Are We Relevant? (part 2)

My point in the last post was that using fashionable means to try to show the relevance of our faith to the popular culture will only go so far. The substance of Christianity is the most relevant message in the world: 1) God is holy and people are not. 2) A savior is needed to reconcile the two. 3) Jesus is that savior. But step 1 of this message is repugnant to non-believers b/c it requires recognizing one’s own shortcomings in light of a holy God. A repugnant message wrapped in the latest swag is still repugnant. What we should do first is show that it is credible.

“Credibility” is synonymous with “perceived importance” (one of Google’s two main criteria for measuring relevance > last post). If our faith is just a fairy tale or it is no different than any other belief system, then there is no reason a non-believer should tolerate the repugnant part and stick around for the good news. We become more credible representatives when we are able to explain that it is based on evidence, honest about people & history, and different from all works-based belief systems. Our audience may not agree with us, but now we have something substantive about which to disagree.

More next time.

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4 Responses to Are We Relevant? (part 2)

  1. Pingback: Apologetics Review #2 | God Discussion

    And here is where the “work” of an apologist begins. 1) Assert things that you know your target audience will agree with. 2) Lie outright about or (purposefully) misrepresent people who will disagree with you to your target audience. 3) State something that is true. 4) Assert (rather tenuously) that you can present a reasonable case for Christianity specifically without actually presenting something…

    I’ll try not resort totally to the same apologetic tactic seen here and attempt to actually support what I’m saying where support is needed in numbers 2 and 4.

    2) The “message” of “God is holy and people are not.” is not repugnant to non-believers b/c it requires recognizing one’s own shortcomings in light of a holy God. In fact it’s not repugnant at all just unprovable. What IS repugnant is the behavior of many people who believe this. Now I don’t mean EVERY person obviously but there are enough people to raise an eyebrow and I don’t just mean the behavior of Christians who are burning and torturing children (sometimes to death) because of the mysticism the Bible supports; mainly about belief in witches. Nor am I simply talking about the atrocities and violence committed in the name of Christianity or helped along or perpetrated by Christians and other religious groups (e.g. the Crusades, Bosnian War, Rwanda, the scandal that IS the Catholic church and many more). I’m talking about something as simple as opposing stem-cell research in the world’s science super power (America) on religious grounds. How many tens of thousands of lives will be lost or made needlessly painful because of stifling the most promising field of medical research known to man? How are these things (and MANY others I could list) not repugnant?

    4) On this point I’d like to first point out that “credibility” is NOT synonymous with “perceived importance”. If that were the case, astrology would be credible along with every other superstition on the planet. This bit of reasoning is also partially the result of a logical fallacy called equivocation in which one word has more than one sense or definition and two or more senses or definitions are used interchangeably. Here the word is “relevance” and it’s specifically a semantic shift that is the problem. In the first sentence the word “relevance” is used in the sense in which it applies to life and the lives of other people and their behavior, souls and health. The second use of “relevance” refers to the “perceived importance” or “relevance” coding found in the parameters of an internet search engine. In other words: relevance (in any sense) = perceived importance = credibility. None of these connections (=) can be made with any (chuckle) credibility as the writer has presented them.

    I’m sorry to finally resort to this tactic but the rest of what’s in the last paragraph (given the arguments listed above) is drivel. It’s a half true statement coupled with assertions from thin air not accompanied by any backup. I can’t wait for Part 3, can you?

  3. Deneen says:

    The writer’s blog is a message to Christians; a reminder not to get caught up in today’s trappings of relevance (ipads, coffee shops) but instead to concentrate on the credibility of our belief.
    Credibility as defined by Webster’s is “reasonable grounds for belief”.
    The context of the post is that credibility is a precursor to relevance and perceived importance (rather them actually being synonymous). If God is not credible, He would not be be perceived as important, nor relevant to your life. It is interesting then to see how much perceived importance you put into the discussion. Perhaps time would be well spent to argue why Atheism or Agnosticism is credible rather than why Christianity is not.
    The tone of Apologetics1 leads me to believe he has something credible to say.

    • The credibility of your belief is what I’m talking about as well.

      “If God is not credible, He would not be be perceived as important, nor relevant to your life”
      Puerile ontology. You might as well have said, ‘I believe in God therefore God must be important and relevant.’ or ‘My child believes in Santa, the tooth fairy, and Bigfoot therefore Santa, the tooth fairy and bigfoot must be important and relevant.’

      “Perhaps time would be well spent to argue why Atheism or Agnosticism is credible rather than why Christianity is not.”
      This sentence tells me that you’ve very little experience in dealing with objections to your faith from outside of your faith.
      That being the case I’ll go easy on you.

      Mirriam-Webster defines atheist as, “: one who believes that there is no deity”. This definition is incorrect. Even by the standards of the English language set forth in Mirriam-Webster the definition is incorrect.
      The word theist means, “: belief in the existence of a god or gods; … specifically…” And here one cannot escape the blatant taint of the religious origins and funding of Mirriam-Webster, “: belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of the human race and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world”. Notice the word theist focused on defining the belief of a subject not on the existence of a god.
      The prefix “a-” as it applies to atheist means “: not : without”. Some other examples of the use of the prefix are asexual, agnostic, amoral, and asymmetric. In all of these words the prefix simply applies the lack of the definition of the suffix. Therefore a the word atheist (even by the rules the Mirriam-Webster and every other dictionary I can find at the time of writing this book) should be defined as “: one who is without belief in a god or gods”. This distinction is very important because it makes your statement about proving atheism is credible completely useless. Would you fault someone for not believing in dragons or ask someone to prove leprechauns don’t exist to prove that their lack of belief in them is credible? Atheists are not making a claim that a god doesn’t exist

      Agnosticism is an epistemological (the philosophical study of how we know) position which specifically refers to the lack of knowledge about god.
      As such the term “agnostic atheist” is not only coherent but the two terms go hand in hand. If one knows noting to confirm his/her belief in a god or gods, how can one believe in a god or gods?

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