Skip to comments.Backward, atheist soldiers!
Posted on 06/22/2007 9:07:12 AM PDT by Caleb1411
Books: Notable anti-religion and anti-Christian books of the past yearparticularly Christopher Hitchens God Is Not Greatmake something out of, well, nothing.
Nineteenth-century novelist Gustave Flaubert used to joke about archaeologists discovering a stone tablet signed "God" and reading, "I do not exist." His punch line had an atheist then exclaiming, "See! I told you so!"
These days, nothing stops atheistic caissons from rolling along the bookstore aisles. Maybe that's because atheists on average have small families and lots of discretionary doubloons jingling in their pockets. Sam Harris' Letter to a Christian Nation (Knopf), Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell (Penguin), and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin) all hit bestseller lists during 2006and a new book, Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great (Twelve), has ascended this year.
Last year's trio emerged alongside anti-Christian books purportedly based on hard reporting. Michelle Goldberg's Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (Norton) typified the genre's misreporting when she wrote that Christian pregnancy counseling centers "usually" present false or exaggerated informationbut there's no indication that she visited even one center, let alone the 3,000 or so that exist throughout the country. (Here's some evidentiary trivia: In four pages about me she makes five clear factual errors, along with many questionable interpretations.)
This year it's the same: a new screed by Chris Hedges has as its title not "Mistaken People" or even "Lying Liars," but American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (Free Press). The genre is old, with new villains appearing as necessary. Ten years ago Frederick Clarkson's Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy stated that the sky was falling, with Promise Keepers as the spearhead of Christian dictatorship.
The ferocity of these books is sometimes astounding. Here, for example, is Dawkins' view of God: "arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully."
Even Publishers Weekly noted concerning The God Delusion, "For a scientist who criticizes religion for its intolerance, Dawkins has written a surprisingly intolerant book, full of scorn for religion and those who believe. . . . Even confirmed atheists who agree with his advocacy of science and vigorous rationalism may have trouble stomaching some of the rhetoric: 'The biblical Yahweh is "psychotic," Aquinas' proofs of God's existence are "fatuous" and religion generally is "nonsense."'
Happily, Alister and Joanna Collicutt McGrath have just come out with an effective response, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine (IVP). The McGraths note, "Until recently, Western atheism had waited patiently, believing that belief in God would simply die out. But now a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out, belief in God has rebounded."
The McGraths also point out the folly of believing that if religion were eliminated wars would cease: After all, conflicts often reflect human desires to declare some people as "in" and others as "out," sometimes on the basis of religion, but at other times on the basis of race, ethnicity, tribe, class, gender, or whatever.
Christianity is above all others the religion that seeks kindness to those in the out-group: Jesus told us to love our neighbors and even to love our enemies. When Christians fail to live up to His teachings it's because of sin, not Christianityand scapegoating religion delays efforts to deal with the real problems of social division.
Scapegoating is also evident in the writing of Sam Harris, who frequently forgets to use reason and instead falls back on words like "preposterous." He asserts certainty about what he admits not knowing: "How the process of evolution got started is still a mystery, but that does not in the least suggest that a deity is likely to be lurking at the bottom of it all."
He complains not only about ignorance but about moral failings: "An average Christian, in an average church, listening to an average Sunday sermon has achieved a level of arrogance simply unimaginable in scientific discourse."
Yet Harris, for all his attacks on Intelligent Design, does not even understand the distinction between macro-evolutionone kind of creature changing into anotherand micro-evolution. One of his proofs of theistic obtuseness is that "viruses like HIV, as well as a wide range of harmful bacteria, can be seen evolving right under our noses, developing resistance to antiviral and antibiotic drugs."
The one good aspect of Harris' work is his understanding that theology has consequences: "There is no escaping that fact that a person's religious beliefs uniquely determine what he thinks peace is good for, as well as what he means by a term like 'compassion.'" Harris at least understands that the biblical theology he hates makes obnoxious sense in a way that liberalism does not; given a suffering world, "liberal theology must stand revealed for what it is: the sheerest of mortal pretenses."
