Is It Really Because We Have a Hard Heart That We Don't Accept Christianity?

Christians who visit us here think that because we don't accept the claims of the Christian faith the reason is because we have a hard heart. I simply refuse to believe, they think. Sometimes they express this sentiment.

But in practically no other area of disagreement is this claim true. Among democratic free speaking people we disagree about everything, and I mean everything. We disagree about which diet is best to lose weight on, and we even disagree about democracy itself! If I don't accept Atkins diet, for instance, do I do so because I refuse to see it's merits, or because I have a hard heart? No. I just don't agree with you.

Why is this different with religious claims? I don't get it. I really don't. I just don't believe, and my non-belief is as sincere as anything I hold to.

65 comments:

Aaron Kinney said...

Surely, it is impossible for us atheists to honestly believe through fact of reality that God doesnt exist. The possibility of ANY human rationally accepting godlessness is too frightening to ponder... is it possible that the theists are wrong?

This is why, of course, that God hardened all our hearts! This way we can be excused for our faithlessness and unwillingness to accept Jesus. Or rather, or unwillingness to accept Jesus can be excused as some consequence of our hearts being hardened, and not as some logical thought process.

live-n-grace said...

1Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 6For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"[a]made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

This is different than any thing else. It is not something that can be "figured out logically". It is through the light of the gospel. God's word is a double-edged sword, it cuts to the soul, it's alive. It is through satan and you're own hardening of the heart. God's word has no effect on you, when hear the wonders of the gospel, your face is blank.

John: This is about your heart, your soul, your spirit, and not "logical thinking." If it was then only smart people could believe

LivingDust said...

Put the Bible aside, forget that Christ ever came to this earth.

It is simply intellectual dishonesty to profer that no Creator or cosmic lawmaker exists. Going beyond dishonestry is the contention that no evidence exists for the existence of this Creator.

Paul M. Harrison said...

This is an example of what I would call a "party line" answer. In many cases, Christians don't think freely in the sense of being open to information or true conversation. They discuss within already established belief.

"I already know the Bible says people don't believe because they foolishly supress the truth of a Creator, so God hardens them and gives them over to their sin. If God says atheists are fools and that He has given enough evidence in creation so that you are without excuse, I don't want to hear your excuses. I don't disagree with the Word of God. Therefore, no amount of conversation will change my mind. Let God be found true and every man a liar."

Remember, thinking is dangerous, so they must submit to God's revealed opinion on the matter and not deviate.

LivingDust said...

Liv-n-grace,

Thanks for the scriptures.

The Bible says that the human being, left to his or her own devices, will ALWAYS choose darkness. They will flee from the light. It dosen't matter their intellectual capacity, they will ALWAYS choose darkness.

LivingDust said...

Harrison,

Your broad swipe that Christians can't think is BS.

I care not that one does not accept the Gospel. The duty of Christian is to share the Gospel. It does not excuse you from the fact the single being, the Creator, has physical and spiritual laws that will be obeyed or the offender will face consequences.

What you are doing, among others, is contending that the spiritual laws do not exist. Why?

Gus said...

A person rejecting the Muslim faith (or a christian sect besides their own) is making an intelligent decision according to a Christian but apply the same treatment to their faith and they say it is because of a hard heart.

Heather said...

John,

I honestly don't know. Most of you who post on this website were devout Christians at one point. You believed all the right things, studied the Bible constantly and so on. And did additional research and found that you could no longer believe. I can undersand that. There's a reason why the higher one goes in education, the more likely one is to become agnostic/athiest. I, for one, have a very hard time with it when I look at the origins of the creation story, or the overall behavior in the Old Testament -- which is why I'm in the deist-Christian camp.

What I find sad, though, is most of the Christians who post here don't seem to understand that you did believe all the things they did. Creating this website, and leaving Christianity, wasn't something you just did on a whim.

Calvin said...

Hi Heather!

exapologist said...

Why can't, say, Muslims, or Mormons, say that Christians are hardening their hearts against the true God, and are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness? And if they can't legitimately say it, why can Christians?

Paul M. Harrison said...

I think the evidence of my statement that Christians let the Scriptures think for them is in the very replies given in these comments.

We hear what the Bible says about man always choosing darkness from yourself and your agreement with live-n-grace's verses about God veiling our hearts. We read that the Gospel can't be figured out logically and is not a matter of intellect. Then we read in contradiction to that that an unbeliever is intellectually dishonest for denying what is clearly there for our minds to embrace.

