Posts tagged ‘apologetics’
The good news is that today’s apologists find their own core belief indefensible. This is leading to an attempt to draw the debate away from the many core logical absurdities found in the “gospel”, and to a focus on arguments absent from what has lead most of them to their faith. These are just a decoy. Any proposal of a spherical cube of gold can be immediately dismissed due to the impossibility of a spherical cube, evidence of gold not withstanding. In like manner, any proposal of the logically impossible Christian god can be dismissed based on the impossibility of that god, in spite of proffered evidence of “changed lives” or “fine tuning” or perceived weaknesses in evolutionary theory or the need for “objective purpose”. Whatever gods may exist, the logically impossible god of the Bible is disqualified as a candidate due to his logical incoherence. Let’s avoid the intentional distractors, and bring the argument home to the apologists, smack-dab in their incoherent backyard of redemption.
These are dark days in which the forces of evil have besieged The Lord Turtle Almighty. Aturtleists the world over have risen up against the truth of the turtle upon which the world rides. It is high time for Turtleists to come out of their shells and defend the foundation of our faith.
In years past, our faith in Our Almighty Turtle was dismissed as a blind faith as if the number of Turtleists itself did not prove the existence of the Turtle. However, we are here to assert that our faith is based on real evidence, and it is the Aturtleists who are dependent on faith in science and a misguided logic. I, for one, don’t have enough faith to be an Aturtleist. Allow me to elaborate.
I have personally confronted Aturtleists in many universities across the globe, and have asked them one simple question. “What does the Earth sit on?” Scientists have demonstrated that gravity pulls down. Therefore, we stand firmly on our front porch. Our front porch stands firmly on the cement, the cement on a substrate of clay, the clay on bedrock, and so on. What is the first foundation that supports all that is? Aturtleists have yet to give me a coherent response. However, we Turtleists know this foundation. And we know this foundation personally. It is the wonderfully shelled back of The Lord Turtle Almighty.
Some Aturtleists have actually suggested that there is no foundation needed. How incredibly ignorant! Nowhere in this world will you find anything of substance that does not rest upon something. And that something will be found resting upon another something. Now here is the interesting thing. Scientists have recently told us that this Earth is finite. Logically then, there is a point at which something that is not the Earth is the foundation. This is logical common sense! How can there be no ultimate foundation? The Aturtleists have no answer. But those of us who have a personal relationship with the Lord Turtle Almighty have an answer that daily comforts us since we know that our world does not precariously hang in the air.
Other Aturtleists ignorantly ask, “What is then the foundation of your turtle?” It is true that former Turtleists had, at one time, suggested that there was another turtle supporting the turtle that supported the Earth. And another turtle supporting that one, and so on. We modern Turtleists reject such silly notions. This is called “an infinite regress”. There cannot be turtles all the way down.
For this reason, our particular faith has the doctrine of The Infinite Legs of Turtle Almighty. There is no need for other turtles. Our Almighty Turtle has infinitely long legs. It is this doctrine that makes the Aturtleists arguments looks so silly. The Earth must have a foundation, and we Turtleists have personal knowledge of this foundation. We all have our foundation on the eternal legs of Our Almighty Turtle.
You might hear some Aturtleists respond that the doctrine of Infinite Legs is logically incoherent, an ephemeral plug, and that we just made it all up. But the spirit of the Turtle bears witness with our spirits that all the Almighty Turtle says is true. Aturtleists who have not the spirit of the Turtle cannot discern the things of the Turtle. To them, Eternal Legs seem like foolishness, but for us, it is the foundation that they, in rebellion, deny is necessary. Only those who have submitted to the Turtle are privy to the mind of the Turtle.
It is sad to see that the bulk of the same scientists who have told us that the Earth is finite and that gravity pulls down, actually turn their backs on logic when it comes to the question of the ultimate foundation. But the Almighty Turtle has clearly told us why this is so. This is the work of the invisible evil crow who sets about to turn their minds away from the truth. The crow has many of them suggesting that Earth supports itself. I’ve never seen something support itself, and I don’t have enough faith to believe such silly theories. And I don’t need education to give me the common sense to know there must be a big turtle beneath this world. Would you want to live on an Earth that had no turtle foundation?