Harris also criticizes the niceties of political rhetoric concerning Islam: "The idea that Islam is a 'peaceful religion hijacked by extremists' is a fantasy." Too bad he and other atheistic authors are determined to believe that Christianity is inevitably hijacked by hate, and that they pick up support from reviewers like Natalie Angier, who wrote in The New York Times that "Harris writes what a sizeable number of us think, but few are willing to say."
Harris' work has also engendered several Christian responses this year. Doug Wilson's Letter from a Christian Citizen (American Vision) points out that Harris uses morally loaded words like "should" and "ought"; Wilson rightly asks Harris, "What is the difference between an imposed morality, an imposed religion, or an imposed secular ought? Why is your imposition to be preferred to any other?"
Wilson notes Harris' fondness for Eastern religions, and in particular the "utter non-violence" of the Jains in India. Letter from a Christian Citizen correctly notes that "Devout Jains will wear a mask to avoid breathing in and thereby killing any insect," and then asks whether Harris would commend evangelicals who "forsook the use of antibiotics because of the genocidal devastation it was causing to the microbes within."
Wilson also points out that the litany of religious folks fighting each other that Harris recites "is beside the point. We don't believe that religion is the answer. We believe Christ is the answer." Harris' list of religious messes merely confirms "one of the basic tents of the Christian faith, which is that the human race is all screwed up."
And what about this year's champion screed, offered by Christopher Hitchens? His scorn"monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents"oozes off every page of God Is Not Great, with its extraordinary subtitle, How Religion Poisons Everything.
"Everything"? That sounds improbable. Are 1.3 billion Muslims all murderers? Might Christianity have produced 50 percent evil and 50 percent good? If not, how about 40 percent good? Thirty percent? Twenty percent? Ten percent? Will not Hitchens relent from his anger if we can find 5 percent that's good?
God Is Not Great has received extraordinary publicity, including an adulatory review in The New York Times, so it's worth going page by page to see what Hitchens is selling and many atheists are buying:
*On Page 4 he writes that religion produces a "maximum of servility." Islam, maybe, but were Abraham, Moses, and Job servile when they argued with God?
*On Page 5 he writes, "No statistic will ever find that without [religious] blandishments and threats [atheists] commit more crimes of greed or violence than the faithful." Prison Fellowship and other organizations can show that prisoners who go through evangelical programs have much lower recidivismcommitting new crimes after release from prison, leading to new sentencesthan others.
*On Page 7 he writes, "Religion spoke its last intelligible or noble or inspiring words a long time ago." Leaving aside the inspiration millions get from daily Bible reading, what about Martin Luther King Jr.'s speeches, with all their biblical imagery? Or Pope John Paul II, whose words inspired many people to rise up against Communism in Eastern Europe?
*On Page 17 he writes that religion "does not have the confidence in its own various preachings even to allow coexistence between different faiths." At the annual March for Life in Washington tens of thousands of Catholics and Protestants walk side by side along with individuals from Jews for Life, Buddhists for Life, and so on.
*n Page 32 he writes, "The nineteen suicide murderers of New York and Washington and Pennsylvania were beyond any doubt the most sincere believers on those planes." Todd Beamer, the man who said "Let's roll" on United Flight 93, and made sure it didn't crash into the U.S. Capitol, was a strong Christian believer. So were others who died, stopping the terrorists, when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania.
Hitchens of course thinks the Bible is nonsense (see also "The world according to Hitch," June 3, 2006). On Page 102 he writes, "It goes without saying that none of the gruesome, disordered events described in Exodus ever took place." Without saying. A slam dunk. On Page 103: "All the Mosaic myths can be safely and easily discarded." On Page 104: All five books of Moses are "an ill-carpentered fiction."
Such pronouncements were repeatedly made in the 19th century, but again and again biblical accounts considered mythical back then have gained new archeological support. For example, scholars at one point said that the Hittites described in the Bible did not exist, nor did rulers such as Belshazzar of Babylon or Sargon of Assyria. Archeologists now have records of all those civilizations and reigns.
