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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Twenty Ways to Answer a Fool [pt. 3]

Is Christiantity based upon dishonesty?

(Just a note. I had to republish this from the 14th. One of the pictures was causing a problem with the blog's downloading time. I apologize to my four commenters, but your comments were deleted)

I continue my review of Chaz Bufe's 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity. I have finally added the previous entries on the right side column. Scroll down to find them.This time around, we look at Chaz's third reason to abandon Christianity, the charge that Christianity is dishonest. I won't quote the entire argument, because the first paragraph is just a mindless rant rehashing his first two reasons and then he moves into why he thinks Christianity is dishonest:
3. Christianity is based upon dishonesty ... How deep dishonesty runs in Christianity can be gauged by one of the most popular Christian arguments for belief in God: Pascal's wager. This "wager" holds that it's safer to "believe" in God (as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God might exist, and if it does, it will save "believers" and condemn nonbelievers to hell after death. This is an appeal to pure cowardice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the search for truth. Instead, it's an appeal to abandon honesty and intellectual integrity, and to pretend that lip service is the same thing as actual belief. If the patriarchal God of Christianity really exists, one wonders how it would judge the cowards and hypocrites who advance and bow to this particularly craven "wager."
In my opinion, his point should be re-titled "Christianity is based upon cowardice." Chaz doesn't honestly deal with anything dishonest with Christianity at all. I am guessing he means "intellectual dishonesty?"
Any how, I find his comment that Pascal's wager is one of the most popular arguments for belief in God rather amusing. Pascal's wager? Is he kidding? Who has he heard using this argument? I have never used this argument in any evangelistic apologetic encounter in my life, even when I was a young skull full of college age mush hassling sinners in a laundry mat with my Evangelism Explosion presentation. Nor, have I ever heard anyone use this argument in any fashion whatsoever either on the radio or from the pulpit - at least as a serious argument for why a person should believe in God. I haven't even heard any of the most diehard evidentialists use this argument. I find it amazing that Chaz has actually spoken with Christians (if he is telling us the truth) who use Pascal's wager as an apologetic argument.
Chaz's ridicule of Christians invoking Pascal's wager as the most popular arguments for belief again demonstrates his self-imposed ignorance about what he is criticizing. Obviously he must not be too well read on Christian apologetics. Has he even read Greg Bahnsen? Listened to his debates with well known atheists? How about James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries? He has a lot of apologetic material on a variety of topics and I know with certainty he never has raised Pascal's wager in a debate before. What about Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries? He has a weekly radio program and an excellent website. I take issue with his evidentialist approach to apologetics, but by and large, his ministry is outstanding and he has never spoken of Pascal's wager. At least to my knowledge.
Now interestingly, in his haste to make Christians look as though they are slackjawed, glassy-eyed dullards, who give the appearance of being infested by brain slugs from outer space, Chaz makes some interesting comments in his paragraph above. He writes,
This "wager" holds that it's safer to "believe" in God (as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God might exist ..."
As if belief were "volitional." Let us pause and ponder this statement, because I am not certain Chaz realizes the utter inconsistency of this phrase. As I check my American Heritage Dictionary, the words belief and believe are defined as follows:
Belief, n. 1. Trust or confidence. 2. A conviction or opinion. 3. A tenet or a body of tenets.
Believe, v. 1. To accept as true or real. 2. To credit with veracity; have confidence in; trust. 3. To expect or suppose; think.
The word volition is defined as follows:
Volition, n. 1. An act of willing, choosing, or deciding. 2. The power or capability of choosing; will. 3. A conscious choice; decision.
I guess Chaz is of the "belief" that belief, particularly religious belief, and the the act of deciding to believe something is true are direct opposite. He isn't quite clear as to what he "believes" with the distinction he makes between the two concepts, but he goes on to argue there is actual belief that pursues truth which will not abandon intellectual integrity.
In Chaz's worldview, I am sure Christ hating anarchy involves genuine belief that pursues truth with intellectual integrity.If Chaz truly believes that, however, he needs to be reminded of some comments from fellow religious hating atheists. Thoughtful, truly intellectual atheists, are rather forthright to admit their adherence to a "faith," or what Chaz would consider "belief."
Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin acknowledges:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to the understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science [materialistic interpretations of science - f.b.] - in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failurefulfilllfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. [Cited in The Divine Challenge by John Byl, pg. 287]
and naturalistic philosopher, Thomas Nagel like wise responds,
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope that I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God. [Cited in The Divine Challenge, pg. 288]
So, in Chaz's understanding are these guys who are quite candid as to the irrationality of their convictions dishonest cowards? When we really consider the facts, who is being dishonest? Bible believing Christians or materialistic, anarchist atheists?
And, before we wrap up the discussion of dishonesty and poor intellectual argumentation...Some may recall the crackpot atheist in Italy who was suing a Roman Catholic priest over the historicity of the person of Jesus Christ. His case was thrown out of court this past week. I imagine the judge considered it to be dishonest.
Next up, Is Christianity egocentric?

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