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.


Brian said...

I continued our discussion by sending you an email, but got no response. In it I answered your questions, but you didn't answer back.

I took it to email because I am still interested in engaging your questions. Are you really concerned about the questions you asked, or are you just wanting public debate?

Did you not get my email?


Steven Carr said...


It is important to see Christians getting walloped publicly.

I had an interesting experience recently at NT Wright Discussion Forum where almost all my posts were deleted , and I was banned without warning.

Many Christians just hate public debate.

Jon said...

I guess I did not get your email. I don't know if "concern" is the right word. I'm not "concerned." I just think that if you're interested in truth you shouldn't be so one sided. You want the anti-skeptical side to get public viewing, but for some reason you don't want anybody to see the pro-skeptic side. Why is that?

What's the goal of your blog? Is it to bring people to Christ, by hook or by crook? Or is it to know the truth? Truth should be the main goal, and Christianity is secondary. Christianity should only be pursued insofar as it is the truth. If truth is your goal you should encourage criticism. I know I do. I'd like nothing more than to have informed people show me the error of my ways. I've been wrong so many times, and it is in pointing out my errors that I've come to see more of what is true. I am extremely grateful to my critics, because they have provided me a great service in turning my false opinions into true ones.

But I guess you can respond to me here if you'd rather not have your readers see our correspondence. My question to you is, why do you engage in apologetics if you don't desire to see responses? Seems to me this is what apologetics is all about. It's about showing that skeptics are in error. Doesn't this very activity invite response? And if so, why are you not interested in seeing that response?

Brian said...

Must have got caught in the spam filter or something I guess.
Thanks for reading the blog and sending more traffic my way.

"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?"

That was a classic post Jon. I won't be taking the bait today.

Jon said...

Yeah, I do like to argue. That's why I used to do apologetics. I understood that when you engage in the business of arguing you're likely going to get into arguments. You're doing apologetics, which means you're in the business of arguing. But you want it to be a very one sided thing. That's not really how arguing works. This is why I think you're in the wrong business. There's heat in the kitchen, Brian. That's the nature of a kitchen.

Don't count on a whole lot of additional traffic as a result of my comments. It would be nice if I had the power to increase your hit count, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

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?

Not the way you described it. He wasn't engaging you - or any one person, for that matter - in a discussion. He shouldn't be surprised if he offends others, but stickers are not considered an invitation to debate. It's like TV: you don't like it? Look somewhere else.

Besided, I never thought of the "Darwin" fish as an attack necessarily. Some people I know use it to reflect their belief that there is no inherent conflict between science and religion, and certainly not as a sign of mockery.