Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part IV – Child Abuse Through Religious Indoctrination

“…[I]sn’t it always a form of child abuse to label children as possessors of beliefs that they are too young to have thought about?”


mindcontrol2There is an entire chapter in Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion dealing with the notion of religious instruction as child abuse, of which the quote above concludes the introduction. Like so many complaints, it has made its way virtually unquestioned into the atheist dogma, and I regularly encounter it in its various guises. Dawkins at this point is referring to labeling children “Christian,” “Muslim,” etc. when they have made no personal decision to be included in that group. However, the gist of the chapter – and the arguments so readily offered by others – is that children should be taught how to think, rather than what to think. While this sounds noble and progressive at first blush, I will counter it at two points: appeals to authority and the nature of evangelism. Continue reading

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Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part III – Delusions and the Experience of God

 “Religious experiences can be easily explained in the same way as delusions, dreams, and hallucinogenic responses to drug use.”

HallucinationThere are many statements that we only hear in books and anecdotes about conversations. They tend to become something of folklore or urban legend, where everyone can describe the dialogue, but I’m not sure that anyone was ever actually involved in it. Until I saw this one for myself, I always placed it in that category of exaggerated fiction. In a social media “conversation,” someone talked about how a personal experience of the presence of God ratified her belief, and the antagonist responded with the quote above. Aside from being specifically designed to discount the testimony and attack the rationality of someone who is relating a very personal aspect of her faith, it is an absurd and illogical retort. Continue reading

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Why There Almost Certainly is a God

Phil: I’m a god.”
Rita: You’re God?”
Phil: I’m a god. I’m not the God… I don’t think.“

- Groundhog Day


HEADLINE: MODERN SCIENCE POINTS TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

I believe in God. I believe in the God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Benjamin. I believe in the God of Christianity, the Trinitarian God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I also believe in a god: the transcendent cause of everything. It is a winding road from god to God, but like Inigo Montoya, I’ll go back to the beginning. After all, the beginning is precisely where science points to god. Really.

Big-Bang-TheoryYou see, all the information we have indicates that the Universe had a beginning. Whether they believe that was 10,000 years ago or 13.8 billion, the vast majority of people agree. Math, physics, cosmology, metaphysics and logic all dictate this same conclusion, and the main holdouts tend to be those who desire to avoid the conclusions that a “beginning” requires. These are the conclusions that I will present here. Continue reading

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Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part II – An Accident of History

“If you were born in Saudi Arabia, you’d be a Muslim.”

Middle Eastern ChristianityThis argument takes many forms, but the basic idea is that my Christian faith is significantly, if not entirely, dependent on where and when I was born, and it is therefore unreasonable to hold it. On the face of it, this seems relatively logical, if only from looking at regional demographics. However, there are a few serious problems: it is based on a logical fallacy, it excludes the one making the claim from its conclusion, it denies the possibility of an omniscient and provident God, and ignores the multitude of stories of people in strict Islamic countries coming to faith in Christ without even the benefit of an evangelist. Continue reading

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Common Complaints and Rebuttals, Part I – The Monotony of Forever

I don’t want to spend forever doing anything, much less praising God.

BoredI’ve heard various versions of this complaint, but the basic notion is that an eternity doing anything – no matter how varied or pleasurable – is too much, and either the monotony or endlessness itself cannot be desirable. After all, what in the world (or out of it!) will we actually do for an infinite amount of time? I have two responses to this complaint, and I’ll tackle the more superficial one first. Continue reading

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Kill the Son

Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”

- Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited


“If you really loved me…”

As a kid in San Antonio, my grandmother was visiting and told me that she had been thinking about me, so she brought me some fried chicken livers, being pretty sure that I loved them. As a child with a horrifying gag reflex, I summoned up all my courage to take a bite. Right before I closed my teeth on that vile organ, she stopped me with a laugh: she was just seeing if I would really eat one just to avoid hurting her feelings. It was a test, and you could see how happy she was that I loved her enough to eat liver.

Continue reading

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Don’t Love Me the Way I Am

“Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved. …When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? …Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved….”

-       C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

“Wonder what I’m thinking, wonder why I’m drinking, but it’s plain to see, I’m not the man I used to be.”

-       Fine Young Cannibals


 

There are two lies we are often told: People never change, and we should love them the way they are. The first is proven false by our experience; the second is based on a misrepresentation of love.

People Don't Change

I don’t know these people…

A dynamic life is full of change, but even the most stubbornly static existence is marked by it. People are forced to change: by nature, by experience, by conflict. People change: their personalities, their ambitions, their motivations, their tastes are all modified – if not fully transformed – at various points in life. And these are not just superficial changes, but rather fundamental alterations that often leave one unrecognizable. The phrase “Once a [fill in the blank], always a [fill in the blank]” is not only unfortunate, it is a lie. Of course, it is also used exclusively with regard to negative attributes. I have never heard someone say, “Once a kind, gentle soul, always a kind, gentle soul.” While this is possibly due to an intuitive understanding of human nature, it is also unmistakable in its purpose: to deny that essential improvement is possible. Continue reading

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