The Five Most Asinine Christian Arguments I've Seen

Although there are so many to chose from let me highlight five of the most asinine types of Christian arguments I’ve seen:

1) "You were never Christians."

This comes from Calvinists who think only real Christians will persevere and be in heaven. We've addressed this till the cows come home. Just look at our responses in our FAQ sheet. See especially my particular response. The problem with this claim is that the ones making it cannot do so based on what they believe. For all they know we really were/are Christians, saved in Jesus with our names written in the Lamb's book of life. It's just that right now we're backsliding. They have no idea whether or not we'll return to the fold before we die. But the bottom line is that we did in fact believe the gospel just as Christians now do. God never kept his promise to save us even though we believed.

2) "I know God in Christ exists because I've experienced him in my life."

The whole problem with using this repeatedly as an argument is that it does nothing to change the mind of a person who doesn't have such a religious experience. It's one thing to believe because of a religious experience, which can be had by people who have different and even contradictory ideas as a result of the same experience. But it's another thing entirely to argue that because you had such an experience I should believe. This is not only asinine, it's very annoying. You can believe because of whatever experiences you have had. But when you attempt to engage people who claim not to have had these experiences (or that they were not veridical) you must meet us on common ground. You must argue on behalf of what you believe with reason. When it comes to these religious experiences you must argue that yours are veridical and that others who claim them are not. This means you must provide a philosophical argument, not antecdotal evidence.

3) “You don’t understand what true Christianity is all about.”

People making this claim think we’ve chosen an easy target when we debunk evangelical Christianity, and that Christianity is much different than that. Some of the most ignorant ones making this claim think that if we only understood true Christanity we would become believers (lol). I’ve seen this argued by existentialists, liberals, Catholics and other believers normally thought of as part of a "cult" by mainstream Christians.

Here is my usual response to these believers. Christianity is “a many splendored thing.” Like a chameleon it changes with the times and adapts to specific geographical locations (how evolutionary of it!). How can we debunk something that has these moving goals posts? We can't. So, we’ve chosen to debunk conservative, evangelical, or “Biblical” Christianity. It has the most obnoxious presence in politics and on the web. One former team member put is this way:
Not only is fundamentalist Christianity the greatest threat in the United States to science, tolerance, and social progress, but it is also the most prevalent form of Protestant Christianity to be found in our nation, whether you like it or not. It is the fundamentalist religious right that holds the reigns of the Republican party (which currently controls the nation, in case you didn't realize), and it is this same fundamentalist religious right that lobbies for the teaching of lies in public school and fights against funding for embryonic research that could potentially save the lives of millions.

Whether you like it or not, it is this flavor of Christianity that makes the loudest, most obnoxious, most dangerous impact on the world today, giving us plenty of good reason to direct the brunt of our attacks in its vicinity.
If you’re a liberal, existential or Catholic believer then we just might share some of the same criticisms of that which we take aim at, so join us in this goal, just like James McGrath does from time to time. Otherwise, start a Blog titled “True Christianity,” and invite all professing Christians there to hammer out your differences. If you can come to a consensus then come back here and we’ll debunk that consensus (lol). But don’t be so ignorant as to do that here. We know the differences. We just target a specific kind of Christianity because that’s the only way to be effective in debunking any of them. And don’t kid yourself, either. There are some aspects to our debunking that debunk all religions and all Christianities. Many of the beliefs we debunk are affirmed in the Apostles, Nicene and Athanasian creeds. So to you I say, if the shoe fits, wear it; if not, then don’t.

4) “Merely quoting the Bible shows that we are wrong.”

These people I call the “Bible Thumpers." They are responding to our arguments with the very evidence we are questioning. A believer simply cannot reasonably respond to an argument that the Bible is unreliable by quoting from the Bible. If you don’t accept what I say about this then listen to Christian professor Dr. Dan Lambert, who told his students how to respond to the arguments in my book in these words: "You cannot use the Bible to try to refute his points or to support your own. You must use logic and critical thinking primarily." Here's the Link

5) For the most asinine Christian argument I've probably ever heard, here's a link.

