In my last job, I had two interesting encounters, first with a secular Jewish leftist man and second with a New Age prosperity gospel feminist Christian woman.
So let’s talk about the two people.
The man who thinks that conservative Christians are stupid
The first kind of person who tried to shame me for being a Christian is the person who thinks that Christianity is stupid. This kind of person invokes things that he hears in secular leftist pop culture as if it is common knowledge that theism generally, and Christianity in particular, is false. He’s watched a documentary on the Discovery channel which said that the eternally oscillating cosmology was true. Or maybe he watched a documentary on the History Channel that said that Jesus never presented himself as God stepping into history. He presents these things that he reads in the New York Times, or sees on MSNBC or hears on NPR with the authority tone that Ben Carson might take when explaining modern medicine to a witch doctor.
Here is how things usually go with him:
- Me: here are two arguments against naturalistic evolution, the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion.
- Him: but you don’t believe in a young-Earth do you? I mean, you believe in evolution don’t you?
- Me: let’s talk about how proteins and DNA is sequenced, and the sudden origin of Cambrian body plans
- Him: (shouting) Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in evolution?
- Me: there hasn’t been any global warming for 18 years, and temperatures were warmer in the Medieval Warming Period
- Him: but you don’t deny climate change, do you? everyone on NPR agrees that climate change is real
- Me: let’s talk about the last 18 years of no warming, and the temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period
- Him: (shouting) Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe in climate change?
He asks these questions so he can either label me as a nut, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting, or have me agree with him, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting. It’s all about ignoring the evidence, so he can get back to his busy, busy practical life – and get back to feeling smug about being smarter than others. I think a lot of men are like this – they don’t want to waste their valuable time studying, they just want to jump to the right conclusion, then get back to doing whatever they want – like running marathons, or driving their kids to hockey practice, etc.
So how do you respond to a man who gets his entire worldview from the culture, but never deals with peer-reviewed evidence? Well, I think you just defeat his arguments with evidence and then present your own (peer-reviewed) evidence, and then leave it at that. If the person just wants to jump to the conclusion that all the “smart” people hold to, without doing any of the work, then you can’t win. There are atheists out there who believe in the eternal oscillating universe they saw Carl Sagan talking about in their elementary school. You might try to argue for an origin of the universe by citing new evidence like the CMB and light element abundances. But sometimes, they won’t care. Carl Sagan said it 50 years ago, and that settles it. It doesn’t matter that the new evidence overturns the old theories, they don’t care.
Do you think that Christianity will make non-Christians like you?
Consider 2 Tim 4:1-5:
1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
And 1 Peter 3:15-16:
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
If you have orthodox theological beliefs in this day and age then you are going to be shamed, humiliated and reviled by people. And it’s not just having an orthodox view of who Jesus is that annoys them (e.g. – deity, exclusivity of salvation, morality, etc.). No, their disapproval spreads on into politics, especially abortion and gay marriage – basically any kind of rules around sexuality. That’s what’s really bugging these people, I think.
The woman who thinks Christianity is life-enhancement
This one is especially difficult when you are a young man, because we naturally look to women for approval and respect. You find yourself sitting in church or youth group, hoping for the approval and respect from the Christian women for your sound theology and effective apologetics. Little do you know that many Christian women understand Christianity as life-enhancement, designed to produce happy feelings. God is their cosmic butler whose main responsibility is to meet their needs and make their plans work out. Although you might be keen on sound theology and good apologetics arguments, she doesn’t think that’s important.
So how to deal with this unmet need for approval and respect from women in the church?
First thing, be careful that you don’t attend a church where the pastor in preaching and picking hymns that give you the idea that God is your cosmic butler. Second, read the Bible very carefully, and understand that with respect to God’s purposes for you in this world, your happiness is expendable. You cannot be looking to attractive Christian women that you happen to meet in church to support you, as many of them have long-since sold out to the culture. They are not interested in learning evidential apologetics to defend God’s reputation, or in defending the unborn, or in defending natural marriage, or in defending the free enterprise system that supports family autonomy from the state, etc. Those things are hard and unpopular, especially for those women who were raised to think that Christianity is about life enhancement and peer-approval.
Here’s 1 Cor 4:1-5 to make the point:
1 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.
2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.
3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.
