Why Mockery is a Weak Man’s Argument

Ravi ZachariasI love the winsomeness of Dr. Ravi Zacharias’ respect for others and their ideas even when he believes they are wrong. Atheist Richard Dawkins, on the other hand, is an example of a brilliant mind corrupted by arrogance and disdain. Lacking respect for all who disagree with him, Dawkins resorts to mockery when his ideas don’t carry the persuasive power he desires.

He is a mean-spirited and angry man and he needs our prayers and compassion. Though he is deluded, Dawkins is made in the image and likeness of God and we who have been forgiven through the mercy of Christ need to never stoop to his model but follow instead the path of the Savior. Ravi does a good job of that here.

 


16 thoughts on “Why Mockery is a Weak Man’s Argument

  1. I agree that ridiculing the people (and not the ideas) is unkind and uncalled for. But I’d also like to take a quote from Christopher Hitchens: “Religion now comes to us in this smiling-face, ingratiating way, because it’s had to give so much ground, and because we know so much more. But you’ve no right to forget the way it behaved when it was strong, and when it really did believe that it had God on its side.”

    So when Zacharias points out that Christians won’t attack Dawkins for those comments (and implies that Muslims will) his comment is not really about the religion. It is about modern culture and society.

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    1. Allallt,
      I see where you are coming from but I would suggest that Zacharias is exactly on point. Islam moves in intolerant paths precisely because of its scriptures and doctrine but when Christianity has moved in intolerant paths it is moving against its scripture, its doctrine and its founder.

      Christianity can believe both that it is right and be tolerant.

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        1. Short answer, yes.

          Medium answer: I mentioned three things (Scripture, Doctrine, Christ himself). You are focused on one–the Scripture. Have you ever seriously read the New Testament and the Koran side by side? Can you seriously think that the Koran and the New Testament are even in the same ballpark when it comes to tolerance?

          Long answer, some other time …

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        2. I thought that Jesus was a part of the Bible, by which I mean that basically everything you know about Jesus came from the Bible. And I don’t know the difference between Doctrine and the Bible, unless you’re talking about something some person has decided to add post-Biblically, in which case I don’t know why anyone would take that addendum seriously. But it is your faith not mine, so I am happy to be educated on the matter.

          I’m not trying to compare Islam and Christianity, like Dr Zacharia is. I have only read the very beginning of the Koran; the Koran is inelegant and boring to read (in English, at least). I am merely pointing out that the Bible is not so tolerant of unbelieve (heretics and the irreligious) as to allow the ridicule Dawkins is inciting.
          It is modernised, secularised (to an extent), tolerant Christians who are permitting that. And they may excuse their deviation from the actual text by saying they have an understanding of Jesus and God’s tolerant and merciful will (conveniently), but that is not adhering to the actual text of the Bible.

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        3. Allallt,
          You still haven’t given me an example of the kind of violent intolerance that Dr. Zacharias is referring to. Again, it (violent assertion of the faith) is all over Islam and completely absent in the New Testament Scripture, New Testament doctrine (formulations of principles and teachings based upon the Scripture) or in the behavior of Christ in the gospels.

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        4. First of all, thank you for changing the scope from “the Bible” to the New Testament. Makes me wonder why any bothers to print that bit of the Bible, which makes up most of the Bible.
          Secondly, I haven’t given you an example of anything because you haven’t asked for one.
          Thirdly, I don’t know what you mean when you ask for an example; I am agreeing that Christians in the West don’t behave violently in the face of having their religion challenged or mocked (but neither do Muslims in the West).
          I am saying that Christians used to be violent towards the irreligious and the heretics and the pagans. A point you initially accepted.
          And I’m saying that that behaviour is in line with the Bible, but it is mostly Old Testament stuff.

          Now, if you can explain to me how you can cherry pick which bits of the perfect word of God from the Old Testament the New Testament overrules, and which bits of the perfect word of God from the Old Testament are still perfect now, then we’re having a very different conversation.

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  2. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 This is the heart of God, not intolerance but love, grace and mercy.

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  3. Allallt,
    Enjoying our little dialogue. First, don’t interpret my narrowing the focus to the NT as a running away from or capitulation on the narrative of the OT. I simply wanted to bring a more focused light on the discussion. Second, you missed the direction of my comment. I’m not just agreeing that Christians in the West are less violent today, however true that might be, compared to Islam. I am saying that the Scriptures of the Bible (Old and New Testament portions), when interpreted rightly are less violent and more tolerant than the Islamic Scriptures, when interpreted rightly.

    Even those portions of the Old Testament that might be pointed at as intolerant and violent, take for instance some of the wars recorded in the book of Joshua, are rightly seen as God’s judgment upon exeedingly wicked cultures (centuries of child sacrifice for one thing), that actually display God’s kindness and mercy and patience upon those peoples. The God of Abraham is depicted as judging peoples who refused to repent.

    In my mind this is far different than the wholesale and blanket exhortations of the Koran to exterminate all those who will not bend the knee to Allah.

    Third, I don’t accept the charge that this is “cherry picking” the portions I like and ignoring the portions I don’t. The book of Joshua describes a particular moment in history for particular reasons. It is not a prescription for other cultures and times.

