Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Twenty Leaky Buckets --- Part 5

The exigencies of real life have kept me away from my little 10-20 minute blogging sessions as of late, but I have a little bit of time to blog away, so we proceed.

My last "serious" sort of posting was on a pamphlet titled 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. This pamphlet was chosen because a friend referred it to me, and the sort of arguments presented therein are the sort of arguments put forward in popular culture and by people who affect the pose of modern enlightened thinking.

The pamphlet 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity is here.

Part One, a general discussion, is found here.

Part 1.5 consists of some comments on general village atheist themes and is found here. I enumerated five fallacies that are common to most of the arguments in the pamphlet.

Part 2 gives some quick comments as to why reasons one through five really aren't arguments that cause me, a conservative Evangelical, to think twice. That link is here.

Part 3 deals with arguments six through ten. That link is here.

Part 4 deals with arguments eleven through fifteen. That link is here.

I did a little excursus on the whole affair about two weeks ago.

Let me quote myself to save some time:

*****BEGIN EXTENDED SELF-QUOTE*****

Please keep in mind that the pamphlet gives reasons to abandon Christianity. My question throughout this mini-series is this: are any of the reasons anything to give somebody like myself any sort of pause? Presumably, the pamphlet is written in an attempt towards deconversion, or, to put it positively, anti-Christian evangelism. The intended audience therefore appears to be people who all themselves Christian.

I'm a classical card-carrying evidentialist [and you should be too!]. That means, among other things that the way to attack the historical and evidential basis for Christianity is to argue that the evidence for the supernatural phenomena that undergird the Christian religion is poor, or not as good as that of some other competing worldview. My apologetic is at home with the great English, Scottish, and Irish divines who defended the Resurrection and the veracity of the gospels against the humanists and the deists in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Personally speaking, I have little patience with what I understand Reformed epistemology and presuppositionalism to be.

Let's return to the pamphlet. So far, I've argued in Parts 2 and 3 that all we're presented with is a laundry list of sociological claims reflecting nothing more than the pamphleteer's dislike of things. Pointing out that some Christians do things of which the pamphleteer is displeased is not any sort of an argument against Christianity. Imputing the behavior of a subset of self-proclaimed Christians to that of the entire religion and then castigating the religion on this imputed global behavior is likewise a non-argument. Discussing the political differences between Christians and the pamphleteer on issues such as, say, abortion, is a non-argument. Asserting that Christianity does not allow for full sexual fulfillment is also a non-argument relative to an evidentialist like myself.

*****END EXTENDED SELF-QUOTE*****

So, reasons one through fifteen are nothing more than the pamphleteer's self-righteous little rant. Are the remaining arguments any better?

Arguments sixteen and seventeen basically make the claim that Christianity is misogynistic and homophobic, respectively. People can click on the pamphlet link and read these arguments. I wish to make a few general comments in no special order:

(1) Let's assume that the author's claim that Christianity is misogynistic. Somebody like myself [a card-carrying "classical evidentialist," remember] then asks the following questions:

(a) Does this affect the evidence positively or negatively for the empty tomb or the veracity of the gospels?

(b) Does this add to or subtract from the body of evidence for the empty tomb or the veracity of the gospels?

The answer to (a) appears to be in the negative, and the answer for (b) appears to be in the negative unless some sort of argument can be given that the sociological claims made by the argument [which we are assuming as true for argument's sake] have some sort of bearing on the existing body of evidence. No such argument is given.

(2) As a side venture, let's see what scriptural insights the pamphleteer gives to support his claim about misogynism.

(a) Passages like Eph 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Corinthians 11:3, 11:9, and 14:34; and 1 Timothy 2:11–12 and 5:5–6 are cited as evidence of misogynism.
These passages all deal with the roles of women, either functionally or ontologically, in relation to men and to God. The pamphleteer simply doesn't like the fact that these passages represent a breach of concord with modern-day egalitarianism and feminism, and this outrages him. But, as with other arguments-by-outrage, the pamphleteer merely makes his first-world Western modern view of women the standard of comparison and then judges everything by this standard. He is welcome to do so, but without any sort of argument for why his standards are correct he merely begs the question.

(b) The citation of Rev 14:4 and Job 25:4 are demonstrations of the pamphleteer's incompetence when it comes to basic literacy and context.

