Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Letter to Dr. Charles Negy, Humanistic Bigot

In a recent article in the Charlotte Observer (found here), University of Central Florida professor Charles Negy explains a situation that occurred in his class between himself and some "religious bigots" who happened to be Christians.  In response to this interaction, he wrote an email that went viral on the internet and it can be found here.

While I agree with some of Dr. Negy's points, there is a fatal flaw in his logic which ends in a contradiction- as well as Humanistic Bigotry. I don't take this term lightly. I would never use the word bigot unless I deem it necessary, and this is one of those few instances.

First, I agree that these students were likely "out of line" and they had likely never questioned their religious upbrining. For this, I applaud Dr. Negy. The university is, in fact, a place where life's greatest questions should be considered and people with opposing beliefs should be respected and tolerated.   He writes in that email, "Critical thinkers are open to having their cherished beliefs challenged, and must learn how to “defend” their views based on evidence or logic, rather than simply 'pounding their chest' and merely proclaiming that their views are 'valid.'"  I can't agree more, but this is where my agreement with Dr. Negy abruptly ends.

His main tirade against these students read, "Students in my class who openly proclaimed that Christianity is the most valid religion, as some of you did last class, portrayed precisely what religious bigotry is. Bigots—racial bigot or religious bigots—never question their prejudices and bigotry. They are convinced their beliefs are correct." Well isn't that interesting. First, Dr. Negy challenges the fact that we actually believe that some of our religious beliefs are TRUE.  Isn't it possible, Dr. Negy, that some religious believers have actually considered their "prejudices and bigotry," and came out on the other side still believing in their religious beliefs?  As we'll read below, it's because of your own bigotry and assumptions that this is unfathomable.

Lastly, Dr. Negy wrote, "One characteristic of the critical, independent thinker is being able to recognize fantasy versus reality; to recognize the difference between personal beliefs which are nothing more than personal beliefs, versus views that are grounded in evidence, or which have no evidence." Here's the problem with this statement, it is the result of an unexplained presupposition and yes, even humanistic "prejudice and bigotry."  Here is his assumption: all religions are fantasy.  This is the prevailing view of cultural anthropologists, but they don't feel the need to explain or justify this claim. They just assume that religion is merely cultural and has no universal or absolute truth therein.  My point is this, Dr. Negy, why don't you follow your own standards? You've mocked Christians for their unproven assumptions, yet you have one of your own.  You are convinced that your beliefs are correct, but instead of justifying your humanistic approach, you assume it, then you are shocked when a few religious zealots assume their own presuppositions and publicly reject yours. Why not start your class with honesty and integrity, and openly state your belief in humanistic naturalism, then the students might not be so shocked when you claim that religion is merely a human invention or when you label those students, who firmly believe that religion is reality, "religious bigots."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I would never debate Richard Dawkins: The atheist “philosopher” cannot give us a reason why genocide is wrong. I would rather leave an empty chair than share a platform with him.

Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of Richard Dawkins. He is an atheist. Most members of my church don’t know who he is either. He calls himself a philosopher, but other distinguished philosophers like Alvin Plantinga and Antony Flew have called his work “jejune”, “sophomoric”, and even titled him a “secularist bigot.”  Perhaps we should just call him a “biologist.”
For years Dawkins has been running away from debating any credible Christian apologist or philosopher with reasons such as “I don’t debate 7 day creationists” and most recently *here* he says he won’t debate William Lane Craig because he supports genocide in the Bible.
Dawkins writes in his article, “But Craig is not just a figure of fun. He has a dark side, and that is putting it kindly. Most churchmen these days wisely disown the horrific genocides ordered by the God of the Old Testament.”
But here’s the problem with Mr. Dawkins, he has admitted that he can’t unequivocally state that genocide is wrong. In an interview with Larry Taunton he said, “What’s to prevent us from saying Hitler wasn’t right? I mean, that is a genuinely difficult question.”  Why couldn’t we just insert “the ancient near east Jews” instead of “Hitler?” But Dawkins reacts to Craig’s view of genocide as though the act is absolutely, morally reprehensible. He even uses this as his sole reason why he won’t debate the man. But if he can't justify why Hitler was wrong, how can he state that the Jews were wrong in the Old Testament?
            Well, would you share a platform and shake hands with a man who can’t even give evidence for why Hitler’s genocide of millions of Jews was absolutely immoral? I wouldn’t and I won’t. Sorry Richard, I’m diverting your emails to the spam folder and I’ve got my phone set to silent.  