Okay? Do you understand?

[First posted 6/16/09]

25 comments:

feeno said...

My favorite somehow missed DC.

Archie Bunker V. Meathead "the Atheist".

Christmas time in NY. Meathead asks Archie how he knows Christ is the son of God and it's his birthday?

Archie's reply "AAH Geez there Meathead, look outside, do you think all those people would put up all those Christmas lights if he wasn't"?

Archie rocks, peace out, feeno

foolfodder said...

This might be a stupid suggestion, but what the place-of-eternal-torment. Maybe you could mention what types of Christianity / Theism / what ever it is the criticism applies to.

Tyro said...

"The bible shows that you're wrong"

When I point out evidence and features of the real world and the apologist replies with a bible quote contradicting me, that's a bible quote contradicting reality. Don't they see that? Instead of being an argument that they're right, they're providing an additional argument that the bible is wrong.

When the rubber hits the road, I'm gonna side with reality and if their god says something different then their god is wrong (or their interpretation is). Sorry bub, that's the way reality works.

hybridelephant said...

i also recommend another collection of "christian" arguments and behaviours...

Teleprompter said...

I agree that these "arguments" are mostly bullsh**.

"You were never a Christian."

How do you know I wasn't?

If I was never a Christian, then neither were 95% of the people who call themselves Christian, perhaps.

If you pray multiple times daily, read your Bible, attend church weekly, attend Church camps, and debate non-believers, and you're supposedly not a Christian, *then what are you*?

Sometimes, I still feel the urge to pray before I take a meal in my house. That's deep down. If that's not valid, I don't know what is.

Yet, I do not find any compelling reasons to remain a Christian. Even as allegories, the OT stories are often either malicious or nonsensical...the "prophecies" of Jesus are often misapplied or misquoted or fabricated...further, there is just no evidence for it.

Many of us were Christians. And now we're not. And if we weren't really Christians, then neither are you.

ahswan said...

Perhaps you should rename the blog "Debunking Evangelical Christianity," or perhaps you should be even more clear, as Lutherans, Presbyterians and Episcopalians also consider themselves "evangelical."

By limiting that which you are debunking, you are not really, then, debunking Christianity. It's a common myth that Christianity is too broad, diverse or factious to treat as a whole; however, I am friends with people from Eastern Orthodox to Pentecostal traditions, and nearly everything in between. I read a lot of theology from nearly all traditions. While are are nuances, there is more in common than not.

If you are attacking the Bible as Ehrman has, for example, you need to be ready to address all responses, not just the "inerrant" ones- otherwise, you're just arguing against inerrancy.

If you want to stick to debunking evangelicalism, I may even join you from time to time. However, that is not debunking Christianity.

John W. Loftus said...

ahswan said...By limiting that which you are debunking, you are not really, then, debunking Christianity....If you want to stick to debunking evangelicalism, I may even join you from time to time. However, that is not debunking Christianity.

Here folks, is a case in point. Even though Christianities have "more in common than not," as ahswan just said, we're still not debunking Christianity by debunking evangelical Chrisianity, or by debunking the Bible, which forms at least one of the bases for Christian beliefs.

Okay, I guess.

What will it take?

Sheesh.

John W. Loftus said...

How about this: we're debunking a specific set of beliefs held by (more or less) conservative Christians who have (more or less) specific theologies related to one another based in the Bible (more or less) as their final authority.

In any case, if the shoe fits wear it. That's all I can say. And the reason that's all I can say is because of the nature of that which we seek to debunk. No matter which branch of Christianity we seek to debunk there will always, and I mean always, be some people who will come here and say that we're not debunking real Christianity.

Do you now understand?

If not, I can't help you any further. The morass is not mine. It's the nature of the Christian faith itself.