I am not saying Christians don't think. There are very intellectual Christian apologists out there like Geisler and Craig. What I am saying is apologists like them agree that "reason is not surpreme, but must be submitted to revelation."

What that means is all reasoning and intellect should agree with Scripture, and the minute it takes away from Scripture, abandon it. I find this double-standard in favor of Christianity dishonest and desrespectful. It means you are right by default before the conversation begins and you will close your mind and heart the minute someone against what you believe starts making sense.

Christians one-up the world by claiming to have Spirit-revealed inner truth and a supernaturally opened heart. Meanwhile, they believe all unbeleivers are hardened, darkened, and when they think or champion intellect are demonized as having the doctrine of demons, false knowledge, man-made hollow philosophy, puffed-up pride, trust in intellect, etc.

The truth is, you have no evidence that my heart is supernaturally hardened by an invisible good God or veiled by an invivsible evil angel whose spell I'm under - you believe it because the Bible says so. You don't think clearly by examining the real world, you think according to the Scriptures, no matter what evidence there is in the real world.

This is commended in Christianity.

LivingDust said...

Harrison,

You said - "You don't think clearly by examining the real world."

PULEEEEZE - this is your opinion, not a fact.

I, and millions of other Christians, have looked at the "real world" or "natural world" and the fingerprint of an all-powerful, Creator is stamped on every single created thing; every bird, every fish, every invertebrate, every mammal, every reptile, every amphibian, every plant, every flower, every river, every lake, every ocean, every bay, every swamp, every substance on the periodic table, every star, every galaxy, every planet, every quasar, every force and law of nature and the DNA of every human being.

Based on observable scientific evidence, not one single created thing, throughout the history of all creation, has every been the exact replica of another - This is a testimony to the power, granduer and creative capacity of God the Creator.

Mark Plus said...

I don't know why christians keep dragging belief and emotional attitudes into empirically testable questions about a god. Einstein's "hardness of heart" towards quantum mechanics made him look silly as the empirical evidence piled up in its favor, as did his critics' "hardness of heart" who refused to accept his empirically supported theory of General Relativity. What your "heart" says about reality doesn't matter. What model best fits the observable data?

If, however, christians mean by "hardness of heart" that some individuals think their god offers a raw deal, then I tend to agree with that. The christian world view says that life requires the threat of hell to have "meaning." So why should christians act so surprised when people reject that theory of "meaning"?

Heather said...

Living Dust,

**You don't think clearly by examining the real world, you think according to the Scriptures, no matter what evidence there is in the real world.**

I think more along the lines of what he meant is that often Christians don't listen to non-Christians in terms of why they reject Christianity. Rather, Christians use the Bible to tell non-Christians why they are really rejecting Christianity. Such as telling people they have 'hardness of heart.'

Paul M. Harrison said...

Heather,

That's exactly what I meant thank you. Living Dust, I am not at all talking about the existence of God or evidence of design here, but according to the topic.

The only point I am making is Christians don't think freely, but think as far as "what does the Bible say?" That isn't thinking, it is believing. That is why I ask what evidence there is of gods or devils doing anything in the "hearts" of atheists or believers. You can't investigate this, you can merely believe text.

As a thinking person (and former Pentecostal Christian for 16 years) I know very clearly the anti-intellectual standard of Christian thinking.

LivingDust said...

Heather,

Lets talk about the real world - We all know that humanity has a few problems - human beings have a bad side that no matter how hard we try to keep contained it comes out - it manifests itself in murder, rape, sexual immorality, envy, malice, deceit, pride, war, stealing, slander, etc, etc.

We have another set of real problems - our physical and mental health. Our society spends vast amounts of time and money addressing these two issues. But, no matter how hard we try, our modern sciences cannot solve the underlying problem - we're dying. Modern science, no matter how hard it works will never stave off the fate of every human being - death.

Christ did not come to this world to stop or reduce the ills of our society. He was a light to a dark world. For some reason people like to think that Christians have some magical answer to solve the problems of this screwed up world. Trust me - we don't.

When a person rejects Jesus, the Christ, they have rejected the solution to death and promise of eternal life. Jesus is about life.

david ellis said...

Hardness of heart?

In my heart I would love it if there were some supernatural benevolent force (God, gods, or whatever) which would make all things work out to the Good in the end.

Unfortunately, my heart is not a magical truth-detector.....and neither is yours.

Our "hearts" can, arguably, tell us something about what would be the preferable state of affairs.