4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
And 2 Tim 2:4:
4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
Or, since I like Ronald Speirs from Band of Brothers so much:
This is the situation in which we find ourselves, so get used to it. And believe me, I have to deal with this, too. So I have all the sympathy in the world for you. Resign yourself to the fact that no one is going to approve of you for being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ; not secular men, not Christian women. There is no cavalry coming to rescue you.
16 thoughts on “Two kinds of people who have tried to shame me away from Christianity”
I hear you.
I was once told, in a Facebook group that not being a Young Earth Creationist was so bad that they would refuse to attend any church would allow me to be a member and I should never be around children because of how damaging such lies are. Even the idea that I might just be wrong, to them, made me a “swindler” and the Bible told them how do deal with people like that. We literally had online disagreement over whether there was even a difference between being mistaken and just outright lying.
and “everyone on NPR agrees”?
Didn’t their legal council get in trouble saying that they wanted to use a Molotov cocktail, and tried to cover by saying was just a drink?
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It’s frustrating they can’t see NPR and the rest of them as simply what it is: a radical left echo chamber.
Do you believe in a “young” earth? I don’t really think the Word itself even supports that, at least not young as we measure time. Time doesn’t have the same meaning to the Lord as it does us, as 2 Peter 3:8 indicates.
Where a lot of Christians really look intentionally ignorant is in fields like mental and emotional health. They completely write off those fields with zero knowledge about how the mind works, and how it responds to trauma, chemical deficiencies and surpluses, etc.
Conditions like clinical depression and schizophrenia are real, and yet we have “Christian” people saying they aren’t and that schizophrenia is all about demons and schizophrenics are going to hell.
That sort of thing is what makes many Christians sound really stupid and arrogant. This is also why the Lord says he will judge teachers more harshly, because the leadership is where this train of thought largely comes from.
I had a conversation similar to the first one you mentioned when I was talking to an atheist brother-in-law who is the classic “I hate the God who I don’t think exists” kind of guy. He brought up evolution to mock me, then I politely gave him some scientific facts on why I didn’t agree with the Darwinian model. He was steeped in his dogma but had no facts to back it up, so he just said, “I can see you’ve researched this more than me.” I appreciated the concession speech and hope that God will make him spiritually alive someday.
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My Jewish atheist guy never said anything about evidence that I presented, or that he found on his own.
For him, questions about truth are SOCIAL questions. You don’t reason anything out yourself. You just agree with whatever makes you look virtuous and intelligent. And I recently worked with two well educated white male engineers who grew up in the church and abandoned it all in college for that reason.
Reading books. Watching debates. These things are too hard. We don’t teach young Christians to do it. Since they have never done the work themselves, they have no resistance. They ride high in their careers though, because accepting what other people say works in most areas, like computer science. Eventually, they get to a point where their answer to evidence is their success in life. “Who cares about your evidence? I have a wife, a great job, lots of money, vacations, and a well-stacked liquor cabinet. I don’t need God, even if you have evidence.” I meet Christian men raised in married Jones all the time who tell me this. It’s discouraging for me to be a Christian but to not fit in with the Star Wars and NPR tropes that they all consider to be essential trappings of their secular left tribes.
The Christian life is hard for that “resident alien” reason. My friend and I are studying 1 Peter, and commentary is by Joel Green. He is making a lot of hay out of the feelings that Christians have struggling to do well at worldly things, while getting no acceptance of recognition for their greatness at godly things. America is a great country precisely because Christians can be devout yet still survive in the world without compromising. It’s possible. It’s not normal. But I’m grateful to be here even if exclusion of Christian morals and truth claims dominates the culture.
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Another great post WK!
One thing I see in common between party 1 and 2 is a laziness. A type of hard soil that would whither a sprout quickly.
I benefit from your work. Because of this post, if I have such a conversation as yours, I may add a question about their lack of desire to learn and say that if they are unwilling to listen to evidence about evolution, yet hold a strong opinion about it, then they could be doing that in more crucial areas.
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“ Who cares about your evidence? I have a wife, a great job, lots of money, vacations, and a well-stacked liquor cabinet. I don’t need God, even if you have evidence.” I meet Christian men raised in married Jones all the time who tell me this. It’s discouraging for me to be a Christian but to not fit in with the Star Wars and NPR tropes that they all consider to be essential trappings of their secular left tribes.”
