The Cult-Like Anti-Intellectualism of Christian Bashing

Let’s look at the arguments we’ve seen against the faith here on Public Catholic. They tend to fall into categories.

By far the largest category is the Dawkins without attribution crowd. These people repeat arguments Dr Richard Dawkins has made in his popular books, usually without adding a single thought of their own. But they don’t attribute them to Dr Dawkins. There are so many of these it would be worthless to try to list them. Here is one recent example.

A reader made the statement (I’m paraphrasing) that the reason we live in a universe that appears to be tuned for life, at least life here on Earth, is that, well, however improbable, that’s the universe we live in. This is from Dr Dawkins’ runaway best seller The God Delusion. 

Obviously, this doesn’t answer anything. It simply sidesteps it. Also obviously, it wasn’t the reader’s own thought. 

There are a large number of pretend Dawkins commenters on this blog. Except for one time, I’ve let every single one of them pass through without calling them on their failure to say that they are quoting someone else.

What is interesting is that they don’t seem to be able to think past quoting Dawkins without attribution. I don’t remember one of these people adding anything to Dr Dawkins’ thinking when they slap these things down in the combox.

I don’t know for sure of course, but I’m guessing most of them haven’t thought all that deeply about what they’re quoting. If they had, they would probably have decided it isn’t worth repeating, as it doesn’t hold water. 

God-is-evil commenters are another large group. They have picked up out-of-context Bible verses and stories, sometimes from Dawkins, but I think mostly from Christian-bashing blogs. They come swooping in here with their Bible verse or story and throw it down with an almost audible There! Take that!

I’ve noticed that Public Catholic readers aren’t so good at answering this tripe. Our religious education has not taught us to look at the Bible from a viewpoint of defending God Himself in disputation.

Writingscripture

Protestants are good at seeing specific verses because that is the way they have been taught. They are much more adept than Catholics at picking out a verse anywhere. I know Protestants who can recite whole chapters of the Bible. I can give them a word or two of a verse and they will tell me immediately where it is in the Bible by Chapter and verse. 

Catholics are good at seeing the overarching story of the Scriptures, because that is the way they have been taught. Every Sunday we hear an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a reading from an Epistle and a reading from the Gospels. Catholics who go to daily mass will hear almost the whole Bible read to them this way in a three year cycle. These readings are chosen so that New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy or foreshadowing is placed side by side, along with an Apostolic interpretation of these same things from one of the Epistles. 

Catholics come away from this with a good understanding of how the Bible fits together to tell one, single story of our salvation. 

However, neither Protestants nor Catholics have been trained to deal with the dubious “scholarship” of highly aggressive Christian bashers. These people are cult-like followers of leaders who earn their living by attacking Christ, Christianity, the Church and God. Many of the Christian-bashing blogs are over the top with followers. Hate expressed in anti-intellectual shibboleths is popular with certain types of people. It always has been. 

Propaganda

These leaders comb the Scriptures looking for stories or single verses that they can manipulate to support their contentions. They studiously overlook the vast bulk of Scripture that abrogates their prejudices so clearly that even they cannot twist it into meaning something else. They then reinterpret their gleanings according to their own malice in order to judge both God and Christians by the obnoxious standards of 21st century self-righteous nihilism.

This whole practice of pulling things out of context and ignoring all scholarship to reframe them according to your propaganda is intellectually bogus. It is not a sign of intelligence, especially since the people who come on this blog to throw these things down are just parroting what someone else has said or written without any real understanding. 

I haven’t been trained in dealing with this. So far as I know, nobody has. After all, those of us who follow Christ are more intent on learning what the Bible actually teaches than mining it for gotcha verses and stories to use against God.

However, a lot of dumb clucks are buying it as if it meant something. I don’t mean Public Catholic readers. I mean your friends and mine. I mean our kids and the family we see once a year at Thanksgiving. People who have not studied the Bible in an intelligent and informed way are sitting ducks for this sort of anti-intellectual approach to Scripture. 

PonderScriptureGlobe

From what little I have read and seen in this area, every single one of these accusations is answered by simply learning why and what the Scriptures are actually saying. I haven’t read one attack on the faith from Scripture that didn’t fall down dead by simply knowing what the Scriptures actually mean. 

The problem is that these understandings don’t fit in a combox. In fact, they would only fit in a full post if you take them one at a time, and that would be an entire blog of its own. They require what these anti-intellectual propagandists claim for themselves but don’t demonstrate: A certain amount of intellectual gravitas. 

