Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Musings on the Catholic confusion in this atheist debate

Still working on the previous post, but wanted to get this in here somewhere. Dinesh D'Souza is a Catholic, and although he's a very bright and knowledgeable guy who has come up with some of the best arguments in this debate with atheism, in the course of it he's constrained to defend Catholicism, including diminishing the crime of the Inquisition.

In Part Five of a debate with Hitchens {earlier than the one previously discussed here) [1:22 - 3:28] Hitchens specifically accuses Catholicism of fascist politics, naming Mussolini, Salazar, Franco, Father Tiso and another name I couldn't get. Hitler hated Christianity but his nominal Catholicism shouldn't be ignored in this tally. I think in Hitchens' very tallying of the Catholic leaders who pursued the fascist cause there is possibly a revelation of the antichrist spirit of the Roman church that I hadn't been aware of before. I was aware that priests had conspired to help Nazis escape from Germany after the war, among other things (Dave Hunt's books describe much in this direction that I've forgotten), but I'd never put it together before with the essential antichrist nature of the Roman church. Definitely something I want to think about more.

Dinesh simply accuses Hitchens of taking the focus off the secular totalitarians, but there really is something startling about the degree of Catholic involvement that Hitchens has just laid out that needs to be acknowledged -- and not merely acknowledged -- it's a sign of the apostate anti-Christian nature of the Roman Church and we should probably be looking more in that direction as the end times continue to unfold. Remember, the Catholic Church has embraced evolutionism and regards Creationists as moronic fundamentalists, and that's just a small part of the worldly system it's embraced in its ambition to global power.

And of course because he IS a Catholic, poor Dinesh can't keep his focus clear on the elements of this debate and that's sad, but what's sadder is that he really does not know Christ, really is not saved, has only an intellectual grasp of the Christian revelation. By part 9 of this series D'Souza is saying he has faith because he does not know, pretty much demonstrating that he doesn't really have true faith as a born-again believer understands it, and this unfortunately contributes to the confusion that gives credibility to Hitchens' position. Faith IS the evidence of things unseen, and if we have true faith we DO know the things we have faith in. We KNOW the things faith shows us. Dinesh is affirming a leap-in-the-dark definition of faith because all he really has is mental assent, and that's unfortunately the case for the vast majority of Catholics, and really probably for all, as Catholicism cannot save. If there are true Christians in that church, the Lord says "Come out of her, My people."

Dinesh also wrongly equated Judaism with the Old Testament and described it as a religion only for the tribe, as if it had just about nothing to do with Christianity. He did this in agreement with something Hitchens said, about how Christianity is a rip-off of Judaism, a plagiarism. Thanks, Dinesh, for not correcting that misapprehension. But I guess he's stuck in a Catholic misapprehension. And it's interesting that it sounds a lot like what Hitler thought of the Old Testament -- evil religion, religion of the Jews. Does Dinesh have no sense at all of the seamless whole of the Bible, the fulfillment of the Old in the New, the continuity from Eden to Revelation? Sounds like he hasn't a clue. Judaism is not Old Testament religion, Judaism is Talmudic religion. the man-made tradition of the Pharisees that Jesus kept condemning that had supplanted the revelation of God. The Old Testament on the other hand is testimony to the one true God and the Jews were supposed to carry this testimony to all mankind. That's what Jesus ended up doing in their stead.

Hitchens and other atheists are rightly confused about what Christianity really teaches when they hear stuff like this, when they have to regard Catholicism as just as much Christianity as any other sect, having no ground for making a distinction, and not caring to make one anyway of course, happy to tar us all with the sins of our worst enemies, the Roman Church, Islam -- even their sins against us.

In part 6 of that debate a questioner says he thinks both Christians and atheists alike agree that morality evolved anthropologically. [around 8:50] Oh wow, has it gone that far that he thinks he can speak for all Christians about that? It's not just Catholics but great numbers of those who regard themselves as evangelicals who have been infected by evolutionism.

Summary of Hitchens' Straw Man arguments

Just a catchall for some of Hitchens' straw man arguments.

1. Straw man argument that we claim all morality is derived from religion or the supernatural.

No, we don't. We affirm that all humanity possesses a conscience. Some DO argue that this fact that we possess a conscience is evidence for the existence of God.

