Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Christianity, tolerance, and Rodney King

A redated post

Occasionally, when I used to present the Craig-Parsons debate on Christianity or the Craig-Jesseph debate on theism in my classes, someone would say something like "Do we have to argue about this? Can't we all just get along?"

It's not that easy.

Let's take a look at what Christians claim for a minute. They claim that God almighty came to earth in Christ to save us from our sins. That means that the human race is in pretty bad shape apart from Christ, and we can get connected with God through Christ. Some Christians go further and say that while people who accept Christ are saved, everyone else is going to hell.

Now if you really, really, believed that, wouldn't you want people to believe what you believe. I mean, if you are "tolerant" of them and just let them continue going on without knowing Christ, they may never get the message and have to spend eternity in hell. Don't you think you would want to give them a reason to know Jesus and go to heaven instead?

On the other hand, if this is all false, then it can be argued people are spending their whole lives worshipping a being who is imaginary. In so doing, they are telling their people they can't have sex before marriage, they obstruct the progress of science, they get people to pay attention to some afterlife that will never happen instead of doing the best they can to make this life better for everyone. And, in some cases, they even commit acts of violence in the name of their religion, as did the 9/11 hijackers. Not that the Bush administration was any better, they used their religion to justify starting a couple of wars of their own.

A lot of believers, as well as unbelievers, think that there is a great deal at stake in this whole business of religion. Given that so much is at stake, isn't it a little misguided to implore people to accept a Rodney-King-style political correctness: "Can't we all just get along?"

14 comments:

unkleE said...

Fully agree. The tolerance comes in attitude and behaviour towards those who continue to disagree with us. If God gives them the dignity and freedom to disbelieve or even defy him (for a while), then I should not take that away, even by over-persuasion or by impolite comments.

Mike Erich the Mad Theologian said...

There are and will always be important issues here that cannot be ignored. There is no nice way to tell people they are in danger of an eternal hell. There will always be strong convictions on each side. But I think the problem frequently is that our ego gets involved. We are more interested in winning an argument or looking good then genuinely convincing the other person. Also I think that (at least in the United States) Christians have come to expect respect for their belief as an entitlement and now that the world no longer does so, we tend to react in anger demanding what we feel is our right, but something God never promised (John 16:1-4).

JS Allen said...

@uncleE - good observation. We can't promise to never say anything that might be interpreted as "ad hominem", but mustn't deliberately do so, and must not push things beyond courtesy. David gave shimei the benefit of a doubt.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Speaking of not getting along, Hallq has a nice one-page case against the resurrection here is link.

I like Hallq's approach in general. He seems less insane than your typical internet skeptic.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I just read it (I had only read the first few originally before posting here). It's just OK, not amazing. I think Victor would have no problems responding.

Anonymous said...

Bush started a couple of wars over religion? HMMMMMM. Man, you liberals really are crazy.

Victor Reppert said...

I was trying to depict the position of the New Atheists, not liberals in general.

Blue Devil Knight said...

I don't know of many atheists, new or old, who think Bush started the Iraq war over religion.

Victor Reppert said...

Actually, what I said was that Bush used religion to justify it. And there were reports that he said that God told him to start the Iraq war.

GREV said...

When I used to think Facebook was useful, I once tried to start a discussion on an American site regarding the cooperation of the neo-cons and theo-cons in the Bush Administration and the disaster that we now live in and with because of it.

I learned again that many Americans equate their Government's actions with God and the right -- so DON'T QUESTION WHAT MY GOVERNEMENT IS DOING!

Too bad.

GREV said...

For more on the unholy alliance between the theo-cons and the neo-cons I urge people to read American Armageddon.

Victor Reppert said...

For some reason, these same people started questioning their government a lot, starting in January of 2009.

GREV said...

Vic .... I don't know if you Americans have really questioned your governemnt a lot, speaking as an outside observer.

The popular vote was 52-- 48% was it not?

That is not much of a statement of dissatisfaction and questioning.

Victor Reppert said...

My point was that religious conservatives questioned their government a lot more once Obama got elected. Now anti-government rhetoric is central to the Republican Party's message. You didn't hear that side of conservatism so much when Bush was in.