Is Biblical Faith Rational?

A response to a Christian claiming biblical faith is rational.

This notion that faith is rational is a new invention recently promoted by apologists who increasingly find the irrational faith happily promoted for centuries untenable in a world that increasingly values rationality. This might be considered a good step in a good direction were it not so mendaciously inconsistent with what the bible says about faith. Until recently, faith was proudly considered to be an irrational commitment to some god, and the more the gulf between your faith an the evidence, the more virtuous you were. Luther called reason a “whore”, a consistent notion throughout all the history of christianity. Were the millions of christians consciously and proudly accepting Jesus based on this irrational faith actually damned to hell? Are you willing to say that, those now admitting their faith is irrational, can not be real christians?

In the bible you actually have a man coming to Jesus to request that he heal his son. When Jesus asks whether he believes, he actually responds, “Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief”. This is biblical faith; when in doubt about the credibility of someone, ask that someone to help you believe more. Jesus also blesses those who believe without actually seeing the evidence rather than those who request evidence.

Your claim that your faith is rational would seem much less dishonest if you were first teaching little children the foundation of rationality BEFORE you introduced them to your particular god. However, what you are doing is the opposite; you first get them to commit to “Jesus”, then build your “rationality” around that. Do you understand how absurd it then sounds when you claim your faith is based on rationality?

Finally, simply consider where prior commitments to faith or rationality take people. Those who contemplate gods prior to learning rationality often end up believing quite the opposite to someone doing the same on the other side of the world. In contrast, those who are first introduced to the basics of rationality BEFORE they are introduced to various notions of god tend to converge in their conclusions; most consider a personal god improbable, and an Einsteinian god uncertain. Simply consider the converging philosophies of all the world’s scientists who grew up in various religious contexts, yet were taught the proper need for rationality prior to assessment.

So, this silly claim that your faith is rational does not stand up historically, biblically, nor experimentally, and runs counter to your own practice of promoting your god to children before equipping them with the tools of rationality.

Salvaging Santa

This year has been a bit disappointing for Santa believers. Fewer and fewer souls seem to be taking the Santa story seriously. Anti-santaists have been enticing young minds away from the Christmas magic that has been essential in the maintenance of a healthy society. They ridicule Santa as a myth, along with all the accompanying concepts that have given us warmth and comfort for all these years. They actually suggest that the notion of a Santa rewarding only “good” children is not necessary to rearing well-behaved children. They are constantly asking for evidence of our Santa, not understanding that there would be no magic if Santa was subject to scientific scrutiny.

If we are to save our Santa culture from this insidious secularism that makes mockery of our faith, we need to acknowledge our weaknesses, and adapt to the changing cultural climate. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Place Santa out of the reach of science.
    Some point to what they consider the absurdity of a voluminous man descending a narrow chimney and other mysterious aspects of Santa. Here are a few ways to deal with this form of persecution.

