I don’t want to attempt to settle the atheist/believer problem once and for all. I know I can’t.
My main point in addressing Mac Donald’s “bad things” argument was to show that it is not any kind of slam dunk that should end the argument for anyone.
What IS my main point is that non-believers/secularists/whatever you call them, have been rather insistent that they are being abused or presumed upon by God-talk in the public square. Considering the rather large number of people who do hold such beliefs, I think it actually quite impolite to insist that these people construct some alternative justification just to please the non-theological sensibilities of others. This is particularly true if we agree the issue is not conclusively won by either group.
In addition, Mac Donald’s argument is based on a straw man. How often do believers argue “God sayeth” and then leave it at that? They don’t. In fact, one of the common critiques of conservative Christians is that they argue too much via a political mindset (like for tax cuts!) and not enough from a prophetic biblical stance!
Christianity, at least, is drenched in rational justification. I understand that the various proofs of something like the resurrection of Christ are not convincing to all, but one would have to be quite churlish to argue that the points made in that case have no evidential value at all. Certainly, we see Paul insisting that many people saw Christ after his death. We also have the puzzle of why the disciples went from running scared to willing to die martyr’s deaths as missionaries for the early church. The church has always understood itself to be making a case on evidence that if not true, should result in abandonment of the faith.
Likewise, when Christians argue politics they virtually always bring something other than “God says” to the table. They say God is against abortion, but they also talk a lot about things like DNA, brain waves, the beating heart, and other developmental and psychological points. The same is true of other issues in which Christians engage the public square.
As far as Mr. Klein’s point that certain values simply work and that it is enough to establish them, I respectfully disagree. I am quite sure there are some persons who would argue that values like justice, compassion, etc. do not “work” for them and that they wish they would not be imposed upon by some community vision of the good.
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