“Why doesn’t the church give tons of money to the poor?”
I’m currently developing an article about fundamentalism, and how its core impulse is to avoid cognitive dissonance no matter what.
In 2015, Bible scholar Hector Avalos published a book called Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics. In the book, he talks about how most interpretation of the Bible starts from the standpoint that Jesus was a super good guy. Avalos argues that if Bible scholars were to abandon that standpoint, they would see that Jesus wasn’t always a good guy. Avalos wants his readers to think that Jesus was sometimes a jerk, and that biblical Christian ethics are horrible.
Without diving into Avalos’ arguments, we can ask some questions that show his train of thought. For example:
- If Jesus was so concerned about the poor, why didn’t he tell the poor widow to keep her money instead of giving it to the temple treasury? For that matter, why didn’t he tell everyone to divert their temple donations to the poor?
- If Jesus was so concerned about the poor, why didn’t he agree with Judas and tell the woman who anointed him to sell the ointment and give the proceeds to the poor?
- If Jesus was so concerned about the poor, why didn’t he just repeat the miracle of the loaves and fishes until all the poor in the region were fed, and then just keep doing that to eliminate hunger?
- If Jesus really had the power to heal everyone, why didn’t he just command the elements and make everyone whole, all at once?
- If Jesus was so empathetic, why was he so dismissive in his response to John the Baptist when John was in a moment of painful doubt?
- If Jesus was so inclusive, why didn’t he call any female or non-Jewish apostles?
And for Latter-day Saints,
7. If Jesus was so kind, why did he wipe out entire cities of men, women and children before his arrival in the Americas, instead of visiting them and inviting them to repent?
We could go on and on.
The point is, these kinds of accusation-questions are common in dumb atheism (and yes, there is smart atheism that doesn’t fall into these traps).
And these questions show the shallow thought processes that fundamentalist apostates use to accuse the prophet. No ability to hold paradox; no willingness to dig deeper and look for a bigger picture; no ability to hold ambiguity; no ability to abide any cognitive dissonance.
The same things that atheists yell toward “sky-daddy,” fundamentalists yell toward the prophet. Fundamentalist thought processes are essentially dumb-atheist ones, but dressed in uncritical interpretation of scripture and aimed toward the prophet.
LDP video on how to think about church spending: