Wednesday, January 27, 2010

TF - Chapter 4 part 4

"Why Truth Matters" is what Colson names this next section.

I agree with his first claim, that the truth is the heart of what they believe. Of course I would quantify that with what they claim to believe. The first claim he makes I really don't understand. Colson claims that postmodern Christianity is similar to Montanism. The reason Montanism was considered a heresy was because they believed that sins could not be forgiven. What this has to do with moral relativism, I have no clue.

According to Colson the only thing worse than being like a heresy such as Montanism is becoming more like the theological liberalism of the 19th century. Colson even condemns these theological liberals of claiming that the only way for someone to truly know Christ is too experience him for themselves, meaning an inward reflection. Colson never says why this is bad except that it is eroding conservative churches. I have a feeling why he lists this first as the problem. Colson is part of the Family. They are a group of Christians who are all politcally motivated. They are also all conservatives. This is all about Colson wanting to keep power for himself and his cronies. To do that he is demonizing, quite literally, any liberal idea. Colson provides no evidence, even Biblical evidence (partly because Jesus has some very liberal ideas and the early church were communists), to show why liberal thinking is bad. To me, this is just a blatant attempt at a power grab. Colson finishes this part by claiming liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all but another religion entirely. No True Scotsman Christian would ever be liberal!!!

His next claim is "Without Truth the Gospel would be Perverted".  Actually it would just mean the Gospel is false.  What Colson claims is that without some absolute truth given by God then we cannot even love our neighbors fully.  He references a quote by Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., where she states the mission of the church is to love each other instead of bickering over doctrine.

But as we have seen, right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor Schori would like to see practiced.  And without first loving God, the first commandment she ignored, we can't love our neighbor with the consistency and stamina this world demands.  (Bishop Schori's answer reveals that the current fracturing of the Episcopal Church is not primarily over gays being ordained, but over the authority of Scripture.)

So much stupid, so little time.  First, just because in this one snippet of a quote Bishop Schori (because that is what she is whether you like it or not) did not mention loving God, does not mean that she does not love God enough.  I fully expect Colson to preface everything he talks about now with how we should love God.  Like in this article by Colson.  He quotes Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King said it beautifully: He whom you would change, you must first love.

Well obviously Martin Luther King was wrong because he is patently ignoring the first commandment (as stated by Jesus in Matthew 22:34-40).  Oh wait this comment supports Colson's ideologies so it is okay.

Second, just saying that someone can't love their neighbor "with the consistency and stamina this world demands" without God is demonstrably wrong.   Does anyone really believe that Christians are the only people on the planet that can love their neighbor consistently?  Amnesty International, Red Cross (especially its founder Clara Barton), Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), and many many others would all like to have a word with Mr. Colson.  (This point is especially poignant in light of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti just the other day.)

Third, when did Colson ever prove "right doctrine leads to the love of neighbor"?  In fact when has he ever even stated what "right doctrine" was?  So far all he has done is attack straw men of his critics and tell stories of history made up in the mind of a non-historian.  Nothing in this book so far has even labeled what is and is not right doctrine.  I would think that was all a book titled The Faith: Given once, for all - Jude 3 would be concerned with, not avoiding the issue altogether.  Then again, I can give a pass for this as this is only Chapter 4 and page 65 of 225 (29% of the way through).

Fourth, I love Colson's condemnation of them and deflection of what he really is against.  Saying that they arguing against scripture not about gays.  This similar to calling an atheist a fool, then saying that you didn't say it you are only quoting scripture.  It always warm the cockles of my heart to see that great example Christians set in accordance with scripture (Titus 2:7-8).  Colson claims he is not condemning homosexuality here but that scripture does and Bishop Schori is wrong according to scripture.  Yes, Bishop Schori, who earned her Master of Divinity in 1994, knows less about scripture than Chuck Colson and his Juris Doctor law degree.*  For some reason I am going to take her word over Colson's word when it comes to scripture.