2. He claims we HAVE to believe that for 98,000 years out of the 100,000 evolutionists say humanity has been around, that God did not intervene in painful, miserable, helpless and fearful human lives, deciding to intervene only 2000 years ago.

First, God started intervening, according to the Bible, right after the Fall, right after Adam and Eve sinned, with the promise to send a Savior and with a plan to prepare humanity for that Savior, and providing animal sacrifice to atone for sin until the True Sacrifice would come. And there was never a time that He did not hear prayer and intervene on behalf of people who sought Him. So we do NOT believe that God only started intervening with the sacrifice of Christ.

Second, there are way too many theist evolutionists who accept those absurd numbers for the duration of the existence of humanity although there's no way to reconcile them with anything in Genesis, but if we accept them for the sake of argument along with the teaching of Genesis, and put Adam and Eve at the near end of that 100,000 years, say about 94,000 years after the supposed first human being (which allows for the 6000 years that we can count in the Bible since their creation), you have to reckon with the Biblical teaching that sin, suffering and death did not enter the world until their Fall. That means that ALL living things that preceded them did not die but were still living at the time they came into the world, including all the human race evolutionists believe had been here all that time. There would have been NO DEATH, NO SUFFERING in all that time for God to have been indifferent TO. There would also have been no evolution, as that assumes death. There would have been no fear as the physical universe would be perfectly accommodating to life, with an abundant food supply for animal and human both, no hostile animals, no pain in childbirth, no scary earthquakes etc (all destructive processes started at the Fall and increased drastically with the Flood) and all would have been constantly in loving communication with God, and so on.

There is no point in considering the possibility that Adam and Eve came at the beginning of those 100,000 years, because the whole Biblical testimony since their creation would be utterly destroyed. Hitchens says we HAVE TO believe his scenario. No, we do not.

Dinesh D'Souza's answer to this is a good one: those long ages of human suffering and helplessness that evolutionists believe preceded historical time are more of a problem for those of Hitchens' persuasion than for us. They are hard to account for if we assume that humanity was the same then as now, endowed with the same brain power and inventive abilities, yet didn't begin to do anything to improve their condition for some 94,000 years. I consider this to be a great argument against the whole idea of that supposedly long blank preamble to history.

3. Hitchens argues from that and other examples that the universe is a pretty unfriendly place for human beings. "Some plan" he says.

This needs to be answered in a way that I haven't seen it answered. It was MENTIONED on the Book Expo panel but not pursued. Death and disease and suffering in the universe are NOT part of God's original plan, but the result of the Fall. ALL suffering and death entered with the Fall, are the result of Adam and Eve's original sin, which effected a catastrophic break between humanity and God. We ourselves are now subject to suffering and death, AND we live in a ruined and battered universe as a result of the Fall, that nevertheless, by God's mercy, retains enough of the qualities of the original Creation to sustain us. (In listening to these debates it began to occur to me to wonder if possibly the whole universe outside our planet was also originally more friendly to human life, just as Earth was. Perhaps all the other planets in our solar system were once habitable. Wild idea of course.)

4. Straw man idea of what faith is, that it is supported by no evidence whatsoever.

Witness evidence. Many witnesses to amazing supernatural events. Which he dismisses as deluded, and those who believe the witnesses as even more deluded, and the written accounts of which he claims are hopelessly corrupted. Sometimes I don't even want to bother defending myself against such self-serving ignorance, just hand him the scimitar, bow my head and say Have at it. An honest sensibility ought to be able to see that the witnesses are honest and rational people, and there's a ton of evidence that the scriptures are reliable.

5. Straw man argument that religion says God created people sick and then orders them to be well.

This is a more direct version of the straw man argument about the 100,000 years of God's refusal to intervene for unhappy humanity. God did not create people sick -- that happened when sin entered. And I have no idea where this ordering them to be well comes from. He wouldn't be saying that sin is sickness, would he, and the ordering to be well then the commandments against sin? Another version of this is his statement that we have some innate inbuilt design flaws. Nope, we were made perfect and sin brought in all the deformities.

