Tag Archives: Adventure

Christian case maker warns Christians to trust the evidence, not their feelings

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Alisa Childers posted a review of a recent dialog between Dr. Sean McDowell and former-Christian Bart Campolo, son of far-left progressive fake Christian Tony Campolo. The dialog occurred on the Unbelievable radio show.

Here’s an exerpt from Alisa’s review:

Recently, the two came together to have a discussion on Premier Christian Radio entitled, “Why Bart Lost His Faith, Why Sean Kept His.” It was a fascinating discussion, and the thing that most struck me was the reason they each gave for having become a Christian in the first place. Campolo described how he converted to Christianity after finding a youth group he connected with and attending one of their retreats:

There’s hundreds of kids there. It’s Saturday night, there’s candlelight and firelight and everybody’s singing “Our God is an Awesome God,” and “We Love You Lord.” And in the midst of that kind of environment I had what I guess you would call a transcendent moment…I felt something. It felt like there was something happening  in that room that was bigger than the group. I felt like I was connecting to something. And in that moment ….that was God.

I heard something. It was real to me. People that don’t believe in transcendent experiences—I always think like, “You haven’t been to the right concert… You haven’t used the right drugs. You haven’t fallen in love with the right partner.”

These experiences are real, and I think whatever narrative you’re in when you have one, it confirms that narrative. If I would have had that same transcendent moment with my friends in a mosque in Afghanistan, it would have confirmed Islam to me. But I was in the Christian world, so from that point on, Jesus was real to me.

In Campolo’s own words, he became a  Christian because of a transcendent experience….a feeling that resonated deeply in his heart.

He had a feeling, and he took that feeling as a reason for believing propositional claims about the external world. God’s existence? He had a feeling. Christ’s resurrection? He had a feeling. The reliability of the Bible? He had a feeling. Instead of focusing on truth, he spent his early life pursuing social justice. He didn’t look at evidence, he just tried to have experiences. He tried to chase feelings by having little Christian ministry adventures. Missions trips. Volunteer work. Community. Charismatic speaking to crowds about things he knew literally nothing about.

Further on in the dialog, he explains that his standard for allegiance is not truth, it’s literally “what works”. And he clarifies “what causes [people] to thrive, what causes [people] to flourish”. His emphasis (in his ministry) was always on feeling good by being nice to people, because they liked him. This perspective is rampant in the evangelical church, especially among progressive young people. The idea of testing the Christian worldview against science and history to see if it is true is absolutely out. Instead, it’s all about feeling good and making people like you by being nice to them.

Experiences made him an atheist. He worked with poor people, and he decided that God didn’t exist because he wasn’t making these people happy. He had gay roommates in college, so he decided that the Bible’s rules around sexual morality had to be wrong. Never any investigation of economics to understand poverty, no investigation of homosexuality in the peer-reviewed literature, etc. It was feelings all the way. A bit later, Campolo extols the virtue of blind faith, and blasts apologetics as ineffective at changing minds. And then later, he has a bicycle crash, and he becomes convinced from that accident that “this life is all we have”. So he disproved substance dualism, which is consistent with the Bible and supported by multiple lines of philosophical argumentation and experimental evidence… by having feelings about a bicycle crash.

Now, on this blog, we despise feelings and experiences. We discuss scientific evidence for a Creator and a Designer all the time. The origin of the universe, the fine-tuning, the origin of life, the Cambrian explosion, the habitality requirements, etc. For Campolo, Christianity was never about truth, and so he never conducted an investigation about whether it was true. The only God he would accept was a god who “worked for him” – who made him feel good, and who made people (including non-Christians) like him. It was all about him, never about adjusting himself to an objective reality that might have involved obedience to God, having some bad feelings, and being disliked by non-Christians.

The more emphasis that a person places on feelings, intuitions, travel, adventure, and social justice, the farther away they tend to be from analytical philosophy, historical investigation, scientific evidence, etc. You cannot establish the truth of a worldview by going on a missions trip to Haiti, or by holding orphans in Bolivia. The truth of Christianity is known through study of reality, using logic, science and historical analysis. Making feelings the foundation for a worldview is just a disaster waiting to happen.

Alisa has some words of caution to young Christians and their parents about experience as the root of a Christian worldview:

  1. You can be talked out of an experience.
  2. Your heart and feelings lie.
  3. You can fall back on evidence in times of doubt or suffering.

Here is number 2:

The prophet Jeremiah described the human heart as “deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” Proverbs 3:5-7 tells us not to “lean on our own understanding.” Jesus described the human heart as being filled with thoughts like murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. Proverbs 28:26 tells us that whoever trusts his own mind is a fool.