But the heart can tell us nothing about what is the ACTUAL state of affairs. Only hard evidence can do that.

david ellis said...

So yes, in a certain sense, the search for truth requires a hardness of heart.

Not in the sense of denying facts somehow magically revealed directly to the heart (after all, how often have people "felt in their heart" that something was true and been proven mistaken--too many to count). But rather in the sense of not allowing what our hearts may long for shape our judgement as to what is actually so.

Kiwi Dave said...

LivingDust
“It is simply intellectual dishonesty to profer [sic] that no Creator or cosmic lawmaker exists. Going beyond dishonestry [sic] is the contention that no evidence exists for the existence of this Creator.”

(Nature July 23, 1998)
“A survey of all 517 NAS [National Academy of Science] members in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding. 72.2 % were overtly atheistic, 20.8 % agnostic, and only 7.0 % believed in a personal God.”

Since only half the members responded, these figures aren’t necessarily accurate for all 517, but isn’t a little over the top to suggest that America’s leading scientists are intellectually dishonest? Or do you have non-biblical evidence they don’t have?

As for the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, I have no idea what proportion of academic philosophers reject them, but the arguments all have well-known flaws which are usually glossed over by their proponents. They also are quite inconclusive

Kiwi Dave said...

... isn't it...
Doh!

Jim Jordan said...

Paul Harrison, your 8:57 pm statement read:
I am not saying Christians don't think. There are very intellectual Christian apologists out there like Geisler and Craig. What I am saying is apologists like them agree that "reason is not surpreme, but must be submitted to revelation."

This seems contradictory to me (I'd like to see where Geisler or Craig made those quotes). These guys are "very" intellectual but they bow to what the Bible says even if they don't understand it - which is anti-intellectual as you well know. Are they very intellectual or anti-intellectual?

You added, What that means is all reasoning and intellect should agree with Scripture, and the minute it takes away from Scripture, abandon it.

It was Archie Bunker who said "The Bible is full of tings you would never believe if they wasn't in the Bible, y'see?" This is ostensibly what you are saying William Lane Craig believes. I agree that there are many Christians who are closet flat-earthers but there are many intellectual Christians who don't profess something they can't explain. There are Archie Bunker Christians and there are William Lane Craig Christians.

I think it might be, um, anti-intellectual to assume they are one and the same.

David Ellis**But the heart can tell us nothing about what is the ACTUAL state of affairs**

Not that the heart can say nothing, that's an exaggeration [how would you choose a wife or friends, look at their SAT scores?], but that it certainly can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9).

**Only hard evidence can do that**
A strong faith can only be had where there is an agreement between our reason, intuition, inner peace, and hard evidence.

From John's original post.**Why is this different with religious claims? I don't get it. I really don't.**
I can sympathize with that. Unfortunately, the first thing many Christians forget when they convert is what it was like not being a Christian. It wasn't all misery and ignorance. I know some Christians that HAD to have had more fun before...
Regards.

Mark Plus said...

LivingDust writes,

When a person rejects Jesus, the Christ, they have rejected the solution to death and promise of eternal life. Jesus is about life.

We don't know if Jesus "solved" anything, certainly not the problem of death. Those overseas email scams look like a better deal than Jesus' alleged offer of salvation because we at least know that money exists, even if we won't get any from the alleged foreign bank account belonging to estate of the dead African general or whatever; whereas we have no such information about the existence of "heaven."

Of course, people who "reject Jesus" also tend to reject belief in hell as well, because we don't accept the christian teaching that we need hell to give life "meaning."

Paul M. Harrison said...

Hi Jim Jordan,

William Lane Craig in "Reasonable Faith" and in "Five Views on Apologetics" makes his case against the "magisterial" use of reason in knowing Christianity is true, saying reason must have a "ministerial" role, meaning it is only worth something when the Holy Spirit uses it to bring people to salvation.

Craig believes that the Holy Spirit personally witnesses to you, bypasing all reason. Now reason can be used to "show" what you already "know."

On the Contra-Craig website, Craig said he would doubt his own senses, reason, and external evidence before he would doubt the inner witness of the Spirit. There are also quotes there from "Reasonable Faith" where he clearly says:

"The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason SUBMITS TO and SERVES the gospel. ONLY the ministerial use of reason can be allowed… Reason is a tool to help us better understand and defend our faith."

"Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former [i.e. "Holy Spirit"] which must take precedence over the latter [i.e. "argument & evidence"], not vice versa."