So you see, even in these dark days when many former Turtleists have rebelliously abandoned all notions of a foundation for our world, Turtle apologists have provided us with an arsenal full of the powers of both logic and scientific facts that will allow us to fearlessly affirm our Turtleism until the day we all have infinite legs.
This year has been a bit disappointing for Santa believers. Fewer and fewer souls seem to be taking the Santa story seriously. Anti-santaists have been enticing young minds away from the Christmas magic that has been essential in the maintenance of a healthy society. They ridicule Santa as a myth, along with all the accompanying concepts that have given us warmth and comfort for all these years. They actually suggest that the notion of a Santa rewarding only “good” children is not necessary to rearing well-behaved children. They are constantly asking for evidence of our Santa, not understanding that there would be no magic if Santa was subject to scientific scrutiny.
If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our faith, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and adapt to the changing cultural climate. Here are a few suggestions.
- Place Santa out of the reach of science.
Some point to what they consider the absurdity of a voluminous man descending a narrow chimney and other mysterious aspects of Santa. Here are a few ways to deal with this form of persecution.
- Announce that Santa’s magic is far above human understanding. Santa, in his infinite magic, can fatten flues at will, create chimneys where there are none, and leave everything intact as if he had never descended from the roof at all. Ask the secularists how they even dare with their puny minds to question the magic of our Santa.
- Call problematic parts of the Santa story figurative. Suggest that the notion of “descending the chimney” is a metaphor of Santa’s intent. He actually may come through a window. What matters is that the presents are there in the morning. In doing this, never submit a standard for discerning between literal and figurative elements of the Santa story. That will make it convenient for you to choose which is which as aplogetics needs arise.
- Remind non-believers that, if the Santa story could be tested and confirmed, we couldn’t employ the faith that feeds the magic. Accuse them of not listening to the clear voice of Santa that each of us carries deep in our hearts if we only listen with open minds.
- Affirm the magic. Point out all the cases in which reindeer dung was found on roof tops. Suggest that any father who would simply throw dung on his roof in an attempt to create the illusion of a rangiferine landing would have to be either a lunatic or liar. The only sensible inference is that Santa’s sleigh had indeed visited your house.
- Belittle science and its tools. Point out that science is often wrong and is therefore not an appropriate method to assess the magic of Santa. Claim that statistics are a silly invention, and strongly affirm the idea that anything can be “proven” through statistics. The stronger you affirm this, the more true it will become. In this way, reports that suggest poorer (not misbehaving) children receive fewer presents can be dismissed. If secularists suggest this is not logical, claim that Santa logic is not the same as secular logic, but don’t bother explaining how.
- Suggest that science and magic fall into two non-overlapping domains. Declare that scientific methodology cannot assess the wonderment of magic. When asked about specific claims of Santaism that seem to fall within the reach of science, offer evasive permutations of the particular doctrine to make it impotent and thus unassailable. Fudging a bit on exegesis is forgivable if the net result is an increase in believers.
- Disparage the notion of belief based on “evidence”. This is becoming one of the most troubling issues that has already led to the apostasy of thousands. You’ll hear secularists claim that the degree of confidence in an idea should match the degree of the evidence. Where is the magic in that? Evidence only goes so far and is largely linear. How can belief be linear? Choose a side! Unless we go beyond the evidence with faith, we would be left saying “I don’t yet know” on many questions, a wholly unacceptable option.
