Evangelists and the Reason Rally, Third Epistle June 2, 2016Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Rants, Responses.
Tags: apologetics, atheism, christianity, Evangelists, Ray Comfort, Reason Rally, religion
One more of these before the Rally. Again, as a reminder, these are some of the things that I would be saying to Ray Comfort’s specially trained group of 1,000 evangelists, who were going to descend on the Reason Rally en masse until they found out they needed a permit and would have to demonstrate at the other end of the Mall.
Ubi Dubium’s Third Epistle to the Evangelists
“OK, Mr. Preacher. I think I’ve made it clear that all the stuff you have carefully learned from Ray on what to say to atheists is going to accomplish exactly nothing as far as converting anybody. Any of you who have tried this kind of the thing on us in the past should be well aware that it will not be producing the promised results.
“So the question is: Why do you guys do stuff like this?
“Now I can’t claim to read minds, or know your beliefs better than you do. But I have some hypotheses about what is actually going on that I’m going to suggest. If any of the preachers who were actually going to go to Ray’s event want to comment here on these ideas I’d be happy to discuss them.
“An obvious answer is that their bible tells them to go “preach the gospel.” But there are certainly easier audiences out there, ones that will give more “bang for the buck” as it were. Even a college campus is more receptive than a crowd of thousands of atheists, and there’s a better chance of actually making converts. I know people like a challenge, that’s why they do crazy difficult things like climb Everest. But do you throw yourself at Everest if you know there’s zero chance of success? So that can’t be all there is to it.
“Another thing that I see is that True Christians™ always seem to want to be seen to be accumulating “cosmic brownie points” with their god (or “treasures in heaven” if you want a nicer term). Every opportunity for a public display of piety, or to throw a bible verse into an email, or to preach at somebody is a chance for a shout out of “Hey god, look how devoted to you I am!” I rarely see that kind of thing from mainstream christians, they usually take the bible verses about not showing off their piety in public more seriously (see Matt 6:5). It usually seems to be those of the fundigelical variety who are intent on making as big a public display as possible.
“But I think that even more than displaying their devotion for god, I think in many cases they are displaying their loyalty to each other. I’ve talked about the idea of “honest hard-to-fake expensive symbols of commitment” before. (And I still am looking for a better name for this idea, if anybody has one.) This is the thing you do that is difficult, or time-consuming, or expensive, or personally embarrassing, or all of those, and is also completely pointless. You would never do it except for the purpose of getting another group or individual to accept you as sincere. Among the many things that would fall in this category are Mormon missions, gang tattoos, big diamond engagement rings, fraternity hazings, and tithing. The bigger the gesture you make, the more you are telling your group that you are a devoted member. And for a group where preaching is a show of loyalty, what bigger gesture can you make than to spend money to travel to another city, and preach in front of a guaranteed hostile audience? I think going off to DC to do this is a sure way to gain status and trust from the congregation back home.
“I’m thinking there may also be an element of territorial marking involved as well. The atheists are meeting on the National Mall, in public, specifically to challenge christian dominance of politics and government in the country. If the christians just allowed that to happen without getting involved, it would be a big event that was all about the heathens, and not about them. Perhaps they felt a need to take ownership and put their mark all over the event as much as possible, to reclaim this piece of the public attention “turf” for themselves. Being relegated to the other end of the Mall just would not accomplish this goal at all.
“Those are my ideas so far. It’s possible I’m completely wrong (which is something you never hear an evangelist say).
Thus endeth the Third Epistle.
That’s all for now. If I have any interesting encounters at the Rally, perhaps I will have a follow-up.