    • Announce that Santa’s magic is far above human understanding. Santa, in his infinite magic, can fatten flues at will, create chimneys where there are none, and leave everything intact as if he had never descended from the roof at all. Ask the secularists how they even dare with their puny minds to question the magic of our Santa.
    • Call problematic parts of the Santa story figurative. Suggest that the notion of “descending the chimney” is a metaphor of Santa’s intent. He actually may come through a window. What matters is that the presents are there in the morning. In doing this, never submit a standard for discerning between literal and figurative elements of the Santa story. That will make it convenient for you to choose which is which as aplogetics needs arise.
    • Remind non-believers that, if the Santa story could be tested and confirmed, we couldn’t employ the faith that feeds the magic. Accuse them of not listening to the clear voice of Santa that each of us carries deep in our hearts if we only listen with open minds.
    • Affirm the magic. Point out all the cases in which reindeer dung was found on roof tops. Suggest that any father who would simply throw dung on his roof in an attempt to create the illusion of a rangiferine landing would have to be either a lunatic or liar. The only sensible inference is that Santa’s sleigh had indeed visited your house.
    • Belittle science and its tools. Point out that science is often wrong and is therefore not an appropriate method to assess the magic of Santa. Claim that statistics are a silly invention, and strongly affirm the idea that anything can be “proven” through statistics. The stronger you affirm this, the more true it will become. In this way, reports that suggest poorer (not misbehaving) children receive fewer presents can be dismissed. If secularists suggest this is not logical, claim that Santa logic is not the same as secular logic, but don’t bother explaining how.
    • Suggest that science and magic fall into two non-overlapping domains. Declare that scientific methodology cannot assess the wonderment of magic. When asked about specific claims of Santaism that seem to fall within the reach of science, offer evasive permutations of the particular doctrine to make it impotent and thus unassailable. Fudging a bit on exegesis is forgivable if the net result is an increase in believers.
    • Disparage the notion of belief based on “evidence”. This is becoming one of the most troubling issues that has already led to the apostasy of thousands. You’ll hear secularists claim that the degree of confidence in an idea should match the degree of the evidence. Where is the magic in that? Evidence only goes so far and is largely linear. How can belief be linear? Choose a side! Unless we go beyond the evidence with faith, we would be left saying “I don’t yet know” on many questions, a wholly unacceptable option.
  2. Exercise the right to arbitrarily define true Santaism.
    You’ll often hear accusations that Santanists do not behave any better than non-believers. Here you’ll want to point out the fallacy in this accusation by simply explaining that those who don’t act like Santanists are not real Santaists. This will prevent your opponent from citing anecdotes, and require him to lean on statistics that require a substantial sample that you can then simply dismiss as not representative of Santaism. If your opponent then demands positive evidence for superior behavior among Santaist, simply offer a few anecdotes as proof.
  3. Appeal to what people already know in their hearts.
    There are times when you may simply ignore the anti-santa arguments. Every person knows deep in his heart that Santa is real. Presuppositional affirmations are the way to go. This is economical in that it minimizes potential cognitive dissonance that may creep in through cracks in your counter-arguments, and eliminates the expenditure of contemplation that distracts from faith in Santa, and may even lead to doubting.
  4. Emphasize emotions.
    Fortunately, Christmas is replete with salient sensations that easily form a sense of identity, of belonging, and also address dozens of other emotional needs. We know through a feeling of certainty that emotions are a legitimate validator of what is true, so regardless of the apparent power of the secularist’s arguments, this emotional validation is what will vanquish the doubts that have destroyed the magic in so many young lives. And perhaps the greatest argument you can make is to ask weak believers if they would want to live in a world that had no magic. Ask them if they want to grow up to become merely scientists restricted by the parameters of materialism. Emphasize the rigor and critical thought required by those who have abandoned magic and have endeared themselves to rational thought. Above all, emphasize the personal relationship believers have with Santa. Have them make psychological investments by writing Santa letters for years, then remind them of this and of all other psychological investments at any point in which their faith is weak. Remind them that Santa’s apparent silence is simply a test of their faith or an indication that their requests are selfish. And always return to the assurance that emotions are a legitimate way to confirm the truth of their faith.

If we can only employ these noble tactics, Santa will not dissipate into a distant cultural memory as has the Easter Bunny. May Santa bless us all.

Which Side Of Reality?

I recently received a note from a very nice Christian that contained the following.

No matter who has wronged you as a Christian or how God has disappointed you that you work so hard to explain Him away, He still loves you and wants to live with you forever. So do I!

Please forgive me for offending you.

I responded as follows.

No problem, ——.

I once said the very same things to others.

As you know, many gods have been explained into existence, and the christian god takes many forms in the imaginations of its emotionally needy constituents.

Pause to think about your motivations. Would you want to live in a world where there was no god? Do you want to live in an immoral world that has no moral accountability?

Your reactions to these questions are also based on the lies that you have been taught, coupled with your imagination and a lack of interest in empirical data.

Your entire concept of self and of others is informed by the bible and your emotionally based imagination.

Continue reading

The Failures Of Fig Trees

figsJesus and I both like figs. But I have never in my life cursed a fig tree.

“And when [Jesus] saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.”

(Matthew 21:19)

Jesus is hungry. He sees a fig tree. But it has no figs! Now why would a fig tree not have figs? Any decent fig tree ought to know that Jesus would be walking by hungry. It most assuredly deserves to be cursed.

But wait. There is another account that might give us more perspective.

“And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever.”

(Mark 11:12-14a)

It was not fig-bearing season! But is this an excuse? Not in the mind of Jesus.

It did not matter that Jesus himself, if claims of his deity are accurate, made the fig tree and scheduled its fig-bearing season.

It did not matter that no fig tree, due to the nature of fig trees, had ever borne fruit out of season. This one should have realized the needs of its Lord and have submitted to his will.

Jehovah also made humans if the bible is to be believed. The nature with which he made us is clear from other verses.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one”

(Romans 3:10)

Our nature is to sin. We did not have a choice in this nature. Yet, just as with Jesus and the fig tree, our nature is no excuse in the mind of Jehovah. We rightfully deserve eternal damnation. Most christians believe that one sin committed by a creature with the nature to sin is deserving of eternal damnation. This is a bankrupt and incoherent notion from a bankrupt book of absurd fiction.

The bible is bunk.