How to Undercut Christianity at a Fundamental Level

I am not arguing to please skeptics. They are not my target audience. And devout Christians will think my arguments are weak. But I am making a difference. Maybe people should think about that. Maybe I do know what I'm doing?

In my book The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails there isn't one chapter in it about the arguments for the existence of God. Not one. And yet it's receiving some very high praise from both sides of the fence.

If we want to change the mind of the believer then the most effective way is to drive a wedge between their arguments for the existence of God (i.e., natural theology) and the other things they believe based in the Bible.

Once we do this the believer will see very soon afterward that those arguments for God's existence don't make a good case. What I'm doing undercuts their faith at the most fundamental level.

And so first we must make them liberals, then agnostics and then atheists. If we attempt to argue them from Christianity to atheism in one fell swoop we will not do it.

59 comments:

Adrian Cockcroft said...

Hi John, can you get Amazon to make a kindle edition? I don't like buying paper books, as I download them to the kindle app in my iPhone, so I have a library in my pocket that I can read wherever I am.

John W. Loftus said...

Adrian, I'm sure a Kindle version will be available in due course.

Rob R said...

Once we do this the believer will see very soon afterward that those arguments for God's existence don't make a good case. What I'm doing undercuts their faith at the most fundamental level.

There aren't arguments for the existence of God in scripture. Why should we think that that is the fundamental part of our faith?

Rob R said...

"Much Modern theology presupposes the deistic assumption that the first step is to prove God exists. No, the biblical question is what kind of God exists?"
- Hauerwas and Willimon, Resident Aliens

Rob R said...

And so first we must make them liberals,


I've skipped that step alltogether for a more post-modern yet orthodox Christianity that doesn't fit neatly into those old dichotomies.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Rob R,

You've used your imagination to change the rules of the game but, you've also admitted that members of your church struggle to reconcile your theology with theirs.

Would you admit that your version of christianity may not be in line with the conservative versions which make up the majority of American christendom?

Also, why is that when an argument is made that appeals to a macro-perspective, individual christians come on here and provide their individual testimony as if that is anything more than poor data and narcissism? (e.g. Rob R here and Al Moritz in regards to the leveling affect of the Internet on supernaturalism's status).

Rob R, you've admitted that your open theism is idiosyncratic and, I know within the Evangelical Free community I once belonged to, it would be considered heresy.

So, your satisfaction to the post-modern application you've devised to calm your agnosticism would be considered unorthodox in certain circles and outright heresy in others.

Brad said...

"Once we do this the believer will see very soon afterward that those arguments for God's existence don't make a good case."

Unless, of course such a one has what Paul called the "peace that surpasses understanding" that transcends mere human reason.

Cheers.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Brad,

You need to use reason to have, "peace that surpasses understanding" or, at least the application of willful ignorance to maintain your fantasy.

Numinous experiences are common across culturals and they attach themselves to the most socially available superstition.

Your unreasonable docility is not unique.

Richard H said...

If we want to change the mind of the believer then the most effective way is to drive a wedge between their arguments for the existence of God (i.e., natural theology) and the other things they believe based in the Bible.

I agree with this.

The god that's intellectually defensible is a pretty substance-less being.

The tricky thing is how to pin down their definition of God so that they can see the contradictions.

Otherwise, they'll believe in a deist God when they're talking to an atheist, and then go right back to a personal-God as soon as the debate ends.

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do this.

Dan DeMura said...

I think a portion of the lyrics to an old song by Rich Mullins I used to like apply...

"Well there's a difference you know B'tween having faith and playing make believe...It's about as useless as a screen door on a submarine"

Although it could be argued I'm taking these lyrics out of context...(He was a Christian musician) But the point I'm trying to make is that I really think a lot of Christians feel uncomfortable with letting go of the myth. And I'm not even stating Atheism... Even to step into an open theism, or diesm thereby keeping some of the "mystery" is a big step.

I think you're right John, the first step is to get Christians to accept the possibility that their faith... is really about as "useless as a screen door on a submarine."

Brad said...

"You need to use reason to have, "peace that surpasses understanding" or, at least the application of willful ignorance to maintain your fantasy."

No, I think what you mean is that you want me (and other Christians from what I gather) to check in with you in order to see if their heart-felt experiences pass muster - to you. That, for several reasons, doesn't sound all that reasonable.

Brad said...

If we want to change the mind of the believer then the most effective way is to drive a wedge between their arguments for the existence of God (i.e., natural theology) and the other things they believe based in the Bible.

Why? Why not build a positive case for atheism, rather than just looking for a way to knee-cap Christianity?

ennangal said...

There are at least two problems with this effort:
1) You have assumed believers come to believe God only through reason - I think that is not true. That is, Christians do know there is wedge between reason and faith; you don't have to create one! Any honest thinking believer would agree with you that reason can get them only so far, after that, it is the touch of God that keeps them believing (e.g Ruth Tucker). For example, Francis Collins became Christian not through reasoning alone, it did get him to certain distance, but the final leap came when he had the "moment" during a hike as he describes in his testimony!

