Years ago, I read on the blog Atheist Revolution the following quote from Lemuel K. Washburn:
What a queer thing is Christian salvation! Believing in firemen will not save a burning house; believing in doctors will not make one well, but believing in a savior saves men. Fudge!
(From Atheist Revolution “Words of Wisdom: Lemuel K. Washburn“)
What a blessing it is to have such intelligent commentators! All these years I have thought that God is no more powerful than my neighborhood firefighter. I have seen the errors of my ways, the irrationality of my beliefs.
On a more serious note, the quote is a bad argument (if it even presents to be an argument). Thinking that faith in God will save you is foolishness if you don’t think God is a supremely powerful being.
If it were true of my local firefighters that they
- were powerful enough to rescue me in any situation,
- were capable of knowing whether or not I’ve put my faith in them, and
- promised that believing in them would lead them to rescue me when my house were burning,
then I would be foolish not to believe in them when my house was burning. It would be unreasonable not to believe in them when my house catches fire.
Of course, Christian doctrine teaches that these three statements are true about God. Washburn’s “Words of Wisdom” do nothing to attack these beliefs. It’s nice rhetoric, I suppose, for someone who already finds Christian teachings ridiculous. But it’s nothing more than that.
Join other dedicated readers of Thinking and Believing and subscribe to the email list. You'll receive every new post in your inbox, so you never have to worry about missing a post. Click here to subscribe.