Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Debunking Christianity: "Biblical Christianity Is Bankrupt"

John Loftus introduced the following link: Biblically Christianity is Bankrupt
That's right, so argues Michael Dowd, a liberal author of the book Thank God for Evolution. I agree with his criticisms most emphatically. Check him out. When Christians are done tearing into each other all I have to say is that I agree with them all. And I agree with the non-Christian religions too. What's left after these religions tear into one another? Atheism. Get the point.

I want to write a fuller response to Dowd and to Loftus. I want to make it clear that I know Loftus is raising another point in addition to the points the Dowd is making in his blog post. I want to deal with Loftus first.

Let us first define what "Biblical Christianity" is. John Loftus does not really define what he means in his post but Dowd does.

Biblical Christianity that does not integrate our best evidential understanding of the universe and human nature is doomed precisely because it is wedded to unchanging scripture. It suffers from what I call “idolatry of the written word.” No longer does it link together what young people learn in church and what they learn in their science and history classes at school—and on the Discovery and History channels at home. As well, biblical Christianity’s strongest lifeline for claiming continued relevance is seriously frayed—although only those who track scientific advances in neurobiology, infant psychology, and the social instincts of apes and monkeys may be aware of this perilous condition. 

I disagree. The fact that the scriptures do not change is why it's powerful for basing one's life and practice on.  There is no reason at all not to have a world view based on the Bible without integration of evidence regarding science and history. Some will say that we have so much evidence that shows the Bible to be wrong, but when I study and look at all the evidences I come to the alternate conclusions.When I have done so I have only seen the Bible supported not broken. I would endorse "Sola Scriptora"  or "Scripture Alone"  as a non-negotiable characteristic of  Biblical Christianity and a good way to understand what is and what is not Christian. Anyone who depends on just the Discovery or History channels (to say nothing of public school) is going to get a woefully inadequate view of reality. I don't think at all that people should be shielded from opposing ideas or viewpoints. I say "Bring it".  The Bible can take it. Don't just take a single side but look at and judge all sides. Your soul weighs in the balance, best to be sure...really sure you are taking a view you can live with.

Dowd further wrote:

What is that frayed lifeline? It is the intertwined strands of two crucial religious functions: first, the matter of where we acquire our moral compass, and second, how we come into right relationship with reality, or “get right with God,” when we have fallen from the path. As to the former, we moderns come to the Bible with a culturally evolved moral compass by which we carefully pick and choose which passages to preach and study and teach our children. We do not get our morality from the Bible.

The reason we do not consult the book of Exodus when dealing with a disrespectful teenage son, or the book of Leviticus for parenting advice when a daughter loses her virginity, or the book of Numbers for how to handle Sabbath breakers, or the books of Deuteronomy or Revelation when needing guidance regarding family members who choose a different faith, is because murder is no longer considered a moral option. 

Dowd is definitely familiar with "Christainese". He uses many of the words but He doesn't really understand the Bible. I wanted to point out the above quote because it shows he does not know what he is talking about. Many folks speak to the prescriptions for parenting advice when a daughter loses her virginity,  how to handle Sabbath breakers,  regarding family members who choose a different faith in Ancient Israel as Murder. But this isn't true. These were capital offenses...not murder. Feel free to disagree about if the punishment fit the crimes or not, but don't claim moral superiority. Our society is far from superior now that almost anything sexual goes (as long as its consenting adults for now). He's right,. We don't get our morality from the Bible. That's why we are in this mess.

We need to preach and study and teach from the whole Bible! There is a context to those so-called "problem texts". And many of them are descriptive of what happened and not prescriptions. The other issues are understood to apply to ancient Israel in terms of the ceremonial laws and civil punishments.

Debunking Christianity: "Biblical Christianity Is Bankrupt"
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