2) The second problem with your method is you have made an assumption that there is no God and you can convince believers of that fact. However, no one can prove through reason if God really exists or not. If he really exists then he can override your effort by revealing himself to the believers in many ways (as in Francis Collins) - to make his existence a reality in their life. He can conform his existence in their spirit! I know this would sound nonsense to atheists, but for the argument sake if God exists as a spiritual being who can reveal himself in their inner being, then how do you think your efforts going to succeed? Only way you can discredit this subjective experience is to prove to them they are deluded, their experience is not real, but it is their mind playing trick on them!!! Can you do that reasonably, when many people are claiming they have encounter with God? How are you going to discredit the experience Collins had, if by definition you can't prove beyond doubt that God cannot reveal himself like that? Are you going to say " I never had that experience, so your story is false"!!!

History has taught us God indeed reveal himself to people, otherwise how do you explain people like Francis Collisns, Alister McRath becoming Christians from atheists!!!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Brad

You can believe anything you want but your willingness to engage me indicates you count reason as something worthwhile in defending your make believe so, to endorse something beyond reason as valid should be paracticed in refuting reason. Glossolalia maybe?

Breckmin said...

"Unless, of course such a one has what Paul called the "peace that surpasses understanding" that transcends mere human reason."

I would agree that this applies to being a born-again Christian...BUT not necessary for theism.

The logical arguments that lead a person to the knowledge that information/complex mechanical working systems/IF-THEN algorithmic programming and alike
clearly point to some form of creator (agnostic theism) is basic common sense.

There are many who do not have the peace that surpasses all understanding who see clearly that abiogenesis is absolute absurdity at both the information level as well as the complexity of working systems.

Being honest enough to get to agnostic theism is one issue...going to an understanding of Infinite Creator is another. Someone can believe in an Infinite Creator and NOT be a born-again Christian. Once again, the peace that surpasses all understanding is available to the born-again Christian through the power of the Holy Spirit...but I do not believe
that "surpassing all understanding" means that it has to be illogical.

I would just ask for examples of something that one believes is illogical and then discuss/answer those.

John Loftus' book is a perfect example of material that I believe can be easily answered with a proper understanding of logic and philosophy (i.e. justification for Special Pleading and observations which are undeniable).

In fact, I would argue that it is important for every Christian apologist to be able to answer all of the points in John's book both systematically and logically.

Shoot...

Chuck O'Connor said...

ennangal

I know what you're saying. Muhammad and Joseph Smith had revelations from God but Christians the whole world over reject both Islam and Mormonism as false. What mean jerks.

Breckmin said...

"they'll believe in a deist God when they're talking to an atheist, and then go right back to a personal-God as soon as the debate ends."

The Christians I know would never assert a deist God even when talking to an atheist.

God is in control of all things at all times and active in this temporary creation as well as sustaining it with His Infinite Power and Order.

Everything that exists is logical to exist because it has a CAUSE...
(here's the equivocation with respect to morality) EVEN that which is morally "illogical" to DO.

Question everything.

Question the difference between "logical to exist" verses "morally illogical to DO" based on ignorance or lack of knowledge which must be learned.

Question the dual reality of "evil" and how it will all be turned to God's glory in the end (and how).

Question why there is a temporary creation and how it is multi-faceted.

Question why you can not isolate on eternal torture (regarding hell) because of all of the connected premises which make it logical to BE eternal.

Question everything.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck

Do you copy and paste this stuff or do you have OCD?

Breckmin said...

"if God exists as a spiritual being who can reveal himself in their inner being,"

God can move heaven and earth to reveal Himself to your "outer being" as well. That fact is that God does indeed perform miracles.

For those who know factually of God's Existence and know that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the exclusive way and truth to God (and eternal life) God will still require "faith" from them in other ways.

God always requires faith....and there are enemies waiting and lurking to test such faith that drop you to your knees in weakness.

Breckmin said...

"Do you copy and paste this stuff or do you have OCD?"

General...and doesn't deal with anything specific.

Breckmin said...

and an attempt to draw attention to the person posting which is a Red herring and a form of ad hominem (not necessary argument-BUT drawing attention away from specific reason)

ennangal said...

Chuck,

If I understand your comment correctly, what you are saying is all the claims of “encounter with God” by believers are false!!! They are either lying or deluded. My question… is it even possible to convince the believers that they are lying or deluded through a book like John’s TCD? Because John is assuming believers base their belief solely on reason and arguments, that’s why John wrote” Once we do this the believer will see very soon afterward that those arguments for God's existence don't make a good case. What I'm doing undercuts their faith at the most fundamental level”

I am simply questioning that premise! That’s all.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck

I'm just saying you remind me of Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman" is all. It's cute.

Ennengal

I know what you're saying. So whay is your favorite Surrah in the Q'ran or favorite passage in the Book of Mormon?

ennangal said...

My point is not whether you and I have favorite passage in Q’ran or Book of Mormon, All I am saying is, one cannot convince a Muslim or Mormon that the reason he/she has favorite verse is either he/she is lying or deluded, using a book like TCD as John claims!!!

