Thursday, August 21, 2008

Modern "Tolerance": Defining A Self-defeating Premise

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

There are several catch phrases used by those who would reject the revelatory nature of absolute truth. Phrases such as "open-minded", "neutral", or "tolerant" are redefined by pluralists and other nonbelievers and set up as ultimate virtues.

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Consider the comment from Mike aka MonolithTMA on the Christian Cadre Blog

"In the real world that's what tolerance means, putting up with something, giving it equal time, particularly if you don't agree with it.

Last time I checked opinions were equally valid. I tolerate your opinion and you tolerate mine. it's only tolerance if you are putting up with something that you do not like."

On the surface, "tolerance" sounds nice. We certainly want to tolerate other people despite their differences. There is no excuse to be unkind or even violent towards the person himself, even if he has different viewpoints. In fact, this type of tolerance is necessary for effective evangelism.

However, the new "tolerance" goes well beyond just being kind to people. As Mike defines it, the new "tolerance" holds that "All opinions are equally valid". The problems are that, one, no one truly believes this, and two, it can be easily proven false. Consider:

Step 1 - Prove the Premise A: "All opinions are equally valid"

Step 2 - A --> B: If Premise A is true, then the opinion that "All opinions are not equally valid" is a valid opinion.

Step 3 - B = ~A:
The opinions "all opinions are equally valid" and "all opinions are not equally valid" cannot both be valid (Law of Non-Contradiction).

Step 4 - ~A:
The premise "All opinions are equally valid" is false.

The reality is that this new definition of "tolerance" is most often used as a cloak for "intolerance". For example, those who support gay marriage accuse those who oppose it of being "intolerant" in order to cover their own intolerance, ie."I believe that gay marriage should be legalized, and if you disagree with me, then you are intolerant". Those who promote this warped view of tolerance are actually quite intolerant of many things, such as absolute truth, God's Laws, and Orthodox Christianity. Of course, these same people must somehow establish some sort of absolute truth in order to even begin any dialogue in these areas.

I am reminded of Oprah's statement a while back concerning man's approach to God.

"There can't possibly be only one way".
Well, why not? Why can't there be only one way? It is a question that I have yet to hear any pluralist give a valid answer to.
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25 comments:

  1. Tolerance - too bad the Islamic faith can't agree with it.

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  2. Mike,

    The difference is that I don't put on some imaginary cloak of "tolerance". The point being that you are just as "intolerant" as I am. (See the second to the last paragraph of post).

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  3. Yes, I read your whole post and did see the baffling 2nd to last paragraph. Allowing gay marriage is intolerant, yep, makes perfect sense to me.

    Forcing Christian churches to perform gay marriages against their will would be intolerant, and I am against that.

    I'm an atheist who argues on the side of Christians, yep, I'm a veritable bastion of intolerance.

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  4. Mike,

    Let's try this again.

    I never claimed to be "tolerant". Unlike many in your camp, I don't hold that "tolerance" is the supreme moral virtue. In fact, there are plenty of things that a person can "tolerate" that are not be considered virtuous.

    The problem you have is that you would agree with me om this. The difference that we have isn't one of tolerance vs. intolerace, but rather what we should or should not tolerate.

    In other words, like most in your camp, your use of "tolerance" is a sham. It is a vain attempt to gain some sort of moral high ground against those who would disagree with you. Case in point, I think that gay marriage should be outlawed. You are intolerant of that view.

    That's the problem. Anyone who disagrees with you is to be labeled "intolerant". It's a moral high horse that you are trying to erect, yet it has no legs.

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  5. "That's the problem. Anyone who disagrees with you is to be labeled "intolerant". It's a moral high horse that you are trying to erect, yet it has no legs."

    So your argument is that I am being intolerant because I want society to be tolerant of gay marriage?

    As far as who I label intolerant goes: I label people intolerant who are, get this, intolerant.

    I do not label people who disagree with me intolerant, that would be silly. If you say homosexuality is immoral I do not say you are intolerant. It is when you wish to restrict the rights of individuals based on their private actions that I label you intolerant.

