Tag Archives: atheists

Poor arguments to make with theists

circle-slash.jpgThis is a companion piece to Poor arguments to make with atheists.  I deliberately used theists instead of Christians to keep things simple, though I did use some Christian examples below.  I accumulated these from various atheist web sites or comments made here.

I enjoy questions with people who are willing to have a charitable dialogue.  I don’t waste time with people who come by with poorly reasoned sound bites they picked up from their Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris trinity or the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites.   My hope is that people will reflect on at least one of these and realize how they’ve been repeating things without thinking about them carefully. And if they were misinformed on these simple things, then where else have their instructors misled them?

It is also written to encourage believers when they hear these things in the secular world — and in some churches!  We live in the world that the one true God created, so there will always be reasonable explanations to the nothing-made-everything fantasy sound bites of atheism.

1.  There are lots of denominations within Christianity and lots of religions with differing truth claims.  There must be a solid majority with complete agreement for God to be real, so this is evidence that there is no God.

And where did they arrive at this piece of spiritual truth?   But if the truth is determined by a majority vote, then there must be a God.  There are far more religious people than atheists.  But the truth is the truth no matter how few agree, and a lie is a lie no matter how many agree. And if the majority rules with respect to truth claims then atheism is false, because most people believe there is a God.

Christianity claims to be the narrow road.  Jesus didn’t expect a majority to follow him.  And the Bible addresses many false teachings and warns of others to come.
Also, as one atheist noted when trying to rally people to do “raiding parties” on theist sites, “Atheists as we all know from bitter arguments on this site, embrace a pretty broad range of views.”  So by their logic they must have a false worldview, right?
2. Why is it that religious people resort to imaginary answers (faith) built on the circular reasoning that the bible provides those answers? Does god exist? Yes, because the bible says so. D’uh!.

That is an actual quote.  I got this a lot from the Dawkins’ blog “raiding party.”  I call this the fallacy-within-a-fallacy argument.  They make a straw man argument about us making a circular argument.

I never made that claim about the Bible other than noting that the Bible does claim 3,000 times to speak for God and that it is a sort of necessary condition to be considered the word of God.  We have lots of reasons to believe it is the word of God, but we don’t need circular reasoning for it.

He also uses a non-Biblical definition of faith.  We have faith in something, and it isn’t a “blind faith” or a faith in spite of the evidence.

3. Arguing from incredulity: You just have a made-up invisible friend in the sky, etc., etc.  Do you probably believe in santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

This charming ad hominem attack works both ways.  I submit that A is far more incredible to believe than B, and could have expanded on A for days.

A. The universe was created from nothing without a cause and organized itself into the spectacular level of complexity we see today, including life being created from non-life, and it evolved to create the “fictions” of morality and consciousness.

B. The universe was created by an eternally existent God.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.

4. Arguments from ridicule (also see #3).  You can sprinkle in some ridicule to make an argument more entertaining, but using it as your primary argument is weak and fallacious.  Having visited quite a few atheist websites this seems to be their main line of reasoning.

5. As a Christian, you deny all gods but one. As an atheist, I deny all gods. We’re practically the same.

This is a cute but horribly illogical argument.  Saying there is no God isn’t a little different than saying there is one God, it is the opposite.  That’s like saying, “You deny all other women as your wives except one, so you’re practically the same as a single person.”

6. You don’t have empirical evidence for ____ (God, the resurrection, etc.).

To quote Bubba: “Can one prove that only empirical evidence is trustworthy? Better yet, can one prove this by using only empirical evidence?”

The answers, of course, are no and no.

The argument is a “heads we win, tails you lose” trick.  They say that you can only consider natural causes for the creation of the universe, and since they have nothing to test then there could not have been any supernatural cause, right?

And we do have lots of evidence for the resurrection.  Lots more evidence for God’s existence and for Christianity here and here.

7. Parents shouldn’t be allowed to indoctrinate / brainwash their children with religious beliefs.

The brainwashing must not be working, because so many people leave the church.  And why isn’t it brainwashing when the schools do it with evolution and their sickening strategies to take away the innocence of young children?  These freaks are telling 5 year old children that they can pick their gender!  That’s child abuse.

I find it interesting that with such low church attendance, general Biblical illiteracy and the monopoly that materialism has in public education that most people still don’t buy the macro-evolution lie.  No wonder evolutionists are so frustrated!

Some parents may go overboard with the fear of Hell thing.  But parents have rights, and more importantly, strong warnings are only inappropriate if the consequence in question is not true.

8. The Bible teaches _____ [fill in hopelessly (and deliberately?) wrong interpretation].

Please learn more about the Bible and the faith you are trying to criticize.  Straw-man arguments are unproductive.  This is perhaps the most common error I come across.  It seems like a week rarely goes by without someone using the “shrimp/shellfish argument,” which is full of holes but is appealing to many because so few bother to study the passages. I address five serious problems with it in flaws of the shellfish argument.

9. Christians disagree on what the Bible teaches (or Muslims disagree on the Koran, etc.) so there can’t be one right answer.

Just because a book is capable of being misunderstood doesn’t mean it is incapable of being understood.  Disagreements in science don’t mean everyone must be wrong.

If you have actually studied the Bible you’ll note that it addresses many false teachings and warns that there will always be false teachers.  So the concept that people disagree on what the Bible says isn’t exactly newsworthy.  It is Biblical, in fact.

10. Why do religious people keep quoting bits out of a book written long ago by stone aged (or bronze aged) and ignorant men?

The men who wrote the Bible were quite intelligent.  The Apostle Paul, for example, was well educated, articulate and a clear thinker.  Go read the book of Romans and see what I mean.

The age of the book is completely irrelevant, of course.  If God wrote it the message would be timeless.  And of course, if it were written last week they’d complain that it was too late.

The complaint that our responses are old is also invalid.  The objections are old as well.  The funny thing is that over the last 2,000 years brilliant theists have wrestled with the same questions the New Atheists have, except with more clarity and thoughtfulness.

11. Why do religious people not understand the scientific and philosophical arguments against the existence of god which clearly refute its existence?

This commenter didn’t share any of those arguments or refer to any sources, so it is difficult to answer even if the objection didn’t have a flawed premise (it is basically a “have you stopped beating your wife” type of question that anyone on any side of an issues could use).  Many of us know and understand the arguments and how to respond to them.

12. I can’t understand or conceive of why God would set things up this way, so He must not exist.

We call this “creating God in your own image.”  See the 2nd Commandment.  The atheists making claims like that paraphrase are actually making ironic theological statements, because they claim to know what God should “really” be like.

If you create your own universe with working DNA and such, you can make your own rules.  But whether you like it or not you play by God’s rules in this universe and you’ll have to give an account for your life.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  If you suppress the truth in unrighteousness you will experience God’s wrath for eternity.  You will be judged by God for all your sins, including your darkest, most shameful secret thoughts and deeds.  And the standard won’t be some other sinner like me, it will be the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

13. Some people who call themselves Christians do and/or say stupid things, so Christianity is false.

That doesn’t disprove Christianity any more than atheists doing and saying stupid things proves that there is a God.

In fact, Christians saying and doing stupid things probably bothers us more than it does atheists.  Believe it or not, we have some common ground there.

14. Religion poisons everything!  What about the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.?!

That is unproductive hyperbole.  Religion has done many great things – helping the poor, advancing education for the masses, helping women, building hospitals and schools, great art, etc.

You don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets.  Click the link above for more.

The Salem Witch trials killed 18 people.  The Inquisition killed about 2,000.  That is 2,018 too many, to be sure, but keep in mind two things: The perpetrators did the opposite of what Jesus commanded and 2,018 murders was a slow afternoon for atheists like Stalin and Mao.

Here’s a quote from a guy trying to rally atheists to their cause by raiding theist blogs like this one – to rescue the world from this religious poison, I suppose.  Messiah complex, anyone?

In a very real (but perhaps overly dramatic sense) the fate of the planet is at stake.

Uh, yes, “perhaps.”  But if atheism is true then who cares if the planet dies?  You must use empirical evidence to prove why it would be a bad thing :-).

I have noted that these critics focus almost exclusively on Christianity.  When you point this out to them they squirm and say it is the one they are most familiar with.  But with the growth of radical Islam and the perversions of the caste system in India you’d think they’d spread their evangelical atheism out a bit.

