"Woody, why do you hate Apologists? I thought you were supposed to be a Christian or whatever?"
I do not hate Apologists. I simply have never met a single one who, after hearing their case, I had any intellectual respect for at all.
A number of months ago a visiting preacher spoke to the church I attended. He was with Ratio Christi, an apologist group that targets college campuses. He lamented from the pulpit that "too many of our Youth leave the faith when they get to college." His group, he stated, offered "historical, philosophical, and scientific arguments to believe in Christ." (https://ratiochristi.org/)
On its face I have no objection to that intention. I too believe in Christ and believe that the Bible is true. I too assign intellectual value to history, science, and to philosophy - getting my bona fide's studying chemical engineering at University and engaging in Lincoln-Douglas Values Debate in High School. As both Scientist and Believer, I daily witness the mastery and mystery of God's Hand in His Creation.
But here's the rub, I also believe conceptual integrity and I'm not an idiot.
As an intellectual nerd, I have undertaken a more rigorous study of history, science, and philosophy, than the majority of my christian brethren. In addition to fluency with the fundamentals of western science and philosophy, I have fluency with the fundamentals of the Scriptures, having been raised in a King-James-Only-Church. So when the Christian Apologist makes bull-crap arguments, taking concepts out of context, cherry picking language - I will know it. When Scientists do this, intentionally misapplying concepts to make a fallacious point, or obfuscating data to coax readers into incorrect conclusions, we kick them out of our community and ridicule them to scorn (see Anti-Vaxxers and Climate-Change-Deniers). Among Truth-Seekers there is *no* room for intellectual dishonesty. If a person must use falsehoods and deceit to "prove" the "truth", they are at best ignorant of what the truth actually is, or at worst simply a dishonest jackass.
Many Evangelicals have been deluded into accepting Popular Apologetics as an authentic tool for presenting the gospel to secularist non-believers. It is their Biblical David to battle the Secular Goliath. By my personal standard, I do not believe these Christians exhibit intelligence in this choice. They are an ignorant people playing with hard concepts they do not comprehend. So you may ask Dear Reader, "What's is the end-game here, Woody? What purpose does the practice of Christian Apologetics, as used by American Evangelicals, serve?" For me that answer is easy: The end-game is what the end-game is for most of American Christianity: Money and Political Influence.
If you want to know what American Christians really believe in, examine what they teach their children in Church. Do they teach their little ones the Bible? No, they teach the Awana Program which makes learning individual bible verses (interlocked with Protestant Conservative Christian Dogma) Fun! What about the High Schoolers? Surely they teach those Youth the Bible? No, they teach second-rate Apologetics a la Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ", as their Sunday School Curriculum (the movie based upon the book cleared $7M in its first two weeks at the box office. Each 'Student Edition' of "The Case for Christ" features 5 pages of advertisements for the other "The Case For.." books available for purchase from the Publisher at $9.99 each.) For a bit of variety, they also teach a thinly-veiled "You're not an Godly American if you vote Democrat" message, a la a private screening of Franklin Graham's "Decision America" video (why would you show a video about Godly Republican Voting to minors who can't vote? Well... Brother Graham didn't spent a cool $9M on that project just to miss an easy opportunity to "invest" in the minds of future "christian voters" too).
Money and Political Influence. Not the Bible. Not Jesus's compassion upon the poor, upon women, upon refugees. Not Jesus's overturning of the money changers' tables or his chastisement of the hypocritical Religious Leaders. Nope. Money and Politics shapes the discussion that a large segment of the Religious in America swallow without thought.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Yesterday was a very unfortunate day for (some) children in this, the Great State of Nebraska. Children in the Juvenile Justice System, children in the Foster Care System, children in the Developmental Disability System, and also children who are sick as well as poor, on the Medicaid System, they will indeed and undoubtedly suffer from votes taken Wednesday on the Nebraska Unicameral Floor.
The Governor has line-item veto authority on the budget, and he exercised that this year on a number of DHHS and Nebraska Supreme Court programs. Nebraska is supposedly crafting our best shot at weathering a very real economic downturn. His stated purpose for the vetos was to not touch the "rainy day fund", presumably to put the state at a lower risk of a Special Session resulting from revenue catastrophically lagging forecasts over the interim. On a number of the overrides, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee stated he felt the reduction in the Reserve was appropriate, and that the amounts of money were so small, that the reductions to the Reserve would be virtually insignificant.
The cuts were particularly viscous to a particular class of people, those at the margins of society. Normal people are often honestly ignorant of the plight of these Others. Sometimes we simply don't see them... and other times we decide not to. Riding the bus I do see some of these, The Unfortunates: The single moms wearing a McDonald's uniform whose stroller blocks the aisle, the convicts on work release taking about their "old-ladies" and their kids back in freedom, the dirty jeans construction worker with a lunch box that looks just like mine - they are people. Also where I live informs me of these Unfortunates, literally, between the Governor's Mansion one block to the West, and drug houses in a blighted area one block to the East. I see barefoot and shiftless kids playing in yards of houses with overgrown weeds and missing windows, completely ignorant of how the middle-class white preacher's children experience childhood. These are the people impacted by these senseless budget actions.
I cannot say for certain what is the content of my fellow Nebraska Christians' hearts, for "what man can truly know another man?" But I hear these "Christian" Senator's arguments, I see their votes which represent their constituents. If you claim the cross and you aren't ashamed of your state government putting party politics before people, I'm ashamed of you... which doesn't really matter much in the greater scheme of things.