Saturday, 20 March 2010

Why is militant atheism so arrogant?

Well, judging by P. Z. Myer's response, we're not going to get anywhere by asking militant atheists to be kind. Apparently "[i]t's silly to demand that we respectfully engage the clownish buffoons of religion", because "the goofiness of religion is a wonderful target for humor". After all, "their bliss-ninny belief system is an unsalvageable stew of raw sewage spiced with smug ignorance."

Why the invective? It's because "[w]e know that millions of good people cherish their delusions. We don't care; that a lie makes people feel good doesn't make it a truth."

There it is in black & white. They don't care!

I just don't get it. How can these militant atheists insist that they are morally superior, and behave in such an obviously relationship-denying, trust-destroying, character-damaging manner?

To have a harmonious community - be it a family, a local suburb, a city, nation, or world - we need people who behave in a way that builds personal trust and relationships. That is, we need people who genuinely care about each other. These militant atheists don't care. Correction: the only thing they seem to care about is rudely and violently imposing their beliefs on anyone who remotely disagrees with them. So I don't trust them to have healthy relationships or build healthy communities.

This concern of mine is not, I submit, a purely Christian one. I think it can be shared by anyone who's not as bombastic as the new atheists - including non-bombastic, open-minded atheists. The media response to the Global Atheists Convention is a case in point.

Thoughts, anyone?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Dialogue with atheists

Chris Mulherin, an Anglican minister and PhD candidate, has written a 10-point summary of beliefs shared by theists (at least Christian theists) and atheists. It might serve as a basis for dialogue with open-minded atheists. Note the comments & discussion.

Two questions:
  1. What do you think of the basic idea that Christians and atheists can actually share common beliefs?
  2. If you agree with (1) above: what do you think of Chris Mulherin's ten points?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Atheist invective recoils upon itself

The 2010 global atheists convention was in Melbourne last week. It could well turn out to be the best thing for theism that happens this year.

Moderate, fair-minded commentators couldn't fail to notice how the convention was full of arrogance and insults, and light on content. Here's some links:
Melanie Phillips says:
For someone who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated from the human psyche, Dawkins manages to appear remarkably intolerant towards anyone who disagrees with him... the arch-hater of religious intolerance himself behaves with the zeal of a religious fundamentalist and, despite excoriating religion for stifling debate, does this in spades.
Andrew Bolt:
[W]hy do leading atheists, so sure of their superior morality, feel licensed to be meaner than leading Christians? Is this what morally superior people do when God has gone? In that case, bring God back.
Psalm 57:6b:
They dug a pit in my path - but they have fallen into it themselves.
2 Timothy 2:24-25
24 And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Revenge and forgiveness

A coupla weeks ago, I happened to finish reading two things at the same time: a summary in the CASE Magazine by Linden Fooks of the book by Croatian-American theologian Miroslav Volf: Exclusion and Embrace; and a novel by Sri Lankan author Nihal De Silva: The Far Spent Day. What's interesting about them is: Volf's book is all about forgiveness; De Silva's novel is about revenge. Both authors come from countries torn by ethnic violence - Croatia with the Serbo-Croatian war of 1991-95; Sri Lanka with its thirty-year civil war.

Fooks summarises Volf as saying that:
"... forgiveness is the only way out of the endless cycle of violence and the pay-back of violence. Revenge... is annulled at the cross, wherein we see the greatest example of forgiveness. Forgiveness, however, does not override justice. Forgiveness, by its very nature, implies an obligation, a debt owed to God and others. It tacitly recognises the presence of a just claim."
CASE 21 (2009), p14.
Similarly, De Silva's protagonist Ravi:
"First the memory of Tilak's betrayal helped harden his heart. Then the image of Janaki's broken body flitted across his mind, and as it did, cold, implacable rage began to fill his mind like a cancerous tumour. Shalindra Premasiri had ordered that gruesome killing and now it was his turn to feel some real pain... here he was, seriously contemplating the final, unspeakable obscenity. The day of revenge and retribution was far spent. Was it too far spent for him?"
The Far Spent Day, pp 284, 296
Want to know the answer? You'll have to get the book... :)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Matthew 28:11-20: A Tale of Two Missions

This ends my series on the Gospel of Matthew.

*****

A tale of two missions
There are two missions in this world: one mission of lies, which seeks to suppress the resurrection; another of the truth that the risen Christ has all authority in heaven and earth. As members of the second mission, we must make disciples of all nations.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Matthew 27:62-28:10: Resurrection - new life from death

Still more sermon ideas for feedback.

*****

Resurrection - new life from death
Jesus' resurrection shows that his words are true (26:63), and that he is more powerful than death itself. Therefore we can live without fear (27:5, 10).

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Matthew 27:27-44: The Mock-King

Still more sermon ideas for feedback.

*****

The Mock-King
The soldiers, the chief priests and passers-by all mock Jesus. They do so because they think he's fake - a mock king. In so doing, they ironically point to his true identity - the king, who rules by dying for the rebels. Jesus' isn't a mock king, he's the real king, who bears the rejection so he can forgive us.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Matthew 27:11-26: God on trial

More sermon ideas for feedback pls.

*****

God on trial
When people were able to choose between a murderer and God incarnate, they chose a murderer. This shows what we think of God. In the process, Jesus, the innocent one, took the place and punishment of the guilty murderer. This shows what God thinks of us.