There is much more there, like Craig saying we can know Christianity is true with no reason or argumentation, but from the inner witness of the Spirit.

So the only role of reason and argumentation in the life of a Christian is when it submits to the truth of Christianity. If it takes you anywhere else, abandon it for the voice of the Spirit.

This is not anti-intellectual in his mind, but using intellect to the greatest degree possible to compliment what he already knows is true. This is different than the anti-intellectual Christian who avoids the life of the mind all together. What both have in common is that their thinking line up with the Word of God and that they don't think in any way apart from Scripture.

That is the point I am making here.

Heather said...

Living Dust,

None of your comments to me address what I clarified, though --that when a non-Christian explains why s/he is not a Christian, their explanation is dismissed. Instead, the Christian uses the Bible to explain the non-Christian to him/herself.

Calvin said...

Heather,

What do you mean you're in the Deist Christian camp?

You're sounding silly Heather.

Anonymous said...

LivingDust,

The best possible way is to simply accept the existence of a god. No harm done.

It is a tremendous struggle to breaj out of the scriptural definition and accept the TRUTH. The real world outside. I have the option of following my parents' faith. Or a faith I find as if it gives ready-to-use answers. It is easy to beleive that some god created the world in 7 days. But it takes generations to dig into the origin of species.

It is intellectual dishonesty to accept "miracle" for an answer. Honesty is in searching for the cause.

You accept bible as your scripture. There are millions of people who claim a personal relationship with Allah, with Krishna ans all possible names attributed to a godly being. You consider all these as either satanic influence over them or as psychological illusions. But the same phenomena on christians become a godly experience. All of the "others" beleive in different creation stories. For you, all of those are myths; whereas a similar christian story is the truth. Sorry to say - with all respect - that is what i would call intellectual dishonesty.

No one has a problem with the concept of a personal god. If you have a god hypothesis which make you a better person, which gives you hope in life, that is good. But the whole problem is when you think that personal god of yours is the only god and that my definition of god has to fit into yours.

Nina

Anonymous said...

live-n-grace,

sorry to post it here but this is an answer to your comment in an earlier post. you claim that US if found on CHristian faith.

Pls go back to the history classes and check the religious beleives of the founding fathers.

Nina

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Nina:
Sadly, l-n-g probably uses history texts by a writer named David Barton, who is notorious for using fabricated quotes 'attesting' to the fact that the Founding Fathers were all Christians. Of course, they weren't, and there are a number of bloggers who are particularly good at debunking these claims, but he's unlikely to read them.

An excellent reply to Living Dust as well. Glad to have you around. You'll be a valuable addition.

elwedriddsche said...

Calvin:

"What do you mean you're in the Deist Christian camp?

You're sounding silly Heather."

This is a mild, yet typical example of how Christians address other Christians they have theological differences with. Even on religious sites, I've rarely seen Christians tear into atheists as much as they do into "errant" Christians.

Kyle said...

I see evidence here of hard heartedness in the manner taken against Christians. We are called anti-intellectual for accepting the Bible. This is an arrogant dismissal of the Word of God. The Bible says what it says. If I tell you what it says then I am not the focus of the discussion, but rather the Bible. So what does it accomplish if you somehow prove your insult that I am anti-intellectul? You still have God's Word witnessing against your sins and warning of judgment. We tell you to avail yourself of mercy by coming to Jesus and repenting of your self governed life. Only God can set the boundaries of life for human experience, and we make ourselves our own god when we deny His rightful place.

Truth is clear to those who hear Jesus' voice. You do not believe us when we tell you that God reveals himself. We do not argue that we are smarter than you, just that we have seen God's light and that has transformed us. Now we see, so we see your blindness. The name calling and misrepresentations of our views are a reminder that those who do not have the truth are in that state because they suppress what is clear about God. We tell you what God says because he told us to and he loves sinners.

Dishonest intellectual word games and stubbornly misunderstanding the Bible, all while pejoratively dismissing Christians as anti-intellectual, is a clear sign of hard heartedness. You don't have to be dumb to be spiritually blind, for goodness sake, Satan is brilliant but he is as darkened as you can get.

Anonymous said...

I used to hear people say that they loved God and it sounded so strange and foreign to me. But I realize that faith does have to do with loving God so for me if a relationship is broken or engaging, it is a heartfelt matter, not in the same category as disagreeing about a diet or say political or academic matter. I use heart terms to describe how people relate to each other and to God. Of course, it all comes down to believing or not and one does not have to believe any evidence.

