Thursday, May 2, 2013

An Apologetic Professor.

I have been contributing to a discussion over at Deity Shemity triggered by a guest post from a blogger called the Apologetic Professor.  The post itself was the usual affair: humans are hard wired for religion, theism is the best explanation for morality etc etc.

But the first half of the post severely annoyed me, this paragraph most of all:

So all I am asking of you is what I believe God is asking of you at this moment – I mean, this very moment, the moment you are reading this, right now – and that is to honestly consider, with an open mind, the legitimate possibility that He exists. With an open mind, I said. Not with the prejudice that many of you have no doubt acquired. Maybe you’ve met religious hypocrites; well, I’ve met them, too. Many days, I no doubt am one of them. But stop thinking about them. They are irrelevant. Only the truth matters. If I’m right, then one day you will be standing, you alone, naked before the Creator of the universe…and you will have to answer for your life. The many dumb and mean hypocrites you and I have encountered will not be an excuse, in that moment, for our own choices. And deciding to simply close your mind to the possibility of the miraculous is a choice.

I was compelled to exorcise my annoyance by leaving the following comment:

"Religious sects have distinctive ways of annoying me. Roman Catholics annoy me with their bureaucratic legalism draped in pseudo-philosophical grammar; Anglicans annoy me with their post-modern vagueness; Eastern Orthodoxy irritates me with their damn beards. And the quirky American sects annoy me because of their manipulation.

The guest post is designed to implant an idea. Its uses repetition extensively. The word “seek” is mentioned ten times in first half and usually anchored to a phrase like “open mind” or “without prejudice” or “really ask”. The writer never really states what these prejudices are but it’s not hard to infer the prejudice and closed minded position is ‘God does not exist’.

The line “I believe God is asking you at the moment - I mean, this very moment, the moment you are reading this, right now” is jaw droppingly blatantly manipulative. First, the stage is set by laboriously suggesting that a God-thing is asking us, right here, right now, at this moment, yes at this moment God-thing is asking us to consider if it exists.

Once the stage is set, the main act begins. Having been told God is real, we are asked “to honestly consider, with an open mind, the legitimate possible that he exists. With an open mind, I said. Not with the prejudices that many of you no doubt acquired”. Again we have the repetition of ‘seek/ask’ words coupled with ‘honestly/open minded/legitimately possible etc’. And that is just a single line of the post.

There’s an old PR saying “We can’t control what people think but we can control what they think about”. Critical thinking applies not only to the answers but to the questions. Who is asking the question and why? Who is forcing your thoughts down this path and what are they trying to sell?

It came as no surprise when I clicked on the guest posters blog and saw his background was in psychology. He claims to have spent “4 years in a fuzzy state of half-Christian agnosticism”. I have no idea what half-Christian agnosticism is but it does not take four years to decide Christianity is nonsense. It may however take four years for a Christian culture to overcome the rational resistance of an otherwise intelligent mind. Especially if they are told daily that “God is asking you to really really ask the legitimate question if God exists with an open mind”."

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Postscript :-  The Apologetic Professor responds to my comment [here].

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