But this does get me pursuing some thoughts about this ordering us to be well. God knew very well we couldn't obey the commandments as perfectly as the Law demands, especially not their inner meaning which is only revealed in the New Testament. When humanity fell we lost the spiritual sense necessary to perfect obedience. The New Testament says then that God gave the Law as a tutor to bring us to Christ, teaching us just HOW unable to obey the Law we are, so that we will see our need of being saved. Of course Christopher Hitchens thinks he's doing just fine, thank you very much. Well, the rest of us who know better are grateful for God's mercy.

6. Related to the accusation that we think morality is the result of religion is Hitchens' claim that we think the Israelites had no sense of the wrongness of rape, murder and theft and so on until God gave the Law at Mount Sinai.

This is sheer silliness. We know all humanity was given a conscience. But conscience isn't a fixed thing and different people have more or less sensitivity to it in our fallen condition. Writing down the law was part of the covenant God was making with His people. According to something I read, the giving of the Law was a declaration that God was King of the Israelites, as apparently in that part of the world at that time kings did declare a law for their people as part of their rule over them, as I recall was the case with Hammurabi's law for instance. Such a written law was binding in a way the conscience-directed morality was not, and more strict. Then when we get to the New Testament we are told that the Law was given that the people might learn their inability to obey it in its perfection, as the Law is of an order of perfection and holiness fallen man can't ever hope to attain. This would lead those with a sense of the consequences for failure to obey the inexorable demanding perfect Law to a desire for the mercy offered in a Savior who would take the consequences upon Himself in our stead. Hitchens is contemptuous of this merciful offer, obviously having NO idea just what consequences are entailed by failure to obey the Law, consequences we all rightly deserve -- and if he did have some idea he'd just shake his fist at them anyway.

7. He says the substitutionary atonement of Christ is immoral.

Does he think he can take the punishment for his own sins which deserve an eternity of Hell? He forgets that while he reckons everything in the prosaic terms of the visible natural world, the Bible presents an unseen supernatural world in which our sins have far greater consequences than he can imagine. He can of course deny that this other world exists, but he should at least humbly recognize that in the context of this other world we believe in, the substitutionary atonement by God the Son Himself incarnate is an act of inestimable mercy, and cease from upbraiding us with his own narrow views.

8. Both Dinesh D'Souza and Marvin Olasky argued that Christianity brought a higher order of morality into this world with objective historical consequences that have been documented. Hitchens has never confronted this argument, reducing it to the false claim that Christians think morality is the product of religion or insisting that natural man has exactly the same moral sense. This is simply false but he hasn't yet grasped what is being said.

Christianity DID bring a higher order of morality into the world. Jesus Christ DID inspire respect for women that never existed in ANY culture prior to His coming. Jesus Christ DID inspire a level of compassion for all humankind that never existed in ANY culture prior to His coming. This included the very first inklings that slavery is wrong, that took time to work through, but it never existed in ANY culture prior to His coming and no other culture took even the first steps to abolish it. Dinesh pointed out that only the Christian West rushes to help the victims of a tsunami across the world. Actually now other societies are imitating our lead, but it's a Christianity-based attitude that prompts such actions and it never existed in ANY culture prior to the coming of Christ. Christians were moved to take in and care for the babies put out to die in pagan cultures, and also the sick and helpless elderly who were also abandoned to die. Now we are returning to the pagan practices of killing the unborn and suggesting that we should also kill the useless elderly and others who are helplessly dependent on our mercy. Eventually it was the Christians who established orphanages and hospitals on the compassionate principles of Christ, which have become huge finance-driven institutions in our day that are probably going to end up throwing out the weak and sick and elderly again in a return to pagan values -- and to the evolutionistic values of supporting the strong and abandoning the weak I might also add. A man from Tonga got up in one of the debates to say he was grateful that Christianity had turned his people from cannibalism. And much much more along these lines should be specifically attributed to Christian influence in this world.

These are all specifically Christian contributions to the world that Hitchens falsely attributes to normal human conscience. No, taking care of strangers was NEVER practiced in any culture before Christianity, and women were NEVER respected in any culture before Christianity, and slavery was practiced EVERYWHERE until Christianity. Christianity has so spread itself through the cultures of the West that outright atheists get righteously indignant when such Christian standards are violated, falsely thinking it's just normal built-in EVOLVED morality that feels that way.

D'Souza and Olasky are right about the source of this degree of concern for our fellow man, Hitchens is wrong.