Brian Fischer Says You Cannot Reason with Liberals Because God Gave Them Deranged Minds


The Gods have proclaimed Christ to have been most pious, but the Christians are a confused and vicious sect.” (Porphyry, Kata Christianon)

In the third century of the Common Era, a Roman scholar, Porphyry of Tyre (I will get to Brian Fischer in a moment), a student of the famous Neoplatonist Plotinus and author of a book called Against the Christians (Kata Christianon), pointed out that the Biblical book of Daniel (which is an example of apocalyptic Jewish literature)[1], which purports to be the tale of a Jew in Babylon in the sixth century BCE, was written hundreds of years after Daniel’s death. We know this thanks to St. Jerome’s Commentary on Daniel:

“Porphyry wrote his twelfth book against the prophecy of Daniel, denying that it was composed by the person to whom it is ascribed in its title, but rather by some individual living in Judaea at the time of the Antiochus who was surnamed Epiphanes. He furthermore alleged that ‘Daniel’ did not foretell the future so much as he related the past, and lastly that whatever he spoke of up till the time of Antiochus contained authentic history, whereas anything he may have conjectured beyond that point was false, inasmuch as he would not have foreknown the future.”

We don’t have Porphyry’s actual book telling us this about Daniel of course, because the Christians hated Porphyry so much they burnt up nearly everything the poor man ever wrote. The Nazi Party’s angry Aryans had nothing on angry fundamentalist Christians when it came to burning books. In 448 CE, the Church, now thoroughly in control of the Roman Empire, condemned it to the flames. That is why one modern translation, R. Joseph Hoffmann’s Porphyry’s Against the Christians is subtitled “The Literary Remains.”[2]

As it happens, Porphyry, who would also call Jesus himself a “divine man” (like Herakles) but not a God (and see the quote with which I opened this piece), was right and you can’t burn the truth out of existence. The book’s actual date of composition, most modern scholars will tell you, based of archaeology and textual analysis, is the second century BCE – though fundamentalists continue to support a sixth century date. [3]

If Christians were frustrated, you can well imagine Porphyry was as well. As he famously remarked, “it is easier to write words on water than try to use argument on a Christian.”[4]

He isn’t the first to have noticed this of course. As the second century came to an end, another Pagan observer and critic of Christianity, the scholar Celsus, author of On the True Doctrine, had much the same reaction. The Christians, he complained, would brook no argument: “Do not ask questions; Just believe.”[5]

I think anyone who has found themselves in argument with a fundamentalist would sympathize with both men.

As R. Joseph Hoffmann says of Porphyry,

A first-class mind Porphyry certainly was, but the debate was not a strenuous one. From the standpoint of the neoplatonic school, Christianity was contemptible because it was simple. Hence, simple devices and stereotyped arguments were used against it…As a miracle worker, Jesus was a second-rater. The teaching of the Christians is self-contradictory: they look for the end of the world, but what they really want is control of the empire.[6]

They sound a lot like our fundamentalists today, don’t they? End of the world this, end of the world that; we must control the government!

Porphyry, continues Hoffmann, “denied the Christian teachers their favorite refuge: allegory.”

Porphyry deal with the plain sense of words. Having mastered allegorical interpretation as a student of Longinus, he knew the tricks of the trade. Whether speaking of the prophecies of the Book of Daniel or the apocalyptic teaching of the church, he refused to excuse contradiction as “mystery” or misstatement of fact as paradox. The gospel writers were not Homer. Their Greek was, by and large, that of the marketplace. They lacked skill, not honesty, for if they had been dishonest men they would have tried to disguise Jesus’ failures or the deficiencies of his apostles. [7]

I relate all this so that you will have some context in which to place Bryan Fischer’s latest homophobic tirade. As Right Wing Watch reports, Fischer said yesterday that “you cannot reason with these people because they are impervious to facts, they are impervious to logic, they are impervious to reason, they are impervious to history, they are impervious to the truth.”  And the reason that gays and liberals and the like cannot be reasoned with is because God has given them over to a “depraved mind,” so “their thinking is messed up [and] they don’t process information the way normal people process information.”

I am certain that if he had been able to say this to Porphyry that the old philosopher would still be laughing. Fischer’s real problem is, of course, that we won’t simply take his word for it, that we obstinately refuse to, as Celsus’ opponents phrased it, “Just believe.” He cannot, and has not, ever demonstrated any use of reason or logic in his own arguments. The well-educated Porphyry would likely have been unable to debate Fischer because he would have fallen off his chair laughing so hard he would have been been unable to speak.

Now you can read all about the direct cause of Fischer’s tirade over at Right Wing Watch but I’m more interested in the idea that fundamentalist Christians somehow deploy reason in the pursuit of historical fact while processing information more efficiently than a liberal.

I can think of another very intelligent liberal who might be laughing if he has read this: George Lakoff, professor of cognitive science and linguistics and author of The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain (2008). Lakoff, like Celsus and Porphyry, knows that faith and reason don’t go along together.

Lakoff, of course points out that reason is one of the ideals of the Enlightenment and that Al Gore’s critique of the Bush administration is called The Assault on Reason (2007) for a reason (just as there is a good reason the New York Times called Gore’s book “a farsighted and powerful manifesto for clear thinking”).  ”Reason makes us equal,” he writes. “Reason contrasts with blind faith.”[8] Fischer sounds more than a little like Pope Benedict when he tries to employ both reason and blind faith as though they were synonymous. Far from being synonymous, they cannot coexist, which is why people talk about taking “a leap of faith”.

It is easy to see why fundamentalist Christians would wish to adopt the language of the Enlightenment in order to destroy it and reason’s great fruit, democracy. But though fundamentalist religious belief can steal the language of the Enlightenment (religious freedom, anyone?) it cannot steal the Enlightenment’s values for the simple reason that religious fundamentalism abhors freedom of any kind, save its own freedom to destroy ours. Let Porphyry’s writings serve as an example of what freedom of speech, reason, logic, and clear thought really means to fundamentalist Christianity.

 


[1] Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (2005), 25.

[2] Porphyry was quite influential: Eusebius wrote a refutation; Augustine of Hippo admired him; Jerome wrote his commentary on Daniel to protect Church doctrine regarding that book against Porphyry.

[3] Bart D. Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (2011), 117. It was written during the time of the Maccabean Revolt and not by Daniel, but pseudonymously, as are most apocalypses.

[4] R. Joseph Hoffman, Porphyry’s Against the Christians: The Literary Remains (Oxford University Press, 1994), 168.

[5] Origen, C. Cels. I, 9ff. See Celsus: On The True Doctrine, R.J. Hoffmann ed. (Oxford University Press, 1987), 53-54.

[6] Hoffmann (1994), 17.

[7] Hoffmann (1994), 17-18. Hoffman relates that according to Jerome (Epistle 57) Porphyry pointed out to some sloppy scholarship on the part of the New Testament authors, misusing Hebrew prophecy: “Mark cites a passage from Malachi and attributes it to Isaiah (Mark 1.2); Matthew attributes to Isaiah a verse of Psalm 77, and so on.”

[8] George Lakoff, The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain (2008), 6-7.

24 Replies to “Brian Fischer Says You Cannot Reason with Liberals Because God Gave Them Deranged Minds”

  1. Brilliant and enlightening article. When Fischer spoke of deranged minds I thought he was talking about conservatives who abhor facts because they SO OFTEN contradict their message!

  2. Calling the kettle black eh, Brian? You are the most disgustingly vial, deranged mind in radio! Go take a bath, you smell! People have long grown tired of your hate, and if they haven’t, like they say: “the apple does not fall too far from the tree” IDIOTS!

  3. Liberals have deranged minds?! Liberals?!

    Has Mr. Fischer never listened to the demented gibberish spewing out of Sarah Palin’s piehole?

    Piffle, Mr. Fischer. We may be deranged, but you are clearly an imbecile.

  4. “God gave Liberals deranged minds.”

    Well, fancy that.

    Did Fischer just say that God makes mistakes? Oopsie.

  5. I wonder if this applies to people who were liberal and changed to conservative, or vice versa? Is Bryan telling us as christians that its ok to rape and pillage the poor?

    The one thing I take solace in is simply one fact: If Bryan was born in India he would be extolling the fundamentalism of the Hindu(who for the most part is far more forgiving than Fishers religion is). Or he would be a fundie Buddhist. Unfortunately for fischer neither of these religions crave power like his does.

    Lets hope bryan is a one way ticket to derision from real christains

  6. This is another example of blatant far-right projection. There is no reasoning with folks who buy into the toxic nonsense that people like Brian Fischer spew on a daily basis. They are impervious to logic and facts, and only double down on the stupidity when they are challenged.

