A friendly warning to those who followed my blog for food and drink posts. The below is my unvarnished opinions about religion. You may wish to leave now.
Well, we have yet more creationist nonsense from Pastor Dave, who has spent a few days discussing how one should properly do baptism and communion; the two things that are probably most important about Christianity (only baptized believers can do miracles like JC per Mark, and one must take communion or not be Christian in more than a few sects) but no one can agree on how it should be done. He will not allow comments nor will answer questions about his claims.
But here one can consider what he has claimed. He, of course, is not the only Christian who makes such claims; I use him and his posts as a starting point and as an example. These claims are nothing new or special. I’ve thought of a couple more new things to address about Genesis, but other than that, if you’ve read my posts before, you might find some of the information repetitive. I hadn’t realized that Pastor Dave had been once employed in the aerospace industry; one would have thought he would have developed better logic skills there than he demonstrates. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians apply a certain level of logic and rationality to the rest of their life, and their religion isn’t held under the same glass.
Dave demonstrates his ignorance of evolutionary theory, and of what scientists actually say about what we can say about the universe (aka reality as we know it). Let’s look at some things that Dave calls lies.
We started our discussion about Creation and the Fall by naming some of the lies we can believe about this Universe. It is probably worth reminding ourselves of them.
– That this world is just here by accident or chance. In earlier times, people saw this world as being the by-product of the wars and love affairs of gods. In modern times, we are more likely to see the world as it is resulting from atheistic evolution.”
Well, since scientists don’t think that the world is here by chance or accident, that’s a false claim made by Dave, either out of intent or ignorance. The laws of physics work well in explaining how this world ended up as it is, and indeed as a “creator” with no end and no beginning. Believing that some god created it is no more believable than other religions’ claims of the world being a byproduct of wars or the love affairs of gods. More than a few religions claim that their god and only their god was the creator; none of them have evidence to support this.
– That the world around us and God are one and the same thing. This is sometimes called pantheism. This leads to people worshipping nature.
Well, what is wrong with worshipping nature, other than you get nothing back from nature for such worship? It’s the same problem that most theists have with people being of other religions than their own or believing in no religion at all. Those people are a threat to their need for external validation and their belief. The existence of other religions and agnostics/atheists seems to terrify theists. We dare to not give them what they want.
– That God is distant from this world. He may have been the first cause, but he has just put the rules in place and left the Universe to get on with running itself. This is usually referred to as Deism.
Of course, Dave can’t show that his version of his religion is true, and that other version of religion aren’t. Since this god cannot be shown to do anything in this world, there is no reason to assume that this god is close to this world (or far away). It is required for Dave’s version of Christianity, but it is not shown to be true.
– That “matter” (physical creation) is evil and that only the spiritual world is good. This is known as Dualism and is particularly associated with Gnosticism.
Hmmm, some versions of Christianity make this exact claim. And Dave calls it a lie. Now, how does he know? There’s also the problem that nonbelievers don’t think that matter is evil or good. It just is. Dualism is also when a believer claims that the body and soul are separate things, often making unsupportable claims that somehow the brain isn’t involved in what a person is.
– That Creation is still completely good. That the Fall has not happened or is not that significant.
And then we have more of Dave insisting that his version of his religion is the only right one. He wants to claim everyone else is a liar but him, but he can’t support his claims any better than they can and often he does quite a bit worse. We see no evidence of a “fall”, Christians cannot agree on when the genesis story took place, nor if it should be considered literal or not. Many religions have a similar myth, on why the world isn’t “perfect” any more, but we have never seen evidence that it was ever “perfect”, a subjective term dependent on culture.
Quoting Dan Strange, Dave goes on ““the serpent entices Eve and Adam into disbelieving the truths about God that Genesis 1 and 2 have clearly established and that Adam and Eve had witnessed experientially since their creation.” This is from a book called Their Rock is not Like Our Rock, a way for evangelical Christians to analyze other religions, and of course try to claim that they are wrong. It is claimed to be an “uncompromisingly biblical” book, but again, Christians don’t agree on what “biblical” is. For Strange. every religion other than his, is… well, see if you can make any sense of this “From the presupposition of an epistemologically authoritative biblical revelation, non-Christian religions are sovereignly directed, variegated and dynamic, collective human idolatrous responses to divine revelation behind which stand deceiving demonic forces. Being antithetically against yet parasitically dependent upon the truth of the Christian worldview, non-Christian religions are ‘subversively fulfilled’ in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
I *think* it means that anyone who doesn’t agree with Dan worships idols and not what he claim is the real god, of course without evidence. Somehow, these religions are directed by this god (sovereignly directed), but are done by humans who are confused by demons (why does this god allow this), but really honest they all believe in the same god that Dan does, because all religions are based on Christianity. Which of course begs the question, what about the religions in place long before anything like Christianity existed?