For me, within the framework of belief, it was revelatory for me to learn that I could either say "yes" or "no" to God - I no longer have to condemn or erase Him or harden my heart to Him if I disagree or do not yet have a full understanding of what He is up to. Submitting to God does not mean compulsive obedience or abandoning my God-given personality - that is why I like Him - He's not like some people who are deceived into practicing oppressive authority where those under their leadership have to comply to a uniform standard. So my heart has had to soften towards trusting that and practicing saying "no" and learning that it's okay with God to be human.

1035

Calvin said...

I'm not tearing into Heather. I'm sorry Heather if I was a little too mean. I won't do it again okay?
Heather
If the Bible troubles you and you can't find soutions to these problems then put it down. Let it go. It's not for you.
I've thought about becoming a Deist a few times myself. I'm sorry. I'll leave you alone.

Here I'll give Alvin Plantinga's definition of a fundamentalist.

We must look into the use of this term "fundamentalist". On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like 'son of a bitch, more exactly 'sonovabitch', or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) 'sumbitch'. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged to first define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of 'fundamentalist' (in a widely current use): it isn't simply a term of abuse. In addition to it's emotive force, it does have a cognitive content, and ordinarily denotes relatively conservative theological views. That makes it more like 'stupid sumbitch' (or maybe 'fascist sumbitch'?) than sumbitch simpliciter. It isn't exactly like that term either, however, because it's cognitive content can expand and contract on demand; it's content seems to depend on who is using it. In the mouths of certain liberal theologians, for example, it denotes any who accept traditional Christianity, including Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Barth; in the mouths of devout secularists like Richard Dawkins, it tends to denote anyone who believes there is a person such as God. The explanation is that the term has a certain indexical element: it's cognitive content is given by the phrase 'considerably to the right, theologically speaking, of me enlightened friends.' The full meaning of the term, therefore (in this use), can be given by something like ' stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine'.

John W. Loftus said...

Calvin, Plantinga labels Barth in as a fundamentalist, and someone who accepts "traditional Christianity"? Wow. When Barth first wrote, and up until he died, conservatives railed at him. Now he's one of their poster boys? Amazing. Simply amazing.

Here is proof that yesterdays liberals become tommorrows conservatives.

I did my Master's Thesis on Karl Barth at a time when he was still not considered favorably by conservatives (1982).

calvin said...

He must have made a typo or something

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting the way the Christian comments exemplify the very statements about their thinking process (or lack thereof) against which they are protesting?

Jim Jordan said...

Hi Paul m. Harrison,
Thanks for that info from Craig's website. The remarks you posted of Craig's seem to me to simply explain the presuppositions of any believer. I'll put in bold what I think shows this to be the case.

"Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former [i.e. "Holy Spirit"] which must take precedence over the latter [i.e. "argument & evidence"], not vice versa."

Naturally, if someone makes the statement "this new supernova proves that God does not exist" my presupposition that God exists wouldn't budge. That doesn't mean that I will reject the evidence and wipe it out of my memory. But my belief in God takes precedence.

If you see evidence that suggests that God exists, you would be skeptical and not believe it. You shouldn't be accused of anti-intellectualism [unless the evidence is overwhelming - same for Christians]. You're an atheist. That's your presupposition. In reality, everything we think submits to those primary presuppositions that we have.

My point is that theists have the same faculty for reasoning as the atheists. Thinking is thinking. Reason is reason and both submit to presuppositions. Thus you can't discount what Craig says based on his presuppositions.
Take care.

david ellis said...


My point is that theists have the same faculty for reasoning as the atheists. Thinking is thinking. Reason is reason and both submit to presuppositions. Thus you can't discount what Craig says based on his presuppositions.
Take care.


The important question isn't whether Craig views are consistent with his presuppositions. Its whether, supposing the possibility that his presupposition of the truth of Christianity is mistaken, that the means he employs for evaluating the issue gives him any possibility of finding out the truth of the matter.

And, quite clearly, they do not.

What it comes down to, given his supposition that his religious experiences are the ultimate authority to which he appeals, even above empirical evidence, is whether its possible that his religious experiences are products of his mere human imagination.

There is certainly no particular reason to suppose this is not a serious possibility.

His position, in essence, is that his "heart" is a magical, infallible truth detector when it comes to religious claims.

It would be nice to think this is possible for we human beings (or any other thinking being).....but I suspect are "hearts" are all too prone to suggestion, wishful thinking and self-delusion. I doubt there is ANY criteria less likely to uncover the facts of the matter than that which Craig proposes.

