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Do he really say that?!

February 17, 2011

Atheists love to snicker about arguments Christians present for belief in God. But then they say things like this:

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

This is like saying, “You don’t believe in centaurs and unicorns. I don’t believe in centaurs, unicorns, and dogs. I just disbelieve in one more mammal than you do.”

Search the web. You’ll find dozens of sites where atheists trot this out like it’s a serious comment!

Folks, it’s a question of evidence, of reasons. Are there any reasons whatsoever to believe in the gods of Homer? Of course not, which is why we don’t believe they truly exist. Of course, dishonest atheists will say that we have no better arguments for our God than they do. It’s astonishing how otherwise very smart people can listen to good arguments and then say with a straight face (or with a snicker), “They don’t have any arguments.” They are like children who put their hand over their eyes and think the person in front of them has gone away.

No, you don’t merely disbelieve in one more God than we do. You disbelieve in the one true God who has revealed himself very plainly. The ball is really in your court. Come up with more meaningful responses. This one is silly.

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From → Bad arguments

14 Comments
  1. This post is appropriately categorised as ‘Bad Argument’. In it you speak of evidence. I must point out that there is plenty of evidence for dogs, none for gods. You refer to the gods of Homer, but what of the god(s) of the other Abrahamic traditions. Or of Hinduism.

    If ‘the one true God’ has revealed himself so plainly then why do so many not see it? Frankly there is no evidence for any of them and I notice that none is presented here.

    As a believer it is you who says a god exists, therefore it is you who must prove it. I invite you to do so.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      You do just what I described in the post. You say there are no good arguments. Either you haven’t bothered to investigate, or you let others do your thinking for you. Read for yourself.

      There is none presented here because none is called for. It’s time for atheists to quit hiding behind the “I just lack belief in God” nonsense and defend their naturalism. You seem to have bought into the idea that the proper place to begin is with no God. Make a case for that. Better yet, state your own metaphysical position and defend it.

    • I have read the Bible in detail and other ‘holy’ texts in less detail. Not only is the morality often horrific, but they do not provide any evidence. Plenty of reasons sure, but they’re not the same thing.

      Of course the proper place to begin is with no God. Nobody’s ever presented a shred of verifiable evidence that there is such an entity. Just as nobody has ever presented any that invisible pink unicorns or the tooth fairy exist.

      I don’t have to make a case for anything. You are the one claiming a ‘one true God’, so provide the evidence please.

      • Rick Wade permalink

        So you don’t believe in anything? No beliefs about where the world came from? None about the foundations of morality? None about the origins of personality? Sorry, if you don’t have the nerve to set forth your own beliefs and defend them, you’re in no position to demand that from me.

      • I believe in evidence and specific, limited, rational conclusions drawn from it, if that can said to be ‘belief”. I have the nerve to admit that although I don’t understand certain things about the universe I don’t have to ascribe them to a ‘higher power’. I am happy to say I don’t know… yet.

        Physics tells us a lot about where the world came from. Neurology and evolutionary psychology tell us much about personality and morality. We’ll learn more in the future. So far, there is no evidence to suggest that a God or Gods is in any way involved.

      • Rick Wade permalink

        Last comment on this thread. Physics tells you absolutely nothing about what got the world started. It can’t. Neurology tells you something about how a brain functions, not about the source of personality. Evolutionary psychology could possibly tell us why people behave the way they do (were it true), but can supply no transcendent standard for morality to which we all ought to adhere.

        Time to move on to something else.

  2. Which “one true god” do you believe in? I assume it’s Jesus, but which Jesus? Catholic Jesus, with his endorsement of an unbroken succession of popes? Pentacostal Jesus, with his participation in glossolalia and other charismatic exuberance? Or maybe for you it’s evangelical Jesus, who enters a personal relationship with every one of his followers and eschews the very idea of organized churches.

    Maybe it’s none of the above.

    Point being, even if we exclude ancient religions from the equation, the correct answer isn’t nearly as obvious as you seem to be claiming. Moreover, whichever single denomination is correct is necessarily in the minority, even in Christianity. So it’s safe to say that whatever the correct answer may be (assuming for the moment that it’s some kind of Christianity), it’s at least non-obvious enough that the majority of self-identified Christians get it wrong.