15. Religion gets in the way of scientific progress.

That is simply untrue.  The Galileo story that people usually refer to has many mythical elements.  And how many people can cite an example besides Galileo?  And who knows, maybe Einstein’s presupposition of a static universe caused his error with the cosmological constant.  After all, an expanding universe certainly gives more support to a theist model than a static one.

Darwinistic philosophy caused errors like assuming that “Junk DNA” was really junk.

16. You don’t use reason and we do.

That is just patently false.  Atheists just don’t like the reasons.  Christianity in particular encourages and applauds the use of reason.  Countless great thinkers and scientists were Bible-believing Christians.  Darwinistic philosophy can’t even account for reason, because macro-evolution would select for survivability, not truth.

17. But the Bible condones slavery!  It is ironic that this is one of the most common excerpts from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound bites. Why? Because on atheism there is no grounding to say that slavery is wrong. Survival of the fittest rules, baby. So for starters, they shouldn’t be so judgmental about what their worldview couldn’t rightly judge.

Also, this doesn’t sound like condoning to me: Exodus 21:16 Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

Please read that again, then realize that the critics of God use the logical fallacy of equivocation to make their point — that is, they assume that all forms of slavery are the same.

Oh, and don’t forget to praise the Christians who ended slavery.

And don’t forget to fight the Muslim and other slavery that goes on today and please stop using p*rn, which is directly tied to sex slavery. That is, if you really care about slavery.

More background on the Bible and slavery here, or just search on the Bible and slavery.  There are lots of thorough articles for those with sincere interest in the topic.

18. But the God of the Bible committed genocide!  First, if you create a universe from scratch you are welcome to deal with any of your creatures who rebel against your authority as you see fit.  He is sovereign over life and death for everyone and makes no apology for it.

But the clearing out of the Promised Land involved a one-time cleansing of a group of people who had committed the atrocities listed in Leviticus 18 for over 400 years.  If you want to judge God, a more logical question would be why He waited so long!

And that was it.  No wars of conquest.  No hints in the New Testament that Christianity should use any coercion to get people to believe.

19.  If it aligned with facts and logic, it would not be religion. It would be science. Logical fallacy: Category error. Science deals with the material. Religion deals with the immaterial and the material. Both use facts and logic.

—–

Closing thoughts: As frequent commenter Edgar has pointed out so well, even if every religion is completely false and atheism is true, then naturalism is to blame.  So it is irrational to get mad at religion or religious people.  We’re just doing what our genes tell us to.

And, of course, you would have absolutely nothing to be proud about.  You haven’t accomplished anything and haven’t generated any brilliant or meaningful ideas.  You are just a bag of chemicals that thinks you have.  Congratulations!  You have no reason for bitterness or grandstanding.

All fun aside, those who can stay away from time-wasting arguments and who want to engage in an actual dialogue are welcome.

I hope that atheists reconsider their views.  Eternity is a mighty long time.  The true God of the universe delights to show forgiveness and mercy, but you must come to him on his terms: Repenting and trusting in Jesus.

You can’t dictate the terms and conditions to parents, bosses, teachers, police, or even a McDonald’s cashier, so don’t be foolish and think you can do that with God. The rich young ruler walked away sadly when he didn’t like God’s terms and conditions but Jesus didn’t chase after him to negotiate.

Dear atheists, I concede that you are better people than me. Now let’s talk about how you compare to Jesus and his standard . . .

I’ve often seen atheists trumpet about how they are better and more moral than Christians.  I find the arguments to be fallacious and pointless, as they are part of the atheist’s incoherent worldview that you can have moral laws without a moral law-giver, and they conveniently script a moral code that just happens to align with what they sometimes do.

But they may be right!  They may be better than me morally.  After all, I have a far too intimate knowledge of all my sins of thoughts, omissions and commissions and I don’t have access to their full inventory of sins.

Having said that, regardless of who is really better I’m glad to concede their point for the sake of argument.  Sure, atheists, you are better than me morally.  But that won’t accomplish much for you in light of eternity.  You will face your creator and be accountable for your sins.  Pointing out how awful I was in comparison won’t do a thing for you.

Here’s your standard: Romans 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

He is your standard and judge.  We all fall woefully short.  The Good News is that He already took the punishment for those who repent and believe in him.  Do that while there is still time, and stop giving yourself false comfort by pretending that being better than your neighbor takes away your guilt.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 

Muslims, atheists and the “Christian” Left agree!

They agree on lots.  Among other things, they insist that:

  1. Jesus is not divine
  2. Jesus is not the only way to salvation
  3. The Bible is not the word of God

Here is where they differ: The first two have beliefs consistent with what they call themselves.  The third lie for a living.  Poster boys of the the “Christian” Left: Mark “Jesus is not my God” Sandlin and Chuck “Jesus is not the only way but He sure is a bigot” Currie, and Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis.

Run, don’t walk, from false teachers who deny the essentials of the faith.  Anyone who follows people like that is obviously making a god in his own image.

Disappointing: “God’s Not Dead” appears to have missed an opportunity

Spoiler alert: Skip this post if you don’t want to know too much about the God’s Not Dead movie

Note: I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t, but this review seemed pretty thorough and came from a site that would presumably be predisposed to like a production like this.  Go ahead and see it if you like, but either way I encourage you to use it as a springboard to candidly discuss the points of the movie, the gaps and how we could be more effective in sharing the Good News.  My goal with skeptics isn’t to fully address every item in their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites, but to give thorough, meaningful answers to a couple key questions to remove some barriers and then encourage them to read the word of God, which will do the real work.  

And remember that apologetic reasoning isn’t just important for addressing legitimate questions of non-believers as we seek to point them to the truths in the Bible, but also to strengthen the faith of believers.  So it is important to always use good arguments and to consider the counter-arguments.

 —–

When I first heard of God’s Not Dead I thought it might be a good opportunity to present some key apologetic arguments in a movie.  Sounds like the effort may end up being counterproductive.  Apparently they used arguments that weren’t fleshed out very well and that atheists could easily refute.  If Christians new to apologetics try to use the arguments presented by the movie, they will probably fail with the atheists and may end up with less confidence themselves.  Yes, we have been given the truth, but if you love people you won’t send them off with a false sense of confidence and pretend that they can be white-hot apologists in one easy lesson.

There are multiple subplots in the movie which are all introduced in its first few minutes, but not developed immediately, and it seems to take a while before the details emerge allowing the viewer a chance to catch up. However, the main story is that Josh, a college freshman, is taking an Introduction to Philosophy class from an infamously atheistic professor, Dr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo who is known for his role on the TV show Hercules, among other roles). The very first class, the professor stands up and gives a short discourse about the virtues and intellectual superiority of atheism. He then gives the class their first assignment. He passes out blank papers, and demands that each student write “God is dead” and sign their names in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses, so the professor forces him to take an alternate assignment; Josh will be given time in the next three lectures to prove the existence of God. If the students in his class are convinced, he passes the assignment. If not, he fails the semester, and thus his chances at a prestigious law degree.

This “hostile atheist professor” is a pretty common scenario, though usually not in such a heavy-handed way.  I am a big believer in equipping kids to stay strong in their faith when they leave your house.  But you can’t give them superficial or partial arguments.

And you should never expect some sort of immediate and across the board conversion of a group of people even if you make sound arguments.  The Holy Spirit goes where He will. We can honor God by stating the truth about him regardless of whether He has made them spiritually alive and they accept the truth.

I don’t want to be too hard on the movie, because there is only so much you can cram into two hours.  But it sounds like they could have used better arguments and that they made the characters and scenarios a little too extreme.  I would have stuck with things like the cosmological, design and moral arguments.  These are very sound yet also accessible to the average person.  But I would not have missed the opportunity to work in the minimal facts* arguments.  Consider the benefits of that:

  • You would be talking directly about Jesus, not some generic god.
  • You would point to facts that the history professors on that very campus would agree with (e.g., Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that Paul was a convert and wrote extensively about Jesus close to his death, etc.).
  • You would be bursting the myth that we have a blind faith.
  • You would be talking about the crucifixion and why it occurred, and the resurrection and what that meant.

And I definitely wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to highlight Romans 1, which would demonstrate that in the Christian worldview no amount of arguments will work on people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and that God will judge them based on Christ’s standards, not their’s.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We know why atheists hold their worldview, but all they have to explain our worldview is their beloved Darwinian evolution (however they are defining that this week). And if the manifestation of their theory is the cause of our trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, why are they so angry about the outcome?

