Friday, October 07, 2011

Your Argument is Invalid, Sir

So you ask me to write a contract. After considerable time (and even more considerable cost) I present a 54 page, bound document with embossed paper. It includes every clause imaginable, taking into consideration every contingency; it even includes a section on the Rule Against Perpetuities, Dower, Curtsey and Nuclear War. There are headings and definitions and an index, and, notarized signature lines with triple attestation.

The notice requirements are detailed as to means, time, place, with intricate specificity. Everything anyone could ever hope to be in a contract is included. You are suitably impressed.

However, you see a small section at the very end stating the other party can modify any provision in the contract at any time for any reason--it doesn’t have to be in writing--without any notice to you.

Now how impressed are you? What good are all those sections, clauses and words, if the person can take it all away with a mere thought? Why bother with specific notice requirements as to time, date, means, etc. when the other person can say tomorrow, “Meh. I can change that” or even “I don’t have to send any notice at all.”

Makes the other 53 ¾ pages pretty worthless, doesn’t it? Somehow, I don’t think I will be paid for preparing such a contract!

I noticed a similar approach recently where the Christian apologist makes this long argument, but at the end says, “Unless God convinces you, this argument won’t be persuasive.” So why bother with the argument in the first place?

If your argument won’t convince absent Divine Intervention; what good the argument? If a God decides to get involved, why waste time with the puny humans’ words?

Dr. Clay Jones wrote a blog entry entitled Let’s Connect the Moral Dots for “Good” non-Christians where his stated goal was:

We need to connect these dots for the non-Christians who are adulterous murderers in their hearts but still believe they are good people. If we do, they might recognize their sinful condition and cry out for the grace available through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

Boz correctly pointed out using Bible verses to convince a non-Christian they are really a murderer is probably not the most effective means. Dr. Jones replied “The Holy Spirit does the convicting. We just speak the truth.”

I see. So all that quoting of verses, and words and framing of thoughts was 53 ¾ pages of detail. All of which is irrelevant if the last sentence is, “but none of this matters if the Holy Spirit isn’t interested in giving you the secret handshake.”

This was later reiterated when Vinny questioned the splitting of hairs between the difference of a person refraining from an immoral action for selfish reasons (which according to Dr. Jones was bad) as compared to a person repenting of an immoral action for selfish reasons (which according to Dr. Jones was good.)

And what is the difference between those two persons? Simple—God picked one over the other according to Dr. Jones.

There you have it. All the words, argument, theories, discussions and interactions in the world won’t make a bit of difference.

If God wants you—you get it. If He doesn’t—you are screwed.

This creates an incredible exclusion for the apologist. They never have to fear regarding the quality of their arguments. No matter how bad the claims are made, if we aren’t convinced, it is God’s doing.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Bad Advertising

Humans believe what motivates themselves would motivate others. Therefore, they often advertise a product with what they think is compelling. A man who likes fast cars will advertise the speed a car accelerates. A soccer mother, however, would advertise convenience in carrying multiple children and their paraphernalia. A cost-conscious person focuses on gas mileage; another may point out luxury.

If, however, the person buying is not motivated the same as the seller, no matter how much the seller emphasizes what the seller thinks important…it won’t work.

This point was brought home to me recently when a distant in-law wrote the following on their Facebook:

A teenage girl about 17 had gone to visit some friends one nite & time passed quickly as each shared stories of the past year . She ended up staying longer than planned & had to walk home alone. She wasn't afraid because it was a small town & she lived only a few blocks away . As she walked along under the elm trees Diane asked God to keep her safe from harm or danger . When she reached the alley ............which ... was a short cut to her house she decided to take it. However halfway down the alley she noticed a man standing at the end as though he was waiting for her . She became uneasy & began to pray asking for God's protection . Instantly a comforting feeling of quietness & security wrapped around her . When she reached the end of the alley she walked right passed the man & arrived home safely . The following day she read in the newspaper that a young girl had been raped in the same alley just 20 mins . after she had been there . Feeling overwhelmed by this tragedy & the fact that it could have been her she began to weep . Thanking the Lord for her safety & to help this young woman she decided to go to the police station . She felt she could recognize the man so she told them her story. The police asked her if she would be willing to look at a line up to see if she could identify him . She agreed & immediately pointed out the man she had seen in the alley the night before . When the man was told that he had been identified he immediately broke down & confessed. The officer thanked Diane for her bravery & asked her if there was anything they could do for her . She asked if they would ask the man 1 question . Diane was curious as to why he did not attack her . When the police asked him he answered " Because she wasn't alone , she had two tall men walking on either side of her ." Amazingly whether you believe or not , you're never alone. Did u know that 98% of teenagers will not stand up for God ? God is always there in your heart & loves you no matter what & if you stand up for him he will stand up for you !! I bet 93% of the ppl who read this wont re post

Or course ferrets out how unverifiable this story is.

Normally, I would shrug and think it another Christian meme being spread, but he added an interesting comment. “Why we share our faith.”


I can understand why another Christian would be self-righteously pleased with how God protects one of their own—but do they realize what this comes across to a non-Christian?

This is a story about a young girl being raped. There is nothing “wonderful” to share here, nothing uplifting, nothing compelling us non-Christians to cry out, “What a benevolent God!” This story might be half-way interesting if it had Diane call the police, who picked up the guy admitting he was going to rape someone but didn’t. How God intervened to prevent a terrible crime. (Although even that is problematic.)

Instead what this says, if you pray the right prayer and God is happy with it, you won’t get raped. Too bad for the women whose heart isn’t right with Jesus. Or (because Christian females are raped too) doesn’t pray the right prayer.

This doesn’t make non-Christians pause and think, “Hey, there’s a God I want to know more about.” Rather, it poignantly raises the Problem of Evil—a perennial thorn in the Christian’s side.

The story, of course, is fake. Why a Christian thinks it is remotely compelling to a non-Christian is beyond me.