Friday, October 26, 2012

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: The God of the Bible Knows Nothing About Modern Psychology and Why it Offers No Real Solutions

John Loftus has again made an attempt to argue that the Bible is deficient and the Christianity has no solutions to the conundrums of life. He keep professing his view point but has of yet failed to provided any really good reason to agree with him. Does this post change his fail record? Nope.

A study done by Nicholas Epley from the University of Chicago tells us all believers think God agrees with what they do about a host of non-related issues.

Hmmm...a study that shows that all believers hold the same viewpoint? Does that really make sense?  I mean really? Does the study include every Christian? Every Muslim? Epley didn't ask me what I think. I'm a Christian. And I don't agree that God agrees with me. One of the reasons why I am a Christian is because I want to agree with  God. I want to know what God thinks about what I should do so I can do it instead of "leaning on my understanding". Do these people who come to such conclusions that God agrees with believers ever read Proverbs 3:5,6 or Isaiah 55? From the start we are not agreeing with God, about anything, by default. Being a believer means that I think I need to agree with God, not the other way around.  So my very existence demonstrates that not all believers would agree with that survey, therefore it's conclusions are flawed. Let's see more fail.

We know this. And it's dangerous. If this study shows us anything at all it should make believers less certain of what they pontificate about. In fact, this study falsifies faith itself, for there is no independent way to determine what God thinks, if he exists at all. Believers simply create their own religion, their own Gospel, and their own God in their own image.

There is an independent way to determine what God thinks: the Bible.  God isn't going to tell you anything that is going to contradict or undermine scripture. And an honest reading of scripture clearly demonstrates a coherent and ordered way to look at the world. People like John Loftus will disagree with that but for the moment set aside whether or not it is true and just judge it for what it says. Anyone who can read can understand what the commandments are and with study can learn to apply them.  Whether or not you agree with whether or not it's true of binding on you is quite another issue. An honest reading of the scripture in context will not produce the failed interpretation that Loftus gets of promoting racism, slavery, or misogyny. People who get such nonsense don't read the Bible as carefully as they would something else that they agree with.

There is something else, a few corollaries that need highlighted. What believers think about God is also what believers think that God thinks about God. Why not? Not only this, but what believers think about God is dependent on what they think of their parents and themselves to a large degree.

If you are a born-again Christian you are agreeing with God that you need a savior and God's constant guidance because you are too flawed and enslaved by sin to make correct and proper judgments apart from God's help! Therefore John Loftus' corollaries are wrong along with the inital conclusions. 

The real causes of one's beliefs are almost never addressed and since that's the case believers cannot offer real solutions because they aren't to be found in the Bible.

Written like a man who has never been born-again or knows what it's like to have a change of heart.

In the Bible people who are selfish, unruly, prideful, lustful, divisive, unforgiving, doubting, lazy, liars, disobedient, un-pure in heart, and who cannot love their enemies, are simply told not be like that.

Nope,. When we look at their lives, we see God come along side and mold them into people who are unselfish, humble, self-controlled, forgiving, faithful, industrious, honest, courageous,  obedient, pure in heart,  and lovers their enemies. If I can name a single person in the Bible that disproves Loftus he is wrong and I can name several: Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Joseph, David. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel, and many many others. They grew as people through their relationship with God.

[Yes, yes, I know, the New Testament promises God's Holy Spirit to help, but if that's the case then why didn't he communicate his will more effectively so that eight million Christians would not have slaughtered themselves during and after the Protestant Reformation?]

 Eight Million? Really? I would really like to see how he counts that. And let's face it the reason for amy schisms is people doing what Loftus does - making it up as they go insteasd of depending on God.

In any case, I think this can be tested when it comes to the supposed "spiritual gifts" Christians claim to have been given by their God.

This oughta be good. Can he show that there are no spiritual gifts in play today or ever?

First, I'll grant that faith is self-fulfilling such that someone who was raised to feel guilty or raised to loathe themselves that personal faith can help them.

Ever really looked in the mirror? Ever measured your righteousness along side what the scripture says righteousness is? It doesn't take being raised in Christianity to do that. Lofuts likes the OTF so much but interesting enough, that isn't brought in when he wieighs the truth claims of Christianity.

 It doesn't matter what kind of benevolent or forgiving or gracious God they had faith in though. That's why believers will forever struggle with their faith because it has to overcome how they were raised.

Oh wait, you mean people lean on their own understanding instead of what God has revealed? Yup. 

That's why some believers are optimists while others are pessimistic, why some have little trouble believing while others forever struggle with it, while some feel forgiven while others always feel guilty, why some believers view God as a harsh judge while others picture a jolly Santa Claus, why some believers hate anyone who argues against their faith (after all, doesn't God?) while others love non-believers and wish to help them, why some Christians like the Old Testament while others like the New Testament, while some like picturing non-believers in hell while others deny the existence of hell or mitigate its horrors, and the list goes on and on.

