Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Cannot Even Study In Privacy

Old Cantankerous Atheist @ Starbucks

A similar debate can be found when I was at a winery:

Defending the Faith Over a Syrah

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I was at Starbucks and overheard a conversation (more like a monologue) between an elderly gentlemen, 55[+], and a kid about 19-years old. The 19-year old was sitting in Starbucks reading his Bible when an older man sat next to him and almost “strategically” started conversation with him. As I eavesdropped after hearing key words that sparked the historian & philosophy guy in me (WWI, WWII, Germany, creation, evolution, Bible, God, Christopher Hitchens, and the like). What finally drew me into the conversation after listening to it for about 10-minutes off to one side while I was studying on the other-side (multi-tasking) was when the old guy, whom I had already realized was an atheist making a “coffee career” out of shaking 19-year olds faith, said:

“I don’t know how anybody today can believe in the Bible.”

At this point I asked if I could join the conversation, the answer was an emphatic “yes” from the youngster. After some feeling each other out in conversation… for instance, he liked Christopher Hitchens work on atheism but not on the stance against Islamo-Fascism, I liked Hitchens on his war stance but not on his atheism. I probed a bit to see if this “scientific” (his words) gentlemen looked at any other issue but his own, so I asked since he enjoys Christopher Hitchens so, I wondered if he listened to any of the debats he had with persons on the topic of his atheism? The answer was “No.” I asked if he had read any defense of the Judeo-Christian faith since he so vehemently opposed it – to the point of railroading youngsters in a coffee shop, the answer, “No” of course. I am sorry, but I make it a point to know and understand someone else’s position before I assail it. This “straw-man” approach will come up later.

I knew he had views on Germany, Christianity, and the like… so I had prepared some integrations of it in what I knew would be discussed. After a rough start on my part I fell into my groove. The old-cantankerous-atheist mentioned that he is a firm believer in separation of Church and State. I asked him where that phrase was found, he responded with that “it didn’t matter where it was, what do I think.”

  • An aside here: after I quoted a few thinkers on the subject he gruffed that this is why he doesn’t like talking to “people” like me, I talk of what others say and this makes me look like an idiot! This will come up later.

I responded with that the Declaration smacks of religious philosophy, the Constitution was written with Natural Law in mind, Natural Law from the Judeo-Christian standpoint, and that I was religious and I vote, so there isn’t separation of church and state! There just isn’t a Federal Church. I challenged him to look into what many signers of the Bill of Rights (and the author of the First Amendment) and the Constitution did after that fateful meeting in Philadelphia and the signing of the Declaration later wrote in regards to their state constitutions. This was after he said the Founders were not religious at all and held contempt for religion. (I want to make an aside here, when people like this guy say “religion,” what he really means is Christianity.)

I merely challenged him to read the original state constitutions of the thirteen colonies and then say what he said (I didn’t inform him what those state constitutions said, but I will here for the reader):

On the day the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they underwent an immediate transformation. The day before, each of them had been a British citizen, living in a British colony, with thirteen crown-appointed British state governments. However, when they signed that document and separated from Greta Britain, they lost all of their State governments.

Consequently, they returned home from Philadelphia to their own States and began to create new State constitutions. Samuel Adams and John Adams helped write the Massachusetts constitution; Benjamin Rush and James Wilson helped write Pennsylvania’s constitution; George Read and Thomas McKean helped write Delaware’s constitution; the same is true in other States as well. The Supreme Court in Church of Holy Trinity v. United States (1892) pointed to these State constitutions as precedents to demonstrate the Founders’ intent.

Notice, for example, what Thomas McKean and George Read placed in the Delaware constitution:

  • “Every person, who shall be chosen a member of either house, or appointed to any office or place of trust… shall… make and subscribe the following declaration, to wit: ‘I do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forever more, and I acknowledge the Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration.’”

Take note of some other State constitutions. The Pennsylvania constitution authored by Benjamin Rush and James Wilson declared:

  • “And each member [of the legislature], before he takes his seat, shall make and subscribe the following declaration, viz: ‘I do believe in one God, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the rewarded of the good and the punisher of the wicked, and I do acknowledge the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration.’”

The Massachusetts constitution, authored by Samuel Adams – the Father of the American Revolution – and John Adams, stated:

  • “All persons elected must make and subscribe the following declaration, viz. ‘I do declare that I believe the Christian religion and have firm persuasions of its truth.’”

North Carolina’s constitution required that:

  • No person, who shall deny the being of God, or the truth of the [Christian] religion, or the Divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State, shall be capable of holding any office, or place of trust or profit in the civil department, within this State.”

You had to apply God’s principles to public service, otherwise you were not allowed to be a part of the civil government. In 1892, the Supreme Court (Church of Holy Trinity v. United States) pointed out that of the forty-four States that were then in the Union, each had some type of God-centered declaration in its constitution. Not just any God, or a general God, say a “higher power,” but thee Christian God as understood in the Judeo-Christian principles and Scriptures. This same Supreme Court was driven to explain the following:

  • “This is a religious people. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation…. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons: they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people…. These and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.”

From a larger blog I did on the subject:

Seperation of Church and State

Usually my main point by showing this is that in the least there is a disconnect with what the authors of the Bill of Rights thought was the separation of church and state versus say, silver haired atheist guy sitting in Starbucks. But in his case my point is also that the founders didn’t abhor religious ideology nor philosophy (see another blog on this topic: Who Did the Founders Quote Most?).

