Monday, December 29, 2014

As Pearls Before Swine

In the famous "Sermon on the Mount" the following words are ascribed to Jesus of Nazareth:

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. (Matthew 7:6 - NKJV)

Lately I have been thinking more and more of that saying as I survey the debate between believers and nonbelievers in God. It is very difficult to find civil discussion among the warring factions these days. Both sides metaphorically view their opponents as something like wild dogs and pigs, vicious and unrelenting.

Believers tend to think unbelievers have hearts of stone and, thus, eyes that will not - that absolutely refuse to - see the obvious, preferring darkness to light. Dogs and pigs, all of them!

On the other hand, nonbelievers feel believers lack good sense and the ability to reason well; not only so, they dare place faith above the much-vaunted scientific method. Dogs and pigs, the whole lot!

The gravity of the God issue is one which forces a person to choose sides and embrace their chosen side deeply. Both sides hold certain tenets as sacred or at least of supreme importance, as pearls of wisdom. That seems naturally to lead to vitriol.

Perhaps the time for debate is over. Perhaps the time never was and debates about God have always been pointless. They just stir the pot and get people all worked up. They change nothing.


  1. My experience is a little like your observations here. I came to discussions on the internet because of two choices.

    1. I decided to start a website, and when people started to visit, they made comments and I got into discussion.

    2. I read a book by an atheist and determinist who included his email address. I emailed him and we had a long and deep email correspondence for more than a year. As part of that discussion, he invited me to visit an atheist website, I got involved in discussion there, and from there went on to other forums.

    For a while about 5-6 years back I was heavily involved in discussion with atheists, who I naturally disagreed with, and vice versa. Some discussions were friendly, some most less so, but all seemed to end in frustration - neither of us seemed able to connect at all with the other's views on fundamental things, no matter how much we might have in common on other matters (like music, politics, etc).

    So I decided to pull out of such discussions after a few comments each. I think we can avoid nastiness, but it is more difficult to avoid frustration. I often try to just share an alternate view without arguing, or contest a small factual matter without arguing about the "big issues", but that rarely seems to work.

    I feel frustrated by it all, but we need to recognise reality.

  2. That's why I enjoy conversion stories, either from belief to unbelief or vice versa. It seems the process is always long and complicated.

    For example,I find myself slowly moving from a reason-only position to a faith-and-reason position. I suppose I started out as a youth mainly relying on faith (I was too young to understand much about reason). I will be trying to explain in future posts how this has come about. My emotions were deeply involved from the get-go. My disappointment with God, as I understood the matter at the time, originally drove me into the arms of Deism. My intuition has always been that there is a Creator back of the Cosmos, but my own lack of an answer to a very important prayer made me bitter as a young man, and left me searching for a God who didn't respond to prayers or particular care about the same things we humans care about. That was the only way at the time I could think of to reconcile what was happening in my life with my intuition that God exists. That was my knee-jerk response to my original crisis of faith. That happened nearly thirty years ago. But I never stopped searching for the God of my youth. And let me say that the Christian God was not the original God of my childhood. Looking back I had ideas I intuited from within, ideas that were later stifled as my parents indoctrinated in me into their faith. But now my faith is still evolving. I can express my faith better through metaphor than I can through any other medium. Of course that would be a hard sell to any reason-grounded, science-bound atheist or even any revelation-infatuated religious fundamentalist. I think I've reached a place where there isn't a great God debate, at least for me. Am making any kind of sense here?