Hi, guys! It’s been pretty quiet around here since I finished my book review. I have to admit, I walked away from that endeavor not with a loss of interest in Christianity but definitely with the feeling that perhaps I had said all I wanted to say regarding the subject. Determined, however, not to live in an echo chamber, I have continued to read and listen to Christian apologetics. I want my thinking to be constantly challenged. You see, that is the beauty of free thought. The fear that someone might say the one thing that pulls the rug right out from under you no longer exists. It certainly wasn’t always that way. Thankfully, someone who cared about me took the time to ask me some hard questions, forcing me to think critically about my beliefs; I am forever grateful for that experience.
What I find disheartening, however, is the lack of willingness of some (certainly not all) female Christian apologists to engage in any productive dialogue regarding their reasons for belief with nonbelievers. They have an immense interest in confirming their own biases, managing cognitive dissonance, and preaching to the choir but no real curiosity regarding the lack of belief of others. Why is that? If one has taken the time to study the apologetic arguments, why not participate in a meaningful conversation? Why not challenge yourself?
Recently, after reading a blog post by Natasha Crain titled “How Sunday Schools Are Raising the Next Generation of Secular Humanists,” I decided to come out of blogging retirement. Now, some of you may recognize that name and feel that I am unfairly picking on Natasha, considering I just recently completed a very long and in-depth review of one of her books. Further, you may be wondering why I would continue to be interested in what Natasha has to say. Well, I want to know how churches are raising secular humanists. Don’t you? If so, read her post. After reading through her comment section and realizing that no one had questioned her logic, I thought I would share my opinion. Personally, I thought it was fair and respectful, but I’ll let you be the judge. Here’s what I wrote:
Hi, Natasha. If secular humanists are loving, kind, and compassionate human beings, why should Christian parents fear that potential future for their children? How would the behavior of a secular humanist differ from that of a Christian? If the answer to the first question is that the parent doesn't want their child to spend eternity in hell, then that leads to a more pressing issue, a god that allows good people to suffer eternally in hell. Now, that is a moral dilemma, one that brings your first bullet point regarding god as the objective basis for moral behavior into question. I also want to add that your assertions in your first bullet point regarding morality are unfalsifiable claims, nothing more. It seems that your goal is to instill a gut reaction of fear in your readers, but surely you don't want the Christian worldview reduced to that, a FUD- based religion.
Look, I had absolutely no delusions that my comment would have any impact on Natasha (sunk cost). That’s not my end game. However, if it is possible that just one person visiting her site might read those words and spend a second thinking about the morality of hell, and that second potentially leads to just one minute of thinking about the morality of their god, then taking the time to comment is worth it. As I said earlier, someone cared enough about me to encourage me to think differently, to step outside my Christian bubble. Natasha’s target audience is Christian parents, parents whose children may go to sleep tonight wondering if they could spend an eternity in hell, tormented that the sin just won’t go away. That matters to me. Religious Trauma Syndrome is real. Ultimately, it didn’t matter because Natasha wouldn’t post my comment. That’s okay. I’ll post it on her Facebook page. Deleted and blocked. Why? That is a huge red flag.
Given that Natasha’s readers are most likely adults, surely censorship of critical commentary is unnecessary, unless, that is, you’ve got books to sell and the readers are your potential customers. When I’m interested in purchasing an item off of Amazon.com, one of the first things I do is read the reviews. If a product has nothing but five star reviews, I’m often skeptical and usually head over to fakespot.com to verify the legitimacy of the reviews. I mean, I want to make sure I’m not getting scammed.
So, how does this apply to Natasha? What are some characteristics of a scam artist?
1) Get your audience to like you, and gain their trust: This is built into Christianity.
2) Get your foot in the door: So, how does Natasha get her foot in the door? The way Christianity always has. She plays on the fears of her audience. Read the title of her post. Secular humanists? The horror!
3) Make your request: Natasha manages to promote both of her books in her relatively short post and then rounds out her argument by encouraging readers to join her Grassroots Apologetics for Parents ministry, which (surprise, surprise!) utilize both of her books as curricula.
It all makes sense now. Why didn’t I see it before? Natasha manufactures a problem within the church, manipulates her audience through fear, offers the solution (buy her books), and eliminates any potential dissent. What a disappointment. If I were her, I would consider distancing myself from the apologetic community, as she has made it readily apparent what her intentions are: defending Christianity to a bunch of Christians and selling books, of course. Her unwillingness to entertain a critical comment speaks volumes. Disingenuous? Yes. Embarrassing? Definitely. Credibility? None.
Oh, and speaking of fakespot.com, a company who is “committed to preventing fake and misleading content from deceiving consumers,” I wonder how Natasha fairs?
Why am I not surprised? I think we know what’s really creating secular humanists.