You want hypocrisy?

In an article reprinted from Prison Fellowship’s “Breakpoint” rag, Mark Earley does what he can to help satisfy global demand for hypocrisy.

With all the attention the atheist agenda is receiving, doesn’t it seem strange that most Americans find heroes among those who reflect a biblical worldview?

Those who reflect a biblical worldview, eh? Tell us more!

Earlier in 2007, CNN began polling people for a list of their heroes. As the results began rolling in, it became apparent that the frontrunners had something in common. Whether or not they professed belief in God, they all lived their lives in a way that would not make sense if He did not exist. [Emph. added]

You read that right. Earley is giving Christianity credit for the heroic deeds done by people who weren’t necessarily even Christian. Oh, sure, he would have liked to claim that the heroes were all Christians, and that non-Christians don’t have what it takes to be heroes. But the facts stubbornly refuse to back him up on that one. No matter, he’ll just “name it and claim it” for God anyway, by claiming that heroic behavior “would not make sense” unless God really exists.

Atheism has no explanation for these acts of self-giving and even self-sacrificing charity. As Chuck Colson has said many times, Darwinian evolution cannot explain this kind of altruism: How does one who willingly dies for another pass on his or her genetic traits for the improvement of the species? No, defenders of atheism and Darwinism, if true to their convictions, should sneer at this kind of self-sacrifice as weak and pointless.

Unless, of course, they’ve read The Selfish Gene, which was published 32 years ago by Richard Dawkins. Altruistic behavior has had a Darwinian explanation for decades, not that Earley (or Colson) would let a mere fact get in the way of their anti-unbeliever diatribe. Altruistic behavior is behavior in which one organism instinctively assists others in its pack, hive, herd, or other social grouping. This kind of social cooperation benefits the individual, because the social group in turn gives survival advantages back to the individual. Self-sacrifice is relatively rare, and even when it does happen, it confers an evolutionary advantage on the gene, which exists in the other members of the group as well as in the individual that died. So the net effect is that the gene(s) responsible for altruism have an advantage: they are passed on by the larger group, and not just by any one (self-sacrificing) individual in that group.

No, if you want something that’s hard to explain, altruism isn’t it. Maybe Earley should turn his attention instead to the problem of martyrdom. According to the Gospel, if you die as a martyr, you get a special reward in heaven. You also get to be immediately united with the most significant Other in the universe, Someone that every good Christian is supposed to love more than life itself. You also get to bear a convincing and compelling witness for the truth of the Gospel by dying for it. So why aren’t more Christians more hungry for martyrdom?

This world is full of trials and suffering. Heaven offers eternal bliss. This world makes it difficult to know God’s will (since He never shows up to explain to us what that will might be), but heaven offers clear and direct communion with God. Life in this world is short, and is going to end sooner or later anyway, but life in heaven is supposed to be eternal. Sure, you’ve probably got loved ones here, but Jesus said “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” And who knows, by dying for your faith, you might persuade them to give their hearts to Jesus too. Isn’t their eternal salvation worth more than the care and comfort you would have given them for a few short years by living?

Yet Christians are in no great hurry to die, not even for the Gospel’s sake. It’s almost like they knew, instinctively, that the only real values are earthly values, and the only real purposes are earthly purposes. Christianity is fine as a social network, as a belief you espouse and defend in exchange for acceptance into the “good guy’s” group. It even works ok as a superstitious explanation for why things happen that you don’t understand. But when it comes down to actually living (and dying) in a way that would make sense if a Christian worldview were really true, Christians behave just like the unbelievers do. They may say they love Jesus and long to go to heaven, but they’re in no hurry to make it happen. Yet they claim that unbelievers‘ lives don’t make sense unless God exists? Hypocrisy indeed.

4 Responses to “You want hypocrisy?”

  1. prazzie Says:

    There aren’t many opportunities for Christians to martyr themselves. Most Christians I am acquainted with live like atheists every day, with slight deviations on Sundays and during times of trouble.

    How do you propose we remedy this problem? If Christians should strive to be martyrs and I strive to be a good friend, how do you suggest I help my Christian friends secure a richly rewarding afterlife, without incurring trouble with the police?

  2. The Professor Says:

    Actually, I think it would be better if Christians just wised up to the inconsistencies in the Gospel. Martyrdom’s not really my thing, for myself or for anyone else.

  3. prazzie Says:

    Of course not. It’s abhorrent.

    Just, on some days (like today), I do get visions of bonfires and stakes and tests of faith and wiping smug grins off hypocritical faces. Must be the evil atheist in me.

  4. The Professor Says:

    I know what you mean. My evil impulses would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for that darn secular morality of mine (and their stupid dog too…oh wait, that’s Scooby).

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