Whether you see it or not, be sure to be prepared to address the topic when it comes up.  Point them to resources like Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design or Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, or to my favorite apologetics blogger, the Wintery Knight.

You can remind people that Christianity is a faith based on real events in history.  We readily concede that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we are completely wrong about God (1 Corinthians 15).

But we have great reasons that He did rise from the dead, that He is fully God and fully man, that if we repent and believe in him we can be saved from our sins and have his righteousness imputed to us, that He is the only way to salvation, and more!  Point them to the word of God and trust him with the results.  And don’t be surprised if they dislike you even more after you share the truth in love.

———-

*Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts.  The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.

Roundup

The True Story of Christian Missionaries — Yes, there have been some misguided and even bad missionaries.  But on balance — and not surprisingly — they have done great good:

Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in nongovernmental associations.

. . .Woodberry applies this result specifically to missionaries who were “conversionary Protestants,” which he defines this way: “Conversionary Protestants (1) actively attempt to persuade others of their beliefs, (2) emphasize lay vernacular Bible reading, and (3) believe that grace/faith/choice saves people, not group membership or sacraments.”

Obama’s IRS Scandal Cover-Up — This should be front page news until it is fully investigated.  The media is complicit in this cover-up. The lack of attention and outrage just makes the Left that much more brazen.  This is far worse than Watergate.

120 EXhomosexual video testimonies — Don’t believe the “born that way” lies that even the experts on the Left know aren’t true.  There is hope.

In their own unscripted words, 120 men and women from all races, ethnicities and backgrounds tell of coming out of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism. GCM Watch is committed to bringing you the good news of God’s amazing grace and his inclusive love that reaches out to bring out those in sexual darkness.

Cultural Diversity Coordinator Ran Phone Sex and Escort Services, Keeps Job — Diversity organizations are a joke.

Homosexual and Bisexual Men Account for 75 Percent of Syphilis Cases: CDC — The real rate is probably higher, as straight women who contract it from bi men aren’t counted in these figures.  This is taught in all the “comprehensive” sex ed classes in public schools, right?  In Orwellian fashion, the CDC blames it on “homophobia.”

Linda Harvey’s ‘Maybe He’s Not Gay’ Book Hits Home Run, Catches Homo-Activist Flak — The “born that way” lie — which even pro-gay “experts” know isn’t true — is the foundation of the movement.  Without that, everything else falls apart.  With it we will also get legalized pedophilia and polygamy.

When women lust

We all know that men struggle with lust. But what about women? While it’s becoming more common to hear of women’s struggles with pornography use, many women still perceive that they have the moral high ground over men. Such comparisons don’t help because men and women often struggle in different ways.

When a beautiful woman walks in the room or flashes on a screen or billboard, all eyes are transfixed. While men might be thinking about sex, a woman might be thinking, I wonder what it would be like to have such a body? Men want the body, women want the body. They want the body that attracts everyone. Lust can be either a strong feeling of sexual desire, or a strong desire for something.

We know when a man has sinned as he takes the body he wants through indulging in pornography or visiting a prostitute. But what does it look like for a woman to act out on her lust? She cannot take the body she desires to have, so what does she do? For the most part, her sin remains hidden. Still, there are some tell-tale signs of her sin, which I will describe in the first person because I struggle with this too.

How the Nazis mandated and used evolution and Darwin in the textbooks — Truths you’ll never hear from the Darwin lobby or at your local apostate church’s celebration of Darwin’s birthday.

The Nazi regime sought to influence young people via educational programmes and youth movements. The curriculum made connections between what was taught and its social and political implications. Darwinism was explicit, and the textbooks followed suit.

Free Apologetics Bible Inserts from J. Warner Wallace

J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity, former detective, member of Stand to Reason, and a “one dollar apologist,” continues to supply a steady stream of helpful resources through his websiteColdCaseChristianity, his podcastblogtwitter feed, and through speaking. (He’s my first recommendation for a guest speaker at a church or event.) And here’s one of Jim’s many resources he offers at his website:Apologetics Bible Inserts. Topics include:
• Evidence for the Deity of Jesus
• Evidence for the Resurrection
• Evidence for God’s Existence
• Evidence for the Reliability of the Old Testament
• and more…
You can check out the Apologetics Bible Inserts and download them here.

Atheism and fatherlessness (or bad fathers) — what a sad correlation.  Here are just a few people who took their misery and aggressively shared it with others.  The correlation of bad/absent fathers with the radical feminists is similar.

  • Voltaire(1694–1778): This biting critic of religion, though not an atheist, strongly rejected his father and rejected his birth name of Francois-Marie Arouet.
  • David Hume(1711–76): The father of this Scottish skeptic died when Hume was only 2 years old. Hume’s biographers mention no relatives or family friends who could have served as father figures.
  • Baron d’Holbach(1723–89): This French atheist became an orphan at age 13 and lived with his uncle.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–72): At age 13, his father left his family and took up living with another woman in a different town.
  • Karl Marx(1818–83): Marx’s father, a Jew, converted to being a Lutheran under pressure — not out of any religious conviction. Marx, therefore, did not respect his father.
  • Friedrich Nietzsche(1844–1900): He was 4 when he lost his father.
  • Sigmund Freud(1856–1939): His father, Jacob, was a great disappointment to him; his father was passive and weak. Freud also mentioned that his father was a sexual pervert and that his children suffered for it.
  • Bertrand Russell(1872–1970): His father died when he was 4.
  • Albert Camus(1913–60): His father died when he was 1 year old, and in his autobiographical novel The First Man, his father is the central figure preoccupation of his work.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre(1905–80): The famous existentialist’s father died before he was born.12
  • Madeleine Murray-O’Hair (1919–95): She hated her father and even tried to kill him with a butcher knife.

Addressing a common atheist objection: “I didn’t get a good answer to my question about God, so He doesn’t exist”

This comment from an atheist on the epic Richard Dawkins / Wendy Wright post* represents a common objection of skeptics:

My troubles began when I was being prepared for my first communion. I asked our chaplain “who moved the stone” since the Gospels are contradictory. He could not give me a satisfactory answer. Then I discovered many other contradictions in time and place – how, I reasoned can any of this be offered as proof of anything – I still don’t have satisfactory answers. Can you answer me?

Many atheists have similar stories about how they left the faith because they didn’t get satisfactory answers to their questions. The Jodie Foster character in the movie Contact made much of that (though ironically the rest of the film was a testimony to the principles of Intelligent Design!).

But their conclusion is illogical. While I wish all Christians were better versed in apologetics as they are commanded to be, just because the person you asked gave you a bad answer or got defensive doesn’t mean solid answers don’t exist. These stories are perfect examples of why atheists give up all too easily once they’ve “stumped” an authority figure. It is more evidence that they are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. There are countless places to dig deep into the difficult questions of life and Christianity if you really want the truth.  Check out any of the apologetics links to the right.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

It is foolish and rebellious to think that you get to define whether God exists and what He must be like.  Repent and believe while you still have time.  Eternity is a mighty long time to suffer for your foolish pride.

So if you are an atheist, keep searching and don’t use flimsy excuses.  And if you are a Christian, study a little more and know of other resources to which you can point authentic seekers.  And don’t get defensive and give lame answers if you can’t answer the questions.

—–

* 400+ comments and counting, and that is without the many I’ve deleted for violating the commenting guidelines.  Every few months some atheist site links to it and I get tons of traffic, though not necessarily the good kind.

One of the best blog posts I’ve seen. Really.

And I’ve read tens of thousands.  There is a reason that Matt Walsh’s blog readership is growing like crazy.  He has great writing and a sense of humor along with a solidly Christian worldview.

This is one of the best apologetic pieces I’ve seen, and a terrific eye-opener for the atheists who just spout silly sound bites.  Via Why do you Christians always throw the Bible in my face? | The Matt Walsh Blog.  Go read it all.

Seriously, it hurts. Stop it, will ya? Yesterday I walked by a church and the pastor barreled out of the door, ran into the street, screamed “BIBLE!” and chucked it right at my head.

Well, that didn’t LITERALLY happen. But he did say, “good afternoon, God bless,” which is basically the same thing.