Breckmin said...

JWL -"And devout Christians will think my arguments are weak."

John, I believe that your books are probably the most systematically detailed in compiling arguments against Christianity all together in one place. I openly admit that I would not want a struggling Christian to be "choked" with all of the things in your book - all at once.

With that said, I also believe that there are "answers" to everything in your book...so I would NOT be opposed to any Christian reading your book if I was allowed to provide commentary throughout your book (perhaps every other line in some parts) because I believe it would strengthen their faith rather than choke them. Why do I believe this?

Because there are good answers to good questions and strong objections.

JWL - "So I will continually be attacked from both sides."

I don't want to attack you personally because I want to build you up and help (in some small way) to restore you to your faith in Jesus Christ once again. Even if it takes you laying flat on your back with a group of Christians praying around your hospital bed when you are old - sometime before the end of your life - I want to be "for you" and not against you.

My only wish is that you would consider the possibility that the Infinite Creator would be able to answer all of your questions.

My only hope is that you would pray to the Infinite Creator for protection from any lies or any deception which could be influencing you.

Breckmin said...

"Breck

I'm just saying you remind me of Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman" is all. It's cute.

Ennengal

I know what you're saying. So whay is your favorite Surrah in the Q'ran or favorite passage in the Book of Mormon?"


Rainman's favorite verses are Mormon 7:7 which is the best verse for the Trinity and Surah 3, AL-E-EMRAN (THE FAMILY OF 'IMRAN, THE HOUSE OF 'IMRAN) Revealed at Madina
003:055 which says that Allah will
raise Jesus to Himself and talks about the Day of Resurrection!

Question everything

Chuck O'Connor said...

Good for you Breck. Now would you look an Imam or Elder in the face and tell them the meaning of those passages subjectively rendered from your faith or their's? Special pleading indeed.

Chuck O'Connor said...

ennangal

Why not?

His arguments worked for me.

Breckmin said...

"Now would you look an Imam or Elder in the face and tell them the meaning of those passages subjectively rendered from your faith or their's? Special pleading indeed."

Special pleading that is justified is in relation to God's Infinite Existence as Creator and Owner of the universe and how we are all finite and learning and quite different. It is as basic as God's "objective" Omniscience which absolutely knows reality and our "subjective" experience which is capable of error.

FTR, those are the types of verses I use to witness to people. The Book of Mormon is a VERY evangelical work and consistent with the Bible throughout the majority of it...that is what makes it so dangerous. All of the false doctrine of Joseph Smith and Brigam Young doesn't come from the Book of Mormon (which many Christians believe was written by a born-again Christian - possibly a Presbyterian Minister)but comes from writings like Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

Yes, I use the Book of Mormon to witness to LDS Elders. I love to invite them into my home and pray with them. They are a gift and it is wonderful to see the power of the REAL gospel in their lives..and to see them question the nonsense of a finite Father with some sort of "spiritual body" that looks like ours.

Clearly NOT the God of Abraham.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Breck

You are silly and deluded and your belifs sound like imaginary strategems from a Dungeons and Dragons game. What pragmatic useful purpose does your witnessing serve? I question everything and so when I hear holy men like you babble I take away an inferiority complex seeking to seize status absent any observable standard.

nolimitsfoundation said...

Why is it that when you go to sleep you believe you will wake up tomorrow? Why do you believe you exist when you have never seen yourself only the evidence of your body? Whe you people invest in teh stok market why do they believe they will make money? What makes you so sure that the sun is not going to fall? Have you ever touched your emoitions yet you believe they are there? Your thoughts look real to you but no one can see them but you can stand and claim that they exist? When you walk in the road and people are looking at you and you are not aware of it, does it mean they are not there? Those who believed the world was flat, yet it was round were they wrong or just ignorant? Is anything impossible on earth and beyond it, if it was why then do we discove new things and inventions everyday? John you wirte with such confidence about things which is good because you have a starting point. If you cannot see the pacific from where you are does it mean it does not exist. Science proves christianity and i will be happy to teach you.

Gandolf said...

nolimitsfoundation said..."Why is it that when you go to sleep you believe you will wake up tomorrow? Why do you believe you exist when you have never seen yourself only the evidence of your body? Whe you people invest in teh stok market why do they believe they will make money? What makes you so sure that the sun is not going to fall? Have you ever touched your emoitions yet you believe they are there? Your thoughts look real to you but no one can see them but you can stand and claim that they exist? When you walk in the road and people are looking at you and you are not aware of it, does it mean they are not there? Those who believed the world was flat, yet it was round were they wrong or just ignorant? Is anything impossible on earth and beyond it, if it was why then do we discove new things and inventions everyday? John you wirte with such confidence about things which is good because you have a starting point. If you cannot see the pacific from where you are does it mean it does not exist. Science proves christianity and i will be happy to teach you."

Hi nolimits .Experience tells us we wake up tomorrow,and we can even prove it with science.With our eyes we can see ourselves in mirrors,and through sensation of touch and cross referencing with the opinions of most every other human on this earth!! see we DO come to the same conclusion.Our thoughts can be cross referenced with thoughts of many other humans,and be proved as correct because we can plan and prove what we plan can work.

