A post at Z Man’s got me going. I had some thoughts that aren’t appropriate for his comments, but wanted to throw out there for discussion.
Yesterday I said that “if I had to pick the one worst thing about America 2016, it would be ‘failure to listen to the very words that are coming out of one’s mouth.'” Today I’m going to add: “Failure to know what the words coming out of one’s mouth even mean.”
For instance, “atheists” aren’t really atheist. For one thing, we all know that it’s logically impossible to prove a negative. That sounds like hair-splitting semantics, but that’s my point — the word atheism is, by its very nature, self-contradictory. The very best one can logically do is agnosticism — concluding that, given all the evidence, the probability of there being at least one god is vanishingly low.
So: “atheism” doesn’t mean what it means. The first step in clear thinking is recognizing the meaning of the words one uses. That’s why Big Brother invented Newspeak — without the vocabulary to express forbidden thoughts, forbidden thoughts would not arise.
In practice, of course, atheist means “anti-Christian.” Ever met a South Asian atheist, who insists there is no Vishnu? There’s probably one out there somewhere, but atheism seems to be a strictly Western preoccupation. And even then its confined to a subset of the West, as I’m pretty sure the Dawkins types aren’t trolling Jewish blogs about Yahweh and all the contradictions in the Torah. It’s Jesus, specifically, that our atheists are hacked off at.
And that’s perfectly fine. Christianity is absurd. Its claims rest on the literally impossible — the self-resurrection of a man, who was also a god. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof to be known as fact, and short of actually being there in the tomb and seeing the breath of life come back into his three-day-old corpse with your own eyes, there is no proof extraordinary enough to move that claim into the realm of fact.
So if you want to claim that Christianity is ridiculous, I’ll agree with you 100%. Its central claim, the foundation of 2000 years of belief, violates all known laws of physics and the logical law of non-contradiction. But in return, I’d like you to admit that this does not preclude the existence of any and all gods; it simply invalidates the claims of this particular god. To admit, in short, that you’re not an atheist — you’re just anti-Christian.
Show of hands: who thinks our evangelical atheists would take this deal?
The irony here is especially corrosive, as guys like Dawkins have convinced generations of young neckbeards that they’re critical thinkers. They charge into e-battle armed with long lists of contradictory stuff in the Bible, books excised from the New Testament by the Church Fathers, claims about the fossil record, and whatnot. As if all this proved that it is impossible for any god to exist!
As I said at Z Man’s, it’s the arrogance of this that bugs me the most. They act as if the first time they think of something is the first time in all of human history that thought has been thunk. As if Christians haven’t been struggling with this stuff for 2000 years. As if nobody ever picked up his Bible and noticed that there are multiple divergent accounts of important events. As if no less a theologian than St. Thomas Aquinas didn’t come right out and declare that the truths of revelation can’t be proved by reason…..
Et cetera ad nausam. They have the stones to call this “critical thinking,” when in fact it takes breathtaking ignorance of intellectual history to even call their piddly little assertions “problems.” But then again, what else can one expect from folks whose very movement name is a misnomer?
Again, if you want to be anti-Christian, go nuts. Since I’m not invincibly ignorant of the Western cultural tradition, I know that anti-Christianity has a long, long pedigree. A Roman emperor wrote a pretty good book about it, and of course there’s Hobbes, Hume, Nietzsche… you’ve got some heavy hitters in your corner, is what I’m saying. Check them out. But please, stop pretending you’ve proven there is no God, when all you’ve demonstrated is that you’ve got a beef with Jesus, mmmkay?Loading Likes...