Tag Archives: Confrontation

Why won’t Christians defend their faith in public?

UPDATE: The Pugnacious Irishman has linked to me! Thank you for the link Rich! EVERYONE: GO READ HIS POST RIGHT NOW!

UPDATE: Neil Simpson has a debate going on about whether faith is opposed to reason. 50+ comments so far.

Shout out: Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 helped me to make this post nicer. He’s much nicer than I am.

I would like to describe a situation that arises frequently that concerns me. The situation I describe below brings out a flaw I see in the way that rank-and-file Christians respond to criticisms of Christianity in the public square.

Here is the situation

Eve is busy programming away at her desk, rushing to check in her unit tests so she can spend her lunch hour reading the latest Stephenie Meyer horror novel, or looking through an Avon catalog. Suddenly Eve hears Alice talking to Bob on the other side of her cube. She stops typing to listen to the following unencrypted conversation.

Alice: I was watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel last night that said that the universe has always existed, so there is no God!

Bob: I was watching a documentary on PBS last night showing simulations of how the first life started on Earth! God didn’t do it!

Alice: I saw “Inherit the Spin” on the weekend! The only reason people oppose evolution is because of the Bible! Not because of science!

Bob: I’m going to see “The Va Dinci Code” this weekend! It says that the Gospels are unreliable and that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross!

Alice: I just bought the latest Dichard Rawkins book “Christians Should Be Fed to Lions and the Bible Should Be Burned”!

Bob: I will read that as soon as I finish Histopher Chritchens’ book “Why God is the Evilest, Stupidest Person in the World”!

Eve double-majored in business and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology, and has an MBA from the London School of Economics. She has spent a ton of time, effort and money studying very difficult subjects for her job, and she even publishes research. She works full-time and runs her own business part-time, and earns about 200K per year. She lives in a huge house, drives a huge car, and goes on vacation abroad to all the best vacation spots.

Eve thinks she is a Christian. She has attended church since childhood, her husband is a church elder and she sings in the church choir. She reads the Bible and prays. She gives money to the poor. She teaches Sunday school to children.  She has even read all of the Narnia novels three times!

But even though God is being maligned in Alice and Bob’s conversation, Eve is not going to stand up to defend God’s reputation to them, (or even to her own children, who are both committed atheists).

Why won’t Eve stand?

I am wondering if anyone can explain to me why it is that most church Christians are not able or not willing to make a public defense when God’s reputation is called into question. It seems to me that there are two bad effects that follow from Eve’s unwillingness to stand up and invite Alice and Bob to lunch so that she can address their questions and concerns.

1) God’s reputation is being trashed by Alice and Bob on the basis of lies they’ve swallowed from pop culture. These lies about God’s existence and character could be easily corrected with a minimal amount of study, which Eve is capable of.  If someone said similar lies about her husband or children, she would speak up, but she won’t speak up for God.

2) Alice and Bob are bound for Hell unless someone cares enough to correct their mistaken beliefs, which, along with their sinfulness, is what is keeping them from a relationship with God that would go on in Heaven. If Eve’s husband or children were mistakenly about to drink poison thinking it was Aspirin, then Eve would speak up. But to save her co-workers from Hell, she won’t speak up.

Eve is capable of studying to defend the faith, because of her great success in other areas where so much time and effort were required to master difficult material. So why has she not applied herself to answering public challenges to her Christian faith from her professors, teachers, actors, the media, politicians, scientists, historians, etc.?

It seems to me that if she did spend some time studying, and then made her defense to her co-workers, then two things would follow:

D1) Eve would be demonstrating her love for God and her friendship with God by protecting his reputation when it is called into question by unbelievers in public settings. That’s what friends do – if Eve wanted to be God’s friend, she would care that no one believed lies about him and told lies about him in public settings.

D2) Eve would be demonstrating her love for her neighbor if she was able to correct some of these false beliefs, such as that the universe is eternal, or that a historical case cannot be made for the resurrection, or that evil is not compatible with theism. It’s important for Alice and Bob to know that Christianity is not stupid.

So why is it that Eve is able to go to church for 20 years, sing in the choir, read the Bible, read the Narnia stories, pray on her knees, and yet still be unwilling to do the best thing for God and the best thing for her neighbor?

Questions for my readers

Can anyone help me to understand why Christians are willing to accept this? Why is this not being addressed by churches?

Do you have an experience where a Christian group stifled apologetics? Tell me about that, and why do you think they would do that, in view of the situation I outlined above? My experience is that atheists (as much as I tease them) are FAR more interested in apologetics than church Christians. Why is that?

My answers

My answers to these problems are given in the following previous posts.

In general:

Also, this debate I blogged about before talks about postmodernism and relativism, which has infected the church and has an impact on this question of whether we will study and defend our beliefs in public. I highly recommend giving it a listen – you will learn something about how we got to this point.

Disclaimer:

I want to clear that this is a problem for male and female Christians. I have seen it manifested by equal numbers of men and women in leadership roles. I picked these names because there is a running gag in computer network security where these names are used to describe the actors. Eve is the eavesdropping hacker, get it?