People HONESTLY have made money out of stock markets before,its scientific type proof when their bank balances are seen to rise and they are able to withdraw money and spend it.
So far the sun has not be seen to fall out of the sky,should we have reason to expect the sun to fall without evidence to suggest its likely to happen?.
No scientific method can be used to PROVE !,people can walk right passed people without seeing them.But we can also use science to prove these people actually do actually exist.
People who once believed the earth was flat were both wrong and also ignorant, in the sense they actually had no "good reason" to believe the flat world theory.

No maybe nothings impossible,but the fact that maybe nothings impossible is not good enough reason to simply guess things are possible.Sooner or later most things that are actually possible, come with some scientific evidence to back theory up! and help prove its actually more than guessing/dreaming.

It dont matter if we cannot see the pacific from where we are,the pacific is available to be observed in person by every single person if need be.The pacific can be proved as being more than faith,with science.

nolimits surely you are not trying to compare these things that actually can be proved with science,to every single human being on earth.

With all the very many ideas of gods/faiths etc that people have only "faith" in ?.

Faith a idea which use of science method,seems to even prove through cross referencing...Is not really ever conclusive or universally the same and often is seen to mostly depend on differing customs and cultures.

Nolimits does scientific method suggest to us that maybe ideas of gravity like faith depend on differing custom and culture?,or do we notice many conclusions of gravity seem very universal!.We see ideas of gravity are universal dont we.

But ideas of gods have never provided any conclusive evidence even after THOUSANDS OF YEARS,thats why your faith or any ones faith just cannot be compared with anything you have tried comparing it to here.No Science (has not) yet proved Christianity or any faith so far,anymore than the likelyhood of the existence of fairys or pink unicorns.

Why can you not see there is actually a very (big difference) here between what you try to compare?

I find it almost unbelievable you could even be so honest? in thinking these things can be compared to peoples faiths in gods.

Gandolf said...

nolimitsfoundation said..."When you walk in the road and people are looking at you and you are not aware of it, does it mean they are not there?"

No ...Somebody can always drag me back to where these people actually are if need be, and show me these people are looking at me.....If need be to help confirm that these people are actually looking at me,i can maybe have them slap me on the face!....I can then look in a mirror and note with my very own eyes the very obvious red slap mark!,and just to be more sure i can then even cross reference the existence of this obvious slap mark, when EVERYONE else happens to all agree! it can actually be seen right there on my face.

Can you? point me to even one faith or even one of the many gods, where some these same type methods for scientific cross referencing can be applied?.

If you cant,then i suggest maybe your comparence was really way out of line.

Gandolf said...

Breckmin said..."so I would NOT be opposed to any Christian reading your book if I was allowed to provide commentary throughout your book (perhaps every other line in some parts) because I believe it would strengthen their faith rather than choke them. Why do I believe this?

Because there are good answers to good questions and strong objections."

Breckmin so its only your "standard" thats being used.What type of scientific method of proof is that?.A bit pitiful isnt it?

We can apply scientific method on almost anyone with regards to things like gravity for instance,and notice! most everyone comes to the very same conclusion!,(no matter what part of the world or what differing culture they may be).This is what actually help prove, gravity is likely to be about much more than just mere faith or myth.

Why do we need to go by use of your standard Breckmin ?.Doesnt this seem to suggest it quite highly likely your ideas and other faithful folks ideas of faith in gods also are (stuck fast) on only being about guesswork and mere matters of mythical faith?.

Why is it we notice here your idea of faith is dependent on use of the Breckmin "standard"

Its guesswork ?.....Fraud?.

Chuck O'Connor said...

nolimits

Why is it the ignorance of believers leads them to embarassing and unoriginal solipsism?

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

Hi Chuck

"You can believe anything you want but your willingness to engage me indicates you count reason as something worthwhile in defending your make believe so..."

Not in this case, in this case I was merely reminding you that human reason is worthless when examining something that is beyond the grasp of mere human understanding - despite your insistence that it isn't. But if arguing with the wind makes you feel better...

shane said...

Brad.

You said chuck is arguing against the wind here.......well then you in turn are arguing for the wind!

Your retreating into your incomprehensible God here which disolves you of any real explaination

Clare said...

Nolimits, if you can scientifically prove that God exists, then go to the James Randi foundation and collect his million dollar prize. No-one,ever, has been able to scientifically prove that God exists. If you can, then you are the first.

Bythe way, I love the bit about the sun falling out of the sky. THat sounds as though you think the earth is the centre of the unverse!

Chuck O'Connor said...

Brad for the following sentence to make any sense, you need to apply reason, "Not in this case, in this case I was merely reminding you that human reason is worthless when examining something that is beyond the grasp of mere human understanding - despite your insistence that it isn't. But if arguing with the wind makes you feel better"

Like I said, if you want to convince me that your faith is better than what we all rely on to make sense of reality (reason and our senses) you will have to appeal to something other than the thing you are denigrating.

