Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Foolishness of Belief

My friend Josh Brisby at The Reformed Oasis recently made a post titled The Foolishness of Unbelief. In the post, Josh quotes Dr. Greg Bahnsen:

Dr. Greg Bahnsen made an excellent statement which I think sums up the foolishness of unbelieving thought. He said the following:

“It is not a mark of rationality for a person to assert one thing, but then to live contrary to it.”

He added,

“The life of the unbeliever is riddled with such inconsistency. He will presuppose human dignity and attend a funeral to honor a dead friend or relative, even though he previously argued that man is, in principle, no different from any other product of evolution like a horse or dog. The unbeliever will insist that man is nothing more than a complex of bio-chemical factors controlled by the laws of physics—and then kiss his wife and children when he goes home, as though they share love with each other. He will argue that in sexual relations ‘anything goes’ (there are no moral absolutes)—but then indignantly condemn child molesters or morally repudiate necrophilia. He will suggest that the things which happen in the universe happen randomly—by ‘chance’—but then turn around and look for regularities, law-like explanations of events, and uniformity or predictability in the things studied by natural science. The non-Christian does not have a workable worldview, and he exposes its weakness at every turn in his life.”


Josh then finished his post with a thanks to God and a prayer.

First, a few comments on Dr. Bahnsen's straw man of the unbeliever:

1) Unbelief does not contain a moral system within it, but that does not mean that unbelievers do not have a moral system. Unbelievers have a much wider variety of moral systems to choose (or not choose) than any man of faith has. And it shows, for there are many kinds of moral systems championed by many types of unbelievers. This blanket statement by Bahnsen is just as ignorant as saying something like, "All Mexicans are Mary-worshipping Catholic border jumpers".

2) Unbelievers do not all insist that man is nothing more than a complex of bio-chemical factors controlled by the laws of physics. Many unbelievers believe in free will for example. Calvinists cannot even make that claim.

3) Unbelievers do not believe in sexual relations that anything goes. In fact, I have never even met an atheist who feels this way, and I've met quite a few atheists. Again, this is as ignorant as claiming that all Mexicans are Catholic border jumpers.

4) Dr. Bahnsen has absolutely no understanding of the concept of chance and its relation to natural predictable behavior of material entities and their respective properties. Yet he relies on these things every time he places a Bible on a table assuming that gravity will keep it there (unless Dr. Bahnsen believes in Intelligent Falling).

I definitely agree with the first statement that Josh quoted, "It is not a mark of rationality for a person to assert one thing, but then to live contrary to it." But I most definitely disagree with the rest of the quote.

Allow me to toss in my own analysis of belief in the Biblical God, based on Dr. Bahnsen's statement that "It is not a mark of rationality for a person to assert one thing, but then to live contrary to it."

The life of the man of faith is riddled with such inconsistency. He will presuppose the sorrow of death and mourn at a funeral to honor a dead friend or relative, even though he previously argued that man's ultimate destination, Heaven, is so incredibly blissful that it makes Earthly life seem like Hell by comparison. The man of faith will insist that man is nothing more than a slave to God, wholly owned by God and owing all of his being, love, and consideration to God, and then the man of faith will commit daily actions that serve no other interest but his own: buying his favorite sports car, watching his favorite TV show, pursuing the woman that he is most attracted to, securing the most profitable business deal. All of these actions are committed solely for the man of faith's own personal values. The man of faith will argue that in sexual relations 'only married sex is moral sex' but will almost certainly have premarital sex and even cheat on his spouse. The Catholic Priests are the worst of the bunch, championing marriage-only sex in the Cathedrals while putting their hands down the pants of prepubescent boys. The profession of the Catholic Priest has the highest child molestation rate in the Western world, closely followed by the Protestant preacher profession. The man of faith will state that the things that happen in the universe happen because of God, but will then turn around and take direct action to serve his own needs, clearly implying that he subconsciously knows that he must take matters into his own hands if his values are to be fulfilled, rather than -in practice- 'giving it up to God'. The Bible never said, "God helps those who help themselves." The man of faith does not have a workable worldview, and he rarely attempts to conduct his life within that worldview anyway. The man of faith exposes the weakness of his worldview every time he commits an action other than prayer or Bible study.

