Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Response to an "Anonymous" Commentor: An Atheist's Leaky Bucket

Wow!  I "who'd a thought" I would be getting some hate mail in my comments from posting the announcement  on the "Reason Rally.  Well here is the following comment that answers this question and to which I promised to this atheist a brief response.

It is the height of arrogance and obnoxiousness for evangelical christians to intrude on the Reason Rally. As an atheist, I need to reexamine my policy of not interrupting the church services of evangelical christians.   If you need a teddy bear, crutch, or imanginary friend to get through the day, then hug your teddy, use your crutch and talk to your imaginary friend.  BUT   Don't for an instant think that everybody else is so needy that they too must rely on your teddy bear, crutch or imaginary god.  Offering training on how to survive this "lions den" isn't humble, loving, or thoughtful, it is arrogant, obnoxious, and rudely intrusive. I can sum up the best approach in two words: STAY HOME. You will not be welcome.

I don't usually respond to those who post comments to my postings until now.   Why do that?   Because the comment by this "Anonymous" commenter is bringing in the common rhetoric that is parroted by many groupies of Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens.  Let me demonstrate how this comment by this "atheist" is like a leaky bucket with a lot of holes and that does not hold water.

Hole No. 1:  The accusation of arrogance and obnoxiousness.  Someone saying that "it is the height of arrogance and obnoxiousness" for an evangelical group of apologists to intrude a public event such as the "Reason Rally."  Why and how is this arrogant?  Why and how is this obnoxious?   Isn't this an obnoxious and arrogant accusation?   Think of it.  Here is a professing atheist making this statement that would give us a little indication that if any thinking Christian dares step foot near the Mall they are being arrogant.

This sounds a little insecure and conveys a faulty feeling of being intimidated, particularly with the end of the comment about training people to respond to atheism.  If atheism is true, then why should this person feel intimidated?  If atheism is true and Christianity is false then why should he/she feel that we are being obnoxious?  What is so obnoxious and arrogant about wanting to have a cordial conversation with someone holding an antithetical worldview like atheism?  What is so arrogant and obnoxious in wanting to  or train folks to respond to atheism?  Nothing, unless there is a feeling of intimidation or insecurity on the part of the atheist offended by this possibility. It seems to me that the commenter is conveying some unnecessary insecurities.  Besides if their atheism is true and Christianity is false, why would there be any need for being upset about our presence at the Mall?

Holes 2 - 4.  The commenters saying that we need things like a teddy bear, a crutch, or an imaginary friend are three holes making this poor atheistic challenge more cause for the "bucket leaking" profusely.  This comment is something that sounds a lot like rhetorical parroting coming from likely reading Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and those of their ilk.  Let me answer each of these in a short and orderly manner.

a.  The Teddy Bear remark is a poor demonstration of "porous" rhetoric.  When we think of teddy bears we might think of childhood and security.   We needed some security when we were younger and many a time, the teddy bear worked.

Let's assume that this is what this atheist is saying, that we are immature for believing in God.  How and when did we come to this belief?  The assumption seems to be that everybody comes to belief in God when we were little children?  If so has that belief left us?  Is it supposed to leave us?  Nonsense!

Let me use another illustration, to demonstrate this even further.  Since the teddy bear comment is insinuating childishness and immaturity, let's bring in some other childish dreams that many of us embraced as kids.  What about believing in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?  I have a question to anyone reading this blog as an adult, do you still believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny?   Of course not!  Do you see how ridiculous that is?  Has anyone come to believe on the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus in their older years?  Of course not!   What about coming to faith in Christ as child?  What about in the later years of one's life?  Is that immature?  No, most certainly not!

Not everyone who comes to believe in God's existence or profess faith in Christ, does so at an early age.  In fact, many people do so in their adult years, and some come in the latter part of their life.  Is that insecurity?  No, particularly when there is an historical element to the Christian faith that this accusation overlooks.  Sure, when we come to faith in Christ, we are told that we are to do so with the faith of a little child.  But we are not to stay that way!  We are to grow in our faith, having the mind of Christ.  It is about what one says "having a child-like faith but we are to grow that faith into having an adult mind."

