Just FYI John,I have decided to accept your skeptical challenge and read the best atheist apologetics out there. I will be chronicling my reading on this blog:http://arguingatheism.wordpress.comI'm starting with Julian Baggini's "Atheism: a very short introduction." Comments and corrections are welcome, but with the understanding that since this is a strain on my already busy schedule I won't be able to answer all of them. Also, I'll just delete comments designed to intimidate, rants which have no bearing on the subject at hand, anti-Christian hate-mail (such as 'goliath' has been recently posting on the CADRE blog)...generally anything that's not constructive.As the Joker would say: "And...here...we...go!"
1. "The probability that at least some of the billions of people who never heard the gospel would've embraced it had it been presented to them could probably be calculated—if missionaries kept records of their efforts. In light of the overwhelming evidence of missionary efforts, Craig's scenario for the billions of people who have never been given a chance to be "saved" because of when and where they were born is at best implausible."Remember, according to Craig, the world wasn't created randomly. You have not shown, or even suggested, how is Craig's scenario implausible.I'm not sure if you understand Craig's argument, or if you understand it in the proper theistic context.
Kiwi- while I can't know for sure, I suspect that John understands Craig's argument just fine. After all, even I can understand it: God placed all the people who would have rejected Him anyway geographically out of reach of the Gospel: gerrymandering at its most extreme, at the level of individuals, whose hearts and future persuadability are understood perfectly. If this is plausible, then we might really be brains in vats watched over by evil leprechauns, too- I'd say it's a tossup which idea is more far-fetched. It is indeed an apologetic dance of the highest order.
If John understands Craig just fine, then he needs to show it. What he said about missionnaries is utterly irrelevant.I do think Craig's argument is apologetics rubbish, just for the record.
Kiwi, this is a summary of my case. Again, it's a summary. I stand by the claim that I know what he means and I challenge you to show otherwise. But then, to show this you'd have to buy my book.Sheesh.
It's irrelevant that it's just a summary. I'm commenting what you wrote. It doesn't matter if it's 2 lines, or 800 pages."The probability that at least some of the billions of people who never heard the gospel would've embraced it had it been presented to them could probably be calculated—if missionaries kept records of their efforts."I don't know what to add, other than repeating what I've said: missionaries effort are completely irrelevant to what Craig is saying."In light of the overwhelming evidence of missionary efforts, Craig's scenario for the billions of people who have never been given a chance to be "saved" because of when and where they were born is at best implausible."Irrelevant.
Let's look at number 2:"Moreover, at most they entail 'absentee landlord' deism, belief in an impersonal God who created nature but does not miraculously intervene into it, and who has not revealed himself to humanity."Arguments for God's existence are meant to show that a God exists, not that Christianity is true."While I might happily concede deism"If you call yourself an atheist, why would you "concede" deism?"a distant God is hardly distinguishable from no God at all."In one case, the universe has a creator, in the other case, the universe doesn't have a creator. That's quite significant."Though Christians usually think of God as a free agent, God is not free to decide his own nature."Why is the lack of freedom to decide his own nature a problem?"Though conceived of as a "spiritual" being that created matter, no known "point of contact" between spirit and matter can be found."Why should we expect to find it?"Though Christians take it as a brute fact that God never began to exist, if we apply Ockham's razor a simpler brute fact is to presume that nature itself never began to exist."But is it logically possible for nature to have never began to exist?"God evidently never learned any new truths"There is no need to learn any new truths, as he is said to already know everything."and cannot think, since thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives."Is God always atemporal?"This God is everywhere, yet could not even know what time it is since time is a function of placement and acceleration in the universe."Asking what time is it to God is a meaningless question."if timeless, this God cannot act in time."Is God always timeless?"He evidently allows intense suffering in this world and does not follow the same moral code that he commands his believers to follow."How is it a problem?
Number 3:"Yet by definition miracles are particularly improbable."Miracles are not by definition improbable. What definition do you use?Miracles: "An event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural in origin or an act of God".If I follow your reasoning so far, then we should be by default agnostic about miracles and the probability of miracles occuring in the past. There is no specific reason to assume *from the start* that they are improbable, unless you want to beg the question.
Number 4: I'm not sure what the argument is. Indeed methodological naturalism seems to work well, but that doesn't say anything about whether or not Christianity is true."Plantinga recommends that Christians simply assume their most contentious conclusions as their starting point".According to Plantinga, belief in God and that Christianity is true is not a conclusion but a non-contentious properly basic belief."This is merely trying to explain the evidence of methodological naturalism's success away by retreating to what is merely possible"No. His point is simply that if Christians are confident Christianity is true, then there's no reason for them to constrain themselves to methodological naturalism. It has nothing to do with trying to explain the evidence of methodological naturalism's success away.
kiwi, you argue as if you're a Christian but seem to indicate that you're not. So before I engage you further tell me this: Do you deny Jesus is the Lord and do you renounce the God of the Bible? Just checking. I want to know who I'm dealing with here, that's all.