    My next few questions will seem like I'm being a smart alec, but I'm really not. Do you think the practice of witchcraft should be illegal? How about taking the Lord's name in vain? Should sodomy laws be left on the books and enforced?

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  6. "I do not label people who disagree with me intolerant, that would be silly. If you say homosexuality is immoral I do not say you are intolerant. It is when you wish to restrict the rights of individuals based on their private actions that I label you intolerant."

    That sounds rather arbitrary to me. At what point should a moral law be restricted in the civil sense? You would like to have the civil government restrict certain laws as well, just your own selective ones.

    In any case, you've opened up a whole new can of worms.

    As an atheist, will you please explain to me why humans should have rights?

    "My next few questions will seem like I'm being a smart alec, but I'm really not. Do you think the practice of witchcraft should be illegal?"Yes. (I don't believe in total "freedom of religion".

    "How about taking the Lord's name in vain?" Sinful yes. A civil Crime? No.

    "Should sodomy laws be left on the books and enforced?" Yes.

    Of course, you will object to some of my answers, but I would like for you to give a reasonable objection to them without some vain and arbitrary label of "intolerance". Why should sodomy be allowed? Why should the civil government put their sanction of approval on gay marriage? Give me reasons, not ad hominems as if you were looking down on some high moral ground of "tolerance". Do you tolerate my views?

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  7. "That sounds rather arbitrary to me. At what point should a moral law be restricted in the civil sense? You would like to have the civil government restrict certain laws as well, just your own selective ones."

    Please enlighten me. What are these laws I wish for?

    Plain and simple, the laws I like are the ones that keep people from harming each other. I'm no Wiccan, far from it, but I do like their simple rule: "An' it harm none, do what ye will."

    "In any case, you've opened up a whole new can of worms.

    As an atheist, will you please explain to me why humans should have rights?"


    Well, lets see, any answer that isn't "because we are made in God's image" will not satisfy you so I think it is futile of me to answer, but oh well. Personally I think humans should have rights because I kind of like humans, being one of them makes me partial to them. One of the most profound things Jesus ever said was "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." When I was a kid, before I knew anything about being a Christian, I loved my enemies. I never wanted to fight the few bullies I ran into in my life, unless I was defending someone else, because I didn't want to hurt them.

    I wasn't asking my questions so that I could object to your answers, I was truly curious about where you stood. There would be no point in my arguing against your answers, unless I could show you in scripture where you are wrong, but that is for other Christians to do and not for me, since I am no longer a Christ follower.

    Why would you think I would reply with an ad hominem attack? Have I done so before?

    So, witchcraft should be illegal, any other religions?

    I do find it curious that taking the Lord's name in vain should be allowed, even though it's sinful. Since that's one of the original 10 commandments I thought it might have more weight. Personally I see it as disrespectful.

    Did you really just ask me why sodomy should be allowed? I had to read that one a few times to see if that's really what you wrote. Why would I argue that it should be allowed since there is no logical reason for it to not be allowed?

    "Why should the civil government put their sanction of approval on gay marriage?"

    Because gays are taxpayers too. Again, I don't want anyone to force churches to marry gays, but the government is secular and represents the people.

    "Do you tolerate my views?"

    Of course I do, have I said that do not? I may disagree with some of them, but I value your views as I would anyone else.

    Thank you for your honest answers. :-)

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  8. "OK. So why should I care if my pleasure harms someone? Where do you get this rule, and why should I be forced to abide by it?"

    Well, the rule I quoted was from the Wiccan religion, as I said, but you could just easily reference the ethic of reciprocity. Jesus liked it enough to use it. As to why you should abide by it: go ahead and harm others with your pleasure, and reap the consequences.

    "I'm glad that you honor Jesus's words, but your answer is not acceptable. Maybe I'm being presumptuous here, but as an atheist, don't you hold that humans are merely cosmological accidents? I'm sorry, but I can't see where accidental sacks of biocarbons have any claim to rights."