In any case, Christians are always shoving their religion in people’s faces. Everything they say, every position they hold, every thought they express — it’s all RELIGION. Even if they don’t explicitly say, “I think this because of my religion,” we all know the score. If it comes from RELIGION, as a secularist, I must hate it. If it’s been heavily influenced or transformed by RELIGION or RELIGIOUS people, I must hate it. That’s why I’m not a big fan of art, architecture, democracy, science, medicine, philosophy, astronomy, the university system, the abolition of slavery, America, Natural Law, Natural Rights, mathematics, the justice system, literature, music, and civilization.

Devious. Devious Christians. It’s like they have this secret plot and they use all of these methods to subversively give glory to their fake sky wizard. That’s a good line, isn’t it? I take this idea of God; the uncaused cause, the first mover, the Creator, the Absolute, the Answer to the riddle that no quantum physicist has ever been able to solve, and I equate it to a “wizard.” As if belief in dimensions of existence that transcend our physical plane can somehow be fairly compared to belief in magical Disney creatures. It’s an effective tactic, isn’t it? Aquinas, DaVinci, Shakespeare, Washington — most of the intellectual giants and great leaders in the past two thousand years have been guided by this conviction, but I can utterly dismiss it with one sarcastic and belittling phrase. There are thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of pages of Christian apologetics written by some of the smartest men and women to ever walk the face of the Earth, yet I can chalk it all up to something as absurd as the Tooth Fairy. And you know what? I can do that without even reading ANY of those pages! You know why? Because I’m a critical thinker, my friend.

A critical thinker — I think about criticizing things. And then I do, without understanding the depth, enormity and beauty of that which I mock.

Stupid Christians. Stupid Christians and their “truth.” You know what they do, don’t you? They all meet in dark rooms around small tables and plot their continued peaceful takeover of the planet. That’s why they prowl all over the Earth, trying to spread their “message” to the disaffected masses. These people – they’re everywhere. You can’t find a single corner, crevice, desert, or third world wasteland that isn’t infested by Christians and their “charities”, and their “hospitals”, and their “ministries”. Believe me, I’ve tried. Sure, it’s getting better here in this country. Christians did the work of settling, building and establishing our nation, but then, in the 1960s, us anti-theists chimed in and said, “thanks, but we’ll take it from here.” There just wasn’t nearly enough nudity, drug usage, and nihilistic apathy, and we knew there never would be if Christians kept running the show. Oh, AND we led the Civil Rights Movement.

Well, the icon of Civil Rights was a reverend, but still.

I’ve tried to escape these Christians. I went to Ethiopia, thinking, surely, I’ll be free of their propaganda in this forsaken pocket of poverty and misery. But what did I see? Christians. Christians down there in the muck and the dirt, serving and loving and healing. Nobody else. Just them. They can never mind their business, can they? Oh don’t give them credit for this “charity.” They’re only doing it out of obedience, reverence and faith. Selfish jerks.

And so I left that place and I traveled east, and then south, and then back north, and still I found them. Everywhere, I found them. I found them in places where their kind is tortured, murdered and persecuted. But they remain. They stay and they spread their Gospel like a virus. It’s quite sad to see those who are brainwashed by it. They smile in the face of pain and sing songs of praise — PRAISE — while they suffer. Christians are far more ravenous and extreme in destitute countries. Hopefully the Christians in America never borrow even a fraction of the enthusiasm and passion that their brothers and sisters in the Third World possess.

 

Poor arguments to make with theists

circle-slash.jpgThis is a companion piece to Poor arguments to make with atheists.  I deliberately used theists instead of Christians to keep things simple, though I did use some Christian examples below.  I accumulated these from various atheist web sites or comments made here.

I enjoy questions with people who are willing to have a charitable dialogue.  I don’t waste time with people who come by with poorly reasoned sound bites they picked up from their Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris trinity or the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites.  My hope is that people will reflect on at least one of these and realize how they’ve been repeating things without thinking about them carefully. And if they were misinformed on these simple things, then where else have their instructors misled them?

It is also written to encourage believers when they hear these things in the secular world — and in some churches!  We live in the world that the one true God created, so there will always be reasonable explanations to the nothing-made-everything fantasy sound bites of atheism.

1.  There are lots of denominations within Christianity and lots of religions with differing truth claims.  There must be a solid majority with complete agreement for God to be real, so this is evidence that there is no God.

And where did they arrive at this piece of spiritual truth?   But if the truth is determined by a majority vote, then there must be a God.  There are far more religious people than atheists.  But the truth is the truth no matter how few agree, and a lie is a lie no matter how many agree. And if the majority rules with respect to truth claims then atheism is false, because most people believe there is a God.

Christianity claims to be the narrow road.  Jesus didn’t expect a majority to follow him.  And the Bible addresses many false teachings and warns of others to come.
Also, as one atheist noted when trying to rally people to do “raiding parties” on theist sites, “Atheists as we all know from bitter arguments on this site, embrace a pretty broad range of views.”  So by their logic they must have a false worldview, right?
2. Why is it that religious people resort to imaginary answers (faith) built on the circular reasoning that the bible provides those answers? Does god exist? Yes, because the bible says so. D’uh!.

That is an actual quote.  I got this a lot from the Dawkins’ blog “raiding party.”  I call this the fallacy-within-a-fallacy argument.  They make a straw man argument about us making a circular argument.

I never made that claim about the Bible other than noting that the Bible does claim 3,000 times to speak for God and that it is a sort of necessary condition to be considered the word of God.  We have lots of reasons to believe it is the word of God, but we don’t need circular reasoning for it.

He also uses a non-Biblical definition of faith.  We have faith in something, and it isn’t a “blind faith” or a faith in spite of the evidence.

3. Arguing from incredulity: You just have a made-up invisible friend in the sky, etc., etc.  Do you probably believe in santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?

This charming ad hominem attack works both ways.  I submit that A is far more incredible to believe than B, and could have expanded on A for days.

A. The universe was created from nothing without a cause and organized itself into the spectacular level of complexity we see today, including life being created from non-life, and it evolved to create the “fictions” of morality and consciousness.

B. The universe was created by an eternally existent God.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.

4. Arguments from ridicule (also see #3).  You can sprinkle in some ridicule to make an argument more entertaining, but using it as your primary argument is weak and fallacious.  Having visited quite a few atheist websites this seems to be their main line of reasoning.

5. As a Christian, you deny all gods but one. As an atheist, I deny all gods. We’re practically the same.

This is a cute but horribly illogical argument.  Saying there is no God isn’t a little different than saying there is one God, it is the opposite.  That’s like saying, “You deny all other women as your wives except one, so you’re practically the same as a single person.”

6. You don’t have empirical evidence for ____ (God, the resurrection, etc.).

To quote Bubba: “Can one prove that only empirical evidence is trustworthy? Better yet, can one prove this by using only empirical evidence?”

The answers, of course, are no and no.

The argument is a “heads we win, tails you lose” trick.  They say that you can only consider natural causes for the creation of the universe, and since they have nothing to test then there could not have been any supernatural cause, right?

And we do have lots of evidence for the resurrection.  Lots more evidence for God’s existence and for Christianity here and here.

7. Parents shouldn’t be allowed to indoctrinate / brainwash their children with religious beliefs.

The brainwashing must not be working, because so many people leave the church.  And why isn’t it brainwashing when the schools do it with evolution and their sickening strategies to take away the innocence of young children?  These freaks are telling 5 year old children that they can pick their gender!  That’s child abuse.

I find it interesting that with such low church attendance, general Biblical illiteracy and the monopoly that materialism has in public education that most people still don’t buy the macro-evolution lie.  No wonder evolutionists are so frustrated!

Some parents may go overboard with the fear of Hell thing.  But parents have rights, and more importantly, strong warnings are only inappropriate if the consequence in question is not true.

8. The Bible teaches _____ [fill in hopelessly (and deliberately?) wrong interpretation].

Please learn more about the Bible and the faith you are trying to criticize.  Straw-man arguments are unproductive.  This is perhaps the most common error I come across.  It seems like a week rarely goes by without someone using the “shrimp/shellfish argument,” which is full of holes but is appealing to many because so few bother to study the passages. I address five serious problems with it in flaws of the shellfish argument.

9. Christians disagree on what the Bible teaches (or Muslims disagree on the Koran, etc.) so there can’t be one right answer.

Just because a book is capable of being misunderstood doesn’t mean it is incapable of being understood.  Disagreements in science don’t mean everyone must be wrong.

