God’s blessing to you on this the sixteenth day of January in the year of our Lord’s incarnation 2017.
So a twitter atheist I was talking to for weeks went silent. To sum up the backstory, he discovered me because of my alinguism tweets, and then we tangled when I pointed out that “morality is subjective” just means “there is no such thing as morality” (when it isn’t just a clumsy way of saying that it depends on the circumstances; e.g. plunging a sharp piece of metal into someone is right or wrong depending on whether you’re a surgeon cutting out a cancer or a street-tough murdering someone for his shoes). Then he started asking me questions, and said that he wanted to understand what I thought. Later on, he suggested a very stupid interpretation of the story of Abraham and Isaac where he was trying to show that God had to know the choices men would make without men ever making those choices. His eventual goal was to show how God shouldn’t have created people who would end up in hell because he would know before they rejected salvation that they would. Except that “before” in this case means “logically prior”, since I had explained that God is not inside of time, and so what he was trying to claim was that God should have known what choices people would have made had they existed and made choices. That is, he’s the latest person in a long line of people who deny the existence of free will and consequently the reality of human life. (Though he generally denied it when it was put that bluntly.) And when I pointed out that his interpretation of the (almost) sacrifice of Isaac is very stupid, he criticized me by saying that calling it stupid doesn’t help prove my claims about God. (I did also point out that under his interpretation, it should be described as “the pretend test of Abraham”, since according to him the test ended before anything was actually proved anyway, and therefore the entire thing just makes no sense; why go part-way through a charade which doesn’t prove anything to anyone? As saint Augustine advised to some monks who were questioning free will, interpretations of scripture which make scripture very stupid are bad interpretations.)
Anyway, I re-iterated that I wasn’t trying to prove anything to him. He wanted to know what I thought, so I told him. And that his interpretation of the test of Abraham was stupid was one of the things I thought. I haven’t heard from him since. Perhaps I will again, we’ve had several day lulls before. But in any event it comes back to something I’ve noticed with twitter and youtube atheists. They really, really want their interactions with Christians to be Christopher Hitchens style debates. Or perhaps even more, they really, really want a Christian to be trying to convince them that God exists so they can criticize the attempt. Now, I appreciate artistic heckling as much as the next guy. Probably more, considering how many boxed sets of Mystery Science Theater 3000 I own. But like most things it’s best done honestly. Honestly both in terms of being open about what you’re doing, and honestly in terms of giving credit where credit is due and not merely refusing to be pleased at everything. There’s a great line in The Importance of Being Earnest where John Worthing was asked if he could deny that his name was John. He replied, “I could deny it, if I liked. I could deny anything, if I liked. But I won’t. It certainly is John and has always been John.” I wonder if there were people who were surprised by Oscar Wilde’s deathbed conversion to Catholicism. Presumably not. After all, he gave one of the highest praises I’ve ever heard of the catholic church:
The Catholic church is for saints and sinners alone. For respectable people, the Anglican church will do.
Glory to God in the highest.