1. Religion or just Christianity?
I wish critics, in this case atheists, were more clear on what they mean by “religion.” Obviously the religion under attack here is Christianity & not Islam or Mormonism. So, the meme should read “According to Christianity I am…” Although this detail is relatively insignificant it still assists on the playing field of discussion & rebuttal.
2. False Dichotomy.
My next point is that this is a false dichotomy. In other words, religion & science aren’t mutually exclusive – in fact, there are many devout Christians, Muslims & Hindus who are devoted believers in God (whether theistic or polytheistic). In fact, a sizable 51% of Western scientists claim to believe in God (33%) and in a higher power (18%), 6% of Indian scientists identify as non-religious & 40% of scientists see God’s handiwork in evolution (although not all Christians would agree). Many scientists also see science as confirming their belief in God & it was also the Christian worldview that assisted in the rapid development of the scientific enterprise in the first place (see point 3 here). However, there are debates surrounding theology & science (such as evolution, for example) but no-one throws us their arms and walks away because they have questions. So, I believe that the meme is creating a false dichotomy between science & Christianity.
3. A Misrepresentation of Science.
As expected there is a misrepresentation of science here. For example, on the right where it says “According to science I am” … “Beautiful” is a misrepresentation. Science by its own limitations cannot tell us what is beautiful, in other words, science cannot make aesthetic judgements. You can’t measure in a test tube the beauty of a sunset or the beauty of a painting. Science can tell us what impact ultraviolet light from the sun may have on a person’s skin, but it can’t tell us if the sunset over the horizon of an ocean is beautiful or ugly. Science is not only limited in this regard but in other places to, which would include things such as moral judgments, metaphysical truths, the laws of logic, the supernatural and meaning & value; as scientist Deborah Haarsma explains:
“Many questions related to morality, ethics, love and so on, are questions that science simply isn’t equipped to answer on its own. Science can provide some important context, but religious, historical, relational, legal, and other ways of knowing are needed” (1).
n the right hand column are all value judgements. Science says nothing of the sort. Science says you are another animal; no more special than any other species. Science says you are the result of a mindless process. Science says you are merely a propagator of DNA.
3. A Somewhat Misrepresentation of Christianity.
Some of the descriptions on the left fit well with Christianity while others are gross distortions. Let’s firstly look at what fits well with Christianity.
Firstly, being “broken” is somewhat open to interpretation & needs to be defined. Being broken could refer to emotional, mental trauma or physical pain. However, on Christianity we are indeed spiritually broken as a result of sin (Rom. 6:23, 26), and this is why Jesus needed to redeem us and put us in the right with God once again (Rom. 4:25). That we are inherently “sinful” is an accurate description of the biblical message. However, to actually know this is very important – I’d far rather know our true condition in relation to God than live a life with my head purposely placed in the sand & then have to face the music on judgment day. It’s obvious that no-one wants to know that they are sinful or be told that they’re sinful, but the fact is that we are sinful. In truth, being spiritually “broken” and “sinful” is an accurate diagnosis of our human condition. We simply have to accept this.
Secondly, being “flawed” is not necessarily a religious based concept although it is consistent with the message of Christian theism, in other words, it is also affirmed by our own human experience. Deep down we all know that we are flawed in some way or another – we well know that we are not perfect and we probably don’t even fully know what “perfect” is. So, this is simply a brute fact of reality. Further, that the meme claims religion tells us that we are “weak” needs clarification. Weak in what way? Mentally? Physically? Spiritually? In relation to our failure to avoid sin via lust or idolatry? Or too weak & fearful to follow Jesus’ example? Or weak in our finite nature in comparison to God? It would be a fruitless exercise trying to guess.
However, on the other hand, the meme is disingenuous. Christianity does not diagnose us as being “dumb.” In fact, it is the opposite as the Christian is instructed to use his or her mind fully. For example, 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts Christians to give a “defence” of what they believe & for the hope that they have – in other words, you have to think about what you believe before you can defend it. According to the Synoptics Jesus instructs us to love God with our entire mind (Mat. 22:37, Luke 10:27) – that would include using our mind in apologetics, science, philosophy, art, in worship etc. Scripture tells us that reason, wisdom, and logic are virtues (Proverbs 3:13), that studying the Bible to see that it is true is required (Acts 17:11), and that God gives wisdom to those who ask him (James 1:5). Clearly we are not told that we are “dumb.” That is a misrepresentation.
Furthermore, that the meme says that we are “nothing” on the Christian worldview is beyond absurd. In truth, this is in fact consistent with atheism as on such a worldview we really are just an unfortunate cosmic accident experiencing a torturous existence. Human beings, their feelings, emotions & beliefs are no more than just matter plus time plus chance thrown together. However, the opposite is true on the Christian worldview. The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) and thus possess infinite value even if we possess a sinful, weak nature. The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that he sent Jesus to die on our behalf so that we could be reconciled to him (John 3:16). God chose us before he even created the universe (Ephes. 1:4) & he tells us that we are his children (John 1:12). It beats me why someone would say that all this amounts to “nothing.”
4. Child Abuse.
Atheists, perhaps most notably Richard Dawkins (2), have claimed that forcing religion on children without questioning its merits is as bad as child abuse. But then what about this child in the meme?
I take it that her mother or father, maybe even here brother/sister, has probably made her hold up this anti-Christian placard. Yet, is that not shoving atheistic propaganda down her throat (even worse it misrepresents science, which according to Dawkins would be the ultimate evil. Note the inconsistency here?)? Is that not what atheists like Richard Dawkins criticize religious parents for? Does this little child even know what the drastic consequences of embracing the atheistic worldview even are? If she did then she would probably not be smiling. For instance, how does one tell their daughter that she is nothing more than a clump of protoplasm & that she possesses no value whatsoever? How do you tell your daughter that she is destined like the universe to face obliteration & that all her actions, whether good or evil, ultimately matter little? Or how do we tell her that since her brain is a product of the physical universe she ultimately has no free will (3).
Well, this atheist parent/brother/sister evidently knows how: that is to indoctrinate the girl with atheist propaganda while at the same time misrepresenting Christianity – and doing this while she is incapable of making her own decisions. I wonder if Dawkins would think this classifies as child abuse? Probably not.
1. Interview with Dr. Deborah Haarsma in: Religion, Science and Society. 2015.
2. Cooper, R. 2013. Forcing a religion on your children is as bad as child abuse, claims atheist professor Richard Dawkins. Available.
3. Lawton, G. 2011. The riddle of free will goes unsolved. Available.