Like I said, maybe post a YouTube clip of you applying Glossolalia to a modern ethical problem (e.g. The AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa) and I will consider your case. Until then, you are depending on the same things we all depend upon but, simply land on a common cultural superstition as an easy antidote to your fear. Your placebo doesn't mean your truth claims are real.

Scott said...

Brad wrote: Unless, of course such a one has what Paul called the "peace that surpasses understanding" that transcends mere human reason.

Brad,

Have you seen the movie This is Spinal Tap? Specifically, I'm referring to this dialog between Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest)

Surely, their special amps must "transcend" the ability of all normal amps because they go to "11", right? And, apparently, the issue raised by Rob's character (why couldn't the volume at "10" be as loud as "11") surpasses "understanding" of Christopher'a character, who is either ignorant about how amplifiers actually work or chooses to ignore rational arguments that might reveal his amps are not so special after all.

While it's true his amps might be louder at 11, in reality, we could confirm this by measuring the output in decibels.

However, In your case, how do you know the peace you experience could only be the result of a supernatural cause?

Exactly what level of peace could not be reached by natural means and how did you determine where this level falls? And, most impotently, what method do you to measure peace so your results are useful across the vast number of practices, philosophies and religions?

For example, have you genuinely experienced the level of peace claimed by non-theistic Buddhists (many who have practiced meditation for decades), so you have at least one reference point to compare with your theistic peace?

Sarah Schoonmaker said...

Non-believers seem to think that just because I am Christian who does not align with evangelical/fundamentalist views, that I am espousing a different version of Christianity. Thus Christianity as a whole is false. However, I hold to the basic tenants of Christianity: 1) that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, 2) that humanity is Fallen and in need of Christ, and 3) God promises eternal life for those who believe. Just because I have slightly different views about theology (i.e. I don't hold to inerrancy, a literal Adam & Eve, or a literal creationist account), does not mean I am endorsing a new version of Christianity (see Brian McLaren for that!), nor does it mean that I'm on some slippery slope to non-belief. Besides, I do not see the problem that there are many in-house debates about the meaning of Scripture, God's character, teachings, ect...denominations or non-denominations that are Christian agree on the basic tenants, while differing on in-house matters.

In fact, an infinite, perfect being could never be *fully* understood through Scripture alone or through anything given human finite minds. However, I believe humans have sufficient evidence (both intellectual and experiential) for the existence of God, including Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, but of course, their freewill is involved in making a decision about God. I think dissenters and non-believers need to re-evaluate the character of Jesus, the evidence for His life, death, and resurrection, reconsider the design and anthropomorphic arguments (i.e. humanity's need for God), and recognize the fact that Christianity provides the best explanation of the world as we know it.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Thanks Sarah

Many of us here have done all you suggest.

That is why we are atheists.

normajean said...

Chuck, place your commas in the right place.

Best

shane said...

Sarah.

You said that christianity provides the best explaination for the world as we know it?

I find it to be the exact opposite. The fact that there are so many denominations and non-denominations (as you said) is a good example of christianity's lack of a sufficient answer!
So many christian sects exist and they all go by the same book, yet they cant even agree on whats divine, or what the scriptures mean....etc...

Since the new testament is really the only source that tells us anything about Jesus and His existence, where is all this history and evidence suppossed to be?
The bible is riddled with error and inconstistency, (you admitted to error yourself), so why should we trust it?

If your suggesting the church itself is evidence of Jesus divinity, then i beg to differ!!!! Church history alone is evidence against this.

Christianity provides no more of an explaination then other religions do!

All religions have their own theology and their own creation story.
The bible version of creation seems no more impressive or probable then the rest.

Sarah Schoonmaker said...

Shane & Chuck:

All the Christian denominations agree on the same thing; that Jesus lived, died, and rose again. Just because people cannot agree on in-house matters does not mean Christianity is false.

No, the NT is not the only source that tells of Jesus. The OT, the Talmud, Josephus, Seutonius, Thallus, Lucian, and more tell about Jesus. Indeed, these historians wrote many years after Jesus' lifetime, except for Josephus, but this should not be problematic for this age in history. Besides, there is no good reason to reject the Gospels as reliable sources because they are actually quite consistent in claiming Jesus' message, death, and resurrection. In fact, since the authors vary on some of the details supports the sources as genuine and not merely fabricated. If they were fabricated by a group of people, they most likely contain exactly the same information. One of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, Simon Greenleaf, wrote a compelling case for the reliability of the Gospels:
http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/greenleaf.html


You said, "If your suggesting the church itself is evidence of Jesus divinity, then i beg to differ!!!! Church history alone is evidence against this."

I'm not sure what you mean, but Jesus' teachings and miracles recorded in Scripture are quite clear about his divinity.

You said: "Christianity provides no more of an explaination then other religions do!"

Christianity most certainly does provide more of an explanation than any other religion, including worldviews such as, atheism/agnosticism/skepticism. Christ is the only one to offer the gift of life and restoration through faith, not by works alone. All other religions espouse works based lives and pales in comparison to Christianity's historical evidence.

