Is "Christian Intellect" an Oxymoron?
David BurchettDave Burchett is a successful television sports director with experiences that include the Olympic Games as well as professional and collegiate sports. Dave has directed television coverage of Texas Rangers baseball for over thirty years, earning a national Emmy and two local Emmy’s throughout his career. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring ‘Em Back Alive. Dave has developed a speaking ministry as well as regularly blogs at DaveBurchett.com. Dave is married and has three grown sons, several grandchildren and another rescued Lab.
- 2007 Oct 12
Warning: The following post may (or, sadly, may not) contain humor. This blog was produced in a program where irony and satire are processed. May contain sarcasm fragments. If you are allergic to humor or attempts at humor please avoid this product.
Richard Dawkins is an atheist who loves to denigrate Christian intellect. In fact, for Dawkins the very phrase “Christian intellect” would be oxymoronic. When asked what the main difference between believers and atheists was, Dawkins had a quick answer: "Well, we're bright."
I took that as I hope Dawkins intended it. I laughed. Because he surely does not believe that every single Christian in the world is dim-witted. Then again, perhaps he does. If Richard Dawkins genuinely believes that Christians are that intellectually challenged perhaps he should start a business geared toward people of faith. When we struggle with the difficult tasks of life like getting dressed or balancing a checkbook we could simply go to www.we-are-bright.com (not an actual site for any believers reading this) and get a real atheist to help us figure it out. Sample weblog…
Believer: “Help me bright people. I am locked out of my convertible, it is starting to rain, and the top is down!”
Bright Person: “No problem, still learning to walk upright religious person. Just reach inside and unlock the door.”
Believer: “Oh thank you, smarter than me person!”
Dawkins is not alone in believing that the average Christian is a nugget or two short of a Happy Meal. Here are some titles from blogs and websites (my comments in italics). Many I could not use because this is a family blog.
- Stupid Christians index – Didn’t make the list…note to self…try harder
- GOP operatives exploiting stupid Christians…That is so not true. Isn’t that right, Mr.Rove?
- All Christians are idiots – Maybe today Diogenes the Cynic would be carrying his lantern looking for one smart Christian instead of an honest man.
- Amazingly Stupid Christians – Premiering next week on Fox!
- I am sick and tired of stupid Christians – Me too.
- Stupid Christians are ruining the world – Don’t look now but they are getting lots of help.
- 101 Reasons to Hate Those Stupid Christians – My favorite. This guy is calling Christians stupid and he has 12 reasons listed on a website entitled 101 reasons. Hmmm. Perhaps he could also get some help from the folks at we-are-bright.com.
I do have one observation from visiting these websites. Get spell check! I began to think the cows from the Chick-fil-a billboards were typing these blogs and posts. Not a lot of communication is going on at most of these sites. Here is a typical exchange:
“You are a stupid (bleeping) Christian!”
“Well, I may be stupid but at least I am not going to hell.”
That is some helpful interchange going on there! That passes for debate at most of these sites.
CNSNews.com reported that some of the leading spokespeople for atheism recently gathered at a convention in Northern Virginia. The consensus was that science must ultimately destroy organized religion.
I hope they mean intellectually.
In his speech, Richard Dawkins portrayed a black-and-white intellectual battle between atheism and religion. He denounced the "preposterous nonsense of religious customs" and compared religion to racism. He also gave no quarter to moderate or liberal believers, asserting that "so-called moderate Christianity is simply an evasion."
"If you've been taught to believe it by moderates, what's to stop you from taking the next step and blowing yourself up?" he said.
Perhaps one overpowering reason is that no where in the teachings of Jesus does it ever say that I should blow myself up. Exactly when or where was the most recent Christian who blew themselves up for their faith? Oddly enough, author Sam Harris was a voice of moderation.
While Harris said he believed science must ultimately destroy religion, he also discussed spirituality and mysticism and called for a greater understanding of allegedly spiritual phenomena. He also cautioned the audience against lumping all religions together.
"The refrain that all religions have their extremists is bull-t," Harris said. "All religions do not have their extremists. Some religions have never had their extremists."
While the audience gave Dawkins a standing ovation, Harris received only polite applause. One questioner later declared herself "very disappointed" in Harris's talk.
Here is a heartbreaking but predictable sidebar to the story reported at Crosswalk.com.
Many of the attendees seemed to have developed an aversion to religion from conservative, Protestant Christians. Several of the atheists Cybercast News Service spoke to complained of living under fundamentalist parents who frowned upon any questioning of the Bible or any activity condemned in Scripture.
"It wasn't easy [telling my parents I was an atheist]," one said. "I still haven't entirely told them. I just say I'm a humanist, which they don't seem to mind."
That makes me sad but I am not surprised. Much of my book “When Bad Christians Happen to Good People” deals with legalism and the failure of many in the church to communicate grace and love. That type of legalistic religion has done immeasurable damage. Jesus was the harshest critic of “religious” hypocrites.
Not much has really changed in the past couple of hundred years. The great preacher Charles M. Spurgeon wrote in the 19th century that “if you follow Christ, all the hounds of the world will yelp at your heels. Count on this, if you live for Jesus Christ, the world will not speak well of you.”
I wish that was not true. I wish I could discuss my faith with civility and grace with everyone. I wish that everyone would view my attempts and desire to communicate my faith as genuine and caring. I am saddened that a group that prides itself on reason is so prone to use ugly stereotypes and ridiculous generalizations. But throwing me under the moron bus won’t change my hope of communicating the message of Christ to you. Sadly, hateful responses have been going on for some time.
So don't be surprised, friends, when the world hates you. This has been going on a long time. The way we know we've been transferred from death to life is that we love our brothers and sisters. (I John 3, The Message)
To those who disagree with my beliefs I can only say that I hope you don’t hate me. I do not hate you. I hope you don’t think I am stupid. I certainly don’t think you are stupid (at least until I get to know you and you demonstrate that fact beyond a shadow of a doubt). I do think some of you have a little anger issue but that is another topic. Perhaps if I can implement the words of James I can enter into civil dialogue with some of you.
Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor. (James 3 – The Message)
That seems like a good place to start for me and my not so bright friends.
Dave Burchett is an Emmy Award winning television sports director, author, and Christian speaker. He is the author of When Bad Christians Happen to Good People and Bring'em Back Alive: A Healing Plan for those Wounded by the Church. You can reply by linking through daveburchett.com