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Preaching To The (Wrong) Choir.


Akheia

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blog-0258190001355080400.pngOne of the biggest problems Christians have is when they hear something they think sounds wonderful at church or in an apologetics book and make the huge and terrible mistake of not realizing that these arguments are for the choir, not for the outsiders peeking in through the church windows.

 

"Something can't come from nothing!" "Adam and Steve!" "Fetuses are women too!" "Women are equal, just they have different roles!" "Hate the sin, not the sinner!" They hear these bumper-sticker slogans and catchphrases, they read urban legends about, as one example, smug, douchey atheist professors getting their well-deserved comeuppance at the hands of a young Christian student, and they charge out into the streets to trot these tired old myths and fallacies in front of people who don't respond at all the way they are expected to. Christians recite these parroted sayings and stories with a victorious flourish in their eyes, with a resounding ring in their voices, and they stand there and smugly await their victory trophy.

 

It's got to be hard for them when the unbelievers don't nod their heads and say "AMEN!" the way believers do when told about these fallacies and irrational arguments. Christians cut-and-paste urban legends into their Facebook pages with startling regularity, then get furious when non-believers (and reasonable believers) politely point out the problems and errors in the passages. Only people who totally agree are welcome to say anything. How dare we not react the way the person in the urban legend did! How dare we criticize this well-meaning, if condescending and arrogant, bit of glurge! How dare we act, in short, like people and not like a canned studio audience, clapping and cheering at the right spots! How dare we deprive the Christian in question of his moment on the winner's podium as the star of his own internal dialogue!

 

Chick tracts are probably the worst offenders here. If you've never seen one of these little cartoon booklets, you're really missing out on the very best example of Team Batshit-Crazy. Based (I suspect) on Tijuana Bibles, those charmingly racist and sexist little cartoon porno comics from decades past, every single one of Chick's tracts can be most charitably described as "preaching to the choir." Unless someone is already very favorably disposed toward, say, viewing pagans as Satanists, evolution as an evil conspiracy, gays as demon-possessed, angels as everywhere, and Roman Catholics as secretly in cahoots with Big D himself, nothing in them is likely to sway that person. But Christians use them like scattershot coverage in a video game. Every so often you'll hear about someone who got converted after reading one (like my Evil Ex, a preacher, whose personal favorite was this revolting bit of spew), but as a witnessing tactic, Chick tracts have an effectiveness rating somewhere around that of Flirty Fishing. But these tracts aren't the only offenders, just one of the weirdest and most common in the US at least.

 

William Lane Craig is often described as an incredibly intelligent man, yet his arguments tend toward the shallow and well-worn. Here's just one page specifically geared toward understanding--and discarding--his ideas. But Christians trot him out with the sort of awe one would expect of a prophet. Faux historian David Barton is another writer Christians hold up in complete reverence but whose work is discredited by actual historians, as is Intelligent Design/Creationism advocate William Dembski, whose behavior around the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial--insulting plaintiffs' witnesses and crowing about how awesomely he was gonna spank them all, then withdrawing from testifying entirely like the cowardly bitch he is--somehow got totally overlooked by his followers.

 

The thing is, these guys all have followings. They all have fans. They all have people who read their books and hear their lectures and go ZOMG HE'S SO RIGHT, people who don't realize that these guys aren't actually trying to convert anybody. They can't be. They're just trying to keep the ignorant masses in the pews. They're trying to give these people ammunition to use against those EBUL EBOLUSHUNISTS or BABY KILLERS or FEMINAZIS or whoever else isn't in the cool kids' club; they're trying to light fires in potential right-wing voters to go vote in laws that flat-out deny women their rights to their own bodies' biological functions; that flat-out dance across the line between democracy and theocracy; that force schools to teach religion and call it science; that ensure that reality is distrusted and that actual experts' findings are discredited.

 

But most of all, they are forcing people to choose between their faith and the truth, between their religious upbringings and the cold hard facts. Some people are going to decide that when it comes to actual reality versus religion, that religion must win (or they'll go to hell, after all). But many are going to reason, correctly, that if reality is saying one thing but religion insists on another, that the religion is the one that is wrong. And the more fundamentalist, the more all-or-nothing, the more black-and-white people like Craig, like Chick, like Barton, like Dembski make religion, the more people are going to walk away from the dank dungeon that is religion into the light of the truth. Once again, the more they push, the more we'll pull away.

 

And I can't wait to see it happen.

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Yeah, I was simply astounded by how poor their arguments are when I started reading them. I really had to stop because I found it so hard to read something so devoid of fact.

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