A Christian defends conversion through fear

Christian author Ray Comfort recently penned a brief essay entitled “Wired by God,” in which he defends the use of terror tactics in converting people to Christianity. This is my rebuttal.

Ray Comfort’s blog is Atheist Central.

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

8 thoughts on “A Christian defends conversion through fear

  1. Robert Miller says:

    Interesting parallel between fleshly desires and overcoming them and the incongruity between that concept and using the fear tactics of appealing to fleshly desires in conversion.

    You do talk about the betterment of society, and this is something I would imagine everyone wants. In your previous post you mentioned the Golden Rule and Silver Ways, two ways by which this may be achieved. It can seem that for every positive attempt to better society (i.e. building hospitals or schools) there is a negative attempt (i.e. genocide or book burning).

    The tactics of fear and control are less likely to achieve that betterment than heartfelt compassion and solidarity.

  2. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Robert.

    Oddly, betterment seems to happen even through such things as genocide. I’m not justifying such a thing, but man’s hostility does seem to be a mirror of the hostility in the animal kingdom, where one tribe of chimps goes to war against another, etc. “Survival of the fittest” seems to be rule that allows those with the better genes to propagate while the rest are killed off.

    It’s a cold outlook, but it does seem to be the reality of the natural world: betterment through adversity. Reading a very interesting book on these theme at the moment, called The Lucifer Principle by Howard Bloom.

  3. Robert Miller says:

    There is contradiction there, betterment can come from looking at problems and seeking positive ways to solve them.

    In the case of war, famine and genocide. People have long memories and will remember the perceived causes and those who perpetrated the conditions that brought about the pain and suffering of their fellow people group. I think the reasons for such things are deeper than “survival of the fittest”.

    When you questioned some time ago the accounts of genocide in the OT, maybe these events actually did better society ?

    Just thinking

  4. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Robert.

    “There is contradiction there, betterment can come from looking at problems and seeking positive ways to solve them.”

    I’m not denying that betterment can happen through reason. You know yourself that betterment is the whole motivation for the direction I’ve taken my life, and it’s my motivation for being outspoken about it. I would actually like to believe that the human race is on the brink of being able to move forward without killing each other in the process, although part of me reserves judgement on such idealism because of our track record in history.

    But it is observable in the natural world that a major driving force of evolutionary betterment is adversity. The strongest and smartest of a species is the best at fending off predators (both inside and outside their species), therefore the better genes get the chance to propagate. Nature weeds out weakness through adversity.

  5. Robert Miller says:

    Hi Darryl,

    You say:

    “I would actually like to believe that the human race is on the brink of being able to move forward without killing each other in the process, although part of me reserves judgment on such idealism because of our track record in history.”

    I see that dream in the likes of MLK’s “I have a dream” speech. I don’t think it’s going to be all our effort though, we’re going to have to rely on something greater.

    Another thing you mention is:

    “The strongest and smartest of a species is the best at fending off predators (both inside and outside their species), therefore the better genes get the chance to propagate.”

    I think one of the things that distinguishes humanity is the ability to reason. So there is an opportunity to escape conflict, hunger, and disease through dialogue, compromise, collaboration, and shared resources. Other species do this to some degree, but humanity seems to operate on a completely different realm.

    So, cures for diseases have been found and people want to share these with others (maybe selfishly or maybe not). I remember an episode of ER set in Africa where two American medics were giving anti-malaria injections to the people encamped as refugees. One asked the other “when was the last time you saved so many people in one day”. Now who is to say who lives and who dies when we have the means to prevent many things from happening?

    (these are not retorts to what you write by the way 😉 – just me thinking as I type)

  6. Darryl Sloan says:

    Hi, Robert.

    “I think one of the things that distinguishes humanity is the ability to reason. So there is an opportunity to escape conflict, hunger, and disease through dialogue, compromise, collaboration, and shared resources. Other species do this to some degree, but humanity seems to operate on a completely different realm.”

    You’re hitting on the central issue which I think is at the heart of all religious debate: the question “Is man just an animal, or is in his own special category?” How we choose to answer that question determines our whole moral outlook, and whether we feel any need for religion. Religion seems to depend on providing a fix for something that people perceive is wrong with them.

    I personally feel there is a great deal of evidence that shows that man is just an animal. Everything about him is mirrored to one extent or another in the rest of the animal kingdom. Animals communicate with each other in elaborate ways and have complex societies – even creatures as simple as bees.

    When you say “humanity seems to operate on a completely different realm,” I just don’t see it, Bob. I see mammals engaging in mammalian behaviour, and anything of a spiritual or metaphysical nature that applies to us also applies to the rest of creation. The best I could concede is that maybe we’re approaching a juncture of sorts, since we’re the most evolved species. Maybe human evolution is going to branch out beyond the biological, as we understand more about consciousness. After all, there was a time when there was no biological life, and it eventually developed out of lesser forms of life.

    (If you’re wondering what my view of evolution is, it’s not the Darwinian variety. I think evolution happens, but it’s an unconscious mechanistic process.)

    Anyway, nuff said.

  7. Robert Miller says:

    On an aside – check out the link – will your movie be on the curriculum?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11219411

  8. Claire says:

    Well said.

    I’ve got two other problems with Ray Comfort’s argument:

    1) What kind of a God is it that he beleives in that he thinks that he has made us such that we CAN chose to do right, when we do so to attain rewards or avoid punishment, but not out of the “goodness of our hearts” – why would he worship said God for having chosen, in his infinite wisdom to make him like that??!!

    2) what he’s saying about human nature is not true. We don’t have “desperately wicked” hearts and the average person does not choose right over wrong to avoid punishment and/or attain rewards. Most folk have a conscience and empathy. Most people will choose to help someone who needs help when they know there is no chance of any reward and no punishment for not helping. Most people don’t steal because they know it is wrong, not because they fear getting caught, so I don’t know whose standards he is judging by.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: