A Call for Intellectual Arguments by Apologists

A Priest, Robert Barron, wrote a column about how aggressive nonbelievers have become in books, comments and arguments.  He notes, correctly, they seem not content to remain silent as in past times.

He warns Christians they are in for a battle and should arm themselves.  They, especially, should develop intellectual arguments to counter those offered by nonbelievers.

He offers an “intellectual” argument:   Christians believe “humans are hard wired to believe in God.”  This is the case because no amount of worldly possessions bring “fulfillment”.

He goes on to say that he is certain leading nonbelievers have a secret and unspoken desire to believe in God.  This is familar.  It has been stated here several times about me.

I can understand there are people who believe everyone thinks like they do.  And, they may well believe those who don’t must have a desire to do so. But, this is not an intellectual argument.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot.  Let me pose this as ”intellectual insight” into the nature of humans:  Every believer is hard wired not to believe in God.  This is true because no amount of faith leaves a person thinking he/she is perfect.  Thus, everyone seeks to escape from faith.

Father Barron’s argument has no more depth than mine.  He should simply defend the faith in this way:  One  slice of the population gets something important from the faith.  Another does not. 

That’s about all there is to it.

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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11 Responses to A Call for Intellectual Arguments by Apologists

  1. entech says:

    Into this Universe, and why not knowing,
    Nor whence, like Water willy-nilly flowing:
    And out of it, as Wind along the Waste,
    I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing.

    What, without asking, hither hurried whence?
    And, without asking, whither hurried hence!
    Another and another Cup to drown
    The Memory of this Impertinence!

    Up from Earth’s Centre through the Seventh Gate
    I rose, and on the Throne of Saturn sate,
    And many Knots unravelled by the Road;
    But not the Knot of Human Death and Fate.

    There was a Door to which I found no Key:
    There was a Veil past which I could not see:
    Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE
    There seemed—and then no more of THEE and ME.

    Khayyám (1048–1131) mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet.
    Old poet is that intellectual enough, Islamic actually but I am led to believe it is the same God?
    But, still as far from an answer as any one else.

  2. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; Your “Every believer is hardwired NOT to believe in God.” You’re showing some remarkable insight. (However, I suspect from a different point of view). I am convinced though, that you have gotten it almost right. To be more accurate, your statement should read “EVERY one is hardwired NOT to believe in God. I am receiving a slight waft of a little “TULIP” here.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      PS; I strongly disagree with Robert Barron, as he evidently has forgotten the Third Article of the Apostle’s Creed, the explanation, and the supporting Biblical verses. Especially the; “What does this mean? I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, My Lord, or come to Him;”… Jon; Your statement agrees with this, but EVERYONE should be included.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Pps: To further amplify Barron’s mis-understanding; his “… that he is certain that leading nonbelievers have a secret and unspoken desire to believe in God”. I would propose that nonbelievers don’t have a secret and unspoken desire to believe in God. Rather, it is not a secret, nor is it unspoken. It is a strong resistance. His position is nothing more than wishfull thinking, and it concretizes the resistance to faith by the unbelievers. I get by reading a little of him, and some of his other writings that he has a little of “Don’t you wish you were like me? attitude.” Very typically Romanesque.

  3. entech says:

    Presume that this is the “Why So Many Atheists on CNN Belief?
    The first half of this piece is dedicated to the opening question and to saying how awful they are. A recent topic “Two Kinds of Atheists Defined” covered the why part, they are worried about the increasing call for more Christianity as a part of the state and calls that it must be organised on biblical lines. As for how vehemently awful the “NEW” atheists are , has Father Bob never read anything except his own stuff, this is a good moderate blog but you must have seen the threats and vitriol coming from the followers of gentle Jesus meek and mild. Both sides do their argument a severe disfavour writing like that. I highlighted ‘new’, atheists have been around longer than Christians.
    The second half is all about projection. This is as common as the observation that some call to the existence and influence of a supernatural agency is wide spread, which seems to be the case: most civilisations have developed some form of religious thought from simple animism to theism to Scientology. By projection I mean the tendency to think that other people not thinking as I do is incomprehensible, to attribute thoughts to people that are based on what you would like to think to be more in tune with you. In this article it takes the form:
    “My wager, as a person of faith, is that everyone — at that includes Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher, and Richard Dawkins — implicitly wants God and hence remains permanently fascinated by the things of God. Though the fierce atheists of today profess that they would like to eliminate religious speech and religious ideas, secretly they love to listen as people speak of God. This goes a long way, it seems to me, toward explaining their presence in great numbers on religious blogs.
    So I say to Christians and other believers: be ready for a good fight, and get some spiritual weapons in your hands. And I say to the atheists: I’ll keep talking — because I know, despite all of your protestations and sputtering, that your hearts are listening.”

