Challenge: Christians Are Insecure

Posted: June 19, 2012 by Amy Hall in Etcetera, Weekly Challenge

The challenge this week is a quote from Dan Barker:

Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down. down. Amen! If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it.

Someone wrote in because an atheist friend left this quote on her Facebook page, so maybe you’ve seen it already. How would you respond to this? We’ll hear Brett’s answer on Thursday.

  1. Sam Harper says:

    I’d probably respond with, “Whatever.” It’s not a challenge to Christianity.

  2. Strange. It seems like a lot of people DO think truth demands belief. Atheists, and indeed most people, think we have an obligation to believe what’s true, or at least to do the best we can at it in our context. Theists or Christians, according to them, fail to do this. I’d need to know what he means by “demand.”

  3. Albert says:

    I agree with the above challenge.

    Truth doesn’t demand belief. Truth is truth regardless if anyone believes it. And I don’t know of any scientists that join hands and sing that gravity is real. But I’m not sure I would think they were insecure about gravity just because they sing about it. I guess not unless all of them were blind and couldn’t observe it maybe. But even still, that is a stretch.

    Now if they sing “We will have blind faith!”, then maybe I might consider them a little insecure. That the challenge doesn’t say that, so there really isn’t anything there to disagree with.

    So now to get to the underlying implications of the quote, Christianity and blind faith:

    In Christianity, we don’t have blind faith. We have evidence that leads us to believe that Jesus was who he claimed to be. We have evidence that grounds our convictions in the same way that scientists do with gravity.

    If this is a poke at Christianity, it’s a fairly weak one at best.

    • Sam Harper says:

      Some things are just worth singing and about and some aren’t. People have always sung about heroes. That doesn’t mean they’re insecure. People also sing about their nations. Lots of nations have national anthems. That doesn’t mean patriotic people are insecure. These are just the kinds of things people sing about. Jesus is a hero to Christians because he sacrificed himself for our salvation. He deserves to be sung about, and singing about him is our expression of love, appreciation, adoration, and worship, all of which are perfectly appropriate. But gravity isn’t the sort of thing people sing about. It’s an impersonal force that’s just part of the laws of the universe.

      Honestly, what psychological study can Dan Barker cite showing that people who sing about a subject have some kind of insecurity about that subject? This just seems to be made up.

  4. Andy! says:

    I think a better parallel would be a scenario where physicists are offering praise and worship over the wonders of gravity that they have observed in their life.

    “Brother, do you know how fast we would fly off of the face of the earth if gravity just shut itself off? But I woke up today and my bed was firmly planted to the floor, and I was still safe beneath my covers. Let us turn to page 23 in our physical sciences hymnal, to the song called, ‘The Periodic Table.'”

    And as Mr. Harper pointed out, that would be a little absurd, because gravity can’t receive praise. BUT, the One Who created gravity certainly can, and should.


  5. Dawn says:

    I’m not sure how it follows that singing about something you believe makes you insecure in that belief. Songs are written about people or topics the songwriter is passionate about, and others sing those songs because they share the same passion. I’m guessing scientists don’t sing about gravity simply because it’s not the kind of thing they or anyone else cares to sing about, not because it’s a belief they are so secure in.

  6. Dawn says:

    Also, I’m not sure what the first sentence “Truth does not demand belief” and the rest of the comment have to do with each other.

    • Sam Harper says:

      Maybe the objection isn’t that they are singing about Jesus, but that they are expressing belief in Jesus. It’s the constant expression of belief that Dan Barker finds odd, not just the singing. I guess it would be odd to go around saying, “I believe in gravity.” It would even be odd to go around saying, “I believe in the government.” But to people we know personally, it’s not uncommon to say, “I have faith in you,” or “I believe in you,” or “I trust you.”

  7. Truth doesn’t demand belief, but The Holy One demands worship. That’s why we hold hands and sing.

  8. Singing praises does not mean you are insecure about God. You can worship him in all ways: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.(1Cor, 10:31)”. Everybody worships something. It does not have to be God. Some worship materialism and thus are compulsive shoppers. Worship in a sense is giving praise to something because they are worthy of it- they/it fulfills us-. If a scientist were to deify the pursuit of scientific knowledge, he would live every breathing moment reading scientific texts. He would listen to scientific documentaries, he would speak about prominent scientists with high regards. Worship doesn’t directly mean singing, it does not correlate to insecurity, it just means something you would exalt.

  9. kewlinchristjesus says:

    I guess that I be insecure if I thought that I might be 1 of 144,000. I might be insecure if I thought that I was bound for Purgatory.

    What can be seen today to give credence to Christianity? ISRAEL

  10. Clark says:

    The problem I see is that the complaint falsely assumes that Christian worship is some kind of reassurance that what we believe is true. The way the post is presented is that Christians sing about God to reinforce their belief as if they weren’t sure of its truthfulness. the first statement is correct, “truth is true regardless of belief”, but that has nothing to do with Christian worship. It looks like a flawed analogy. My only response would be to ask what the first statement has to do with the comments on worship, and go from there.

  11. Seems to me that atheists compelled to snipe at Christian faith in the manner Barker employs are the insecure ones. At least when Christians share what we believe and our reasons for our belief we are trying to save nonbelievers from dire consequences of that unbelief. What is the atheist trying save us from? More likely, the sniping atheist is more interested in silencing a message that haunts him.

    It’s different when thoughtful atheists make reasonable challenges to our arguments. This actually does us a favor because it forces us to fine tune our thinking and we learn what is valid and what is not. So long as we faithfully pursue the truth we will be rewarded with faith that is more secure than before the challenge.