Sunday, November 13, 2005

Angry Attacks on Christianity

Recently, in my jaunts around the Internet, I've come across several downright hostile rants against Christianity.

Take for instance, this guy on Huffington Post. He says that anybody who follows any religion is "stupid":

If You're a Christian, Muslim or Jew - You are Wrong.

If you don't want to be called ignorant or misinformed, then get informed. Learn the real nature of our universe and put aside old wives tales about resurrected Gods, omniscient prophets and a guy who could split the Red Sea but couldn't find where he's going in the desert for forty years.
It's the year 2005. Let's start acting like it

His basic argument is that all religions are myths because their holy books are false. I'm not sure I see any real basis to the argument, though.

So then I happened upon this fellow, who argues specifically that there is not a God.
Do I believe in God? No. As someone who likes to ground himself in reality, I have a hard time believing in something so ambiguous.
He goes on:

Here is something I do know without a shadow of a doubt. If God did exist, he wouldn't be very happy with what people are claiming to do in his name. Do you really think God wants you to be a homophobe? Be hateful and arrogant in his name? Not help the poor? Wage war without end? I doubt it. Don't tell me it's all a part of God's plan. It's part of your plan, and you're just using God as an excuse to do wrong.
And to be honest, there is a sliver of truth in this statement. A follower of God should behave as God would want him to. Do they always? No, probably not, but the key here is that we all remain imperfect. This error carries on:
Want some advice? Here's the one, surefire way to improve your standing if God indeed exists: Be a good person. Be kind to others. Look out for your fellow man...
And sadly, this is where he completely misunderstands what God wants. God seeks his own glory. That's a weird thing to think about, but it's true. John Piper, on his website Desiring God, makes this very point:

Man was made to rely on God and give Him glory.
The Gospel of Christianity says that no matter how good we are, we aren't good enough. That's why our eternal destination does not rest on anything we do, but on Jesus.

Finally, I came upon a site called Why Does God Hate Amputees? This particular guy sets about proving Christianity false. He offers as an indication that God doesn't exist the fact that amputees do not grow back their limbs:
No matter how many people pray. No matter how sincere those people are. No matter how much they believe. No matter how devout and deserving the recipient. Nothing will happen. The legs will not regenerate. Prayer does not restore the severed limbs of amputees.... And we know that God ignores the prayers of amputees through our own observations of the world around us. If God were answering the prayers of amputees to regenerate their lost limbs, we would be seeing amputated legs growing back every day.

Isn't that odd?
This man has basically written a book on reasons he says Christianity is not true, including such topics as the reliability of the Bible and who exactly Jesus was. As far as I can tell, his argument boils down to that he feels if God existed, he would have made himself more obvious. My question to (the appropriately named) Mr. Brain is why are you so bent on proving Christianity wrong? If religion is false, its presence should not be of such great importance to you. Obviously, it strikes very close to him somehow. I'd be curious what his spiritual background is.

The great thing about Christianity, is that it is provable and there are reasons to believe. I'd be more than happy to point towards a few if you're curious.


Greg said...

I noticed that the "loaded question" site tries its darndest to disprove intelligent design (ID) theory. Now, honestly, I haven't read all the details of what's go on recently in Kansas or elsewhere regarding ID theory, but that won't stop me from giving my 2 cents here...

Starting in about the 4th grade, year after year I was taught in every science class that the universe was created by the "Big Bang" and that humans were created by "Evolution."

However, even though these theories have been taught for decades, it's not clear if these theories are actually becoming stronger or weaker.

Regarding the "Big Bang Theory," there are currently several "models" being floated. This means most of these models are wrong. Of course, it's possible that they're all wrong.

The theory of evolution is more of a hot button issue. I think the biggest reason for this is the fact that people confuse microevolution with macroevolution. Just because the fossil record shows that humans are, on average, taller today than they were 200+ years ago, that doesn't mean that humans evolved purely by chance from apes.

Granted, I'm not familiar with all of the details of ID theory that some schools want to teach. However, as long as ID theory is taught based on solid, scientific observations of the world we live in, I see no harm in teaching it alongside macroevolution in biology class. After all, both "ID" and "Evolution" have gaps that science has yet to fill.

Oneway said...


It is worth noting that Hugh Ross, one of the leading scientists exposing Evolution's gaping holes (his organization is called Reasons To Believe), advocates that ID not yet be taught as an alternative to Evolution. ID is progressing towards offering a falsifiable model, but is not yet there.

