Today I spotted a (now inactive) comic called Cectic. Here’s how the author, Rudiz Muiznieks, describes his comic:
Cectic is the user manual for your brain, in comic-form. It was originally published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but real-life interceded, and as of November 2008 was only published (approximately) once every few weeks on Sundays. On January 24, 2009, Rudis announced that Cectic had come to an end.
Cectic is for skeptics. If you’re not amused, try Chick Publications, or Dan’s Pulpit (sent to me by a reader who referred to it as the Anti-Cectic).
The particular comic on this site that served as my introduction to Cectic was this one:
(Taken from http://cectic.com/146.html)
I was a little stunned at first. Not at the profundity of the point being made – anything but! I was stunned by the realisation that the author of the comic appears to genuinely think that he has scored a rhetorical point. Unfortunately, I’m fairly sure that many of the “sceptics” for whom Cectic is intended would have read this, smiled and nodded wisely, saying to themselves something like “Haha, yes, excellent point. You’ve really cornered those fundies on this one! Why don’t they see this?”
What irritates me further is the knowledge that Cectic isn’t alone. This breathtakingly shallow analysis is common – unless my experiences are atypical. So why do I take issue with it? Let me count the ways (OK there are only a few ways, but it was a short conversation!):
Firstly, the Christian in this discussion grants without hesitation that requirements that applied in the Old Testament, simply by virtue of being in the Old Testament, no longer apply today. He doesn’t make a rather obvious reply like “Wait, no we don’t believe that at all. Kidnapping is forbidden in the Old Testament but not the New Testament, yet we don’t think that’s OK. No, that is not the principle we hold to at all.” This would have stopped the other guy’s faulty analysis dead in its tracks, because its underlying principle would be rejected right from the start.
Secondly, the Christian accepts without hesitation the claim that the biblical case – the entire biblical case – that there is something wrong with homosexuality comes from the book of Leviticus. There’s no reference to the creation account, to the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, to the early chapters of Romans or to the first letter to the Corinthians, all of which contribute to the Christian understanding that is being criticised here. The fact is, absolutely nobody would grant that this claim about Leviticus being the only relevant source is correct. This is to say nothing of the way that it is assumed that in reality, Christians should regard nothing in the book of Leviticus as being of any value (not even “love your neighbour as yourself,” which is in Leviticus, right after the list of sexual sins, including homosexual acts).
Thirdly, the Christian in this comic says that Christian leaders and teachers (in this case his pastor) affirm that the above claims are in fact what Christians believe. But Christians believe neither of these two things. Further, it is suggested that the case is so absurd that Christians are likely to see it as silly, but continue to rely on it anyway on the basis of church authority.
There’s little (if any) point in actually interacting with people who think this way. It’s clear that they didn’t get to this point of view by honest observation or by actually making an effort to find out what other people really think, so it’s not like accuracy is regarded as particularly important by people who present stuff like this. Pointing out to people who present things like this that the representation is faulty at every step of the way is unlikely to be a productive enterprise. I suppose it’s (perhaps) revealing that this is the way a self-professed sceptic writes a “user manual for your brain.” What’s truly ironic is that it appears that this comic was presented to show that conservative Christians are the ones with shallow arguments that they haven’t really thought about.