Saturday, July 09, 2016

Giving reasons for our hope

I Pet 3:15-16  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who slander you will be put to shame by your good behavior in Christ.…

I wish there were something in the atheist Bible that said 

 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the atheism that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

But Richard Dawkins, the atheist pope, has not said this. (Just kidding). But I can at least quote this important verse to my fellow Christians. 

I do think there is a difference amongst atheists. It's not as if you can convert people on the other side by debating. Changing one's religious views is a long process considering more factors than you can put into a single discussion. But sometimes minds are changed in subtle ways that lead up to a big difference later on. 

Even where I think intellectual dishonesty is at work, I am not inclined to announce this sort of thing, simply because I am skeptical of my or anyone else's ability to psychoanalyze the thought process of my opponents. Keith Parsons, for example, can be harsh, but I have seen him influenced by serious Christian thinkers to adopt a less strident position than he had taken before.

I prefer not banning people, as you know, and recommend as a substitute for this, knowing what to ignore. But I will tell you that my blog is dedicated to the idea that real constructive dialogue is possible between believers and nonbelievers. Those who think otherwise, whether believers or nonbelievers, can post somewhere else.
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9 comments:

unkleE said...

I think our western cultures are moving towards greater tribalism, possibly as a reaction to the greater uncertainties of life. We have been led to believe that science, technology, wealth, education and democracy will lead to a better future, but while many great things have happened, the future we have arrived at isn't so glorious at all.

Unfortunately, many atheists and christians act tribally. They want to score points, make other tribes look foolish, make themselves look and feel superior, want to be on a winning side. It doesn't look all that different to football fans following different teams. For tribal christians and atheists, truth, learning, showing love, etc aren't so important - I have even heard christians justify nastiness as a deep form of love!!!

So those who agree with you, Victor, should consciously try to put tribalism aside and focus on our common humanity, showing love and concern to our fellow humans and sharing the things we believe are true within that attitude!

John Moore said...

Atheists can't be a coherent tribe, and Dawkins certainly isn't the atheist pope. Atheism can't have a holy scripture or a catechism. The reason is because the only thing atheists agree on is that they can't agree on god-belief. In a certain sense, religion is all about agreeing (with the Bible or the established authority) and atheism is all about disagreeing.

I try to be civil in discussions of religion, but I understand why many atheists use ridicule as a tool to shock complacent Christians. It's because religion sometimes turns into an ingrained attitude of agreeing, an attitude of almost automatic respect for authority, regardless of what the authority may say. Ridicule tries to topple the authority and make people start questioning.

If you're already in a thoughtful discussion, of course, then ridicule is pointless. Ridicule must be aimed at those who haven't been very thoughtful yet.

Joe Hinman said...

see my essay answering Schellenberg on does non resisting non resisting non belief disprove God?

B. Prokop said...

"religion sometimes turns into an ingrained attitude of agreeing"

That may be true for a subset of believers who would never be called intellectuals in any sense of the word, regardless of their religion. But I have never encountered such an attitude amongst educated Christians who habitually think about everything. Can you cite an example of someone whose name we'd all recognize who displays "an ingrained attitude of agreeing"?

I actually find the mirror image trait to be common amongst many internet atheists (such as Papalinton and Skep), whose default position on everything is one of unthinking, unexamined disagreement. How is that in any way superior to "an ingrained attitude of agreeing"?

Would you approve of Christians ridiculing such persons to "shock them out of their complacency"?

John Moore said...

Well, that's the point - if you're educated and habitually think about everything, then you don't automatically agree with authority. On the other hand, there are millions of people who are apparently not educated and who automatically agree with whatever their faith leader tells them. "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." A lot of people honestly say this without irony.

Perhaps a majority of people in the U.S. believe in creationism. There's no way to explain this except to say they've been brainwashed. Someone told them something, they believed it, and that's the end of the discussion for them. Like this guy.

Recently Ken Ham opened his Noah's ark diorama in Kentucky. Thousands of people believe exactly what Ken Ham tells them, that the Noah's ark story is literally true. These people are denying simple facts of nature. If they thought about it for a minute or two, they'd realize it's physically impossible to put two members of every kind into that boat and keep them alive for several months and then have them repopulate the earth within the past 6,000 years.

Ridicule is the best tactic when you approach such people, because they won't even consider a respectful, thoughtful approach.

As for ridiculing atheists for their unexamined disagreement, go ahead! I'd be interested to hear how that would go. I'd be on board with you, because unexamined disagreement might be just as bad as unexamined agreement.

B. Prokop said...

But the mindset you're describing has absolutely nothing to do with either religion or the lack of it. Let's be honest - the overwhelmingly vast majority of humanity never thinks deeply about anything. And in my experience, even one's level of education has no effect on this attitude.

Crude said...

John,

Atheists can't be a coherent tribe, and Dawkins certainly isn't the atheist pope. Atheism can't have a holy scripture or a catechism. The reason is because the only thing atheists agree on is that they can't agree on god-belief.

That's demonstrable nonsense, John. They do form tribes: there's the New Atheist tribe, the Atheism+ tribe. They form organizations like American Atheists and more.

It's because religion sometimes turns into an ingrained attitude of agreeing, an attitude of almost automatic respect for authority, regardless of what the authority may say. Ridicule tries to topple the authority and make people start questioning.

That's beyond stupid. Ridicule shuts people up and silences them, if not scares them. And trying to isolate 'agreeing, automatic respect for authority' and more as 'religion' is inane. It's common with politics too - indeed, it's more common with it and secular philosophies than with religion at this point.

Perhaps a majority of people in the U.S. believe in creationism. There's no way to explain this except to say they've been brainwashed.

Oh boy, it's that open-mindedness and questioning attitude being put on display.

If they thought about it for a minute or two, they'd realize it's physically impossible to put two members of every kind into that boat and keep them alive for several months and then have them repopulate the earth within the past 6,000 years.

You realize those creationists have scientific journals, all kinds of arguments and more for their position, right? They have 'thought about it for a minute or two' - indeed, many of them probably have more understanding of biology than yourself.

As for ridiculing atheists, it's used to great effect in muslim countries. They shut up and they stay shut up, even among their own families. I guess they've just been successfully divorced from their embrace of respect for authority there, eh?

Funny how that works.

John Moore said...

Nope - there's no such thing as a creationist scientific journal. I'm no biologist, but I know biology far better than anyone working at the Discovery Institute. I'm not kidding - those people know point-blank zero about the science of biology, so anyone who (honestly) studies even a little bit is better off than those guys.

It's true there's an interesting philosophical question about what design is or how to recognize a designed thing. But this is a philosophical question rather than a scientific question. On this I agree with William Lane Craig who
said, "My greatest reservation ... is the claim that the inference to a designer is supposed to constitute a scientific theory."

Joe Hinman said...

Jeff Lowder wrote a thingon naturualismj theism and meaning of life, my answer: "Life in Christ Offers higher Meaning in life"