If you have actually studied the Bible you’ll note that it addresses many false teachings and warns that there will always be false teachers.  So the concept that people disagree on what the Bible says isn’t exactly newsworthy.  It is Biblical, in fact.

10. Why do religious people keep quoting bits out of a book written long ago by stone aged (or bronze aged) and ignorant men?

The men who wrote the Bible were quite intelligent.  The Apostle Paul, for example, was well educated, articulate and a clear thinker.  Go read the book of Romans and see what I mean.

The age of the book is completely irrelevant, of course.  If God wrote it the message would be timeless.  And of course, if it were written last week they’d complain that it was too late.

The complaint that our responses are old is also invalid.  The objections are old as well.  The funny thing is that over the last 2,000 years brilliant theists have wrestled with the same questions the New Atheists have, except with more clarity and thoughtfulness.

11. Why do religious people not understand the scientific and philosophical arguments against the existence of god which clearly refute its existence?

This commenter didn’t share any of those arguments or refer to any sources, so it is difficult to answer even if the objection didn’t have a flawed premise (it is basically a “have you stopped beating your wife” type of question that anyone on any side of an issues could use).  Many of us know and understand the arguments and how to respond to them.

12. I can’t understand or conceive of why God would set things up this way, so He must not exist.

We call this “creating God in your own image.”  See the 2nd Commandment.  The atheists making claims like that paraphrase are actually making ironic theological statements, because they claim to know what God should “really” be like.

If you create your own universe with working DNA and such, you can make your own rules.  But whether you like it or not you play by God’s rules in this universe and you’ll have to give an account for your life.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  If you suppress the truth in unrighteousness you will experience God’s wrath for eternity.  You will be judged by God for all your sins, including your darkest, most shameful secret thoughts and deeds.  And the standard won’t be some other sinner like me, it will be the perfect righteousness of Jesus.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

13. Some people who call themselves Christians do and/or say stupid things, so Christianity is false.

That doesn’t disprove Christianity any more than atheists doing and saying stupid things proves that there is a God.

In fact, Christians saying and doing stupid things probably bothers us more than it does atheists.  Believe it or not, we have some common ground there.

14. Religion poisons everything!  What about the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.?!

That is unproductive hyperbole.  Religion has done many great things – helping the poor, advancing education for the masses, helping women, building hospitals and schools, great art, etc.

You don’t judge an ideology based on the actions of those who violate its tenets.  Click the link above for more.

The Salem Witch trials killed 18 people.  The Inquisition killed about 2,000.  That is 2,018 too many, to be sure, but keep in mind two things: The perpetrators did the opposite of what Jesus commanded and 2,018 murders was a slow afternoon for atheists like Stalin and Mao.

Here’s a quote from a guy trying to rally atheists to their cause by raiding theist blogs like this one – to rescue the world from this religious poison, I suppose.  Messiah complex, anyone?

In a very real (but perhaps overly dramatic sense) the fate of the planet is at stake.

Uh, yes, “perhaps.”  But if atheism is true then who cares if the planet dies?  You must use empirical evidence to prove why it would be a bad thing :-).

I have noted that these critics focus almost exclusively on Christianity.  When you point this out to them they squirm and say it is the one they are most familiar with.  But with the growth of radical Islam and the perversions of the caste system in India you’d think they’d spread their evangelical atheism out a bit.

15. Religion gets in the way of scientific progress.

That is simply untrue.  The Galileo story that people usually refer to has many mythical elements.  And how many people can cite an example besides Galileo?  And who knows, maybe Einstein’s presupposition of a static universe caused his error with the cosmological constant.  After all, an expanding universe certainly gives more support to a theist model than a static one.

Darwinistic philosophy caused errors like assuming that “Junk DNA” was really junk.

16. You don’t use reason and we do.

That is just patently false.  Atheists just don’t like the reasons.  Christianity in particular encourages and applauds the use of reason.  Countless great thinkers and scientists were Bible-believing Christians.  Darwinistic philosophy can’t even account for reason, because macro-evolution would select for survivability, not truth.

17. But the Bible condones slavery!  It is ironic that this is one of the most common excerpts from the Big Book O’ Atheist Sound bites. Why? Because on atheism there is no grounding to say that slavery is wrong. Survival of the fittest rules, baby. So for starters, they shouldn’t be so judgmental about what their worldview couldn’t rightly judge.

Also, this doesn’t sound like condoning to me: Exodus 21:16 Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

Please read that again, then realize that the critics of God use the logical fallacy of equivocation to make their point — that is, they assume that all forms of slavery are the same.

Oh, and don’t forget to praise the Christians who ended slavery.

And don’t forget to fight the Muslim and other slavery that goes on today and please stop using p*rn, which is directly tied to sex slavery. That is, if you really care about slavery.

More background on the Bible and slavery here, or just search on the Bible and slavery.  There are lots of thorough articles for those with sincere interest in the topic.

18. But the God of the Bible committed genocide!  First, if you create a universe from scratch you are welcome to deal with any of your creatures who rebel against your authority as you see fit.  He is sovereign over life and death for everyone and makes no apology for it.

But the clearing out of the Promised Land involved a one-time cleansing of a group of people who had committed the atrocities listed in Leviticus 18 for over 400 years.  If you want to judge God, a more logical question would be why He waited so long!

And that was it.  No wars of conquest.  No hints in the New Testament that Christianity should use any coercion to get people to believe.

19.  If it aligned with facts and logic, it would not be religion. It would be science. Logical fallacy: Category error. Science deals with the material. Religion deals with the immaterial and the material. Both use facts and logic.

20. You are only a Christian because of where you were born!  If you were born in Saudi Arabia you’d be a Muslim.  Short version: So what?  The motivation for a belief is irrelevant to whether the belief is true.  We have many solid reasons to believe Christianity is true.  From there you can talk about Christian apologetics and why we have logic and facts supporting our belief that Jesus rose from the dead.

Also, using their logic, they are only skeptics (or whatever) because of where they were born. And lots of people convert to Christianity from other religions, so their point of origin can’t be the only reason.

—–

Closing thoughts: As frequent commenter Edgar has pointed out so well, even if every religion is completely false and atheism is true, then naturalism is to blame.  So it is irrational to get mad at religion or religious people.  We’re just doing what our genes tell us to.

And, of course, you would have absolutely nothing to be proud about.  You haven’t accomplished anything and haven’t generated any brilliant or meaningful ideas.  You are just a bag of chemicals that thinks you have.  Congratulations!  You have no reason for bitterness or grandstanding.

All fun aside, those who can stay away from time-wasting arguments and who want to engage in an actual dialogue are welcome.

I hope that atheists reconsider their views.  Eternity is a mighty long time.  The true God of the universe delights to show forgiveness and mercy, but you must come to him on his terms: Repenting and trusting in Jesus.

You can’t dictate the terms and conditions to parents, bosses, teachers, police, or even a McDonald’s cashier, so don’t be foolish and think you can do that with God. The rich young ruler walked away sadly when he didn’t like God’s terms and conditions but Jesus didn’t chase after him to negotiate.

Roundup

The Detroit News Continues Misinformation Campaign Over Stem Cell Research – great points by Stephen.  The media continually – and presumably deliberately – gets it wrong on stem cells.  Adult stem cell research doesn’t kill innocent human beings, so the many findings from them are attributed to generic “stem cell” research.  That way, the embryonic stem cell research (the kind that destroys human beings in the process) gets a halo effect.  That’s just one of many tricks they use to conflate the two and avoid the hard truths: Adult stem cells have resulted in many great findings without destroying human beings, while embryonic stem cells kill humans and have not had success.

Good points by Ray Comfort about a dying atheist (presumably Christopher Hitchens, but they apply to anyone in that situation) – Christianity doesn’t need “trophy converts.”  We’ve got all we need to share the truth of Jesus.  I hope Hitchens and many others have authentic conversions, but not so we can wave it at atheists as some sort of proof point.  The proof is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Turns out the firebomber of Democrat Russ Carnahan’s office was an ex-campaign worker and not a Republican or (gasp!) a Tea Partier.  The guilty party had a history of harassing Tea Party activists.  Anyone care to speculate if the media attention would have been different had the roles been reversed?

James Cameron, Mega-Climate Creationist, Chickens Out On Debate – yep.  What’s new?

Sponge Bob’s Your Uncle! – One more reason to put those “monkeys are X% similar to humans” stories in perspective.
The news is out: sea sponges share almost 70 percent of human genes.

