Fugitives from Fundamentalism

The Musings of Adult Missionary Kids (MKs) & Former Born-Again Believers

Angry Conversations with a Childhood Friend & Calvinist: Part II

Posted by Clamence/The Chaplain on April 30, 2009

Calvinist Friend:

Your response further convinces me that you in fact are the one who is very emotionally invested in your own beliefs and ideas. You imagine yourself to be a sophisticated sort who is perfectly versed in knowledge, open to truth, and completely rational, when in fact the anger, contempt, and pride that comes through in many of your comments prove otherwise. As I already mentioned in my comments a week ago, you have performed as many fallacies of logic in your responses to me as you have claimed I have in my comments. I understand why you have rejected Christ; you are immersed in a sense of self-worship and pride, a secular humanist worldview in which you ultimately view yourself as god when it comes down to it.

Just one illustration of the false intellectualism you embrace is demonstrated in your comment that you have “read nearly every article and opinion piece on capital punishment, euthanasia, and every other current grand public issue you can imagine”. That statement is ridiculous. Let me bring you up to speed with my formal training. [Calvinist Friend lists his academic credentials all the way through to his Ph.D studies.] My master degree training in public policy taught me that you can never fully read on all major public policy issues. There is just too much out there. So, such as statement is absurd. I’m only now coming close to fully reading all of the major works in one major public policy area-[Calvinist Friend’s field]. That has taken me four years of Ph.D. training to do. You’re either reading selective works on the areas you mention or you are being deceptive in stating that you are fully versed on all of the major public policy areas. I recognize the academic “whip it out and show how big it is” when I see it. I mean no offense but your training and extra-curricular reading doesn’t impress me. I don’t expect that mine would impress you either, except that to say I can “whip it out” with the best of them.

Since you specifically mentioned the death penalty as an example of one public policy area that you are nearly completely versed on, I’d love to take you to task on that one. I’m gonna take a wild guess that you are opposed to the death penalty. I’m sure you’ve read Ehrlich’s work from the 1970’s which found a significant deterrent effect for the death penalty and was instrumental in the supreme court decision to reinstate it. You may have read all of the liberal-minded criminologists since Ehrlich who have tried to point out methodological weaknesses of his study and have concluded that the death penalty does not in fact deter. But you surely have also seen the recent meta-analysis by Yang and Lester in which they find that the bulk of published studies indeed find a statistically significant deterrent effect for the death penalty. Or maybe you are opposed to the death penalty on other grounds. I’d be happy to debate you on this.

You suggest that people from my perspective never get their work published in peer-review journals and offer that as proof against my point of view (here you go again with logic fallacies). The reason that many who subscribe to my worldview do not get published in peer-reviewed journals is exactly because of the established politics of academia that Ben Stein outlined in his movie. It exists and you know it. I’ve seen people not get published because the journal editor didn’t like them, even when the reviewers sent back overwhelmingly positive feedback on their papers being reviewed. It happens a lot, and unfortunately academia is an environment dominated by those who subscribe to your worldview and use their position to suppress knowledge. This is the height of anti-intellectualism and it’s taking over our major universities. This is not a conspiracy theory, I have witnessed it first-hand and can provide you several good examples from personal experience. You probably don’t see it because you’ve been taught it, you completely buy into it, you’re a “believer”.

You are right in your one comment that I have not fully read some of the articles that you provided links to. When pressed for time as I am, what with raising 3 little girls, holding a full-time job, and working on my Ph.D., you learn to skim articles quickly to get the major points. So yes, I did not read the articles you linked me to in their entirety, but I am confident that nothing I would read would change my assessment of the position or provide any further proof for which I could not point you to a credible rebuttal.

You are wrong that atheism is not a religion. It may come in a lot of shapes and sorts, but it’s a religious belief to believe that there is no god. Just as Christianity comes in many denominations, so atheism can come in many variants. But atheists and agnostics rely no less on faith than do Christians. I assume you do not believe that “God created the heavens and the earth”. So here’s a concrete area that we can debate. How do you believe that the universe came into existence? If your answer is anything other than an intelligent designer then you will ultimately have to conclude that something came from nothing. “Something from nothing” is an absurdity that is logically impossible. The problem with many Darwinian scientists who try to tackle these issues is that they believe themselves above any worldview, strict empiricists who “let the data guide them”. This kind of positivism was never embraced by most scientists throughout history and is naïve. Every human being carries certain pre-conceived notions. Every scientist has an epistemology of knowledge that he or she embraces. I would really like to hear your further thoughts in this whole area and debate you, because in the end I find your rejection of Christ and Christianity more disturbing than any difference we have in political or public policy views.

