Friday, March 21, 2008

When Logic and Belief Collide: The Christian Dilemma

In a friendly liberal Christian blog site a rather long letter from a Christian working with war refugee children in Sudan was posted. Clearly the writer is a dedicated and committed person, and is doing good works which of course she attributes to God’s calling. Among the readership of that blog are many platitude murmuring Christians. The kind who leave comments like this:

“Until the world acknowledges Sudan and gets on it knees and cries for God's mercy on this region, it will not substantially change at the hands of governments.”

I am a tolerated atheist guest there and it’s not a debate blog, so I'm not about to reply and play mean old logical atheist spoiler (something which at least one Fundie has already accused me in the past). So, out of respect for the owner I opted to withhold comment. Instead I sent the Fundie’s platitudinous comment along with four questions to a Christian friend. Here they are:

1) If god were omniscient, omnipotent, Omni benevolent, obviously he would be aware (omniscient) of the conditions in Sudan; obviously he would have the power to do something about it (omnipotent) ; and obviously he wouldn't need to be begged for "mercy" to respond, he would do the right thing independently (Omni benevolent). So, why is prayer needed, and why doesn’t he do the right thing now without prompting?

2) Since this Fundie infers that prayer volume is necessary to resolving Sudan’s problems, it presupposes that god reacts to, and prioritizes his responses, based on numbers and or intensity of prayer. So, if one person's prayers aren't sufficient to provoke god’s action, how many does it take? 72 people? 123,000 people? 3 million people? All 6.7 billion people?

3) Christians always tout that “God gives man free will", and thus does not intervene and influence man's thinking by manipulating his brain. If this is basic doctrine then the prayers for “God’s mercy” must be asking for god's direct, divine and miraculous intervention in Sudan. So why is the Fundie expecting god to effect a substantial change through governmental (Man's) action, unless he doesn't believe in "free will” or he’s asking God to violate his doctrine?

4) Finally, when was the last time civil strife and war was directly stayed by god's direct intervention and not by the intervention of a stronger saving military force ... or threat of same? Remembering that with "free will" God doesn't instigate men’s minds to form saving forces. As far as a force of arms, God would be limited to an army of his personal heavenly host.

Unfortunately my Christian friend demurred and opted out. Instead offering that any answer she could supply would never satisfy my purely logical thinking process. She also inferred I was intent on ridiculing her beliefs (irrefutable reasoning does have a way of sounding condescending to theists, I suppose). But I surmise that what was really happening was that inescapable dilemma theists have always wrestled with for years: the brain whispers reason…logic!” but the religion meme shouts “STOP THAT!!”.


bugsoup said...

It is certainly ironic that examining one's beliefs and being prepared to justify faith is ordered by god in their own book, yet once out in the real world, any questions about the reasonableness of those same beliefs is seen as rude or condecending.

Brandon said...

People just don't care to be reasonable about these things. I'm planning on writing a post on my blog in regard to a book titled "Jesus Freaks". A theist friend told me I should read it, and I said I'd take a look at it if she would read through Letter to a Christian Nation. She agreed and we swapped books. I don't think she's even opened it yet. I did read the first story which appears in the book (which is a very well known story and deals with a school shooting). I thought to myself, "This just doesn't sound right."

I was right. The entire story is bunk and was proven to be a fabrication. I thought to myself, "Well, maybe this was proven to be a story and not a real event after the book was published."

Nope. The book was published after the story, the first story in the book, was shown to be fake and nothing but lies.

I asked a few other theist friends if this matters at all to them, that here is a book which is telling these supposedly true stories about people making sacrifices for their belief in Jesus, some with their lives, and the first story in the book is completely false and proven to be so well before the book was published.

They had no problem with it.

DromedaryHump said...

Yes. This willingess to accept lies, deceit, or self-deception as long as it enhances their "spirituality", justfies/promulgates their belief, is a unique theist trait.

I'm just surprised your theists friends didn't get pissed at you for demonstrating the falacy of the story.

Oh, and let me guess... the story is about the fundie schoolgirl girl who was challenged by the gunman to dissavow jesus, but she refused, so he shot her. Is that the one?

Anonymous said...

Just because you don't understand how prayer WORKS doesn't mean it doesn't work. God listens to our prayers.

DromedaryHump said...

Dear Anon,
Thank you for that elucidating and inspiring comment. Unfortunately, the platitudinous bleatings of the faithful do not a convincing argument make.

Now, if you can provide an intelligible answer to each of the four questions I posed maybe we can have discourse. And if you can provide objective evidence of prayer working, with repeatabilty in a controlled condition, you may gain a convert.

But my educated guess is EWE can't do either. Heheheh.


brandon said...

That is indeed the story.

My friend, who gave me the book, is pretty good with me when it comes to us discussing religion. I frustrate her a lot but we don't get angry with each other.

My other friends, save one, are like that as well.

If you ever watched that little video I made that I posted a link to on IC, the girl I interview first is the one who gave me the Jesus Freaks book. The second guy, who claims he is a scientist because he's a chemistry major, is the one who I've gotten into yelling matches with over religion.

DromedaryHump said...

Heheh...a "scientist". yeah... he's a scientist like a guy with a BS in Political Science is a "scientist". Or a phd in Philosophy calls himself a "philosopher".