Colson goes on to write that this perverts the church. Claiming that therapy takes the place of truth, and that "we learn how to cope with our problems instead of curing them."  I don't think Colson knows what therapy means.  From

 1. the treatment of disease or disorders, as by some remedial, rehabilitating, or curative process:    speech therapy.

2. a curative power or quality.
3.  psychotherapy.

4. any act, hobby, task, program, etc., that relieves tension.

Therapy is a curative process, just because you don't "believe" in it doesn't make it so.  In fact, therapy is exactly what you, Chuck Colson, do in your Prison Fellowship program. Words have meanings.

Colson's next part is called "Rejection of truth Results in Biblical Illiteracy".  Here he claims that abandonment of the Truth (interpreted by him as the Bible) creates biblical illiteracy.  Well that is a no brainer considering his definition of truth equals the Bible.  In other words, what Colson said was abandonment of the Bible leads to biblical illiteracy.  He also claims, without any referenced sources, that most people think "God helps those who help themselves" is a biblical statement (it was written by Ben Franklin and Franklin was not a Christian).  Colson then makes the statement that only 1% of adult believers believe or accepted all 13 basic teachings from the Bible.  Again Colson does not tell us what those 13 teachings are or who decided them, nor does he reference where he got this 1% number.  So again we have Colson telling us the world is evil because he says it is evil and you need to listen to the Bible because he says so, but he doesn't have any real time to explain why.  So I guess I have to assume that why is coming at some point in this book.

The next section is much longer and entitled "Rejection of Truth Leads to Ethical Confusion".  It is longer because it is about gays.  According to Colson, denial of God's revelation, i.e. the Bible, destroys any attempt at dealing with ethical questions.  Basically if you don't believe the Bible is true, you are an unethical baby killer or something.  He never says why but just goes on saying that it is self evident when concerning gays.  Then Colson tells another one of his little anecdotes without names or places.  He claims a doctor, who was a Real True Christian (tm) (Colson spouts off the checklist for the doctor), asked him about homosexuals point out that it seems to be a natural instinct and desire.  Colson responds with nu-huh, God says it isn't natural.  That argument doesn't even look good typed out and framed by Colson.  So Colson goes into the Bible verses that prove his point (only if you consider the Bible a perfect authority on such things of course).  He reiterates the "look at the trees" argument for proof of God citing Romans 1.  Ending with the Romans 1:24-27, where he writes it out as:  "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity ... their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones ... [and] the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another."  Obviously, he is skipping some stuff, here is the full verses of Romans 1:18-31:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

So according to Paul of Tarsus (the author of the book of Romans), people became homosexuals because they stopped worshiping God and started worshiping false gods.  They also became "filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless."  Yeah that pretty much describes every gay person I have ever met, wait no it doesn't.  It is odd that Colson doesn't mention these other characteristics or the why God gives them over.  It is almost as if he is cherry picking or quote mining what he wants from the Bible.  Furthermore, why doesn't Colson advocate the killing of homosexuals?  It is in the Bible and the Bible is the Truth (with a capital tee).  When the death penalty for homosexuals was proposed in Uganda, Colson ran as far away from it as possible.  It is as if he thought the Bible was not right about killing homosexuals, even though it says to do it.  Colson was quoted as saying:

Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University Timothy George, and Princeton University professor Robert P. George said in a statement that the bill "is a source for grave concern."

"The harshness of these proposals is, we believe, inconsistent with a Christian spirit of love and mercy," they said. "Measures must be taken to encourage faithful marital love and to discourage sexual immorality of every type. It is critical, however, that these measures be shaped in a just and Christian manner, and not in a punitive spirit. Harshness and excess must be avoided."

Colson told CT that he spoke against the legislation because it addresses human rights, a universal, moral question. "When you’re talking about human rights and liberty, they’re inherent to the presentation of the gospel. I wouldn't see this as singling out anyone," he said. "If you put a person in prison for life for an act of homosexual behavior, that is horrendous, that is so harsh. It’s totally contrary to the Christian understanding of the compassion."