If people want to debate the morality or effectiveness of the Iraq war I can understand that.  But too often numbers are made up on the fly and the is used as a scapegoat for anything.  If you want facts about what the Iraq war really cost (hint: not $3 trillion), read this.  Obama’s stimulus package cost $100 billion more than the whole war.

Aren’t these also the same folks who tell us how well JFK and LBJ ran the economy back in the roaring ’60s? During the eight years of 1961-69, 46% of all federal spending was on national defense. During President Bush’s eight years, defense spending did not even average 20% of federal outlays. Under JFK/LBJ, defense spending was 8%-9% of GDP. Under Bush, it was about 4%.

Roundup

I’m experimenting with Dropbox, a free file sharing utility.  If you store anything in your Dropbox folder on your c: drive it will be copied to the web for access from any computer.  2GB for free, plus an extra 250 MB for signing up through that link.  Very easy to use.  Handy for sharing files with others or accessing files from remote computers.

Envision Jesus with His disciples. If you cannot picture Him teasing them and laughing with them, you need to reevaluate your understanding of the Incarnation. We need a biblical theology of humor that prepares us for an eternity of celebration and spontaneous laughter.
—Randy Alcorn, from his award-winning book “Heaven”, on whether we will laugh on the New Earth

Hat tip: David

Pro-aborts will really, really hate Pampers’ “Hello baby” iPad app.

Great piece on the 50th anniversary of The Pill by the Other McCain.  Other than the bad health side effects, the rampant increase in venereal diseases and their impact on romance and reproductive capabilities, the increased odds of marrying a loser, missing out on your most fertile years, etc., it was a terrific invention.  Read it all.

Can atheists trust the truth-detecting ability of their own minds? — Not if naturalism is true, because it prizes survival value over truth value.

Reason #87 government should not be trusted with more, let alone what it has: The DMV charges $1 extra if you mail in your registration or $3 extra for doing it online.   Sure, it is much better to drive to the DMW and wait for an hour to be treated by surly employees.  Isn’t that kinda anti-Green of the government to promote more driving?  Any remotely efficient enterprise would encourage online transactions.

Arizona native Stan on illegal immigration — this isn’t as complicated as the ill-informed open borders folks make it out to be.

Great response to the “Los Suns” (Phoenix Suns) who were pandering to the illegal alien / open borders crowd: On May 11th, everyone demand free admittance and free food at the Arizona Suns game.

How would the Arizona Suns react if everyone decided to behave like illegal aliens — and demand everything from the Suns for free.

Do the Suns enforce proper admission procedures at their basketball games?

If so, then they are racists.  They’re Nazis — according to what the illegal aliens and Leftists say.

If the Suns are enforcing their admission policies, and are requiring people to complete paperwork, stand in line, wait their turn, and produce documentation allowing them entry into the stadium, then the Suns are racists…the Suns’ management are Nazis.

How dare they refuse entry to anyone who wants to come in?

How dare they not give free food and beverages to the hungry and thirsty?

Net neutrality is a horrible idea — typical marketing spin by those trying to eliminate competition and increase government control

NYC premiere of movie exposing abortion industry canceled allegedly due to threats — Pro-choicer want the choice to kill innocent human beings but don’t want you to have the choice of what movies to watch.  Please watch this trailer — it is a great overview of the abortion industry.

“But Hitler would never lie about his faith!”

A recent commenter repeated the ridiculous “Hitler was a Christian” meme:

Hitler was a creationist, not an evolutionist. In fact, the Nazis banned Darwin’s books regarding evolution. If you read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, you will find several examples of Hitler citing (albeit in German) the “Creator” as his motivation for his “doing the work of the Lord”, as he put it. Although Hitler was a Catholic Christian, his anti-semitism was every bit as virulent as that of Martin Luther, one of the founders of Protestant Christianity. Please don’t try to blame Hitler’s genocidal acts on Darwinian evolution; remember, bearing false witness is against one of the main tenets of the Abrahmic faiths.

They cherry pick quotes from Hitler to advance their premise, ignoring quotes like this:

“When understanding of the universe has become widespread . . . Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.” Adolf Hitler

Even if anti-Christians can find some quotes by Hitler that they think provide support their conclusion, consider their composite views (this assumes they aren’t Holocaust deniers).  Among other things, they would claim that Hitler:

  • Killed millions of people.  Millions.
  • Repeatedly lied to his citizens and the world, often to justify war.
  • Suppressed free speech.
  • Didn’t lie about his “faith” to further his agenda.

Pretty ridiculous, eh?  Those who advance that argument are wildly naive or disingenuous.  So when they insist that Hitler was a Christian who opposed Darwinian philosophies I remain skeptical. 

And regardless of what Hitler said about Darwinism, he executed the model quite well for many years.  He and his chosen people were the “fittest,” and they eliminated what they viewed as the un-fit.  I don’t see how any advocate of Darwinism has a foundation to criticize Hitler.  Of course they should criticize Hitler, as we all know the man was evil.  But their worldview is without foundation to criticize someone following the tautological Darwinian “rulebook.”

The Atheism is Dead blog addresses this in more detail.

Roundup

Evangelical atheists try to get equal time for their views in state holiday display – These folks need to understand that the term “holidays” is a contraction of “holy” and “days.”  It just doesn’t apply to them.

That said, we shouldn’t get up in arms over this.  We should just ignore them.  They try to infringe on our free speech rights, but let’s not stoop to their level.

Dan Barker is a self parody.  Yeah, Christmas celebrations “stole” the holiday.  How amusing to see him make a moral claim that he thinks we should care about.

“Gay Bible” to be published – Hey, I’m just glad that they know that the real Bible clearly teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin and that the only way around that is to create a God in your own image.  Too bad so many false-teaching Christians can’t understand the real Bible like the authors of this fake version.   Hope the theological liberals catch that part.  And I hope that the “translators” are convicted as they read the real text and realize that forgiveness is possible through Christ. 

And as the link asks, “Where’s the Gay Koran…oh wait, nevermind…..”

UK bishops demand Muslim prayer rooms in Catholic schools – the closing comment says it all:

Winston Churchill was right:

An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.

Why did the terrorists pick Mumbai, India?  Lax gun control was probably part of the rationale. 

Censorship masquerading as protection – University of Calgary forces changes to pro-life demonstration because it might trigger violence against them.  I wonder if they are so protective of protestors that align with their worldview?

Exploring Christianity – Part 1 – The Bible

This is a rerun from Feb. 2007

bible3.jpgWhy do I believe the Bible is the true word of God . . .and that other holy books are not?

This was the first question posed to me by my friend Nicholas during our conversation about Christianity.  He posted it at his blog last week.  I’m posting it here for archival purposes.  Here is my response:

First, let me thank you for this unique opportunity.  In our world of sound bites and bumper sticker arguments it is so refreshing to be able to just lay out a set of beliefs in the marketplace of ideas and have a serious and respectful dialogue.  I have learned a lot from you about how to have graceful and charitable conversations.  I know you’ve studied the Bible before, but I’ll try to address your questions as if responding to someone who hasn’t. 

First, a little background: I grew up with a terrific set of Christian parents who have always lived out their faith in teaching and in service to others.  Other than my college years, I have always gone to church . . . but let’s just say I wasn’t paying real close attention for the first 28 years or so.  I was quite the skeptic.  I think it is important to note this because I and many others didn’t come to faith through brainwashing from parents, schools or churches.  We did so after initially rejecting and rebelling and later examining the evidence for ourselves.  That doesn’t make us right, and that isn’t the only way people become followers of Christ.  But it does counter the pervasive myth that we always believed these things or that we accepted them blindly.  I didn’t become a believer overnight; it was something I wrestled with for a long time. 

You asked a profoundly important question.  The Bible claims that Jesus is God and that He is the only way to forgiveness of your sins and to eternal life.  The Bible claims to speak for God over 2,000 times, so if it isn’t his Word then it has a staggering amount of lies and wouldn’t be worth picking up.  That doesn’t mean it is true, just that it matters a great deal if it is true or not.   

On to your questions.  Here’s the short version: When I examined the evidence for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and for the authority of the Bible I found it to be extremely compelling.  The Bible has credible authors with eyewitness accounts, claims that were falsifiable, accurate prophecies, complete support from archeological finds, robust copying processes that ensured we know what the originals said and plenty of accurate one-time translations from the original languages to our language.  I found solid answers to every difficult passage I cared to investigate.  I also noted the positive, dramatic transformations the Bible has had on people and cultures who take it seriously, as well as the tremendous impact it has had in my life.

