|Parry! Thrust! Pray! Trust! I'm so fucking clever.|
But the difference from that situation and a typical one is that these two guys weren't trying to push their faith on us. They were trying to have a discussion and collect data. When that happens, I'm fine; but the moment they decide they're going to start pushing their beliefs on me is the moment I start pushing back. I'm defensive, but still militant.
Such was a situation that came upon me today. It was a day of involvement, where various clubs and organizations set up tables in the main campus building to attract students and find new membership. I don't like these days because it's almost always the case that every other student happens to vanish into nonexistence the moment I walk into the hallway, and so I'm always alone (or with my girlfriend) and having to walk down the center of the hall as the people from the tables turn into criers for one (or two), or just stare at us like creeps. Ew.
Today was different, though. Some guy happened to be standing out past the tables, and so was close enough to me to hand me a card with information about the club. I didn't want to just be rude, so I took it and thanked him. He just stared at me, menacingly. Ewww.
I looked at the card and laughed to myself. "Oh god," I thought, "here we go." It was a card from a global Christian apologetics movement. Ewwwww!
To the left, you'll see either side of the very nice card I received. On the bottom half is an introduction, along with the date and location of their meeting. Unfortunately that's tomorrow, dead smack overlapping my second class of the day, and so I won't be able to make it. Shame. I would've loved to be able to write a post about the actual arguments they make, but instead I'll have to comment on the bad job they did trying to sell their thoughts to me.
For those of you who can't read their introduction, I'll transcribe it here:
"Ratio Christi (Latin for "The Reason of Christ") is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ. RC student clubs meet regularly to bring together faith and reason in order to establish the intellectual voice of Christ in the University. We defend the truth of God, the Bible, and the Resurrection, while sharing Christ's message and love to skeptics. The Christian faith is rational and true - not blind!"
The intro is flawed for a lot of reasons. First of all, it claims to give "scientific reasons" for following Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, for an organization that is attempting to bridge faith and reason and has a lot of grounds in philosophy, this is a major breach of the is-ought gap. Assuming we could scientifically verify that Jesus Christ existed, that he was the son of God, and that the God of the Christian Bible exists and is the all-powerful, all-intelligent being that he is made out to be, it would still not give us any reason to follow him or his son. Quite frankly, even if God did exist, I wouldn't follow or worship any of the shit he brings to the table, because he's an asshole.
Thus their premise falls short immediately. They can't give any scientific reasons for following Christ because you cannot provide a scientific argument for the worship of something. This is purely an epistemological issue concerning belief and adherence to doctrine, not science. Science only seeks to explain things - it makes positive propositions, not normative ones.
At the end, it states in partially highlighted script: "The Christian faith is rational and true - not blind!" By definition, it has to be blind, because "faith" is trust in something without evidence (or is at least understood to be. Some definitions liken it to belief). The purpose of calling it the "Christian faith" is, once again, supposed to be an epistemological claim, not a scientific one. It's belief without evidence, but instead, some other type of warrant.
So color me unimpressed by their sales pitch, but I wanted to learn more about these guys. What type of apologists are they? Why do they try to draw a line between "blind faith" and regular faith? I guessed they were militant because of their description, but then I saw their tagline on the front of the card, "Taking back the mind of the university for Christ."
"Well, they already lost me," as my girlfriend put it.
|If you liked it then you shoulda put a crown on it.|
- "According to the Bible, we view marriage as a conjugal and covenantal union of one man and one woman, ordained by God from the creation of humanity, and historically understood by believers and non-believers alike, to be the most basic institution in society."
- "We specifically deny “theistic evolution,” yet realize that this is a position that must be vigorously debated in order to show the weaknesses in both the scientific and theological evidence for macro-evolution."
- "We believe that there is a personal devil who can exert vast power but only as far as God permits him to do so; that he shall ultimately be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone and shall be tormented day and night forever. Other, both good and evil, supernatural beings exist."
That last part really gets me. God allows Satan to corrupt human beings and exert his evil powers onto humanity. How benevolent. I don't know what they mean by "other supernatural beings," but I suppose angels and unicorns (no, seriously, look it up) are among them. That they don't believe in evolution is even more laughable. You're never going to take over universities by trying to disprove evolution. The biology department will rip your asshole out and crown you with it, then write "INRB" above your head (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Bardus, or "Here Lies Jesus, King Stupid" in really shitty Latin most likely). The same goes for opposing homosexuality. A quick note on evolution again, though, they've immediately done what every other apologist group promoting young earth creationism (YEC) does, and that's draw a functional line between macro- and micro-evolution. Presumably by stating their disbelief in macro-evolution, they are stating their belief in micro-evolution.
This is what's great about this part: an introductory level biology textbook could tell them why making such a dichotomy is fallacious. A quote from biologist Douglas J. Futuyama explains why this is the case (straight off of Wikipedia too!):
"One of the most important tenets of the theory forged during the Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s was that "macroevolutionary" differences among organisms - those that distinguish higher taxa - arise from the accumulation of the same kinds of genetic differences that are found within species. Opponents of this point of view believed that "macroevolution" is qualitatively different from "microevolution" within species, and is based on a totally different kind of genetic and developmental patterning... Genetic studies of species differences have decisively disproved [this] claim. Differences between species in morphology, behavior, and the processes that underlie reproductive isolation all have the same genetic properties as variation within species: they occupy consistent chromosomal positions, they may be polygenic or based on few genes, they may display additive, dominant, or epistatic effects, and they can in some instances be traced to specifiable differences in proteins or DNA nucleotide sequences. The degree of reproductive isolation between populations, whether prezygotic or postzygotic, varies from little or none to complete. Thus, reproductive isolation, like the divergence of any other character, evolves in most cases by the gradual substitution of alleles in populations."The only difference between macro- and micro-evolution is that of time, as many skeptics and scientifically literate individuals will tell you. There is no qualitative or functional difference between the two. Evolution is evolution, and evidence for one is evidence for the other. I know this is obvious to most of the people reading this, but I'm using these guys as a foil for typical creationist arguments. Don't give it much attention.
So what else did I find about them? Well from their page on apologetics and why they feel it's important, I found this (included in such a way that shows their disdain):
- 72.9% of professors at elite universities say that “The Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by men”
- 84.1% of professors disagree with the statement “The theory of intelligent design IS a serious scientific alternative to the Darwin theory of evolution”
- “. . .it is clear that on the whole, and measured in various ways, professors are less religious than the general U.S. population” . (p.9)
|Creationism is very scientific, just "like us!" I crack myself up.|
That's really all I have left to say on this matter. Like I said, I really wish I could attend their meeting to see what actual arguments they bring up - since then I could actually be talking about something of substance - but alas my work is more important than theirs. Yes, I just said that.
Thank you all for reading, and I'll see you next time!
Update (1/29/2015): I got to go to the meeting after all! I'll be writing a post about my experience in the next couple of days. Keep your eyes peeled. I'll link to that post here when it's finished. I promise it'll be more substantive than the post above.