Gospel Disproof #26: No excuses

Here’s an interesting thought experiment, especially for Christians. Imagine, for a moment, what the world would be like if Christianity were a myth. How would it be different?

People would not suddenly become omniscient, would they? Of course not. Why would God’s failure to exist suddenly improve our mental abilities? A world in which God was a myth would still be a world where people don’t fully understand the world around them. That means believers would still have plenty of opportunities to superstitiously ascribe things to God, and to defend their faith by pointing to things and saying, “You can’t explain that!” Even if God never existed, we could still have creationists and philosophers building detailed apologetics out of what we don’t know.

Coincidences would not stop happening, would they? Of course not. The world is a complex place, with complex and subtle interactions. We can’t trace back every chain of cause and effect, even for relatively simple processes. To follow all the complex social, economic, and physical factors that influence our lives would be humanly impossible. We can’t predict our own futures with 100% accuracy, and consequently we will not uncommonly encounter things we didn’t expect. There would still be plenty of room for superstitious people to take those unexpected outcomes and call them “miracles.”

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Baptist legislator vows to fight ACLU “threat”

Tennessee state legislator Rep. Eric Watson, in an opinion column at The Chattanoogan.com, warns his minions that “The American Civil Liberties Union is at it again.” Watson, who holds a Masters degree (summa cum laude) from Andersonville Theological Seminary, elaborates:

The ACLU has brought lawsuits against local school boards in Tennessee, with the intent to limit students and teachers rights regarding religion. If you have attended any school related events lately, you may have noticed in some cases the prayer has been replaced by a “moment of reflection” or a “moment of silence.” In one school system, which has been under attack by the ACLU, feed-up parents [sic] began reciting the Lord’s Prayer prior to a football game and the entire stadium participated.

Strangely, Watson forgets to tell us what the specific issues might have been in any of these ACLU lawsuits (though he does mention at least one case in which the US Supreme Court agreed that the school was specifically seeking to establish religion, in direct violation of the First Amendment). Nor does he cite any particular cases in which he thinks the ACLU is acting to “limit students and teachers rights regarding religion.” Instead, he suggests that perhaps the time might have come for the Christian majority to rise up and do something to prevent the ACLU from being able to file lawsuits against schools that try to establish religion despite the Constitution.

One of my general rules is local school boards should control education policy. However, it may be time to lay down some restrictions on the ACLU’s ability to dictate school board policy through aggressive lawsuits. Here is the problem; local school boards have limited funds. When the ACLU files a lawsuit, it is easy for local schools boards to react in panic and begin changing local policy to avoid or settle lawsuits. This area of the law isn’t clearly defined.

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Wabbit season

I remember the first time I saw it: Elmer Fudd stands by, gun loaded, as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck rip signs off a tree, exposing a new sign underneath: “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabbit Season!” “Duck Season!” “Rabb—ELMER Season!??” And Elmer has to run for his life from his former prey. Gotta love the classics.

Speaking of silly cartoons, here’s a columnist from the World Net Daily arguing—I kid you not—that Barack Obama, as President of the United States, officially declared an open season on Christians worldwide.

Here’s the relevant quote from the May 2009 press conference in Turkey:

“One of the great strengths of the United States is … we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation, or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”

It is bedrock American tradition, as stated in the first amendment to the Constitution, that there is no government-established religion, that freedom of religion for each individual is guaranteed. The United States has no state religion, no government church. In that sense, the United States is, of course, not a “Christian nation”…

To the Muslim ear, Obama was saying that the United States would not protect Christian communities in predominantly Muslim countries because the U.S. was neutral on the issue of religion. An unfolding Christian bloodbath is the result.

So he admits that our Constitution specifies “no religious preference” for our government, and yet somehow that translates into “it’s ok to shoot Christians” when mentioned by Obama? If I made a cartoon that gave conservatives lines like this, they’d complain about being ridiculed. Or they might cheer. Who knows?

Harmless?

“No, gay sex is not harmless. They’ve done scientific studies that show it causes microscopic tears in the lining of the rectum.”

“Microscopic?”

“Yeah.”

“In other words, you can’t even see it?”

“Um, well no, I guess not.”

“So what’s the big deal? That’s hardly a reason to deny two people the right to marry each other.”

“It’s not the amount of damage, it’s the principle of the thing. The Bible says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so whatever damages our bodies is wrong.”

“So just use lubricant. If there’s no friction there won’t be any tears.”

“That’s not the point either. That kind of sex is wrong because it has the potential to harm the body.”

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Gospel Disproof #25: God the Loser

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” It’s a fairly common theme. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). “Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return” (Isaiah 10:22). “What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened” (Rom. 11:7).