My view is that the more theologies there are that claim to represent Christianity then the more unlikely Christian is true. Any theory or hypothesis is in crisis when the explanations for them are multitudinous and they grow exponentially.

foolfodder said...

An idea that I had a while back was that a website could be created that would ask a series of questions of the visitor, on submission of the form they could get a personalised debunking of their beliefs. Might be fairly complex to do though.

Rob R said...

I disagree about the quality of arguments of the second type of your article.

People have indeed converted on the basis of personal stories and there's nothing intrinsically irrational about it.

For example, if the person being witnessed to knows the person doing the witnessing, and if they know that this is an honest down to earth person, or if they know the person has gone through a life change for the better and can see the practicality of the message, are they not rational to be influenced?

And so what of those who don't identify at all with that personal story, or what of the fact that other religions provide slightly similar situations. I don't know why an argument should be all things to all people. The fact that so much more can and should be said doesn't mean that this sort of thing should not be said. I believe that much more could be said about this sort of argument itself, because after all, scripture itself is the personal story of Yahweh and his people. There is no more appropriate way to learn about an essentially personal deity (whom, contrary to the defunct god of the philosophers, is the quintessence of pershood) than through such a personal telling.

Jason Long said...

foolfodder, I recall a page years ago where it would guess which simpsons character you were thinking of by ask a series of yes and no questions. It might not be that difficult if you can find them and ask how it was done.

Jodie said...

I'ts fine to debunk Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christianity.

But I still don't get why you should believe the Fundamentalists or the Evangelicals when they tell you what Christianity IS.

It would be much more robust to debunk religion in general, and then show how Fundamentalist Christianity, being a subset of all religion, is therefore debunked.

But to go from the particular to the general is a fallacy. It leaves open the possibility that a form of Christianity exists which cannot be debunked.

ahswan said...

Jodie, thanks. That was going to be my next point. Much - probably most - atheist apologetics lives in this "converse accident" fallacy. It is for this reason that you hear the straw god rebuttals over and over.

Teleprompter said...

Jodie and ahswan,

If there really is such a thing as "straw Christianity", then why is it that I tend to get the same responses every time I question a Christian's beliefs, no matter what particular ideas he or she claims to hold?

ahswan said...

Teleprompter, Perhaps you're asking the wrong people ... or asking the wrong, or poorly worded, questions.

Jodie said...

Telepromter,

Not really talking about a "straw Christianity" (although anybody can make one up).

There are many multi-layered schools of Christianity and Christian cultures that cover a broad range of beliefs, traditions and practices.

American Evangelicalism is but one of them. A rather self centered 'Ugly American" version I would say, with lots of issues and fatal flaws, but a real version nonetheless; not a 'straw man' per se.

What questions are you asking, who are you asking, and what answers are you getting?

Red Letter Zone .com said...

Shocking Youth Message Stuns Hearers - So Shocking & Biblical http://tinyurl.com/mf3akc

Christ Follower said...

I was reently listening to John Loftus and David Wood debate about the debate that they had on the Infidel show and one of the points that was raised by loftus was, "If there is all good and all powerful God, is this the universe the one that we expect to see? One that has so much evil?"

That question stuck with me, but another one, much more damming arose, which needs to be addressed before we can deal with the aforementioned, "Is this the world that we expect to exist if this world is the product of blind chance?

A world filled with precise universal constants, a world that has complex and consciouness human beings, a world where evolution, which has a near nil probablilty is an "actuality," and if you throw in the question about who was the banger, that made the big bang? I don't think that any reasonable person, can admit that this is the world that they expected?

While on the other hand, the question of evil is not phrased properly, it needs to be asked in this light, is this the world that we expect when creation has rebelled against it creator and the creator granted them free will?
Some evil and some good?

What do you think?
I think the prob of evil is easier to give a theoretical answer than that of the complexity of life?

What do you think?

Rob R said...

Here's what I think about that.

Teleprompter said...

Christ Follower,

I think there are enough problems with consciousness and other things that you've mentioned that proposing a perfect, benevolent designer for those things is both absurd and implausible.

