Friday, August 18, 2006

To Albert

Albert asks about Dan Barker,

"Makes you wonder what Barker was really like as a preacher one time. Did he defend Christianity with the same emotion laden, intellectually superficial techniques he now uses to defend his atheism?"

Good question Albert.

Here's some quotes from Barker's loosing faith in faith.

"And I really haven't changed. I'm still searching for intelligence and reason and values, and I still love the truth. I still the same person, the same minister, who wants to know what is real and what is true, and I have decided that the evidences for Christianity are not good evidences." LFF, p.14

"I took only one class in apologetics - I think it was called Christian evidences - and I don't remember that we delved very deeply into the evidences or arguments for or against Christianity. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, since I wanted to be out on the streets, preaching the gospel, not stuck in some classroom doing worthless philosophizing." LFF p.22

[Interesting to note that first he says he was a "truth-seeker" and a "reason-seeker" but below he implies that he was somewhat anti-intellectual. Also interesting is that this seems to not have changed. Barker seems very ignorant about philosophical issues, yet still spread the good news of atheism.]

"On thing [my parents] taught me by example is that you should never be ashamed to speak what you think is the truth. My earlier ministry in the pulpit and my current activism for freethought are really one and the same thing. The message has changed, but I haven't." LFF p.34

"The Freedom From Religion Foundation ... has given me an opportunity to continue 'spreading the good news,' and to utilize (and improve) some of the skills that I gained from preaching." LFF p.48

"The motivation that drove me in to the ministry is the same that drove me out. I have always wanted to know." LFF. p. 53, emphasis his.

[Check out Barker's knowledge of "the gospel."]

"It was a mystery to me how anyone could be blind to the truths of Gospel. After all, don't we all want love, peace, happiness, hope and meaning in life." LFF p. 55

"I was a preacher for many years, I guess it hasn’t all rubbed off." LFF p. 55

[One last thing...]

Dan Barker is "willing to change his mind" (LFF p.91) if "you give [him] some evidence" (LFF p. 119), but remember that he "can never again be a Christian" (LFF p.88, my emphasis), even though he's "willing to change his mind", because he's an atheist, and here's why: "I am an atheist because there is no evidence for the existence of God" (LFF p.87, emphasis mine). So, Dan Barker is "willing" to look at the "evidence" even though there is "no evidence" and he is willing to "never again" become a Christian.


  1. More evidence that the current crop of internet atheists renounced a faith that was typical of the superficial easy believism variety, not the faith once for all delivered.

  2. And more than that, Dan Barker offers the evidence to show that he was a *real* hristian who was "very serious" about his faith.

    How do we know Dan was a "real" Christian?

    "My committment lasted 19 years."
    "I was a doer, not just a hearer of the word."

    "I witness miracles first hand."

    "I directed the Kings Children... music group."

    "For 15 years I worked with Manuel Bonilla, the leading Christian recording artist."

    "I have written more than 200 Christian songs."

    This all culminates to this:

    "I could go on listing my accomplishments, but I think you can see that I was very (emphasis his) serious about my faith, and that I am quite capable of analyzing religion from the inside out."

    Loosing Faith in Faith, pages 52-53.

    When Dan was a Christian he believed "this temporary life was a sub-reality of a higher reality" (LFF. p.66)." Was he a gnostic?

    One of the reasons he believes Christianity takes place on p.67. Listen to the kind of Christian this guy was:

    Dan drove around one day and heard a voice in his head which said to "turn right here." He obeyed. He thought it was the voice of God. He continued to take mental directions until he ended up "in the middle of a cornfield" at a "dead end."

    he then "felt stupid" but told himself that "God was testing his faithfulness." Then Dan smiled because he "felt the spirit say, "I'm proud of you Dan, you're an obedient child, you can go now." This gave him a "warm feeling all over his body." LFF p. 68

    So, is this unfamiliar? Now, this is the same sort of know-nothing Christian who, as he adits, didn't study apologetics or the Bible that much, but then all of a sudden finds problems with the Bible and then uses his Christian know-nothing days as some sort of vehichle for automatic respect. As if he thinks telling us about how he listened to voices in his head makes him an expert on critiquing Christianity.

    This guy is no different that Loftus, Morgan, Dagoods, babinski, et al.

  3. "I don't remember that we delved very deeply into the evidences or arguments for or against Christianity. It wouldn't have mattered anyway..."

    Hahaha... Indeed.

  4. And the other "True Christians"® here are such because why? Well, they *know* they are saved and are glad that most of the world (except for them) are sliding into Hell.

    How do they know this? Well, they have faith! They believe Jesus died for them (the elect), so it MUST be true (ignore the fact that they'll insist that OTHERS may ERRONEOUSLY believe Jesus died for them).

    Take the Catholics, for instance. Well, they may profess to pray to Jesus and say daily prayers telling Him how fabulous He is. But, since they have all these other errant beliefs, they may as well be sacrificing humans on their lawns after a tequila-drinking orgy.

    - Todd

  5. Todd,

    Thanks for illustrating the essence of this post for us!

    Todd: And the other "True Christians"® here are such because why?

    Paul: All true Christians are "such" because they are united with Christ. This is God's doing, and is not of works. True Christians are what they are because of the objective declaration of God and the ensuing change wrought within them by the spirit. Sorry you never knew that.

    Todd: "Well, they *know* they are saved and are glad that most of the world (except for them) are sliding into Hell."

    Paul: Notice the switch from what makes a Christian a Christian to the epistemological question of how one knows they are saved. Todd is another know-nothing atheist.

    i. Depending on how "Christian is defined" one can "know they are a Christian" because one "makes a profession."