    As for the quote you posted, it’s main purpose is simply to illustrate to the religious that they already know what it’s like to reject religious claims based on insufficient evidence. Where you’ve gone wrong is in missing the fact that every religious believer thinks his or her particular belief is the dog in your rebuttal. They simply can’t all be right.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      Your question is an odd one. Which Jesus? There is only one Jesus of Nazareth, the one of whom the Bible speaks. You can find out about him by reading the Gospels. Then peruse the epistles. None of us has a perfect understanding of of Jesus or of God the Father, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t talking about the same one person. Rather than get sidetracked on differences between denominations, read the Gospels and you’ll see which Jesus I’m talking about. That’s the one you have to deal with.

      Again, the notion that there is insufficient evidence. There is plenty, more than enough. The fact that people more brilliant than you and I have been presenting it for millennia and still people don’t believe isn’t necessarily a reflection of a lack of good evidence; maybe it’s evidence that there are people who simply don’t want to believe.

      Tell me this: If indeed the God of the Bible is really there and Jesus is God incarnate, would you like to know it? If so, I invite you to investigate. Read some in the New Testament(the Gospel of John would be a great place to start), then look at the articles on Probe’s web site (probe.org), or the sites reasonablefaith.org or apologetics315.blogspot.com. I won’t attempt to repeat all that good material here.

  3. “There is only one Jesus of Nazareth, the one of whom the Bible speaks.”

    Do not try to avoid the question by merely calling the question “odd”. Thekeyofatheist was merely trying to determine in which interpretation of the Bible and, by extension, Jesus, you believe in. This is a legitimate question as there are a vast array of denominations within Christianity and each one of them adhere to different beliefs. What is “odd”, however, is that a book that supposedly proffers infinite truth has been able to be devolved into a plethora of banal interpretations.

    “The fact that people more brilliant than you and I have been presenting it for millennia and still people don’t believe isn’t necessarily a reflection of a lack of good evidence; maybe it’s evidence that there are people who simply don’t want to believe.”

    Yes, it is true that men more brilliant than I have declared a belief in your triune God (this is, of course, assuming you believe in the Trinity). What you fail to distinguish, however, is in what fields of study said brilliant men were most prominent in. For example, Newton was a brilliant scientist as well as a Christian. It is a good bit of illogic to assume that, because Newton was a good scientist, he was also brilliant in every aspect of his life. After all, he was a proponent of alchemy. The irony in your statement is that I would say that Christians refuse to see the evidence of science, but since you refuse to go into science, I will abstain.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      I don’t think “avoid” is a good word for choosing not to answer a bad question. It simply isn’t so that all the various denominations have a different Jesus.

      It isn’t rare for two people to believe different things about the same person. Sometimes one is right and the other wrong; sometimes both are wrong; and sometimes both are correct. But they know the same person? So what does thekeyofatheist–and you–mean by a different Jesus? As I said to him, it’s the same Jesus although none of us has a perfect understanding of him. This is all very trivial; I pressed thekeyofatheist on it to try to make an obvious point (I didn’t expect to have to explain it this way). He was trying to tangle me up in a skeptical notion of our ability to know who Jesus is. Again I say, read the Gospels and you’ll see who Jesus is. All Christian denominations throughout history (who take history and the Bible seriously) are agreed: Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Son of God, second person of the Trinity, God become flesh, who paid the penalty for our sin by his death on the cross, and demonstrated the truth of his claim by rising from the dead.

      Why is it odd that such a profound book as the Bible would be interpreted somewhat differently by fallen people? I do hope you don’t intend to lump them all under the label “banal.” To do so shows either your own lack of understanding or is reflective of the very typical dismissive arrogance of contemporary atheists. Frankly, I think “banal” more truly characterizes much of today’s arguments and comments on the other side of the fence. David Bentley Hart said it well:

      “Among Christianity’s most fervent detractors, there has been a considerable decline in standards in recent years. In its early centuries, the church earned the enmity of genuinely imaginative and civilized critics, such a Celsus and Porphyry, who held the amiable belief that they should make some effort to acquaint themselves with the object of their critique.” (Atheists Delusions, 5)

      Hart also included more modern critics like Hume, Voltaire, and Nietzsche as examples of those who bothered to think about that which they criticized.

      If Christians do hold to banal understandings of Christianity, shame on them. Shame, too, on atheists who have banal understandings of Christians and what they believe and especially of the obvious differences between religions (something that has escaped some prominent atheists).