But, parents should be in control of what their kids learn, which would be the reality if public schools were closed.

Regardless, good thoughts, Westy, I appreciate your intentions.

Chairman said...

Like God, I also hate amputees. I also am not fond of old people and children. But that's neither here nor there.

With this whole debate, we need to make sure that everyone's on the same page to start. Otherwise you just end up yelling past each other. Which is sort of cool, but doesn't really get us anywhere.

Where does ID fit into the scheme of things? If we want to teach it along side current science, and still have some credibility, we need to ask a few things...

Does ID offer falsifiable hypotheses? Do the findings of these hypotheses work together to create lawlike generalizations? Do these lawlike generalizations work together to form the workings of a theory? Can this theory describe current and past events? Can this theory explain why these events happened? Can this theory predict future events?

I'm not suggesting that any theory based on more than basic knowledge can do all of this accurately. But ID needs to be able to come close to evolution for it to even be considered.

Now, basic research in ID is certainly a fine way to go. But from what I've seen, the people who are pushing for ID seem to be trying to attack points of evolution, rather than establishing their own theory. It's one thing to try to poke holes in an argument. It's an entirely different ballgame to try to create a theory that describes, explains, and predicts.

Let's put it this way. I have a lot of theories. That doesn't mean that we should be using them in schools any time soon.


Greg said...

Oneway and Chairman,

I've since done some reading on ID theory. (Previously I was ignorant on the matter, now I'm less so.) To make a long story short, I agree with what both of you have said.

Westy said...

So here's the question, is God falsifiable?

Chairman said...

Boy, that's an interesting one. Is God falsifiable? I'll take a swing at this one.

Two ways to look at this. First, is something of a "big picture" look at it, or a question of scope. The attempt to refute something that supposedly exists outside the bounds of science should not (and can not) be done using philosophy of science approaches.

The second one is probably more of what you were getting at, Westy. Can you scientifically prove/disprove the existence of God?

I'm not sure about whether or not it is actually possible. But I think that doing so is a task of such great enormity that it is not practically possible.

What are the possibilities involved? Just off the top of my head, you'd have some different hypotheses: God exists. God has never existed. God once existed, but is now dead. Maybe there would be more.

For each of these, you would examine them individually. Set up a null hypothesis that says that the position is false, and then test that null hypothesis. I don't even know where you would start testing. The problem would be rather broad, encompassing at least fundamental questions in physics, biology, sociology, philospohy, and psychology.

And no matter what your results are, you'll run the risk of errors. You may erroneously reject the null hypothesis, when it is actually true (a Type I error). Or you may erroneously accept the null hypothesis, when it is actually false (a Type II error). These are the standard errors that the scientific process just deals with. And even if you did find statistical significance for one test, you'd then have to replicate it in different contexts many times, so that the overall level of your findings lead you in a broad, general direction.

So this would seem to be exceedingly difficult. But I'm not even sure if it would work at all. The scientific approach is probabilistic. It deals in likelihoods. Everything is a shade of grey. You try to answer questions like, "how confident are we in rejecting this hypothesis?" and "how likely is the proposed hypothesis the best alternative?" We look for statistical significance.

I don't think that this can ever "prove" or "disprove" the existence of God. For example, the example of how God can't exist because amputees can't re-grow their limbs, would just be one point of data. You'd need a ton of data points, each of which would need to be rigorously tested and statistically significant. Then, you'd look at the overall trend of the data to see if research in the field points in a direction (a meta-analysis, if you will).

It's a difficult task, and I don't know of many broad theories that encompass non-basic scientific questions that are established well. Even the major theories in the social sciences that many people use are contested.

Where does this leave us? Perhaps instead of using an existing theory to explain the world (which is really what both Evolution and ID try to do - use dogma/ideology/etc. as your starting point), we can use observations of the world to develop theory (back to the styles of ancient philosophers). And really, it's not either or. It's always a blend of both.


Ty Grigg said...

The conversation about ID and Evolution is intriguing. I was most struck by this comment:

"Want some advice? Here's the one, surefire way to improve your standing if God indeed exists: Be a good person. Be kind to others. Look out for your fellow man..."

I don't think he completely misunderstands what God wants. I'm reminded of Micah 6:8 -
"No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is waht he requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

There is something biblical in what he is expecting to see among God's people.