Who's Ignorant?

Inevitably we here at DC run up against a wall with some Christians and it is frustrating to us, and to them. It's hard to even know where to begin sometimes. I've written on this topic so many times before but here I am again with a different angle.

The charge made back and forth is that the other side is ignorant. Let me cut through this deep water.

To answer the accusation from my side, I admit I'm ignorant. That's right. I am ignorant. What am I ignorant about? Most things! Again, let me state this loudly and clearly. I am ignorant about most things. In comparison to that which I do know, I am ignorant about almost everything. I only claim to know a small sliver of things in the totality of that which can be known. I'm not joking when I say this, either. I really am. Okay so far?

But I don’t believe in the Bible. I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in the church.

How dare I say that when I’ve just admitted I don’t know most things? Easy. Based on what I know I don’t believe. Can I do any differently? No! I can only believe that which I can believe. Have I studied these things out enough to have an informed opinion on the matter? I think so, but what difference does it make to me personally if I have never studied these things out at all and I still don’t believe? Most people who don't believe in the Christian faith have not studied the issues out in any depth at all, just like most Christians who believe. The bottom line is that I don’t believe.

Let me use a couple of examples to make a point. If you tell someone he should believe in Leprechauns, a totally ignorant person can simply say “I don’t believe you.” It doesn’t take any amount of knowledge at all to reject a strange and outlandish claim like this. The believer making the claim can say the nonbelieving guy is ignorant all he wants to, but ignorance isn’t his problem. His problem is that the claim is too strange to believe. Strange claims must have some solid evidence for them. If as a believer you do not produce the needed evidence for such a strange claim, then it will do your case no good to call the nonbeliever ignorant. That’s the bastion of last resort when all else has failed.

Just think for the moment if a scientist is trying to convince other scientists of a new theory, and he’s having no luck. They don’t accept it. What good does it do for him to call the others ignorant? The problem is his. He has not established his case.

So, when a believer calls me ignorant because he or she has not provided me what I need to believe, then the ignorance is not mine. It's an ignorance that fails to take seriously his or her role in providing the needed evidence to believe. Such a believer is ignorant for thinking that this is my problem. Even though I am ignorant about so many things, this particular problem is not mine at all.

I have repeatedly said agnosticism ("I don't know") is the default position. That best describes me. I just don't think Christians understand how far removed it is to affirm a full blown Christianity when moving off the default position and how small of a step it is to move in the direction of atheism. Even if atheism is not the case, I would first and foremost be an agnostic. But to affirm the Bible as the inerrant word of God, as one extreme, is so far removed from a reasonable faith that it just seems incredible for me that any thinking person can believe it. I know something about that claim, and I do deny it vehemently. Such a claim is ignorant on the par of the Holocaust deniers. But why do so many people believe? The very short answer is that they were taught to believe and that they are afraid to question their beliefs.