September 22, 2005

Emasculating Christianity

Here's a comment I just encountered in my blog travels, which I've also heard incessantly from political liberals.

My major problem with religion is that people involve it in world affairs. I don't mind religion, only the effect that it has on people. It influences their decisions and, in many cases, controls important issues. This should not be so."
What's the use in believing something if it doesn't have any application or make any difference in your life? And something as profound as an all-encompassing worldview, which Christianity most certainly is, is only logically bound to affect the way one looks at life. Shouldn't a comprehensive worldview make a difference in the way we perceive human nature, ethics, the natural world, and the very purpose of life? It certainly does for atheists. How does it make sense that I should draw the line at my political interests and be forced to live in a state of cognitive dissonance in that particular domain?

If my worldview asserts that human life has value no matter how young, how old, or how inconvenient it is to me, and then I see one political candidate that agrees with me and one that doesn't, what should I do? If I think that gender was an intentional creation and that sexuality has a particular teleology, and I see society heading in a direction that rejects all sexual constraints, what should I do? Should I just sit on my intellectual reservation and let the world pass me by? Should I support the things that run contrary to my values? Should I just consult my magic 8 ball to decide what to do?

It seems to me that a worldview that has nothing to say in the realm of values and politics is either the same as having no worldview at all or it does not take the whole world into its view, since politics is surely part of the "world." For this reason, I think the above objection is simply naïve and incoherent. However, I think what is really being said is something more like this: "It's fine with me if you believe whatever makes you feel good, just so long as you don't let it get in my way. Don't let your beliefs cramp my style."

This seems an arrogant and hypocritical view to me. I'm sure that the connections between the non-Christian's beliefs and his advocacy and voting record can be easily traced. Are these invalid too? Shall we ask the pantheist to get her values out of her environmentalism? Shall we ask the Hindu to stay away from animal rights causes?

Even worse is that those with a secular worldview "push" it on society every bit as much as (I would contend more than) Christians allegedly do theirs. To them I would say, for the sake of parity, the following: Don't impose your non-theistic view of nature on my kids at school. Don't make me pay to kill the fetuses of underprivileged women. Don't attack public decency laws so that I can't enjoy television or the internet without losing my sanctification.

If you want neutrality, then neutral we should all be. But if that's the way of it, then we shall all sit it out like Switzerland in WWII, or we shall toss coins for every political decision. Unfortunately for the secularists, Christians won't go there, and we have the greatest reason of all to care about the direction of politics: because we believe there are real, objective, critical truths and values to be pursued. Without a theistic grounding for values, it must all necessarily be preference and social consensus.

The secularist will then answer that we Christians are just wrong about our "truth"; it is really just based on myth, malarkey, or metaphor. Well, that may or may not be so, but that is where the real debate lies, not in this insulting insinuation that we should keep our beliefs in the closet and let the world have its way with us.



At 9/22/2005 8:26 PM, Blogger Vman said...

It's alright to have your political views influenced by your religion just don't use it as a justification. Use logic. Also, try to think of an issue from a secular viewpoint before you refer to the bible. I know I am a hypocrite since I don't think of the christian viewpoint.

At 9/22/2005 8:47 PM, Blogger Paul said...

But I am a Christian for rational reasons. I don't just "prefer" it; I think it's true, and so I bend the knee to it because I care about truth regardless of whether it fits my preferred lifestyle.

In a sense you are right that referring to the Bible as justification is meaningless if you are trying to make your case before an audience that does not consider it authoritative. But if it is really what it claims to be, then it is the most authoritative source that one could reference. Even so, just about any issue you could mention has been argued by Christians on purely rational grounds. It's just that our best arguments don't get much press because they make us sound too smart. One must maintain the illusion that Christians are ignorant and mindless sheep, mustn't one?

At 9/23/2005 1:21 AM, Blogger ephphatha said...

I think people should's actions should be consistent with what they think is true, regardless of why they think it's true, whether they base it on experience, reason, the Bible, or whatever. As long as they actually think it's true--that it corresponds to the real world--they ought to live consistently with it.

I think the reason people don't want our religious beliefs informing our political choices is because they don't think of religion as referring to reality, but only to an individual construct that only exists in the mind.

At 9/25/2005 8:39 AM, Blogger tim said...

It seems objective truth exists whether or not anyone identifies or acknowledges it.

It seems that knowledge is believing what to be true with good reasons or justifications.

It seems that knowledge exists in regards to physical (material) existence and nonphysical (immaterial) existence.

It seems the popular notion of "neutrality" is a truth claim regarding what is objectively knowable and therefore not neutral.

Perhaps, true neutrality in such matters is to think, say and do absolutely nothing.

At 9/25/2005 12:52 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Bingo Tim!


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