The Morally Superior and the Intellectually Inferior

While checking Twitter last night (Christmas Eve), I found this tweet:

Now I don’t know what Tyson (or is it “deGrasse Tyson”?) meant with that tweet.  It looks like an insult to me, a verbal shot at people of faith (particularly people of my faith).  It seems to have that snark which is so popular in public discourse today, the sarcastic insinuation, the snide suggestion that something is wrong with the world’s 2.5 billion Christians.  I will admit it might not be that.  I’m not a mind reader.  I don’t know and can’t know what Tyson’s intent was in making this statement, so I won’t speculate on it.  But I will say (and I think it is fair to say) that it seems like a shot to me.  My initial reaction to this tweet, right or wrong, is that it is a shot at Christians and maybe even Christianity on Christmas Day.

Even if it isn’t a such a shot, though, there are plenty such shots out there.  There are quite a few people who have not only rejected The Faith but go one step further to attack The Faith.  The corruption of the Ichthus Fish, a millennia-old Christian symbol, is one shot/attack.  I see these corruptions on cars around my neighborhood quite frequently.   They have become so common they even have their own Wikipedia page.

Funny?  That’s debatable.  Classy?  Definitely not.  There is nothing classy about profaning what someone else regards as sacred.

Beyond this, Richard Dawkins told listeners as the 2012 Reason Rally that “Religion makes specific claims about the universe which need to be substantiated and need to be challenged and, if necessary, need to be ridiculed with contempt”, and then further challenged those leaders to “Mock [people of faith]! Ridicule them! In public!”  (You can find the full speech here.)

And beyond that, several non-believers have publicly referred to The Faith as “a fairy tale” or “make believe” or “the greatest story ever sold”.  I’ve also heard God called “an imaginary friend for adults”.  These non-believers have referred to The Faith and God in these ways not in a matter-of-fact way (which is one thing), but in that snarky, snide, sarcastic way I mentioned above (which is another thing altogether).

And I don’t suppose that these shots or attacks are all that bad.  “Sticks and stones”, right?  These are just words.  If having someone make a negative comment about me and/or my faith in either an academic or an aggressive manner is the worst thing that happens to me on this Christmas day, then I am doing pretty good.

But I am still left with one question about this matter.  There is still one question I have to ask before I can fully dismiss these words, a question which came immediately to mind as soon as I saw this tweet.  The question has to do with the fact that non-believers or anti-believers, particularly scientific ones like Tyson and Dawkins, are often presented as “more moral” or “morally superior” to believers like me.  I need go no further than the note I presented in the last post to give one example of this.  The young man in that note made this exact statement in no uncertain terms.  He said the people of the world are often “better” than the people of church.  Not only so, but they are often presented as intellectually superior as well.  In fact, those two things seem to me to be put together, i.e., these people are morally superior because they are intellectually superior, while people of faith are morally inferior because they are intellectually superior.

The question I have, then, is why are these morally superior individuals using such morally inferior tactics?  Why are these morally superior ones using tactics which I, the morally inferior one, have never used (I’ve never attacked a Jewish person on Hanukkah or a Muslim person on Ramadan; I’ve never attacked anyone for their faith or lack of it, period; I’ve merely tried to live my own life of faith)?  Why are these using tactics which my morally inferior faith forbids me from using (Paul tells us not to use the weapons of the world, Peter tells us to maintain gentleness and respect in such situations, and Jesus taught us to love our enemies, so my faith repeatedly forbids such tactics)?  Are snark, sarcasm, and snideness morally superior attitudes?  Is attacking someone, particularly someone intellectually inferior to you, for their faith on the high holiday of that faith a morally superior thing to do?

And if it is not, as I clearly don’t think it is and imagine you don’t, either, then why are those who do such things presented as morally superior?  If this tactic is not morally superior, how can these individuals be considered morally superior?  For that matter, how can they be considered intellectually superior?

Ever O’er Its Babel Sounds

Our spirits need food just as our bodies do, and I’m always looking for such spiritual food.  I usually find it in the Bible.  I sometimes find it through the Spirit (I think there are times when the Spirit applies the Bible to my situations, and other times when the Spirit just helps me see a truth from God apart from the Bible in my situations).  And I occasionally find it in spiritual songs as well.

I found some spiritual food in the old Christmas carol “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” this morning.  I was putting the overhead slides for this song into the PowerPoint presentation for Sunday’s worship.  As I did, I noticed that the music the band planned to use had a few verses I didn’t know.  There were some lyrics to this song I had never heard before.  Oh, I knew the first verse by heart.  I have known it by heart since I was a child.  I knew the tune as well.  But I had somehow missed these verses.  The first of them said this:

Still through the cloven skies they [the angels announcing the birth of Jesus] come,
With peaceful wings unfurled;
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

What really caught my attention (and that’s usually how spiritual food comes to me; something in a Scripture or a song or a situation just catches my attention, probably through the agency of the Spirit) was the second to last line (which, by chance, just happened to be the thumbnail YouTube used for the above version).  That line says the angels sing over the “Babel sounds” of the earth’s sad and lowly plains and continue to sing over them.  In other words, the angels deliver the message of the birth of Jesus despite whatever mean and meaningless things the world says.

This was a great encouragement to me.  It was a great encouragement to me because I am quite affected by the world’s mean and meaningless sayings.  I have what some people call “a prophetic nature”.  I am very distraught by false statements and often want to engage them in battle.  I see them as threats to the Gospel and want to neutralize them.  What I have come to realize lately is that there are far too many such statements out there.  These threats to the Gospel are never going to be neutralized, not as completely and permanently as I desire.

What this song is telling me, though, and what I believe the Spirit was telling me, is that it doesn’t matter if they are neutralized or not.  The Gospel is proclaimed despite those statements, and it continues to bear fruit despite those statements as well.  The angels’ song and the birth of Christ happened and continues to progress not by neutralizing all contrary songs and deeds but by riding over them unhindered and oblivious.

To a prophet and Jesus-lover like me, that is a great encouragement.  I hope it encourages you as well.