And we’re back with yet more stupid arguments! I’m sure it’s a tossup whether there are more atheists here comparing this list against their own mental list or more Christians carefully taking notes on what to avoid.
This is a continuation of a list that begins here.
Stupid Argument #29: America is a Christian nation
Remember what the Founding Founders said: “All men . . . are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” The government back then wasn’t shy about declaring national days of thanksgiving or fasting. And look at their personal letters—they’re full of God references.
If you simply mean by “America is a Christian nation” that most Americans today are Christian, that’s true. But it’s obviously false to imagine Christianity as somehow part of the country’s governance.
That quote is from the Declaration of Independence, the document that also said, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from . . .” no, not God, but “the consent of the governed.” You’ll find deism there but not Christianity. But this is irrelevant. The Declaration of Independence doesn’t govern the United States, the Constitution does. And it’s one hundred percent secular. Indeed, it was the world’s first secular constitution, one of America’s greatest examples to the world.
The founding fathers could say whatever they wanted to in their letters. They could believe in God, pray to Jesus, or imagine getting strength from Christianity. None of that matters when an honest reading of the Constitution makes clear that America is defined to be secular, not Christian. If they had wanted explicit references to Yahweh or Jesus, they would have put them in. Reinterpreting history is popular among faux historians like David Barton, but the preferences of a gullible public aren’t the best guide to truth.
Stupid Argument #30: Atheists just had bad father figures
Psychology professor Paul Vitz makes a powerful case that the absence of a good father creates atheists. A poor relationship with one’s earthly father creates a poor relationship with the heavenly Father. Atheists are driven by psychology, not reason.
I analyze this in more detail, though it doesn’t deserve much. Vitz’s analysis is little more than cherry picking, with examples of famous Christians who had good fathers or father figures and atheists who had bad ones.
And, of course, you can find opposite examples. To take one, here’s what C. S. Lewis said about his father: “God forgive me, I thought Monday morning, when he went back to his work, the brightest jewel in the week.”
Imagine compiling the opposite list of atheists with good fathers and Christians with poor ones with the justification that Christians’ poor family life drew them to an (imaginary) celestial father to replace the flawed one they actually had. I’m sure Vitz would complain that it was a biased selection. And it would be, just like his own version.
Stupid Argument #31: Excusing Christian scandalsNo one’s perfect. Don’t forget that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
No scandal with a Christian leader can be so great that they lose all of their flock. Consider rehabilitated televangelists like Jim Bakker (five years in prison for fraud), Peter Popoff (shown by James Randi to be using tricks to simulate miraculous knowledge), Ted Haggard (sex), and Jimmy Swaggart (sex). They’re all back preachin’ the Good News.
Or the scandals of pedophile priests and the Catholic leadership that hid and enabled their crimes.
Or the false prophecies of Harold Camping and Ronald Weinland (who both committed the sin of being precise and therefore testable) or Ray Comfort and John Hagee (whose baggy prophecies could fit just about any events).
If “don’t worry about that—they’re only human” applies when Christian leaders do bad things, why doesn’t it apply when they do good things? If God’s actions are visible through Christian leaders when you’re pleased with them, why not when you’re disappointed? Why would God not protect them from error—or if he did, why did he stop? Things are explained much better by dropping the God assumption.
Jonny Scaramanga of the “Leaving Fundamentalism” blog noted the double standard. Ex-addicts were quick to give Jesus the glory for their recovery. But “as soon as that televangelist fell from grace, it was all ‘Well, we all have a sin nature.’ Well, which one is it? Do we have a sin nature or are we transformed by the saving grace of the Holy Spirit?”
Continue on to part 10.
See the complete list of arguments here.
there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
— H. L. Mencken
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 6/15/15.)
Image from NeilsPhotography, CC license