We return once again to our critique of Chaz Bufe and his 20 Reasons to Abandon Christianity.
The fourth reason he claims we must abandon Christianity is that it is extremely egocentric. Only the first two paragraphs are relevant for our discussion here, so I will not cite the point in its entirety:
4. Christianity is extremely egocentric. The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well: “salvation of the soul” plain words, the world revolves around me.” It’s difficult to see anything spiritual in this desperate grasping at straws – this desperate grasping at the illusion of personal immortality.
Another manifestation of the extreme egotism of Christianity is the belief that God is intimately concerned with picayune aspects of, and directly intervenes in, the lives of individuals. If God, the creator and controller of the universe, is vitally concerned with your sex life, you must be pretty d*** important. Many Christians take this particular form of egotism much further and actually imagine that God has a plan for them, or that God directly talks to, directs, or even does favors for them. If one ignored the frequent and glaring contradictions in this supposed divine guidance, and the dead bodies sometimes left in its wake, one could almost believe that the individuals making such claims are guided by God. But one can’t ignore the contradictions in and the oftentimes horrible results of following such “divine guidance.” As “Agent Mulder” put it (perhaps paraphrasing Thomas Szasz) in a 1998 X-Files episode, “When you talk to God it’s prayer, but when God talks to you it’s schizophrenia. . . . God may have his reasons, but he sure seems to employ a lot of psychotics to carry out his job orders.”
One has to wonder if this particular point is Chaz’s attempt at a little comedic irony. Here we have a self-centered, egotistic atheist, whose egotism will become even more manifest as we move along through the remainder of his reasons to abandon Christianity, who is complaining that Christians are egocentric.
If you are claiming that Christianity is to be abandon because of all the stated problematic reasons, then from my vantage point as a Christian, I would think that you, the critic, should have in mind some alternative worldview with which to replace the Christian faith. There is really no sense in criticizing a belief system unless you are convinced you have a superior belief system with which to replace it.
I we can already guess from Chaz’s website, he believes people should embrace anarchy, communism, and free sex without consequence. But how exactly is that life philosophy not egocentric? It is purely egotism because Chaz wants to live a lifestyle that fits his personal desires and whims. Sure, those whims may not necessarily have some spiritual connection to a god, at least in Chaz’s mind, and he would argue his worldview allows the individual to choose his or her own desires without having to submit to any established rules or standards, but he is just as egocentric as the Christians he despises.
Setting aside the sheer irrationality and unworkablity of this belief system for the moment, regardless of what Chaz may believe, his is a philosophy strictly invented to serve the individual self. Or put another way, it is egocentric. He cannot escape that fact.
There really is not much here to comment upon, but Chaz does offer us a couple of thoughts.
First is his citation of Fredrich Nietzsche, the 19th century philosopher and progenitor of nihilism. Nietzsche was raised in a Lutheran home and his father was a Lutheran minister. When Nietzsche got older, he despised his Christian upbringing and became an angry, anti-theist as he exposed himself to the philosophies of modernism. If the internet had been around, he would have a blog blasting Fundamentalists and homeschoolers, as well as a Youtube channel hosting sophomoric videos explainging how Jesus never existed.
He developed a philosophy called “nihilism,” the idea that all values are baseless, that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, and that life itself is meaningless. Which, if Nietzsche is correct and that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, how then are we to understand his written works? His very own worldview? How exactly are they communicated? What about Chaz and his anarchist writings and worldview?
In order for a belief system to have merit, it has to be logical and workable. In other words, it has to provide a credible means to understand our existence, interact with reality, and answer the big questions in life like, “Why am I here?” “What is life about?” “How should I live?” Nihilism is irrational because it is unworkable. No one can honestly live in the real world, interact with real people, and be a genuine nihilist. A nihilist doesn’t even have a starting point to present its own ideas if no meaning or value can be assigned to anything. It’s like the scientific and medical plausibility of zombies.
Nietzsche became most known for his “God is Dead” philosophy. In his book, The Gay Science, he presents a “madman” who tells a group of town folks that we have killed God. Nietzsche, of course, didn’t believe God had actually died, because he didn’t believe He even existed in the first place. He was referring to the belief in God. In Nietzsche’s mind, our modern, “rational” world made God unbelievable. Society had progressed beyond a need for God, so as we became more cultured and more progressive, God died. His philosophy saw a resurgence of supporters in the 1960s and “God is dead” became a mantra for many leftist radicals who wished to over turn society.
That in turn leads us to the second thought we can take away from Chaz and his fourth point. He cites a quote from a X-files episode in which a character apparently disparages God by suggesting religious people are psychotics carrying out His orders. In other words, those who believe in God are prone to act violently and do terrible things to others. If the religious believers are crazy, then God must be crazy. I am sure Chaz would cite as examples witch burning, the Inquisition, and the current Islamic jihad as if all those things are one and the same with biblical, Christian faith.
Again, as I mentioned before, Chaz suffers from historical myopia – a blindness affecting the eyes of religious critics like ex-fundy bloggers who do not wish to criticize their own atheism. You see, Nietzsche’s nihilism leads to some horrifying logical conclusions, especially when they are allowed to play themselves out on a national level. Nihilism, in its practical form, believes that the destruction of existing political and social institutions is necessary for future improvement. Historically, that is exactly the kind of thinking driving the Marxists and Nazis during the early parts of the 20th century. The last time I checked the figures, just those two groups of non-religious nihilists, were responsible for the murder of millions of people, far surpassing the kind of crimes against humanity performed by the occasional religious psychotic. In short, we could safely say they were egocentric.