We Christians get charged with believing issues uncritically, not displaying enough curiosity about other beliefs, or about how ours could be correct. I’ve got the similar sort of query for atheists.*
Considering Christian commenter Benjamin Cain supposes that the God Christians worship is a “human-like,” “monstrous,” “psychopathic,” “jealous, irrational, sadistic tyrant,” waving the equivalent of a “magic wand.” That is all identified in just 1 single tour de force of a comment. He’s not alone Richard Dawkins led the way in it in The God Delusion, and I’m confident other individuals beat him to it, although not so famously.
Now, this is not merely a statement about God it is a statement about Christians. Either we are content material to comply with a God of that character, or probably we do not understand our God is like that. Is there any other alternative? I can not believe of 1. This is our god, if Cain is appropriate, and we opt for to comply with him. Could there be any explanation for our behavior, other than we want a god like this, or else we do not understand that is the god we worship?
(I’m working with the decrease case for “god” right here, considering the fact that this genuinely is not the God in whom we think.)
Atheists typically say that Christians would reject the Bible if we ever got about to reading it. That fits with the latter alternative, that we do not know who our god genuinely is. The former view shows up, probably, in the thought that we’re theocratic homophobic moral idiots.
Not Defending Christianity Right here Questioning About Atheists As an alternative
Neither of these viewpoints feels like a lot of an attack on Christianity, requiring some sort of defense. They’re so wide of the mark, there’s absolutely nothing to defend. It would be like medieval soldiers in Paris raising their shields when British archers had been raising their bows toward Scotland.
Cain’s comments say pretty much absolutely nothing about Christianity, in other words. If there’s any message in there at all, it is that we’ve accomplished a horrible job of teaching the history of Christianity. I am pretty confident lots of young men and women develop up in church, under no circumstances figuring out that tips like Cain’s are not just theologically false, they’re historically not possible. I imply that in the strongest achievable sense of “impossible” and in terms anybody should really be in a position to recognize, regardless of their beliefs about God. For (as I mentioned) this is not just a theological error, it is a historical 1. In view of that, and in order to make a point an atheist should really be in a position to assent to, my explanation right here will have absolutely nothing to do with theology, and anything to do with history.
Have Christians Missed This “Truth” About God All These Years?
Let’s commence with the latter thought initial: That Christians comply with this horrific god due to the fact we do not understand that is the sort of god he is. Atheists have it figured out somehow we’ve missed it. If so, then we’ve missed it for centuries. We’ve missed it in all the hundreds of libraries’ worth of debate, dialogue, and discussion we’ve carried out on the Bible for the history of Christian doctrine is a history of dispute more than the texts and their meanings. We’ve missed it in the hundreds of commentaries we’ve written in each and every language. We missed it in the Marcionite dispute more than such as the Old Testament in our biblical canon. We’ve missed it in millions, no doubt, of sermons and homilies on the whole Bible.
Appears unlikely to me. Perhaps Cain is appropriate but if so, then I have to wonder how he came to such a confident understanding of the truth, devoid of displaying even a shred of visible curiosity how this could be so. How could Jerome have missed it when he translated the Bible into Latin? How could Augustine have missed it? Was he also intellectually dense? How about Aquinas? Galileo, who held to his belief in Scripture even when disputing a really little segment of its which means? Kepler? Brahe? Berkeley? Newton? Faraday? Locke? … all the way to von Braun, Collins, Lennox, and much more? Had been none of these males intelligent sufficient to see what was there?
Are Christians Content material With a God Like This?
No, that couldn’t possibly be the answer. As well lots of males and females, from ordinary thinkers to these who are broadly recognized as geniuses for all the ages, have had also a lot chance to see it. Certainly they didn’t all miss it. So it is particular that Christians knew it was there (if certainly it was) extended just before Dawkins and Cain. So if this is the sort of god we comply with, and if we know it is so, and if we’re following this god voluntarily, then apparently we’re content material with following such a hugely despicable character.
Now, probably Cain does not know this, but for Christians down by way of the centuries, to “follow” our God has meant to imitate his character. That was Mother Theresa’s stated life intention. It was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s also. Identical with Joan of Arc. Florence Nightingale. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Clara Barton. William Booth. The converted John Newton. William Wilberforce. Francis of Assisi. St. Patrick. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. Perhaps they missed the memo about what sort of god they followed? (Perhaps they had been idiots, in other words?)
Christians following this awful god had been planet leaders in expanding education, literacy, and medicine. Even just before Julian’s well-known complaint that the “impious Galileans” had been caring for pagans in the course of the plague, much better than pagans had been caring for their personal, Christians have led the way in going outdoors their personal cultural groups and assisting other individuals. Each and every Medical professional Without having Borders, each and every UNESCO system, is primarily following a trail initial blazed by Christian missionaries. Nonetheless right now, Christian humanitarian providing outstrips non-Christians’ providing, at least in the U.S.
Apparently we’re all performing a completely horrible job of following the petty, imply, horrific god we believe we’re following.
Decency, Not Perfection
Now, I do not imply to imply that Christians are excellent in following a way of self-sacrificial appreciate. My point right here is not that we’re excellent followers of the God we’ve been teaching all these centuries. My point is that if we’re supposedly following this other god Cain finds in the Bible, we’re performing it really, really badly.
I collect that lots of atheists dislike Christians’ requirements on marriage and morality, and they worry we’re just in it for the theocracy. Even that, although, is not undesirable sufficient to qualify us as following this god Cain thinks we comply with. We’re not excellent, but we’re not (on the entire) monstrous sadistic psychopathic tyrants.
Once more, here’s what I come across odd about Cain’s position (and Dawkins’): They do not show the slightest curiosity as to how Christians could knowingly comply with such an unremittingly terrible, awful god, however nevertheless do some reasonably decent issues in the planet. Perhaps Cain asks such queries someplace in his oeuvre. Dawkins does not.
Perhaps There’s a Third Answer
If they had any curiosity at all, they’d method the query differently. They’d say some thing like this: *“You Christians do not appear to be a completely idiotic group, down by way of history at least. You haven’t been completely monstrous for all time, either. Even if you have held to some positions I come across distasteful, nevertheless, you have accomplished some genuine great in the planet. I come across that tough to comprehend, provided what I see of this God you claim to worship in your Bible. Have you accomplished any severe pondering on that? What have you concluded?”
Of course we’ve accomplished severe pondering on it. Of course we’ve reached some severe conclusions. How is it, then, that atheists can believe they can make such robust, final pronouncements about our God — so firmly convinced, it seems as if they’re confident no 1 has any contrary answer — primarily based on their personal speedy, off-the-cuff or (often) reduce-and-paste assessments? How can they possibly be so uninterested in so a lot of the world’s history? How can they be so content material with figuring out (or at least acting as if they know) so small?
There’s a lot in today’s cultural disputes that I comprehend, and a lot that I do not. This is the oddest mystery of them all. I’d be glad if somebody could clear it up for me. And if any atheist truly wanted to know what Christians have believed on these matters, he or she would be most welcome to ask.
*Pardon the generalization “atheists.” I’m raising queries right here about atheists I’ve encountered on-line and in print. Not all atheists would provoke these types of queries in the way Cain and Dawkins have accomplished. I do not claim to know how Cain would answer. When pressed on queries equivalent to these, Dawkins has resorted to “The Courtier’s Reply,” which is no much better than not answering at all.
Image Credit(s): João Silas/Unsplash with Colonialvet.com.