Find a Better Way, Critics!

Derek Pierson


I think it's a safe bet to assume that the vast majority (if not all) of skeptics out there like to think of themselves as rational, educated people who have rejected the Christian faith on logical and well-founded intellectual grounds. Fair enough. A question for you then:

Why do I see so many emotionally driven arguments resonating from your side? Eternal damnation, various OT wars, God's treatment of humanity, and so forth, are, rather than being attacked from something resembling an objective and unbiased philosophical, ethical, or intellectual viewpoint, instead meet up with incessant lamenting and complaining with usually no legitimate explanation as to why it is warranted in the first place.

This editorial is not aimed at every skeptic of Christianity out there. Though I do not recall ever having met one, I am of the belief that there are non-Christians in the world who have rejected the faith based on what could rightly be considered honest, clear-cut, unemotional reasons. Rather, this is aimed at the individual whose renunciation of Christ and the Bible are based, at the bottom of it all, on nothing but Barkeranian-like emotional appeals; a stance that begins and ends with an I-say-it's-wrong/don't-agree-with-it-so-your-faith-isn't-true approach.

It must be said from the outset that no worthwhile philosophical argument has ever been founded entirely upon emotion. While I would agree that many of us do hold emotional ties to what we think is right, we supplement that emotion with reason and logic, which are independent of us.

However, those supplements seem to be in horrendously short supply right now. Taken as a whole, I see very little in the way of advancing meaningful reasons for not committing to Christianity. I do see a plethora of excuses, dodges, emotions, and Humean-like takes manifest themselves. I notice weak and transparent attempts in looking for any way out of acknowledging the possibility of the faith's veracity ("Oh, hey, it says 40,000 stalls in 1 Kings and 4,000 in 1 Chronicles. That's it, Jesus never came back from the dead, there is no God, and the Bible is worthless. Case closed. I'm glad that's over with."). I end up with the feeling that any action that Christ took or any word that He said is going to be met with second-guessing and nitpicking and complaining. Perhaps if He had been an atheist there would be no fussing on your side?

With all of the arguments by outrage (http://www.tektonics.org/JPH_BWTB.html#outrage) being promulgated by the skeptical masses, and being that this form of "debate" seems to be the most influential in gaining apostates, here's some helpful advice from an atheist-turned-Christian who used to live by the now famous phrase of "arguing by outrage": learn something about the social, cultural, linguistic, and historical aspects of the Ancient Near East before running your mouth off and whining about what a tyrant you think YHWH is. Your say-so that He is is exactly as valid and convincing as my say-so that He isn't, and it will remain that way until one of us decides to throw something out that's not a reflection of how we personally feel about the subject.

And incidentally, if you are going to postulate that Biblical Action X is wrong, do at least attempt to provide some reasoning behind it, aside from something along the lines of, "Wow, that's sick. Okay, obviously this deity is bogus." You may want to consider, as noted above, some of the relevant background data involved in order to understand the situation more clearly. Also, structuring a logical argument against an act committed by the Father or the Son might help your case. Simply stomping your foot and shaking your head isn't going to get many 9's and 10's from the judges.

What I have never seen, though, is a skeptic attempt to honestly educate themselves about the time periods that the Bible was written in. I see ample motivation in the realm of contradiction listings, emotional appeals, non-existence of the historical Jesus essays, etc., but I have yet to come across an opponent of Christianity who has put forth the effort to study, analyze, and familiarize themselves with the many facets of the ANE, or for that matter, one who even wants to someday educate themselves on such matters.

Instead, picking up a KJV and reading it like you would a driver's manual seems to be the modus operandi, and if any effort is made to shed light on alleged wrongs, evils, inconsistencies, and unbelievable incidents in the Bible, it is either ignored or said that such an attempt only clouds it all, and that the real issue is being avoided.

Aside from skeptical ignorance in dealing with the Good Book, I've also observed arguments against Christianity based on nothing but personal preferences and desire. They're pretty rampant, and here are some of the better ones I've picked up:

And so on. It makes for great sound bites; it also reiterates the seed for many of you skeptics. I have a question - how many of you would *want* to be Christians if you were given proof far beyond a reasonable doubt (I'd argue you've received it already, but I digress)? Would you be able to get down on your knees, give your life to Christ, and ask Him to forgive you for all the bad things you've done in your past? Or would you fight it, say how it's your life, and that you're not giving it up for anything or anyone (perhaps some of you would say there is no such thing as objective good or evil?)?

I ran a poll on the atheism board at askme.com some months ago. I asked a simple question to the skeptics - what would your reaction be if you were given irrefutable evidence for Christianity? I listed the three possible options (assuming, of course, each response to have its own respective range of emotion): ecstasy, apathy, or indignation. Not surprisingly, of the nine people who answered, seven of them said they would be indignant, while two hovered around some form of apathy (one even said that despite the proof, she'd still remain an "intellectual" agnostic).

Now, you are perhaps saying that this is not reflective of the atheistic community as a whole; that nine people isn't nearly a large enough number to accurately gauge the reality of emotional responses. This may be true, but given what I have observed from the rogues in Tektonics, and from my contacts with people in the real world, rejection of Christianity comes, at the root, not from intellectual concerns at all, but from a desire to be free, to do what you want, and from an abhorrence to events depicted in the Bible (24,000 Cannies, anyone?).

Guess what? That ain't a logical reason for rejecting or abandoning the Christian faith, fellas! You'll have to do a lot better than voice your own opinion on the entire matter if you want to knock out the world's largest religion.

And, echoing Jason Rennie's recent article, if you are going to claim that your non-belief system is based entirely upon a careful and objective process of rational and self-guided thought, perhaps you would like to provide us Christians with an actual alternative to the Resurrection? It doesn't seem terribly honest to keep trotting out the same six (by my count) arguments that have been beaten, whipped, smacked, consumed, and annihilated since the first Easter, and then in the end meeting it with hardcore denial, or shrugging it off along the lines of something like, "Oh who knows what happened with some event stuck in the middle of Judea two millennia ago." You're 0 for 2000 years, guys. Not good innings for you.

If you admit that your disbelief in Christianity is the result of emotional and personal reasons, then fine, say it and be done with it. Otherwise, saying the opposite when it's not is a form of intellectual dishonesty. It's a sham, and your objectivity is a sad case of smoke and mirrors.

With that said, I have just one final question for the rejecter of Jesus - why have you really denied Christianity?