Flattering, isn’t it? If you’re a believer, you’re part of a small select group of saints, the spiritual elite, the insiders, the chosen ones. Most people, sadly, reject their own salvation. They’re spiritually blind, rebellious, wicked, and unrepentant. But not you. You’re special. You’re different. And there aren’t many like you. You’re the spiritual 1%.

This is one aspect of the Gospel that, in my opinion, goes a bit overboard. It’s just too obvious that we’re dealing with a myth designed specifically to appeal to people’s pride and narcissism. Think about it: flattering people may be great marketing, but what it’s really saying is that, in the struggle for men’s souls, God loses most of the time.

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Gospel Disproof #24: PID

Back when I was a Christian, the big controversy was over something called “scientific creationism,” the view that you ought to be allowed to teach Genesis in public schools as long as you did so under the guise of presenting it as a scientific theory of origins. But it flopped. It was too easy to see through, and too blatantly anti-scientific. Then some lawyer decided to write Darwin On Trial and show all those biologists where they were wrong. Thus, the modern Intelligent Design movement was born.

The problem with ID is that it’s really just superstition in a lab coat. You find some natural phenomenon whose origins you do not understand, and you jump to the conclusion that no one will ever understand it, because some magical power or being created it supernaturally. It’s a “scientific” approach with at least a couple problems, even for Christians.

First, because it depends on not understanding the origins of natural phenomena, it’s intrinsically hostile to any branch of science (e.g. evolution) that successfully does explain the natural origin of things. It is therefore inescapably anti-science, rather than part of a proper scientific domain. But the bigger problem for Christians is that ID, as “scientific” evidence for God, supports polytheism a lot better than monotheism.

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Of trees and bullseyes

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A hunter was out in the woods one day and came across a bullseye painted on a tree, with a single arrow dead center in the middle of it. The bullseye was rather small, and even the tree itself was not too large, so the hunter was impressed. As he continued through the woods, he found more and more of these small bullseyes, each with a single arrow in the dead center. “Clearly,” he thought, “I’ve stumbled onto the domain of a master archer. I must find him and see if he can teach me to shoot as well as he.”

After some searching, he came upon a young man with a bow, a quiver of arrows, small pail of red paint, and a brush. “Are you the one that’s been shooting all those bullseyes?” asked the hunter. “I am,” replied the youth. “Such skill in one so young!” declared the hunter, “Will you teach me?” “Surely,” the youth replied. And with that he set down his paint and brush, pulled out an arrow, drew back his bow, and shot it into a thickly-wooded part of the forest, where it struck a tree. He then took his paint and brush and painted a neat bullseye all around where the arrow had landed.

If you’re a fan of serious déjà vu, you can follow up this story by reading William Lane Craig’s personal testimony about his prayers and how amazingly on-target God’s answers have been. It’s this week’s installment of our ongoing review of Craig’s book, On Guard.

Gospel Disproof #23: The Star of Bethlehem

John Loftus has an interesting post up about the various inconsistencies in Gospel stories about Jesus’ alleged birth at Bethlehem. I’m going to piggyback on just one part of that story: the bit about the “wise men” from the East who followed a star to the place where Jesus was born. According to Matthew, their first stop was Jerusalem, where they asked King Herod where the next king was going to be coming from. Herod sent them to Bethlehem, based on a prophecy in Micah, so they went back to following the star.

After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him.

Let’s do just a quick reality check here: the next time there’s a clear night, go outside, pick any star you can see, and tell me which house it’s over. Kind of hard, right? Now wait 10 or 15 minutes. Which house is it over now?

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Ben Stein on Christmas trees

According to the UK’s Catholic Herald, it seems the War on By Christmas has enlisted a new recruit: Ben Stein.

There’s a story somewhere about Barack Obama referring to a Christmas tree as a “holiday tree,” which is apparently a worse form of persecution than denying Christians the right to marry one another, or something. In a vigorous and principled rebuttal on CBS Sunday Morning (which all good Christians will have missed because they’re in church where they belong), Stein says:

I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against… It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me… In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

Oh my God, Ben, which side are you on? How dare you refer to it as “this happy time of year” instead of calling it Christmas? Are you trying to take Christ out of Christmas? You do remember, don’t you, that this whole “war on Christmas” meme was originally concocted as an anti-Semitic propaganda campaign? That Jews were originally accused of writing secular holiday songs (like Jingle Bells) as an attack on Christmas as a holy day reminding us of the miracle of the incarnation of the Son of God?

Well, maybe he does, and he’s just kissing up. Or maybe he’s just being paid to shill for the conservative Christian majority. Wouldn’t be the first time, eh?

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