    Honestly, I don't presume to know how we came to exist. I know some of the popular opinions, but don't know any of them well enough to put stock in them. As to making a claim to rights, well that wold depend on where one lives wouldn't it. Each society recognizes it's own rights, some more than others.

    "You are correct. However, it is clear that you do know God by your answers. You want to hold to things like morality and human rights, because deep down inside, you know that we were created in God's image. Even though you wish to reject God's law, you "do by nature the things contained in the law" because the law is written in your heart (Romans 2:14-15). You know that murder is wrong, as well as theft, hatred, etc. You don't have to be taught this. However, you wish to supress God's laws concerning sexuality, even though you are quite aware of their validity. My prayer is that you will once again run to Christ."

    Every time I have one of these discussions it is very strange, because 18-20 years ago I could have written that exact same paragraph. God may exist, and the Bible may have been inspired by him, but I just don't see it. I used to. I began my Christian faith, reading the Bible and never doubting God's existence. There is a line in the first chapter of John W. Loftus' new book Why I Became an Atheist that really struck me. Commenting on beginning to study the Bible as a young Christian he said: "I thought these were God's words and that he was speaking directly to me every time I read them. It all just seemed so real." I remember that feeling too. In the end, my daily prayers to God were asking him, sometimes begging him to allow me to see him as more real, as more tangible. One day I looked up, figuratively of course, and there appeared to be no one there. It was like my eyes had opened, and the being I had loved was only a figment of my imagination.

    "Pedophiles are taxpayers as well. Should we give them the same honor?"

    Pedophiles harm children. Homosexuals harm no one.

    "I just pray that you see how empty your view is, and come to Christ. Trying to support morality, rights, and even human knowledge is a vain practice outside of God, since God Himself endows man with these."

    I don't feel empty. My view is loving others, being compassionate and, yes, the "T" word, tolerant.

    As to morality coming from God, this may be true, but the Bible doesn't always do a great job in that department. Do you really think before Moses came down with the ten commandments, that everyone thought it was ok to kill, steal, lie, dishonor your parents, and cheat on your spouse?

    Morality existed before the Judeo/Christian faith and to this day exists outside of it as well.

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  9. Puritan said: "Any religion that does not honor God." (should not be legal) "I hold the First Commandment to be superior to the First Amendment (which itself was never meant to tolerate all religions)"

    I know that many Conservative Republican Christians believe the above, but few are candid enough to say it flat out. Is this something you've actually thought through, or are you trying the idea on for size?

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  10. "I know that many Conservative Republican Christians believe the above, but few are candid enough to say it flat out. Is this something you've actually thought through, or are you trying the idea on for size?"

    I guess that is a fair assessment, but political parties aside, I have thought this through. In an earlier comment, you suggested that the civil government should be "secular". I let this slide for the time being, because that really wasn't the heart of our discussion. Let me ask you, have you ever really thought through what a purely secular civil government would look like? You don't have to think very hard, and the 20th Century was full of examples.

    The problem here is that you are assuming a neutral position when in fact there is none. Civil Governments can only legislate two ways, against God's laws, or in favor of them. There is no middle ground.

    Perfect case in point is the gay marriage debate. You assume that legalizing gay marriage would be in keeping with a secular (separate) government without imposing a religion. Not so. This law would in fact be in keeping with a specific view about God, man, and morality. Ultimately, it is an anti-God ruling.

    Of course, if governments aren't subject to God (Romans 13:1-4), then they aren't subject to anyone. Secularism leads to tyranny, as the 20th Century can testify to all too well.

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  11. "Pedophiles harm children. Homosexuals harm no one."

    Actually, that's not true. They harm each other, both temporally (AIDS, shorter life, etc.), and ultimate eternally in Hell.

    Plus they harm others. How much in tax dollars does our Government spend each year on AIDS research? Despite claims to the contrary, AIDS is a homosexual disease.

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  12. "Despite claims to the contrary, AIDS is a homosexual disease."

    Really, so as heterosexuals we are immune? ;-)

    Having never been the promiscuous type, I really only had to worry about blood transfusions, and I've never had one that I'm aware of.

