Friday, October 30, 2015

Who Can Refute a Sneer?

A number of episodes of several crime-drama TV series include either criminal Christians (pastors, vicars, murderous self-righteous fanatics, tyrannical and abusive Scripture-quoting fathers) or Christians as murder victims—men of the cloth often spectacularly murdered in their church. It is said that we adopt many beliefs through anecdote and few beliefs through reason or evidence. I wonder whether these character roles from TV serve either as unbelief inducers or as food for confirmation bias. In other words, for those who are nominally Christian or those who are unsettled about religion and spiritual life in general, are they influenced against faith by these propagandistic ploys?
It’s an old technique—associate something you want to make loathsome with something already thought to be loathsome. Are people so na├»ve that they fall for this?
“Fred is a lowdown snake.”
“He is? Hey, Harry! Have you heard? Fred is a lowdown snake.”
“Who knew? Tom, did you know that Fred is a snake?”
“Yeah, that’s what everybody says.”

By the way, the title of this posting comes from William Paley, who advanced what might be called an early theory of intelligent design in the biological world by pointing out that plants and animals sure do appear to have been designed and made for a purpose. Palely was referring to the anti-Christian sneering tone of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (which Gibbon blamed on Christianity). So, to end, we quote the proverb, "Those who can only sneer have no facts." Just like those who have no stones to throw can only scream four-letter words at those they hate.

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