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The Christian Car Bomb Argument

A popular argument taught to fundamentalist college students is what I like to call the Christian Car Bomb Argument. The beauty of this argument is that it can be used to justify the most despicable actions in the name of love. It basically turns morality on its head. The argument may vary in many of the details, but basically it goes something like this:

If you knew that there was a bomb in your friend’s car wouldn’t you do what ever you could to stop your friend from getting into his car? If you really loved your friend, you would stop him or her from getting into his or her car at all costs, right?

The argument goes on to explain that Sin is the car bomb and Hell is a spiritual death. So if you really loved your friend, you would do what ever it took to make him or her swear their allegiance to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior… because God so loved the world that he sacrificed his only begotten son so that we can be with Him in Heaven and be granted eternal life forever and ever. If non-Christian friend doesn’t believe this, they will not be forgiven from sin (the bomb) and they will go to Hell for all eternity to be torture forever and ever. Therefore, a good loving Christian must do anything and everything (moral or immoral) to believe and worship Jesus. The ends justify the means and anything goes. All options are on the table because the fate of someone’s eternal soul rests in the balance.

There are a couple of problems with this argument. Let’s start with the fact that if there is no evidence for the existence of a Car Bomb in my car, I would ignore my friend’s warning. Especially if the bomb squad came and couldn’t find a bomb anywhere and my friend still kept ranting and raving about the car bomb. My friend might even say that you have to trust him or her or have “faith” that the bomb is real, but after awhile and a ton of evidence to the contrary, I would just assume that my friend was off his or her meds and get in my car and drive away. My friend might then say that it was still a bad idea, because no one knows the time or the place in which the car bomb might explode, but that it will explode “soon.” In other words, the fact that I drove the car and it didn’t explode is not evidence that the bomb doesn’t exist. In fact there can never be evidence that the car bomb doesn’t exist to my crazy friend.

The second problem is what I pointed to earlier that this argument teaches Christians that any and all actions (including immoral actions) are justified if it will save someone’s eternal soul. Christians are free to lie, cheat, steal, and even use physical force to save their friend’s eternal soul. After all, who cares if you hurt your friend’s physical body if you can save his spiritual life, right? Even Jesus said this when he talked about cutting off a thieving hand and plucking out a lustful eye. Con your friend, bribe him or her to come to a meeting, use fear, and even your sexuality to win his or her soul for Jesus. Like I said, anything is permissible. Don’t worry about sinning yourself, because Jesus died for your sins already and God will understand. The ends justify the means. Incidentally enough, this was the same reasoning used during the Spanish Inquisition for the torture on non-Christians. It doesn’t matter how much the physical body is tortured as long as you can save their eternal soul.

So next time you hear a Christian talk about the car bomb or some other variation on this argument (and there are many) you can ask them for proof of this “sin” thing and proof that you will go to Hell. You can tell your Christian friend that if you knew there was a bomb in his car, you would just show him the damn bomb and if he still didn’t believe you, you would let him drive off.

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  • Leo

    I remember lifeboat ethics, but I don’t remember the car bomb being taught at my university, perhaps you meant “fundamental christians?”

    Isn’t there beauty in the concept though? I mean, we’re born into sin (this world is sin), and we get to sin it up until the day we seek forgiveness in Jesus, then everthings AOkay! Jesus is the christians Get-Out-of-Hell-Free card.

    Too bad God doesn’t heal amputees or I’d be Christian too. Of course he doesn’t have to because he wants our souls, not our limbs. Duh!

    However even if I can’t see the bomb and I don’t believe that it exists, doesn’t mean that it won’t go off, proverbally that is: Just because you can’t see my imaninary friend holding a knife to your head doesn’t mean he won’t cut you and leave you an imaginary scar…(sounds insane)…but there is a lot to be said about beleiving in imaginary things. Some can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality, (some of them are scary insane).

    (I like the look of your new site. I wish I had money to donate. Keep up the fight, but don’t forget these are people too, people we would like to cure and who would have us purified.)