Thou fool. Tonight your very soul will be required of you. Who will get what you’ve accumulated then? Such is the way of those storing up treasures for themselves but not rich towards God. – Luke 12:20-21.
Yeah, this is a great post. I’m thinking back to what really helped me. I was an engineer, so I did like evidential, but it would not have worked to go on the attack on macro-evolution for me personally, because that is the foundation for all atheists. Furthermore, I was OEC for two years after becoming a Christian and have been YEC since then.
Leibniz Contingency and Moral Argument were my atheism stumbling blocks, BUT what really worked was when I discovered that all of the brave Christians I personally knew (a significant minority of professing “Christians”) held the same views as I did socially and politically: pro-life, conservative, capitalistic, skeptical about government infringing on basic rights, anti-government schools, objective truth and morality, necessity for being bold and courageous (which make no sense on atheism), etc.
When I saw that the true “Resistance” was composed of conservative Biblical salt and light Christians, that all but sealed the deal for me, because my claim against Christianity had always been that “Christians are just atheists with one fewer hour on Sunday mornings,” and, sadly, that is even more true in this day and age. All I had to do after that was formally repent and surrender, but I was all but Christ’s then. Since then, I have learned even more about the courageous heroes and heroines of the Faith, and I have been confirmed in this belief. That is where your Band of Brothers points really hit a lot of unbelievers IMHO.
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Yes. I’m hoping that people see conservative Christians as the resistance once secular leftism stifles their speech and freedom. Some lefties like Dave Rubin already see that.
I saw it 20 years ago, and needless to say, it is FAR more true now than it was then.
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church or something like that.
I don’t want to ever suffer, but I do want to fight the cancel culture.
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If I get anyone asking about evolution I tend t just say I don’t support atheistic evolution. Because they want to bring in evolution as step one in removing a need for God. Where I must point out all tbe evidence that disproves atheism.
I personally see the age of the earth as a pointless discussion from a theistic perspective. God is eternal and we have strong reason believe in him and a need for the arrow of time having a beginning for logical reasons.
It is the oscillating theory that enters into denial of a point in time bringing since the need to go back infinitely in time or believe the universe popped out of nowhere for some reason.
I just have less time for those kind of people as tume goes on but also I live in a small area where many people know and like me so finding actual people that would try to mock my beliefs is hard to find.
If they ask me about yec. I tend to state that from a doctrinal position of interpretation, you can read the Bible as a yec and not enter into any heretical doctrine. Age of the earth was not a concept that mattered when the Bible was written.
“Him: (shouting) Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in evolution?”
No I believe the things that are alive now are the only things that have ever lived and there has never been any changes to what has lived on this planet over time.
“Him: (shouting) Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe in climate change?”
No I believe the climate has always been exactly what it is now and there has never been a change in climate.
Of course “Evolution” and “Climate Change” are loaded terms and mean different things to different people. That is why it is worthwhile to ask him what he means by these terms.
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I think there is change within types and that’s what the evidence shows.
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Evolution is simply change over time. Climate change is simply a change in climate. But they are also terms of art that are loaded with certain meanings for certain people. But what meanings people load into those terms is often very unclear and can vary.
That is why it is worth asking “what do you think I am agreeing to if I say I agree there is climate change?” and “What do you think I am agreeing to if I say I believe life has evolved”
I might cut to the chase and ask them if they think say believing in “evolution” implies you believe God had no role in making human beings, then I say ok I don’t believe in “evolution” as you understand it. But I don’t think Science has ruled out the possibility that God had a role in creating us. I think you are claiming your philosophical views are scientific views.
If God is a supernatural being and can personally decide to act in the world in a supernatural way then science can’t rule that out. Science only tells us what naturally occurs by natural laws. There is no scientific proof that no supernatural event has ever occurred that effected how life has changed over time. That belief is a philosophical belief not a scientific belief.
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The first guy really emulates what children are taught in public schools today. According to the powers that be, there exist an elite class of “experts” that research and establish the answers to controversial question and it is our duty to uncritically accept whatever they say. They are the experts. We are not, and in fact, to even question what the “experts” say is to show yourself to be either dangerously ignorant or a member of some “extremist conspiracy group.”
Question the “experts” at your own peril. It will lead to you being committed to a psyche ward, thrown in jail or executed.
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