by Monsieur Voltaire
If there’s one thing that I find more annoying than dreaming it’s Friday and waking up on Monday, is a proselytizing atheist. You know who I’m talking about: the frump with the footed Darwin fish on her Prius (as if somehow the mechanism of evolution and a God setting it in motion were logically incompatible), the mouth-breathing idiot sharing “I f**king love science” nonsense on Facebook (whom you know thinks Pythagoras is a Gyro sandwich), the indoctrinated human ape who, ever proud of his hirsute ancestry, parrots by ear the pabulum that “all religions have only caused carnage, misery and ignorance everywhere in the world,” the college-educated guy or gal for whom a degree is a $60,000 soapbox from which to spew adolescent pap tarted up with the occasional 5-syllable word… All these forms of humanity have one thing in common: they have faith in science as a purveyor of metaphysical truths—even though most of them don’t even know it; and they feel free to slap these “metaphysical truths” into your face, as if to wake you up from some Medieval trance doing you a favor in the process (and counting on your thankful silence in return).
So, let’s get one thing straight right from the start. Christianity has been on the receiving end of statist attacks pretty much since the days of the French revolution, and these attacks have gained considerable momentum thanks to Nietzsche, Marx, John Dewey (a pox forever on his name), various Supreme Court justices, the 1960’s progressive movement, the 1970’s pop-sci fad, the worshiping of multiculturalism and diversity, and a mass media that thinks that mentioning God outside of your closet is a greater offense than public urination. Therefore, the old “never discuss religion in polite society” dictum is off and has been for a long time, as far as I’m concerned. For a while now, as part of the effort to reconquer the discourse, I shoot back at anyone who impugns my (or someone else’s) belief in God, and I make him realize how offensive, intrusive, out of line, conformist and most often silly his so-called arguments. Let’s get started.
1 – There is a big difference between belief and faith. Belief is something about which you are deeply convinced out of reason, observation, calculation, probability or sheer logical process. If in the last 100 weeks my dog has scurried away to her crate every time I’d fire up the vacuum cleaner, I would be perfectly justified in believing that the pooch is not on chummy terms with the Hoover. Faith has nothing to do with it. Similarly, if Johnny is a man and I know all men eventually die, I can believe with almost perfect certainty that someday Johnny will also be pushing up daisies. Again, faith has nothing to do with it. Much as science-by-hearsay fans may dislike this, belief is at the core of any scientific theory as well. For instance, a large number of scientists now believe that the material and temporal universe began with the Big Bang—that is, until a more plausible explanation comes along. Faith, on the other hand, is taking at face value something that we cannot ascertain ourselves—not by direct observation, logic, calculation, probability, etc. If an astronomer tells me that the Sun is 93 million miles from the Earth, I have to take his word on faith, since I am not equipped in any way to verify this for myself. If some hack at East Anglia tells the world that there is a warming “hockey stick” to which his research unquestionably points, much of the public will take this on faith just as most Christians will take the Ark of Noah and the virgin birth.
2 – We don’t necessarily believe in God because the Bible tells us to. Belief in God is a perfectly logical metaphysical conclusion that can exist even independent of faith. If we believe that every effect must have a cause, and we travel upstream the cause-effect river all the way to the source of the universe, we eventually hit an immaterial, non-temporal wall. What caused the first effect? Logically, the answer must be “something uncaused.” And that something is what we call God—what we have called God pretty much since the days of Aristotle, even before Christ. Now, why do we know God is not just another law of nature, and therefore that he was working out of free will? Because laws of nature work by necessity, and if it was necessity which compelled our God to create the universe, then we must stipulate an even prior cause that effected these laws—thereby only moving God up a couple logical links in the cause-effect chain. Even the idol of the “I f**king love science” groupies, Stephen Hawking, concurs with this when he reluctantly admits “It appears that … the apparent laws of nature are not demanded by logic or physical principle.”1 Bottom line: those who think we Christians are simpletons who think God is a white-bearded man in the sky who picks our socks in the morning, only reveal their abject ignorance on the God question, which is one that—even absent faith—has still failed to provide a convincing answer on the side of atheism.
