Subversive Christians

Easter Sunday I participated in a lively discussion with a group of atheists on the topic of the resurrection. It was all kicked off by a friend who posted “Happy Zombie Jesus Day!”

And while the exchange with the non-Christians on the thread went pretty well, I was dumbfounded when the following was posted:

Dan can not prove the absence of God any more than believers can absolutely prove the existence of God. This is why it is called Faith (or lack of). So at the end of the day we should either celebrate either the second coming or the Easter Bunny bringing candy, whichever works for us individually, and move on. My position on the subject is my position, it neither grows stronger or weaker if I get someone else’s input. Actually, someone passionately challenging my position may only serve to strengthen my resolve. So for many Dan may actually be working to further solidify their faith. For others his comments may strike a chord of familiarity. At the end of the day those that believed in the second coming still will and those that think a pink bunny actually brings candy… well, they still will too. So, whatever you celebrate today, enjoy the fact that Winter is over and Summer is around the corner!

On the surface this may seem like a simple plea of “why don’t we all just get along?” But I suspected something else, so I posted this by way of reply:

George, your position sounds rather anti-intellectual to me and decidedly post modern. Facts matter and our discovery of them is absolutely paramount. If I am holding on to false beliefs I would certainly like to know and the best way for me to go about doing that is to regularly expose myself and my positions to others who hold differing opinions. Sure, that exchange may strengthen my resolve, Dan knows I appreciate his help in making me a better Christian, but it may also cause me to abandon false beliefs. The worst thing we could do, however, is to think that our persuit of truth is of no importance or to think that encouraging others to examine their positions does not enrich all of us (how’s that for self-interest Dan?).

To this George responded:

Wes, enjoy the debate. I hope you find what you are looking for.

I am open to debate things that can be proven, debating things that can’t are largely mental masturbation. So I go with my beliefs on those, and you are welcome to respect those or not. Whatever your choice, I am fine with it. Not a factor here.

Me:

George I must admit that you’ve piqued my interest as to what you are looking for here. It seems to me that your aim is merely to shutdown the conversation through an appeal to relativism “that’s true for you but not for me” and/or agnosticism “I know that we can’t know”. Both, I would argue, are not only indefensible positions but also display a sort of intellectual cowardice. What’s worse than mental masturbation is mental impotence.

What makes you so sure that the resurrection of Jesus can’t be proven? I suppose that begs the initial question of what you would consider to be a proof and, from that, how much proof you think is required.

George:

Wes, for all of your “wisdom”, You don’t even know what my position is. I was once told by an old sales mentor that “to Assume makes an ass out of you and me”. So you are picking a fight with someone who may, in fact, be on your side (though I never stated a position and, as a rule, don’t debate my position on faith). A poor choice in battle plans on your part if that is the case. It is traditional to fight the enemy, not the allies.

Key is knowing who the allies, and are not, are before you aim and pull the trigger.

Not sure I would bother to debate someone that has not taken the time to figure out if I am even on the other side.

That, my friend, is what makes your argument simply mental masturbation and likely most important to you alone… My comment above was more focused on enjoying the day regardless of your position, because spending time on Facebook today is taking time away from faith, family or some other enjoyable activity. I have checked my blackberry far too much today and will remedy that. I wish you well as you debate anyone that responds, regardless of their position.

You did get pulled in by Dan’s comment that was delivered with great shock value (Dan’s apparent specialty). I laughed when I saw it, it was hard to take it too seriously.

You are one REALLLLY smart cookie…

From here I decided to take our conversation into private messages instead of continueing the conversation on our mutual atheist friend’s wall. And in the interest of full disclosure I’ll go ahead and tell you I wasn’t very nice in our private exchange.

Sadly this is not a fluke. I have a similar conversation with most Christians I meet. Not only are they ill-prepared to join in the battle we’ve been called by our common savior to join in on, they resent anyone who does.

I decided to make a blog about the exchange above to illistrate something I’ve thought for a long time. The biggest enemies the church faces today are not on the outside. They are professing believers in Christ who want to go to church every Sunday and get high on the religious expierience, but who never engage the world around them. In fact, they see it as

While some of the blame certainly falls on the pastor, I place most of the fault in the person who chooses to adopt the prevalent secular mindset which discourages any serious examination of worldviews in search for truth.

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7 Responses to Subversive Christians

  1. Well said. Sadly, too many pastors treat the thought of well-informed believers as a nice-to-have. They don't even aim at it.

  2. "What’s worse than mental masturbation is mental impotence."

    Mwahahaha!

    One of these days we should pick someone who is like your friend and do a podcast with them, then post it, with their permission, of course.

  3. Pingback: Should you shut down religious debates to make people feel better? « Wintery Knight

  4. I was going to post a snarky comment about George's thought process in composing his replies, but on reflection it wouldn't really add anything.

    Too many times Christians think evangelism is telling people that God loves them. Job done, let God do the rest. Don't engage with difficult questions. Don't try and find their core of hurt. God loves you, yep that works.

  5. First, I like how George dodges your answers at first with, "We all should get along," relativism stuff and then again dodges your reply with, "Well, how do you know whose side I'm on?" Ugh.

    Second, you are correct in saying the church's biggest enemy is not those on the outside, but those on the inside. Sad situation. Truth should never be killed in the street simply for the sake of peace (I read that somewhere).

  6. I would argue that the biggest enemy of the church is reason. One of the most common justifications for having faith is an appeal to an event that cannot be explained. For example, a Christian (we'll call him "Fred") may say "My family member was diagnosed with an untreatable cancer and then such family member was healed." Inevitably, Fred will ask "how do you explain that?" The argument that Fred is making is that, because Fred does not know the cause of "x", God must exist.
    The only thing this argument proves is that Fred is ignorant of the cause of "x". No conclusion can be drawn from that simple premise as to the existence of God. To see how silly the argument is, let's use another example. Fred cannot explain why his computer stopped working yesterday, but, after restarting it, it seems to work. Does this prove the existence of God as well? It does not prove the existence of God anymore then Fred's statement about his family member. It also illustrates the problem of trying to "prove" that God exists with the argument "Individual is ignorant of "x" and, thus, God exists."

    • Your comment appears to presuppose that God doesn't exist as an presupposed condition. It strikes me as odd that you would say that reason is the enemy of the church when the best you have to offer is a straw man of an emotional basis for belief. I suppose it never occurred to you that such an emotional basis could also constitute the core of a person's unbelief as well.

      Tell ya what, how about you take the time to study some more and come back when you have something a little more meaty to bring to the table.

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