    In this sense Barker et al were Christians.

    ii. Were they regenerated Christians? Doubtful.

    iii. The "as suchness" of a Christian does not depend on whether "they know" that they are saved. Assurance comes with faith, sometimes progressed faith. Not all "true" Christians "know" that they are saved, many doubt.

    iv. Furthermore, I don't think that "being glad one is saved and that the whole world is sliding into hell" is a necessary condition for the "as suchness" of a Christian either. You're a know-nothing atheist Todd, you're part of the never-to-be-wise wing of atheism. The derelects. Those who went to a Church camp when they were teens and think they now can speak authorotatively on our faith.

    Todd: How do they know this? Well, they have faith!

    Paul: The evidences of assurance are more than this, Todd. Todd is a know-nothing atheist. Todd's comment is autobiographical, showing what he *hasn't studied,* rather than functioning as an argument. Todd should read WCF, XVIII; 1-4.

    Todd: They believe Jesus died for them (the elect), so it MUST be true (ignore the fact that they'll insist that OTHERS may ERRONEOUSLY believe Jesus died for them).

    Paul: It's unclear how Todd means this piece of rhetoric to function as an argument.

    i. Is he implying that a believer can't know he is saved because he thinks others made a false profession? How would that follow?

    ii. People can, for a time, deceive themselves with, I would say, a second order belief. Thus it is true that, in a sense, they believe that Jesus dies for them.

    iii. If those "others" who you're talking about are apostates then we have every right to believe that they didn't really believe. Why? Because if they really did they would not have apostatsized. Thus your argument begs the question against our worldview.

    Todd, you're an example of what happens when you go to a teen camp, "feel" the Spirit, speak in tounges, get "fired up," go home and subsequently never crack another book besides the gospel of John.

    Admit it, you have read the Bible more since you were not a Christian than when you were, which still isn't, obviously, a lot.

  6. Todd, I, for one, am not happy that the vast majority of people in the Western World today are sliding towards hell. As a matter of fact, when I see it I cannot but weep for them, knowing that 'there but for the grace of God go I.'

    To you, I say 'look, look and live!' Todd, do not go cursing into hell. I would that all the world would believe and live.

    On the question 'how do you know', that has been addressed so many times. Of course I cannot know whether my faith is genuine. Only perseverence to the end is evidence of true faith. As I am not yet dead, I cannot know for certain, but I can speculate onto the probablity of my faith being genuine at any given time.

    As for Roman Catholics, I would note that they are guilty of a breach of the Second Commandment, namely the false worship of the true God (see the Golden Calf). That said, it is possible for a Roman Catholic to be a true Christian, just as it is possible for someone to attend a Reformed Church (or any other church, for that matter), and yet be unsaved.

    Is it the case that:

    'since they have all these other errant beliefs, they may as well be sacrificing humans on their lawns after a tequila-drinking orgy.'

    That I reject. Clearly any life apart from God leads down to hell. Does that mean 'sin on, let evil abound'? Well, I don't think so. Clearly the stablity of society here and now depends on restraint.

  7. Paul writes: "All true Christians are "such" because they are united with Christ."

    And us silly unbelievers are to know this how? So are you saying that you know you're saved because you are so utterly Christ-like? Does this mean you're kind and forgiving or that you sit in judgment on everyone else?

    The problem, Paul, is that while you make many claims that there are the "saved" and the "apostates", you can provide no clear argument as to what defines these groups. Is it what they DO or what they BELIEVE? If it's what they DO, then does this mean that the "elect" do not sin? If it's what they BELIEVE, then do provide the exhaustive list of what one is to believe. Then, find me two Christians (even among those you consider "saved") who hold the same theological beliefs in every way, let alone on moral and political issues. No two such persons exist.

    - Todd

  8. Todd, it is both, and it is neither. Are Christians saved because they believe or do they believe because they are saved? If one was an an Arminian, then one would agree with the first statement and if one was a Calvinist one would tick the second.

    'Ah,' I hear you say, 'but Christians disagree one with the other!' If they do not precisely agree on all things, then Christianity is false!'

    The above is a straw man argument. No-one has held that all believers become homogenous in matters of belief at conversion. We remain human beings. I ask you, Todd, do two persons exist in this wide world who hold precisely the same opinions on everything? This argument seems incredible!

    What are you trying to say? It's the second time I've come across it, and I still can't figure out exactly what it's meant to prove. If all Christians did agree as to every jot and tittle of the faith, I wonder who the first person to cry 'Cult!' would be?

    On practice. No-one would hold that a Christian cannot sin, but a true Christian should feel disgust at their sin and flee from it. Again, as you seem to be attacking a view held by no Christian theologian, I'm at a loss to see exactly what you're getting at here.

    Believers should be kind and forgiving. That does not mean a sort of lazy 'kindness' where everything is allowed to go. That is not kindness. Forgiving of cruel acts against ourselves, yes, but not forgiving wrongs done against other. Such 'forgiveness' is fraudulent and cheapens the act of forgiveness. It does not adorn it.

    Sitting in judgement over the morals of others? Not in the unpleasant sense of superiority, but of course we must exercise judgement in discerning right from wrong, criticising error, fiercely if need be. But in love, not esteeming ourselves better than others.

    Might I suggest the following dichotomy? The saved love God and desire to do His will, hating their sin and weeping over each slip. The apostate hate God to the point of denying his existence.

    There are also the mass of unbelievers who do not even think of God. They have never been into a church except perhaps for ceremonies and at Christmas and Easter. They consider themselves to be okay, even if they're nothing special.

    Does that define the difference between the saved and the apostate?