I continue my review of Chaz Bufe’s 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity.
This time around, we look at Chaz’s third reason for abandoning Christianity: the charge that Christianity is dishonest. I won’t quote the entire argument because the first paragraph is just a mindless rant rehashing his first two reasons and then he moves into why he thinks Christianity is dishonest:
3. Christianity is based upon dishonesty … How deep dishonesty runs in Christianity can be gauged by one of the most popular Christian arguments for belief in God: Pascal’s wager. This “wager” holds that it’s safer to “believe” in God (as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God might exist, and if it does, it will save “believers” and condemn nonbelievers to hell after death. This is an appeal to pure cowardice. It has absolutely nothing to do with the search for truth. Instead, it’s an appeal to abandon honesty and intellectual integrity, and to pretend that lip service is the same thing as actual belief. If the patriarchal God of Christianity really exists, one wonders how it would judge the cowards and hypocrites who advance and bow to this particularly craven “wager.”
In my opinion, his point should be re-titled “Christianity is based upon cowardice.” Chaz doesn’t honestly deal with anything dishonest with Christianity at all. I am guessing he means “intellectual dishonesty?”
Any how, I find his comment that Pascal’s wager is one of the most popular arguments for belief in God rather amusing. Pascal’s wager? Is he kidding? Who has he heard using that argument? Maybe there are some Christian radio hosts? Maybe a priest?
I have never used that argument in any evangelistic apologetic encounter in my life, even when I was a young skull full of college age mush hassling sinners in a laundry mat with my Evangelism Explosion presentation. Nor, have I ever heard anyone use that argument in any fashion whatsoever either on the radio or from the pulpit – at least as a serious argument for why a person should believe in God. I haven’t even heard any of the most diehard classic apologists use that argument. I find it amazing, like when they discovered the coelacanth, that Chaz has actually spoken with Christians (if he is telling us the truth) who use Pascal’s wager as an apologetic argument.
Chaz’s ridicule of Christians invoking Pascal’s wager as the most popular arguments for Christian belief again demonstrates his self-imposed ignorance about what he is criticizing. Obviously he must not be too well read on Christian apologetics. Has he even read Greg Bahnsen? Listened to his debates with well known atheists? How about James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries? He has a lot of apologetic material on a variety of topics and I know with certainty he never has raised Pascal’s wager in a debate before. What about Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason ministries? He has a weekly radio program and an excellent website. I take issue with his classic apologetics, but by and large, his ministry is outstanding and he has never spoken of Pascal’s wager. At least to my knowledge.
Now interestingly, in his haste to make Christians look as though they are slack-jawed, glassy-eyed dullards who give the appearance of being infested by brain slugs from outer space, Chaz makes some interesting comments in his paragraph above. He writes, “This “wager” holds that it’s safer to “believe” in God (as if belief were volitional!) than not to believe, because God might exist …”
As if belief were “volitional.” Let us pause a moment and soak that statement in. I am not certain Chaz realizes the face plant he is about to suffer; but that is to my advantage.
I checked my American Heritage Dictionary, the words belief and believe are defined as follows:
Belief, n. 1. Trust or confidence. 2. A conviction or opinion. 3. A tenet or a body of tenets.
Believe, v. 1. To accept as true or real. 2. To credit with veracity; have confidence in; trust. 3. To expect or suppose; think.
The word volition is defined as follows:
Volition, n. 1. An act of willing, choosing, or deciding. 2. The power or capability of choosing; will. 3. A conscious choice; decision.
There’s a couple things that could be going on here.
Perhaps Chaz is of the “belief” that belief, particularly religious belief, and the the act of deciding to believe something is true, are direct opposite. He isn’t quite clear as to what he “believes” with the distinction he makes between the two concepts, but he goes on to argue there is actual belief that pursues truth which will not abandon intellectual integrity. So he separates “belief” from intellectual integrity.
Or it may be that he is attempting to be consistent with his atheism. Can evolved, complex star dust that moved from being inanimate to animate entities, really have true “volition” as our definition defines it? You know, evolved, complex star dust having the capability to exercise will and make conscious decisions? Maybe Chaz sees the absurdity in that so he is acknowledging the stupidity of such a notion.
Whatever the case, in Chaz’s worldview, I am sure Jesus-hating anarchy involves genuine belief that pursues truth with intellectual integrity. If Chaz truly believes that, however, he needs to be reminded of some comments from fellow religious hating atheists. Thoughtful, truly intellectual atheists are rather forthright to admit their adherence to a “faith,” or what Chaz would consider “belief.”
Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin, writing in an old review of Carl Sagan’s anti-supernatural trope filled screed, Demon Haunted World, acknowledges:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to the understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science – in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. It is not that the method and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. [Cited in The Divine Challenge by John Byl, pg. 287]
And naturalistic philosopher, Thomas Nagel like wise states,
I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God. [Cited in The Divine Challenge, pg. 288]
So, in Chaz’s understanding are those guys who are quite candid as to the irrationality of their convictions dishonest cowards? When we really consider the facts, who is being dishonest? Bible believing Christians or materialistic, anarchist atheists?