11 comments:

breakerslion said...

"Oh I...could tell ya why...
the ocean's near the shore.
I could think of things I never thunk before,
and then I'd sit... and think some more."

We have to think up a term besides "straw man". It's too flattering, really. "Dumb fuck whistling through his asshole" comes to mind.... I think I'll dig up Bahnsen and see if he still wants to tell me what I think, a la the Monty Python sketch where they asked the late Reverend if there was life after death.

varkam said...

You'd best be careful with that Onion link Aaron, lest some bible-thumber confuse it for an actual media outlet.

olly said...

LMAO @ varkam, that would be hilarious.

Good post Aaron, and when I challenged Josh on this initially, he keeps begging the question. In my mind, Bahnsen made a deductive fallacy in this statement. When I asked Josh to tell me why that was, all he did was tell me to learn how to construct a syllogism.

Specifically, Bahnsen makes a logical error with the statement "The unbeliever will insist that man is nothing more than a complex of bio-chemical factors controlled by the laws of physics—and then kiss his wife and children when he goes home, as though they share love with each other.". I have yet to see Josh give me any logical way that the conclusion in this statement follows the premise.

The only argument here is one from induction... but even that is from weak induction based on faulty premises.

Blah, now I'm getting all irritated again, since Josh refuses to actually engage the questions I've posed him about this post!!!!

-olly

Sally said...

“The life of the unbeliever is riddled with such inconsistency. He will presuppose human dignity and attend a funeral to honor a dead friend or relative, even though he previously argued that man is, in principle, no different from any other product of evolution like a horse or dog."

I would like to say that if my dog died I would be extremely sad. Animals in the wild have been documented mourning the loss of a member of its pack.

So Dr. Bahnsen believes that if you are an unbeliever that all of a sudden feelings and emotions are zapped from your body and you become a cold uncaring android.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thanks for the comments everybody!

And good point Sally. Animals of all kinds, not just mammals, mourn the loss of a friend or family member.

But animals dont believe in Jesus Christ as their lord and savior, do they?

Drunken Tune said...

I've read a lot of responses to the claim that Dr. Bahnsen and other religious morons put forward, but I've got to say, as a first time reader of this blog, that you responded in an eloquent and comprehensive fashion I could only wish I could command. The answer to the insulting claim is simple enough, and if thousands upon thousands of men and women [with most of us present included] over the course of hundreds of years can independently discover the clay feet of this argument through logic, then the act itself of independent discovery gives more credence to the multitude of responses given to such an outrageous claim. This has to be a first time that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading such a response. You pulled no punches. Props to you, Kinney!

cay said...

holy shit. And I mean shit:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200607270001

Aaron Kinney said...

Wow, thank you Drunken Tune! Im glad you found my blog!

When it comes to God, religion, and the afterlife, I never pull a single punch. I think the name alone of this blog and its opening premise demonstrate this hard-hitting style of mine fairly well.

You should read some of my previous posts as well. You will be happy to know that I apply gratuitous amounts of logic, evidence, reason, and hard-hitting analysis to superstition in all of my posts.

I hope you come back often! :)

Aaron Kinney said...

Cay, thank you for that link. That is excellent.

In fact I think that I am going to make a post about it, delaying my planned posting about the Andrea Yates court case insanity verdict.

Keep on bringing me the goods, Cay! :)

lee woo said...

Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness. See the link below for more info.

#foolishness
www.matreyastudios.com

Leslie Lim said...

First time I commented in a blog! I really enjoy it. You have an awesome post. Please do more articles like this. I'm gonna come back surely. God bless.

www.imarksweb.org