Many brilliant people have spent lifetimes studying these writings that Hitchens so blithely dismisses. Princeton's Robert Wilson, who knew 26 ancient languages and dialects and so could read just about all that remains from the ancient Near East, was impressed with the accuracy of those accounts that Hitchens wishes to discard.
Coming to the present, Hitchens on Page 160 calls "the whole racket of American evangelism . . . a heartless con." Hmm. WORLD for two decades has reported stories around this country of compassionate evangelicals who must be dumb, because they've spent their lives in a racket that's yielded them almost no money. They've adopted hard-to-place children, built AIDs orphanages in Africa, helped addicts and alcoholics to turn their lives around, transformed the lives of teens who were heading into drugs and crime, and much besides.
In responding to Hitchens and mini-Hitchenses, it's also worth noting the leadership of Christians over the centuries in setting up hospitals and schools. Historians such as Jonathan Hill of Oxford, Alvin Schmidt of Illinois College, and Rodney Stark of Baylor have described the long-term effect of Jesus telling his followers to love their neighbors as themselves.
The evangelical tendency to help others, not poison them, has even attracted the attention of New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who calls America's evangelicals "the newest internationalists" for fighting sexual trafficking in Eastern Europe and slavery in Sudan. As Jewish leader Michael Horowitz has put it, evangelicals "led the way in taking on the slavery issue of our timethe annual trafficking of millions of women and children into lives of sexual bondage . . . led the way in organizing a campaign to end a growing epidemic of prison rape."
Horowitz concluded his message to evangelicals this way: "As you define your human rights successes as central to who you are and what you've done, it will no longer be possible for those who fear your faith to crudely caricature you or to ignore the virtue that Christian activism brings to American life and the world at large." Spoken too soon, because authors like Harris, Dennett, Dawkins, and especially Hitchens, despite all the evidence, still proclaim that religion, or Christianity in particular, poisons everything.
It appears to me that you have must doubts and that you don't believe the Jewish G-d or His Torah can withstand ridicule by non-believers.
Either your Jewish G-d and His Torah can withstand ridicule by non-believers or he can't. Your threatening others isn't an indication of His strength, is it?
But you do admit that Buddhists go to hell, right?
Oh, don't start telling us that we are going to have to start "handling" our Jewish friends differently after all these years. Has multiculturalism really gotten to your soul? The UN will be thrilled to know they were so successful.
It is people like you that help me understand why the religious war amongst the Jews and the Palestinians will never end.
>four pointed back at himself.<
Only three pointed back at himself.
Anyone who refuses salvation in Christ will.
And the thumb at his silly head
It does sound rather like jihad.
There are some real hot headed nuts among the Haredim.
And it brings to mind one of the contradictions of heaven. If you have a mother, father, son, or daughter who does not accept Christ, is it possible to have eternal happiness in heaven knowing that that person is in hell for all eternity.
When men get bored they fight over women and/or religion. It’s been that way since the beginning of time and I suppose it’ll go on forever.
There’s the Puritan/Calvinist theological approach to this which is that God scripted it all, we simply won’t care, and don’t worry about the rest. Some people find this energizing and simply come up with hotter and hotter descriptions of hell when challenged.
Then there’s the C. S. Lewis approach (which I confess to being partial to) that it’s a consequence of all people having the power to say yes or no to the spirit of God. If the Buddhist wants heaven, God will arrange for the conversion of his spirit. (Missionaries not infrequently report that the peoples they have gone to preach to, have already had some kind of premonitory revelation about the Lord.) Heaven will view hell as a tragedy, but not as something fundamentally unfair.
I don't find this unreasonable, just a strange and less than perfect way to manage the afterlife.
The only dialogue recorded in the New Testament involving an occupant of hell has this person acknowledging the fact that wrongdoing results in going there, though not directly, as though to signify a perpetual denial concerning his own wrong. The result is almost comical.
