One of the bad side effects of the Catholic communion having periods of sin and decay is that its atheist enemies get lazy. When a Catholic culture is firing on all cylinders and its people are actually practicing virtue, mercy, charity, holiness and love (not to mention intellectual virtues like wisdom, prudence, understanding, and knowledge), one of the results is that its atheist critics have to up their game and you can have some really good arguments. Those arguments will, to be sure, have to center around the only two really good critiques of theism there ever have been or ever will be 1) Evil happens, so there’s no God and 2) Everything seems to work fine without God, so there’s no God). But they can still be good arguments.
But when Catholics get discouraged by the shitty quality of their own communion’s behavior, they can often themselves falling prey to arguments that are just, well, dumb.
Here, for instance, is silly attempt at a Gotcha:
This is like arguing that, because there is K-12 education, therefore grad school profs are stoopid. The fact that revelation is gradual says not one damn thing about the perfection of God. That a teacher stoops down to accommodate the limitations of his pupils does not mean the teacher is therefore imperfect, but that he is a good teacher. The New Testament, like the Old, is predicated on the understanding that we are profoundly limited in our ability to absorb the mystery of the infinite God. That is why it plainly states:
In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the ages. (Heb 1:1–2).
The early Christians are acutely aware that, with the Incarnation, God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever does not overcome his imperfections but rather, he utters “what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Mt 13:35)
More than this, they are conscious of the fact that, though Jesus is the fullness of the Word God speaks to the universe, we still do not grasp the full meaning of that Word and therefore require, throughout all the rest of history and eternity, the gift of the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Now, all this would be plain sailing if the folks posting weak Gotchas like this could just admit that it is a dumb argument to claim the Teacher is imperfect for accommodating the weakness of the student. An honest arguer would just say say, “Yeah. Okay. This sneer does not really prove the point it claims to prove. Fair enough.”
(Indeed, Christians could point to much more promising verses which, though they still do not ultimately do the job this one is trying to do, at least raise troubling questions about the perfection of God, such as when he appears to change his mind in Jonah after the repentance of Nineveh, or when God the Son tells us he does not know when the end of the world will be in Matthew 24, or when he asks questions, apparently because he really is ignorant of the answer. All these and other passages are much better grist for a discussion of the alleged imperfection of God than this low budget stab at a Gotcha.)
But because memes like this are about scoring cheap points in the pursuit of Unit Cohesion among Internet Atheists and not about actually making an argument that persuades anybody outside the Internet Atheist tribe, you generally don’t get an admission of failure. Instead (as the Twitter mob who responded to this one made clear), you just get more crappy arguments such as
By that logic you should be reading the Koran.
Which would be devastating if the logic of the New Testament was “Any book written after an earlier book is, ipso facto, a revelation that completes earlier revelation”. But since the logic of the New Testament is, in fact, “Jesus is the second person of the Trinity and the Incarnate Word and it is therefore impossible to add to him since he, not a book, is the final Word of God” this objection is not only a category error but, more than anything, it fails to grasp that it simply does not support the initial meme, because the meme is fundamentally wrong to assume that a Teacher who accommodates his student is therefore imperfect.
Similarly, ringing the changes on “You’re stoopid!” or “NO! YOU!” like this…
Your response makes no sense. Not even remotely.
Provide evidence for your assertions internet Christians.
Well, that’s a silly analogy that doesn’t make any sense. Be better, Chezami.
Because, of course, what is being asserted by me is, in fact, easily understandable and has a ton of evidence all over the world and all down through history. The problem is that the atheist tribalists defending this rubbish are so used to reflexive replies that they have forgotten what is being asserted. I am not asserting here the existence of God. I am, rather, asserting that teachers who accommodate the limitations of their students are not thereby proven to be imperfect. It’s just a shitty argument, disproven by a ton of evidence from millions of good teachers around the world. The Christian assertion that God has done this with the human race might be shown to be false on other, better grounds. But it will never be disproven by this slipshod and lazy meme. It’s as lazy as the sloppy Christian claim that atheism automatically makes people immoral.
Be better, Internet Atheists.
I think it would be more accurate to say that this particular meme does not land with Catholicism because they already account for such shifts in doctrine. But you should keep in mind that there are other denominations, like those that adhere to Sola Scriptura, biblical literalism and fundamentalism, which do not have such accommodations, or that do so to a much lesser degree.
Now, the problem with your teaching analogy is that it comes across as an attempt to make any evaluation of the relevant texts into an unwinnable proposition: if you see something wrong with the text, the problem always lies with you for misinterpreting it or taking it out of context; there can never be a problem with the text itself.
As arguments go, I guess its useful for pre-emptively deflecting criticism and thus, fomenting in-group cohesion, but those from the outside looking in are not likely to be swayed by it.