Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The art of ignorance

Recently, Pastor John Hagee delivered a sermon that highlighted the fact that he just doesn't 'get it'. If this sermon he said...
You see this? This is my head. It's where I keep my
brain. I never use it though.
The Bible says, “The fool hath said in his heart ‘There is no God’.” Atheists say there is no God. Let me tell you that atheism has never painted a masterpiece. Atheism has never dispelled fear. Atheism has never healed a disease; faith in God has, but not atheism. Atheism has never given anyone piece of mind. Atheism has never dried a tear. Atheism has never given an intellectual answer to the creation. Atheism is bankrupt and empty; it’s brain dead.
Hagee is being rather simplistic by saying that atheist's say 'there is no God'. True, we don't believe in God. But not believing is not the same as ruling out the possibility 100%. Most atheists I know are open to the possibility, but also recognize that there is no evidence in favor of the God claim. Show me evidence, and I'll change my mind. I will say that there's probably no God, but I remain open-minded. Something I've not found many Christians to be.

Of course atheism hasn't done any of those things! Atheism is not a being, not anything tangible, not a person. But you you know what else hasn't done these things (despite Hagee's insistence)? Christianity and faith in God. Like atheism, Christianity and faith are not beings capable of action. They are ideas. An idea left unapplied is powerless to make change in the world. So no, atheism has not done the things he lists (save one claim), but atheists sure have!

Atheism has never painted a masterpiece? Why would this surprise anyone? Has hunger, love or any other abstract concept ever painted a masterpiece? No, they haven't... But atheists have. What of Walter Crane, Eugène Delacroix, Alfred Gilbert, and Gwen Raverat? Is Hagee claiming that Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Frank Lloyd Wright, and (my personal favorite) Claude Monet didn't create masterpieces? 

Or is Hagee simply referring to how many religious themed painting have been done by the masters of old. That is a pretty poor way to discern one's beliefs. The biggest reason there so many religious paintings is because the church was the biggest client. If the church wants paintings of Jesus, and is shelling out money for them, people are going to paint Jesus. Art is an unconventional career, but a guy has to eat one way or another.

Atheism has never dispelled fear? And Christianity has? Christianity teaches that every single person in all of history deserves to be sent to a land of eternal torment and torture, after their death. What part of automatically being in line for hellfire just for being born is reassuring? But my atheism actually has dispelled fear for me. When I was a Christian, I worried about Hell. I thought I was doing everything to keep from going there. But there was always that worry... What if I was doing something wrong and didn't even realize I was angering God? What if I missed a night of prayer? Would that count against me? Even stuff as silly as being sleepy in church because it was so early. Did God notice that I was yawning so much and almost nodded off?

But I don't have to worry about that anymore. In fact, I don't worry about death at all now. When I did, I expect to simply flicker out like a burnt out light-bulb. When I'm gone, I'm gone. No Heaven, but also no Hell. No need to worry about endless flames or lakes of fire. My only concern regarding death is to try and extend this one life as long as I can. If I die tomorrow, or fifty years from now, the outcome for me is still the same.  But in the mean-time, I want to live life, and live it well.

Atheism has never healed a disease? No kidding... And neither has Christianity or faith. But atheist doctors have healed people, just as faithful doctors have. But Christianity (and other religions) have stood in the way of healing disease. Many believes regularly protest the use of stem cells. Yet they have been used to give the blind much of their sight back, grow replacement organs, and even cure HIV and Leukemia. So tell me, who has more compassion, the (more likely to be) atheist scientist, or the religious person that stands in the way of potentially life-saving research?

Atheism has never given anyone piece of mind or dried a tear? This one is pretty much the same as the fear one. I'd say that having no fear of going to Hell is pretty good piece of mind. I also think that the knowledge that I don't have to worry that a deceased loved one might be in Hell has the power to dry tears. 

Atheism has never given an intellectual answer to creation? Um, maybe Hagee missed the bit where atheism is only the answer to whether someone believes in gods or not. It's not a religion with a creation story and a pile of other dusty old myths. Science has an answer to 'creation' though. And it just so happens that it's the only intellectual answer to date. Perhaps you've heard of it? The Big Bang Theory? You know, the one that all the evidence has supported thus far...

And then the insults come... Hagee claims that 'atheism is bankrupt and empty. It's brain dead.' How quaint... Because following evidence doesn't make any sense. But believing in a talking snake, talking donkey, a floating zoo built by a 900 year old man, light being created before a light source, that bats are birds, Pi = 3, stars can just fall to earth, and a Jewish zombie (etc) is just so smart, right? Interestingly, a look at several studies on intelligence from 1928 to 2012 found that non-believers tent to be more intelligent on average, than believers. 

I have a felling Hagee is dragging his sides numbers down. A conclusion that is supported by some of his other statements. Hagee also said this in his sermon:

It is believed that when people stop believing in God, they believe nothing. That’s wrong. When people no longer believe in God, they will believe in anything. That’s why they start hugging trees. That’s why they start staring into crystals, joining cults, running into the woods, ripping off their shirts, baying at the moon, because it’s something intellectual people do when they get frustrated.
We're the ones that will believe in anything? Remind me again who believes in talking animals and a 900 year old guy performing an impossible feat of engineering? I don't see how worrying about the environment is relevant.  I don't hug trees, but I also don't treat the world like it's just some throw away planet. Maybe Hagee doesn't care what happens to the planet after he's gone, but I do.

Staring into crystals? Not me. Actually, most atheists I know are disbelievers in all types of pseudoscientific woo as well. Maybe he's confusing us with some new-age beliefs?

Joining cults? Sorry, I've had no use for a cult since I left the cult known as Catholicism. 

Running into the woods, ripping off my shirt and baying at the moon? WTF?! Is this guy serious? Do you think I need to tell him that Teen Wolf and The Wolf Man weren't documentaries? If his description is close to any religion, some form of Pagan belief would be the closest, but still... 

Sadly, this clueless man is loaded and has a national television audience to spew this drivel to. And even more sadly, all to many of his viewers will eat his words up, believing them to be true. Believing this man to be an expert on these matters, even when his slightest utterance just goes on to prove just how ignorant and dishonest he really is.

-Brain Hulk

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