As far as atheism/physicalism goes, this is a self-refuting worldview. If the physical is all that exists, then you cannot claim to know that other people have minds, that other immaterial entities exist like goodness, evil, love and beauty. That's why atheism cannot account for reality, which includes such immaterial things.

Moreover, I assume you are a logical positivist, which claims that we can only know truth through our five senses. Well, this is self-refuting too because this claim or theory of knowledge cannot be verified with the five senses.

Lastly, just because one is not a fundamentalist Christian does not mean that Christianity should be ditched completely! I would argue that fundamentalism is not what Jesus stood for. Simply because people cannot agree on fundamentalism says nothing about the truth value of Christianity. God and the central teachings have remained the same (i.e. Jesus lived, died, and rose again, that humanity is in need of God's love, truth, and restoration, and the promise of restoration, judgment, and fellowship with God after death). The only way to falsify Christianity is to make a compelling case that Jesus did not raise from the dead. I have yet to find a good non-Christian explanation for this and I have read Price, Carrier, Loftus, Lowder, and more.

Ciao,
Sarah

Brad said...

Hi Scott,

"However, In your case, how do you know the peace you experience could only be the result of a supernatural cause?"

You mean, how can I say the joy of Christ within is indescribable when I agree with Paul that words can't apply convey what the feeling is like? That would be more in line with what I wrote.

But as to your question: Faith, since I can't crawl into the mind, body or heart of anyone else.

Jonathan said...

@sarah
This is a problem I find with Christians they need to explain things. Atheism doesn't need to explain anything as much as a frog needs to explain to you why it is in a pond going "gribbit".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TG2_aTu7cE&feature=PlayList&p=4D71F6FB04ED4DDD&index=1


In addition just because you can place "ism" behind a word it doesn't make it a world view. It is a complete fallacy for you or anyone else in your ilk to create the label, define it, and then label it on someone just because they think (free will) differently than you

You think God for whatever reason forced a girl to conceive a child, then have this child, do a couple of tricks, spit on some people, piss off the local authorities, get his butt crucified, and then rise from the dead. This makes perfect sense.
I mean really is this the best God can do? Then because the bible is concise in its meaning (with the help of the printing press) splits off in hundreds of fractions, at first these "Christians" kill one another in the various bloody wars that raged threw Europe. Until each nation develops their own version of a tolerance acts. Christian tolerating other Christians. Oh yea, at least there still Jews, I mean there still fair game for abuse.

But really this makes perfect sense? If you had to do it over would you do the same thing?

What I also find quite laughable is this you call "God's Love."

God floods the world, kills everything and you claim God is love.

God gets nervous about stone towers reaching heaven so God confuse's their language, as if God didn't know you can't build a stone tower even with our technology to heaven
And Confusing their language now there is a great idea.

Lets talk about God's love when he tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, "where is that love?" The funny this is God doesn't even know if Abraham would do it. God knows everything? I guess not.

What about God nuked those two cities? Turning Lott's wife into salt, then his daughters get him drunk to do the nasty. Oh such family values.
Or about those Bears eating children, or about grinding the gold statue and forcing it down the idol worshipers throats.

What about when God killed the 1st born of the Egyptian, including their live stock? God hates baby lambs?

The best is God creates Hell? The purpose is???

Gospels reliable? Is the Gospels any more reliable than the Egyptian book of the dead? the Iliad? Gilgamesh? Or any other ancient text? A dictionary?

What do you mean reliable, like my car is reliable?

After all this (and more) you really have to wonder why I am a skeptic?

I have a new "ism" for you!

Whateverism !

Have a cookie.




Hey Rob!


About the guy in South American who was hit by a car than healed because a bunch of people fondled him, did you ever get back with info with that?

later

Russ said...

Hi John,
PZ has a post titled, "Priests who don't believe" that is worth looking at in the context of undercutting belief. It references some work by Dan Dennett and some of his associates concerning active Christian clergy whose beliefs include atheism. Quite interesting.

P.Coyle said...

Sarah Schoonmaker writes,

"However, I hold to the basic tenants of Christianity: 1) that Jesus lived, died, and rose again, 2) that humanity is Fallen and in need of Christ, and 3) God promises eternal life for those who believe."

One of the major disagreements within Christianity seems to be between those who claim that God will give eternal life only to those who "believe" (believe what?), and those who claim that belief is not, in fact, an absolute requirement. What's your position on this, Sarah?

shane said...

Sarah.

Yes, all denominations agree on Jesus death, resurrection,....etc...but they do not agree on doctrine, how salvation works, the inspiration of the OT etc.....these are just as important.

You mentioned sources that confirm Jesus.....such as OT and Talmud.
This is a joke...... many of the OT prophecies could almost mean anything and some have nothing to do with Jesus which can be understood simply by reading it.

Example- (Isaiah 7:14) is suppossed to be a prophecy about the virgin birth, but a simple reading of it shows it had nothing to do with Jesus and the Hebrew word meant woman not virgin.

(Jeremiah 31:15) is another. This is suppossed to be a prophecy regarding the slaughter of innocents, yet the context makes it clear that the weeping is for the Israelites about to be taken into exile in Babylon.