    For myself I “like” to think that belief is so hard that “people of faith” feel so compelled to spread the word in order to justify the difficulty in maintaining an almost untenable position – I admit it, I am as bad as Father Bob etc. in my own way. The very idea of a person being ‘hardwired’ is a little hard to follow – bit like the old nature or nurture debates, but, to assert something like “everyone” is hardwired to for God, is ludicrous and the ultimate projection.

    Wanna, I can almost follow your arguments and would probably agree. Two baby points if I may: How much does saying someone has a “strong resistance to belief” differ from saying “as much as they deny it they are hardwired to think it”? The other point is really a bit of pedantry – wouldn’t a Roman Catholic Priest, especially an apologist and teacher be, by definition, “Very typically Romanesque”

  4. Wanna B Sure says:

    Entech;
    Point a. Re. “a strong resistance to belief differ from saying ” as much as they deny it they are hardwired to think it”—–If you mean to say “saying” and “thinking it” in the same context of refusal; I would say no difference.
    Point b. The romanesque term ; The RCC has systematically used this form of apolegetics more to intimedate people into faith than “win them over” to the faith. It may be a fine line, but it seems to exist. I get the impression that it’s “gravetas” is to a large part sufficient to gain converts, and retain current members. This is not to say others wouldn’ t try it, but the RCC does it so well.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      entech; PS. I forgot to mention that I have known a few RCC priests that are not “romanesque”. They have shown themselves to be very pastoral. They are refreshing to meet. Unfortunately, they seem to be the exception. However, the trend seems to be turning to pastoral concern rather than the old hard core dogmaticians.

    • entech says:

      Not really up to date with all the fine differences here, more interested in early history and development meant.
      Perhaps you are being too polite when you say “that he has a little of “Don’t you wish you were like me? Attitude”
      Because it seems to me, quickly reading some of his stuff (following up on the original article for the topic) shouldn’t you/we point out that it is more of a “you ought to like me”, after all his organisation has a long history of being able to say “you must be/think like me”.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        I could agree with that, but I would hope for moderation in the future. However, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

  5. Tony Dee says:

    It is important to note in this person’s argument that he, as most religious people, assume several non-provable points as truth.

    As Freud stated, “As long as man fears death, there will be religion.”

    1. Atheists and anti-theists HAD to be silent for most of the last 2,000 years or be persecuted and often murdered as the hands of “God’s people.” This group of the religiously fanatic deluded, under whichever flavor of the century religion they espoused, have killed more humans than any other. Your cry that we are now saying more is because you religious people are stopped from harassing us by the law. This country, with its constitution and separation of religion and state, lets all of us, especially the most discriminated group in human history: the atheists/anti-theists, voice their “truth,” with less fear of recrimination from those deluded with the mind-forged manacle of religion.

    2. The statement asserting we’re hard wired to believe in god due to lack of fulfillment from worldly goods crystallizes the poor arguments most religious people make. Specifically, there is no concrete nexus between the hard-wired part and the lack of fulfillment part. In fact, if that is the best argument for believing in god, you had better just preach to those who already believe. Which, by the way, is how most religious people argue, they expect everyone to fall for myth and group hysteria.

    I could go on with good arguments, but I ask you to ask yourself: If you immediately turn away from any argument against your position, if you are unfamiliar with arguments against your position, if you reinforce your credulity by giving your decision making apparatus up to documents supposedly written by ill-literate nomadic tribesman who didn’t understand the mechanics of rain much less a wheel-barrow, then you have given away the one reason our species has made it this far-reason. Not throwing away your critical thinking abilities is hard, I understand, that means you have to actually stand on your own two feet and face the world with your eyes open instead of the servile, “I’m stupid” stance that all religion forces you to take.

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