encounter is absolutely unimpressed by any evidence affirming the existence of God. Such evidence is either believed to be faulty or denied outright as having any significance to judging the existence of God.

More interesting is positive (or “strong”) atheism, which is the explicit proposition that God doesn’t exist. As weak atheists remind us constantly, the burden of proof is on the one making the positive claim. Therefore, when the theist encounters a strong atheist, the burden of proof shifts and it is up to the strong atheist to prove that God doesn’t exist.

Not surprisingly, there are few strong atheists. It’s an extremely difficult position to defend, since the strong atheist has given himself a nearly impossible burden of proof. However, I found Geoffrey Berg at my local library when browsing for another title; Berg attempts to defend strong atheism by formulating new and improved proofs that God is incompatible with logic. He published a book called The Six Ways of Atheism: New Logical Disproofs of the Existence of God. I thought it would be interesting, so I picked it up. Read the rest of this entry