Heyzeus7, cool! It looks as if you're a Christian. Are you a conservative?Are you planning on reading the ten books I recommended?
Kiwi, answer my previous question before responding further, but I’ll respond to you anyway, in hopes that others reading might benefit. Let me comment on just a few of your questions.kiwi said: missionary efforts are completely irrelevant to what Craig is saying.Not so, unless you think the evidence does not need to be dealt with. I know Craig is a Molinist and I deal with the basis for God’s supposed foreknowledge of human actions in my book. But the evidence is relevant. He is explaining the overwhelming evidence away. He’s admitting the evidence does not support what he believes, and that’s important to acknowledge in this context.kiwi said…Let's look at number 2:Arguments for God's existence are meant to show that a God exists, not that Christianity is true.Not exactly so. Which God? Describe that God to me and you’ll see that there are differences between those who argue for God’s existence about the characteristics of the God concluded by these arguments based upon their particular religious beliefs. They are used to defend a particular type of theism. All arguments to support the belief in a creator God are constructed to support a belief that a particular person adopted before they could properly asses these arguments. Which believer, for instance, could adequately defend any of these arguments when he or she first believed? No one. Their initial understandings of these arguments would be shown to be faulty even by Christian philosophers themselves. They are adopted by believers precisely because they have faith in their particular brand of theism. kiwi said…If you call yourself an atheist, why would you "concede" deism?Deism is nothing more than an answer to why there is something rather than nothing at all, and that’s it. There is no set of religious beliefs that accompany it. Such a God might only have been able to create a quantum wave fluctuation, and that’s a far removed God from the one you believe in…a distant God is not much different than none at all.kiwi said...Number 3: If I follow your reasoning so far, then we should be by default agnostic about miracles and the probability of miracles occuring in the past. There is no specific reason to assume *from the start* that they are improbable, unless you want to beg the question.As I quoted in my book:Robert J. Fogelin dismisses this objection and claims it is a gross misreading of Hume. He says, “Hume nowhere argues, either explicitly or implicitly, that we know that all reports of miracles are false because we know that all reports of miracles are false. . . . Hume begins with a claim about testimony. On the one side we have wide and unproblematic testimony to the effect that when people step into the water they do not remain on its surface. On the other side we have isolated reports of people walking across the surface of the water. Given the testimony of the first kind, how are we to evaluate the testimony or the second sort? The testimony of the first sort does not show that the testimony of the second sort is false; it does, however, create a strong presumption—unless countered, a decisively strong presumption—in favor of its falsehood.” Fogelin concludes with these words: “That is Hume’s argument, and there is nothing circular or question begging about it.”kiwi said... Number 4: Indeed methodological naturalism seems to work well, but that doesn't say anything about whether or not Christianity is true.Why, for instance, does Plantinga accept the results of methodological naturalism in every area of his life, and turn around to say it should not be applied to the study of the Bible? Austin Van Harvey in his book, The Historian and the Believer, disagrees, as I do.Kiwi: According to Plantinga, belief in God and that Christianity is true is not a conclusion but a non-contentious properly basic belief.But it IS contentious, and I contest it.Kiwi: No. His point is simply that if Christians are confident Christianity is true, then there's no reason for them to constrain themselves to methodological naturalism. It has nothing to do with trying to explain the evidence of methodological naturalism's success away.But my question is how Christians can be confident that Christianity is true? I dispute such confidence over and over in my book.
I'm not sure how you define the terms. I am a Christian in that I believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, that miracles can happen (whether healings, exorcisms, some paranormal phenomena), that the Bible discloses in some way knowledge essential to salvation (but I'm NOT an inerrantist), that God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit...hard to give a full summary here. If by conservative you mean inerrantist, all unbelievers going to hell, no truth in other religions, etc. I most certainly am not. Some of the books you recommend are on my list (unfortunately not yours because I can't find it anywhere here, and I'm too poor at the moment to order it!) including Martin, Everritt, Schellenberg and Weisberger. I've read Ehrman and Avalos already. Not sure about Beversluis because while I love C.S. Lewis's writings they are mostly inspirational and imaginative rather than rigorous apologetics for me. But I don't have time for anything less than the best, and amateur stuff like Callahan, Price and Lowder doesn't fit the bill.
Heyzeus7 my book is linked on the sidebar to your left. For your convenience Here it is. There are reviews of it on amazon for you to judge for yourself whether the cheap price is worth it. You seem to be an intelligent Christian. I would hope you get and respond to my book. I look forward to learning anything you can tell me about it.
It's hard to believe that people still believe in miracles or the supernatural in this age.I like the example that Shermer uses, that God hates amputees. When is the last time that someone has seen a persons amputated arm or leg be healed and grow back?Not to mention, the meaning of miracle has been likened to coincidence, good things that happen to people out of the blue, (but never bad!) the Lord speaking to people about something general and vague, so on so forth. These things don't have anything to do with the 'supernatural'
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