I give this book 5 stars not because it convinced me that a magical super-being spoke the universe into existence and revealed himself to ancient, ignorant people through the virgin birth of a man-god who did party tricks, got killed, then rose from the dead and flew off into the sky. No, I give this book 5 stars because it’s the best defense of such a myth that can possibly be mustered.
Luke, though I’ve noticed that this is a habit of yours, I think you’re better than painting such crude caricatures of your opponents:
“a magical super-being spoke the universe into existence and revealed himself to ancient, ignorant people through the virgin birth of a man-god who did party tricks, got killed, then rose from the dead and flew off into the sky.”
This sort of rhetoric may score you points with people who already agree with you, but it doesn’t advance the discussion.
Is what I said a “crude caricature” of mainstream Christianity? Am I attacking a straw man?
I would like to know which part of my statement is a straw man. Surely, Christians of various types may deny one or more parts of my statement, but I think it fairly represents mainstream Christianity.
Cartesian, which part of my statement does the average Christian deny?
Does the average Christian deny that God has magical powers? No. God supposedly controls things through non-natural means. That’s the very definition of magic.
Does the average Christian deny that God is a super-being? Certainly not. There is no being more “super” than God.
Does he deny that God spoke the universe into existence? No. That’s the standard account of creation, found in Genesis.
Does he deny that God revealed himself in the person of Jesus to ignorant, superstitious people of the ancient Middle East? No.
Does he deny that Jesus was born of a virgin? No.
Does he deny that Jesus was both a man and a god? No.
Does he deny that Jesus turned water into wine for a party or walked on water to show his magic powers to the disciples? No.
Does he deny that Jesus got killed? No.
Does he deny that Jesus rose from the dead? No.
Does he deny that the resurrected Jesus ascended into the sky? No.
You may deny some of these things, but most Christians do not. This is not a caricature. This is really what more than a billion Christian believe, and it is what I was taught to believe (and did believe) as a Christian for 21 years.
I am not attacking straw men. I am attacking standard Christian doctrine.
The problem is not that I mock standard Christian doctrine. The problem is that standard Christian doctrine is so easily mockable. Please don’t complain that I’m sometimes not nice about your belief that you have an invisible friend. Instead, please stop believing you have an invisible friend.
I respect a great deal about many theists, including Cartesian. That should be clear in my review of The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, which I gave 5 stars. But that does not change the facts about what most Christians actually believe.
Some Christian philosophers do not believe in magic. They are Christian materialists. And some Christian philosophers do not think that Jesus is invisible, nor their personal friend. They have a more abstract notion of God. But mainstream Christians do believe such things, and they should stop pretending that they don’t.
If you’re an average Christian, you do believe in magic, you do believe you have an invisible friend, you do believe Jesus was a man-god, and you do believe Jesus resurrected and flew off into the sky. Once you admit this, we can have a more honest discussion.
Now, it might actually be the case that magic exists, that you do have an invisible friend, and so on. That’s what Christian apologists have tried to show, and that’s what this blog debates. These theories are possible. They might even be less crazy than some of the findings we’ve made in the quantum world.
My message to mainstream Christians is this: Don’t pretend like that’s not what we’re debating. Don’t hide behind obscurantist language. You believe you have a magical invisible friend who sometimes grants you wishes and you know it. You just don’t like how ridiculous it sounds when I state your beliefs in plain, simple English.
If the shoe fits…
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