  7. This is a point I’ve stressed for years. We are usually a product of our environment and simple geography yet when it comes to religious fervor many have the “MINE IS THE ONE AND ONLY TRUE DOGMA” despite the fact thart most people throughout the ages never really had an free choice as to their beliefs.

  8. How convenient! Now Fischer and his followers won’t have to come up with reasoned arguments (let alone facts) to support their hatred and bigotry.

  9. BOOYAH! I would hate myself if my brain worked like these right wing haters. I try to find the good in everyone and give everyone a free pass on ONE mistake before condemning them to the scrap heap. BUT theses people are so EXTREMELY HATEFUL, paranoid and unable to debate without getting personally insulting it sickens me. I’ll add they should all read the Time magazine article, “The God Gene” It explains why some people have faith or are easily sucked in by things that lack facts and logic and those who like me never could swallow the whole GOD’s thing and other related ficticious dogmas. I was born an Atheist like all people are and never did get religion and it’s narrow-minded controlling aspects.

  10. Now, I’m certain you’ve never MET Brian Fischer.

    No complaints about the rest of your comment though.

  11. Conservative minds work on a set of assumptions they can’t even verbalize.

    So let me do it for them.

    1) Whatever another Conservative says is true. Repeat it as often as possible. Ignore any facts that present themselves, those are just trickery.

    2) “Liberals” are selfish tricksters trying to steal money from hard-working, honest Conservatives.

    3) God is always right even when he tells you to kill children. {Human Sacrifice? Okay, God.}

    4) Sin is an offense to God. Therefore Conservatives must make laws that stop people from sinning.

    5) The President is all-powerful. Which is why Conservatives can’t allow Liberals to be elected, and would vote for any sleaze bag serial adulterer necessary in order to control the power of the Presidency.

    6) Republicans are all Fiscal Conservatives. {Ignore the National Debt figures from Republican Presidents; it’s Congress’ fault anyway. This conflicts with the belief that the President is all-powerful, but believing two impossible things is no harder than believing one.}

    7) Authority Figures are always right, and must be respected.

    Now, the key here, is to detect these underlying assumptions whenever a Conservative starts arguing, and demolish them with repeated examples.

    For example, for #1 and #7, bring up Nixon, a liar and thief.

    The problem is, you have to hit them hard, over and over, with facts.

    And since they can’t even SEE these assumptions exist, they just get baffled and frustrated.

  12. Fischer is another fundamentalist hater pretending to know the mind and thoughts of God. His main problem with liberals and non-fundamentalists is that we are not as easy to control as the fundamentalists he uses his distortions of the Bible to convince that everyone except them are the spawn of the devil. If Christ came down to earth today, Fischer would be one of the first to organize a mob to crucify him for a second time. He’s angry because of the limits of his authoritarianism. He wants to be King of the World and can’t tolerate the fact that sane, rational people know he’s a religious fraud intent on enriching himself at the expense of the gullible and weak-minded who easily fall prey to the BS he peddles.

  13. Theology as a form of govt, like Iran is coming sooner than we all think. Fischer will be demanding the death of liberals and gays soon enough. this man is certifiable.