I found other holy books to be lacking in some way, such as historical mistakes or clear contradictions to what we know to be true.  I also found their accumulation processes to be less reliable (i.e., allegedly transmitted to one person over a short period of time).  They also contain major differences that can’t be reconciled with the Bible.

To those who haven’t read the Bible, my suggestion is to just dive in.  The Gospel of John is a good place to start.  Find someone to read it with or join a Bible study.  Get a “study Bible” that has explanatory footnotes.  Keep asking tough questions.  I read it all the way through 10 years ago and it was life changing.  At a minimum you will have read the most popular book of all time and will have a better understanding of Christianity. 

Here’s the longer version . . .

Continue reading Exploring Christianity – Part 1 – The Bible

We have a winner . . .

contradiction.jpg. . . of the “most logical fallacies in one post” award.  I kid you not.  I’ve read lots of blog rants but this one is the tops.

Edgar pointed me to a guy who tries to refute Christianity full-time but who mainly traffics in straw men arguments (“refuting a caricatured or extreme version of somebody’s argument, rather than the actual argument they’ve made”) and in finding a Christian who said something stupid and pretending that it represents orthodox Christianity (as if every time an atheist said something stupid it proved that there was a God).  This guy is the poster boy for poor arguments to make with theists.  It is as if he read all of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris et al and is repeating their worst arguments.   

He claims to be an “evangelical atheist,” which reminds me of the raiding parties by my buddies from Dawkins’ blog.   I wonder when his next mission trip to a Muslim country is?  After all, if he is so afraid of Christians he must really fear Muslims.  Or maybe he funds atheist missionaries out of his own pocket because of his deep love for people around the world and the need to liberate the world from religion. 

I’ll fisk one post just for grins.  I won’t list address all the fallacies or this post will be 20 pages long.  I just want to highlight a sample of the New Atheist arguments. 

Fundie claim #10 – No God, no moral codes

Fundie: The Bible [or insert other so-called holy books here] is the basis for morality!

Always good to start with name calling (“fundie” – eek!).   I mean, he doesn’t even have to prove his point after that, does he?  Cause you have to know anything said by someone who focuses on the fundamenals of their faith is horribly wrong. 

Then he starts with a straw man argument, so his post self destructs in the first sentence.  The Bible lists moral commands, but it isn’t the basis of the commands.  The basis is the God who created the universe and everything in it.  Yeah, I know this guy doesn’t believe that, but remember that he is trying to critique our claims.  He starts by misrepresenting orthodox Christian beliefs about morality and then proceeds to attack them.  I should stop here but I’ll go on.

Without it, there would be no moral codes and everything would be permissible.

But that isn’t what the Bible says.  It teaches that moral codes existed before the Bible was written.  God wrote the law on our hearts.  He gave countless commands before the Bible was even written.  So there’s another piece of straw.

Without god, people would have no reason to be moral,

Now that is a true statement with respect to universal morality.  Without God people might still create and enforce their man-made laws.  Laws require lawgivers.  Otherwise, why follow them?  You can pretend that all sorts of laws exist, but no one will follow them and there will be no consequences if they break them.  Try it. 

and Christians are more moral than atheists because we believe in a god.

Some misguided Christians might have said that, but that isn’t Biblical Christianity.  If you read the Bible the message is quite clear: We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  Authentic Christianity is the opposite of self-righteousness, because by definition to be a Christian you must know you can’t be good enough on your own and that you need a Savior.

God exists, and the Bible is the true source of morality and we need it as a moral guide.

Yes, He exists and yes, what the Bible says about morality is true.  But he also wrote the moral laws on our hearts so that men are without excuse.  It does make a terrific moral guide, though people can come up with other lists of morals as well.

Side note: have you noticed that those lists look a lot like those in the Bible?  Love your neighbor, don’t kill, don’t steal, etc.  I imagine Mr. Atheist disagrees with all those, and could care less if you steal his stereo or sleep with his wife.

Fundie theistards

More name calling.  Man, this guy must be right if he can call us clever names like that.

who believe that there is no reason to be moral unless god exists have weaker morals than atheists who act morally without the fear of hellfire and damnation.

Interesting assertion, but no proof.  And oddly enough, he seems to be like Christopher Hitchens, who doesn’t just not believe in God, he hates God.  I mean, he’s really, really angry at this being that doesn’t exist.  And, like Hitchens, he seems to think their is a universal morality.  After all, he keeps referring to morals and even “weaker morals,” as if there is some real standard we need to meet.  But where did that standard come from, and why should I care what he thinks it is?  As he’ll demonstrate below, he thinks that disagreement about something must mean the truth isn’t discernable.

Another mistake: The Bible doesn’t teach us to act morally to avoid Hell.  It teaches that we are doomed to Hell because we have already sinned and will sin again.  Being good on our own is hopeless, so we need a Savior.  Mr. Atheist might not believe that himself, but that is what the Bible teaches.   

And while it is irrelevant, he never attempts to prove that atheists are truly more “moral.” And even if they were, is it out of the goodness of their hearts?  How do we know their “better morality” isn’t for their self-interest, training from parents and other authority figures, the blind workings of evolution, or fear of punishment? 

Again, I’m on record for saying that one of the poor arguments to make with atheists is that they have no morals.  I agree that they have morals.  I just don’t think their philosophy can adequately explain them.

The truly scary thing is that theistards who use this claim are actually admitting that without their faith in a sky-daddy,

Ooh, the sky-daddy claim, as if we just made this all up. 

they would be running around the streets killing people, committing crimes and going (even more) batshit crazy.

Again, what’s with the universal morality?  And even before we had faith in God we didn’t run around killing people.  God’s law was on our hearts whether we liked it or not, and the fear of punishment from parents and other authority figures impacted our habits and behaviors. 

Considering the fact that most people are theistards, doesn’t thinking about this send chills up your spine?

More name calling.  Very intimidating.  Must mean he is very confident about his views. 

Yeah, it sends chills up my spine when I hear about Christians building houses for the the poor, feeding orphans, doing prison ministry, building hospitals, liberating women, freeing slaves, helping people in crisis pregnancies, doing disaster relief, etc. 

Theistards, if you need to delude yourselves about an imaginary sky-daddy and an imaginary hell to behave morally and to prevent yourself from killing others or raping children, I suggest that you check yourself into a mental institution at once.

Got that?  He said God and Hell are imaginery, so they must be.  He still hasn’t explained the source of his morality.  And he repeats his straw man about us going on killing sprees if we didn’t have faith. 

*shiver*
Religion appeals to cowards and the intellectually lazy

More name calling.  I’m chastened, really.  And I wish I could match his intellectual prowess.  Yeah, there have been no brave  Christians over the last two millenia.

because it frees them from the burden of actually thinking for themselves.

A little pride perhaps?  Yeah, there haven’t been any great thinkers in the Christian realm, either. 

They choose to remain in a state of moral retardation, and are more than willing to hand over their depraved minds to pulpit-pounders.

Hmmm . . . more name calling, and then there’s that universal morality again.  He needs to get with the program.  How can he say we’re depraved?  What is his standard? 

I’m sure it won’t sneak morality in the back door like all the other atheists do.  (“It helps perpetuate the species.”  Who said that was a moral good?  “It maximizes everyone’s happiness.”  Who proved that someone else’s happiness was as important as mine?  It sure isn’t in the Darwinian worldview.  Oh yeah, it was those Christians whose worldview has everyone being considered of equal value.  We’re just running off the fumes of Christianity and didn’t realize it.  Dang.)

Bible-thumping Christians might object to this description by wailing “The Bible!! Bibleeeee!! The Bible is the source for my morality, and the Bible is the word of the LORD GOD because it says so!! Praise Jesus!!”

More straw.  We have ample evidence for the Bible being the word of God.  We don’t say it is the word of God just because it claims that 3,000 times.

Idiot fundies, please take some time to consider what I’ve been saying time and time again:

Well gee, since you asked so nicely.

Christians have no confidence in mapping the course of their lives, choosing instead to take their imaginary sky-god’s orders, whose so-called Word is interpreted by – guess who – mortal men!

So interpretations of mortal men can’t be trusted.  Uh, then why should we read what you have to say?

