Thursday, December 08, 2016

Christian apologists should always tell the truth!

Image result for francis bacon
Francis Bacon did not kill
hundreds of millions of
people, or offer too many
unclean sacrifices, except
when he was kissing up to
Christians defending the faith should never tell lies. But sometimes we do. And some of them are nasty, and counter-productive. Here, for instance, is a post I met yesterday:
"Atheists who make nonsensical, ahistorical and misological (sic) claims such as this one, prove they've never truly examined their own community's behavior under the microscope as they enjoy doing with us. Consider instead those who have died in the name of atheistic philosophies such as marxism, socialism, communism, maoism, Nazism, fascism, totalitarianism, libertarianism, monopolistic capitalism, robber barronism, industrialization, secularism, jingoism, anarchism, social darwinism, eugenics, malthusianism, messianic scientism, nihilism, anti-humanist terrorism, individualism, narcissism, physicalism, materialism, consumerism, modernism, postmodernism, nietzscheism, Marquis de Sade's sadism, (i.e., sadistic murders) moral relativism, hedonism, radical feminism, (i.e., abortions, infanticide, suicide, false claims of rape) radical environmentalism, (i.e., ecological terrorism) Anton LaVey's satanism, (i.e., ritual murders) and the "Law of Attraction." (i.e., the deaths, including suicides, caused by Peter Popoff, Sylvia Browne and other gurus") All of these atheistic philosophies have resulted in the deaths of countless hundreds of millions of human beings. In comparison, the deaths caused by religion seem almost quaint and insignificant."
Here all of these ideologies are described twice as "atheistic philosophies." I called both sides out for lying. I was troubled by how some Christians, no less than some atheists, twisted facts to support the claim (which, of course, is where it went) that Nazism was an "atheist philosophy." SOME Nazis were atheists. (Of course.) German Christianity worshiped Race or Blood. (Of course.) There were "ties" between Nazism and atheism. (Sure -- two of the three philosophers who most influenced Hitler were atheists. But that doesn't make Nazism atheistic, anymore than G. K. Chesterton's influence on me makes me Catholic.)
Neither is "socialism" inherently atheistic.  Marxism-Leninism was only one form of socialism: many forms were quite open to believers, or even founded by believers. 
While Musolino wrote a book arguing against God, there was nothing in The Manifesto of the Italian Fasci of Combat against religion.  
"Totalitarian" is a political system in which the state maintains control of all spheres, including religion.  Some such states have been atheistic, others have promoted other ideologies.  
Thomas Malthus, the founder of "Malthusianism," was a devout Anglican minister, among other things.  
Anti-humanist terrorism?  I'm not sure what that means, because "humanist" is often taken to refer to secular humanism, which really tends to be atheistic.  
The world is full of jingoists who are also theists.  I am sometimes one.  
Individualism AND communism are "atheistic philosophies?"  Maybe the author of this treacle is thinking of Ayn Rand's Objectivism?  
"Materialism" can mean (a) the doctrine that the material universe is real: (b) that it is the only reality; or (c) that making money and spending it is the only fun.  Presumably the writer means (b).  In that case, this is almost just a synonym for "atheism."  But of course most Christians believe (a), and some act like they believed (c).  
Of course it is nonsense to suppose all "robber barons" or induistrialists were atheists.  
And then we are told that "all of these atheistic philosophies" have "resulted in the deaths of countless hundreds of millions of human beings." 
All of them?  You mean, each of them?  Or all of them combined? 
Obviously, if ONE of them has caused the deaths of "hundreds of millions of human beings," then "all of them combined" have.  In which case, the claim means nothing.  It would be like saying, "David, George, Patti, and Arjun all speak Hindi," meaning Arjun does.  Which is just another way of lying, or of throwing claims out with careless regard for truth, which is the same thing.

Probably none of them has in fact resulted in "countless hundreds of millions of deaths," unless you can't count to one.  That's appalling, of course, but one draws attention off the horror of the Gulag by making false claims which skeptics will naturally focus on.  
Let atheists and Hindus and Muslims hold a monopoly on sophism and specious arguments. We follow the Author of Truth, to whom (as Francis Bacon put it) we should not offer the "unclean sacrifice of a lie."
Besides which, there is strategy in argumentation. Lesser is more. Purge your argument of doubtful claims, or admit the degree of doubt and attenuation, and you make it stronger, not weaker. The argument won't focus on fringe questions. You won't come across as unfair. Your good arguments will shine all the most strongly.

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sparrish said...

David: I agree with this, but have a caveat about Hitler. According to Richard Weikart in his new book "Hitler's Religion," although exactly what Hitler's religious beliefs were is hard to determine with certainty, he is best thought of as a pantheist. He considered nature, or the universe, to be god. I find his argument persuasive, and it accords with my own reading on the subject.

The point is this: Hitler's religion and belief in a "god" amounted to little more than philosophical naturalism combined with a religious reverence towards nature or the universe. He did not believe in a personal god. I had a personal conversation with Weikart a couple of years ago, and he agreed with this. Therefore, I think that this position can legitimately be called a form of atheism. I have called him that before in the past.

Having said that, to avoid confusion, it is best to call Hitler a pantheist. Also, since Hitler was confirmed in the Roman Catholic church, and never officially left, he could in one sense, be called a Christian. Of course, he was not a believing or practicing Christian. As Weikart makes clear in his book (and again, this corresponds with my own studies) he loathed Christianity, and wanted to destroy it in Germany after the war. Many atheists on the internet ignore the vast amount of evidence of Hitler's anti-Christianity.

David B Marshall said...

I agree with all of that. Richard kindly had his publisher send me a review copy of his new book, and I have begun reading it. I thought his earlier book, From Darwin to Hitler, was quite good.

sparrish said...

David: You should also read Weikart's book "Hitler's Ethics" when you have a chance too.

Best Wishes.