      The earlier comment about the brilliance of some Christians was intended to cause the critic to pause and think. One of the most simple-minded criticisms leveled against Christians (against people of any religion, for that matter) is that they aren’t very bright. Once that schoolboy put-down is set aside, the critic might be willing to slow down and look to see what people of high intelligence find so appealing. Of course, being intelligent doesn’t make one’s beliefs correct; that there are intelligent atheists makes that clear enough.

      Regarding alchemy, do keep in mind that knowledge advances over time. In the early days of scientific invention, magic was a component. But they were still learning! Don’t blame Newton for not having everything neatly sorted out. Surely you wouldn’t expect scientists three hundred years ago to have had the same understanding as those today, would you?

      Your last comment about Christians refusing to see the evidence of science is an odd one. I have a friend who is a professor of physics who deals with the evidence of science routinely. I’m sure with a little searching we could find Christians who function quite successfully in the fields of chemistry, oceanography, metallurgy, atmospheric science, hydraulics, biology, astronomy . . what others? Or are you one of those who simplistically castigates all Christians for resisting the sciences because we happen to believe that God got it all started? Are you aware that there are Bible-believing well-credentialed scientists who believe that God used evolution? I think they’re incorrect, but that at least shows that there is no necessary connection between believing in the God of the Bible and in Jesus as his son and believing in (theistic) evolution.

      You’re right that I don’t want to “go into science.” There is plenty of material out there on the subject from a Christian perspective and not just from those who believe in a young earth. There are plenty who don’t, you know, even among those who, for scientific reasons, reject evolution.

  4. If I may use your turn of phrase, I didn’t expect to have to explain what I said. If you actually read what I said, I, as well thekeyofatheist, was merely asking in what interpretation of the Bible you ascribe to. To focus on the original wording that was used as opposed to answering the matter at hand is either explicitly avoiding the question (I don’t see why you would, though), not comprehending the question (I’m sure that you do), or simply not reading the comment in its entirety.

    I did not say that all the interpretations were banal. Many of the conflicts are of legitimate concern amongst Christians, such as the issue of predestination. Can you give an example of which arguments that originate “from the other side of the fence” you consider banal? Many of the arguments proffered by atheists may not necessarily be to address the validity of God in the Deistic sense, but these arguments are put forth, often times, to highlight the intrinsic contradictions in Christian theology. I always encourage people to have a sound understanding both in what they disagree with and, more importantly, what they believe.

    The issue of intellect was brought up by your comment originally. Thekeyofatheist, nor myself, said anything pertaining to your intellect or the intellect of Christians. In fact, I said that Newton was brilliant. Perhaps you simply projected a sense of personal attack on your intellect? I don’t know. Therefore, your couple of paragraphs regarding the intellect of Christians is completely without warrant.

    I am greatly impressed that you were able prattle off a myriad of different scientific fields. Clearly, you felt that I was waging a personal war against yourself. This was simply not the case (although, this is less applicable to this reply). Furthermore, I am close friends with many scientists who are professing believers. I myself planned on going into the medical field while I was a Christian. While I cannot speak for everyone, I can speak from personal testimony. I simply did not apply my critical thinking to my faith and I know that this is applicable to many scientists and doctors (all of whom are quite intelligent) that I personally know. Regarding the scientists who explicitly argue against evolution and similar scientific/religious interpolations, I find that many of these scientists begin with the assumption that evolution is wrong and then seek to find evidence against evolution. This is a total contradiction to what the scientific method is, a method that most secular scientists abide by.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      I took his opening question–“Which “one true god” do you believe in? I assume it’s Jesus, but which Jesus?”–to mean just that. The bulk of his argument was the claim that, since there are so many different Jesuses (or understandings of Jesus), that most Christians must get it wrong.
      Whether thekeyofatheist wanted to know what interpretation of the Bible I ascribe to wasn’t at all clear in his post. However, since you want to know, I think the historical-grammatical method is best since it seeks to determine what the author intended to mean; the same approach I think you’d like me to take to what you have written (and where you think I failed in understanding thekeyofatheist’s post).

