Wednesday, August 01, 2012
The New Atheists and Irenic Dialogue? HA HA HA!
I made a Tweet about the ongoing kerfuffle over Chick-fil-A. Shortly after I hit the post button, a self-described atheist launched an attack on me and my fellow "theists," throwing out the usual ad hominems i.e. bigoted, ignorant, dictatorial etc. Then he proceeded to go after belief in God in general, which wasn't the original context of my tweet.
So, what should a conscientious Christian apologist do when someone aggressively throws down the gauntlet? I responded by asking for the discussion to take place via email rather than Twitter, which is a lousy place to have such dialogues because of the limitations in character length. Then, I answered one of his assertions and began asking him questions in the Socratic method.
It didn't take long for things to degenerate. He bobbed, dodged and weaved, and ended by calling me a troll, then accusing me of following him to provoke a fight so I could "look big to my followers." That gave me quite a belly laugh, as he was actually the one who chimed in on my original tweet. I didn't know him from Adam. He might have been reacting to a reply I gave someone else with whom I was in actual discussion, but I did NOT seek him out. I'm not even "following" him.
The final guffaw was when I went to reply to his last bit of ridiculousness, i.e. to point out that he had responded to ME, not vice versa. I then discovered that I had been blocked. Imagine the angry, thwarted kid who doesn't want to hear any lecture, poking his fingers in his ears and going "LA LA LA LA LA!" at the top of his lungs.
It really was funny. I have done a lot of reading about how aggressive the so-called "New Atheists" are. If this is their general manner of dialogue, they will do more damage to their cause than they will help it.
I guess if I had to be really honest with myself, I'm kind of glad the conversation didn't go on and on. I'm too tired these days for endless knockdown, dragouts with people who have no desire whatsoever to even hear and consider what you have to say. They're as bad as Jehovah's Witness cultists. They have their talking points, and aren't really interested in talking to you. They think Christians and other believers are the great unwashed. We're uneducated rubes who ought to be locked up with the key thrown away, or at minimum to be silenced completely so we don't upset the bogus little world they're concocting for themselves.
There are two wonderful Scripture verses that come to my mind in this first entry for August:
The fool in his heart has said, "There is no God" (Psalm 14:1).
And then . . . Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces (Matthew 7:6).
A brief comment before I close. Don't misinterpret the Matthew verse to suggest that you shouldn't talk to unbelievers and avoid sharing your faith. We should always be ready to give a reason for the hope that lies in us, as other Scriptures command. Bible scholar and commenter Albert Barnes puts it this way . . .
Give not that which is holy ... - By some the word "holy" has been supposed to mean "flesh offered in sacrifice," made holy, or separated to a sacred use; but it probably means here "anything connected with religion" - admonition, precept, or doctrine. Pearls are precious stones found in shell-fish, chiefly in India, in the waters that surround Ceylon. They are used to denote anything especially precious, Revelation 17:4; Revelation 18:12-16; Matthew 13:45. In this place they are used to denote the doctrines of the gospel.
"Dogs" signify people who spurn, oppose, and abuse that doctrine; people of special sourness and malignity of temper, who meet it like growling and quarrelsome curs, Philippians 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15. "Swine" denote those who would trample the precepts underfoot; people of impurity of life; those who are corrupt, polluted, profane, obscene, and sensual; those who would not know the value of the gospel, and who would tread it down as swine would pearls, 2 Peter 2:22; Proverbs 11:22. The meaning of this proverb, then, is, do not offer your doctrine to those violent and abusive people who would growl and curse you; nor to those especially debased and profligate who would not perceive its value, would trample it down, and would abuse you.
I think that sums it up pretty well. I am happy to dialogue with those who desire genuine, irenic, open sharing and discussion. I am happy to do my best to answer any sincere questions people have within my limited time constraints. But I have little time and patience for people whose only intent is to be malicious and destructive, and to hurl nothing but mocking rage. If that's your modus operandi, go waste someone else's precious time.