3 – Faith—especially Christian Biblical faith—is at the very least a credible mythology aimed at the good and at the betterment of mankind. When we talk about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments and Jesus preaching on the Mount as the Son of God, we are in the realm of faith. But this is a positive, sun-lit faith, a faith that reinforces and glorifies the fact that man is much more than a random coming together of molecules and cells and governed by mechanical determinism like a rock to gravity. Our faith—buttressed by our logical belief—teaches us that the human soul exists, and that it is composed of the God-like attributes of memory, reason and free will. Thus Jesus, as the Son of God, becomes a model to imitate to maximize the faculties that we were blessed with—with memory and reason helping thrust free will into deeds of love, devotion to Someone greater than ourselves, good conscience, self-betterment, care for others, responsibility, self-sacrifice and true charity. And in this, not all religions are created equal. The God of Islam, for instance, does not love all equally—only the true believers; he is not knowable, and therefore cannot serve as a model through his Son. And what he does teach through the prophet is to convert or subjugate nonbelievers as enemies rather than loving them, all the way up to slaying them for apostasy. So, only a fanatical fool would find Christianity an irrational, frightening doctrine that keeps the mind in the dark.
4 – Purely positive statements about your own beliefs and faith are—by logic–neither exclusionary nor offensive. When you say “geez, I really love my family,” you are not saying “yours, on the other hand, is a dysfunctional bunch of inbred morons that should mow my lawn for free every two weeks just as a lucky tribute to my letting them breathe my same air.” Similarly, when you put up a Christmas tree, you are saying “I love Christmas” (which happens to be a perfectly joyous and harmless American tradition); you are not saying “if you’re from another religion, don’t you dare even sully my tree with your filthy eyes and scoot your infidel butt out of my field of view.” That a positive statement would be automatically exclusionary is one of the parallel-universe memes created by political correctness. To purely express your love for X does not logically imply hatred or intolerance towards Y; rather, the act of supreme intolerance is to deny your freedom to express the love of X without forcing you to also mention your loving all other letters, A to Z.
5 – No, Christianity is not and has not been without sin. But who could ever expect it to be? Christianity is a human institution—divinely inspired though it is. But just as you wouldn’t blame the art of poetry (a human creation) for William McGongall’s notorious The Tay Bridge Disaster, you shouldn’t blame the concept of Christian religion for its occasional gross misapplications. The same can be said about pretty much all human institutions: you can’t blame the art of architecture for a building that collapses any more than you can blame Christian ethics for the Catholic pedophilia scandal: in both cases, it is by ignoring, perverting and misapplying the rules that tragedies happen. But here we must make a pretty macroscopic distinction: some religions—Christianity chief of all—are constantly reforming themselves and are at least trying to learn from their historical mistakes. The New Testament, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation and Vatican II are only a few of the historically-verifiable instances in which the Church as a human institution has tried reforming itself. Can the same be said about all other religions (just open the paper—any paper)? And what about totalitarian statism? No, both in terms of stubbornness and body count, Christianity as a human institution still looks pretty peachy compared to many others that are, alas, just as prevalent in the world.
So, armed with these facts, I haven’t been shy about fending off ignorant and blindly self-congratulatory statements about the Christian faith. When you force people to think—and I can assure you that most in the Darwin-fish crowd haven’t given the issue more than the proverbial two brain-cells’ worth of thought—you plunge your interlocutors into such foreign logical territory that they have to at least let you take the lead. At which point, you have their attention, and you can at the very minimum end it with their having lots more respect for your point of view, and perhaps reconsidering their own ideas as the truly intolerant ones.
Notes: 1 – Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design, 143.
Part 1 of “Reconquering the Discourse” can be found here. • (2466 views)