In this, our third essay on the psychological and rhetorical techniques that underlie evangelical Christian apologetics, we will examine some evangelical Christian claims that seem devilishly difficult to prove wrong. We have all heard such claims. They would include the following:
- If you de-convert from Christianity, you never really were a Christian at all
- All Christians, in right relationship with God, experience peace in the face of adversity
- If you sincerely seek God you will find Him
- “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.” (Matthew 17:20, NIV)
What I will argue is that such statements either are not actually claims about the world at all, and hence insulate themselves from disconfirming empirical evidence by defining it away, or else they are claims/predictions, but rely on vague, ill-defined subjective states and thus, are impossible to confirm. In each case, I will elucidate the issues involved and then tie it in with the relevant psychological issues…
In this article I will continue our examination of Christian apologetics from a psychological perspective. Here, I wish to look at the concept of sin, so central to Christianity, and how the teachings about sin work to convert, and then retain, people into the fundamentalist faith-system.
I will take my lead from C. S. Lewis. Lewis teaches a lot about sin over the course of his Mere Christianity (MC), The Problem of Pain (PP), and The Great Divorce. Lewis tells us that a sinless creature, such as we humans were before the Fall, would be perfectly and utterly selfless. He would be perfectly in tune with God and the will of God, and his own will would be entirely subordinated to God’s. Lewis describes this memorably: “…each soul [in heaven] will be eternally engaged in giving away to all the rest that which it receives. And as to God, we must remember that the soul is but a hollow that God fills. Its union with God is, almost by definition, a continual self-abandonment– an opening, an unveiling, a surrender, of itself. ” (PP, p.151)
Thus, Lewis tells us that a state of harmony with God is a state of utter selflessness, of perfect and continual abdication of the will. Thus it follows rather directly that the nature of our corruption, of our sin, is will-full-ness. Self-will, according to Lewis, is the original original sin. It is what got Lucifer kicked out of heaven – when he said, I will become like the Most High…. rather than, as Jesus said, “Thy will be done.” Self-will means to make the self the center of the self-rather than God. It is a wish to disengage from this endless cycle of self-giving, and thereby keep for the self and thereby expand the self. All that is created is good, Lewis teaches, but Man has corrupted his self and the world by putting otherwise natural, good things to selfish ends. ..
The concept of rebellion against God plays a central role in Christian theology. It defines the relationship of Fallen Man to God – i.e., we humans are said to be in a state of rebellion against God. It characterized Adam’s behavior in the Garden, and the result, human corruption, is now permanently embedded in our spiritual genome, so to speak. It results in our voluntary choice of eternal separation from God, according to the theology – unless, of course, an individual claims the “redemptive work of Christ” to restore her to a regenerate state. But this can only happen when the individual makes a free decision to submit her will to God and thus end the rebellion. C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, makes the matter quite plain: “…fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms.” (p. 59) Thus, our sinful, prideful self-will, our universal tendency to make the self the center of the self, rather than God – in short, our rebellion – is at the core of who we are, until we become Christians.
Evangelical Christian theologies differ on what exactly happens, and how, when salvation is attained, but they largely agree on at least three main basics: (1) that the proper relationship of creature to Creator is one of submission; what God says, goes. (2) That humans are corrupted through and through, and the ability to love God, choose the Good, and lead moral lives are all entirely lacking. And finally (3) voluntary submission of the will to God is required for salvation. I will address each of these in turn…
Few of those who walk away from evangelical Christianity can avoid struggling, at least to some degree, with the problem of apologetics. Christians devote endless amounts of resources to producing arguments for their faith; indeed, many of us spent much time and energy mastering these very arguments ourselves.
Apologists often present themselves as just defending their faith – rational argumentation – but I suggest their activity is better understood as a form of the ancient Greek art of rhetoric. I.e., they do make arguments, but ones specifically designed to get people to change and make decisions. Apologists are indeed quite (pun intended) unapologetic about this. Their goal is, if not to convince you to convert (only God can do that, they say), then at least remove any intellectual barriers that may be holding you back from conversion. In other words, they don’t just want to persuade you they are correct in their assertions; they want to win your soul.
Accordingly, their arguments are designed to have psychological force, not just (or even mainly) logical force, and this is what I would like to address in this article and the ones that follow. It has been very helpful in my own de-conversion to bracket aside the issue of trying to refute them and instead look at why these arguments can get under your skin so effectively – to vivisect them and look at their psychological and rhetorical innards, as it were…