Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reason Rally Supporter Not Very 'Reasonable' Inviting Christian Fringe Group

The more and more I think about the premises of those spearheading the Reason Rally, the more I find them to be most unreasonable.   Not too long ago I had two postings concerning comments made by an atheist on my blog, who was parroting P. Z. Meyers with statements like, we are being obnoxious, arrogant, along with a whole bunch of other rhetorical insinuations about making plans to go to the Reason Rally.  Those of us blogging on the rally have opened up and extended invitations to any atheist who wants to grace the door of our respective churches holding what is called an Atheist at Church Day.

Just in the last couple of days we have seen the next wave of illogical rhetoric hitting the web.  This time it is an ardent supporter of the Reason Rally (Jim Klawon) showing his skill in emotional rhetoric and unreasonable nonsense.  The vehicle is inviting a group like Westboro Baptist Church to the Reason Rally.

Amid all the responses from our 'coalition' of apologetics bloggers (e.g., True Reason.org, Ratio Christi, Thinking Christian, Deeper Waters, Reasons for God, along with this and other blogs), we are somewhat amazed and scratching our heads, trying to figure out where the "reason" is in Klawon's invitation to Westboro Baptist Church (here is the letter of invite from the Center for Inquiry).  

For those who have not followed the events, let me give a little history behind the events of the Reason Rally up to this point:  

  1. The premise of the Reason Rally is supposedly to show the nation that atheism/secularism is reasonable.
  2. TrueReason.org responds by declaring its intent to come to the rally to reason with atheists.
  3. Atheists respond with mocking and outrage and demand to be allowed into Christian churches (example).
  4. TrueReason.org responds with an initiative to invite atheists and skeptics to churches.
  5. Many atheists respond by indicating that they don't want to go to church (example).
  6. TrueReason.org publishes a book demonstrating that though the “New Atheists” claim to be the defenders of reason, they’re not very good at it.
  7. The rally organizers invite the Westboro Baptists to the rally. Westboro is known for its angry demonstrations and un-Christian and un-reasonable responses to cultural issues. (Source:Ratio Christi, Let's Set Up Our Own Straw men posting)

We now come to the events of #7, and I have to ask, "where in the world is the 'reason' in Klawon's invitation to a  hyper-fringe group of fundamentalists, claiming to be a genuine representation of Christianity?  The Westboro Baptist Church has been in the media at "rights" marches, military funerals and other events stating their view of the Bible.  Let me say that though they may believe the Bible, and "preach the Bible", the action of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, peace, patience, joy, kindness, and self control is missing; and is therefore NOT a good representation of Christianity.  In fact, it sounds like Westboro has cut out Galatians 5:22-23 from their Bibles!

This said, the atheists, being charged up by this invitation, are once again demonstrating the folly of their reasoning skills.  through the committing of a couple of informal fallacies in logic (the study of sound critical thinking and reasoning).  Let me illustrate these fallacies coming from those promoting "reason" from an atheistic perspective:

1.  The Straw Man fallacy:   The straw man fallacy is an informal fallacy that is based upon the misrepresentation of an opponent's position.  It has nothing to do with the argument being made, but doing everything to misrepresent the opponent.  How is this fleshed out with Jim Klawon inviting Westboro Baptist Church?

Klawon invites a fringe group, professing to be Christians but known for their hateful demonstrations.  This group professes Christianity and Klawon's strategy appears to create this illusion for people toward lumping all Christians under the temperament of the likes of Westboro Baptist Church.  Some of us on the side of faith and reason have called this a diversion and a distraction.  To say the least it makes life interesting for us on the side of truth and logical thinking.

There is another fallacy that is crawling around in the straw of the atheist straw man and that is what is called the fallacy of the excluded middle term.

2.  The Excluded Middle fallacy:  This is also known as a faulty dilemma, or a false dichotomy where one argues for "sameness" when there are some things in common between two entities (i.e., religions or religious leaders), but those two entities do not share all (the main) things in common    Here are a couple of syllogisms to give you a taste for this kind argument:

Premise 1:  David Koresh had  huge following.
Premise 2:  Jesus had a huge following.
Conclusion:  Therefore they are the same.
Analysis:   Just because there are parts of the both religious leaders having a huge following, it does not mean that they are all the same.

here is another. . .

Premise 1:  Hinduism is polytheistic
Premise 2:  Mormonism is polytheistic
Conclusion:  Therefore they are the same.
Analysis:   Just because there are parts of the both that are same does not mean that they are all the same.

Do you see the problem here?  This is how the new atheism is arguing when Mr. Klawon invites a fringe "Christian" group to say, "we are opening up the invite to 'all Christians'."  Really?  Let's follow this now because I am smelling more than just "stinky red fish."  It is reductio ad absurdum (reduced to absurdity).  Here is how Klawon's rationale for inviting Westboro Baptist Church is not even congruent.

Premise 1:  The "reasonable skeptic," Klawon, thinking (whether ignorantly or maliciously) that Westboro Baptist Church is a true representation of Christianity, invites them to the rally as a kind gesture, "celebrating  diversity, logic, acceptance and reason."

Premise 2:  The ministries aligned with True Reason are Christian groups.  Some are from Baptist churches, Bible churches, evangelical and mainline churches all of which profess to be Bible believing Christian groups.

Premise 3:  All these groups profess to be "Christian" in their beliefs. 

Conclusion: Therefore they are the same.

