Do You Want to Be a Christian Apologist? Part 3

I'm doing a series of posts dealing with the way recognized Christian apologists argue for their faith. I'll number them and tag them all with the phrase "Christian Apologetics" so you can have a link to them in reverse chronological order. So, let's say you want to be a Christian apologist, someone who defends the Christian faith. Then what must you do? The third thing you must do when encountering the many difficult problems for your faith is to "skirt the issue" by repeatedly depending on the "you too" informal fallacy. Case in point today are a number of apologists, notably C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, Timothy Keller, Randal Rauser and Victor Reppert, although it's surely used by all of them at some point. But it's a logical error, an informal fallacy.

The reason this is a logical fallacy is because there are just too many “you’s” to “too.” Most of my arguments are the same ones Christian liberals use against evangelicals, like John Hick (deceased), Robert Wright, Karen Armstrong, and many others in the various disciplines of learning. Since they are theists it does no good at all to say “you too” to them. Process theologians like David Griffin argue that the problem of evil requires that reasonable believers abandon the notion that God is omnipotent. So it does no good when an atheist makes the same kind of argument against an omnipotent God by saying that we too have a problem with evil, by which we mean ubiquitous and massive human and animal suffering.

My first example comes from C.S. Lewis, who offered what I consider one of the most asinine arguments I've heard, attempting to exonerate his God from the problem of suffering. Norman Geisler follows in his footsteps in his book The Roots of Evil. Sure, there is more to their arguments, it's just that this type of argument shouldn't repeatedly play into a defense of their faith. I'll say it this way, the more often one side of our debates must repeatedly respond to contrary evidence with the "you too" fallacious argument then the more likely that side is wrong. You don't see atheists backed into a corner where they must repeatedly resort to saying, "Hey, you have a problem too!" Instead, when atheists are forced to deal with an intractable problem more often than not they simply say, "There just isn't enough evidence to accept the theistic claim." Why isn't that a good enough answer? Why must theists demand conclusive answers? Why is it that when an answer isn't forthcoming they say "gotcha," claiming they have the conclusive answer when they have repeatedly said this and have been proven wrong so many times it makes our heads spin?

My second example comes from Timothy Keller, who offers the "you too" defense with regard to the necessity of having faith. Since atheists eschew faith-based reasoning in favor of science-based reasoning the Christian apologist must argue that atheists have faith too. But he offers yet another asinine argument. Others like Randal Rauser and David Marshall argue with Keller. Rauser even brought up the topic in our debate book God or Godless, claiming "Everybody has faith." Norman Geisler and Frank Turek argue in their book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, that when comparing "faiths" Christians don't have to believe as much as atheists do. I've written a great deal on the topic of faith so I'll just link to it and leave it at that.

My third example comes from Victor Reppert, who claims scientists too have the same cognitive biases that he has. This is meant to denigrate science in favor of his faith. This science comes from psychology, which has proved that as human beings we are not all that rational or logical. This is a fact about all of us to various degrees. None of us is like Spock in Star Trek, none of us. We are all social creatures, emotional creatures, and habitual creatures, as well as rational creatures. The rational part of us is subservient in many cases to the rest of who we are. Much of what we think and defend is what we prefer to believe, especially when we're taught it at a young age by someone we like and respect.

Educated people admit these findings. Christian evangelicals like Reppert respond with the familiar "you too" fallacy. They argue that these findings explain why people don't believe in their particular understanding of the Bible and that atheists prefer not to believe. However, evangelicals would have to say this about everyone who does not accept their understanding of the Bible, which includes not just people who identify as atheists, but people in all religious sects who are not evangelicals. The real motivator in such reasoning is that the scientific facts say something about their faith and they want to mitigate or deny they have any real impact on the truth of what they believe. They believe what they prefer to believe. They are not all that rational, and so forth. My contention is based on what psychology tells us, which means we should all be skeptical, we should all trust only what the sciences teach us. That point continues to be ignored by many believers. Instead, they turn into science deniers in order to irrationally maintain their faith against the probabilities. Instead, we should all think exclusively in terms of probabilities, which is the hallmark of science.