Thursday, March 27, 2008

If You Can't Stand the Heat

When I was a Christian I used to work out at a gym that was kind of small. It was small enough that the faces were familiar after a while. One guy drove a truck that had one of those Darwin fish on the back. The Darwin fish was a clever joke I thought. I had no problem with it. I was certainly not afraid to express my opinions and I had no problem with the skeptic being the same way.

On the other hand, if you want to flaunt your anti-Christian viewpoints, be prepared to get a reaction out of people. That's what you want anyway, right? You can't really make fun of an important Christian symbol publicly and cry foul when someone says something, can you? I didn't think so.

And the Jesus fish is a symbol that carries with it some important history (or so I thought at the time). This is that secret symbol that Christians would use to form some community at a time when being a Christian meant your life was at risk. It was the basis of an acronym that defined Christian beliefs. It's an important thing, and this guy wants to mock it. He can if he wants. It's a free country. On the other hand maybe he'd face a Christian or two that might make him justify his ridicule.

I tried to make him do that one day. "Are you the guy with the Darwin fish?" I asked one day in the locker room. He replied abruptly. "Yeah. We just want to be left alone regarding our beliefs."

OK. He didn't want to talk about it. Fine. But this is pretty pathetic, and hopefully he now knows it. You want to make fun, but you don't like anybody replying. You want to publisize criticism, but you don't want to deal with the rebuttal. You can dish it out, but you can't take it.

Now I'm a skeptic, but I still feel the same way. If you keep your opinions to yourself you make it clear you're not interested in discussing things. But if you broadcast your controversial opinions, shouldn't you be willing to deal with the rebuttals of those you attack?

Brian over at Apologetics315 doesn't think so. He has an entire blog dedicated to defending Christianity and rebutting the skeptic. Also (assuming 315 is a reference to 2 Pet 3:15) answering every man that asks questions of him regarding the faith. He wants to build the Ultimate Apologetics MP3 Audio Page. He's defending inerrancy and the historical reliability of the gospels against the skeptic.

But what happens when a skeptic wants to defend himself? What happens when a skeptic charges Brian with misrepresentation or any other criticism? "This blog is not a debate forum." He doesn't want to discuss it. I had said to Brian "You seem like a person that claims to like boxing, and you like the part where you hit people, but when they hit back suddenly you want no part of that aspect of the experience. If you can't tolerate getting hit back maybe boxing isn't for you."

Brian did not permit this comment of mine to be published. Brian, by dedicating a blog to rebutting skeptics and attacking their views you should expect skeptics to defend themselves. Don't be like the skeptic I once knew that was quick to taunt the Christian but unwilling to justify his position. Mocking Christians invites a response. Your attacks invite a response, but when that response comes you don't want to have anything to do with it. Stop attacking and you will get no response.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Quote of the Day

If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation, and then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their father's conquered.

Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Quote of the Day

I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.

Thomas Jefferson

Monday, March 17, 2008

Liberal Critics of the New Atheists

Keith Parsons expresses well my opinions of those on the left that criticize Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc. Here's a key quote:

"If religion were always as bad as they say, then it would deserve every bit of censure they dish out, and, without question, the world would be much, much better off if we were rid of it. If it is objectionable to say that all religion is bad, then it is objectionable because it is false, not because it is rude to say so. Hence, it will not do for Linker to perch on his high horse of sensitivity and castigate the “ideological” atheists for their supposedly bad attitude; he is going to actually have to deal with their arguments."

HT: John Loftus

Friday, March 7, 2008

Jon, shut the f&@k up!!

I'm a pain in the neck. I know that. The thing is I love to argue. I could seriously spend hour after hour arguing. Politics and religion are the best.

The problem is, who can I find that is willing to argue with me? Well, turns out it's usually going to be family. These are the people I'm closest to that I see the most often. But you need something to disagree about. When you're young and you just accept everything your parents say as default, it's hard to argue with them, because you agree too much. But you can find a few things.

