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November 10, 2014 / compassioninpolitics

The Case Against Apatheism: A Critique/Criticism/Indictment Indifference and Agnosticism

Oddly enough I was thinking about this in church. I find nine fundamental problems with his viewpoint and approach to this topic:
Its easy to make an argument when you completely ignore the wealth of the best and most compelling proof on the topic. As such, its fundamentally a straw-person attack on Christianity.

First.
Its the Ultimate Question. The question of creator isn’t just a question….it is the ULTIMATE question, in the same way that the birth of the Constitution and the birth of our revolution is an important question.

If that origin question isn’t important–one would think that would place all historical issues on very shaky ground. Quite to the contrary–history matter. Origins matter. Origins shape who we are.

Here are parallel questions–which are still be comparison not as significant as the God question is:
What city are you from? What part of the city?
Is there a government? Is there not a government? Which government and rules am I under?
Am I in the football universe or the basketball’s universe? (it makes a dramatic difference what the rules are and how you win. Michael Jordan would be awesome in one and get clobbered in the other)
Who is your father?

Second.
Eternal Fates (pain, pleasure, etc..) Eternal heaven and hell hang in the balance (at least potentially). Thats pretty huge.

Third.
The worldview question. It can help shape our understandings of meaning, purpose, and our overall philosophy question. (If it didn’t matter–you wouldn’t have 10 thousands and 100s of thousands of books about God, Jesus, or theology.)

Fourth.
God is about ethics, character, relationship, and living in Truth. Those things transform you profoundly.

Fifth.
He’s missing (and ignoring) the ALL the peer reviewed sociological, social science, and science literature on how God, Christianity, and religiosity changes your life. That makes this speech significantly more speculative and less scientifically grounded.

Sixth:
Pure straw-person attack. He doesn’t look at the reasons people typically cite as how Christianity transformed them. His–if I was a Christian–it wouldn’t change me isn’t grounded in any kind of evidence. He doesn’t ever define what this existentialist argument is or what the claimed transformation is–so him proving that its question mark never happens–because thats the way he describes it (in vague terms). Overall, I think he intentionally or unintentionally doesn’t understand the purpose or transformation that This is the same kind of speculation that grounds people who say if they were born in a different class/geography their life would be the same–which is presumably not true–its just pure speculation.

Seventh,
The cultural impact, which points to individual transformations of both beliefs and behavior:
1) If you are looking for the truth–you might read this:
The Impact of Christianity

2) Here is evidence from an agnostic philosopher Jurgen Habermas, on the cultural impact of Christianity and Christian values:

“Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of continual critical appropriation and reinterpretation. To this day, there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a postnational constellation, we continue to draw on the substance of this heritage. Everything else is just idle postmodern talk.”

(Jürgen Habermas – “Time of Transitions”, Polity Press, 2006, pp. 150-151, translation of an interview from 1999).

Eight,
He plays reductionist games. If the heaven or hell question is important, the other parts are important. If you live in American vs. its opposite, that makes lots of differences in your life and it gets back to the issue of citizenship (and community identity). The same fundamental issue is in play.

His talk has no room for degrees of pain or pleasure

Nine.
Christian identity is the basis of making such questions.

1) What it means to be a Christian. Here are the fruits of the spirit expressed in Galatians 5:

Galatians 5:22-23New International Version (NIV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Would that not change your life?

2) Definition of Christian as Christ follower. To the extent that Christs life is different from the norm–it is counter-cultural.

(he even says the word “hoop jumping” what are the hoops they are jumping exactly????? Character, integrity and Christ following.)

• Grace and forgiveness changes everyones life.

• Practices and habits change everyones life.

• Communication and relationship changes everyones life.

In short, here are the reasons this case fails on multiple levels:
1) Completely ignores the history of Christianity’s positive impact on lives, culture, etc…

2) Completely ignores science–across pretty much all disciplines this talk would touch on. (the large bulk of peer reviewed science on the topic)

3) Speculative thought experiments based on himself–that are ultimately exercises in futility because its all about him. Thats a rigged game that doesn’t prove anything.

4) Never cites the Bible when talking about what God wants. (Maybe its this….maybe its this isn’t an argument)

5) He never cites much of anything (aside from a short tour of Barlett’s quotations). This answers his main non-cited criticism of Christians: Nathan Ketsdever’s answer to How can Christians effectively reply to claims that atheists commit fewer crimes and are underrepresented in the prison population? (as do the other answers in that thread)

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