Well at someone out there understands that criticism comes in different forms, some valid and some not.
Unfortunately that URL is 404ing on me. If anyone else can get into it, can you post some excerpts?
TDDM Board Junkie
Joined: 14 Dec 2004
Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:34 am Post subject: Ten Questions for every intelligent Christian
Just quickly, I should point out that, despite the impending wave of criticism, this video should be watched, for reasons that will later become apparent.
There are two main problems with this video: firstly, it seems to assume an overwhelming hegemony in terms of Christian thought. Consider: as an Anglican, I do not believe in the "power of prayer" in a physically healing sense (although many other Anglicans do), and so the questions regarding prayer are somewhat redundant. Secondly, it takes a rather Dawkins-like approach, in that the author has defined for himself what it means to be rational and intelligent, and those who fall outside these parameters are irrational, and wrong. Delusional. Moreover, his response to the question of God, i.e. God is imaginary so now all these questions can be answered sensibly, is of no more logical weight than, for example, the statement that God is a brutal, insane, sadistic demi-urge who lusts after our misery and bewilderment with all the passion only a being on a higher plane can muster.
Sadly, this sort of response shows a woeful ignorance, and indeed, bigotry on the part of religious sceptics. I take no issue with the idea of being sceptical of religion itself, but sweeping statements about "your religion" which don't recognise the great differences in theology between, say, mainstream American Baptists and mainstream members of the Church of England, simply cause the argument to fail because it does not apply to Christians as a unit, merely to a very particular kind of Christian, partially invented by the author to suit his purposes.
Other issues include the author's lack of knowledge about, amongst other things, the Levitical code: as I have pointed out before, the concept of homosexuality did not exist in Old Testament times, and so, inflammatory though the remark about "killing all the gays" might be, it's... well, wrong. Delusional, in fact. There is also the story of Jonah, sometimes considered a Judeo-Christian myth or allegory, like the story of Job. The story of Noah's ark is one which has been documented by persons of other faiths as well. Indeed, it is a common element of fairy tales from that part of the Middle East (if I recall correctly) and some biblical scholars have therefore drawn the conclusion that the story of Noah's ark is simply the "hewbrewified" version of a story which has its roots in a local flood.
There are also issues with, for example, the author's dismissal of the miracles of Christ. No evidence left behind? So...what? I assume that there was some point behind that, but I'm somewhat amiss as to what it might be. I assume, also, that the accounts of the gospel writers don't count as evidence, for some reason.
Which brings me to my next point: I cannot speak for most Christians by any means, but in South East England, at least, most of us are happy to say that the Bible was written by men. Indeed, most Christians should claim this, unless they're quite, quite mad, although they would probably also add that the persons who wrote the books of the Bible were penning the words which God was planting directly into their brains. I don't, indeed, cannot believe this, given the discrepancies between the gospels. Rather, I acknowledge that humans are fallible, and in trying to deal with the notion and actions of something far removed from our own existence, fallible humans wrote books explaining, incompletely, things that they couldn't hope to understand fully. This is reflected in the books of history in the Bible (such as Kings), the poetry of the psalms (some of which were appropriated from other Middle Eastern cultures) the theology and philosophy of Ecclesiastes, the letters of St Paul, and so on and so forth.
He also displays a lack of knowledge about ecclesiastical liturgy and rite. Not all Christians practise the Eucharist, and of those who do, not all believe in the transubstantiation, instead, taking communion as an act of rememberance, reflection, and contemplation, and considering the words of Christ at the Last Supper to be, much like His parables, heavy with spiritual metaphor, rather than simple edicts.
I will say that the author does at least, and I would say, importantly, challenge the unthinking faith professed by many self-named Christians, and such challenge of assumption and half-hearted rationalisation is important. Why believe in the power of prayer if the legless will not regain their lost limbs? Indeed, have never done so. He also communicates effectively to his perceived target audience, and points out that glaring inconsistencies regarding rational thought, criticism, and the practice of faith are simply intolerable if a person wishes to be, and to be treated as, an adult: a rational, intelligent and mature human being.
He must realise, however, that his own, well-motivated attempt to "make those delusional god-botherers snap out of it" is not applicable to many of us. Indeed, he may even have a harder time when dealing with those of us who are well-read, or he might say "indoctrinated" (and I may have to agree, sometimes), when we rattle off quotes made by great Christian thinkers: "God has no hands but ours" said Mother Theresa. St Anselm said, "Disasters teach us humility". The last two thousand years have spawned a vast amount of writing by educated, articulate, and dare I say "rational" people, mostly coming down on the side of their own particular religious leanings (in Europe, this has been Christian, primarily Roman Catholic, and virtually all Christian theology, as well as Western society itself, has been shaped by this). Consequently, I think that the sceptics' cause really needs to start doing some very real, very deep exploration and criticism of theology before it can hope to make its cause realised. Sadly, it would seem that, like Dawkins himself, few have the discipline or wherewithall to deal with the issues properly, preferring a populist, shallow approach, which is sadly remniscient of doomsday preachers and charismatic "Christian" charlatans from the southern reaches of the United States.http://www.tddm.org/bb/viewtopic.php?p=136019#136019First post in it's entirety.