    Anyway, I'd be interested to see your statistics on HIV/AIDS being a homosexual disease.

    Last I checked, homosexuals did make up a large part of aids patients, but no where near 100%.

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  13. "Last I checked, homosexuals did make up a large part of aids patients, but no where near 100%."

    Don't have any stats in front of me, but the last I checked, it was very near 100% (90's I think.)

    In any case, homosexuality is harmful on many fronts, mostly to those who are involved in it.

    The Good news is that Christ is able to deliver from the power of sin as well as the penalty.

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  14. So the dead parents of the 11 million AIDS Orphans in sub-Saharan Africa must be in that 10% of heterosexuals with AIDS.

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  15. Puritan: "Let me ask you, have you ever really thought through what a purely secular civil government would look like? You don't have to think very hard, and the 20th Century was full of examples."

    Actually, that's not true. What you saw in the twentieth century, and what Christians have attempted to make America into in the 21st, were societies where one point of view was favored to the exclusion of all others. Sometimes it was atheism, more often it was Islam. Sometimes it was just leader-worship.

    Secular does not mean "religion-less" in the sense that people must show no religion. It simply means that the organs of government are not permitted to favor one religion to the exclusion of all other belief systems.

    On the other hand, we've seen what religiously controlled governments are like: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iran...I don't find these worth emulating.

    No doubt you'll say that it can't just be ANY religion, it has to be yours. I believe you if you say you think Christianity really is different from the other religions. What then would an officially Christian United States look like to you? How would it avoid becoming a religious dictatorship? What role would those of us who don't toe the Christian Party line have in such a country? I'm sincerely curious about how you see this vision unfolding.

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  16. "Secular does not mean "religion-less" in the sense that people must show no religion. It simply means that the organs of government are not permitted to favor one religion to the exclusion of all other belief systems."

    And as I have already pointed out, this is impossible. The organs of government will rule either in favor of God's laws, or against God's laws. There is no neutral territory.

    The problem with the Muslim nations that you mentioned is that they don't know God. They are rule against the laws of the true God.

    Besides, what is there to keep a purely secular government in check? How do you keep it from become a totalitarianism? Furthermore, on what basis will you prevent them from doing so, without appealing to Romans 13?

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  17. Mike, do you really believe that the existence of your personhood was merely a coincidence? I have asked you to consider the preconditions of science, morality, and human knowledge. Writing this off as a coincidence suggests that you have not adequately considered such things. Please look further, as the stakes are very high (I think even Skeptimal would agree with that.)

    One more suggestion. Consider the death of Christ and it's worth beyong whatever your temporal experiences may be. I won't promise you an temporally blessed or easy life in Christ, only eternal life.

    In the end, you have the same needs as any sinner, redemption through Christ. My prayer is that you will taste of his sweetness and find it worth forsaking the world for.

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  18. "Mike, do you really believe that the existence of your personhood was merely a coincidence?"

    No, my answer previously was: "Honestly, I don't presume to know how we came to exist."

    "Writing this off as a coincidence suggests that you have not adequately considered such things."

    Where did I write them off as a coincidence?

    "Please look further, as the stakes are very high"

    You believe the stakes to be high as did I at one time. I do not believe in hell now.

    "Consider the death of Christ and it's worth beyong whatever your temporal experiences may be. I won't promise you an temporally blessed or easy life in Christ, only eternal life."

    When I was a Christian I wept at the foot of the cross daily, thanking Christ for his sacrifice, that I did not in any way deserve. I considered the death of Christ more than you could ever know. I did not seek earthly favors from God. I wasn't a "Your best life now" Christian. Folks like Olstein and his ilk made me want to puke. The preachers I liked didn't pull punches, they preached straight from the Bible. I liked Alistair Begg, John MacArthur, etc. I used to read Hank Hanegraaff and listen to his show to stay sharp on heretical version of Christianity.

    "In the end, you have the same needs as any sinner, redemption through Christ. My prayer is that you will taste of his sweetness and find it worth forsaking the world for."