Colson said the statement was created after he helped draft the Manhattan Declaration, a call to reaffirm Christians stance on abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious liberty. "Those of us who have a platform and those of us particularly who are talking about marriage at the moment have an obligation to speak out on it," he said. "There will be differences, and some people will call it meddling. But that’s okay. We'll get by."

If the death penalty were removed from the bill, Colson said he is not sure whether he would still oppose the law.
"I can’t say that I think civil prohibitions against homosexual behavior are morally wrong. I can’t say that because we had the anti-sodomy law for years in America for years. If I lived in those states, I probably would not have probably voted for them, but I could understand why people would legislate in this area, even for public health reasons," he said. "I think I would be opposed to legal sanctions against people who are private, consensual sexual behavior." -
 That is weird, when it comes to actually putting "the Truth" to the pavement, Colson backs as far away as he possibly can.  Like his morals have evolved from that of the Ancient Hebrews.  That's unpossible because that would mean Colson is a moral relativist and he clearly states that is anti-biblical.

Colson next talks about Rick Warren appearing on Larry King's show.  Rick apparently made the comment: "stand a naked man and a naked woman together and you can see how God has designed us."  Colson then says Larry was speechless.  Well yeah, this is one of the most monumentally ludicrous things to say.  In that case stand a naked woman and a male Orangutan together and you can see how the Orangutan has a penis that will fit the woman also, but that is an abomination.  Just as it is also ludicrous to claim that homosexuality isn't natural.  If it is not natural why is it observed in several different species naturally?  Or what about whiptail lizards, which are all female, they have sex with one another to stimulate ovulation and thus have fatherless children?

Colson ends this section with a red herring and a pseudo attempt to poison the well.  He talks about AIDS.  He doesn't say why AIDS is linked to anything about homosexuality, instead it is just implied that AIDS is a homosexual disease.  This is not true.  Colson is just an ass.  He points out that Catholics run the most AIDS charities in the US.  That is true, but they also use that charity to try and blackmail city councils.  So yes, AIDS charity is something that needs to be taken away from these theological bullies.  More people should give to secular AIDS charity groups like the Treatment Action Campaign.

Only one more post for the end of Chapter 4 and it will be to take on Colson's "successful" Prison Fellowship ministries.

*No, this is not an appeal to authority, because Schori has an actual degree in the subject being referenced.  It is similar to citing a biologist when discussing biology.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TF - Chapter 4 part 3

So after lying about what the Bible says and then making some weird unsubstantiated remark about skepticism, Colson ends this part of the section saying that the world is not like the Matrix. That is right we are not living in a computer simulated world and our bodies being harvested as batteries. Okay that was a cheap shot and slightly uncalled for. Although he did say that the Matrix was widely popular on American campuses, I think it was more popular than just that but whatever. What he meant is that we are not just a brain in a jar, that our senses are reliable and what we see is really real. The only support for this is because the Bible says so.

To be perfectly honest, we cannot know for 100% certainty that we are not a brain in a jar. That does not mean that the brain in a jar scenario is a good explanation. It is unfalsifiable and falsifiability is part of a good explanation. If something cannot be proven false then you can never know if it is true. Take Bigfoot for example. If Bigfoot exists, then we should find some evidence of its existence. So we should be able to capture it, but we have not. The claim for not being able to capture it, is because it is very elusive. So capturing would conclude there was such a creature but not capturing one does not make Bigfoot false. Then we are bound to find bones or droppings from Bigfoot. Yet again not finding these things does nothing to falsify Bigfoot. There are many reasons for why you won't find these things given, but the main problem is that it is impossible to prove a universal negative. So to prove that Bigfoot doesn't exist, there would have to be a claim about Bigfoot that can be repeatedly tested that would prove or disprove Bigfoot. No such claim is ever made. Thus Bigfoot is unfalsifiable. The concept of being a brain in a jar falls into the same category along with deities.