Even in this world we consider it strange when a person whose friend is in a fix but he can’t do anything about it, just sits and mopes his whole life. And, the truth about God is that one’s relationship with God trumps all others.
“Its the constant attacks by the God-haters, calling us stupid and so forth, despite the overwhelming evidence for design in nature (and the complete scientific failure of darwinism and the copernican principle) that provoke this backlash.”
Just claiming there is overwhelming evidence and claiming Darwin and Copernicus were wrong does not make it so. Evolution does occur and is an empirically and scientifically reliable theory beyond any comparison to intelligent design. The Earth does move around the Sun and that is not in dispute. Perhaps your dander is simply too up, having had your faith challenged, to engage in rational discourse.
“You do know its perfectly OK to smear feces on statues of Jesus, and other Christian symbols, but how dare you say anything negative toward a transvestite marching in the gay pride parade with its pants down.”
I think the double standard stinks, too, and I’m for ALL of those things either being looked down on or ALL of those things being above reproach as free speech generally (though I think smearing feces on anything, and your gay pride parade example, are tasteless behavior, certainly). I would not support censorship of that expression, but I don’t understand why America must financially support it, and I have no problem with the originators of such filth being shunned by society and suffering consequences for their actions in that way.
But if there’s a backlash against those disagreeing with Christians BY Christians here, why? Aren’t you Christians? What’s with the complete absence of the application of the golden rule here, and turning the other cheek? Oh, right, you’ve been provoked, so you can just ignore Christ’s teachings.
Are you sure that's wrong?
Faith is not 'knowing', it's 'believing'.
Now I couldn't tell you whether it's 'wrong' to prostelitize, but asserting something as certain when it's really a belief is wrong. It's dishonest.
So you are sure no truth can be arrived at that way?
Speaking of supernatural, transcendent (unprovable) truths: You may 'arrive' at truth, but you can't say for certain you have arrived, or when you arrived at it. You stumble into, around, and out of it, and back again - that's the best you can do.
If I know the truth, why do I need to 'have faith' or 'believe'?
To be internally consistent with your belief that the world is meaningless, nothing must mean much to you (including what teachers teach your kids in science class).
Galileo suffered to prove that we are totally insignificant! How dare you betray him by acting as if anything were???
Well then, since you insist in believing in something that cannot be scientifically proven (and therefore, according to you, cannot exist), I guess that makes you a hypocrite, doesn't it?
You seem to think that I have some sort of stake in your opinions and spiritual beliefs, which I don't. Please, keep believing in your publicly founded, unincarnate, God, and quit pretending that I care that you do.
I believe that you cannot believe in objective moral system, or that if you do (and you probably do, since you insist on thinking inconsistently), that you have no grounds to do so. On what would such a "morality" be based? Utilitarianism? Altruism perhaps? What would Ayn Rand think of you for suggesting such a thing???!!!
There are a fair number around Chtistiandom too.
No, whatever gave you that idea. I only said that things that cannot be tested and proven scientifically should not be taught in science class. This holds true for alien life forms, leprechauns, and creation myths.
I believe that you cannot believe in objective moral system.
Well, its a good thing that your beliefs have no bearing on whether I hold to a moral code or not. Regardless, my moral system, objective or not is totally unrelated to whether I believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis.
I beg to disagree. When I say I have “faith” in Jesus, that means I take what he says to be absolute truth. I trust Jesus, and His words, more than any man. Our own utterings might be mere opinions subject to error, but Jesus' words literally define truth.
Hebrews 11:1-2 offers the working definition of faith for Christians. It says: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see.”
You see, true Christians KNOW they will go to heaven, not because we deserve heaven, but because we completely trust that Jesus will keep His overly generous promise to save us from the consequences of our sins. I don't just believe this because it's my opinion. My opinion is quite irrelevant. I know this, because Jesus said it.
There's no dishonestly involved. Wouldn't we be more dishonest to treat our certain faith as though it were simply another type of spiritual Prozac to get through the day?
Asserting that I 'really believe something to be true, and have complete faith in it being true' is not the same thing as 'knowing it to be true'.