    Again I thank you for your prayers, but I have already rejected such things. Perhaps I will find God in some form, but I doubt it will be Christianity, at least not in any traditional form.

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  19. "And as I have already pointed out, this (government that protects people of all faiths and no faiths) is impossible. The organs of government will rule either in favor of God's laws, or against God's laws. There is no neutral territory."

    Yes, you've declared this unequivocally, but it is essentially a useless proclamation. Even within Christianity, there has never been agreement about which of Jehovah's laws should be followed and which should be ignored. If you got the theocracy you seem to crave, all that would happen is that different Christian factions would go to bloody war with each other.

    Again, I'll ask you: How do you see this theocracy protecting anyone's rights, and what would happen to people who don't convert to Christianity?

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  20. "Yes, you've declared this unequivocally, but it is essentially a useless proclamation."

    Not so. What you fail to see is your own religious presuppositions. You may deny that you are religious, but the position that you have taken is a religious position. It is inescapable. You, like me, have allowed your view of civil government to be shaped by your view of God, man, law, and morality. When you do this, you pretend to be neutral, but you are not. Thus, the idea government being "secular" is the "useless proclamation". When an atheist makes the claim that "organs of government are not permitted to favor one religion to the exclusion of all other belief systems", what they are really saying is that the organs of government should favor their religious position.

    There are two differences between your view and mine. One is our religion, and tow is that I don't pretend to be unbiased.

    "Again, I'll ask you: How do you see this theocracy protecting anyone's rights, and what would happen to people who don't convert to Christianity?"
    No one has more rights than in a Christian theocracy. In fact, as a matter of common observation, the more secular America becomes, the fewer rights we have. A Christian theocracy is able to preserve the rights of man because it limits civil governments to only that which God allows for it to legislate. As the founding fathers recognizes, our rights are endowed by our Creator.

    I would ask you how a secular government can protect anyone's rights. How does one make sure that a "secular" government is non-exclusive, unlike the past secular governments that we have already discussed. Without God overseeing civil government, you'll end up with tyranny. The government is then accountable to no one, and has a blank check. (Our modern secular government has done such a bang-up job of protecting unborn babies, as well as Terry Schiavo.)

    You may counter with the idea that a "secular" government is accountable to it's citizens, but you know that this is a pipe dream.

    As far as those who do not convert to Christianity, they still will not work on the Sabbath, or be allowed to murder their babies. God's law would rule supreme.

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  21. "No one has more rights than in a Christian theocracy."

    Except those of other faiths and homosexuals, oh and atheists.

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  22. Mike,

    Besides atheists, you should research how these other groups have fared in the "secular" governments of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, etc.

    That's the problem with a purely secular government. It is accountable to no one.

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  23. "That's the problem with a purely secular government. It is accountable to no one."

    That depends entirely how the government is set up.

    You are the first person I've ever known who would like a Christian theocracy. Can you support that with scripture?

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  24. Skeptimal,

    I am communicating with you. I am pointing out that your position is a religious position.

    Let me ask you this. Why should civil government support your religious beliefs? That's not a "blunt, unsupported proclamations", but a valid question. I already know you disagree with me, but I haven't heard you answer the question.

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  25. "You are the first person I've ever known who would like a Christian theocracy. Can you support that with scripture?"

    Mike, we can start with the Great Commission, where Christ commands us to make disciple "of all nations", not "in all nations".

    As far as what God expects of civil governments, they are appointed by God to reward good and punish evil (Romans 13:1-4). In fact, the Bible has tons of commandments that civil governments are to follow. They are to "judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the righteous." (Deuteronomy 16:18-19). They are to judge according to God's standard of right and wrong, and are not allowed to add their own standard. As John the Baptist pointed out, even King Herod was subject to God's law (Mark 6:18)

    Don't worry though. I am not a full fledged theonomists, nor do I believe that Christians should conquer the world with armed force. I am a postmillennialist. I do not believe that Christians should be in cultural retreat (like Skeptimal would have me do). I believe that the victory of the gospel will be inevitable, that "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." (Habakkuk 2:14)

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