October 20, 2009

This is Why I Blog About Christianity, part 845

Posted in Atheism, Atheism and Morality tagged , , at 1:19 pm by Andrew

I frequently get this sort of question on this site and in my email: “Why do you spend so much time talking about something you don’t believe in? Why can’t you just live and let live?”

I usually answer this in two ways. First, I very much do believe in “live and let live.” When a Christian tells me that she just believes, that there’s a personal feeling or experience or history or whatever, I accept that. I’m not out to convert Christians to unbelievers; I’m out here to answer apologetics. By and large, my criticism kicks in only when your mindset shifts from “Hey, I believe in Christianity, but it’s cool if you’re an atheist” to “I believe in Christianity and so should you.”

But there is a second reason, and it’s powerfully illustrated by the latest missive from Bill Donohue. To be sure: Donohue is low-hanging fruit (probably in the same genus as our old friends Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort). But this bigoted moron is given space in the New York Times to peddle his unadulterated hate speech — that tells me that we atheists still have a ways to go before things are right with the world.

Donohue tells us:

Today’s radicals are intellectually spent: they want to annihilate American culture, having absolutely nothing to put in its place. In that regard, these moral anarchists are an even bigger menace than the Marxists who came before them.

If societal destruction is the goal, then it makes no sense to waste time by attacking the political or economic structure: the key to any society is its culture, and the heart of any culture is religion. In this society, that means Christianity, the big prize being Catholicism. Which explains why secular saboteurs are waging war against it.

So apparently this blog and thousands of others like it are all frauds; we’re all part of the Vast Conspiracy to Destroy American Culture. It isn’t that we don’t believe in an invisible man who lives in the sky; it’s that we know that the secret shortcut to destroying American Culture is to give polite, logical arguments against the religion that ~70% of its inhabitants profess (and perhaps 20% believe quite fervently).

Welcome to the Conspiracy, my brothers and sisters!

April 19, 2009

A Slight Twist on the Way of the Master “Good Person Test”

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism tagged , , , , at 2:07 pm by Andrew

Do you consider yourself to be a Good Person?

HT: Unreasonable Faith.

April 14, 2009

An Appropriate Use of Christopher Hitchens’ Talents

Posted in Atheism, Debates, Questions For Atheists tagged , , , , , , , at 2:28 pm by Andrew

After giving Hitch a bit of a hard time about his debate with William Lane Craig, it’s time to pat him on the back for demolishing Way of the Master alum Todd Friel:

Part 1:

Part 2:

I do view this as a bit of a service to the Christian community, or at least to the handful of folks who still think this is a good script.

HT: Pharyngula, of course.

April 13, 2009

Sam Tyler-Smith vs. Ray Comfort Debate

Posted in Answering Apologists, Atheism tagged , , , , , , at 3:14 pm by Andrew

While on the subject of debates, I found this exchange between layperson “Sam” and professional Christian debater Ray Comfort.

Part 1 begins here:

HT: The Atheist Experience.

March 23, 2009

The Sad Side of Ray Comfort

Posted in Atheism tagged , , , at 3:13 pm by Andrew

Okay, so making fun of Ray Comfort is kind of a cottage industry for atheists; Richard Dawkins calls him the “Banana Man” for his infamous (and unintentionally hilarious video), and searching for Ray Comfort on YouTube is far more likely to take you to a parody or rebuttal video than to anything from Comfort himself.

But there’s a sad side as well: Comfort’s techniques encourage Christians to evangelize aggressively, confronting strangers in the street shouting a memorized “choose-your-own-adventure” style script that isn’t nearly as clever as Comfort thinks it is. And this sort of thing appears to be on the rise in churches big and small. Last year, in The Great Derangement, Taibbi went undercover at an evangelical megachurch overly fond of Comfort’s “Way of the Master” techniques.

Now, we have a report in Salon from Kevin Roose, who did basically the same thing during Spring Break with his Liberty University classmates. Comfort, it seems, is growing in popularity.

I don’t think Taibbi’s and Roose’s accounts are all that funny. (Well, besides the bit about Richard Simmons.) I find them depressingly sad. I can only imagine the weight on these people’s shoulders as they run out to get rebuffed, over and over again, trying to win converts from a bad script. Here’s the moment I found most poignant:

For these students, the choice is clear: The risk of being loathed and humiliated by strangers is far outweighed by the possibility that even one person will see the light and be saved.

Of course, just because the choice is clear doesn’t mean it’s easy. Tonight, at Razzle’s, I see Valentina, the Italian girl from Manhattan, sitting on a curb with a homeless veteran, her arm slung around his shoulder. It’s pouring rain, a real torrential storm, and both of them are being pounded by the thick drops. After a few minutes, she stops telling the veteran about God’s love and just sits there, holding him. And from across the street, I see her start to cry.

Later, back at the host church, Valentina tells the group about her breakdown.

“I was just sitting there on the curb, and I started thinking about how sad this all is. How sad it is that billions and billions of people are just dying without Christ. I hate that Hell is a real place, and I hate that sin came into the world through Adam, and most of all, I hate thinking about how all we can do — all anyone can do — is try to tell these people that there’s hope out there. They might not want to listen, but we have to keep telling them. For the rest of our lives, guys, we have to keep telling them.”

Every atheist has gotten the “well, what’s the harm if someone wants to be a Christian?” question. Not all Christians are forced to swallow Ray Comfort’s tripe, of course, but this strikes me as a real, psychological harm being inflicted on otherwise decent people.