Recovering from Religion, a secular company seeking to provide people leaving their religious views with various resources, apparently has nothing to say about arguments for or against God’s existence, said William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, Calif.
Having nothing to say is quite a different thing than that not being their purpose. As Sarah Morehead explains:
“That is not the purpose nor the intent. Responders will absolutely not urge any form of belief or disbelief. In fact, our volunteers will be specifically trained to never debate callers under any circumstances,” said Morehead. “It’s not our place to do anything but encourage exploration and discovery, and to provide a solid support structure as people reconsider the role of religion in their lives. For many, this is a long process and we will be with them every step of the way.”
First, this talk about engaging with arguments from the other side is hilarious coming from a guy who repeatedly ducks debates with Matt Dillahunty.
Second, there are plenty of atheists out there (*raises hand*) who make it their job to shoot down the rationalizations for god’s existence by Craig and his cohorts. That’s not what the secular hotline is there to do. It’s there to help people deal with the psychological difficulties that come with leaving or questioning religion. It should also be noted that it’s religious people who have made leaving Christianity/Islam such a painful process. Arguments are used far less often than the threat of social consequences to keep people cloistered with the rest of the faithful. The hotline project is there to sooth potential wounds that religious people have used as a deterrent to leaving the faith for centuries. How will someone’s family react? Will they lose their job if their Christian boss finds out? These things are almost always on someone’s mind when they’re evolving out of faith, not “I wonder if there’s a way the ontological argument can make sense” or “maybe William Lane Craig knows something about Big Bang cosmology that cosmologists don’t”.
To be pissed at an organization for not fulfilling a role it has never tried to fulfill (and which it has repeatedly said it doesn’t try to fill) is like trying to get a refund on your lawnmower because it doesn’t make a perfect pizza every time.
Craig said it seems the secular group “thinks that the traditional arguments for God’s existence are now passé and so no longer need refutation? If so, they are naïve.” He went on to say that over the last generation “there has been a revival of interest among professional philosophers, whose business it is to think about difficult metaphysical questions, in arguments for the existence of God. In fact, many of the brightest philosophers today are theists, using a tough-minded intellectualism in defense of their beliefs.“
This is a very misleading use of the word “many”. The most recent data we have suggests that about 14.6% of the world’s top tier philosophers are theists, with a whopping 72.8% claiming atheism outright. Compared to the numbers of believers in the population of philosophical laymen, it’s pretty clear that philosophy, like science, is an avenue toward non-belief, not the other way around.
Perhaps in an attempt to make WLC’s comments look relevant by comparison, the Christian Post article also included commentary from the ironically named American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who manages to be manifestly wrong about just about everything (and yet, has never once had WLC say anything about his copious stupid claims):
Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis at American Family Association, earlier told CP that human beings “have been running from God since the days of Jonah.” “But to run away from God is to run away from life, forgiveness, hope, strength, and the promise of eternal life and to run toward death, emptiness, darkness and hopelessness. What do these secularists want people to run to?” said Fischer, responding to the announcement of the atheist hotline.
“Many people will, like Jonah, regret turning their backs on God and will come running back. The AFA and many other organizations stand ready to welcome them home and help them reconnect with God.”
There’s a lot wrong here, so let’s take it one line at a time.
Bryan Fischer, director of Issues Analysis at American Family Association, earlier told CP that human beings “have been running from God since the days of Jonah.”
Poppycock. First, there’s no evidence that anybody lived in the belly of a fish for three days, so to say that something’s been going on since then is akin to saying it’s been going on since Jack grew a beanstalk into the sky and hacked off a giant.
Second, Fischer says people have been “running from god.” God has not been here for anybody to run from. People have been finding the claims of people claiming to speak for god to be unconvincing ever since people started saying that sickness was caused by demons or that we shouldn’t be suffering witches to live (both of which really happened), but calling bullshit when people make assertions they cannot defend is quite a different thing than “running from god.”If god exists, it should be proud when humans manage to not be gullible.
“But to run away from God is to run away from life, forgiveness, hope, strength, and the promise of eternal life and to run toward death, emptiness, darkness and hopelessness. What do these secularists want people to run to?” said Fischer, responding to the announcement of the atheist hotline.
Do Christians who repeat this line not have any friends? Do they live in a fucking cave? Who do we run to when times are tough? The same thing Christians run to: other people. Oh, you’re sick? Well, you could trust god (who created the sickness in the first place and watched while you contracted it) to make you better, but you’ll probably go to a doctor. Oh, you’re bored? Well, you could sit around and think about how grand god is, but you’ll probably turn on the TV (invented by humans) to watch shows created by other humans. Oh, you’re hungry? You could wait for god to fill your stomach, but you’ll probably go to a grocery store built and run by humans to buy food made plentiful and preservable by human innovation.
And when you’re sad or scared? Sure, you can sit around and wait for god to make it better, but you won’t get any better results than for sickness, boredom, hunger, and quite literally every other problem facing humankind. When atheists are sad or scared, we do exactly what religious people do: we turn to our friends and other humans for comfort.
Without belief in god we are not running away from life. Life is lush trees and long walks; it’s the love of our partners; it’s League of Legends and our favorite video games. Life is a whirlwind of experience that is there whether a person believes in god or not. In fact, that’s what bugs people like me about religions, as they often needlessly restrict the experiences one can pursue with the life we’re in. Sex with multiple people? Fucking awesome! If the choice is between planting your swampy ass in a pew for an hour or sex with someone you find attractive (to whom you are not married), go with the sex. Trust me.
Without belief in god people are not running away from forgiveness. We’re simply asserting we don’t need any for being human.
Without belief in god people are not running away from hope. We simply realize that hope has only ever come from human intelligence. We didn’t like getting blind-sided by hurricanes (that god would’ve made if he existed, so tell me again how you can have hope trusting in that asshole) so humans invented satellite weather radar. We were hungry so we invented better ways to farm and create food. We hoped for a cure for various sickness, and so we set our minds to the task and we found solutions. Real hope comes from intelligence, not from waiting around for a silent god who created our ails to erase them.
Without belief in god people are not running away from strength. You know what’s easy as hell? Being a part of the majority. You know what takes strength? Saying to a nation composed primarily of Christians “I don’t believe any of this. Yes, it may cost the love of family members and friends. Yes, people who care more that I believe in a man rising from the dead than in all of my virtues will reject me. But I will not be a liar, and I will not value acceptance over reason.” That’s fucking strength right there. Strength means not being controlled by fear, which is the very lifeblood of Christianity. Believe or burn. How often do we hear Christians ask “What if you’re wrong?” none-too-subtly implying that hellfire awaits? Strength is saying “To hell with your threats, give me a reason to think you’re right.”
Without belief in god we are not running toward death. What a ridiculous thing to say. Our blood flows the same as Christians. And we can hope for eternal life as much as a believer, but we can also call bullshit on the people who say they know how to achieve it with nothing but shitty reasons to back it up.
What a mountain of unrepentant bullshit. And yet, Christians will exert for more trepidation about a hotline that is there to sooth psychological torment than over any of Fischer’s pool of lies and inaccuracies.
William Lane Craig and Bryan Fischer…Christianity deserves them.