- The exquisiteness of the physical world (6%)
- The reliability of the Scriptures (21%)
- The life and character of Jesus (44%)
- Christianity’s positive influence on culture and individuals (5%)
- The experiences of individuals (10%)
- Something else (13%)
and of course the Pharyngular atheists point out that none of these are arguments for the truth of Christianity. But of course they’re not. Even most Evangelical Christians (79% if we can trust this survey) are smarter than to suppose they are arguments for the truth of Christianity. They are arguments for calling yourself a Christian, for trying to act as you believe a Christian should and all the other things entailed by actually being a Christian, rather than supposing that “Christianity” — whatever that may be — is “literally true” — whatever that might mean. They are all versions of the argument given me by a wicked priest, who said that at an early age “Jesus got me by the bollocks”. That’s not an argument for the truth of his beliefs. It’s a justification for his actions, and one which is both sufficient and entirely comprehensible. Am Anfang ist der Tat. For all but a tiny minority of philosophically trained intellectuals, theology is just decoration — primroses round the power station — an attempt to rationalise the principles they try to act on. So the Pharungular strategy of pissing on the primroses, or even digging up the flower beds, isn’t going to affect the actual generating mechanisms at all.
You’d have thought that people who pride themselves on being smart as much as the pharyngular atheists do might be worried by the discovery that nearly 80% of even American Evangelicals know something they don’t. And they might, if they were prepared to notice that this was true. But they are so convinced that all Christians must be ignorant bigoted yahoos that they never will.