Yesterday I challenged an anonymous blogger who calls him/herself “Wintery Knight” (henceforth “WK”) on his/her anonymous defense of the Rebellion Thesis (the claim that all atheists are actively and sinfully suppressing their natural knowledge of God).
Wintery Knight’s Ad hominem Rebuttal
Sadly, WK responded less like a bold knight fighting for truth than an insecure lord defending his petty fiefdom. Instead of responding to my criticism, WK immediately warned readers that I am probably more progressive politically and theologically than WK:
“I should just let everyone know that Randall [sic] is coming from a more liberal point of view than I do. His Twitter blurb mentions “social justice”. From what I have read he is considerably to the left of me on theology.”
Two comments here. First, it is a strange Christianity indeed which sees a commitment to social justice as a problem! WK even goes on to mock me publicly by referring to me as “Mr. Social Justice.” (Frankly, I wish I was. But the reality, as I state in my Twitter account, is that I’m an inactive activist for social justice. On the upside, at least I know enough about Christianity to realize I should care about social justice.)
Second, WK’s comment is one big ad hominem / non sequitur. As I put it in his/her blog:
“WK states that I hold a “more liberal point of view” than he does. That may be true. But it’s irrelevant to the current discussion. […] “But this is not about my views. This is about defending the claim that every atheist is actively suppressing knowledge of God as a result of moral rebellion. That claim is supported neither by scriptural nor empirical evidence.”
WK also claims I deny inerrancy. Again, irrelevant … and in this case also false. WK cites as support the opinion of a reviewer of God or Godless which I explicitly rebut here. It seems like WK’s approach to intellectual exchange is a quick Google search to try to justify tossing some labels that can marginalize his/her interlocutor.
Wintery Knight’s unique approach to integrating faith and knowledge
But not all WK’s readers were so threatened by thoughtful civil exchange. Yesterday, one reader of WK’s blog called “WorldGoneCrazy” tried to interact with me by posting a long comment. Alas, by that time WK had already effectively banned me from commenting. (As it went down, he/she emailed me with the terse request: “You’ve made your points, please move on.” Since I’m the consummate people pleaser, I obliged!)
As a result, WK responded to WorldGoneCrazy’s interest in continued rational dialogue with the exasperation and insecurity of the lord of the petty fiefdom:
“Please, can we give Randall’s point a rest. I have asked him not to comment any more, since to me he just doesn’t believe the Bible, and this is a Bible study post.”
WK promotes his/her blog as “Integrating faith and knowledge in the public square.” Apparently WK thinks the first step to integration is excluding from the conversation everybody who doesn’t agree with WK’s interpretation of the Bible.
Is Wintery Knight committed to geocentrism?
And that brings me to the main point of this post, the charge that I just don’t “believe the Bible”. In my original critique of WK I sought to pre-empt such ignorant and facile charges as follows:
“The formation of Christian doctrine doesn’t come simply by citing a chosen list of biblical verses. It also includes careful reflection on Wissenschaft, i.e. the cumulative learning of the age, as one crafts an emerging theological understanding in dialogue with the collected wisdom of the age.
“And so, for example, today the man who cites Joshua 10:13 as evidence for geocentrism whilst dismissing as irrelevant the scientific evidence for heliocentrism shows himself more enamored of his current doctrinal constructions than complex reality.
“And so it is with this citation of Romans 1:18-23. Those who triumphantly cite it as evidence that every single person who rejects the proposition “God exists” is in rebellion against God effectively dismiss as irrelevant the staggering complexity of real people in real life situations.”
WK completely ignored this point, choosing instead to warn his/her readers that I purport to care about social justice. That’s unfortunate, because the point I was raising here is very important.
Note again WK’s tendentious basis for excluding me from commenting at his/her blog: “he just doesn’t believe the Bible, and this is a Bible study post.” In this case, “doesn’t believe the Bible” is equivalent to “denying what WK believes the text is saying.”
But the fact is that Joshua 10:13 provides at least as good support for geocentrism as Romans 1:18-20 provides for the Rebellion Thesis. After all, Joshua 10:13 explicitly states that “the sun stood still, and the moon stopped” in response to Joshua’s prayer that these celestial bodies stop moving. Thus, if WK “believes the Bible” then presumably WK believes the sun rotates around the earth as surely as does the moon.
And if WK doesn’t accept geocentrism, then apparently WK “just doesn’t believe the Bible”.