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

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Twenty Ways to Answer a Fool [pt. 4]

Is Christianity extremely egocentric?

We return once again to our critique of Chaz Bufe and his 20 reasons to abandon Christianity.

Just a quick note, I have re-done the numbering sequence on my posts for this series. What is really my introduction, I had titled part 1, and what was really point one of Chaz's list I had titled as part 2. That sequence may inadvertently cause unnecessary confusion. I thought it would be more concise to have each article deal with each point. So, for example, what used to be part 1, I have renamed "introduction," and what was originally part 2, I have renamed part 1, and so on. Does that make sense people? I know I should have changed that 3 articles ago, but I just forgot.

Now on to Chaz's next point. The fourth reason he claims we must abandon Christianity is that it is extremely egocentric. Only the first two paragraphs are relevant for our discussion here, so I will not cite the point in its entirety:

4. Christianity is extremely egocentric. The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind's most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity's strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well: "salvation of the soul" plain words, the world revolves around me." It's difficult to see anything spiritual in this desperate grasping at straws - this desperate grasping at the illusion of personal immortality.

Another manifestation of the extreme egotism of Christianity is the belief that God is intimately concerned with picayune aspects of, and directly intervenes in, the lives of individuals. If God, the creator and controller of the universe, is vitally concerned with your sex life, you must be pretty d*** important. Many Christians take this particular form of egotism much further and actually imagine that God has a plan for them, or that God directly talks to, directs, or even does favors for them. If one ignored the frequent and glaring contradictions in this supposed divine guidance, and the dead bodies sometimes left in its wake, one could almost believe that the individuals making such claims are guided by God. But one can't ignore the contradictions in and the oftentimes horrible results of following such "divine guidance." As "Agent Mulder" put it (perhaps paraphrasing Thomas Szasz) in a 1998 X-Files episode, "When you talk to God it'’s prayer, but when God talks to you it's schizophrenia. . . . God may have his reasons, but he sure seems to employ a lot of psychotics to carry out his job orders."

One has to wonder if this particular point is Chaz's attempt at a little comedic irony. Here we have a self centered, egotistic atheist, whose egotism will become even more manifest as we move along through the remainder of his reasons to abandon Christianity, who is complaining that Christians are egocentric. This is a clear cut, real life expression of the old cliche, the pot painting cauldron black. Does Chaz genuinely not see the disingenuousness of making this complaint?

If you are claiming that Christianity is to be abandon because of all these various problematic reasons, then from my vantage point as a Christian, it seems fairly clear you, the critic, have some alternative worldview with which to replace the Christian faith. There is really no sense in criticizing a belief system unless you are convinced you have a superior belief system with which to replace it. I see from Chaz's website, for example, he believes people should embrace anarchy, communism, and free sex without consequence. How is this philosophy not egocentric? It is pure egocentrism, because Chaz wants to live a lifestyle that fits his personal desires and whims. Sure, those whims may not necessarily have some spiritual connection at least in Chaz's mind, and I am sure he would argue his worldview allows the individual to choose his or her own desires without having to submit to any established rules or standards, but he is just as egocentric as the Christians he despises. We will leave the sheer irrationality and unworkablity of this belief system at the side for the moment, and just say that regardless of what Chaz may believe, his is a philosophy strictly invented to serve the individual self. Or put another way, it is egocentric. He cannot escape this fact.

There really is not much here to comment upon, but Chaz does offer us a couple of thoughts.

First is his citation of Fredrich Nietzsche, the 19th century philosopher and progenitor of nihilism. Nietzsche was raised in a Lutheran home and his father was a Lutheran minister. When Nietzsche got older, he despised his Christian upbringing and became an angry, anti-theist as he exposed himself to the philosophies of modernism.

He developed a philosophy called "nihilism," the idea that all values are baseless, that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, and that life itself is meaningless. Which, if Nietzsche is correct, that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, how then are we to understand his written works? His very own worldview? How exactly are they communicated? What about Chaz and his anarchist writings and worldview?

In order for a belief system to have merit, it has to be logical and workable. In other words, it has to provide a credible means to understand our existence, interact with reality and answer the big questions in life like, "Why am I here?" "What is life about?" "How should I live?" Nihilism is irrational because it is unworkable. No one can honestly live in the real world, interact with real people, and be a genuine nihilist. A nihilist doesn't even have a starting point to present its own ideas if no meaning or value can be assigned to anything. It is just stupid.

Any how, nihilism is the forerunner to our modern day postmodernism, and sadly, it provides the underpinnings of the emergent church movement in American Christianity.

Nietzsche became most known for his "God is Dead" philosophy. In his book, The Gay Science, he presents a "madman" who tells a group of townsfolks that we have killed God. Nietzsche, of course, didn't believe God had actually died, because he didn't believe in God to begin with. He was referring to the belief in God. In Nietzsche's mind, our modern, rational world made God unbelievable. Society had progressed beyond a need for God, so as we became more cultured and more progressive, God died. This philosophy saw a resurgence of supporters in the 1960s and "God is dead" became a mantra for many leftist radicals who wish to over turn society.

That in turn leads us to the second thought we can take away from this 4th point of Chaz. He cites a quote from a X-files episode in which a character apparently disparages God by suggesting religious people are psychotics carrying out His orders. In other words, those who believe in God are prone to act violently and do terrible things to others. If the religious believers are crazy, then God must be crazy. I am sure Chaz would cite as examples the crusades and the current Islamic jihad against the Mohamet cartoons as if these two things are one and the same with biblical, Christian faith.

Again, as I mentioned before, Chaz suffers from historical myopia - a blindness affecting the eyes of religious critics who do not wish to criticize their own atheism. You see, Nietzsche's nihilism leads to some horrifying logical conclusions, especially when they are allowed to play themselves out on a societal level. Nihilism, in it practical form, believes that the destruction of existing political and social institutions is necessary for future improvement. Historically, this is exactly the kind of thinking driving the Marxists and Nazis during the early parts of the 20th century. The last time I checked the figures, just these two groups of non-religious nihilists, were responsible for the murder of millions of people, far surpassing the kind of crimes against humanity performed by the occasional religious psychotic.

Next up: Christianity breeds arrogance

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Blogger the truth said...

"In order for a belief system to have merit, it has to be logical and workable."

How is Christianity logical and workable?

6:07 PM, October 22, 2007  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Hey there "truth"

You ask:
"In order for a belief system to have merit, it has to be logical and workable."

How is Christianity logical and workable?

Christianity is logical and workable because it is grounded in the purposes of our creator, a self-disclosed creator who has clearly revealed Himself to mankind, not only through His work in the OT, but ultimately in the person of Jesus Christ. God is our ultimate reference point from which we evaluate and intersect the world. God is the reason humanity can think logically and morally to begin with.

So, take the questions a particular worldview must ask:

Why am I here? Because God created men.

What is life all about? To worship God and enjoy Him forever.

How should I live? Submitted to God and serving our fellow man.

Atheism as a wroldview cannot even begin to answer just these three questions with any meaning and in relation to true human experience. Why am I here? Because of natural selection, or some other purposeless force. What is life all about? The fittest species survives. How should I live? Only for self reliance.

Now atheists will claim to appeal to moral standards of human conduct and so forth, but that is in spite of their system. They have to borrow from biblical theism in order to function. Hence, in and of itself, atheism is neither logical or workable in the real world.

5:37 AM, October 23, 2007  

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