Why does the religion or non-religion of a person matter?

Anti-gay Christian fundamentalists protesting ...
Anti-gay Christian fundamentalists protesting at the SF Pride Parade (Photo credit: thaths)


I’ve noticed this discussion about the state of Dr. Cargill’s soul at the blog of Dr. McGrath. Interestingly, it has delved into whether or not Cargill is a Christian. I would imagine it has started with Dr. West’s contributions to the idea that acceptable facts can only generate from acceptable quarters. For instance, it seems many would characterize Dr. West’s logic as one can only speak about Christianity if in fact that person is a Christian. Of course, you and I — and I suspect Dr. West would certainly agree — recognize that this logic breaks down when we consider just how many forms of Christianity are out there — and would have to decide who or what is a Christian, along with the fact that an “outsider status” does not limit expertise or the explanation of a valid opinion. This is, after all, what logic Creationists supposed against Scientists and real biblical Scholars.

But, as I have said in the past and will continue to say tomorrow, the genesis of the fact matters not the acceptability of the fact. I am not an atheist — however, I can comment on just how silly such a position issue, what with proving a negative and the what not. I am not a Muslim, but I can comment both on the beauty I find in Islamic theology and philosophy as well as the rather disgusting venues it expresses itself. I am not gay, but I can comment on their standing before the law. I am a Christian — a rather conservative one at that unlike the liberals such as Ken Ham and other fundamentalists. I would hope, however, that my conservative Christianity is not taken into account if I produce something factual. When I have made these mistakes, I have often found that I have missed keys that have kept the door locked. The question is not how I spend my Sunday mornings, or Friday evenings, but the state of my scholarship.

So, as I explore the discussion unfolding on the Matrix Blog — and I would encourage you to do so as well — I have to wonder who the hell cares what religion someone is if their statements are supported by the philosopher’s trinity — facts, logic, and reasoning? Further, the religion of the person, or the lack thereof, does not in anyway limit them from contributing to a discussion on said religion.

Finally let me reload this conversation: I am not a Palestinian, but I feel like I can contribute my voice in calling for justice for them in Israel. I can join with others — Christians, Muslims, and atheists — in doing the same thing. Equally so, I can learn from pro-Israel citizens something that may correct my blindspots. If all Truth is God’s Truth, then to restrict the quarters from which it comes is to deny to God the full avenue the divine discourse. We are not called in our scholarly gift to speak only to those who are like us, but to learn and to learn requires challenges to ourselves and our opinions until the facts emerge. If we do not do this, we are not scholars, but fundamentalists — whether liberal or conservative — and we have failed Academia. Let our books be burned, our pens dry up, and our minds vanish.

Also, James McGrath is bloody ‘ell deft when it comes to the supposed longer ending of Mark.

Also, revolutions. I tried to work it in, but couldn’t.

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25 Replies to “Why does the religion or non-religion of a person matter?”

  1. NO HISTORY IN John 21 — It appears to simply re-produce and re-situate Luke’s “calling of the apostles” and “great catch” into a post-resurrection setting, and also reverses Peter’s denials via three affirmations.

    The Gospel of John also took Luke’s “Mary and Martha,” and Luke’s scene of Jesus’ feet being anointed (in Luke it was not by Mary), and Luke’s parable of a beggar named “Lazarus” and re-produced and re-situated all of that into the ending of Jesus’ ministry, making it one continuous tale and making Lazarus an historical figure and brother to Mary and Martha, no longer a beggar, and with Mary doing the foot-anointing of Jesus. http://edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com/2011/02/perfumed-jesus.html

  2. You had a decent argument going (though bogged down by a surprising number of grammatical errors for a “scholar”). Then you botched it with the old fallacy that atheism means trying to prove a negative.

    Sigh …

    For the millionth time, atheists are not interested in proving a negative. They simply find the evidence for god(s) insufficient to merit belief. There are a few exceptions, such as Victor Stenger; but Stenger very specifically attempts to disprove particular notions of God – not any old nebulous, undefinable god that might satisfy.

    Do atheists care about what other people believe? Only insofar as religious belief is used to promulgate scientific ignorance in important arenas such as evolutionary science and climate change, or when religious belief is imposed on others or used to curtail human rights.

      1. Why yes, I’m straining at a gnat. And please don’t be offended when I say that I’m not a Christian, but I can comment on just how silly it is to believe in ancient mythologies.

    1. Im sorry to chip in here but, do you beau think that theism is a positive statement? that is, does it state there is a God?
      If so, then how can you say that a-theism is not a positive statement? (there is no God). If you accept the burden of proof for one then logically you should accept it for the other.

      1. I’m afraid you’ve lost me, Dan. Are you sure you’re not addressing Joel instead of me? He was the one who said of atheism, “just how silly such a position issue [I think he meant ‘it is’] what with proving a negative and the what not”.

        I don’t mean to speak for Joel, here, but I’m not particularly interested in proving or disproving either position. Of course, if you ask someone to disprove a religion, you’ll have to be a little more specific about which sect of which religion you mean. Asking someone to prove that God does not exist is a bit like asking someone to prove that a perfect wine does not exist. It begs the question: what’s a perfect wine?

  3. “Not really. Everyone should have the right to make a comment, but some people don’t have the intelligence.”

    An ad hominem?

    Joel, you are better than that!

    1. No. That wasn’t directed against you. I was speaking about how I feel. While you have greatly missed the point of this post, I still support your right to comment.

      1. Thanks. But I do think that I was trying to engage the point of the post fairly directly. I agree with you that one doesn’t have to espouse a belief or idea in order to comment on it with some degree of authority.

        But to effectively critique someone else’s beliefs (or unbeliefs), you have to represent their ideas fairly; otherwise, you lose the credibility to comment. That’s what I meant by throwing out the ancient mythology comment. I was trying to demonstrate what it looks like to be unfairly represented.

          1. Was meant as an observation, not a criticism of your post, with which I am mostly in agreement.

  4. “The birth of Jesus had first been revealed by night to a few unknown and ignorant shepherds; the first full, clear announcement by Himself of His own Messiahship was made by a well-side in the weary noon to a single obscure Samaritan woman. Who would have invented things so unlike the thoughts of man as these?” F.W. Farrar.
    I have conversations with my atheist neighbors and have recently realized none of them will change their minds or ever get saved by losing an argument. Every one who has accepted Jesus for who He said He was and is has had one experience or another with the wholly “Other,” that we can tell them about though it is often beyond words, so it is hollow to them and will be counted as a tale or a delusion, unless the subtle wind blows on them and –they know. In the meantime we still have to argue. Keep up the good work Joel.

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