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Phil Robertson’s Point is Poorly Delivered but Nothing New

I first became aware of Phil Robertson’s recent controversial comments because Ace wrote up a criticism headlined “So Phil Robertson Is Yammering Again.” I disagreed with some of what he said but that was that and I went about my day. Then an article by Katherine Timpf  at National Review titled “Stop Defending Phil Robertson – You’re Embarrassing Yourself” popped up as well and I started to realize that the only people writing about Phil’s comments were people that disagreed with them.

Before I show you the comments, let me make clear that I do not believe the language Phil used to make his point was necessary. It was a graphic analogy used to make a point I agree with and resulted in what so often happens when you use graphic analogies: people don’t hear what you’re actually saying. To me, this is counterproductive.

Let me also add that I’ve never watched Duck Dynasty in my life and could care less about anyone’s celebrity. This is not a defense of Phil as much as it is a disagreement over the conclusions drawn by other writers who thought this was worth writing about.

That said, here’s the quote:

I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’

If it happened to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right.’

Ace doesn’t really address the underlying point of the fallacy of moral relativism, which was the thrust of what Phil was referring to in my reading of the quote. Instead, he’s more focused on what he believes to be Phil’s view of atheists. That they are denying the existence of God as rebellion.

And his ideation here is all wrong and ignorant. No, atheists do not believe, as he lays out, that there actually is a God, but we shall choose to actively disbelieve in him so as to avoid “being judged.”

This is such a foolish notion of being godless that I doubt Robertson’s thoughts on God can be much deeper. I don’t know if one can really be a good atheist without having at least an appreciation for religion, and I don’t think someone can really, truly believe in God, and have that Faith mean anything, unless he sort of understands the reasons for Doubt.

I think it would be easy to conclude that this is as Ace claims it is, and Phil is just having a revenge fantasy about being right. And who knows, maybe that it is what he meant by these statements.

As an atheist, anyone is free to view the statements as ignorant of atheism but they certainly are not ignorant of Christianity.

Christianity does in fact teach that everyone, be they atheist, agnostic, deist or some other religion, are consciously or sub-consciously rebelling. Rebelling is just a word for pushing feelings away. Think of it less like telling your dad you’re running away and more like avoiding eye contact subconsciously with someone you find attractive.

This belief centers around the idea that an all-powerful benevolent God created man in his own image. And, as an all-powerful benevolent God who created man in His own image, essentially programmed us to inherently understand His existence and our morality.

Now, if you don’t believe in God, this doesn’t matter one bit to you and that’s fine. But that is what Christians believe. It’s not intended as an insult nor is it intended to paint a picture of atheists as children throwing a toy because they’re angry that they didn’t get candy.

As a Christian, it makes perfect sense to me. If God were an all-knowing and loving being who wanted what was best for everyone, which means among Christians that you spend eternity with God, then it makes perfect sense for him to lay that on the hearts of everyone. This is not a new or remotely controversial view of humanity and in one sense, this was what Phil was talking about, albeit with unnecessarily coarse language and examples.

Katherine Timpf of National Review focused more on the fact that she believes statements like this make for a poor representation of the Christian brand, and as far as that goes, I tend to agree.  However, she does take a moment to briefly mention her take on what I think Phil’s actual point was, which had to do with moral relativism.

His detailed hypothetical about the brutal rape, murder, and castration of an atheist family was disturbing, and his underlying point that only a Christian could understand why these activities were wrong was ignorant.

This is not an accurate interpretation of what he said.  His last sentence clearly makes the point that anyone would know the events he described were wrong.

If it happened to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right.’

In other words, of course a person would be appalled and find them morally depraved.  Phil’s poorly made point, one that again, is deeply rooted in mainstream Christianity.  The idea, as i mentioned above, that we are programmed as creations of God to inherently understand morality and that morality is not relative to itself but rather to God.

He’s making the argument that, in his belief system, anyone, be they atheist or Christian, instinctively knows God and either rejects or accepts Him, either consciously or subconsciously.  Phil believes that all morality comes from God and that rejecting God’s existence is accepting moral relativity because, as is the view of many Christians, an existence without God is an existence without a moral center that has authority.

Now, I’ll say this one more time before closing: it doesn’t matter if you agree with him or anyone else on this.  This is a normal Christian view said in the most unnecessarily shocking & unartistic way possible.

Fault him for his language or for hurting Christianity’s brand and I may agree with you.  But while it may make an atheist find Christianity even more repellent, I have to let you know that from a Christian’s point of view, the underlying philosophy is correct.

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