And who says we have no confidence in mapping the course of our lives?  We have tremendous freedom in Christ!  You have no idea what you are missing.  Stop living in stereotype land for a minute and hang with some Christians living out their faith.  There is lots of joy, even amidst life’s challenges.  I used to be an atheist / agnostic.  I’ve seen the truth, and I believe, and I am not going back.

In the end, Christians who so hate worldly opinions on how to live their lives, come back to square one by relying on humans to interpret the screamingly inconsistent scripture.

Just because humans can make mistakes don’t mean they always make mistakes.  If your claim is that we always make mistakes, then why listen to you?  And as to the claim that the Bible is inconsistent, my experience with atheists like this is that they never took it seriously.  There are plenty of resources that address the alleged inconsistencies if people are truly interested.  If.

This is why Christians cannot even agree among themselves what’s moral in the cases of, for example, homosexuality, divorce, abortion, birth control and euthanasia.

So if we can’t agree then there is no real truth?  I’ve noticed that atheists don’t always agree, so I guess that proves there is a God.

The Bible clearly describes homosexual behavior as sinful, but some people deny that in unrighteousness (though many libs concede the point but just claim they don’t believe the Bible, but that’s another thread). Same thing for abortion and such.  The Bible correctly teaches the nature of mankind and that there will be false teachers in the church.

If god was so clear about morals, why is there such confusion?

The answer will really set this guy off: Satan, false teachers and sin, just as the Bible tells us! 

Wouldn’t the solution to these dilemmas be clear-cut and written plainly in the Bible?

Maybe they are, but you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.  Nah.  And it couldn’t be that God gave us principles to live by and expects us to use our minds (by the way, the Bible applauds reasoning, but we’ll never convince this guy).

Why don’t they just ask god what to do, since they claim that god is the basis of morality? The blunt truth is that these Christians are simply back at square one. In the end, they are still relying on fellow men, if not themselves, in making moral judgments. More often then not, their moral judgments will be seriously warped due to the twisting and cherry picking of scripture to support a particular view. The additional fact that the Bible can be used to support nearly every point of view doesn’t make things any easier either.

Just repetition, I’ll ignore that paragraph.

Now, the most important question: Even if there really is no basis for morality if god doesn’t exist, and even if atheism did lead to atheists turning into infant-murderers, how does this have any bearing on the real question of the existence of god?

All these philosophical skirmishes do not bear any weight on the issue of the Christian god’s, or any other god’s existence.

No lawgiver, no laws.  You can analyze that argument in depth, but it really is that simple. 

Christians, are you really that arrogant, deluded, and stupid to think that before your idiotic cult infected the world, or before the Bible, there was never any moral codes in place?

More name calling.  Man, you must be right! 

As explained above, there have been morals since creation, just as noted in the Bible.  They just weren’t written down right away.  We don’t think there was a point where there were no moral codes, and the Bible doesn’t teach that there was a point where there were no moral codes.  This is another straw man argument. 

Have you ever heard of the Code of Hammurabi which was secular?

So?  Unless your claim is that it was written before creation then it fits in a Biblical motif.

Are you theistards going to instead close your eyes and avoid dealing with the facts again, just as you have closed your eyes and shut your brains in the face of anything that could ever make you doubt your moronic beliefs all these years?

Couldn’t end without one last name calling / straw man session, could you?  Yeah, we’ve never given any thought to our faith.  News flash: Christians ask themselves tough questions all the time.  In fact, the Bible asked them long before you did!  Sorry to burst your bubble, but you aren’t being very original.

There you have it folks.  The best and brightest.  And to think, he has a blog full of this!  Trust me, it is not going in my Google Reader.  I’d spend all day annihilating this stuff.

I’ll end by pointing out that even if Mr. Atheist was right it would mean that everything religious people ever came up with is solely due to . . . [drum roll] . . . Darwinian evolution!  These bags of chemicals just “evolved” to invent all this.  We couldn’t help it!  But then why is he so angry, proud and self-righteous?  Oh, right, he couldn’t help it either. 

Evangelism experiences 1

holy_spirit_sky.jpgAs noted in the overview, this is the first in a series of experiences I want to share about evangelism.  I may come back to some plain old lessons, but sometimes a story can convey a few lessons at a time.

Setting: CareNet Pregnancy Center, where I was doing weekly volunteering for a couple hours counseling guys who would come in with their wives/girlfriends.  I remember being completely exhausted.  I could barely keep my eyes open and couldn’t wait to get home.  To be honest, I was glad that no clients had come in.

A retired lady volunteering at the counter was chatting with some high school kids in the lobby.  A guy and a girl had come in with a friend who thought she might be pregnant.  The volunteer was a brilliant woman who had no problem starting a conversation about God with them, but she wasn’t experienced at answering the questions that came up.  When she started getting stumped she asked me to go out and visit with them.

The young man was all over the place with his religious beliefs and questions.  At one point he asked, “Doesn’t the Bible say homosexual behavior is a sin?”  He appeared to consider himself gay and given the way he asked the question it was obviously a stumbling block for him.  I could have glossed over it and said it was a debatable matter, but that wouldn’t have been true or loving.  I also could have spent an hour explaining all the verses and debates around this topic, but that would have been overkill and a diversion.

Instead I just confirmed that yes, despite how some try to twist it, the Bible does clearly say it is a sin.  Then I just shifted back to the basic Gospel – namely, that we are all sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is that Savior (basic “Roman Road” stuff).  I emphasized that even if we had no sexual sins we could never get back to God on our own.

It was a balanced, back-and-forth conversation on a lot of topics and I pray that it planted a seed and that the young man kept searching.  He asked some good questions and seemed to feel like he was really heard and respected.

Lessons learned

1. Always replay conversations to see what you could do differently or better.  I almost always realize that I should have:

  • said something in a different way
  • not said something that I did say
  • said something that I didn’t say

This was one of those very rare experiences that went really well.  I’ve replayed it dozens of times in my head and can’t think of anything I’d do differently.

2. Whether people accept the message or not is between them and God.  Our job is to be obedient, which means preparing ourselves and sharing the truth in love.  This guy didn’t fall to his knees and repent, but I think it planted some seeds and pushed a reset button on some of his false views.

1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

3. In Philemon 6 Paul writes, I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.  This is so true.  I was exhausted beforehand, but after sharing the Gospel with this young man I was so full of energy.  That isn’t the primary reason to share it, of course, but it is a fact that whenever I share the Gospel I am filled with joy afterwards. 

4. We have different roles (see 1 Corinthians 3).  I am lousy at starting spiritual conversations (not an excuse, just a fact) and I’m not a great “closer,” but I am very comfortable and truly enjoy them once they start.  I don’t know everything, but I’ve studied a lot and know enough to answer quite a few questions.  And I’ve learned to never fake it and to always treat people with respect and to take their objections seriously.  As I often say, seven of the most important words in evangelism are, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

But the most important person in this scenario was my friend who got the conversation started.  Despite her lack of evangelism training she was bold and caring in getting the conversation started and she was humble to pull someone else in at the right time.  (By the way, she continues to learn and grow and has studied evangelism techniques since then.  She and her husband are doing great things for the kingdom in their retirement years.)

5. Stay focused.  I could have easily zeroed in on the “gay thing” and not only polarized him further but missed the more important points.  The main thing was to tell him about Jesus and his need for Jesus.

6. Pray for them.  After sharing the Gospel I usually pray that God will send others into their lives to follow up, reinforce, correct any mistakes I made and to fill in the gaps.  I prayed for him again as I wrote this.

7. Listen!  I made it a point to listen to what he said and made sure he knew that I understood his views clearly.  I think this was the key success factor for the conversation going so well.

8. Find common ground.  He commented how things in the Bible seem hard to believe, so I conceded that and used it as a bridge to say that yes, the concept that God would step into his creation and sacrifice himself for us was one of the most outrageous things ever spoken of.  The question is whether the evidence supports whether that happened.  (I think I was paraphrasing C.S. Lewis there.)

9. Don’t forget that others are listening.  His friend listened intently the whole time and took it all in.  Was she a believer praying for him while we spoke?  Had she tried to share the same things and was glad that someone else had stepped in to help?  Was she a non-believer as well and considering this for the first time?  Regardless of her perspective, I was keenly aware that she was not missing a word of it.  Scatter the seeds of the Gospel broadly!

Please feel free to share your comments and experiences.