      I’m glad to learn that you don’t think all our interpretations are banal. You asked for some from the atheist side. Here are three: the one with which I led of this thread, Sam Harris’s way of lumping all religions together such that a criticism of Muslims counts against Christians, too, and Richard Dawkins’ silly description of God where he got to practice his cleverest name-calling (you know the one, the one in The God Delusion). Flip through Harris’s Letter to a Christian Nation and you’ll see quite a few really bad arguments. I have an article on Probe’s web site titled “No Reason to Fear” where I respond to a number of them.

      Now it’s your turn. You said something about the intrinsic inconsistencies in Christian theology. That, I must say, is very close to one of the most frequently heard banal charges from atheists, namely, that “the Bible is full of contradictions.” The fact that, when asked, so many can’t come up with any, I think makes it another banal argument. But you can redeem it by naming some inconsistencies. It won’t work, of course, to find a Lutheran doctrine, for example, that contradicts, say, a Reformed doctrine. Stay within a system. Or you could just name some significant inconsistencies in Scripture (nothing trivial like a couple of numbers that don’t agree).

      So why the snide jab about me being concerned about my intellect? Look again at the brief conversation between thekeyofatheist and me. My comment was indeed warranted because of claim that the evidences are insufficient. I simply pointed out that it would be very odd if so many intelligent, learned people believed something of such great consequence without good reasons to. And it isn’t as if we aren’t pressed for reasons routinely (and we give them ad nauseum, something atheists of late are quite unwilling to do for their own beliefs). Frankly, I think it’s time for Christian to take a hiatus from defending their belief and wait for atheists to take their turn.

      Again you misread me if you thought my “prattling off” those sciences was a defense of myself against some perceived attack. We hear the charge routinely that Christians are opposed to science; the so-called “conflict between faith and religion.” How did you put it? “Christians refuse to see the evidence of science.” I simply wanted to make very plain the fact that Christians are not opposed to science, that they deal with the evidences of science routinely and as well as scientists of other religious beliefs or none.

      When atheists make that charge, they are (consciously or not) narrowing science down to evolutionary biology. Since Christians deny naturalistic evolution, we are said to be opposed to science or, as you put it, that we refuse to see the evidence. Then it becomes a simplistic put-down that’s trotted out again and again.

      You say that it’s wrong methodology to begin by denying evolution and then set out to disprove it. If so, it’s equally wrong to begin by denying creation and then set out to disprove it. Christians have been charged with appealing to the “God of the gaps.” Darwinians appeal to evolution of the gaps. Point out a problem with fitting the facts to the theory, and we’re told that one day we’ll have an evolutionary explanation for it. The almost absolute lack of openness to any other theory has been demonstrated quite clearly in the experiences of people in the sciences who had the audacity to simply question Darwinism! Caroline Crocker and Richard Sternberg are just two who have found out the hard way how closed contemporary science is.

      I’m sorry you didn’t apply your critical thinking to your faith. You should have; that’s why God has given us minds to think with. Have you applied your critical thinking to whatever has taken its place? I certainly hope so. I’m sure you know that you can’t establish atheism simply by saying you don’t have enough evidence for Yahweh. You have to test it also by its conformity to fact, its consistency, its coherence, its explanatory value. Atheism simply cannot explain us or the world in which we live.

      I’m also sorry you speak of being a Christian in the past tense. I will pray for you. Jesus promised that he would lose none that the Father gave him (John 6:39).

      I asked you earlier for examples of inconsistency. This thread has grown so long that, if you do respond to that and raise any other issues, I’ll need to confine myself to responding to the inconsistencies. And then I’ll close this thread.

  5. The entire nature of predestination is a wicked one. The only legitimate attempt at reconciling the nature of God with regards to predestination I have heard is the Armenian account of it, but it still violates contradicts ‘free-will’ and fails to reconcile the numerous Bible verses on the matter . I could contend that God created evil, which would be contradictory with an infinitely benevolent being. To add to that, does it not seem a bit strange to you that God would create a place of an eternal torment to send people who are afflicted with the intrinsic nature that we were created with? And why should we simply cast aside the internal contradictions of the Bible. Christianity (granted, I’m only addressing those who hold to the infallibility of the Bible) is predicated on the assumption that the Bible is God-inspired, so why should there be any contradictions at all?

    “When atheists make that charge, they are (consciously or not) narrowing science down to evolutionary biology.”