When I was married I was a conservative Christian. It's the same thing my parents were, which is not all that unusual. My wife was also a conservative Christian, but not as die hard as me. But her side of the family had some people that were both political and religious liberals. Even an agnostic. This was beautiful. I was never happier than when I was in the presence of these liberals trying to goad them into getting into arguments with me. It was hog heaven.

What I'd often do is use a technique I had heard from Greg Koukl. He calls it "throwing out some chum." You basically say something that's pretty tame, but that might make the hearer think, or perhaps it's something the hearer would disagree with and would want to say something in reply. Once they do, you use that as a little lever to pry open an entire argument. They've taken the bait, and away you go.

But this was not hog heaven for my in-laws. This was more like hog hell. I knew this and tried as best as I could to walk a fine line. I wanted to argue with them, but I didn't want to upset them. It didn't always work. My wife's aunt (we'll call her Aunt M for discussion) was one such person that didn't care for my pastime. She's a very smart person. She has a PhD and is a professor at a major university. Well, the chum this time was a little dig at FDR. My wife's grandmother (political and religious liberal) took the bait, and away we went. It was me vs all as usual. I'm happy, but they're becoming enraged. The conversation culminated with this statement, from Aunt M. "Why don't you just shut the f&@k up!!"

Well, that's exactly what I did, as did everyone else in the room, none of whom are used to that sort of language. Nor are we used to hearing this language from my wife's aunt.

OK, so maybe I let things get out of hand. I backed off for the time being. That is, until we got together for the next family function. On another occasion I made a few comments that indicated I was a fan of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. I direct them mostly at Uncle D, who like me kind of enjoys a nice battle. Aunt M wants no part of this discussion, but she just can't muzzle her own irritation. Trying to contain herself she said something that sounds farily mild, but the tone made it clear that this was another "shut the f&@k up" monent. She said "You know Jon, you really are clueless. Seriously. You have no idea what you're talking about."

Well, it's been some time since those events, and something has occurred to me. Basically Aunt M was right. I was totally clueless. I was a young stupid guy that thought I had the whole world figured out. Not about the Swift Vets. I still love those guys, and think their claims were correct, though regardless I now think Kerry would have been a better president. The point being I was clueless in my overall neo-con way of thinking.

But how will I ever come to know that I'm clueless if I'm not arguing with people and gaining information in that way? Any remotely common opinion can be formidably defended. Anything. Take Islam. If you were raised in Pakistan you'd probably start life as a Muslim. You might bump into people that disagreed as you got older and you might buy books and listen to debates from Ahmed Deedat and you would be able to pummel your Christian or atheist acquantances.

If you just leave it at that you'll never learn anything. You'll sit there and consider yourself superior. But if you keep pushing and pushing you'll finally start to be exposed to real challenges, which can help you see the light. That's how it works with me. It's not that I like being a bully, though maybe I do take some pleasure in victory. But it's more that I like learning. I'm never more happy than when I've learned something new that helps me make better sense of the world.

So, sorry for being obnixious, Aunt M. But had I not been that obnoxious, argumentative jerk I would have never learned how clueless I was, and I would have never changed my opinions so that they are more in comformity with yours than ever before.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Diego Sanchez is Very Happy that Jesus Helped Him Smash David Bielkheden's Face In

Diego seems to think Jesus deserves the credit. Bielkheden is from Sweden, so he's probably an atheist anyway, which means naturally Jesus would be on Diego's side. Personally I think Diego is a very hard working guy and deserves the credit. He's a great fighter. But what do I know.

The Bible-God and Child Sacrifice

Wow. John Loftus has a couple of very interesting posts on child sacrifice here and here. Is this right? I've had my suspicions, but I've never been sure. Sometimes the text is a little ambiguous. Here's one example.

Exodus 22:29 “You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me."

Does this mean these firstborn are "set apart" or offered as burnt offerings. In light of the other information at the links above it seems very plausible to think this means burnt offerings. Worth looking into.