Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dear Mr. Shermer,

I recently read a little essay by Michael Shermer on why religion is stupid.  I first encountered the work of Mr. Shermer when  I first became a prof at Alabama.  One of my colleagues sent me an interesting challenge to Christianity.  I didn't realize it at the time but my colleague had grown up as a devout Roman Catholic.  Whilst working as a prof at SMU he fell in love with a married woman.  Obviously this resulted in tremendous cognitive dissonance.  In the end, the woman won out over Catholicism and to ease his pain, my colleague vowed to stamp out any vestige of Christianity he encountered in public Higher Education.

Then along comes me...representing the very thing he was stamping out.

I initially thought that my colleague was simply raising interesting objections to Christianity, not realizing he was re-cycling objections from the anti-religion generally, and very anti-Christian particularly, Mr. Shermer.  I would respond to one objection, and a few days later another would arrive.

In the latest of Mr. Shermer's essays I read, he raises the objection that Jewish law included the death penalty for a variety of offenses.  "But Jesus said love thy neighbor!" explains Mr. Shermer with incredulity.  "What a self-contradictory religion is Christianity!"


Surely an experienced anti-Christian like you, Mr. Shermer, can do better than that!

Regardless of your political leanings, even the most simplistic of us recognize that there are certain functions that accrue to the governing council, legislature, etc. that DO NOT accrue to individuals.  I don't want to pass a death sentence, or declare someone NOT GUILTY on my own volition.  I don't want to determine the speed limit, or how many unrelated people can live in the same house.  This is not because I hate making rules, I love it, it is simply because some things are done by individuals, and somethings are done by councils, governments etc., and most people don't have trouble distinguishing between those things... except Mike Shermer.

So, Mr. Shermer, go back to asking questions.  When I ask people things, I tend to look less whack than when I say whacky things.  Just saying...

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