    I concede that atheists usually refer to evolutionary biology with regards to science. I don’t understand, however, why Christians take the word of scientists of many controversial topics and yet dismiss evolution. Evolution (again, if referring to a literal Bible) would controvert God’s creation of fully developed people. Even though there is just as much evidence for evolution as other theories which we hold true, Christians turn a blind eye.

    “The almost absolute lack of openness to any other theory has been demonstrated quite clearly in the experiences of people in the sciences who had the audacity to simply question Darwinism! Caroline Crocker and Richard Sternberg are just two who have found out the hard way how closed contemporary science is.”

    First, I do not understand why theists insist on calling it ‘Darwinism’ when referring to evolution. Secondly, Ben Stein’s “Expelled” is a disgrace to intellectual integrity (I’m sure this is where you drew your examples from). Nearly every scene in that ‘documentary’ is riddled with fallacious assertions. Richard Sternberg published a paper in support of ID in a magazine which he edited without having the paper peer-reviewed, which is simply not done in the scientific community. Caroline Crocker misrepresented evidence as well as attributed the atrocities of Nazi Germany to Darwinian evolution. Seriously, this is stuff that a simple google search will clarify.

    “I’m sorry you didn’t apply your critical thinking to your faith. You should have; that’s why God has given us minds to think with.”

    The problem is that I did start thinking critically about my beliefs and that is why I abandoned my faith for reason. Frankly, I could not care less if God is ‘Dawkins’ God’ of the O.T. (which He would be), the fact still remains that there is simply no evidence for the existence of the Christian God.

    • Rick Wade permalink

      You’re right that the doctrines of election and free will are difficult to reconcile, but I haven’t seen where they’ve been shown to be logically contradictory. One possible solution that is gaining interest is that based upon middle knowledge. I’ll leave you to explore that one.

      You contend that God created evil, but that isn’t a Christian belief so I’ll pass it by.

      People sin because they have a sin nature. But no one can say he or she was sent to hell simply for that nature. Here are a couple of interesting quotes of Jesus:

      “Jesus said to [the Pharisees], ‘If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, “We see,” your guilt remains.'” John 9:41

      “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” John 15:22

      If you could find just one person who hasn’t knowingly sinned who could have done otherwise of his/her own free will, you might have a case. But everyone has committed sins willfully. Now, you might want to argue that God could have made people so they wouldn’t sin, but on what basis wouldn’t they sin? Because their freedom was restricted? I doubt you’d like that. But maybe I presume.

      I don’t know any reasons to cast aside any contradictions in the Bible. I certainly didn’t suggest it. In fact, I asked you to produce some. Does the fact that you didn’t indicate that you, like your compatriots, don’t really know of any?

      I said in my last post that I would only respond to charges of contradictions. Regarding your other comments, then, I’ll only say this.

      A lot of Christians do not deal with potential difficulties to our beliefs stemming from scientific research. But you should know that there are accomplished scientists (and not just Christians) who see serious problems with evolutionary theory, at least in its neo-Darwinian form. And those who believe in special creation are responding to evolutionary thought on the scientific level. They’re also pointing out that atheistic Darwinists don’t insist upon it for scientific reasons but for metaphysical ones.

      Maybe some time later you can enlighten us to all the fallacies with which Expelled is “riddled”. I think you are mistaken about Sternberg. The paper was reviewed and revisions were made prior to publication. The important question is this: Given his credentials and accomplishments, was publishing that paper really that serious an offense? It illustrated well the dogmatism of the naturalistic evolutionary community. The whole film was about that. Caroline Crocker made the terrible mistake of pointing out some problems in evolutionary theory in one or two classes, and for that she has been blacklisted. Don’t mess with the establishment. And Richard Weikart showed the connection between Darwinism and Nazism in his book From Darwin to Hitler.

      It’s comments like your last one that makes it hard to take modern day atheists seriously. You may not find the evidences for God compelling, but to say there are none shows either a major blindness (perhaps deliberate?) or at least a serious disrespect for people on my side of the fence. At least we’re honest enough to acknowledge such problems on our side as that of evil. Those on your side can’t even be bothered to present a case for their atheism much less acknowledge problems with it. We also know experientially the problem of living under the Lordship of One who seems so remote at times. The faith of Christians is often sorely tested. Many have died for it. This kind of thing doesn’t happen when there are no good reasons for believing.

      And so I wrap up this thread. On to something else.

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