In the discussions with various theists that I’ve been having, I’ve seen the argument from authority, which claims if someone is “smart” and believes in “x”, then that makes “x” true. This is similar to another common claim by theists called “Sophisticated Theologytm” (I think Dr. Coyne over on Why Evolution is True might have coined this term, but not sure). The argument behind that is the theist in question will claim that atheists shouldn’t debate with the average theist because they don’t “really understand” but a certain theologian simply must have better arguments. The usual ones that are claimed are C.S. Lewis; if one is a Roman Catholic, the Church Fathers, or G.K. Chesterton; American evangelicals go to William Lane Craig, or Pat Robertson or Billy Graham; liberal Christians like Crossan and Spong, etc. I thought I’d take the time to show that these theologians can be just as wrong as those supposedly not as well “blessed”.
I grew up when one of these, Billy Graham, was “the” pastor on TV (a earlier post about him is here.). He has done some good things, like working for integration. He’s also done some despicable things like his anti-semitism (he has since claimed he did not mean such things) when being Nixon’s “spiritial advisor” and worked against Kennedy because he was Catholic. I guess if you believe in the same version of the same religion, it’s easier to like someone. However, that did change when, after calling Mormonism a cult, he decided that a cultist, Romney, was now okay since he opposed Obama. That could indeed be his son and not him, since Billy isn’t granting interviews anymore and Frank claims to speak for him. Of course, some Christians are sure he’s the anti-christ. More of that good Christian agreement and love there.
In my local paper, we have a column that’s from the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. It’s a question/answer type column, addressed to “Dr. Graham”. Since neither appear to have doctoral degrees, I’m not sure where this comes from, unless it’s something like Stephen Colbert’s honorary DFA. The question this week is from an “F.R” who asks “is it true that the god of the OT is different from the god of the NT?” and goes onto say that he’s heard “people” say that this god of the bible was angry and cruel in the OT but kind and loving in the NT.
The following is the response in italics. I’ll address it from my particular atheist point of view.
DEAR F.R.: No, it isn’t true; God is the same from one end of the Bible to the other. His character is unchanging, his love is unchanging, his purity is unchanging — and his plan for the human race is unchanging. The Bible says, “I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
This can be a very interesting question to answer, and it does make Christians squirm. The God of the Bible *can* be claimed to be unchanging. This is how I would go about it. God is wrathful and ignorant in the OT. He is very little different from the gods of other Bronze Age societies, essentially only a power fantasy for any human. There is no wisdom that is beyond humanity, control or awareness of the world. He is also the same in the NT. We still have a god that demands obedience and advocates violence. We see no love, not even as defined in the bible (occasionally “love” is translsated as “charity” but most Christians know it as “love”) in 1 Corinthians 13. The Christian god has none of those qualities: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.8 Love never fails.”
I suppose one could say that this god’s love is unchanging because it never existed in the first place. This god has been just as unloving as always, demanding obedience is not love. Anyone who has an abusive parent knows this. Believers are to hate their families if they do not believe per Jesus; and it is the word hate, there is no qualifier to it in context at all. Paul changes this to allow for marriages to remain intact. If one is to believe that parables describe Jesus or God like in the stories about talents or minas, one is to kill those who do not accept worshipping this god. We also have Paul declaring tht those who do not worship his god deserving death. Then in Revelation, the figurative gloves come off and anyone who doesn’t worship this god is killed, and depending on the Christian, is either destroyed or condemned to eternal torture. Continue reading “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Even the professionals have little to work with”