Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Faulty Logic of Deconstructing Christianity

Recently I have been reading several books that seek to “deconstruct” Christianity. I am reading these books in order to understand first hand why some people are so anti-god. I have noticed a number of similarities in these books. They are all written by people who had a connection with some type of highly formal church during their childhood but dropped out of church in their early adult life. They dropped out because that highly structured and often overly ritualistic church experience did not meet their spiritual needs. They falsely believe that their church experience is the norm for all churches and therefore conclude that no church can meet the spiritual needs of modern people. There are hundreds of millions of Christians around the world from a variety of religious backgrounds that would testify to the wrongness of that idea.

Another similarity is that they tend to find extreme examples of religious abuse and then try to make the case that the extreme is actually the norm. For example, most of them will refer to violence that has happened somewhere in the world due to religious extremism. They then wrongly conclude that all religious people are prone to violence. This could not be farther from the truth. This simply ignores the reality that the vast majority of the followers of all religions are non-violent. While there will always be some crazy person somewhere who uses religion, or money, or politics, or education, or legal technicalities to force their will on others, it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the quest for power.

Another similarity is that they omit any discussion of the weaknesses of non-religious people. As mentioned above, they will discuss in great detail the violence of a handful of religious extremists but fail to mention the violence of atheist governments such as China, Cuba or the former Soviet Union. These nations did terrible things to their own people in the name of atheism. And they were not led by a handful of extremists; they were led by large numbers of officials that enacted policies for the entire nation. Yet, somehow this fact escapes the notice of those who want to portray only religious people in a negative light.

But perhaps the saddest similarity I found in these books is their false assumption that their ideas are “logical” while religious ideas are “illogical.” The train of thought these anti-religious people create usually goes something like this:

1. There is evil in the world.
2. If God is real I feel that He would stop evil.
3. Since God has not stopped evil I feel that He either must not exist or if He does exist I feel He is not worthy to be followed.
4. Since I feel this way, everyone else should feel this way too.
5. If you don’t feel this way, you must be ignorant.

There are obvious variations on that flow of logic, but the basic ideas are the essentially the same. Anti-religious people say this is a logical conclusion based on reasoning and facts. But if you look at the flow of ideas carefully, it is not based on logic, but on feelings. They feel a certain way about God. They feel a certain way about people who believe in God. They think their feelings are “right” and everyone else’s feelings are “wrong.” But the whole argument is based on feelings. Feelings are not the same thing as logic, no matter who has them. In a pluralistic society, anti-religious people have the right to feel however they want to. But they do not have the right for force their feelings on other people under the guise of a thinly masked “logical” argument.

As I read through these books I have a great sense of sadness in my spirit for anti-religious people. Their books are filled with anger, frustration, misunderstanding and sometimes even depressing conclusions that would lead a person to despondency and despair. I am thankful that I have found a faith that satisfies me. I pray that those who have embarked on this journey toward emptiness will have a change of heart and discover the joy that faith brings to life.

Dr. T

21 comments:

  1. Jane Bryant McConnellOctober 22, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    Well said. I pity that these people do not know real peace and the satisfaction of a life in Christ.

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  2. I like this.

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  3. pretty well said, there, Terry.

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  4. Postmodernism = a departure from reality.

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  5. I've read some of those books. They are filled with half truths and distortions. Thanks for articulating these points so well.

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  6. Do you wonder if anti-religious people had some kind of bad experience with religion? Like maybe they were abused by a priest or something like that? It seems that something must have happened to make them turn away from God.

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  7. Just finished a paper on religious pluralism, their solution is to nullify hell and the judgment. America is becoming very anti-Christian rather quickly.

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  8. They want to get rid of any kind of judgment because they do not want to feel guilty for their actions. But the law of God is written on our hearts and people who have never been to church still feel guilt over their sin. So their efforts to eliminate their guilt will not work apart from Christ.

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  9. I like these ideas.

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  10. I agree with you 100% Terry.

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  11. Thank you for including me among your readers. The last little argument you cited gets to the heart of why many find embracing God irrational. I don't think, however, that the argument needs to rely on our feelings. I think we can do a better job outlining the skeptic's reasons for rejecting a good and all-powerful Creator. So I posted a different, more sophisticated, version of this problem of evil in my notes, should you want to look it over.

    http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=313426970332#/notes.php?id=549939648

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  12. Thad,
    Thanks for your input. I went to the link and read your more sophisticated version. Deeep stuff. Two key issues with your flow of logic listed on your link is that it leaves out the "love" factor of God and the "free will" factor of people. When you put the two together, you have to add this point in somewhere along the way in your arguement:

    Because God is a God of love, He allows people to have free will. If He did not let them have free will, they would be essentially robots, and you can't love a robot. But once a God of love allows humans to have free will, then the "perfect" world in which God would like us to live suddenly devolves to something less perfect. That less perfect world has many evil elements, which come from the choices that humans make due to their free will.

    Does an all powerful God have the power to remove evil from the world? YES!

    But will HIs love allow HIm to remove evil? No

    Why? because that would make us robots and you can't love a robot

    Therefore God, in HIs love for us, allows us to make our own choices, which are often wrong. God then spends considerable energy trying to help us get back to where we need to be, which is in a love relationship with Him.

    What do you think? Can you work that into your philosophical arguement?

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  13. You guys are deep. Glad there are smart people to figure all this stuff out for us little people.

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  14. Logic is okay I guess, but I have experienced God. You can argue about all the logic you want, but I know God is real because I have experienced His power in my life.

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  15. We live in a sad world and it seems so much is based on non truths of what real Christianity really is. How sad. I am thankful too that I have a strong foundation in the real Truth, God's Word and a church who teachs this truth.

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  16. I encourage you to read this thought provoking article:
    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2006/11/27/deluded-dawkins

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  17. What an excellent review. Thanks Terry.

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  18. Your conclusion on Dr. Botham's link really makes me think. Still not sure I agree with you, but it does force me to stop and consider your perspective.

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  19. Thanks for info. I am reading George Barna's "The Seven Faith Tribes". It's very revealing.

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  20. I have always thought these objections were based on reasoning. But I can see why you would think they are based on feelings since so many people who oppose Christianity are filled with anger. I wonder if it is possible to have an honest discussion about these things without either side getting angry?

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