Sellanraa’s Fourth Law of Religious Debate

A person’s tendency confidently to impute to non-specific “religion” all sorts of bad characteristics is inversely proportional to his ability coherently to define the term “religion.”

19 thoughts on “Sellanraa’s Fourth Law of Religious Debate

  1. It’s complicated by the fact that the issue goes beyond merely (intellectually) defining “religion.” Christianity can’t really be understood, much less spoken on with authority, by someone who has not felt the conviction, the weight, the burden, of sin. I think men like Sam Harris dismiss the very idea of sin by reassuring themselves that they’ve never murdered anyone, that they’re at least as good as the next guy.

    An incipient Christian’s first awakening begins, however, with an awareness of this cleavage, this unbridgeable gap between good and evil. He may first become aware of evil primarily, say by recognizing the selfishness, lust, or avarice within himself, and seeking something higher. Or else he may encounter the quality of goodness, even yet undefined. I know of a man who’s journey toward Christ seemed to start by noticing that all of the really close, happy, harmonious families he knew seemed to share one characteristic–they were all Christian.

  2. What often happens is this: The secularist blames “religion” for a list of crimes against humanity, where, in reality, these crimes are more accurately imputed to Islam alone. Then, under the pretense of criticizing these generic “religious” crimes, he proceeds to attack Christianity specifically and argues for its continuing marginalization in Western society.

    It is analogous to someone who blames “drugs” for crime, familial dysfunction, disease and death in order to argue that caffeine urgently needs to be banned because it is a “drug.”

    • Yeah, I’ve noticed this too. The terms of the debate are always redefined situationally to Christianity’s disadvantage. When Islam does evil, “religion” (of which Christianity is one component) is to blame; when Christians do evil, “Christianity” catches the blame.

  3. …is inversely proportional to his ability coherently to define the term “religion.”

    In the current atmosphere, what this means is that the enemy (the Christian) cannot be allowed to define himself. If he claims to be anti-abortion because he is pro-life, he is instead accused of loving the the fetus while despising the mother; if he is anti-contraceptive because he is for sexual virtue, it must be asserted that he is really just a puritanical, sex-hating busybody who wants his nose in everybody’s bedroom. His claim to be for the honor of woman and the glory of motherhood is a subterfuge for waging war against them.

    Our hypothetical accuser might indeed be able to give a coherent definition, but his ideology requires that he lie about it, unhindered by any scruple, since in a world without God there are none (though he will not admit this), and because his hatred of God far outweighs his love of the people he condescends to instruct. The source of that hatred is the mystery.

    • This is an excellent comment, Bill. I was recently involved in a Facebook discussion in which the majority of the participants were rightly deploring a Planned Parenthood website that tells teenage girls that it’s fine for them to have multiple sexual partners. Most of us were pointing out how incredibly reckless this is even from a public health perspective. The resident secularist (who happens to be Episcopal, but who puts forward the most predictable left-wing secular perspectives) was literally defending the PP site and saying that there is nothing unhealthy (!!) about teenagers’ having multiple sex partners. Since others were covering the physiological side of that pretty well in their comments, I put up a comment about the psychological damage of promiscuity, and I happened to use the word “heart” in my comment, referring to the harm done to the heart by promiscuity. He literally said something like, “I don’t think the government had any reason to be concerned about the heart.” Now, Planned Parenthood isn’t the government anyway, but even if it were, what a stupid comment! Obviously by “heart” I meant something like the psyche. The leftists spend incredible amounts of energy trying to criminalize criticism of homosexuality lest it hurt someone’s feelings and, allegedly, cause that person to commit suicide, but when it comes to the sheer psychic devastation caused by making sex into a cold-blooded indoor sport, even the term “heart” is apparently invidiously religious! At least, that was what I took him to mean by saying that “the government had no reason to be talking about the heart.”

      • He literally said something like, “I don’t think the government had any reason to be concerned about the heart.”

        You should file that away for later arguments he’ll probably advance re: gay “marriage”!

      • Exactly, Proph. Funny isn’t it how concerned public policy needs to be with some matters of the heart but not with others.

      • The promotion of promiscuity is part of the real war on women. It is destructive of men, too, but women are especially vulnerable and are the intended target. Remember the opera, Faust. Méphistophélès already owns Dr. Faust. It is the innocent Marguerite he is after.

  4. Thanks, Lydia.

    Funny isn’t it how concerned public policy needs to be with some matters of the heart but not with others.

    I imagine (from your antagonist’s point of view) the greatest hurt to the heart is that inflicted when someone tries to interfere with someone else’s freedom to define his own notion of good and evil. The resulting irony is that Lydia’s definition – striving for universality – can apply only to her, but that your antagonist’s – while decrying universal norms – must apply to all.

    Kristor, you’re a good guy.

    • Gee, thanks, Bill. Likewise!

      I’m curious, though: since this is the first thing I’ve said on this worthy thread, what makes you say so? Whatever it is I’ve done that is good, I probably should do more of it. Maybe it’s just the Swede in me, but I have a hard time understanding anything I’ve done as quite good …

      I’m sure Svein feels the same way, although these Laws he has been posting are dead accurate.

  5. Because by “fixing” my sloppily proofread comment, you prove your love of sound language. Besides, no one’s ever done that for me before. Quite touching. Beyond that, it’s just obvious. How bad can you be while fighting for the Good?


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