The old-man spoke of there not being absolute truth (a self-defeating statement), and if there were… who’s truth would it be, he challenged. I asked the young Christian kid if his laptop was on-line, so I pulled up a quote and read it aloud to the old-man after introducing the fact that Fascism never “lived” in Germany but only in Italy. In fact, Mussolini had a master’s degree in philosophy and even wrote a book in regards to some of his philosophy. In this book Mussolini defined what fascism is, he said:

  • “Everything I have said and done in these last years is relativism by intuition. If relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and men who claim to be bearers of an objective, immortal truth then there is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity. From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”

(Mussolini, Diuturna pp. 374-77, quoted in A Refutation of Moral Relativism: Interviews with an Absolutist. Ignatius Press; 1999, by Peter Kreeft, p. 18.)

Taken from my blog:

Mussolini Defines Fascism

I pointed out that his view on truth fits better with Mussolini’s vision rather than the Christian’s vision.

Right around this junction is when he got a little miffed and threw out the most common objection I come across, one that is almost childlike in its emoting factor. You see, people rarely ever really think about what they say, nor do they follow what they say to their logical conclusion. He said he:

“Doesn’t like religion because it has killed more people than any other ideology.”

Another way of putting this statement is that he:

“Rejects the Christian faith and chooses his non-belief because of all the death Christianity has caused.”

I responded.

You are wrong. And if I may show you how, if you take, for example, the 7 Crusades, the 3 Inquisitions, and the Salem Witch Trials, and ad all the people killed in the name of religion during those endeavors, the World Book Encyclopedia puts the number at a high of about 100,000 people killed. Since he is an atheist, I am sure he knows what the “father of the ‘God-is-dead’ movement” said on this matter? Nietzsche said that because God has died that the Twentieth-Century was going to be the bloodiest in mankind’s history. This nineteenth-century “prophet” was right. Just in the twentieth-century alone, non-God/secular movements have killed over 100,000,000 people. Some say 166,000,000 or so (see figure 1.2).

Click on figure 1.2 to enlarge

My point here is two-fold. If you want to throw around numbers in some kind of blame game, lets do it, because the deaths caused by people who misuse their position in no way deals with whether or not that position is true or false. Secondly, if one rejects religious philosophy because of the deaths it has caused, how much more must one reject non-faith -- realizing that non-faith has killed more people in 100-years than all religions did in the 1900-years preceding it.

He then mentioned that Christianity was acting against their stated goals in killing people. I agreed! Only in the Bible do you have an example of a person who lived a life that the Christian can use as a reference point to re-align himself morally to. I mentioned that a major museum had to cancel a speech by Nobel Prize winning co-founder of the Double-Helix in DNA (one of the most important scientific discoveries ever) Dr. Watson. Why? I asked him, he didn’t know. I told him that it was canceled because Dr. Watson believes the Black people have evolved from a separate branch on our evolutionary tree and are less intelligent/evolved than the Caucasian races.

I continued. This is what Hitler wrote about in Mein Kampf, that using Darwin’s thesis about the survival of the fittest and our evolutionary past, it is logical to rid (in this rat race evolutionists’ call “survival of the fittest”) the planet of such lesser animals or to view other people with such racist tendencies. Racist thinking is endemic to the theory of evolution. It is a logical outworking of it. In Christianity we have Acts saying we all came from one-man, we are all from “one-blood.” We sing, “Red, Yellow, Black and White, we are all precious in His sight!” We have a focus point to re-align ourselves with (the Bible) that the atheist doesn’t. We have an example in the life of Christ that evolution does not provide; evolution is in fact “red in tooth and claw.” Or as the quote I was referencing from Mein Kampf:

  • “The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.”

(Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy [New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942], pp. 161-162.)

From a blog I did on the matter:

Evolution’s Systematic Racism

The conversation wagged on for a bit more. I defended theistic thought at times – not wanting to inundate this angry man with “Biblical thinking” as much as I wanted to challenge his foundational thinking on certain topics. Hitchens came up again as did the Iraq war. So the old-man switched gears and quoted the commandment about “Thou shall not kill.” The young Christian kid quickly showed him that the Bible actually reads “Thou shall not murder.” Which was the crux of the reason he brought it up - his misunderstanding of it, applied.

He asked, with this commandment wrongly understood in mind, if I condoned the killing in Iraq. I simply responded that he was first arguing for a secular, non-religious government, and now he was trying to put religion into government actions. Which was he arguing for? That aside, I said he was committing a fallacy in his understanding about the Ten Commandments and the cultural, historical, theological context that they should be studied. I mentioned he should read some Dennis Prager writings on the Ten Commandments so he can better understand the Hebrew thinking behind such Scripture before he builds a “straw-man, a false premise, and then attack something (the false premise) that no Christian or Jewish person believes… outside of his mind that is.

I mentioned that I have read Hitchens’ book God is Not Great, and almost every other atheist/naturalistic epitome written from ancient Greece up to the present, has he (I asked again) read any one good defense of the Christian Faith? Like, Unshakeable Foundations by Norman Geisler? He responded that he didn’t have the time nor will to read such stuff. (In other words, he was a closed minded bigot who went around arguing his point of view to the exclusion of all other points of view.)

I said “such thinking on your part would… well… makes me think you were an idiot.” And on that note I left for work. Ouch!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Still Not Posting...

Sunday, October 21, 2007