Thursday, September 20, 2007

Critique of "DagoodS"' Deconversion Story Meets a Sudden Premature Death

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I had set about critiquing the deconversion story of atheist DagoodS. He actually started writing it at my request. Alas, now that he has barely started to get to some actual reasons why he or anyone else should reject Christianity, he is expressing such trepidation, and predicting that I won't agree with his reasoning (wow, what a revelation there!) that I have no choice but to back out altogether.

I have less than no desire to find myself embroiled in another tremendous controversy (a la the sad fiasco with John Loftus) over daring to disagree with an atheist's reasoning (i.e., insofar as it is at all) for why he is an atheist. I'm tired of (usually needless) controversy, period. I've had enough of that with the anti-Catholics and was seeking some good discussion. But if there is ill feeling and uneasiness it just isn't worth it for me. I'm sick to death of it.

DagoodS even incorporated the recent controversy over my referring to an anti-Catholic as an "ass" (thoroughly deserved and justified, and on biblical grounds) [link + further discussion] as supposedly evidence that my reasoning was no better than the goofy legalist fundamentalism that he forsook in due course. Clever, original, and nice try (one can't help but admire the eccentric chutzpah of it), but no cigar there. Here is the latest exchange on his blog (his words in blue):

Using Pharisees as a justification for calling another person names? Those legalistic fundamentalists are nodding and slapping themselves on the back with approval of this tactic.

Come on! This is hardly even original. [ link ] (Although I ask a good question in that blog. “Just because you have a right to do it, do you have to do it?”)

Dave Armstrong, I am telegraphing that I believe you will be disappointed in our discussion. I have considered, off and on, writing my deconversion story. Your offer to critique it was obviously just the spur I needed to do so. Thank you.

But Part of my job entails predicting outcomes. The smart money is predicting that you will find that I had the wrong sort of Christianity. That is not terrible interesting to me. Whether I was, in your estimation, 99% correct or 99% incorrect, it is my past. Absent a time machine, there is nothing I can do about it.

If that is the conclusion, as I strongly suspect it will be, I can only shrug. (Remember, I think ALL Christianity is theologically incorrect, so telling me [again] my former belief was wrong is not exactly a news flash.)

I can only move forward; not backward. So where do I go from here? I would think the best route would be to inspect what you claim is the most “correct” Christianity; presumably yours.

And as I look at yours, I am not convinced. Calling someone an “ass” is not prone to generate peace. It is not edifying. Rom. 14:19. It is not loving another. It is not loving your enemy. It is not helpful for building up others. Eph. 4:29.

But I guess none of that means much to you. You think you are justified to do so, and will hold your ground in that regard, no matter what. (Again, the legalistic fundamentalists nod their heads in approval.)

I see this eventually ending with you telling me that my Christianity is wrong. I shrug. You then inform me your Christianity is correct. I look at it, and likewise shrug. If that is “correct” Christianity, I was unconvinced by it when I believed in a god. I am sure to be even less convinced now that I do not.

Hi DagoodS,

Very well, then. I'll stop critiquing now and stop reading further installments. It's obviously too sensitive to you and I'd like to discuss other things, so I will desist.

Your other argument is rather simple to reply to. I already have. You haven't dealt with my reasoning. You simply restated your opinion, but it is no better now than it was the first time. If Jesus can describe someone as a "viper" when they richly deserve it, then I can call someone a donkey when they richly deserve it. Sin can be rebuked. That is quite biblical.

If I sinned in doing so, then so did Jesus. If Jesus didn't, then there are times one can do this and I didn't sin, either, since I have more than abundant reason to call this person an ass.

Not only can it be rebuked, but we are commanded again and again to avoid divisive people who engage in worthless conversation:
For men will be lovers of self, . . . proud, arrogant, abusive, . . . implacable, slanderers, . . . swollen with conceit . . . Avoid such people . . .

(2 Timothy 3:2-5)

. . . nor to occupy themselves with myths and endless genealogies which promote speculations rather than the divine training that is in faith . . . vain discussion . . .

(1 Timothy 1:4,6)

. . . avoid disputing about words which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

(2 Timothy 2:14)

But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels over the law, for they are unprofitable and futile. As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned.

(Titus 3:9-11)

Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to
the doctrine ye have learned; and avoid them.

(Romans 16:17)

Have nothing to do with stupid, senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

(2 Timothy 2:23)

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

(1 Timothy 6:3-5)
There are tons of passages with biblical rebukes. According to your mentality, you would have to say that all of them are sinful and improper and unethical. For example:
Philippians 3:17-19: Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
I am telegraphing that I believe you will be disappointed in our discussion.

And that is why it is doomed and I have already gotten out of it. Your choice.

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