Today, my wife, my daughter, and I were going through the drive-thru at Chic-fil A. I had a hankering for a milk shake after a shoe shopping experience and this busy little, Christian friendly restaurant was on the way. The selection from the menu was short and sweet, a small, strawberry shake, so we were paying attention to the other cars in the double-line drive through, which by the way I haven’t yet figured out how they keep up with who ordered what. We each noticed the car in front of us. It was a red Volvo with the tags, BDYHLR and was adorned with several decals and stickers on the back window. There was a moose in a rainbow, a funny looking leaf, and most interesting to me were the three different COEXIST type stickers. None of them actually read coexist, but each seemed to attempt to convey the same message using mostly religious symbols. One read BELIEVE. One read TOLERANCE. One read practice COMPASSION. Nice!
My daughter, a Sophomore at a local university, who my wife and I are often both surprised and pleased with the results of our efforts to make her a clear and critical thinker, pointed out quickly the absurdity of those who make this point so publically. She commented quickly, “I wonder sometimes if these people even know what their saying or if they’ve even thought about it. What is it that causes them to believe something that obviously doesn’t make sense? They are only tolerant of people who agree with them.”
Instead of stopping in the middle of the drive-thru and thanking God for a daughter who is so obviously loving the Lord with her mind, (I’ll do that later) we engaged her concerns.
My wife began by speaking of a person she knew who had went to a so-called body healer. This definitely began to speak to what kind of person we were dealing with in this particular and specific instance. There is more than likely some Eastern Religious thought processes affecting this person. No doubt, the idea of tolerance we know today has made its way out of the Eastern influences into the modern American psyche’. I’m not sure that’s exactly what my daughter was asking.
What my daughter Hannah was really asking I think was this: Why do people believe so strongly in an idea that is so obviously self-contradictory? They must see the flaw in their arguments, yet they stick to their guns and actively attack those who disagree.
We cut to the chase since Hannah didn’t need any convincing of the “tolerance” debate.
Most people who hold beliefs like this do not hold those beliefs due to deep philosophical concerns. Most of the time if you show someone who holds a position in err the logical error they have made, and they hold onto the position regardless, their conviction originates from moral grounds. I couldn’t put a number on it of course, but I would guess that a very high percentage of people who hold an obviously flawed position do so simply because they do not wish any one, or any system to tell them some activity they are engaged in, plan to engage in, or have a loved one engaged in, is morally wrong. They actually are comfortable in the system that they have created around their own desire to act immorally. In other words, if there is no system, religious or philosophical, which can levy the weight of morality on their lives, then they can live blissfully involved in whatever they like. It is the job of the apologist to tear down those facades, fake walls, and leave them in a house with no walls.
This is what Greg Koukl has termed in his book Tactics, as tearing down the walls. He asserts that a house must be built from the ground up, walls preceding the roof. He also says that a roof without walls will come tumbling down. This is done by simply repeating their fallacious logic back to them in a way that points out the contradictions. This leaves them in a house with no walls and forces them to face the truth of their false belief. Unfortunately, as my daughter pointed out, many of these folk probably already understand their condition. They choose to live in a house with no walls. They crawl under the roof that has collapsed on top of their worldview and hide behind rhetorical jabs and ad hominem attacks. All of this so they can continue in the comfort, tightly squeezed under the roof of their desire to live immorally.
This doesn’t always or merely apply to unbelievers. I recently pointed out some fallacious thought to a group of Christians who had built weak walls to support a roof over their heads. I tore down the walls they had built, right in front of their eyes. It was painful, but it had to be done. Many of them, more than half, decided to move to a more structurally sound building, one built on truth. It wasn’t the first option but it became necessary. We could’ve rebuilt the original walls with better material.
Unfortunately, some of them decided to live in the house with no walls, never denying the fact that the walls are gone, only propping up a roof with so much of the scrap left over from the demolition. Why? They’re comfortable there. It’s where they’ve always been. In this case, just as my daughter pointed out with the Volvo, most of them already knew that the walls were fake. They just kept pretending it was all real. I became the bad guy because I pointed out the obvious. The immorality they enjoyed was exposed and they didn’t like it because a roof with no walls hurts when it falls.
Romans 1:18–23 (ESV)
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.