Faith involves partial blind allegiance, as you describe, in a higher and unprovable entity. When that entity describes its own logic and truth and you accept it at face value, you've made a 'leap of faith'. Once past that leap, people tend to forget they made that leap, and proceed as if they still believe in reason - but their reason is contigent on the 'rules' redefined by the transcendent entity or idea.
You see, true Christians KNOW they will go to heaven, not because we deserve heaven, but because we completely trust that Jesus will keep His overly generous promise to save us from the consequences of our sins.
In the same sentence you equate knowing and trusting, the same mistake made in equating knowing and having faith. You wouldn't have to trust if you knew it to be true. Of course it all makes sense from the standpoint of the internal logic of the Bible, but that doesn't transcend reality as we know it - unless the Bible were hard-wired into our brains so that every person on Earth accepted it as fact and truth.
If there are different gradients of faith, then I'd propose that at the extreme ends, complete faith and no faith, you wouldn't call those faith at all. On the one end would be 'knowing to be true' and on the other 'knowing not to be true'.
Faith is defined by that vast range between the two extremes where there always exists some amount of doubt, and some degree of logical leap.
Yes, we define faith differently.
Well, that would mean you're either a Jew or a Muslim.
If you're a Jew, you don't evangelize, so to you it's not really an attack, just a difference of opinion. It's no danger to your land or your person. Your religion is between you and your God, and He won't give you brownie points for defending Him. So you say "nu, believe what you like", teach your children differently, and move on.
If you're a Muslim, you show the writings to your Mullah. He pronounces a fatwa against the author, and some fanatic shoots the infidel in the chest.
If you're a Jew, you don't evangelize,
Since the word "evangelize" is taken from the Greek/Latin word for "gospel," then it means by definition "to proselytize for chr*stianity." This means that by definition, no non-chr*stian religion, however proselytary, can be said to "evangelize."
I am afraid you are very mistaken about one thing, however. Judaism does not proselytize non-Jews to convert to Judaism. It does have a specific mission, however, to "compel" (RaMBa"M's word) all non-Jews to observe the Seven Noachide Laws (the first of which is a prohibition of idolatry, which applies to every human being and is enforceable by the death penalty)--a mission that will be finally completed by Mashiach. While I doubt you have any first-hand knowledge of Halakhah, it may interest you to know that the basis for this future world-wide "conversion" are the laws concerning milchamot reshut, which stipulate that the besieged non-Jewish population is to accept the Noachide Laws and become permanent tributaries or else have the entire male population slaughtered and its women and children reduced to permanent slave status. (The difference between a milchemet reshut, btw, and a milchemet mitzvah, is that in the latter the enemy--specifically `Amaleq and the Seven Nations of Canaan--is to be exterminated.)
You've never read the Book of Joshua, have you? Perhaps we need to teach it in public school history classes.
so to you it's not really an attack, just a difference of opinion.
Now that is really interesting. When you ridicule the Jewish G-d and Torah you aren't attacking Judaism--you're attacking Evangelical Protestants? Is your scientific thinking equally as "logical?"
It's no danger to your land or your person.
Perhaps you are unaware that the Jewish deed to 'Eretz Yisra'el is the book you enjoy attacking and ridiculing as an "Evangelical Protestant" holy book? What do you think they did, flip open an atlas with their eyes closed and put their finger down on a random page? (BTW, Adam and Eve are buried in Hebron [I've been there]; and that isn't something rural white American Fundamentalist Protestants know.)
Your religion is between you and your God,
"My" G-d? Whatever gave you the idea that the G-d of Israel is just one people's G-d or that He is so cavalier as to whether everyone worships Him or not? Perhaps you missed the memo, but HaShem is still a "Jealous G-d," as Mr. Dawkins has pointed out. And Mr. Dawkins wasn't attacking the Baptist man-"gxd" Yushqa but the JEWISH G-d. And you don't notice this? You think Mr. Dawkins (who has attacked Zionism, btw) is just out to defend himself from the Southern Baptist Convention or the United Pentecostals?
and He won't give you brownie points for defending Him.