  • Chris

    And yet, when this logic is applied to anything but Christianity, people get locked up in asylums. Its really quite sad.

  • Bryan

    So, if the car bomb is analogous to sin then the car must be analogous to rational thought and most Christians just refuse to drive.

    In reality the analogous synonym of a car bomb could be a unicorn. I don’t think I’d have much luck in convincing my friend that there was a mythical beast planted under their car.

  • Scott

    I never heard this argument before. But that is an insane argument. Stop at nothing to promote your religion otherwise your friend goes to hell and burns for eternity! Christianity was strongly designed to last a long long time after its inception.

    • http://www.poweressence.com/evolve Maxwell Jennings

      Religious leaders are the biggest con-artists! They will do anything and demand almost anything to get more people(=money) into their organization. The higher ranking religious elite live opulent lives while the lower ranking puppet-preachers-priests still live cared-for but non-productive lives at the expense of the tithing sheep. Lucky for us sane people that murder is against the law in most places, else these religious leaders would be handing out guns, instructing their flock to “hold it to your friend’s head and give him a choice. Either accept jesus or accept this holy bullet in your head.” Coercion is not a choice! Scare tactics are part of the longest running scams in history — organized religions.

  • http://www.fullmetalblogger.com A-Dizzle

    This is similar to a discussion I had with my brother-in-law who claimed that the genocide in the old testament committed by the Jews, and the immoral old testament laws, were necessary to preserve the pure blood line so that Jesus could be born. In essence, the ends justified the means. The coming of Jesus took moral precedence over slaughtering innocent women and children. It’s impossible for me to accept the premise that Christians have a superior moral code when they are the ones trying to claim there are certain situations where genocide and infanticide are not immoral.

    • Mr. X

      First – I like the new webpage. I didn’t realize we’d be able to comment without creating a new account somewhere. This works!

      Second – it reminds me of Sam Harris’s arguments in “The End of Faith”: if you accept the premises of the Islamic afterlife, then you may not need to be insane to commit a suicide bombing. Likewise, if you accept the teachings of Christianity, converting everybody you like enough to save becomes a matter of even greater importance than life or death. It’s not crazy if you accept the underlying teachings as axiomatic truth.

      And I CAN relate to the “car bomb” analogy – during a brief Christian phase, my faith was driven entirely by fear of Hell and Damnation, and nothing else (I was in 9th grade, cut me some slack!).

      The strength of the “car bomb” analogy is that “starting the car”, in this case, is analogous with DYING – and no one knows what actually takes place when that happens, as no one has ever had the chance to come back and describe it. (As Harris also pointed out, “the consciousness ends with death” seems to be the most likely scenario, but like all posthumous scenarios, there’s no way of testing it and it thus remains conjecture.)

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  • Pingback: Dangerous Talk » The Moral Goal

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    Can’t we just clone Joss Whedon, and have him do all the cool movies?

    • Jim

      You mean the overrated man? Yes, sure. Marvel certainty didn’t give him everything he needed + he’s the most talented director ever. :|

  • Darth Cynic

    Not only did Abram’s Trek reboot fail to maintain the Trek ideals, it also ignored established canon, where were the Temporal Starfleet to ensure a time-traveling nut did not create catastrophe? Worse, it also completely jettisoned any notion of incorporating current scientific knowledge instead giving us fantasy black holes or that abomination,
    the Omega 13 device…, sorry, red matter I think they called it. It was entertaining in a don’t think about it kinda way because it was written as a string of stand-alone set pieces that then needed to be tied together and it shows. Not Trek in anything but the label.

    However, one thing I did note was Abram’s copying of the Star Wars style which he apparently does like. Spock’s ship for example, that’s really a Star Wars ship as were its flight and fighting characteristics; stick a Jedi in it and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. He’ll likely get everything else wrong but at least it will look like the Star Wars universe, well, so long as he doesn’t shoot anything in a very terrestrial looking brewery.

  • Santiago

    I am quite the trekkie and I loved the Uhura-Spock thing in the new Star Trek ALOT! So there :-)