All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.
That’s the way the monkey goes. Pop! goes the weasel!
~ Children’s song
You ever had a jack-in-the-box? You wind it up, and it plays music. At the end of the song, out pops “Jack”. Or, in the case of the one I had, it “popped” when it came to the “Pop! goes the weasel” part of the song. Then, you would stuff the spring-loaded clown (“Jack”, presumably) back into the box, close the lid and do it again.
Yesterday, I wrote about how astounding it is that people will attribute attitudes to Jesus that aren’t anywhere in the realm of reality. Basically, they try to foist their own 21st century attitudes upon all sorts of historical figures in an attempt to justify bad attitudes and bad behavior. I suppose if they can bring a few off of a pedestal into the muck and mire with themselves, it makes them feel better.
However, that isn’t the only way in which people just conveniently ignore reality. Humanity seems pretty good at coming up with labels that are supposed to explain everything. It is almost amusing how it is done in medicine, for example. By doctors giving a condition some highfalutin name, suddenly the patient feels better. They know “what it is”. They may not understand it any better, but now it has a name. Somehow, that seems to make it more treatable, but the fact is that many diseases and conditions have names but no cure.
Humans label other humans as well. Sometimes, it is in the form of outright racial or religious prejudice. Sometimes, attributes are assigned to a particular career, such as lawyer, used car salesman or computer technician. Sometimes, entire countries are given attributes that may or may not be true. Sometimes, these things become jokes, often in poor taste I should add.
People try to label God as well. Perhaps He is “angry”, or “judgmental”, or “loving”, or “unjust”, or “merciful”, etc. All sorts of labels and attributes that may or may not be true. In other words, they try to put Him into a box – a box of their own making.
There are different types of boxes. Hat boxes are often round. They may protect hats better, but they make transporting them a little tougher. Packing and shipping boxes tend to be rectangular so that they can butt up next to each other. That allows more of them to fit onto a truck and to not move around as much. Shoe boxes are ideal for shoes, but they aren’t very sturdy for mailing.
Trying to use the wrong box can lead to the wrong results. Likewise, trying to label God with no grounding in Who and What He is will lead to the wrong results.
The skeptic will want to do an experiment. “If this…,” he or she will say, “then that….” The problem, of course, is when “this” is a false assumption to go on. “GIGO” as we say in the IT biz. Garbage in, garbage out. If you start with false assumptions and false premises, then even if your argument is logical, you will likely still end up in the wrong place.
Usually, these types of arguments are based upon taking things out of context. Take a verse and pluck it out of the Bible, and then say, “See? It isn’t true!” Frankly it is a tiring game. I’m constantly surprised that intelligent people will stoop to such dishonest and, frankly, stupid tactics. They will ignore what precedes the statement they are questioning. The will ignore what follows the statement. They will ignore the 99 other verses that say something different.
However, they might also just be based upon how someone believes or feels about a particular subject. “That’s not right,” they will say. OK, perhaps in your opinion it is wrong, but we aren’t talking about your opinion. Your opinion does not change whether or not God exists. Your opinion does not change whether or not God says something is wrong.
No, too often a skeptic tries to put God into a box of their own making. “God” then becomes “god” in this scenario. What they are talking about is no longer the living, reigning King of the universe, but something made up in their own imaginations. They are no longer talking about the real God, but an idol.
God is sovereign over all. To believe that we can dictate terms to Him under any circumstances is pretty presumptuous. To believe He is just sitting around waiting for someone to “experiment” on Him is to think way too highly of oneself.
The really sad part is that it isn’t just skeptics that play this game. Next time, we’ll look at how some “believers” stoop to the very same tactics.