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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Friday, January 13, 2006

Twenty Ways to Answer a Fool [pt 1]

Is Christianity based on fear?

Last week I introduced my readers to Chaz Bufe, conspiratorial anarchist and Bush bashing bumpersticker maker. I found his little site through a link from an anti-Christian site called Undo Jesus. They linked to a screed Chaz wrote entitled 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. There is nothing really new with the 20 reasons Chaz offers as to why we need to abandon Christianity. He repeats cliched criticisms any well read Christian encounters on a regular basis. Moreover, Chaz's "reasons," if we even grant him that word to describe his points, are not too terribly thoughtful. Moreover, it is painfully clear with the glaring absence of interaction with any meaningful Christian, that Chaz is in a blindfolded pinata game swinging wildly at strawmen caricatures of Christians, not actual Christianity. Hence the reason why I titled my review of his 20 reasons as 20 ways to answer a fool. Chaz's reasons are foolish; embarrassingly so.

Some folks my take umbrage at my use of the word "foolish" to describe Chaz and his self-described position of atheistic anarchism, but I believe I am aptly defining my terms and I can defend my assertion.

First off, rather than playing little fantasy games of pretend neutrality where I insist I am an unbiased person as most atheists do, I admit my bias up front. I am a Bible believing Christian who uses the Bible as my ultimate starting point for evaluating my world and perceiving reality. I will even go further and state that in truth, Chaz does as well, even though he will vehemently deny it. But as much as Chaz, or any atheist for that matter, wish to carry on about being an unbiased free thinker, he doesn't have any justification for his objections against my Christian worldview unless he steals principles of judgment from my worldview in order to declare it worthless and in need of abandonment. In other words, a person cannot make appeals to "logic" and "reason" unless there is something setting the rules of logic and reason that exists outside the person. Chaz the anarchist atheist has no explanation for his ability to use logic and reason. He just blissfully makes unwarranted absolute declarations that Christianity is illogical and unreasonable all the while insisting there are no absolutes. This, in my mind, is a foolish point of view.

Yet more importantly, the Bible declares Chaz's Christian bashing as being foolish. God's Word distinguishes between the wise and the foolish. Wisdom, as defined in scripture, begins with the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). Basically, true wisdom is a God centered worldview of a person who recognizes his creator, submits to His authority and lives his life according to God's revealed principles as outlined in scripture. A fool, on the other hand, rejects all knowledge of God and attempts to live life autonomously, apart from his precepts. The key passage for this truism is Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, no God. Some translations add the words there is immediately before no God, but these words are not in the Hebrew text. The point is not that the fool has honestly, with a sincere heart, searched around looking for God, found no evidence satisfying his inquiry and then determined there is no God. The fool knows there is a God, but rejects God, desiring to have nothing to do with Him. What Paul describes as suppressing the truth (Romans 1:20ff.)

So with these things in mind, let us consider Chaz's first reason to abandon Christianity, Christianity is based on fear. He writes:

1. Christianity is based on fear. While today there are liberal clergy who preach a gospel of love, they ignore the bulk of Christian teachings, not to mention the bulk of Christian history. Throughout almost its entire time on Earth, the motor driving Christianity has been - —in addition to the fear of death - —fear of the devil and fear of hell. One can only imagine how potent these threats seemed prior to the rise of science and rational thinking, which have largely robbed these bogeys of their power to inspire terror. But even today, the existence of the devil and hell are cardinal doctrinal tenets of almost all Christian creeds, and many fundamentalist preachers still openly resort to terrorizing their followers with lurid, sadistic portraits of the suffering of nonbelievers after death. This is not an attempt to convince through logic and reason; it is not an attempt to appeal to the better nature of individuals; rather, it is an attempt to whip the flock into line through threats, through appeals to a base part of human nature - —fear and cowardice.

Chaz invents a definition of fear and applies it to Christianity. The kind of fear he has in mind is the superstitious view of fear. I guess it is the kind of fear supposedly found in Voodoo cultures of the third world or last years mediocre Keanu Reeves vehicle, Constantine. Perhaps there are individuals who claim to be Christians who entertain the fear of death, the devil and hell, but these are fears generally displayed by non-Christians and their religious practices, not Bible believing Christians.

Who are these fundamentalist preachers openly terrorizing their followers with lurid tales of the sufferings of nonbelievers after death? Can Chaz, or any atheist for that matter, provide some names? Besides, if the fear of death, the devil and hell are key doctrines necessary to keep the flock whipped into shape, I would think the fundamentalist preachers would be talking about Christians who have died going to hell or who are under the influence of the devil, not nonbelievers. What happens to nonbelievers outside the flock is irrelevant if you are using these fears to mind control your people.

Embarrassingly, Chaz suffers from what a lot of atheistic critics suffer from: biblical and historical illiteracy. He is woefully ignorant of what he criticizes. I would even say he is ignorant of atheism in general. I would exhort him to read the writings of some atheist philosophers, especially the ones who wrote near the end of their lives expressing the bleakness of human existence; and these were people living in the so-called age of reason and logic, the twin powers that supposedly rob Christianity of its ability to inspire fear. Atheists like H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, and even Bertrand Russell sounded like they were fearful of living and embracing reality if you ask me. And if reason and logic easily dispense the ideas of religious faith, then why are radical anti-theist advocacy groups like the NCSE attempting to shut down the ideas of Intelligent Design proponents and even biblical creationists by courts of law? I mean, if religious ideas are so easily refuted by logic and reason, then atheists should welcome them into public schools so they could trounce religious views of origin once and for all. Who really is the fearful cowards here?

Next up, Christianity preys on the innocent.


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4 Comments:

Blogger Ken Abbott said...

Pedantic Protestant has a series of blog entries critiquing this same pamphlet. You can compare notes at http://pedanticprotestant.blogspot.com/

6:31 AM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger Hayden said...

Fred,

I am reading Stephen Charnook's volume on the Existence and Attributes of God, and somewhere about page 40 he talks about the whole "fear" argument. Kinda hard to read but really worth it. I wonder if Chaz will post a reply.

6:38 PM, January 16, 2006  
Blogger anonymous_100 said...

I fail to understand the logic in Christianity. They claim that "Jesus" is the "only" son of God. They claim that one must follow him in order to achieve salvation or else go to hell! How absurd! If this Christian thinking is true, it makes God an extremely sadistic,unkind, and discriminating Being! This follows from the fact that "Jesus" came to earth only 2000 years ago. What about all the souls that were present on earth before that? Did God create them just to watch them burn in eternal hell (since "Jesus" was not around to "save" those souls??? This makes no sense whatsoever! We are all God's children. We are all EQUAL in the eyes of God. How then, could God who is perfection, kindness and love itself, be so cruel and discriminating? Would he create just a "chosen few" to enjoy all the benefits of heaven and condemn the rest to eternal hell? Even earthly parents wouldn't dream of such blatant discrimination amongst their own children! Let alone God! It also makes no sense that a person who has led a perfectly good and moral life on earth would be subjected to eternal torture in hell just for following a different path and not "surrendering" to Jesus Christ! THIS IS ILLOGICAL! The truth is that there are several paths to reach the Almighty (different strokes for different folks!). This should be recognized and respected by all people instead of offending God by misusing His name to impose their biased views on other people! God (including Jesus)is definitely NOT pleased with such disrespectful behaviour. They will have to face the consequences of their actions sooner or later! (This similar absurdity also pervades Islam which claims that only their way is true and everyone else will burn in eternal hell!)

1:12 AM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

My response to anonymous is linked here

Fred

1:16 PM, July 25, 2006  

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