In other words, do not, under any circumstances, follow your heart.

This, of course, stands in stark contrast to the themes we are constantly encountering in entertainment and on social media. However, when it comes to spiritual beliefs, trusting our hearts and following our feelings can lead to all sorts of aberrant theology, sinful choices, and a distortion of true Christian faith.

See that?

“In other words, do not, under any circumstances, follow your heart.”

We need more Christians saying this in the church. Especially Christian women – it’s better when women put evidence at the center of the Christian life, and push feelings out to the edges.

By the way, she mentions a quotation from J. Warner Wallace about not being a Christian because “it works for me“. I wrote a whole post about this.

If you want to read another deconversion story that shows how a focus on feelings and experiences leads to atheism, check out the story of Dan Barker. I know so many people who were raised in the church by pastors who were anxious to “protect” Christian truth claims from  being proved or disproved by evidence. They thought that their approach was more pious – how dare we let science and history stand in judgment over the Bible? When I look at Dan Barker and Bart Campolo, I can see where that fideism ended up. Piety is a cheap way of gaining respect without having done any work. We need to demand better from pastors. They ought to be able to show their work. They ought to be able to demonstrate what reasoning and evidence led them to their convictions. Not their feelings and experiences, but actual reasoning and evidence.

The sooner we get to the point where Christianity is true because of reason and evidence, regardless of individual feelings, the better off we will be at being authentic followers of Jesus.

Finally, if you liked the Unbelievable show dialog between McDowell and Campolo, there is a 3-hour discussion on the same topic, which was held at the Faith Beyond Belief conference in Calgary, Alberta, Canada last week. The video has been posted on YouTube.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Are young, unmarried women sincere about wanting to be married “some day”?

College students puking in toilet
College students puking in toilet

Here’s a useful video for learning about what men think of marriage now that radical feminism has redefined it:

This comment about the video by Gaza on the Elusive Wapiti blog deserves a post of it’s own, so here it is:

One thing that Helen seems to miss is how women value and prioritize marriage and what role this plays vis a vis the male corollary. 

The “story” isn’t just about men being “on strike” or even (to Helen’s credit) rationally choosing to delay and/or avoid; it must also include how women treat marriage WRT their own valuation and prioritization and life decisions (NOT merely stated desires). 

There are not swarms of 25 y/o female college-grads looking for a husband with no willing men within sight. There are, however, swarms of 25 y/o/ female college-grads looking to have fun, travel, chase dreams, build careers, and explore their options. 

I’ve “dated” a few of these women; most (and their social circles included) are so focused on the self-indulgence (“experience”) and the status associated with sexual conquest/power that any mention of marriage is usually as a joke (enter the “boyfriends/husbands are boring/stupid/lazy” meme); marriage is merely some distant thing to be acquired at some seemingly distant age. 

Sure, over time (cue: the wall), the distant thing becomes a stated desire, but the transition from stated-desire to behavioral change and actual prioritization often takes years. I meet women well into their 30’s who still can’t alter their behaviors to demonstrate congruence with their stated desires. 

But that is when we start to hear how important marriage is, how men are avoiding commitment, why men should value marriage. All bacon-wrapped in various shaming mechanisms. The women singing the “Man-up and marry me” tune are not the 25 y/o versions; they are too busy singing the “you go girl” showtunes, exactly as prescribed by the Sandberg, lean-in, [binge drinking, continuous alpha male hookups, alpha male cohabitation], [and later, jump off the carousel into a marriage to a beta provider that makes her perpetually feel that she married down compared to the alphas that she used to hookup with while drunk].

So we can plainly see how something is valued based on the prioritization of one’s choices. Most young women value marriage as an idea, as a capstone to her personal journey; an indicator of status and achievement but not as a goal in-of-itself and not as a life decision that supersedes the accumulation of personal experience, the flexing her sexual and relationship power, or the kindling her optionality. 

These women desire to “hang-out” with the most attractive men they can, under any number of relationship approximations while pursuing their personal journeys and then suddenly desire to elevate commitment and marriage as something paramount, right around the same time their ability to define and opt-in/out of those indulgent relationship approximations wanes. Hmm.

After 10+ years of treating men and relationships as consumable commodities, marriage is now so valuable? So sacred that it will magically be more robust in the face of challenges, requiring more giving and less taking than those previous marital approximations, and yet because it is now a “Marriage”, it won’t be treated as merely a vehicle for the pursuit of her apparently perpetually fleeting “happiness”? Convince me.

