From time to time, I get asked the question: Why are you so against fundamentalists? Doesn’t this cut against your basic belief that people have a right to believe as they wish in terms of God? Goodness knows your particular conclusions are unique from mainstream ideas.
And there is truth to that. I personally wouldn’t care of people wanted to sit like the three monkeys, “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,” safely ensconced in their dream world of how God works. Trouble is, it doesn’t stop there. They think God demands that they are to force this “truth” they have discerned on everyone else, willingly or not. And that does drive me crazy. See they don’t care much about feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, clothing the naked and all that stuff, but good Lord, they must be active in changing the world to their God vision, even at the point of a gun.
The fact that they most resemble other extremists like the the Taliban and Al Qaeda, is beyond their comprehension, and sure to set off a wail of denials. But it’s perfectly obvious to the rest of us. This post comes via the latest attempt to reshape the world in their perverted vision: The Family Research Council is busily trying to stop Kevin Jennings from his appointment to the Department of Education on the grounds that he is gay.
This attack is aimed at the public and starts with “Would you choose this teacher to guide your children?” Just the usual anti-gay hate message. Based on the usual garbage that most of us discarded 30 or more years ago. Groups like the FRC still argue that people like Jennings are busy “recruiting” kids to be gay. Apparently they either don’t read or refuse to believe that you can’t be talked into being gay.
In any event, its but symptomatic. I drop by rather frequently to BEattitude‘s blog and join in the comments regularly. What I find is so very weird is that most of the claims against Christianity come right out of fundamentalist dogma. In other words, find a atheist, and nine times out of ten, the only Christianity they know is fundamentalist in origin.
Yesterday there was a slam at Adam and Eve, and the claim that everyone believed that Adam and Eve were real people until science made that view untenable, so Christianity keeps re-inventing the “inerrancy” to account for facts. Well, of course, first of all, fundamentalists ignore science in the first place, but the fact is that much of Genesis is seen as allegory and has been long before science told us anything about mitochondrial DNA. In fact Philo, writing at the time of Jesus, claimed that the the opening chapters of Genesis were allegorical.
No amount of explanations suffices. The bible is full of inaccuracies and contradictions, they cry. There, that means God doesn’t exist. Well, no it doesn’t, not by a long shot. You, dear atheist friend, believe that the bible is supposed to be inerrant, and thus you reach that conclusion. And frankly there is no logic at all in what you claim anyway.
The inaccuracies in the bible are well known, and have been for centuries now. And understanding the bible for what it is, has exactly nothing to do with believing in God. You might, and I say might be dissuaded from believing that Christianity is a reasonable theology of God, but that only means you might look elsewhere. There are plenty of faith traditions around the globe.
In all honesty, being an atheist is fairly stupid. Unless an atheist can prove the non-existence of God, then it might be better to simply say, “I can find no credible evidence that God exists, so I choose not to spend time on practices that may not be worth anything. I will continue to be a good person as best I can, and hope that should there be a God, he will be compassionate on me, an honest person.” That is called an agnostic.
Bart Ehrman, who’s books I’ve reviewed here, is an agnostic today, though he once was a passionate and well educated fundamentalist. He eventually conceded to the great weight of the evidence that the bible was not inerrant. It is many things, and many of them are valuable, yet it is no way the “word of God.” But Dr. Ehrman has stated quite unequivocally that his agnosticism has nothing to do with the errors, conflicts and discrepancies he recognizes are in the bible. He says that a good many of his colleagues, who believe of the bible as he does, remain believers, and he thinks that is perfectly rational and fine. His issues deal with God in other ways, ones he doesn’t at present reconcile with any God he sees presented.
What I’m getting at is that our atheist friends seem to think that they can run over to Wikipedia and run up “discrepancies and errors in the bible” and then list them, sitting back self-satisfied, and announce: “There Christian–explain that!” As if that settles the issue. But the incredible leap in logic is obvious. Proving the bible is not what fundamentalists say is not saying there is no God, it’s saying that fundamentalist dogmas about God are suspect and not supported by the very book they claim represents God.
So in the end the fundie causes more harm than good on yet another level. It drives people to abandon God entirely, because they simply see the illogic of that theology. I see it too. In fact, we all (non-fundies at least) get that. That’s why we don’t vision God in that way, and frankly most of us never did. Sadly, some folks determine that realizing that the fundie position is silly, breath a sigh of relief as if a burden has been lifted. One less thing to have to be bothered with–goodbye God. And that is truly sad, since there are plenty of ways of seeing God that don’t involve this crazy denial of reality. Trouble is, the immature atheist never bothers to look.