(Hosea 11:1) is yet another. This is suppossed to be a prophecy regarding the return of Jesus from Egypt. However, Matthew only quotes the second half. The first half of the verse makes it clear that the verse refers to God calling the Israelites out of Egypt in the exodus led by Moses.

There are many more examples!

Josephus?
Josephus mentions a christos, but im sure you have read how some of Josephus writtings are believed to be tampered with and faulty.

You mentioned Simon Greenleaf, I have had a conversation about this topic with someone else before.
The legal system and how it works to find evidence and what it assumes, are not as trust worthy as cold hard science!
According to scienctific knowledge, people do not rise from the dead, people do not walk on water, epilepsy is not caused by demon possession...etc...

More then this, it might be true that if all 4 gospel accounts of the resurrection and empty tomb had said exactly the same thing that it would be subject to suspicion!
But you see, this only works with eyewitness accounts of the same event and as long as the witnesses do not grossly contradict eachother!

The gospel accounts do GROSSLY contradict eachother!
And it is not totally believed that the gospel writters even got their information from first hand eyewitnesses. More then likely, most of it was from hearsay witnesses which Simon Greenleaf's system would not apply to.

More then this, there is scripture in the NT where there would have been nobody to bear witness, such as Jesus ascending to heaven and sitting at the right hand of the Father?
Who would have been able to witness to Jesus sitting at the right hand of God in heaven and and tell us this????

And I disagree about the claim that I could not know according to the five senses.

The five senses are connected to the brain, and it is the brain which takes in the stimuli from internal and external sources that the senses detect. then the new stimuli is compared with old stimuli, this is how we learn anything.

Lastly, you said "the only way to falsify christianity is to make a compelling case that Jesus did not rise from the dead"?
Well.......I think scientific understanding, aswell as common life experience has already made a very strong case against this!
But you are forgetting that the burden of proof lies on you and other believers, and not on the skeptical!
It is the defender of the gospel who is obligated to prove such things not the unbelieving!

Russ said...

Sarah,
You seem to be one of those poor lost souls who has been failed by philosophy. On your own blog you are Christian one moment, atheist a bit later, and back to Christian later still. The question now is when will you find a new favorite philosophy and advocate for that.

You embrace silly notions like intelligent design, citing the atheist philosopher Bradley Monton to support your claims, even though he presents no evidence for intelligent design, while rejecting the actual science presented by the Christian, Kenneth Miller, which refutes intelligent design. Your philosophy fails you since you lack the domain-specific knowledge and understanding necessary to evaluate the science. Prayers and their imagined objects, the gods, give no one knowledge or understanding. That's how it is with philosophy, also. You need to study some actual science and gain some real understanding rather than thoughtlessly regurgitating what Dembski or Wells tells you.

After science you need to get a handle on the diversity of Christian thought. Yes, I understand that you can recite your personal catechism of what you say you believe, but realize there is no point of doctrine that is common to all Christianities - not divine Jesus, not a god, not original sin, not heaven, not hell, not virgin births, not resurrections, and so on.

Realize that of the 180 thousand words in the New Testament (one even has to pick a specific version of it to have "faith" in) words ascribed to Jesus account for almost none of them. What's more nothing in the NT attributed to Jesus was original, many of the ideas being in writing for centuries before Jesus is purported to have lived.

Christians have what they are taught is the powerful tool of prayer, but it observably does nothing. If the god they worship actually cares for them, the lives of Christians don't show it. If life outcomes are any indication of who gods care about, it appears that the gods favor atheists over Christians. Most of Christian's "charitable giving" goes to pay for their church's cost of doing business: salaries, insurances, building maintenance, utilities, video equipment, sound systems, advertising, legal fees, settling lawsuits, etc. Only a small fraction, between 10 and 15 percent, of what is counted as Christian's generosity goes to things like humanitarian aid.

Notice also that the only thing Christians do that's of benefit is humanitarian aid, but there is nothing Christian-specific about it. Humanitarian aid is provided by all human communities, no gods and no Christianities required. Christians fully recognize and acknowledge that intercessory prayer has no affect. They know full well that their version of god will do nothing, so if people are to be helped they must do it themselves. Just like non-Christian humanitarians, Christians use 100 percent supernatural-free means to supply those in need. No gods, no silly religious crap required.

Philosophy makes for fun playtime, Sarah. But, absent domain specific understanding of disciplines like science and the myriad of beliefs under the circus tent of the Christianities, your philosophy is nothing but a toy which you have spent lots of years and lots of money to procure.

Russ said...

Sarah,
There were no Adam and Eve, so there was no reason, like original sin, for anyone go through being "sacrificed," unsacrificed, and then going away. We evolved. Get over it.

Just like the other primates and other carnivores, part of our nature is that we are sometimes nice and sometimes not nice. There is no disembodied "eeville" wafting on the zephyrs awaiting the opportunity to infect one of us hapless humans. There is no Uncle Satan zapping the susceptible with an "eeville" raygun.