Analysis:   Just because one says that one is a Christian, it does not mean that they are a Christian as defined within the bounds of Scripture.  This is not to be judgemental.  It is to say that when you look at the bottle, the contents of bottle must match the label.  There are certain beliefs that meet the historical Christian faith, (biblical views God, man, salvation, damnation, Christ, eternity etc etc.).   If a group does not meet those biblical beliefs nor demonstrate the fruit of those beliefs, I believe that we should question it.  Just because you are Christian does not mean that it truly the case unless the contents of one's faith match the biblical criteria.


Conclusion.

Is the Reason Rally and the demonstration of reason from atheists truly reasonable?  Absolutely not!  It is totally illogical!  It is a poor demonstration of reason and is nothing more than menial rhetoric that holds no water.  I, along with my colleagues, are seeing an unbroken principle emerging here; one that I have seen in many a discussion on the internet with local atheists.  The problem that many of the new atheists share is that they are very weak in their reasoning skills.  Every time they do or say something against the Christian faith, they display this hypocrisy toward reason.  It may be that this is not always the case; one could only hope.  So far in my experiences there have been very few (counting on one hand) exceptions.  This appears the greatest chink in their armor, seeking to put reason as their strength, only coming short every time.   I along with others would like to say that we are ready to meet them at the point of reason every time, in order to show that Christianity is a most reasonable faith.


More from those writing on this event toward the Reason Rally

Reason Rally Organizer to Reasoning Christians: We Want No Dialogue, Tom Gilson
The Reason Rally and the Westboro Invitation, Carson Weitnauer
The Reason Rally in a Pickle, Tom Gilson
The Reason Rally's Brilliant Maneuver, Tom Gilson
Let's Set Up Our Own Straw Men, Rick Schenker
Coalition to Offer 'Christian Response' at Reason Rally to Engage Non-Believers, The Christian Post
Deeper Waters: Westboro Baptist Church, Nick Peters

4 comments:

Walt said...

I haven’t looked into this at all, but is it possible that Westboro was invited for increased publicity? If so, would this still be a problem? It seems like Westboro gets millions of eyes watching them on the news whereas polite and reasonable evangelicals get maybe thousands of eyes watching them on youtube. I've posted this same idea on Nick's blog...hopefully two doesn't constitute spam :P

Rob Lundberg said...

I don't think your comment is SPAM. Not a problem.

Since the publicity for the Reason Rally is struggling their inviting Whackboro Baptist Church could be a publicity "thing." Our coalition team just got wind that there is another atheist who is consulting his attorney's to sees what grounds he has to keep Christians away from the Rally at the risk of detaining us. I don't know if David Silverman knows that Jim Klawon has invited Westboro. It just goes to show the line of communication between the atheist camps is either delayed or broken. To be honest with you I think both. . .

thanks for your comment.

Rob

Patrick said...

What exactly is the position of Christians that the WBC is a "straw man" of? I've seen your article and that of RatioChristi, and no one seems to want to present what it is that is a lesser version in WBC.

That Christians can believe things without sound evidence? same. That Christians have varying interpretations of scripture? same. That Christians are often divided in the way that they present the gospel? same. That Christians can't agree with themselves over what methodology of evangelism is most effective and parallels the prophets throughout the old testament? same.

What is the straw man, exactly? All I read here was "No True Scotsman Look Look See No True Scotsman but .." with no actual substance.

Rob Lundberg said...

It is a straw man due to the fact that an atheist group invites a so called Christian group who acts and presents itself as a total antithesis of how Christianity should be lived out. The straw man is reinforced with the fact that the atheist group inviting Westboro is using them as the token Christian representative. Funny thing, they didn't extend the invite to Ratio Christi or True Reason. I received an invite to Ft Bragg for the following week from the atheist representatives on post, but I cannot make it due to not having the time off from work; else I might have gone.

How am I making the assumption that Westboro Baptist Church is not a good representative of all Christians? Westboro's representation of Christianity is unbiblical in how they treat others, whether they are skeptical or not; whether they are suffering or not suffering. While I don't agree that with the lifestyle of homosexuality, I do not believe nor does any right minded biblically thinking Christian believe that picketing an "out event" or a rally with signs saying "God hates Fags" is a biblical way to communicate the love of Christ to someone embracing such a destructive lifestyle.

Your assumption that Christians believe the same thing without sound evidence is unfounded. There is unity in diversity of the Christian churches. At the same time unity does not mean uniformity. There are a bunch of Christians that atheists 'feast upon' that cannot explain why they believe what they believe. They give you statements like "I just believe", or "the Bible tells me so". The new atheists parrot the rhetoric of Dawkins, P.Z. Meyers, Sam Harris, and others. So far from what we have seen as a response to our presence at the Reason Rally is anything but reasonable. David Silverman has said that Dawkins is not going to debate William Lane Craig at Georgetown. If Dawkins is so right, why doesn't he man up and debate Craig?

The next part of your question, that "Christians have varying interpretations of Scripture" is also bogus. Your claim on how different Christians present the gospel is also ignorant. Who says there has to be one way to preach the gospel? It is true that there are some Christian ministers that do have difficulty with defining what the gospel is (i.e., the TV preachers with the name it claim it gospel). These folks are charlatans and hirelings.

While there may be different applications, there are not different interpretations of the main tenets of the historical Christian faith. Again, unity does not equal uniformity. You are placing a faulty demand on something you know nothing about. Your summation of your interpretation of Christianity is found wanting. May I say that I have yet to find one "new" atheist that is able to reasonably defend their atheism without name calling, making an emotional issue or committing all these logical fallacies. I also find it fascinating that atheistic scholars like Kai Neilsen from the University of Calgary and others like him find the new atheism an embarrassment to the atheistic worldview. Why do you think that is Patrick?