Now if someone was actually able to posit a claim that could confirm or deny the existence of a particular deity, then that would make the deity falsifiable. Some Christians start out saying that their God is falsifiable and make a claim that is supposedly falsifiable. Usually it is along the lines of the Bible is inerrant or the Bible claims this happened and thus God. Well in the case of the first claim, it fails from the start, because the Bible claims the Earth was created before the Sun. When you point this out to someone who makes this claim, they will immediately start denying facts. Thus making their claim once again unfalsifiable. As for the second claim, just because the Bible is right in one part does not mean it is right in the whole, nor because it is wrong in one part mean it is wrong in the whole. This is a logical fallacy known as the composition fallacy. Again this would make God unfalsifiable.

Unfalsifiable and lack of evidence are the main reasons why I deny most supernatural claims.

Next Colson claims Richard Dawkins denies truth. His basis for this is a quote from the Article "God vs. Science" in the November 2006 issue of Time Magazine. Here is what Colson says:

Richard Dawkins was asked in an interview with Time magazine whether good and evil have no meaning. Dawkins replied, "Even the question you're asking has no meaning to me. Good and evil - I don't believe there is hanging out there anywhere something called good and something called evil. I think that there are good things that happen and bad things that happen." The attacks of 9/11 are not intrinsically evil, and bringing relief to tsunami victims is not intrensically good? Preposterous.

First the actual question he was asked was:

What you've said implies that outside of the human mind, tuned by evolutionary processes, good and evil have no meaning. Do you agree with that?

So yes Dawkins is saying that there is no outside source of good and evil. There is nothing that is intrinsically good or evil. What Colson claims is intrinsically evil are acts of good and evil. Which Dawkins fully admits are real. If things are intrinsically good or evil, show me the evil cell or the good gene. Show where evil and good exist outside of the human mind. Actions can be good or evil depending on how we view them. There are people who think 9/11 was a good action and divine.

Colson continues on saying that if Dawkins admitted to there being a moral Truth (capital tee), then this would overthrow Dawkins' atheism. This is the old, all atheists know there is a God but are repressing that knowledge because they love to sin, repackaged a bit. Colson is saying he knows what Dawkins thinks and that Dawkins only denys moral absolutes because it would prove God. This is arrogance at its finest. Claiming to know what a person is thinking and that it is exactly opposite of what they are saying. Ray Comfort does this. Ken Ham does this. Random bloggers do this. I find it an interesting that it is the Christian Fundamentalist Evangelical sect that thinks they knows what everyone else is thinking and are not afraid to tell everyone what everyone is thinking. It is a level of arrogance and pride that just knows no bounds.

Colson talks about how C.S. Lewis was an atheist (which is debatable considering Lewis was quoted as saying he was "very angry with God for not existing" in his book Surprised by Joy) who turned to Christianity because of moral absolutes. C.S. Lewis had a lot to say about moral absolutes, which he called Natural Law. Lewis also talked about pride and arrogance. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity:

There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others.

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.

To continue with Colson's thought here, first Colson would have to prove moral absolutes. Instead all he does is posit the claim that they exist and the Bible is their source. If that is true, why does Colson not advocate the stoning of children, the stoning of women who are not virgins on their wedding night, not shaving, not planting wheat and barley in the same furrow, not wearing polyester, or not eating shellfish. Because if the Bible is the source of absolute morals, then these things are still absolutely wrong. Yet you will see virtually no Christians that spout moral absolutes doing any of these things (I say virtually because I don't know of anyone that follows these rules, but that does not mean they don't exist). What we see is morals changing throughout history, which is the definition of moral relativism. What is happening is we are becoming more and more inclusive as to who we consider to be like us. Initially it was only family. Then it encompassed the tribe. Cities were next, followed shortly by states. Then it became people who share skin color, and lately it seems to have divided into beliefs and somewhat nationalities. I dream of a day that it will encompass the world and we will all realize that there is very little difference between each person on the planet. That is the dreamer and ideologist in me.

Colson then quotes some percentages of people who believe in moral absolutes and according to Barna the majority of people do not. I would guess because it is demonstrably false, but then again evolution is demonstrably true and less than a majority believe it.

