Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Twenty Leaky Buckets --- Part 1.5

Before delving into the claims of the pamphlet linked in the previous thread, there are a few more global points I'd like to make regarding my approach to this pamphlet:

(1) I'm an Evangelical. I'm not a Romanist. What Rome has done, is doing, and will do in the future is not something that concerns me so far as defending why I believe what I believe. I'm not RC for several [I'd contend] very good reasons, as illustrated by various posts at various times on this blog. The point of saying this is that the pamphlet makes a big to-do about attacking Rome and her history in various points, and then imputing Rome's alleged sins to Christianity-at-large, and hence to the subset of Evangelicals. Whether the pamphlet is correct on Rome or not is irrelevant to me. Were I a card-carrying Romanist, I'd have to answer these points. But, remembering the second P of this blog's name, I don't think Rome is much worth defending. And even were I to have a lapse of judgement and find Rome worth defending, it wouldn't have any logical bearing on the program of having an Evangelical look at this pamphlet.

On the other hand, if Rome is attacked on a point of commonality between RCism and Evangelicalism, then I'll respond to it. For example, if Rome is attacked for holding to the corporeal resurrection, then, since that is a common point, it is worth defending.

(2) I'm sure I'll mention this not a few times in the following threads, but the village atheist mentality [not to mention the pop culture mentality] seems to think that if X violates some canon of political correctness, "tolerance," or fuzzy-wuzzy conception of reality, then that counts as probative evidence against X. Usually, after imputing some nasty X to the Christian religion, the village atheist rends his garment in an affectation of self-righteous outrage: how dare they hold to X! But, the tacit atheist assumption that the negation of X is true, preferable, etc, like a lonely girl on Friday night, waits by the phone for a supporting argument that simply isn't going to call.

The simple fact of the matter is that reality offers us no promise to conform to our mood, desires, wishes, and so on. There are some "pleasant" things in Christianity, just as there are in atheism. There are some "unpleasant" things in Christianity, just as there are in atheism. Thus, the presence of pleasant or unpleasant thing, by itself, does not broker the issue.

(3) Another feature of this pamphlet is in taking the worst or most extreme cases of sociological Christianity and then inferring from that small subset the general behavior of the superset. Most Christians don't, say, bomb abortion clinics, nor do they yell that God hates, say, homosexuals. This won't stop an eager village atheist from mentioning it as a global "sin of Christianity."

I am always amazed that your village atheists want to go that route anyway, for if we judge atheism by its adherents in communist and socialist societies, atheism comes off at least as badly as does "organized religion." When you see atheist and leftist students walking around in red "Che" t-shirts, you see professors defending Chairman Mao, and you see activists actively describing Cuba as a paradise, say, and then you look at the reality, I'm surprised the village atheist even wants to go there.

(4) Another point worth mentioning is that this pamphlet, just like most other village atheist works, makes a very self-selecting appeal to scholarship in general. In this pamphlet, the Jesus Seminar is treated as the height of science and scholarship, with no evidence of seeing the other positions being presented.

The fact is that, for every position I've studied, some scholars come down on one position, others come down on others. I hold some majority opinions; I hold some minority opinions. I don't need to rely on a scholar's authority when it comes to evaluating evidence, quite frankly. I can do so myself. But, on those issues I've studied, I've read on the competing positions. And, were I to appeal strictly to conservative scholars in a disputation with a village atheist, that would be just as fallacious as the village atheist's self-selecting appeal to, say, the Jesus Seminar.

(5) Well, this is the final point, it seems. Note the context-free citations of scripture used in this and other village atheist materials. It is almost as if context is forbidden in atheist literature, lest the party end prematurely.

One of the advantages of being Biblically literate is that you know the context for most of the little cited snippets, and you can, in most cases, see immediately that the village atheist is not railing against a grammatical-historical reading of scripture, but in some historical personage's misuse of scripture. That the village atheist is too lazy to check context isn't surprising, since intellectual laziness is, so it seems, a natural requirement of village atheism.

The same comments apply to these quickly-compiled lists of alleged "Biblical contradictions." I could find 10 "contradictions" [village atheist style of course] in a few minutes without trying too hard if I want to ignore context.


I've probably missed a point or two, but as I briefly go through the twenty reasons offered by the pamphlet, most of the reasons can be parried by appealing to some combination of some of (1)-(5) listed here. If anybody is following this series of threads [!], try to keep these somewhat in mind.

As I write this, I'm not sure of the value of doing this. It's been done so many times, and reading village atheist lit is a rather depressing affair. I'm rather ashamed to say that, in my undergrad days, I too went through a period of village atheism before becoming, so I'd contend, a good solid atheist.


Blogger chamblee54 said...

I have not read your complete post...too many words. I may or may not get back to it.
However, you are calling the Pamplet, "20 Reasons to abandon christianity" as a atheist tract.I looked at the pamplet...again, too many words, but i reviewed the 20 reasons...and found that while it is opposed to jesus worship, it is not does not deny the existence of god.
To me, the two lines of thought...rejection of jesus worship and atheism...are not the same. In fact , to me , the first commandment outlaws jesus worship, while affirming the primacy of god.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

One can certainly be a non-Christian theist. We've never denied that.

My only angle in dealing with the pamphlet is to ask whether the points therein have any oomph or force for a conservative evangelical.

These are, so far as I've seen, mostly the same arguments used against classical theism as well at the pop-culture level.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 1:19:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

On your other point, there is a problem between the first commandement and recognizing the deity of Christ [His divine nature] only if it turns out that Christ does not partake of the divine nature.

At the same time, St Paul and St John are very clear that, yes, Christ does partake of the divine nature. Christ is referred to as "God" in a few places in the NT.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 3:15:00 PM  

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