Everyone’s a Critic… But Not Necessarily a Good One: A Response to Recent Apologia on Salvation

My recent missive on the Christian doctrine of sin and salvation has attracted quite a number of readers, but nowhere near as many critical comments as I would have expected. That’s too bad, as always: I really do like and appreciate people that have something to say in return. I’m not opinionated because I think the world lacks ready access to my brilliance, or because I’m positive my ideas are flawless: I’m opinionated because I know that those opinions are worthless unless put to the test of other critical minds. You, the reader, can do a better job of weeding out my weaker rhetorical wanderings than I could ever do myself. To live, to learn, is to engage.

That said, there are the sorts of critical comments that just don’t help further that ideal.

The most recent, by Ward from Venison Tickle, exemplifies everything that’s frustrating about content-free Christian apologetics, and its all rounded out by an appalling attempt at special pleading that you simply have to read to believe. And I figured it would be quite worthwhile to highlight a bit of my back and forth with Ward as an illustration of the very problem I’ve been talking about. Ward in quotes, my responses… not in them:

I’m always interested to read the points of view of the jaded, the disconcerted, the disheartened, the downfallen, the ambivalent, the indifferent, those who claim they once believed, those who made false professions of faith or simply those who try to rationalize faith down to a science when it is not one.

That’s strange, because you don’t sound interested, you sound sort of sarcastically pissed off and bitter…

I cannot see the wind, yet I believe it exists.

No offense, but this is and always has been a terrible example in religious apologetics. The idea that empiricism requires EYEBALLS is a really unfortunate misunderstanding of the whole idea of evidence. The fact that the wind isn’t visible to the naked eye doesn’t make it any less concrete or physically real and demonstrable than rocks, trees, or the hands you use to feel the wind. It’s a terrible metaphor for those attempting to establish the idea that the supernatural is real.

And, of course, I fail to see what it has to do with anything I said. Nothing about anyone accepting the arguments of this post requires anyone to discount the existence of a supernatural god, if they so please. I’m just pointing out why a particular doctrine of a particular religion doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Do you agree? Disagree? I can’t tell.

Then wind does not make a sound, yet it howls through the trees and whispers through the grass.

In other words: it makes a sound.

Christianity endures despite all naysayers, fallen sons & daughters, and those claiming to have left it… because of faith.

Lots of things endure despite all naysayers: that’s indeed what faith allows. And clearly, that’s not always a good thing. Sometimes the naysayers are right.

Christians endure torture, mutilation, death, watching their family members slaughtered before their eyes, having everything taken from them like modern day “Job”s because of faith. (Indonesia, Pakistan, Filipines, Malaysia, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, The Dalai Lama’s Tibet, etc if you need examples cited)

Don’t you think it’s a little presumptuous of you to compare the very real sufferings of people persecuted because of what they believe to yourself not liking something someone wrote on the internet? Oh, sure, they tossed us in prison, destroyed our house and family, but you, you had to read something you didn’t agree with. There there. There there.

I mean, really. I’m a HUGE proponent of the idea that people should never be persecuted for their beliefs (though that doesn’t mean that ideas are free from criticism, which is not the same thing as persecution at all). In fact, this moral commitment of mine is precisely why I find many aspects of Christian theology so morally repulsive.What’s especially stunning here is that you are essentially trying to gain sympathy for yourself and your position on the backs of people wrongly (and horribly, entirely unlike yourself) persecuted merely for having different beliefs, and yet you seem to be defending a theological system based on the idea that ultimate and eternal persecution based on mere thought crimes is just and warranted. This is precisely the sort of moral muddle I’m talking about. How can you seek to appeal to a compassion that the theology you are defending stands in such stark contrast to?

I don’t think the author understands this concept. But I wish him/her well in all endeavors and trust s/he is as open minded and willing to accept counterpoint as s/he is to make it.

I’m extremely willing to accept counterpoint! At the moment though, I’m sort of failing to see how you’ve provided any so far. Your comment could have been left without reading a single word of my post: you don’t respond to anything I said or even mention the content of what I said in any way whatsoever. So far you’ve offered an apologetic that’s so cut and paste that as far as I can tell it could have been posted by a robot who posts the same comment to every blog that criticizes Christianity: utterly regardless of the specifics of the criticism!

You claim I don’t understand the “this” concept. Well, hows about explaining the relevant concept so we can all see if that’s really true or not, instead of just insisting that I don’t understand it?

What is the point of making an assertion, but then not defending or explaining it? Bare assertions are a waste of everyone’s time. We need to know why we should take such claims seriously: the why is, frankly, far more important than the what.

One Response to Everyone’s a Critic… But Not Necessarily a Good One: A Response to Recent Apologia on Salvation

  1. Quixie says:

    I feel your pain, brother.


    I’m opinionated because I know that those opinions are worthless unless put to the test of other critical minds.

    I wish that more people would realize the profound truth of that statement.



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