Let's examine evolution. Who would design a worm that can only live in the human eye? An all-good, all-loving, all-knowing God? Or are naturalistic explanations more likely?

It's not just the Problem of Evil that is damning, it's the Problem of Evil as it is expressed through the prism of naturalistic v. non-naturalistic hypotheses that is really damning to Christianity (or any other belief in an all-benevolent, all-knowing designer).

Ahswan,

Perhaps I am asking the wrong questions, but that shall be determined shortly.

Jodie,

You can start with the question about why an all-loving, all-knowing designer would design parasites that can cause immense devastation and suffering.

And if humanity is to blame for this suffering, then why do malicious parasites predate humans by an immense stretch of time? Would an all-knowing, all-loving God create such suffering before we had a chance to screw things up?

How can there be a "fall" if suffering was instituted so much longer before humans came on the scene? What if our defects as humans are a result of how we evolved? How can we be blamed as sinners if that is the circumstance? How could our wrongdoing even be called "sin" under that circumstance? If design happened through evolution, then it appears that we've been designed to "sin", according to Christianity. Yet God supposedly loves us AND abhors "sin". Please explain?

ahswan said...

"Perhaps I am asking the wrong questions, but that shall be determined shortly."

??

Teleprompter said...

ahswan,

You asked me if I am asking the wrong questions. Now, I am asking the questions I have about Christianity to see if they're wrong or not.

It seems like a logical next step.

ahswan said...

Teleprompter, Got it. Might I suggest reading NT Wright's "Simply Christian?" It presents Christianity from a big picture perspective - oddly enough, a rather uncommon approach.

Though Wright is Anglican, the book is widely respected within evangelicalism.

Jodie said...

Telepromter,

"You can start with the question about why an all-loving, all-knowing designer would design parasites that can cause immense devastation and suffering."

You ask 'why' as if he did. I don't know that. But I have noticed that the food chain is an overcooked ball of spaghetti. Everything is eating everything all the time. Life is hard. It's just the way it is.

"And if humanity is to blame for this suffering,..."

What? Who told you that?

"Would an all-knowing, all-loving God create such suffering before we had a chance to screw things up?"

I doubt it. But again, where did you get that idea?

"How can there be a "fall" if suffering was instituted so much longer before humans came on the scene? "

Good question. I don't know that there was a "fall".

"If design happened through evolution, then it appears that we've been designed to "sin", according to Christianity. Yet God supposedly loves us AND abhors "sin". Please explain?"

Not sure what you mean by sin. As I understand it, sin is a matter of choice. If we have evolved, then we have evolved to have choice. If we have been "designed" then we have been designed to have choice. If God relates to us, it's on the level of choice.

You seem to be accepting a Fundamentalist paradigm regarding what I believe. I assure you, I am a Christian yet I do not believe any of the things you seem to believe I believe. I cannot explain things I don't even believe.

But there is an interesting story in Genesis about the relationship between God, Man and Evil. When Cain was contemplating killing Abel, God is not said to have warned Abel. He warned Cain. He told Cain that evil was like a hungry lion at his door, and that its desire was for him. He warned Cain that it was his job to master it. Then Cain killed his brother. God is then said to have been horrified at the choice Cain made.

I suppose if we were to ask God to explain the problem of evil, God would answer that he asked us first. But I don't know who or what God is. I don't even know what life is, in spite of the fact that I am surrounded by it and enjoy it immensely. Yet if you look inside my head and examine what is going on, down to its most fundamental building blocks, you will find exactly the same things you find in inanimate garden variety rocks. That, and a lot of empty space.

There are many mysteries in the universe we live in. At some point sooner or later we all just have to get over the fact that we don't get it all, and get on with the business of living.

WuMaster said...

Hi John,
Have you seen my treatise debunking every argument of Christian fundamentalism?

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Debunking_Christians/Contents.htm

Would you like to exchange links?