But back to the claims about Genesis. What is claimed isn’t quite the case if one actually reads Genesis 1 and 2 (this takes you to the New Revised Standard Version of the Christian bible, but you can change it to most whichever one you want here on biblegateway.com) The serpent (which may or may not be the archenemy of this god, Christians can’t agree on that either), doesn’t lie. The beastie tells the truth, as opposed to this god; and this god intentionally created this beastie as it was. So we have the problem of this god intentionally allowing a lying animal in its garden, or allowing Satan in its garden, or having no idea what was going on. Adam and Eve, with no knowledge of good and evil, were exposed to this entity, were falsely told they would die the day that they ate the fruit of the magic tree, and they did indeed gain the knowledge of good and evil from eating it.
Now, those magic trees aren’t mentioned in the first version of the creation story at all, and it does mention that A&E have dominion over all animals, *every* tree with its seed is to be eaten (no mention of the magic trees in the first version), and demonstrates that this god, which supposedly saw all that it created was “very good”. This kinda misses that snake, and entirely contradicts the second version in Genesis 2.
Then this god gets pissed off at a snake, which evidently could walk, and makes it crawl. Always good to see an idiot get angry with a beastie that it created to do exactly what it did, if we can accept that this god created everything *and* is omniscient *and* is omnipotent. The serpent tricked no one, but it did let the proverbial cat out of the bag, that this god can be and will be deceitful. It also shows that this god isn’t terribly bright if it puts a hot iron e.g. those magic trees, where children can get at it.
Now, we do have Dave claiming that anyone who doesn’t agree with him, e.g. those who have “false faith”, are believing lies that are “rationally and ethically unjustified”. What does that mean, considering that Dave has no more evidence for his version than those who have other versions? That eliminates the claims of “rationality”. And “ethically”? Well, this seems to be nothing more than a might equals right excuse, that we must believe in this god as invented by Dave, because “good is god is good is god…”.
The bible makes some claims which are interpreted in various ways by Christians, and since even Christians can’t agree, to call one group’s interpretations “truths” is a pretty big assumption. And the claim “the bible is true because the bible says it’s true’ is rather funny since it is just a circular argument.
Just as with what we believe about God, a key part of the work of the Gospel is to replace these lies with truth. We can replace the lies we believe about creation with the following truths that God’s Word reveals:
- That this world is not here by accident but has been intentionally created by the Good God. This means it has order, beauty and purpose.
For Dave’s claim that this world is evidence for his god because it has “order, beauty, and purpose”, one would wonder about how things like guinea worms and bot files are “beautiful”. Unfortunately, most Christians conveniently assign them to some “fall”, though they cannot show that this is the case. Perhaps this god finds guinea worms and bot flies beautiful. Otherwise, this god is just invented in a human’s image.
- That the Creator God is distinct from his creation.
Well, how can we tell since this god cannot be shown to do anything? The bible might claim that god is separate from its creation but how can one tell that this is true or that this god is the creator or that this god is the only one? The first cause argument only argues for an entity, but not the version of the Christian one that Dave has invented.
- That God is intimately close to his Creation. Divine providence means that he does not simply set things in motion and step back.
Again, how can one tell that Dave’s god is any more real than a deist’s god or a pantheist’s god? We have no evidence of the events that the bible claims happened, and we have no evidence of any further involvement. If one wants to claim the usual miracles that theists trot out, then we must accept all claims, since, again, the claimants have no better evidence than the next.
- That matter is created by God and is good.
Well, it depends on how one defines good. Some Christians insist that the flesh is to be mortified and denied. Some Christians thing that the world is fallen and none of it is good; they want to get out of it as soon as possible, or at least so they say. Some do say that the world is good; those tend to be the liberal ones who are on the fuzzy friendly side of Jesus. Many want to use the “god is good is god is good…” circular argument, which allows for heinous things done in this god’s name. Which is the “right” answer?
- That although created good, Creation is also subject to the Fall.
How subject to the fall? How can something be good and not good at the same time? This seems a rather subjective claim, dependent on the individual version of the religion. Which parts are subject to the fall and which aren’t? I don’t like bot files so are they from the “fall”, or are they what god wanted, because, as disgusting as I find them, they do serve a purpose? Since we can’t show that this god is objectively good, maybe this god likes pain and suffering, because that’s what you end up with when you get the “god is good is god…”/might equals right argument. My friend John Zande has written a most excellent pair of books demonstrating how a god doesn’t have to be good (as most humans would define it) to be exactly what Christians claim their god is.
The vanity of claiming that one’s baseless opinions are “truths” is striking. Dave is quite right in what we believe affects how we live. If we believe in things because we want them to be true and they are not, we waste time, resources and put ourselves in peril if we think that our beliefs supplant the realities of the world. This is what happens when believers in divine healing think that their god will heal them or someone they care about and they die or someone else dies, a sacrifice to their vanity.
That there has to be apologetics for Christianity, and those apologetics don’t agree any more than interpretations of the bible agree, there is no reason to believe that Dave’s claims are any more valid than the next believer; evangelism is just believers spreading their own version and trying to get others to agree with them. And since their claims of ethics are dependent on these baseless claims, there is no reason to think that they can make good decisions about work, relationships, family life, the environment or anything else. A decision based on an at best unsupported premise, and at worst a complete lie, is flawed from the beginning.