Now this is really incredible. May I ask how you know this? What do you think He gives "brownie points" for? Defending the shape of the "Jewish nose," perhaps? When Golyat blasphemed the Jewish G-d young David killed him. You don't think that was worth a "brownie point?" Or perhaps you don't consider David Jewish. Perhaps you think he was a "typical bigoted evangelical?" Wow. Was he baptized and everything??? Did he hand out tracts?
Or just maybe Judaism isn't as gentle as you think it is.
So you say "nu, believe what you like", teach your children differently, and move on.
This brings us to the question of why you yourself can't say "nu, believe what you like" and likewise move on instead of attacking other people's beliefs. It does seem that you are a bit inconsistent in whose beliefs you are willing to mock. Let's see . . . there are Yeshivish Orthodox Jews who live in insular communities, don't let their kids read about evolution, won't let them read book espousing the Copernican view of the solar system/universe, and won't let their kids read Charlotte's Web because it's about a pig. And to this you say live and let live. Yet when it comes to "the usual suspects" (ie, rural white [never Black, for some strange reason] American Evangelical or Fundamentalist Protestants) it's open season. Now may I ask why your "live and let live" philosophy is so inconsistently applied? Let's look at the matter scientifically.
You say you think rural white American Fundamentalist Protestants deserve to be mocked because they don't believe in evolution and don't want you teaching it to their kids (or want their kids taught their religion in school). Very well. But let's take a test group. We see that there are Yeshivish Orthodox Jews who fit every one of these criteria (and much more so, actually), yet to them you say "live and let live." Therefore, since religious fundamentalism is common to both groups (the experimental and the test group), then religious fundamentalism is scientifically eliminated as the reason you enjoy making a target out of rural white American Fundamentalist Protestants. So what is the reason then? Simple. They're the only safe target and you don't have the intestinal or testicular fortitude to attack anyone else. (And watch what you say to me. I'm not a chr*stian. I'm a genuine religious minority, and you better respect my beliefs and demonstrate your "solidarity" with me! It's not like I'm some trailer park Pentecostal you can sail into without fear of being accused of bigotry, now, is it?)
Bottom line--the Jewish G-d is the True G-d of all humanity and every human being is statutorily obligated to acknowledge and obey Him and no other "gxd," and the fact that Jews haven't enforced this on humanity is not because the religion has changed but because they have not been in a position to do so. This is what Mashiach is all about.
And finally (not so much to Physicist as to all the other atheists who jumped into this thread which was started as a critique of contemporary atheist fundamentalism), please understand that atheists can commit mass murder as easily as any religious person (as history makes abundantly clear). And the fault did not lie with Jacobinism or Communism or Marxism or collectivism or statism or any other "ism" per se--the problem lies in the very idea of a non-Theistically based moral/ethical system. All such systems are groundless and their rules therefore arbitrary and tyrannical (since they are imposed for no reason). As atheists are fond of pointing out, "just because there is no G-d doesn't mean there are no rules." So the jails are still full and people are still being fried in the electric chair or gassed in the chamber--but for no reason. This being the case, how does the mere non-existence of G-d make all this more palatable to you? Obviously it is not G-d's rules but His Person you object to. And this means you must base all your moral/ethical beliefs on a non-Theistic basis, which is the very heart of Communism (and Jacobinism, and scientific racialism and collectivism and Randianism etc.). Marxism-Leninism was never anything but a symptom. It has always been non-Theistically based moral/ethical systems that constitute the disease.
Either your Jewish G-d and His Torah can withstand ridicule by non-believers or he can't. Your threatening others isn't an indication of His strength, is it?
Let me try to explain this so you can understand.
"Anti-Semitism" is regarded as a heinous sin of which no one wants to be accused. Yet at the same time, no one seems to have the slightest fear of blaspheming the Jewish G-d.
