I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
When I reviewed Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed a few weeks ago, I received a comment from a dude named Patrick Roberts, who writes his own blog, K.O.G. Media, where he writes about film and music and how we can gain knowledge of the love of Christ from watching or hearing just about anything. He contributed nothing much to the conversation, just the usual disingenuous line about freedom of speech that intelligent design apologists are always tossing out when the subject is being discussed, but the fact that he had found my review and taken the time to say something intrigued me enough that I went to check out his blog.
He’d written his own review of Expelled, about which he had nothing too interesting to say, but since he had been nice enough to comment on an article I wrote for this den of filth, I returned the favor. Patrick, like many anti-evolution Christians, doesn’t seem to have any idea what the theory of evolution is, or what it actually says. He is also (despite claiming to have received a “rudimentary” science education from Arizona State University) confused about basic chemistry:
Scientists are blessed with an abundance of opportunities to witness God's amazing creativity. Scientists, especially chemists, have to wonder, what holds everything together? Why are there different elements? Why do some elements attract and other do not? What are atoms made out of?
Each of Patrick’s wondrously posed riddles have been definitively solved. Scientists do not have to wonder what holds everything together, or why there are different elements. They have answered those questions. A better question would be how someone can take a chemistry course at a major state university and not learn the answers himself.
Anyway, I digress. Scanning his blog, I noticed one of his favorite arguments, one he hits over and over again in article after article, is the importance of differentiating “man-made religion” from a true relationship with God. Fair enough, although I couldn’t help but notice the profusion of references to the Bible, the divinity of Christ, the necessity of seeking salvation through Christ, this great cheesecake recipe he got the other day from Christ — you get my drift here, I think. Patrick, who is unmistakably, emphatically Christian himself, draws a distinction between his personal beliefs and “man-made” (read: “false”) religion. So I commented on his Expelled review:
Patrick, I notice in many of your articles you admonish people not to confuse God with "man-made religion," yet in nearly everything I've read here you have quoted from the Bible or emphasized the importance of following God through Jesus Christ. Please explain how Christianity is not a man-made religion in the same way that Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., are, and why you are something other than an affable religious bigot.
As for your question about the religiosity of my religion . . . I can't think of any conclusive way to prove this right now, so i'll have to get back to you later with that info.
That was April 23, and unless I have simply missed it, Patrick hasn’t gotten back to me with that info yet.
I’m not trying to be a prick about this; I’m not writing today to point my finger and shout “I win! In your face!” No, it’s not about that (entirely); it’s about dishonesty and intellectual cowardice.
It’s dishonest for Patrick to admonish others for clinging to man-made religion at the same time as he trumpets his Christianity as the one true way to know God. It’s also extremely bigoted, but let’s go with dishonest for now. I’ve heard this from Christians before. It’s a chorus repeated throughout Christian apologetics, from C.S. Lewis to recently reformed anti-Catholic bigmouth John Hagee, who is fond of telling his flock at Cornerstone Church, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe in Hell — it’s still there, and you’re still going!” Every other religion in the history of the world, this argument states, is wrong, false, illegitimate. Every other interpretation of the Christian religion that contradicts that of the one making the argument, also, is wrong, false, illegitimate. “My religion is different,” say people like Patrick, “because, unlike yours, it is true.” It’s such a childish thing to say that if it wasn't in the middle of the most petty and petulant blog article I've yet written, I'd be embarrassed to have taken this long of a paragraph to ridicule it.
Intellectual cowardice comes in with the way Patrick handles his blog. Comments at K.O.G. Media are moderated. No comments are visible until they are personally approved by Patrick. Let me quote from an article about comment moderation written by the grand poobah of Hagerstown area bloggers, Rick Rottman of Bent Corner:
When a blogger employs comment moderation and uses it to filter out opinions that differ with their own, they might as well ditch the blogging platform and just write Word documents. It’s dishonest. . . . They shouldn’t use comment moderation to discourage dissenting opinions. In fact, they should be encouraging people to weigh in with contrary opinions.
Patrick does allow dissenting comments to appear, but he’s obviously applying some standard to what makes it onto the blog and what doesn’t, because the last three or four comments I’ve tried to make, to various articles he’s written, are nowhere to be seen. I’m a little annoyed at having taken the time to write what I thought were intelligent responses to things he had written, only to have them disappear into the ether. Like Rick, I think moderating comments is a chickenshit move. I don’t hold comments for my approval — if you want to give me shit for something I wrote, I say go for it. Make me look like an idiot (if there's still work left to do on that front after writing this). That’s part of the fun, for Christ’s sake.
Reading blogs like K.O.G. Media makes me feel sorry for the Christians out there who are not religious bigots, who allow reason to inform and shape their faith, who are not full up to their eyeballs with horseshit. It’s easy to hear the Pat Robertsons and John Hagees, or watch a disingenuous documentary like Expelled, or read people like Patrick writing about the deep spiritual lessons to be learned from Christian Bale’s Batman, and just assume that modern Christianity is an intellectual wasteland. I’m glad there are organizations like the Clergy Letter Project, the Metropolitan Community Churches, and the Wittenburg Door to remind me that there are smart, compassionate, witty Christian voices to be heard out there.
As a parting shot at Patrick (who has managed to really offend the shit out of me, if you couldn’t tell), take a look at this advice for Christian dating, from another blog of his:
Now, if you want to ask a girl out, then ask. Be straightforward.
If the two of you go out a couple of times, great. Now comes another decision time. If you couldn't legitimately propose to marry this girl after two or three dates, then forget it. Otherwise, what are you doing?
If the two of you date for two weeks or more, then you should be planning to get married ASAP. If you both are on the same page with God then this will seem like common sense.
Is this the Christian answer to the high divorce rate? Propose after two or three dates? Are you fucking kidding me?
Yes, as a matter of fact I would like some cheese with my fucking whine.
UPDATE – 2:40 P.M.: Sorry, I realized I wasn’t done yet.
Truth be told, it was this article about 2001: A Space Odyssey that got me all riled up. It’s bad enough the guy only made it half an hour into one of the greatest films ever made before falling asleep (“a lot slower than what I’m used to,” he says by way of an excuse). Having admittedly not watched the entire movie, he goes on to write a lengthy article about what he perceives to be its presentation of evolution: “Judging by the aforementioned ape scene, Stanley Kubrick's point of reference for human advancement, or the thing that sets certain apes apart from other animals, is the ability to develop and use tools.”
Imagination, Patrick — the ability to make intuitive leaps, to think in the abstract, to envision possibilities — not resourcefulness. It’s not the ape’s ability to use the bone as a tool that matters. It’s his ability to pick up the bone and make a tool out of it.
The rest of the 2001 article is a typical misrepresentation of evolution (describing it incorrectly as a process of continual improvement), and a lot of Biblically-based stupidity about how human beings are actually decaying from generation to generation, as a result of original sin: “There is little doubt in my mind that humanity started off with more physical, intellectual and spiritual prowess than we have the ability to appreciate these days.” This is what happens when you use the Book of Genesis as an anthropology text.
And what is it that compels Christians to write shit about movies they haven’t even seen? I’d love an answer to that question.