  14. The Tea Party/Republicans do no more than throw a bone to lure Christians to support their Corporatist values!
    I was reading different books by Garrison Keillor and Charles Stanley, they revealed much of this that I wrote. What bewilders me about Republicans is the coalition of the greedy Corporatist wing of the GOP party and the Bible wing of Religious Right, two groups supposedly with little in common; I mean one covets wealth while the other is supposed to share God’s wealth. But the Bible wing (the deceived) supplies the votes so that the Corporatists (the deceivers) can take most of the booty. The Corporatists get tax cuts and deregulations that increase the corporate profits and the Bibleists get a few vague gestures on symbolic issues such as Gay rights, prayer in schools, and abortions. Like the Pharisees, the Bibleists enjoy “public” displays of religion. These leaders of the extreme Religious Right, whom seek self-edification, excite and rile up their followers to the issues by talking about God or the Holy Spirit speaking to them, which is always about and in favor of tax cuts, less government, right to carry arms, stopping entitlements, and preemptive military action. The Holy Spirit never comes out in favor of anything without clearing it with the Republican Party. What about the Holy Spirit speaking about the Word of God? Never do you hear Religious Right leaders or Republican leaders say the Holy Spirit spoke about love, compassion, kindliness, caring for others, praying, serving, giving to the poor, the needy, or the helpless (Deuteronomy 15:11)! Why, because that would edify God, not themselves. I don’t know about you, but my Bible, which is God’s Word, speaks and commands us to love, be kind, and serve our brothers in need, 1 John 3:17-18, Proverbs 14:21 & 31, Luke 12:48, 1 Timothy 6:18, Ephesians 4:11-13, Amos 4:6 and Matthew 28:16-20 are just a few commands from God. Biblical Christianity (not to be confused with tainted, politicized, or hypocritical forms of Christianity that bear no resemblance to the life and message of Jesus Christ) is a far cry from the Bibleists wing deceived by the Tea Party/Republicans of today. Ask yourselves, why did Jesus come to earth for mankind, to be served, or to serve? If your answer is anything but to serve, you are in deep trouble. The Bibleists vow to put God back in the public schools, as if He were a small plaster icon and not the Creator of the universe that is here, there, and everywhere! My God is wherever I need him to be, at school, work, or at home, and laws can’t stop him from coming, nor you or anybodyelse. Pharisee prayer is simply a political speech that is addressed to God, as if he needed instructions. It’s a show that gets attention for those in need of self-edification. Who are the Pharisees today? Who quotes Scriptures edifying themselves and claim boldly that they are Christians, then turn around and persecute the poor? Who is it claiming the poor does not deserve “Entitlements” and at the same moment vote to extend the tax breaks to the wealthy? Who is it that brings guns to political rallies rather than peaceful love from God? When you try to find love of Christ at work in the Republican Party, it may take you awhile. The Christian Coalition is a Republican front with about as much to do with the Christian faith as the Elks Club have to do with large hoofed animals. And that is the Republican Party: its Christianity is about half fake because it scorns Jesus’ command to love thy neighbor as thyself and it abuses any who take the commandments seriously. Ask yourselves if the policies of your politicians are the policies of Jesus Christ? Remember, God gives ALL the free will to love, obey and serve Him, so don’t be so quick to take those same rights from those that choose to do what we call sin. God will judge, don’t you try to take God’s place. When I speak about the Bibleists, the Religious Right Wing, or the Christian Coalition, I define them as not Christian only with this statement: The righteous person is not self-righteous, or externally moralistic. Rather, he looks to God’s promises and unchanging character as the basis for his right standing before his Creator-Judge. There are people that claim to be Christians for whatever reason, then a smaller group that are Believers that believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, BUT then there is even a smaller group that are Followers of Jesus Christ; they are the ones that live as best as they can within the Bible, serving others not taking from others, loving others without hateful words, caring for others not turning their heads away from the poor, not slandering others but sharing with others, not self-righteous but look at God’s righteousness, and not moralistic but forgiving of others.

  15. Count on one thing: The right projects their own wishes, hopes and ambitions on the left and accuses liberals of wanting to do the exact same thing they, the right, wants to do.

    Every time you hear them bitch about how the left wants to take their rights away from them, look at what gets posted, and you’ll see that it’s them, the right, curtailing the rights of others. They whine about “persecution” (a handy way of insulating ones self against criticism), yet what are they doing to women, minorities, other religions outside the evangelical-fundamentalist sphere, and people and things they don’t like? You guessed it. THEY are the ones engaging in persecution.

    Trust me, everything they accuse the left of doing to them, they themselves want to do to the left.

  16. I don’t know about that, Shiva, but I do know this: Bryan Fischer represents the evangelical-fundamentalist sect of Christianity. Every single thing they teach runs counter to everything Jesus taught.

    That’s why, when one of these clueless morons tries to proselytize me, I simply respond with “I’m certain I’m going to Hell. I don’t need an express pass or want to be subjected to extraordinary torment like you and those like you will unless you get down on your knees and beg the Lord for forgiveness, for allowing yourself to be misled by the modern-day Pharisees.”

    Needless to say, they don’t like it, but without the anonymity of the Internet, they usually say nothing, or try to convince you otherwise, but sorry. I’m not buying it.

  17. One of my favorite saying made up by a person I hold dear(myself) “You usually are what you call others.” It fits your sentiments precisely. The right is everything they accuse the left of being

  18. One thing is clear; if, as Fischer suggests, God gave Libs their “depraved minds“, then, as any true Christian will attest, they must be loved by God Himself, since He did not create Down syndrome babies only to hate them, any more than Hedid any of His other “imperfect” human children.
    A depraved mind would certainly remove the burden of free will for those afflicted, leaving the “Endower” with full responsibility for the end product.
    In other words, God should not hate His own defective “player”.

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