Now may I ask why attacks on Jewish noses or bankers is so much worse (or so much more anti-Jewish) than attacks on the Jewish G-d? Hmmm? It's almost against the law to attack "Jewish noses." Qal vachomer, attacks on the Jewish G-d deserve that much the more legal penalty, correct?
In case you think that attacks on "Jewish noses" is more indicative of actual physical danger to Jews, kindly allow me to enlighten you about something--when the Nazis (mach shemam!) shoved their victims into the gas chambers or mowed them down over the graves they had forced them to dig, they didn't ask them about their noses. They said "Where is your G-d now???"
Food for thought, I'd say.
I always thought of it more as backward, atheist bureaucrat. Not to say that a bureaucrat us necessarily and atheist but because bureaucrats are often the means of moving forward atheism.
Have you gone through the Truth Project? I work at Focus, and have gone through it, and own a copy of it. Very helpful information....
I do know about the Copernican Principle being far more broad than "The Sun doesn't go around the Earth," but I pointed out what I did to show that the original Copernican Principle is just hunky-dory. That the broader sense of the principle espoused by some is adjudged incorrect simply on the basis that the condition of the Earth is rare (which is the central tenet of "The Privileged Planet") does not follow logically. The odds are stacked insanely against someone winning the lottery, but that is no scientific basis to anoint the next MegaMillions winner as the Second Coming.
An irrelevant point is an irrelevant point whether you think the question is legitimate or not. Maybe you confuse Christian eschatology with hatred? Thinking someone is in danger and telling them so isn't hating them as you seem to be implying. Do rescue workers hate the people they are trying to rescue? (If they did, would they bother with the rescue?) Do the people who run AA meetings hate alcoholics?
You seem to be trying to ascribe to us a hate that just isn't there. That's why it's a red herring.
Hitchens was pointing to the fact that the same Christians that were marching with Jews and Buddhists also believe those Jews and Buddhists are going to Hell if they don't accept Jesus.
I understood exactly what Hitchens meant, I've heard this complaint over and over and over again. And my answer to that is SO WHAT?
If I as a Christian treat you well and am frequently -- as in said case of the Buddhists/Jews/Christians marching together -- willing to work with you on common ground, or maybe babysit your kids while you're gone, call the cops if I see someone burglarizing your home, take you in and clothe you and feed you when your house is destroyed by storm or earthquake, look after you when you're sick, etc., etc., why does it matter so much to you what I think will happen to you -- assuming all us theists are wrong -- after you cease to exist?
What kind of vanity is this that you require everyone to think that everything about you is wonderful and perfect -- even in your non-existent afterlife -- or you're permanently offended? If you're right, what we think about your future past the grave will have zero effect on you, so if we treat you well and show you love while you're here, what more can you ask? Why can't you and Mr. Hitchens just be secure in your own non-faith and just write us off as well-meaning eccentrics and love us anyway instead of freaking out over something you believe won't affect you anyway?
Some folks have been a little snippy but I don't think it's any better to hide our faith and never defend it.
It's better to be kind and lead by example, especially in instances like this.
I don't quite understand -- all we can do in here is put down words to the best of our ability. No-one in this forum can see me leading by example, they can see only my words. While on the other hand, if I remain always and entirely silent in the face of criticism, folks who are watching and may be sitting on the fence may conclude that since I said nothing, maybe the atheists are right after all. Also, Jesus was not always gentle with critics either -- read Matthew 23.
You can't argue someone into believing the way you believe.
As a general proposition, that's not true. If you make a cogent case and your opponent is willing to hear you, you can often persuade someone to your point of view. If that was not so, all forums and blogs and discussions about any disagreement about anything would be futile and people would have long ceased talking to each other except to say hello and pass the salt.
And besides, such discussions are not always just for the folks involved in the discussion -- there is almost always someone watching and listening.
BUT...in the case of Christianity, it is true. The only thing that turns a non-believer into a believer is a direct encounter with the risen Lord, not sheer force of argument. At best, believers can only pave the way in someone's mind for that encounter to take place. But one of the ways to do that is to gently but directly answer critics and not be afraid they'll think we're mean.
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