Friday, 23 December 2011

Helpers of your Joy

Over the past few weeks I found myself discussing on a Facebook group called Helpers of your Joy and have no idea how I got there. I mostly ignored it, as they all bicker about the same, very dull, theological ideas and it is proving to be a very poor group for helping anyone's joy. I spotted that a friend had posted there about Genesis and decided to join in, as the majority there appeared to be very uninformed creationists.

I gained quite an audience in doing so as well. My discussions with them went public, with any of my friends on Facebook being able to watch. Many found it entertaining, some were horrified with how I was being treated, and many even made it clear that Christianity is difficult to take seriously when it is represented by the people in that group.

I tried discussing Scripture with them, but they would only ever tell me that I was ignoring the Bible, despite the fact that I was explaining how I understood those verses. I tried discussing the science, but they were only capable of saying that the science was wrong or that there was some mass scientific conspiracy or that Satan was involved. In other words, their arguments were extremely poor and intellectually impoverished.

A common tactic on that group was to declare me brainwashed and make unsubstantiated conclusions about how I came to accept evolution and reject a literalistic Genesis. I informed them that I have never seen Genesis as literal, even as a child, to which they continued to make their unsubstantiated claim. I also informed them that I believed in God before understanding evolution, but again, they ignored my personal claims for their own claims which have no backing.

It might seem clear, but they were often not Christian in their actions. One even spoke to me constantly as though I was an atheist, despite my protestations. I continued to try to plough through their lack of charity, their lack of humility, their pride, their anger, their theological and scientific ignorance, and discuss with them, but to no avail.

Last night I got blocked, with no warning. I was told that the discussion on evolution should stop, so I suggested that a few other topics should stop as well, just to be fair. Here is the admin's explanation for why he removed me from the group:

 I told Jason we should just drop it and change the subject, and he come back with his, well people shouldn't speak about their personal lives, and what all God is doing in there [sic] life, etc etc

This discussion board is no place for that..........we are here to talk about the Bible, not man's theories.

There are so many problems with his claim, that I felt it might be worth addressing here.

  1. I never said that people should not speak about their personal lives, I specified careers and hobbies. If there is a moratorium on evolution, then this stops me from talking about my career (or rather, intended career) and hobbies. I am an undergrad palaeontologist, so if we talk about our careers I am entitled to speak about evolution, it is part of my course and part of my intended career. Additionally, as with any palaeontologist, I collect fossils occasionally and count that as a hobby, and fossils show evolution. Furthermore, I spend some of my spare time reading about evolution. So, to be consistent, it would only be fair if others were not allowed to talk about their careers or hobbies, otherwise evolution should be back on the table.
  2. I never said anything about stopping talking about how God works in our lives. What I actually said was that others should have to stop talking about how THEY do God's work. When I discuss evolution with creationists I believe I am doing God's work. I believe God led me to science and did so for a reason - so that I could show that the discoveries made studying God's creation are compatible with Christian thought and Scriptures. This means that if I talk about my work for God, then I am entitled to discuss evolution. Therefore, in order to be consistent, they should stop others from discussing their work for God if evolution is off limits. 
  3. When discussing evolution I discuss the Bible. I see the two as compatible. If anyone brings up any aspect of creation (which I also said should be off limits) then I am entitled to discuss creation as I see it - through evolution. If they do not like that then they should make a better Biblical case for their own creation beliefs. Really, they should do as God clearly does in Genesis 1 and respect diversity. Christians have different creation beliefs and we should be allowed to discuss them openly. On that group I met hostility, ad hominem attacks, censorship (eventually) and no respect at all. Is that the Christian way?
  4. They say they will not discuss man's theories, which is interesting (especially as many did not understand what a theory is). Young earth creationism fits their definition of "man's theories". So in order to be consistent, all creationists should be silenced. (I tried explaining to them the roots of creationism and how it is influenced more by man's philosophies than Biblical truth, but that went ignored, as it always does.)
There are some things they did not grasp, which could do with repeating:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Our differences on how creation occurred should be negligible compared to what is contained in the creed, but the actions and attitudes of creationists such as these is creating a gulf and causing damage to Christianity. What should occur is that we present our diverse understandings of how creation occurred, of how we approach science, and listen to each other carefully, in order to discuss fruitfully. Those in Helpers of your Joy are incapable of proper discussion and would rather be abusive and arrogant. If you ever stumble upon that group, please do not see it as representative of Christianity; it is not quite the loony fringe, but it is full of uninformed people so full of pride that they cannot acknowledge a simple fact we should all face in life: we might be wrong even when we feel certain that we are right. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What did you expect from a cult group?