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    1. Like I said, I haven’t read the whole Koran, but I am willing to go on as if I accept your claim that the message of the Koran demands more violence than the Bible does. That is not the same as saying that Richard Dawkins would be safe if he incited ridicule of Christians (or even admitted to atheism) in front of Christians who followed the words of the Bible:
      Deut 13: 6-10
      Deut 12: 12-16
      Deut 17: 3-5
      2 Chron 15: 12-13
      2 Kings 10: 8-27
      Exodus 22: 20

      (And you can’t ignore the Old Testament:
      Matt 5:18-19
      Luke 16-17
      2 Peter 20-21)

      When Dawkins makes that speech in a culture filled with Christians he is confident of there being no violent reprisal not because of the inherent peace of Christianity, but because the people have matured beyond the text.

      (If you don’t have an actual Bible to hand, there’s an online version of the King James: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org)

      To make my point again, just to make sure it isn’t missed (sometimes a list of violent Bible passages distract from the point), even if Islam is inherently more violent than Christianity, Christianity is still not a safe context for an unbeliever.

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      1. Allallt,

        You said: “To make my point again, just to make sure it isn’t missed (sometimes a list of violent Bible passages distract from the point), even if Islam is inherently more violent than Christianity, Christianity is still not a safe context for an unbeliever.”

        I completely disagree. (You would expect me to say that.) But let me give you my reasons or rather, reason: Context.

        The Deut 13: 6-10, deals with instructions to a fellow Hebrews (“brother”). It deals with the initiation of the people into the Land of Promise when it was important for the people of God to start their adventure in the land on the right foot and completely dedicated to YHWH. An unbeliever, a non-Hebrew in that time is not being considered. It is an internal policy issue for a particular historical moment. Ditto on 2 Chronicles 15:12-13 and Exodus 22:20.

        Deut. 12 and 17 that you site have nothing to do with treatment of outsiders. They have to do with animal sacrifices.

        2 Kings 10: 8-27 is not a general principle but a record of an act of war against Judah. It is not, in other words, a directive that whenever some one disagrees with you you can kill him. It is instead a record of battle between enemies, and in this case the aggressor was Ahab against Judah.

        As for the NT passages you site:

        Matt 5:18-19 relates to the believing community and has nothing to say about how to treat outsiders. Outsiders are to be loved, cared for, prayed for, served—-see for instance the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 and Matthew 5:44 and many others.

        The 2 Peter 2:20-21 again, speaks only of “what would be better” for the person. It does not say that Christians should go out and dispense with such persons. Indeed, Christians don’t know when a person might still repent of sin and so continue to labor, out of love, and seek to persuade others to repent, believe and follow the risen Christ.

        Richard Dawkins and other atheist are completely safe from Christians who interpret the Bible properly, that is, the way any writing is interpreted. I.e. we look at the context and the give the writer a fair and unbiased hearing of what he or she means. And the Bible is no different than Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or Tolstoy at that point. In fact it is you that are doing the cherry picking and picking passages out of context, not giving them a fair and unbiased hearing, but simply using them to try to beat down an argument you find distasteful.

        Now, I will point that out to you, but I won’t kill you for it. Why? Because the one I follow said that I should pray for, even those who are my enemies, who spitefully use me, and who persecute me. I should always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is in me and do it with grace and truth.

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  4. Allallt hasn’t been back since our last exchange. Pray for him. Pray that his heart would soften to the gospel and that those Christians who know him would continue to be bold, sensitive and compassionate in the defense of the gospel they give him.

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    1. Well, that was definitely hilarious and I worry the host will be killed very soon. We have plenty of evidence that there is an abundance of Muslim people that do and will kill over stuff like that.

      But, much like my earlier criticism, focussing on the New Testament (as the video implores you to do, and as you did earlier in our conversation) ignores a majority of the Bible.

      I gave you a series of passages from the Bible that requires of Christians the murder of nonbelievers. These included lines like:

      “and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” (2 Chronicles 15:13);

      “Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:12);

      “Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-15);

      “If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him.” (Deuteronomy 13:7-12).

      You dismissed these as referring only to the Hebrews, despite “everyone who”. You also say that as if (a) it’s okay and (b) it makes sense for God to create localised internal policies for a tiny group of people that doesn’t apply to the rest of the world.
      You claimed that Deut 13 and 17 were about the treatment of livestock. That arrogant livestock that can lead citizens astray(?).

      That’s why I didn’t come back; you were treating me like I don’t have a copy of the Bible or access to Google. Just read Deut 13. Preferably in the King James Bible because it is more expressive and fun to read, though these quotes are not from King James, they are New International.

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      1. Hey Allallt,
        I have a really busy day but here is some help with what is confusing until I can get back to you. Have a great day.
        Why Same-Sex Sex Gets the Death Penalty in the Old Testament but Not Today (Tim Keller—great article and model for how to do competent analysis of the text of Scripture.) Link: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/167685-tim-keller-why-same-sex-acts-got-the-death-penalty-in-ot-but-not-today.html?print

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        1. Nice article. It doesn’t explain how a perfect God got it wrong first, and for thousands of years between Abraham and Jesus we had to follow cleanliness rules… but then at some arbitrary point in time God simply commanded them away (and then killed Himself and then came back three days later…). It doesn’t even explain why a God that exists outside of time fixed His mistake over time.

          Most importantly, though, this article talks about things we were not allowed to do, which now we are. It says nothing of things we were commanded to do, but now don’t have to.

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