We're human animals - animalia, chordata, mammalia, ... , Homo sapien, sapien - with all the admiral and nasty traits that that entails.

Scott said...

You mean, how can I say the joy of Christ within is indescribable when I agree with Paul that words can't apply convey what the feeling is like? That would be more in line with what I wrote.

Brad,

So, to clarify, are you saying indescribability is litmus test?

However, many Buddhists, including those who view Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion (such as myself), would say the peace of 'enlightenment' is also indescribable. For example, 'Enlightenment' is just a word that really doesn't convey the experience. It's just a consistent way of pointing to it.

As such, It's unclear how you could say the peace you experience points to the existence of the Christian God, rather than a natural response to meditation, practice or philosophy.

Certainly, Christopher Guest's character could not describe why his amps must be louder. He merely repeated, "These go to eleven." as if that somehow implicitly described the means by which they were better.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Sarah,

If you are appealing to Greenleaf I must assume you cribbed that from McDowell so, I have one question, why are you ashamed to admit you are a fundamentalist?

shane said...

LOL....wow Sarah opened up a new can of worms here....lol

Russ said...

Sarah,
You said,

All the Christian denominations agree on the same thing; that Jesus lived, died, and rose again.

This is verifiably wrong. Some Christianities, for instance, disregard the Bible altogether. Some Christianities really are atheistic. Seriously. Doug Groothuis at Denver Seminary might tell you they aren't "True Christians," but they might say the same about Doug. I personally know active Christian clergymen who say things like "supernaturalism is phoney-baloney" and "Jesus was a nice man and the words ascribed to him are worth emulating, but he was not a god." When you make statements like that above, you expose your ignorance of the broad diversity among Christians. These are not just slight "in-house" matters or disagreements. Seventh Day Adventists are a separate sect for one simple reason: they think you are wrong not to be them. Really. They see you as condemned for not being like them. Ol' Pope Ratzinger, oops, I mean Benedict says it plain: if you ain't Roman Catholic, you have no hope of salvation. He's pretty serious about it. If your neurons don't spell out, "I am Roman Catholic," your ass is doomed. For that esteemed theologian everything else is meaningless, without your first professing to be Roman Catholic. Only then do you have a reasonable chance to be saved.

Before you can advocate for Christianity, Sarah, you must first understand what that means. You clearly do not.

Please understand that many of us here have jumped through many a Christian hoop before we arrived here. We are not without our own Christian experiences. Also, please understand that no arguments for Christianity are compelling. How do we know? There are many religious scholars from non-Christian religions who have closely examined the arguments in favor of Christianity, and they find them wanting. Many of these scholars are theistic but still they do not find arguments for Christianity compelling. Surely, an atheist cannot be expected to reach a conclusion other than that arrived at by a serious religious scholar. I also find it fascinating that the One True God whispers mutually contradictory things to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Isn't it the same god?

Christianity is not compelling except to those who already believe. The arguments for Christianity do not convince those already predisposed to believe in gods, but are not already Christian. We atheists are only as skeptical about Christianity as the most esteemed scholars from non-Christian religions.

So, don't be too hard on us poor politically underprivileged atheists. We are only mimicking the stance of the best academics from non-christian religions.

Russ said...

On her blog Sarah in the post titled, "Discussions with Atheists," Sarah said

I think dissenters and non-believers need to re-evaluate the character of Jesus, the evidence for His life, death, and resurrection, reconsider the design and anthropomorphic arguments (i.e. humanity’s need for God), and recognize the fact that Christianity provides the best explanation of the world as we know it.

This is simply bizarre. Christianity provides the best explanation of the world as we know it? Tragically bizarre.

And this woman has spent many many years and lots and lots of money to get an education that leaves her unable to evaluate the "world as we know it." She lives to confirm her presuppositions. She apparently sees clearly anything and everything which she construes(erroneously) as supporting her religious ideas, while she remains blythely ignorant of the better explanations for the "world as we know it" which come from science.

She has a litany of "immaterial properties" - love, beauty and the like - which from her state of ignorance she confidently states cannot be accounted for by naturalism. Thus, she states that the atheist/naturalist worldview is self-refuting. She knows this absolutely. Her ignorance of naturalistic explanations for any of the qualities and characteristics she lists, leaves her convinced of her of the veracity of her religious presuppostions. This is pathetic, truly pathetic.

In many of her posts she exposes her intentional ignorance of science and nature, then declares unequivocally that her ignorance is sufficient evidence for the failure of science and naturalism. What's more she completely ignores that whenever religion, her religion, Christianity, has ventured to make a statement about the natural world, no doubt informed by her purported creator of the universe, it has been wrong. Her God has been wrong, over and over and over again, her God has been wrong. Still, she assigns her faith to this thing that can't get the easy things right.

Then, she has the balls to say "Christianity provides the best explanation of the world as we know it." What a crock of shit. Sarah constitutes a perfect example of how disciplines like theology, and philosophy applied to the mindless defence of ideologies fail us all.

Marcus McElhaney said...

Mr. Loftus....So....um Rush and Glenn are right about the slippery slope?!!???? Say it ain't so!!!!!