Wednesday, August 4, 2010

333: The Easy Way, or The Hard Way

1 Corinthians 1-4
"What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?" - 1 Corinthians 4:21

Just what we always wanted, more of Paul's ranting.

Paul writes this letter to the Corinthians because he hears that there are divisions among them. Some of them say they follow Apollos, some say Paul, and others say Jesus. Paul says that he (or is this some other Paul?) was not crucified for their sins, so they shouldn't follow him.

Paul goes on to say that, for those who don't believe, the message of Christ is foolishness. This is because God says, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise". Is God sending people to hell again? Indeed, Paul says that only those chosen by God can see that the message of Christ is not foolishness. It seems the New Testament has only changed when God punishes people for no reason, not if.

He then goes on to insult the intelligence of the early church. He says that when these people were called by God, they were not wise by human standards. In fact, God specifically chose these people because God wants to use the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. So God is letting stupid people into heaven, and letting the smart ones go to hell, just for the sick satisfaction of "shaming the wise"? Is this the same being I'm supposed to believe is "all loving"?

In chapter 2 Paul backs up a little. He says that the followers of Christ really do speak in wisdom. But it's secret God wisdom, that nobody but them understands. That's a pretty convenient type of wisdom that doesn't have to be very wise.

Paul then says something that I'd be shocked if some Priest hasn't latched onto, "The spiritual man makes judgement about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgement". What happened to "judge not lest ye be judged"? I think this should from now on be known as the "hypocrisy approved" clause of the bible.

Chapter 3 is all about laying your metaphorical foundation with Jesus. Because if you lay your foundation with Silver or Gold your house will surely be burned. I guess in metaphor land, Silver and Gold are highly flammable while Jesus is fireproof.

In chapter 4 Paul says that the Corinthians have become wealthy kings, while Paul is the scum of the earth (which is a good thing, of course). He then says that he's sending Timothy to re-educate them in the ways of Jesus. Finally, he urges the Corinthians to become more like him.

All atheists are just rebellious teenagers! It must be true, because this guy wrote a book about it:
A professor of philosophy and religion at Taylor University in Upland, Ind., Spiegel has written a 130-page book, The Making of an Atheist, in response to the New Atheists. But unlike the numerous responses that have emerged from Christian apologists, Spiegel's book focuses on the moral-psychological roots of atheism.

While atheists insist that their foundational reason for rejecting God is the problem of evil or the scientific irrelevance of the supernatural, the Christian philosopher says the argument is "only a ruse" or "a conceptual smoke screen to mask the real issue – personal rebellion."
Of course, with this explanation he doesn't actually have to bother answering the problem of evil or addressing the lack of evidence for God. This is not to mention that a good portion of the atheists I know (including me) weren't raised in religious homes. What am I rebelling against?
He admits that it could appear unseemly or offensive to suggest that a person's lack of belief in God is a form of rebellion. But he said in a recent interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society that he was compelled to write the book because he is convinced that "it is a clear biblical truth."
Ok, let me just get this straight. His argument is that atheists can't possibly have a legitimate reason to say the bible isn't true, because the bible says so? Scientology and Pastafarianism say the exact same thing, I think the writer is just rebelling against their perfect revelations. But don't stop reading yet, he's got anecdotal evidence!
Spiegel, who converted to Christianity in 1980, has witnessed the pattern among several of his friends. Their path from Christianity to atheism involved: moral slippage (such as infidelity, resentment or unforgiveness); followed by withdrawal from contact with fellow believers; followed by growing doubts about their faith, accompanied by continued indulgence in the respective sin; and culminating in a conscious rejection of God.
That's a fun theory, but I've got some bad news. If you're consciously rejecting God (i.e. you acknowledge that he exists but reject him anyway) you're not an atheist. He seems to be accusing all atheists of not actually being atheists. But wait, there's more:
"It appears that the psychological fallout from a defective father must be combined with rebellion – a persistent immoral response of some sort, such as resentment, hatred, vanity, unforgiveness, or abject pride. And when that rebellion is deep or protracted enough, atheism results," Spiegel explains.

In essence, "atheists ultimately choose not to believe in God," the author maintains, and "this choice does not occur in a psychological vacuum."
If anything, wouldn't the lack of a father make you seek (read: "make up") a new father (God)? Why would the lack of a father make you want to be extra fatherless? Not that having a father has anything to do with atheism. Of course atheists, at some point, choose not to believe in God. Just like, at some point, all Christians consciously choose to believe in God.

All of this makes for a very convenient conclusion for Christians, where they don't actually have to address any of the concerns of atheists (as he mentioned, the problem of evil and the lack of evidence). If my position is so obviously indefensible, give me some logical reason to be a Christian.


  1. Atheists are severely overrepresented among scientists and mathematicians. But this must be because of their rebellious natures rather than their rational, analytical mindsets.

  2. What happened to "judge not lest ye be judged"? I think this should from now on be known as the "hypocrisy approved" clause of the bible.

    It's nice that the Bible is so full of contradictions that you can use it to prove that any stance you happen to hold must be the One True Faith. It's a wonderful game that has been played for centuries, using the bible to find post-hoc rationalizations for believing whatever it is that you already believe.

    And the whole "atheists as rebellious teenagers" thing comes up a lot - this guy isn't the first and he won't be the last. It plays into their patriarchal mythology of God as a loving father-figure and anyone who rejects their father figure must be a rebellious teenager. Never mind that their father figure is at best an absentee father who refuses to pay child support and at worst doesn't exist...

  3. 1 Corinthians was a letter Paul wrote to a church in Corinth, Greece that he apparently founded. After his initial time with them, he went on his way to other communities (Ephesus, in particular), but then heard of some things that were going on there (from "Chloe's people") that disturbed him. In fact, some of the congregation there wrote him a letter asking him to settle some disputes among, so he wrote this letter in response.

    It seems that after he left, some other, more impressive, apostles came to Corinth teaching the Xians there something different from what Paul did. Moreover, perhaps due to the fact that these were Gentile Xians rather than converts from Judaism, they seem to have taken his message of freedom from the law and receipt of the holy spirit a little too far, in that they seem to think that they were already spiritual beings who could do anything they wanted with their bodies. There was also a frenzy of prophesying and competition in spiritual power and wisdom. Paul was trying to damp down some of this unbridled enthusiasm, correct the excesses that horrified his Jewish concern with purity, and counter the threat of these more charismatic rivals to his status with his church.

  4. 1 Corinthians 1-4

    1 Cor 1:6: "because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you." What kind of testimony about Jesus could've been confirmed in the converts in Corinth? Obviously not something along the lines of "Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah" (something that Paul never states in any of his letters). It seems that Paul's testimony in this regard must have focused on the receipt of the spirit, something that could've been witnessed among that congregation.

    1 Cor 1:12. The congregation has divided into factions following different apostles. Cephas is normally identified with Peter (cf. Galatians), although it is not clear whether they really were the same person or not, and some 2nd c. Xian groups thought they were different people. Apollos was mentioned in Acts as a new and popular preacher who arrives on the scene, but who still has a lot to learn and is subordinate to Paul - in Paul's actual letter we can see that he was much more of an equal to Paul. But most intriguing is this group who say, "I follow Christ." Isn't that what they all should say? What distinguished these people? Did they reject Paul's gospel?

    1 Cor 1:14-16. Paul says that in Corinth he only baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. In Acts 18:8 it says that Crispus, his household, and "many" other Corinthians were baptized. Did Paul delegate this task to someone else?



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