Dean Hardy is the Head of the Bible Department at Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte, NC. He earned his B.A. in Religion from Palm Beach Atlantic University and his Masters in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary. He can be reached at

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In Response to Charlotte Observer's “Police chaplains who quit give Christians black eye”

In Response to Charlotte Observer's “Police chaplains who quit give Christians black eye”

As a devoted follower of Christ, my eyes are not blackened, but they are wide open to the editor’s lack of knowledge for basic Christian principles as well as the true life of Jesus.

Jesus loved. There is no question about this assertion. He loved the common sinner; he loved the Samaritans who were a downtrodden race, he even gave women a higher sense of value, none of this can be argued. But to then transfer this to the concept that “all actions are permissible” and “we must accept everyone” is a fallacy of epic proportions. Jesus did not accept the sin of these individuals. He chastised the Pharisees for their pride, Zaccheus for his greed, and even told a lame man to “stop sinning.”

So why shouldn’t the chaplains stay? Well, unlike the editor’s conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin; there are very good reasons, philosophically and Biblically, that homosexuality is a sin. God’s Word specifically calls homosexuality immoral, most descriptively in Romans 1. So Mr. and Mrs. Editor, in whom should I trust?

In defense of the chaplains, God’s word gives specific instructions for the elders of the church. In both instances it mentions that the man must be blameless and loving toward his wife. It was obvious to the early church that homosexuality was a sin. I agree with your list of “other sins” such as cruelty and adultery, and I would hope that the chaplains would have also left their post if the Chief had appointed a chaplain who lived a continued lifestyle of committing these sins.

Dean Hardy is a Philosophy and Apologetics teacher, as well as the co-president of Stand Your Ground Ministries in Matthews, NC. He can be reached at

Saturday, April 10, 2010

New Movement Reveals the Philosophical Ineptitude of Church Leaders

Right now, 12,000+ leaders of our Christian community have signed onto “the Clergy Letter,” unequivocally declaring that there is no contradiction between religion and science (please read the note hyperlinked: they are not discussing normative science vs. religion, but rather evolution vs. religion). Even more regretfully, the United Methodist Church as a whole, as well as branches of the Episcopal and Lutheran Church, have endorsed the contents of this letter.

There are multiple, crucial problems with this movement. First, the leaders agree that the historical literal translation of the Bible is improper and that many of the stories of the Old Testament are merely metaphorical. Of course, then we have to wonder how you distinguish the metaphorical stories from the literal ones, and if your only way of delineating is by comparing the Word of God to the normative world of science, then you might as well throw out the miraculous acts of Christ himself, including his resurrection. Since the stories of Genesis and of Jonah are written in a historical narrative style, then why wouldn’t you also question the writings of the Gospels?

Of course, there’s no attempt in the letter to try and harmonize the doctrines of the church and of evolution, and I think in this case, and with this bold of a claim, there needs to be some sort of explanation. For instance, if I started an online petition suggesting that the God of Israel, Christianity, and Islam were in fact the same being, I would likely need to explain myself before I’d expect anyone to take it seriously. But instead of explaining how the religion of Christianity and evolution are compatible, it is merely stated, “the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist.” I’m interested in how these leaders are explaining original sin, death as the punishment of sins, and Christ’s redemptive work as the second Adam to their followers. Dr. Zimmerman, the originator of this letter, has yet to do just that. (see here) Until I read this explanation, I will see these signatures as no more than an admittance of ignorance and the dysfunctional relationship between religion and evolution.

While the diminishing of the inerrancy of scripture is frightening, and the lack of explanation is frustrating, what scares me the most about this letter is the complete lack of understanding of the nature of truth. The end of the letter reads, “We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.” Forms of Truth? I didn’t know that you could have different ways that things could correspond to reality. In fact, they can’t. If something corresponds to reality, then it just does. Either the Biblical stories are true or they aren’t. Either evolution is true or it’s not. God exists; or not. We’ve evolved from other species, or we are specially created in the Image of God. The core of these beliefs cannot coexist. (Of course, there can be portions of both that are true or false, but foundationally- the main doctrinal views cannot both be true at the same time and sense.)

In a Baptist sermon, you can see the problem overtly expressed. Pastor Gary McCaslin said this from the pulpit at his First Baptist Church in Painted Post, NY, “Soul liberty simply means that every person in this gathered community has a responsibility to say what is true about God from his or her heart.” (see here) Thus, truth is not founded on the natural revelation of the world around us, or special revelation of Scripture, but rather the subjective feelings on each of the hearts of his church’s constituents. Nothing should scare us more. My feelings don’t matter; God’s truth is His truth, whether it be revealed in science or scripture, God knows the truth because he has created reality, and he often chooses to reveal it to us (the Bible) or leads us to discover it (via science). These two fields are compatible, but the compatibility of evolution and Christianity is truly mistaken for explanation.