Our final day spent on this will be dealing with objections Loftus raises to his view and since there are four only on only three pages, this should be short.
#1-Loftus says someone might claim modern people are just as superstitious. Many believe in horoscopes, rabbit’s feet, etc.
Loftus says that we can imagine the ancients having 10,000 things to be superstitious about but the educated believed only 9,000 of them. Let’s suppose today there were 100 and the more educated among us only believed 5-10 of them. He sees this as describing God of the Gaps. (Which I earlier said was condemned by the minister Charles Coulson.”
Loftus claims that the knowledge in the Bible was based on superstitions. I think the opposite has been shown. The Bible repeatedly condemns superstitious behavior and when we get to the end, I plan to expound on this more. If people are superstitious, it is not because they are religious but because they are people.
We had a case where I work yesterday of someone called a “religious fanatic” who was performing a laying on of hands on people in the parking lot. I had to ask what it meant to be a religious fanatic. My claim is that a person will be a fanatic about anything. If they are fanatical about religion, it is because they are fanatical about everything else. If they are emotional about religion, it is because they are emotional in other areas. If they are intellectual about it, it is because they are so in other areas. When an emotional Christian apostasizes, you get an emotional atheist.
Why are people superstitious? Because of their nature that they then apply to religion. A person will form odd beliefs about religion not because of the religion but simply because they are the type of person to form odd beliefs. It’s a lot easier to just blame the religion though.
Objection #2:This is that modern people have their own myths. Rationality comes from irrationality, order from chaos, morality from amorality, life from non-life, complexity from simplicity.
Loftus’s answer is to speak of all the good that science has brought us and how we can see how it has impacted us in a number of areas. Let’s see how well this holds as I play devil’s advocate.
Why yes, religion is full of myths! Look at all the good it’s brought us! Look at how it was instrumental in starting the rise of science! Look at how it ended slavery in America! Look at how it gives us our morality and ethics today and provides order to society! Look at how missionaries are spreading literacy and at all the charities that have come about as a result of religious beliefs!
I would hope you’d say “That’s all well and good, but if your foundation was mythical, so what?” Exactly. Personally, I have a harder time with the myths of moderns than of our so-called myths. Because science has done so much good for the world, I’m to believe that rationality came from irrationality?
What’s ironic is I called into a radio talk show in my old town once with a professor on a program who hosted an event called “Darwin Day” at the university and asked him the following question. I don’t remember my exact words so I am paraphrasing.
“Sir. When I look at the universe. I see atoms, protons, neutrons, electrons, molecules, etc. and when I look at these things, they’re not rational. By that, I mean they don’t think. But when I look at the world and see dogs, cats, horses, and people, we all possess rationality, we can all think. Now if water can’t rise higher than its source and an effect can’t be greater than its cause, how do you get rationality from irrationality?”
I respect the guy’s first answer to this question. “We don’t know.” However, then he said “We know God didn’t do it because then we’d have to ask who created God.” That’s high school apologetics and a gigantic category fallacy.
Friends. I just choose to believe something sensible. Something doesn’t come from nothing and effects aren’t greater than their causes. Modern man has yet to explain how such a thing can happen. The modern theist though has no problem as he still holds to the idea of God. It’s stood the test of time and he has no reason to reject it.
Objection #3:This one consists of the idea that the educated really weren’t superstitious but simply used religion as a political motivator of sorts to bring about loyalty to the Roman state.
Now Loftus claims that if this is the case, so what? Christianity converted mainly the lower class and they were very superstitious. (Hmmm. How did the higher-class dodge that bullet. What education did they have in natural law?) Now were many from the lower-class converted. Yeah. Could it simply be though because there were more lower-class people just like there are today more middle-class people than higher-class people?
And furthermore, there were intellectuals that were converted to the faith. Paul was very astute in his credentials and converted. Cornelius was a centurion in the Roman army and could hardly be considered lower class. Go through the epistles and see some of the recipients of the letter. Paul refers to some in Caesar’s household even who believe.
Objection #4: Some people might view Loftus as intolerant.
Well, it all depends on what you mean by intolerance. True Christian tolerance is in saying that you acknowledge the person who has the right to hold the view while not accepting their view. I can see someone in favor of abortion as a person while being 100% against abortion.
When it comes to true tolerance like that, I have nothing but tolerance for it. It should be practiced. When it comes to the pseudo-tolerance today, I have no tolerance for it. In fact, I bluntly think that such tolerance can go to Hell. For those who think that is tough, worry not. It should have no problem finding its way home.
Loftus brings up the witch trials to counter this though which he is against. Here’s the truth on the witch trials. As far as I know, we had eighteen people that were killed in them. I agree, that is eighteen too many, but it is hardly the event that writers like Sagan and others make it out to be. What ended it? Why it was Christians of course who were condemning superstitious thinking.
Now I have my own objection to raise.
If all of the ancients were as superstitious as is said and would believe anything, then why was Christianity so persecuted? If they believed anything, why did they not accept immediately that a man had been raised by God from the dead? Why did they have a hard time with the concept “The Word Became Flesh?”
Something was happening. Other religions allowed you to go and sleep with the prostitutes to connect with God. Christianity said you sleep only with your spouse or you don’t have intercourse at all. Why would someone trade the former belief for the latter belief?
Christianity calls one to many things. It is the religion that promises suffering for its followers. It was the one that if you joined, you were likely to be persecuted, ostracized by family and friends, and cut off from the community. If you were a Jew who accepted it, you would be putting your whole eternity on the line.
Christianity calls you to die to yourself. It tells you that you are not the God of this universe. It tells you to submit your will to one beyond you. It teaches a high level of morality that was not seen in the world at the time. It tells you to believe that God became a man, that he was crucified, and that he rose again, and that that man alone is your only hope for eternal life.
This was a religion not well-accepted early on. The Jews would have you cast out of the synagogue if you were a Jew who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Nero would take you and he would set you one fire to light his evening parties. In persecutions, you could be captured and thrown to lions. The government was actively fighting against your sect.
I can only think of one reason why people became Christians and why Christianity survived to the point that as it has been said, we name our boys Peter and Paul and our dogs Nero and Caesar.
Christianity stood up and overcame the paganism of the time. G.K. Chesterton said paganism was the biggest thing the world had seen before Christianity and after that, everything else has been pretty small. It was Christian thinking that put an end to superstitious beliefs by believing in a rational world created by a rational God.
I will gladly contend this. The more rational a man becomes in his thinking, the closer he will move to how God has revealed himself in Christ. The more irrational he becomes, the farther he will move from that revelation. Sound thinking is more than just intellectual exercise. It’s holy. To think logically is to think godly.
And with that, we conclude the section on superstitions. Tomorrow is yet another section.