Colson then tells a story, which he claims is true but provides zero details to verify any of it (no names, no city, no school). Colson claims that a lady, who graduated from his Prison Fellowship's Centurions worldview program (he has to plug what he sells), living in the Bible belt (adds to the scare factor, atheists are taking over your home!!!zomg!!!111!!!eleventy!!!) started a 13 week bible study for seventh graders (average age - 12 to 13). She had 43 sign up to attend. At week 10 there was supposed to be a religious comparison study between Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. Supposedly the 7 of the 8 group leaders refused to teach it because "the claim that Christianity was true." I have serious doubts that it was exactly like this. I grew up in the Bible belt and I grew up believing that Christianity was true. I hardly would have been one of the 8 "serious Christian students". I questioned the way things were than most of my other fellow Sunday school students, yet I still believed that Christianity was true. What you can't do is lie to teenagers, especially demonstrable lies. As I said I can't determine the validity of this story, so I don't know what was actually said.

What I can do is find out as much as I can about Prison Fellowship's Centurions worldview program. You can read all you want about the program from the link. I am just going to point out a few things. 4 of the 15 books noted as required reading are Chuck Colson's own books and are not including in the cost of the program (2010 curriculum and 2009 curriculum and study guide). Food, board, and travel are not included in the price of the program. Sadly there is nothing listed about comparative religious studies, so again there is no way of knowing what was said in the class.

Colson ends the section with saber rattling. Telling people things like, see if this is allowed to continue Christianity is dead. Therefore you must by my books and come to my classes (only $1500 now!) or else you let Christianity die and you don't want to be known for letting that happen, do you? Okay he doesn't actually say buy my books, but this is just a simple call to proselytizing and a fear tactic at that. Yet another emotional plea with no substance to it.

The next section is aimed at Christians. It starts off good, admonishing the church for not doing more good works, especially fundamentalist mega-churches but quickly deteriorates. Instead of blaming leadership and the direction they have taken these churches (which Colson would be a part of), it is all blamed on postmodernism. Of course he also mentions it is the "postmodern Christians" that are saying the church is dieing, and somehow it is their fault also. I want to quote Colson here because it will come up again later, but this is the first time he mentions his Prison Fellowship and how well it works:

This distaste for doctrine has led some postmodern Christians to adopt the mantra "We want deeds not creeds." But wait a minute. For over thirty years, the movement known as Prison Fellowship and I have been taking the Gospel into the prisons, demonstrating the transforming power of Christ to turn the most reviled sinners into saints. No one would argue that these have not been worthwhile deeds. But if my creeds I believe are false, then my efforts have been totally missplaced; I cannot be sure that my deeds, however noble, are really good. It is the creed that makes me carry out the deed - that keeps me going into the most rotten holes in the world - and gives me the message I preach. The same is true of any Christian movement based on faith.

I will go over how well Prison Fellowship actually is in another section, when he actually prints numbers, right now I want to focus on the last part of that paragraph. Colson is saying that he can't know good actions from evil actions without the Bible telling him. He cannot assess the harm or help he does for other people without Christianity. In other words, he can't tell what other people are feeling. I am asking in all seriousness, is he a sociopath?

Well let's check the symptoms:

* Persistent lying or stealing - I don't know about the stealing but so far the lying is right.

* Superficial charm - He is a political and Christian leader...

* Apparent lack of remorse or empathy; inability to care about hurting others - He just stated that without the Bible telling him he is hurting someone, he couldn't tell.

* Inability to keep jobs or stay in school - Well his last real job, adviser to the Nixon Administration, he lost for breaking the law. He does have a degree, so not so much on this one.

* Impulsivity and/or recklessness - I don't know enough about him to answer this one.

* Lack of realistic, long-term goals — an inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals - He seems to be able to make long term plans, even if they aren't very good, so this one he doesn't have either.

* Inability to make or keep friends, or maintain relationships such as marriage - I don't know about friends, but he has been married twice now. The second marriage has been for a long time.