And to your comment on Martin Luther, you state that he is from my “branch of Christianity”. I am not a Lutheran. I am a Presbyterian (PCA). So there, you can go and google some ill-informed attacks on John Calvin. I’d love to hear what you come up with. Surprise me. You state that I need to go to “qualified sources” to get my information. So what would those qualified sources be? Are qualified sources the ones that agree with you? Provide me with some examples of qualified sources that don’t agree with you, because surely they exist? You see where I’m going. You are making a value statement by calling your sources qualified and discounting my sources. You already used wikipedia on me once, so I’m already skeptical.

I would be happy to point you to some references that I consider qualified if you are intellectually honest enough to consider them. In the area of religion/worldview/theology, I would start by recommending the podcast of Dr. R.C. Sproul entitled “Renewing Your Mind”. Dr. Sproul has some excellent series. One series traces the history of western thought. Another series traces the major “isms” throughout history. Dr. Sproul often discusses formal rules of logic in his talks, and I rely heavily on his work in debating atheists/agnostics such as yourself.

In closing, I want to repeat that policy/politics are one thing, but you your rejection of Christ is quite another. In the end it saddens me to hear of your rejection of Christ. It makes me wonder how you could have come to such a point, after being raised by parents of faith and being surrounded by people of faith at least through high school.

The Chaplain:

I will avoid guessing at your personal motivations, since it is impossible to do so (I have no training in psychology or therapy–based on what you said, neither do you.) It is also rather judgmental, at least for a Chrisitan. Your opinion about me is not even vaguely correct or interesting to read. I skimmed through the rest of the post after your first paragraph, and I am not interested in hearing repeats of earlier points. Feel free to browse the archive on my http://www.fffmks.wordpress.com blog. I have already addressed the points you raise. The site was created so I could avoid rewriting the same thing to those people I know who believe in magic and the supernatural. When you have evidence to suggest that your god is more real than Shiva, Ganesh, the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Zeus, feel free to let me know. Until that day, please don’t browbeat me because I refuse to believe what is patently ridiculous. Those who believe in fairies and magic shouldn’t walk around with chips on their shoulders. It makes what is merely slightly ridiculous appear insane.

Calvinist Friend:

Just as I suspected. You’re an intellectual coward. You respond with another ad hominem attack instead of addressing the points I raise or engaging me in an intellectual debate. I browsed your blog and found no answers to my questions here either (by the way, your interpretation of the facts of that demon possession story from ICA are a bit different from mine as I remember it, but that’s a different subject). So are you really just going to ignore my questions? You said previously that you would engage me in a debate if we stuck to specific topics. Now you seem afraid to do so. You can call what I believe in superstitious and call me all sorts of names and brush me off and use the word “ridiculous” until you are blue in the face, but what do you have to offer in defense of your perspective? What of my question on how the universe came into existence? What position do you hold on this? What evidence do you have to support that position? You ask me to come back with evidence for my God. My response is to ask you what you will accept as evidence? Typically people such as yourself only accept select, narrow evidence (such as empirical evidence) and choose to ignore other sorts of evidence. In the end, it’s not a matter of evidence (which there is plenty of), it’s a matter of the heart. You are so firmly opposed to your former beliefs that you refuse to see any evidence in its support. At the root of it, you need heart surgery before you have mind surgery. So what will you do? Brush me off or go back through my last post and respond to the specific questions I ask? Come on, prove me wrong. You offer no proof on your blog site.

The Chaplain:

You like to guess at my motivations, don’t you?

My response to how the universe came about is addressed on my website. I realize there is a lot to go through on that site, so I will say briefly that science currently has no definitive answer to that question. As you know, there are several workable models, the most promising of which is the Big Bang theory. Prior to the existence of the “singularity,” there are multiple theories. Some scientists argue that there has always been a process of expansion and contraction, meaning that the Big Bang was only one out of an infinite number. All of this is a moot point though, since more data needs to be gathered before a theory can claim dominance. I’m pretty sure you know all this. The reason I am not too interested in discussing it with you is because of the type of argument you are trying to make: the “God of gaps” argument. deusYou want to argue that since science cannot provide you with a definitive answer for some questions you have about the universe, that this must mean it is deus ex machina time. Suddenly, the gap in human knowledge about the universe should be filled with your belief in magic and the supernatural. Not any supernatural deus ex machina will do; it has to be the supernatural beliefs that your parents introduced you to. Perhaps it is a bit clearer why I want to avoid going down this tiresome road of argument again. (i.e. Science does not claim to be able to answer all questions–it never has. It’s goal is to search for answers to the questions we have. The fact that science cannot explain everything means nothing. You want it to mean something, since your belief system claims to hold the key to all knowledge and understanding: Truth with a capital T.)

Now I have a question for you: I have in my hands a text that claims within its pages that it is the holy word of Zerisut. I believe everything this text says about the nature of the universe and the one true God, Zerisut. Could you please prove me wrong when I quote the holy word of Zerisut? Here is the applicable quote: “Zerisut whipped the wind into a frenzy of holiness and gave birth to the Earth.” Go ahead, prove me wrong.

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One Response to “Angry Conversations with a Childhood Friend & Calvinist: Part II”

  1. JN said

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