Democrats introduce bill to punish infanticide as a felony, not murder

UPDATE: Sorry, the headline from before should read that infanticide up to one year will be reduced to a felony, not legalized outright! My mistake!

A post at Gateway Pundit, sent to me by the greatest commenter in the blogosphere, ECM.

Gateway Pundit has a link to the bill, but Cassy Fiano has a lot more.

Here’s a bit about the bill:

It defines infanticide as:

A person commits an offense if the person wilfully by an act or omission causes the death of a child to whom the person gave birth within the 12-month period preceding the child’s death
The bill says that infanticide should not be prosecuted as murder, though, as long as:

… at the time of the act or omission, the person’s judgment was impaired as a result of the effects of giving birth or the effects of lactation following the birth.
Infanticide would become a felony, punishable by no more than two years in prison, with a minimum of 180 days, and/or a fine of no more than $10,000.

We need to start getting serious about defending the pro-life view using facts and arguments. Here’s some stuff to get you started. Disagreeing with people is fun once you take time to learn your stuff in detail.

Here is a new video featuring pro-life supermodel Kathy Ireland talking to Mike Huckabee, who strikes as very ignorant. (No surprise, given his terribly uninformed positions on illegal immigration and fiscal policy!)

The Wintery Knight strongly approves of pro-life supermodels!

Prayer is good, but reason and evidence are better

I spotted a post over at the Anchoress about the issue of prayer and abortion. She is discussing with a friend whether to pray in front of an abortion clinic, which takes a lot of courage. But I don’t think that’s the only way to make a difference on abortion. I want to remind my readers that you can pray and debate. I think both are necessary. And debate is just as Biblical as prayer.

The Anchoress writes about the importance of prayer:

If you stand outside an abortion mill and peacefully pray for everyone inside, the abortionists and their aides, the troubled women choosing to enter, the babies – you are truly moving outside of your own concerns, your own ego, and growing in knowledge of generosity and detachment. Will you save a few lives? Perhaps, if God wills it.

But perhaps the point of your calling is two-fold; to affect the lives of others in a positive way, yes, but also to affect your own life, if you are open and trusting enough to allow yourself to be instructed and changed, as I know you will be.

I am convinced that the abortion issue itself is meant to be the long, protracted, painful, divisive and enduring struggle it is, because it is a challenge to the entire age.

The Torah says, “who saves a life saves the world entire.” Our common-wisdom will sometimes say – over new laws, or new restrictions or new requirements – “well, but if it saves a single life, it’s worth it.” We do know the value of human life, we know it instinctively and intrinsically, because our own DNA shouts out “I am good; I am important and I want to live” with every breath we take, every heartbeat pumped and every new blood cell created. But some of us work against that knowledge, for a variety of reasons. Some of it is self-loathing. Some of it is faux enlightenment. Some of it is simple, stubborn, adolescent contrariness, writ large.

I agree with all of this, but I want to also emphasize the importance of debating with our opponents.

I tend towards more confrontational means, and so I wanted to link together some of my best posts on defending the pro-life position, and then make some comments. When it comes to abortion, I’m inclined to keep faith, emotions and personal experiences right out of the discussion and stick with the strict philosophical reasoning and pure science.

First, let me share with you the links:

And now the comment. I think we need to get serious about the way we talk about social issues like abortion, marriage and divorce. Some Christians are hiding from these discussions and resorting to prayer alone because they believe that these are issues that are too emotional to debate. But emotions and personal experiences are irrelevant to questions of truth and morality.

The reason why society as a whole is sliding leftwards on social issues is because we wrongly believe that there is a fundamental split between facts and values. We believe in objective truth over here, as in chemistry and physics. And we believe in religious and moral truth over there, as in the existence of God and the sanctity of life. We need to halt the slide by treating the latter like the former.

And here’s how: learn to defend your views by reading books.

For example, is the abortion issue a concern to you? Then read Francis J. Beckwith’s 2007 book “Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice”, published by Cambridge University Press, and put it up on your shelf at work.

Is the marriage/divorce issue a concern to you? Then read Stephen Baskerville’s 2007 book “Taken into Custody: The War Against Fatherhood, Marriage, and the Family”, published by Cumberland House, and put it up on your shelf at work.

And so on… bioethics is just like any other area of publicly testable knowledge. The more you know, the more confident you become, and the easier it is to speak about these things in a non-threatening, academic tone. People actually debate these topics in formal, timed debates at universities, in front of students, for example.

We succeed in persuading our neighbors about social issues as we succeed in persuading our neighbors about anything. Bring more data to the table than your opponent and you will do well. Even if you don’t get an admission, talking about moral issues seriously creates respect for traditional social conservative views in the culture, by showing that we have reasons, and not just blind-faith.

UPDATE: This post over at Nice Deb is a must-read. Obama is telling Catholic Cardinals that he’s not pro-abortion.