The following are responses to critical letters that Dr. Mazel received regarding his column which I reproduced on my blog over the weekend.
My column of two weeks ago showed how you can’t get even two paragraphs into Campus Crusade for Christ International's official Statement of Faith without finding it nonsensical. Its claim to being based on the Bible alone is false. Its description of the teachings it accepts is tautological. And, rather amazingly, it denies “freedom of conviction” for beliefs that are in the Bible.
In sum, as I wrote back then, the Statement of Faith is “a farrago of self-contradiction and absurdity.”
Last week Kari Christoferson, a former student of mine (a smart one, too), wrote in response about how wonderful it makes her feel to be loved by Jesus. I have no problem with that. On the other hand, her personal feelings do nothing to untangle the defective logic of CCCI’s Statement of Faith.
I imagine the residents of Jonestown felt loved, too, but that didn’t make it a good idea to drink the Kool Aid.
Corbin Lambeth also wrote in to respond. (If memory serves me right, I once spent a pleasant day with Corbin hiking up to Willow Lake.) Corbin told us that atheism and Christianity “are mutually exclusive philosophies/religions” and that, because “they cannot both be true at the same time,” we therefore “must choose” between them.
That, however, is false.
After all, the spiritual landscape extends beyond just atheism and Christianity. One can also choose to be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Wiccan, or (like so many of America’s Founding Fathers) a Deist. One can even decide simply to enjoy life and not worry about the Big Questions.
Corbin’s claim is a bit like this one: “Flying and driving are mutually exclusive ways of getting from Denver to San Francisco. Therefore one must choose between them.” But obviously one could also take the train, or go to New York instead, or just stay home.
This particular logical fallacy is called false dilemma.
There’s another problem with Crobin’s letter, namely, that its logic can be used to justify any religious belief and therefore serves to justify no one belief in particular.
He tells us that whether we consciously reject Christ or simply “choose not to decide,” we still have made a choice. “There are consequences for each choice,” he adds, “some of which are potentially eternal, so choose carefully.”
Exactly the same argument might as easily be made by a Mormon, by a Hindu—or by Osama bin Laden.
Corbin has himself made an almost infinite number of choices of this sort, and the consequences of many of them are “potentially eternal.” For example, by choosing the God of the New Testament over the God of bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, he has foregone an eternity of bliss in the company of 72 nubile virgins.
Crobin has also decided not to be a Mormon. He has thus lost his chance of being exalted into a God and presiding for eternity over his own planet in the company of his plural wives.
But that’s still not all. By rejecting certain Eastern religions, he has condemned himself to being reborn as a dung beetle.
And by “choosing not to decide” to join the Heaven’s Gate sect, he has entailed the terrible consequence of not being transported to the next dimension aboard the starship lurking behind the comet Hale-Bopp.
So many religions, and such fatal consequences!
What is the poor lost searcher to do?
Far be it from me to tell anyone what to believe. But is it too much for me to ask of college students that they think these things through as clearly as possible?