In this post Christian world, we’re all going to have to become apologists, each in our own little world. The time when we could devote our studies to personal piety has ended. We are in a battle and we must, as St Paul said, “take on the whole armor of faith.” That includes an understanding of how and why these attacks on Christians and on God Himself through Scripture are both anti-intellectual in their methodology and untrue in their facts.

The result for us as individuals will be a greatly strengthened faith that “needs not be ashamed.” 

Faith grows when you step out on it, and that’s a fact. 

A Non-Theistic Christian Now Running the Washington National Cathedral

Washington National Cathedral

The Washington Post seems to love the guy.

He is, after all, a “Christian” after their own heart.

Rev Gary Hall, the new Dean of Washington National Cathedral believes that teaching people to wait for marriage to have sex is “unrealistic.” He isn’t too keen on the idea of life-long commitment or fidelity in marriage, either. But he’s in the bag for gay marriage and has personally assured Dr Richard Dawkins that he also “doesn’t believe in the God” that Dr Dawkins doesn’t believe in.

That sounds like a real dome scratcher, since Dr Dawkins has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t believe in any kind of deity. However it all comes into focus when the top priest at the cathedral that is often called our nation’s “spiritual home” announces that he’s a “nontheistic Christian.”

Aside from the fact that this sounds like he just announced he’s the drug dealer for Narcotics Anonymous, this preposterous statement does fit in the drawer alongside Dean Hall’s other commentary.

No wonder the Washington Post oozes all over him in this article. He’s the kind of religious leader they hanker after: A “priest” who gets his beliefs from reading polls just like everybody else does in Washington.

Dean Hall should fit right in on the beltway. His morals can “evolve” there along with everyone else’s.

A “nontheistic Christian?”

Puh – leeeez.

From the Washington Post:

Life experiences informed Hall’s unconventional views on marriage. (His parents were married seven times between them.) “We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person,” he says. “For the church to say, ‘No sex before marriage,’ is not realistic,” he argues.

… Under Hall’s leadership, the cathedral announced it will start performing same-sex marriages.

… He tells of sitting next to the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins at a dinner and discussing God. Hall told Dawkins, “I don’t believe in the God you don’t believe in either.”

“…I don’t want to be loosey-goosey about it,” he says, “but I describe myself as a non-theistic Christian.”

Dawkins: Mock Them. Ridicule Them. In Public. With Contempt.

I am tempted to say that Dr Richard Dawkins is the Westboro Baptist Church of the atheists.

But I won’t.

The reason?

The only thing Dr Dawkins has in common with the much ballyhooed and massively exaggerated Westboro Baptist Church is that they both specialize in attacking the sensibilities of other people in order to gain fame for themselves. The similarities pretty much end there.

Dr Dawkins writes best-selling books that evidently convince a lot of people to pull their own pants down in public and waggle their beefy buns in other people’s faces. Dr Dawkins gives speeches that attract tens of thousands of cheering fellow haters. Some them have gone on to write books and run popular blogs, spreading this hate like a virus.

Dr Dawkins is, in a word, effective at spreading his call for verbal bashing and social discrimination.

Meanwhile the Westboro Baptist Church is a family-sized congregation of weirdos who go around the country demonstrating with homemade signs. They carefully pick the place to do their thing that will upset and offend the most people. They are universally dissed. People form human chains to defend their targets from the offense they give.

The Westboro Baptist Church, is, in a word, ineffective.

For these reasons, I cannot call Dr Dawkins the Westboro Baptist Church of atheism. In fact, I think I will avoid that kind of comparison altogether and let Dr Dawkins speak for himself in the video below. 

The interesting portion of the video comes after Dr Dawkins’ predictable call for his audience to “mock them, ridicule them, in public … with contempt,” when they talk to Christians. That’s when Dr Ravi Zacharias responds to Dr Dawkins’ little diatribe.

There are people who come on this blog all the time with the intention of following their leader’s instructions. They get deleted.

Dr Dawkins begins his comment with the phrase, “Whenever I talk to religious people …”

My question is why would a religious person talk to Dr Dawkins? Why would anyone allow themselves to be interrogated in the manner he claims he engages in?

What he describes is verbal abuse. It is hate speech. It is Christian bashing.

His call to “mock them, ridicule them, in public … with contempt” speaks far more specifically to the valueless ethos of his non-belief than it does anything else. It is also, as Ravi Zacharias points out, ridiculous.

I would suggest two things: Watch the video below to hear Ravi’s reaction. And do not allow yourself to be subjected to pointless verbal abuse by people who’ve drunk this particular form of vicious kool-aid.

Delete them. Hang up on them. Walk away. If you are in a situation where you can’t do one of these things, try coming here and asking the rest of us for ideas. We are, after all, in this together.

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