* Poor behavioral controls — expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper - He posts some weird things on his blog on occasion, but I have yet to see the angry vitriol of some other bloggers.

* Narcissism, elevated self-appraisal or a sense of extreme entitlement - Yes, read just about anything he writes.

* A persistent agitated or depressed feeling (dysphoria) - Not that I can tell from his writings but that is not the way to fully diagnose something like this.

* A history of childhood conduct disorder - Not that I am aware of.

* Recurring difficulties with the law - He went to jail for his role in Watergate and is a member of the political group the Family.

* Tendency to violate the boundaries and rights of others - The Manhattan Declaration.

* Substance abuse - Not that I am aware of.

* Aggressive, often violent behavior; prone to getting involved in fights - Again not that I am aware of.

* Inability to tolerate boredom - I don't know.

* Disregard for the safety of self or others - Not directly, but he writes often in this book how Christians shouldn't worry about diseases and help those people, because God will protect.

* Persistent attitude of irresponsibility and disregard for social rules, obligations, and norms - Yes, he is actively fighting change in society, because he doesn't like it and claims it does not fit with his faith (even though there are people of the same faith as him that he is fighting against).

* Difficulties with authority figures - He still doesn't think he did anything really wrong during Watergate and that it was wrong for Deep throat (Mark Felt) to talk about what they did.

9.5 of 19, not bad...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TF - Chapter 4 part 2

The next session is about the Question of Truth and Colson starts right out of the gate with a straw man. He claims that western culture dismisses the idea of truth and reality. Especially Colson's definition of truth as "a common and knowable reality that exists independent of our perceptions". He even claims that mentioning truth and reality to a university professor will bring scorn from them.

Science is (according to Webster's dictionary) "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world." The purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality. Science is all about learning truth and reality. The more we can learn about what is going on the more we can shape our lives to better serve life as we know it.

After making that straw man, he claims it exists because rebellious human nature doesn't want to obey a higher authority, especially God. I have no clue how he got to this conclusion. Apparently 1 + 1 = 4,000,000,000 in his world. People don't like to obey a higher authority? Really? I guess that is why Anarchy reigns and people just do whatever they want, disobeying the law because it comes from authority. So really what Colson is saying is that one straw man plus another straw man equals God is awesome. Yeah, it still doesn't make sense.

To prove this point, Colson discusses the Bible story of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. Colson tells a different story than that I have ever read in any of the Gospels (which you can read here, here, here and here). Colson makes this claim:

For educated Romans like Pilate, as with many of today's intellectuals, religion was only an expression of culture and a means of securing political allegiance. Imagine his reaction to this pretender to the Jewish throne, this Jesus who claimed to have cornered the market on truth. How presumptuous, and what a threat to Pilate's pretension. Pilate no doubt believed above all else in the truth of the Roman garrison - in skepticism's refuge, power.

Now go back and read all those accounts of Jesus and Pilate. The only one that discusses truth is in John (which was the last Gospel written at around 100 CE that is 70 years after what it talks about occured). There Pilate is so furious with Jesus that he tries to free Jesus without causing a riot. In all of the Gospels, Pilate finds no reason to convict Jesus. This tends to go against what Colson is claiming, that Pilate was upset and thought Jesus was a threat, because if that were true he would have agreed with the masses right away and crucified him without hesitation. COLSON LIES ABOUT WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS! Why should I ever believe this man? Why should I trust that he has the "Truth" when he can't even tell me the truth about things within the Bible? These are things I can easily look up or things that every Christian growing up should know anyway and Colson has the gall to lie straight up about them. What a fucking self righteous cock.

As to that last part of the quote, "in skepticism's refuge, power", what does that even mean? Is this some kind of projection, saying that skepticism is authoritarian in nature, when in actuality Colson's brand of Christianity is far more authoritarian? Skepticism is just a questioning attitude. Someone who just wants some hard evidence to back up claims, even ones that people have believed to be true for a long time. Where does power come into this? There was a time when those in authority made skepticism of religious subjects all but illegal. That was during Medieval period and Christianity was the only authority. That time period set us back in technology and advancement. It wasn't until the Renaissance period did people begin to question and enlightenment followed shortly behind. Does Colson want to go back to the Middle Ages? Or does Colson just write without thinking?