Paul M. Harrison said...

Jim Jordan,

I should clarify that the Contra-Craig website is an anti-Criag website devoted to debunking his arguments. I don't care much for the charged language and rhetorical silliness on that site, but those quotes were from Craig's book "Reasonable Faith."

I am generally fond of Craig, Zacharias, Sproul and many others because they have been a big part of my life for over a decade. I respect them even if I disagree with them and don't believe in insulting them.

My point isn't the presuppositons by faith that all worldviews hold to, but again, simply that he lets Scripture think for him, believing by faith that it is true.

What we are opposing here is the slander that we are unbeleiving because we are immoral, evil, darkened, hardened, and the things Scripture wrongly says of unbelievers. I think we are simply honest with the information we have before us, and intellectual honesty is a virtue.

I call myself a "provisional" atheist and not a philosophical one. I am open to the existence of God should reality provide me good reason to believe, but so far have not found any convincing evidence that God can be known, found, or has revealed himself. I will not fault believers for chosing by faith to believe - even as a fideist - but I can test the claims of fundamentalist claims where God "matters."

I appreciate your respectful conversation,

Paul

Anonymous said...

you Atheism do not believe in God(s) and any other religions, so what do you believe?

as livingdust said "modern sciences cannot solve the underlying problem - we're dying. Modern science, no matter how hard it works will never stave off the fate of every human being - death.

therefore, there must be something or some belief to be applied for Atheism, as they do not believe in God. Because of dogma of a religion, people easily think that Atheists are rude and bad guys.

Calvin said...

Well, Reformed epistemologists would argue that it's rational for them to believe in God based on their experience of God. While it makes belief in God rational for them it doesn't make it rational for those who haven't experienced God. Some are extreme and disdain any proofs for God and simply play defense and debunk arguments against Christianity and some have developed arguments for God that are probablistic or inference to the best explanation. The difference between Craig and those like Alvin is that Craig believes that an argument that is more likely than not is strong enough for warrant whereas Plantinga believes that it is nowhere near sufficient. Alot of Reformed Epistemologists would even say that the best (available) explanation can even be rationally rejected. The model Plantinga has developed works for Theistic belief only and not other belief systems such as voodo and certain forms of Hinduism etc. Since it meets those conditions for warrant it's considered to be among the deliverences of reason and rationality. So it's different from fideism.

But I'm sure you all are already aware of that.

Bruce said...

as livingdust said "modern sciences cannot solve the underlying problem - we're dying. Modern science, no matter how hard it works will never stave off the fate of every human being - death.

Death isn't a "problem", it is a fact of life. Yes, science can help us prolong life a little bit more and it can certainly make the quality of what life we have better. But I don't know that it will ever be able to overcome death or that it should. Regardless, death isn't something that most atheists worry about. We accept it for what it is. It seems that the religious among us are usually the ones preoccupied with death. Sort of a death cult if you will.

Gummby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gummby said...

Fascinating conversation. I'm always challenged by what I read here.

Particularly interesting are the mention of Geisler and Craig, both of whom I would consider, vs. others not mentioned who would be presuppositionalists.

I've been wrestling with how exactly to word this question I have.

Let me try it this way. I'm a presuppositionalist. I accept the Bible's claim that men are sinners, and that their nature is such that no part of them remains unaffected by that sin (including the ability to reason properly). As a result, it will take something other than pure reason for them to "get to God," so to speak.

If you can indulge me in a bit of "willing suspension of disbelief" (literally) for just a moment, let me ask this: Let's assume for a moment that what I just stated above about man's ability to reason is true. Where does that leave you? Or is that notion something that atheists just cannot (would not) accept?

Thanks.

Matt

es said...

Matt,
Is there any other topic on earth on which you would accept someone's word that you should not apply reason and logic? Just "trust me on this"?

Doesn't that sound kind of like a scam to you?

Anonymous said...

Do the Atheists believe there is a life or another life after death ?
Henry

david ellis said...

Atheism is simply the nonbelief in dieties. There can be atheists who do believe in the supernatural and in an afterlife or in reincarnation (some Buddhists for example).

But most of the atheists here are nonbelievers in the supernatural. Their atheism is just a subset of their more general view that there is no reasonable basis for belief in supernatural entities or forces.

elwedriddsche said...

"Do the Atheists believe there is a life or another life after death ?"

We believe in life before death.

Gummby said...

ES: You pose an interesting question. My answer would be yeah, I can think of other areas.