There is a false premise at work that assumes that it is men who are devaluing marriage. Sure, there is some truth to this, but woman are messaging their own valuation of marriage as well; in real-time, often in very overt means and often at the expense of men who are still clinging to some idealistic view of marriage. 

And likely those are the very men who are willing and able to be husbands at 25. The very same men who will grow to become self-sufficient 35 y/o men feeling their own blossoming optionality, harvesting their own “experiences” with the 25 y/o versions of the suddenly-marriage-minded women, while a decade of observational and experiential evidence of what women truly value buries what remains of their marital idealism.

Tl:dr
I’d consider marriage to a woman who has demonstrated through her choices, prioritization, sacrifice and delayed gratification that marriage is valuable to her and who can articulate how it would be valuable to me. [not holding breath]

What do you think? Is that something that you are seeing more of in the current generation of young, unmarried women? I have to confess, I see a lot of emphasis among Christian women on short-term missions trips and on careers, but not much planning on how to be prepared for marriage. In my experience, there is not much preparation work going on, and marriage is put off later and later. This is despite the fact that a woman’s fertility declines starting at age 27 and is pretty much dead at 35. IVF is very expensive, but has a higher risk of birth defects and and can often lead to too many embryos, some of which will then need to be aborted. Men respond to incentives, and they have certain things they are looking for out of a wife and marriage.

It would be nice if there were some wisdom being transferred from older, married women to young, unmarried women, but I don’t see it happening. What I see happening is young women, including ones raised in Christian homes, going off to college to binge drink and hookup and cohabitate, and always expressing the desire for marriage “some day”. But marriage is something you prepare for early with every decision. Some decisions are not good preparation for marriage. I get the impression that young, unmarried women think that marriage is “boring” and not the way to “make a difference”, and so in practice, they are trying other things.

Remember, the offer that a woman such as Gaza describes to a man is not the same as the offer of marriage that was made by 20-year-old women in the 1950s.

Marriage used to mean:

  • Being the legally and socially recognized head of the household.
  • An expectation of regular sex.
  • Legal rights to children.
  • Lifetime commitment.
  • That you are guaranteed a chaste bride on your wedding night.

Men liked the original version of marriage without the modern debasements. Should they feel obligated to settle for the new version of marriage which is influenced by radical feminism? I would have to be convinced. Women are kidding themselves if they think that they can do anything they want and wait as long as they want and still be as attractive to men.

Five things to learn from “The Hobbit”

Gabriel Belmont looks up at his destination: Dracula's castle
Gabriel Belmont looks up at his destination: Dracula’s castle (from Castlevania)

Since I mentioned “The Hobbit” in my biographical page at the top of the blog, I thought it might be worth linking to something about it.

This is from the Art of Manliness blog.

The 5 things:

  1. You can aspire to and achieve greatness no matter who you are and no matter your stage in life
  2. A great leader knows when it’s time to step back and let go
  3. There are some things in life we just have to accomplish on our own
  4. To simply continue on is one of the bravest things that can be done
  5. A great story always has conflict or hardship

And my favorite of the five – the one that had meaning for me – is #5:

5. A great story always has conflict or hardship. Imagine your life as a story. Not too long ago, we even had a guest post about this — our life is a journey, and a heroic one at that. Imagine yourself sitting down with your grandkids and telling them the story of you. “Well, I made some money, bought a few cars, sat around and watched TV for a few hours every night, and that’s about it.” Pretty boring, isn’t it? Now imagine that you can start hours worth of stories with, “I explored…I traveled…I fell in love…I fought and won…I overcame…I sweated…” Not only would the story be better, but you likely would be far more satisfied with the course of your life.

J.R.R. Tolkien agrees. “Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyways.” He is saying that a life of good ease is a boring one. It’s often what the American dream aspires to, but the reality is that personal growth, and even enjoyment, are things that come out of some kind of challenge. Whether it’s huffing and puffing and groaning your way up a mountain for the view at the top, or getting laid off and finally realizing you don’t want to be in a cubicle anymore, joy is often found after a bit of trudging. Don’t shy away from challenge. Embrace it, and know that someday it’ll make for a great story.

The Hobbit was the first big book that I ever read as a child, and I think that it inspired me to move far away from home as soon as I completed graduate school, so I could make my fortune. An adventurous spirit isn’t free – it has to be put into a boy by what he reads. When I was young, I read “The Hobbit”. You should make your children read “The Hobbit”. Put into their minds at a young age the idea that life is an adventure, that dangers and hardships are normal, and that character counts. Put into their minds that all goodness requires sacrifice. I think that things are going to get harder for Christians going forward so it’s better that they be ready for it.