(i) Rev 14:4 doesn't deal with the status of women. Depending on what commentaries one peruses in the interpretation of the symbols, defiling one's self with women can mean such things as the pursuit of sexual lusts above all things, or the adoption of pagan belief systems [my view].

(ii) Job 25:4 talks about being born of a woman in the sense of one's being born into sin. All humans are born unto sin: "born of a woman" here seems to be "having human nature coming from the normal course of affairs." This is hardly misogynistic.

The abuse of scripture --- the failing to note context, allusion, and other basic literary devices, the failing to consider the various interpretations and defenses of those interpretations put forward, etc, are all part and parcel of the village atheist mentality.

(c) It is hard to see what the point of the OT citations [Numbers 5:20–22 and Leviticus 12:2–5, 15:17–33] are in terms of arguing the misogyny claim. The only thing that can be said about these is that they again cause outrage in the pamphleteer, but, then again, who cares as far as an argument goes?


(3) Given that I don't base my theology or worldview on what others in the past have written, the evidence for Christianity is unaffected [so far as I'm concerned] even if the point is made that some early writers were misogynistic.

Summary of the sixteenth argument: there is nothing here that makes me view the evidence for the empty tomb and veracity of the gospels any differently than before. This argument, like the others, is another non sequitur, expressing merely the outrage that the Bible does not conform to our modern enlightened sensitivities. But it doesn't get to the heart of things, namely, the actual evidence for the truth or falsity of Christianity.

Let's now turn to the seventeenth argument: Christianity is homophobic.

This argument, like the first sixteen, is itself a non-sequitur relative to the evidence. That is, the evidence for/against the empty tomb and veracity of the gospels is unaffected by the author's outrage that the authors of the various Biblical writings do not have views in accord with first-world secular modern Western culture.

Again, all the pamphleteer has done is to assume his position as the standard of comparison without giving any sort of supporting argument. The idea of the pamphlet is to deconvert Christians --- people like myself --- but as with the first sixteen arguments the pamphleteer has failed to get to the heart of the issue. The pamphlet should be entitled instead What I Don't Like About Some Christians to reflect its sociological emphasis.

BTW --- you have to love the sweeping generalizations given in that paragraph about Christians in general. The implicit claim is that most Christians want State-sponsored execution for sodomy, yet no numbers supporting this claim are given. Ah, but then again, who needs evidence when you're the courageous village atheist pamphleteer who is here as Mother Hen to show we benighted folks the light of Reason?

************

I'm stopping at the end of the seventeenth argument and before the eighteenth because I can only take so much inanity [and it has been 20 minutes or so of blogging --- time to get back to real work].

So far, the pamphlet is, by my count, oh-fer-seventeen in making somebody like myself think twice about the evidence for Christianity. We have seventeen arguments that do not carry any water. They'll sound great at a Freethinker's meeting and the person making such arguments can feel courageous and truly enlightened, but as far as actual content goes, "there isn't a there there."

The last three arguments of the pamphlet will be dealt with in the next installment here. Again, we'll ask the question of just how the evidence for Christianity is affected --- if it is affected at all --- for these three remaining arguments.

[Y'all can wake up now...]

2 Comments:

Anonymous Tim said...

I was following this up until "The last three arguments ..." In view of this guy's track record, shouldn't that be "The last three putative arguments ..."?

[grin]

Saturday, January 14, 2006 3:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the fellow who wrote the pamplet with 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity is really arguing is not whether Christianity is real, the light and the word or not, (he does not know and neither does Pedantic Protestant or anyone else I can see) but that the God who would inflict needless and unimaginable suffering on people is not a loving God; not a God worth are respect or consideration. Decent people (including Christians)were/are repulsed by the way innocent people were treated in communist countries, so why would we not also be repulsed by God's treatment of the sinful. In Western Nations, we do not allow genuinely guilty people to be tortured to death for murder (to say nothing of fornication or sodomy), so naturally the idea of some cruel crazy Deity, constantly shouting his 'love,' as he sentences us to his henchman Satan's abominations, is sickening to any decent person. I was also have two questions on this point. 1.) Does a largely honorable crimeless and even quasi-traditional living atheist deserve the same sentence as Joseph Stalin?
2.) Why couldn't God simply abolish the souls/eternal existence of people he does not want, why would he have to harm these people in a way no one but a monster would appreciate?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 10:29:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home