Musical Fisking

Theomorph responded to my criticism of his eisegesis (Thanks for the spelling fix, by the way.). Interestingly, he made little attempt to defend his sophistry.

"Color me shocked. I wrote a provocative post and–wonder of wonders–provoked a response."

I can’t help but wonder in what sense Theo intended to provoke. Did he believe his arguments were "so blatantly clear and compelling that dissent is impossible" (or at least indefensible)? He certainly wouldn’t be the first arrogant fella to think that. I’ll be first to admit to that failing. Considering the sloppiness of the arguments, I don’t think that’s the case, though. Was he playing devil’s advocate by arguing a point he knew was wrong, just to find out how someone else would deconstruct it? No, I have no reason to doubt his sincerity as an atheist. At least I certainly hope he wasn’t doing that. Arguing a position that you don’t agree with without letting others know strikes me a rude and inconsiderate. I am left with only one other possibility I can think of. He deliberately made hyperboles of his points in order to attract attention and spark debate. I can’t say that pleases me either. His points are generally provocative enough without resorting to trickery.

I guess I can’t be too annoyed though since he followed good blogging advice – say something that’s controversial, obviously wrong, or offensive and you’ll be beating the readers away with a stick. Whether or not it’s good advice for winning friends and influencing people is another matter. Anyhow, he also inspired me to write more than I’ve written in a long time and here I am writing again.

"And, yup, ‘foaming at the mouth’ and ‘losing his cool’ are good ways to describe the way I feel right now. Call it a confluence of annoying things, from conservative Christians all across America seeming to think that the November 2 election handed them a blank check to impose their morality via legislation to the fact that for three nights now I have not slept except when I drug myself, which is, to say the least, disconcerting. So yeah, I’m in a bad mood."

There’s something I have to say that Theomorph and most of the world can’t seem to get through their thick skulls. It’s something that makes me foam at the mouth and lose my cool.

Not all Christians think W has a mandate! Not all want him to! We don’t all think he’s the second coming of Reagan! Some of us didn’t like Reagan in the first place! We’re not all gun-toting, Falwell-following, SUV-driving good ol’ boys! Just because I share some moral beliefs with neocons doesn’t make me one!!! As Theomorph is so fond of pointing out, there is a great deal of political diversity among Christians. When are people going to recognize that? Do I want abortion banned? Yes. Do I support gay marriage? No. Does that mean I want tax breaks for the rich, free market economics, or unilateral war? Absolutely not!

I’m also getting rather tired of people playing the "legislating morals" card. We legislate morals all the time. Revisionists can claim murder’s illegality is merely a convenience of social order all they want. It won’t change the fact that it’s illegal because people think it’s morally wrong. So is theft. So is assault. So are many other acts.

As for the lack of sleep bit, I’m sorry to hear it. I sincerely hope it’s resolved sooner. I’ll pray for you, Theo. I promise it won’t hurt. 😉

"Second, regarding I Timothy 5:8, when Christians are told that failing in their Christian duties makes them ‘worse than an unbeliever,’ I fail to see how the unbeliever comes out of that looking very good. Think about what other kinds of things you could put in that kind of comparison– ‘worse than a dog,’ ‘worse than filth,’ ‘worse than something bad.’ Try putting something good in there and the comparison loses all its weight– "worse than a summer day,’ ‘worse than ice cream,’ ‘worse than raindrops on roses,’ etc. The idea is that ‘Hey, Christian, you don’t want to be as bad as an unbeliever, do you? Didn’t think so.’ Personally, being an unbeliever, I find that slanderous."

I think I liked it better when he thought we were calling atheists "poor, ignorant saps" Anyhow, he’s missed the point of what Paul was saying. Apostasy is a serious sin. By telling Christians that neglecting their families is worse than apostasy, Paul highlighted the seriousness of the sin. Whether he meant it literally is not the point. Either way he would brook no such negligence and made it clear that to do so was unChristian. Also, Paul also exhorted Christians to not think themselves better than nonbelievers, who were of a different character than today. &Worse than nonbelievers" was a slap in the face: "Oh you think you’re automatically better than the dissolute Greco-Roman world, huh? Well, if you aren’t living up to what you claim you believe in, you’re a hypocrite, and thus worse than a pagan hedonist who has no pretensions about what he is." Paul, echoing Christ, wants us to practice what we preach. There’s nothing slanderous in that.

" Third, regarding II Corinthians 2:6, it’s pretty much the same situation. If it’s ‘not good for a person’s confidence or self-esteem, let alone their soul, to be married to a nonbeliever,’ what exactly does that say about the nonbeliever? Hi, I’m poison to your soul. Thanks. Yeah, I’m just lovin’ that one. "

How is marrying an atheist good for a Christian? Not being able to share your faith with your spouse is a painful experience. What about raising Christian children? That’s not likely to go over well. How about when they learn that Mommy or Daddy doesn’t love God? How about the anxiety of worrying about the eternal state of your spouse’s soul? Furthermore, the Church sees marriage is a sacrament. It is a means of obtaining grace and each spouse is supposed to be helping the other become holier. Mixed marriages make that sense of marital union extremely difficult, if not impossible. These and other issues are at the heart of being "unevenly yoked". It is for our own good that we are to avoid marrying nonbelievers. Marrying nonChristian theists is often little better.

" …according to Christian cosmology, at the end of the world, when my name is not "found written in the book of life," I will be "thrown into the lake of fire." Seems pretty straightforward to me. "

Those who stubbornly refuse to reciprocate God’s love cast themselves out. Christians eager to tell you you’re damned should reread Matthew 25.

"Fifth, no, I don’t like the ‘God as parent analogy.’ Parents don’t kill their children when they misbehave. The God of the Bible is a murderous tyrant who demands lots and lots of blood, including his own, simply because some people don’t want to do his bidding."

Seeing as at the time He was still speaking directly to humans and showing His might left and right, I think they were a bit more culpable for their lack of faith. Apparently the flood, the plagues, parting the Red Sea, and other acts didn’t impress people. I find it hard to feel sorry for people that dense.

"Sixth, regarding the fallacy of ‘mocking someone’s argument before it is given,’ sure, maybe that’s fallacious, but I can’t say it was particularly wrong in this case. Nothing Funky says surprises me. "

I generally pride myself for being consistent in thought and argument, but I can’t help but feel a little insulted by that remark. It’s also kind of infuriating due to its ad hominem nature. He said nothing that proved my arguments to be mere "back flips" and then he invalidated anything I’ve ever said or will say by calling it predictable in an implicitly inadequate, erroneous, or uninteresting way. I’ll chalk it up to sleep-deprivation-induced crankiness and try not to dwell on it.

"However, on the bright side, I should point out that my original argument was that Christians are all but required to treat atheists like low, unholy, kindling, and Funky’s contention is that Christians should treat atheists much more nicely. I’m glad he thinks so. He is a pretty nice guy, even if we disagree rather, um, intensely. "

Continuing that thought, I offer the following Scripture.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:3-5

"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others: ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.’" Luke 18:9-14

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5:14-15