Monday, October 6, 2014

Ignore what I said about myself; you’re going to anyway

I dislike much about what professional apologist William Lane Craig does and says and that dislike extends back to well before my departure from the Christian faith. As a good, thoughtful Calvinist I found his philosophical approach to Libertarian Free Will, known as Molinism, to be highly flawed and clearly at odds with scripture and sound reasoning. I always thought he played fast and loose with the clear meaning of the texts of the Bible in order to make his evidentialist defenses of Christianity and it pissed me off. What can I say? I was an Angry Bearded Calvinist™ without the beard. Well, WLC continues to piss me off because of his disingenuousness and deliberate obfuscation and I’m not the only one.

Bart Ehrman is understandably incensed by this old post from Craig that someone must’ve brought to his attention recently. In it Craig straight up lies about Ehrman’s personal biography, claiming that it was Ehrman’s rejection of biblical inerrancy that led to his deconversion. That’s just…I can’t…no. Anyone remotely familiar with Ehrman’s story should know better, but especially someone who knows him personally and has actually directly engaged Ehrman in a pitched debate. He’s been pretty open about it. How open? Well, he wrote a friggin’ book about it. Now, in fairness to WLC, that book came out after this post. However, as Ehrman points out, the man had access to Ehrman’s email address. He could’ve just asked him. He didn’t. He just went ahead and attributed whatever motives and reasons best fit his own preconceived ideas.

There’s more in Craig’s post that reflects the avoidance, chicanery and other such nonsense I’ve come to expect from him. I might get to some of that in a subsequent post. There’s much to be said about his deductive argument for inerrancy, but I’ll save that for another time perhaps. What I want to point out here is that Craig isn’t doing something novel when he assumes something about Ehrman’s personal history that simply isn’t true and doesn’t fit at all with what Ehrman says about himself. This is a tale as old as apostasy.

By and large, it doesn’t matter what you tell believers about your reasons for leaving the faith because no matter what it is, they will ascribe to you whatever best works for them. For example, I know of at least one person who attributed my own apostasy to repressed memories of being physically or sexually abused as a child. This was news to me, of course, as I have no recollection of such things and this other person would have no such knowledge of that either since they’ve only known me as an adult, leaving me to believe they plucked this reason from a bacteria-rich orifice below their waist. See, it didn’t matter that I had told this person directly what it was that led to my departure from the faith. That answer didn’t fit their background knowledge or view of reality, so they rejected it and inserted one that worked for them.

Apostates will run into this repeatedly. I didn’t believe the right brand of Christianity. I’m angry at God for…something. I didn’t say the right words. I didn’t believe the right things about Jesus. I put too much stock in inerrancy. I didn’t believe the right Bible version. I was too fundamentalist. I was too liberal. I was corrupted by studying philosophy at a secular university. I was put off by the hypocrisy I encountered in a fundamentalist Christian school. I was too intellectual and not practical enough. I believed with my head and not with my heart (a phrase that still rings meaningless to me). I want to fornicate with impunity. And on and on. World without end.

So why do it? Why even bother telling the tale and giving the reasons when believers are all just going to make up whatever narrative best suits their own preconceived notions? Catharsis mostly. And also to set the record straight, even if no one is listening.

But you know what? I think some of you are paying attention. I think some of you are on the edge. Some of you are just looking for that one apostate who can relate to your experience in a way that convinces you that your brand of Christianity is indeed as vulnerable as it appears. I think this because I’ve been there. Sometimes the last thread of doubt is that lingering feeling that you might be the only one to ever come out of your experience and reject your brand of Christianity. You’re not. We’re everywhere and in every faith tradition. We have our reasons and they’re not always the stock answers that make believers comfortable.
"But you don't have to take my word for it." - Levar Burton


  1. As usual, you say it with class and succinctness.

  2. well said. And WLC makes me want to ram my head into a wall. What a distasteful person