It's true that there are these broad range of perspectives among people who claim to be Chrtistians. People have opinions and will push them on others. So what? That doesn't matter. This is why 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6

You have to know scripture for yourself. The Bible addresses every single things Loftus is offering as to how people think. The Bible is clear enough to tell us which of those persepectives is God's and which are not.  As my own relationship with God has grown and I have found out more and more about God, I've had to change my own views about many, many things because they did not align with scripture. It's called growth. 

But whatever believers think of God or themselves they think God shares that same view. For some believers this is tragic. For others it's liberating, and there are various responses in between. The real causes of one's beliefs about God or themselves are almost never addressed, and since that's the case they cannot offer real lasting solutions.

Loftus does make a point. The "that's what my momma taught me" reason isn't good enough. However we can and should do better than that. 

Believers have psychological problems due to the experiences they have had in life. Only psychological probing can offer lasting healing. A person who has trouble with faith doesn't need a Bible verse. He or she needs to understand why trusting is a problem for him or her. A stingy person doesn't need to be told to tithe. He or she needs to know why security is a problem. A hateful person doesn't need to just hear the parable of the Good Samaritan. He or she needs to understand where his hatred comes from.

The insecurity comese from an inabillity to trust God. Hatred comes from sin. The Bible is clear on this and how to get around it. 

That's why preachers like Joel Osteen are so successful even though evangelicals are not happy he doesn't preach "true" doctrine. It's because he's offering some real solutions to the problems that afflict people, including believers. He merely uses the Bible as a platform for offering some good psychological advice that people could get from listening to Dr. Phil (although they both annoy me). Preachers who preach "true" doctrine alienate their people with guilt, with hate, with self-loathing, and fear.

True doctrine does not produce guilt, hate, or self-loathing, or fear. Those come about from rejecting the Gospel and trying to do things on your own. 

So let's test this. Take for example the lists of "spiritual gifts" in the New Testament:

Most of these aren't "miraculous" gifts given by God even on Christian terms, and I think none of them are. God doesn't give these gifts. People gain them mostly by their upbringing. Identifying them is merely identifying who you are. I'd like just once for evidence that a person who was brought up to be stingy to have the gift of giving, or a shy unassuming person who was given the gift of leadership, or dense person without common sense or education given the gift of teaching, and so forth.

So laying hands on a sick person and they are healed, is not a miracle?  A person who was brought up to be stingy could not have been raised a Christian and according to Loftus' own delusions that people are in the religion they are in because of upbringing, his own "proof:" can't happen.

Folks this just does not happen, ever!

Lofuts' is wrong. God does raise shy people to leadership, make stingy people generous, and uneducated people int prolific teachers. I've seen God do it.. For example there have been many great teachers with minimal education in the Black church given that for year black people were not granted access to education. Charles Harrision Mason, had a thrd grade education, yet God used him to found my denomination and he was an awsome leader,. preacher,  and teacher - but of course he did pray 6 hours a day. - staying plugged in to the Holy Spirit. 

Where the Bible does help believers it's self-fulfilling because of one's faith, or based on what anyone could figure out for themselves without it.

So many things wrong with that sentence. 

 But it offers no real solutions to the problems that afflict people because modern psychology had not yet arisen. In the Bible the only solution offered to people is to have faith in God, in his Word, and/or in the Holy Spirit--self-fulfilling things like that.

Modern Psychology is not able answer ever question about why we do what we do nor can it because we don't always know. "The wicked know not why they stumble."  And that applies to everyone of us.

The Book of Proverbs might be thought of as the exception but the practical advice in it could be figured out by anyone without divine inspiration at all. It only talks about the consequences of one's actions and why doing bad things will not be good for one's future. It doesn't speak to why we are who we are and how to fix that.

The Proverbs do tell us why we are who we are - we are sinners. And if we want to change that we have to obey God's instructions. Much of what the Proverbs teach about does indeed  include the consequences of your own actions but it's done in a way to keep you from having to figure it out through trial and error. But becausse we refuse to humble ourselves and obey God, many of us end up "figuring it out" by a lot of trial and much costly error that could have been avoided. 

In the Bible God knows nothing about modern psychology. I wonder why? Why is it there is nothing in the advice offered in the Bible except that which was understood by the ancient people of that time? Oh, I know. It's the same reason why Martians who visited us never spoke about anything but current events: That Which Disconfirms UFOs From Mars Also Disconfirms God’s Existence

Just how much does the Bible know about modern psychology? I'd argue that it's a lot.  Take the prescription of tithing as a vehicle for learning how to be giving. There are all kinds of psychological treatments that revolve around changing a character trait by performing tasks that cause desirable habits to form in ones's life.  Developing a habit of tithing teaches you to give. It changes your attitude towards otherse. God knows how we tick and this is an example .

Debunking Christianity: The God of the Bible Knows Nothing About Modern Psychology and Why it Offers No Real Solutions
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