If it was an area where a) someone else is better informed than I am, and b) I trusted that person, I would.

I would also argue that there is a difference between abandoning reason and logic and accepting that reason and logic won't ultimately answer the question you are asking.

Anonymous said...

Prup,
Thanks.

ES,

Sure. For eg:- when my Mom calls up to say that dinner is ready, I would just get to the table without any logic/reason. But when someone tells me the earth is oval in shape, I would look for proof.

Let me expand of what Grummby said:

I might take my doctor's word when he tells me smoking is injurious to health. The only underlying logic is that I trust him as a qualified practitioner and that, at that moment, he has more knowledge on the matter than me. When one of you quote from Bible, I hardly re-check if the verse is right as I trust you on that.

But claims of anything supernatural is different. That is almost similar to philosophical claims. When I hear a First Cause Argument or an Existentialist claim, I would rather gather as much information as possible, debate within myself with my set of logic and reasoning and come to a conclusion. I might not even come to a conclusion. I might just go on searching about it or just abandon it realising it isn't worth my time.

We all might agree that excessive smoking is injurious to health. Or that we need to eat & drink to sustain. For that matter I won't even refute when you point out any personal miracle; though my reasoning woukd still say it is mere psychological.

Problem with a god hypothesis is that this can only be proven at a personal level. It can never be disproven at a personal level. I can, not in a million years, completely understand what exactly are you going thru. But when it comes to a universal value, atleast so far, no one could prove the existence of a god unambigously; by no chance a god defined by any of the established religions.

While you confine the whole universe to one book, we are so excited with the abundant knowledge outside it. While you literally interpret it and choose as you book of life, we choose to learn and live. We are open to scientific/philosophical adaptation. We are not haunted by any dogma. We live here fully, without waiting for any reward after death.

Nina

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I will be commenting shortly -- a warm-up before I finally get around to drafting Part II B, which hopefully will be up tomorrow. But first, since a number of theologians and theological blogs have been mentioned here, I'd like to make a surprising recommendation to people on 'both sides' here, a blog by an evangelical Christian and doctoral student -- under Max Turner -- at Tubingen. It is Chris Tilling's CHRISENDOM
http://www.christilling.de/blog/ctblog.html

For those on 'my side' it's worth reading to see -- as contrasted to some of the commenters here -- the best the other side has to offer. And with frequent guests such as Richard Bauckham, the blog qualifies. This is also why I continue to try and convince Chris to make time in his absurdly busy schedule to comment here.

For those on the 'believer side' it's worth checking out to see how some of their 'pet notions' are treated. (For example, in a recent -- admittedly humorous -- poll on the FAITH AND THEOLOGY blog for the 'worst theological invention of all time' the winner was Biblical inerrancy -- actually tied with 'Christendom,' but as I pointed out to Chris, that's because a number of the voters were poor spellers. And the rapture came in a close second.)

The third reason for all of you to read it is that Chris is also one of the funnier bloggers around and while many of his posts are very serious, he tries 'as best as I can to squeeze in a decent amount of inappropriate baloney on the way.' (His constant running mock-battle with Dr. Jim West is particularly worth noting.) Since our own Christians seem to be particularly humorless, the contrast is refreshing.

Calvin said...

What are you talking about Prup?
I tried to throw in some humor with Alvin's definition of a fundumentalist.

I thought it was funny anyway.

Anonymous said...

I am very sad right now. I heard your broadcast on WORD fm, thought I would look at your web site, and am very disappointed! I am a Christian and I do use my mind and the reason I was given to determine my beliefs and my actions. I do not believe that Athiests are all heardharted. I do believe that they do not share my beliefs. (I have my own reasons for believing in God that really do not apply to the topic here.) As a reasoning individual with a logical thought process, I don't think criticism, judgement and belittling of others is the best way to make a point. If you do not believe in God, so be it. If you truly believe that Christians are so very "un-intellectual" why do you try so very hard to convince everyone that you are "right" and we are "wrong"?

I also wanted to ask this question: There seems to be a theme here of Christians not thinking for themselves because we defer to the Bible for guidance. Where do Athiests get there information to "debunk Christianity"? I don't mean this to sound rude, but I don't truly believe that you all just got up one morning and decided to figure the whole world out all by yourselves. So who are your sources? Who are you trusting? Your college professors, other people whose thoughts and insights agree with yours? And why are you more thoughtful and reasoning for looking to these sources?

John W. Loftus said...