So with this part of the comment, we see another hole and the water continuing to leak out of the bucket.

b.  The leaking increases with his/her comment about having a crutch.   I wrote a posting on this several months ago entitled "Who Really Holds the Crutch?"  Sure I will admit that for some believers can be a spiritual crutch, but the same is true for atheists.  I will also admit that crutches can be handy and that the Christian needs a crutch, because they cannot have the hope of heaven without Jesus Christ's intervention in their lives.  What is the atheist's crutch?  It is not an intellectual decision but one of moral choices.  What kind of crutch does the atheist have?  One that is splintered and not able to hold the weight of the arguments against God.  So the crutch objection does not prove the atheist's objection against the existence of God, and this commenter's remarks are showing even more that his/her argument is not holding water.

c.  The final hole comes from this person's remark of needing an imaginary friend.  This one is one of childhood imagery as well.  The problem with this part of the comment is that because one cannot see God, God becomes an "imaginary friend" and implies immaturity on the one who believes in God.

To me atheism has a wild and very vivid imagination with things like pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters and an imaginary squibbon.  None of these things exist. Wow!  At the same time they are not compatible contrasts to the reasonable arguments for God's existence.

For the Christian, the Christian faith is an historical faith with an historical record of a God who responded and acted in historical time space history.  How do we know this?  We know this because we have an historical record known as the Bible which has been shown to be reliable.  More on this one at a later time.

From this atheist's comment, I have hope to have shown that the comment is not one of credibility and is a leaky bucket that does not hold any water.  It also does not give me any good reasons to stay home and not join my colleagues on the 24th of March.

So with that being said.  Thank you for your comment, but Sir or Ma'am, you are going to have to do better than that in giving reasons why I should stay home.  Right now, unless I am providentially hindered by OTHER MEANS than some atheist telling me to stay home, I am all systems go to join on the Mall.


Neil Mammen said...

Hey and any atheist is welcome at out apologetics conferences. In fact we go out of our way to make them feel welcome.

Neil Mammen said...

Whoops *our* silly iOS.

Nick said...

If I knew an atheist was coming to my church to challenge me on Christianity, I'd be waiting with eager anticipation.

Rob Lundberg said...

Same here Nick. I would be thrilled if an atheist graced the doors of our church.

Anonymous said...

I'll try one more time: Reasons NOT to show up and evangalize at the Reason Rally:

(1) You respect the rights of others to be different from you. Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion. On a few special occasions like the reason rally, it could mean freedom from being accosted by evangelical strangers.

(2) You treat others the way you want them to treat you. If You would be offended to have atheists crash a Christian rally trying to engage people on why you should become an an atheist, then you will respect atheists desire to
meet without Christian interference.

(3) You don't want to be a jerk. You recognize how arrogant, obnoxious and intrusive it is to crash somebody else's celebration and try to talk them out of it. Perhaps atheists should show up at your church picnics or Christmas services and debate the likelihood of a virgin birth? You do see the arrogance don't you? Are you so full of self-importance that you can't perceive that evangelizing is unwelcome at an atheist celebration? I hope you are not so lacking in self-perception?

(4) You are sensitive about slights to your faith. You can be certain that speakers at the Reason Rally will be just as blunt about all the problems with
religion and gods as preachers in the pulpit are when trying to discredit atheists. If you consider such free speech "trashing religion" then attending will disconcerting for you.

(5) Atheists don't need your water or your Kool-Aid.

This will be the last time I comment on your blog because discussing religion just isn't interesting to me. It is like talking about why I don't collect stamps. There are forums for theists and atheists to debate, the Reason Rally is not one of those forums.

Thanks for trying to be reasonable. May you find reason attractive enough that you become comfortable outgrowing all supernatural beliefs.

Nick said...

For #3....

Do you promise you will?

I mean, I would seriously love to see an atheist come to a Christmas Eve service and challenge on the Virgin Birth. I think it would make everyone's Christmas more real to see an atheist attack shot down and the validity of the virgin birth defended.

Could you please come to those other events as well? I'd always love a chance to publicly defend my faith.

Sorry if the atheistic movement doesn't seem to want to be questioned. Guess it must be tough being in an untenable position.

Rob Lundberg said...

I have yet to see any slights of my faith since I am a former atheist. LOL. Like Nick stated, you are more than welcome to come to our church. We are not ready for an event type thing as of yet, but if you would like to debate, or have a sit down panel discussion at our church, I will be more than happy to see if I can get that set up for us and get back to you. Cheers, my Anonymous commenter.