Monday, January 11, 2010

TF: Chapter 4 part 1

"Truth" - with a capital tee

Colson starts this chapter by saying because he has proved that God exists and that the Bible is the word of God, then we can know that there is some ultimate Truth (with a capital tee). He also says that a Christian can know truth, which he defines as "the way things really are", through the Bible and three other ways: Truth in the book of nature, Truth through reason, and Truth through conscience.

Truth in the book of nature is described as look at the beauty in nature, see since it is beautiful there is a God. This of course ignores the ugly side of nature, which I pointed out in chapter 2 when he put forth the same exact argument.

Truth through reason is about reasoning the why's of creation, to Colson. He even makes this beautifully cognitive dissonant statement:

Christianity does not consist of a hidden body of teachings disconnected from everyday realities, nor does it insulate itself in a realm of subjective notions that cannot be disproved.

Colson does not live in reality. That is what that sentence says to me. He lives inside his own head and does not know what reality even looks like. The only reason I will continue on with this book is because my mother asked me to read it. If I was reading this on my own, I would have stopped after reading this sentence. Because it is that divorced from reality.

Gos is the ultimate unfalsifiable entity. No matter what the facts show God could have done it that way. You can't prove that God didn't do it the way science discovered, especially when you posit that God exists outside of our space-time. God has always been and will always be an unreasonable answer, because it is unfalsifiable.

Truth through consciousness. God exists because people know good from evil. Ignoring the fact that the idea of evil has evolved over the last few years and even more so over the last few thousand years (look at slavery, human sacrifice, and equal rights movements), Colson states that there are moral absolutes "written on our heart". Then they must also be written on the hearts of every social animal in the world, because dogs, chimps and monkeys all show signs of knowing good from evil. So how do they fit with the idea of morality coming from God for humans? Colson never mentions them, instead he attacks a straw man of moral relativism. Colson claims that because people think it is wrong to kill Jews or to push an old lady into oncoming traffic, then that means that postmodern relativism is wrong. In fact this proves that morals are relative. In Nazi Germany many people determined that it was okay to kill Jews. Before that many Christians, including Martin Luther (Luther advocated the killing of Jews also), thought that Jews were lesser people. These ideas have changed and evolved, morals have changed over time. Just because a majority of people are against the murder of Jews, does not mean that that has been the case throughout history. Morals are relative to the time, place, and situation.

Colson himself holds a moral view that is slowly going the way of the dodo. He was one of the authors of the Manhattan Declaration. He thinks that allowing same-sex couples to marry is immoral. Currently he is in the majority, but support for same-sex marriage is showing an increase in support over the last 2 decades. It is becoming less immoral overall in America. There could come a time (personally I hope it will be very soon) where it will be immoral to deny this right. Much like when it was finally legal to marry someone of a different race. It seems crazy to us now, but at the time it was hotly debated. Again it was a change in morality.

If I was being more optimistic, I would say that Colson just doesn't know what he is arguing against. I think Colson is knowingly lying for Jesus. It is an ends justify the means tactic. His lies also grow from his self-righteousness too. Fred Clark covered this (here, here, here, and here) so much better than I ever could on his blog, Slacktivist (which I cannot recommend reading enough).

Before I go on, I want to talk about the Code of Hammurabi which Colson mentions here. Hammurabi was a Babylonian King who ruled from 1796 to 1750 BCE. Hammurabi claimed that he talked to the Gods and that they dictated these laws to him on top of a mountain. This is one of the first recorded set of laws in human history (there are a few others from the same area that predate it but not by much). This code predates Mosaic Law. The two sets of laws are very similar and even the story have how they were received are similar. It is almost as if the ancient Hebrews borrowed the story and the laws from the Babylonians.