Anonymous, glad to know you heard my interview, and thanks for visiting. For me, Christian scholarship lead me away from Christianity.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Anonymous the latest (6:01):
If you read our introductions, or even the header to the blog, you'd see that most of the people here -- I'm an exception -- were in fact ministers whose job was to preach Christianity. To better do their job, they researched their topic -- mostly expecting, I'm sure, that they would better grasp the truth of Christianity. Instead, they discovered its falsity. But they did not study in atheistic Universities, as far as I know.

In my case -- and you will see a slightly different angle in my posts, I was an atheist before I reached college, but the only course I took on the Bible was taught by the Chaplain of the University -- and this was over 40 years ago. I am an 'auto-didact' who has always been interested in religion as a human activity, and have spent much time researching and reading about it. But in most of my posts, you will see that I tend to turn Christians' arguements against themselves, or use the errors in the Bible to make my points.

I also resent the statement that we 'belittle' others. Someone who comes here knows the purpose of our site. We do challenge them, yes, but if you look at the various threads, you'll see we try and be respectful to most of the people who come here -- if for no other reason (and there ARE several) than we can not get someone to hear us out if we attack them. (Of course, I cannot speak for everyone, and certainly I can lose my temper at times.)

I think if you actually read what we have written, not just one thread, but look at the archives, you'd see where we get our information from. I know I try, in general, to source my own comments, especially when I am referring to the Bible itself.)

Curiosis said...

A christian's belief in god is not a personal opinion, but an attempt to describe the reality that we all share.

No one would argue with me if I said that I think red is the best color. But everyone should be skeptical if I say that I had lunch with Bigfoot today.

Everyone here, including the christians, would want some proof that Bigfoot exists before they would believe me. If I showed you a partially eaten turkey leg, and said, "See, here's proof. He munched on this," you would say that this only proves that someone ate something, but not that Bigfoot exists.

As an athiest, I require some evidence of god's existence. This is isn't hard-heartedness anymore than your disbelief about my lunch with Bigfoot is.

However, if you just accepted my word that Bigfoot is real, that would be intellectual dishonesty. I've offered no credible evidence. You have no good reason to believe.

Remember, the opposite of skeptical is gullible.

Gummby said...

Ok. So it's time for me to stop being gullible and start being skeptical. I'll try to do this by putting curiosis' principles into practice. On his post.

curiosis, prove to me that you wrote that post.

Curiosis said...

Gummby,

Yours is an example of skepticism without reason.

You, yourself, have experience writing posts. You no doubt know others personally who have made posts on a website. Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to believe that someone like myself is capable of making the previous post.

My making a post is within your own experience and doesn't require you to accept anything extraordinary.

If you said that you walked to the end of the street today, I would most likely accept that as truth. But if you said that you flapped your arms and flew to the end of the street, I would reasonably be skeptical.

The existence of god is an extraordinary claim outside of our regular experience. Therefore, it is reasonable to doubt until sufficient credible evidence has been offerred.

richdurrant said...

So now I know what happened to bigfoot the other day. He was suppose to have lunch with me, that no good two timer. Now I have to add humor to the list of faults? ah dang!

Curiosis I would agree with you that it is reasonable to doubt God without proof, but I also believe it is reasonable to believe in God exists without physical proof that all can see. I think I can be an educated, skeptical, reasoning, thinking, and funny believer. If that's just me, I'm ok with that.

Gummby said...

curiosis,

So what constitutes "sufficient credible evidence," in your mind?

live-n-grace said...

Curiosis: There is more than enough evidence.

Two things I am sure in life. Mans sin and God.

gwc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gwc said...

indeed one necessitates the other.

if people were inherently good, they could just look inside themselves and see moral truth.

so the problem of original sin had to be created to justify deferring ones own morals to the power of an institution.

Gummby said...

It never ceases to amaze me how that question ends up being a show-stopper.

Anonymous said...

Certainly god(s) are not exist. The idea of god is created to give the premitive people a security living in a hostile world.

I think the American should revise the USD notes, because it mentioned "IN GOD WE TRUST".

The terorists and also Chousenhui beheaviers cannot be blamed, if you trust in god. because they believe in God too and they thought what they did have been approved fm god. If god did not allow them, it won't be happend.
rgds/Henry

Benny said...

Showstopper, Gummby? Hardly. Here are just a few ways God can provide sufficient credible evidence of his existence.

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2007/03/how-could-god-reveal-himself-to-us.html

And if we mere mortals could come up with these, surely God can do even better :)