Reply to the Reverend
The Homosecular Gaytheist, known to his fans as the Rev. Reed Braden, has graced my blog once again with his trademarked snarkiness. Normally, I don’t answer him because I’m afraid that it will inflate his already overly-large ego, but I don’t want to risk him thinking that he’s won again. I stopped posting during our last round of debating because his tone is too sarcastic, even for me. Not because he demolished my arguments.
I will answer his second comment first, then dive into his meatier first comment.
OH MY GOD! I just realised you’re Cory Tucholski! I had so much fun completely obliterating your arguments last time we met online. So good to see you and smack down your arguments again! Have fun with your six readers!
Six RSS readers. I generate over 1200 hits per month. And my blog has been graced with comments by “famous apologists” such as James White. This statement is just childish. Onto the real argument:
I mentioned two vile aspects of that Columbus quote that stemmed directly from his Christianity: Slavery and the destruction of cultures by way of “spreading the Gospel”.
The wholesale destruction of cultures in the name of mission work still continues today and is seen as highly virtuous by almost every Christian I have ever met. I can’t even fathom the amount of money (and I can fathom with the best of the fathomers) that Christians spend each year on sending missionaries into the Amazon and into war-torn African nations to bribe the natives and the misplaced into Christianity (and out of their cultural beliefs and practices) with promises of food, technology, peace and eternal life.
We’re not looking to destroy cultures. That has not been my experience with missionary work at all. The idea is to convert them to Christianity, and throw off the shackles of their former religion. We preserve every aspect of their culture except the religious one.
Think of it like this: The belief of Christians is that when you die, you are rewarded or punished based solely on how much faith you demonstrated to God. The only way to demonstrate faith in God is by confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing that God raised him from the dead (Rom 10:4). Wouldn’t you want to spread that good news to anyone who will listen to its life-altering message? We don’t force people to accept Christ. God works in their hearts and brings them to that decision, using our teachings as the vehicle.
Tell me how missionaries today aren’t coercing people into Christianity. They even do it on their home soil! Most homeless shelters in the United States are religious organisations and only allow homeless people to eat their food and sleep in their beds if they attend their church services and listen to their pastors! Tell me how that’s not coercing people into Christianity when the only option for food and shelter for many Americans who have lost their homes is to sit and listen to a pastor tell them that they are going to hell.
The truth is harsh, yes, but it is communicated out of love and not out of malice. No one forces them to respond to the message, all they have to do is sit in on the church service. If they respond, it is between them and God; only God can draw them to himself and only they can respond to that drawing.
This brings up an interesting point. Most homeless shelters are religious organizations. It is usually the religious who sponsor things like homeless shelters, not atheists. Why is that? Atheism claims to be humanitarian than theism, but theism always leads more humanitarian efforts than atheist groups. Atheist groups usually lead things like this, or spearhead efforts to get prayer out of school. You know, the really important issues.
You didn’t even mention the slave trade, but I’ll go ahead and address it anyway. I don’t know if by your omission of my point on slavery, you implied that you are in favour of slavery or not, but I will give you the benefit of the doubt and just assume that you didn’t read half of what I wrote. The slave trade was not religiously motivated but it was propagated and carried out by churches and elected officials, drawing from verses of the Old and New Testaments that proscribe laws on how to deal with slaves. God apparently condones slavery.
I didn’t mention the slave trade because I’ve written volumes on it already. But I’ll point you to the best work I’ve seen on it, which is a paper by Paul Copan entitled “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster?” which appears in the latest issue of Philosophia Christi, the semiannual newsletter of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. The kidnapping and displacement of human beings into forced buy-you-and-sell-you slavery is never condoned by either the Old or the New Testament. The slavery that is condoned is a type of indentured servitude. If you read the law carefully, you will note that the slaves are released every seven years and all debts are forgiven, unless the slave chooses to remain a slave. Copan argues that the ideal condition is no slavery at all, and the law contains enough evidence that that is the case.
You may then argue that foreigners were forced by the Israelites to be slaves at the behest of God, and the law allows them to remain slaves for life. To which I will point out two things. First, slaves share 100% in the covenantal promises from God to Israel. This is a big deal. This means that slaves became part of God’s chosen people, and shared equally in all promises that God made to Israel. Second, as Copan argues, the law was never intended to represent the full ideal of morality. It quite often falls short. But it hints at the ideal conditions that God would like to see on earth. That is why the apostle Paul says that what is written in former days is written for instruction (Rom 15:4).