history

A Christian’s (Biased) Response to an Atheist’s Examination

The article I’m referring to is this one, which (by the author’s own immediate admission) is a lengthy one.  However, I like the style of this new blogger, and I admire the caliber and volume of his material — and I thought his comprehensive evaluation of the historical basis for the Christian faith warranted not only a full reading (a task in and of itself), but also a full response.  I hope the author perceives this response to his thoughts in the manner in which they were intended: as a show of respect for his ideas and efforts.  I look forward to continuing to read his thoughts in the future.

I will be intentionally brief in both my summaries of his arguments (though I will quote him directly where possible) and in my responses to them; I will forgo, for the moment, my normal preference to back up every one of my claims with reasoning and evidence, for the sake of brevity.  Questions and requests for clarification can take place in the comments.

Also, I usually like to be a bit more personal when responding to others’ thoughts — the focus of this blog is to emphasize people and relationships before ideas, for the former IMO are what are really important (and often lacking in such discussions of this kind, especially online).  However, this particular post will be a bit more formal, which is weird for me — but since this writer and I have yet to have had any kind of personal exchange, I think it would be more weird to employ my normal, colloquial style with him.  Who knows, he might be offended at my familiarity when we’ve never, really, had words with each other before.  So, because it feels so strange for me to address just the ideas without addressing the person behind it, I feel I need to offer this reasoning as way of a disclaimer as to why my style in this post is so distant and impersonal.  I mean no offense to the writer whose ideas I am countering — in fact, I mean the opposite.

Anyway, too much ado already!  Let’s get started 🙂 (more…)

Misunderstood Arguments: Early church martyrs

Often when I’m discussing a topic with skeptics and critics of Christianity, they will cite one of the common arguments that the more popular apologists use — which is great, because it means that people are doing their homework engaging with the best points from the “other side,” and I always admire that.  I try to do that myself, as much as possible — hence this blog, where I invite people of opposing views to come together and discuss these issues in a common forum.  Hooray for community! 😀

Anyway… in such a context, usually the argument is brought up so that the individual can refute it — which is also great.  However, most of the time, the way they refute the argument shows that they didn’t really understand the argument to begin with.  They are refuting (whether intentionally or not) a straw man version of the argument, one that I would dismiss just as readily.  This sort of thing happens often, and I end up repeating myself to a lot of individuals, helping them to see the argument in its intended light rather than in the easily-dismantled pseudo-argument they believe is being presented.

Thus, I’ve decided to start an ongoing “Misunderstood Arguments” series, mostly so that I can have a repository from which to draw in such discussions — hopefully it will save me a lot of typing in the future, when such misunderstandings surface again 😉

Today, I would like to elucidate the oft-misunderstood argument of the faith of the early church in the resurrection of Christ.  I’ve heard apologists such as Craig and Habermas use this argument, and I’m sure many others have as well.  Here’s the basic version of the argument: (more…)

Do Atheists Have a Burden of Proof? – Response to Comment

Hello makagutu, and Happy New Year!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog entry and provide your good insights — I am truly honored! I shall do my best to answer your objections.

First, a point of clarity: Reading your entry, I get the impression that you took from my post that I was trying to divert the burden of proof away from the theist and onto the atheist. This is not the case; rather, I was pointing out that those who claim definitively that God does not exist also have a burden of proof to back up their statement with evidence. Just because their belief is founded on the rejection of something’s existence does not mean that their position does not require defending.

Secondly, I think we are suffering somewhat from a disparity of definitions — namely, your definition of “atheism” is more in line with what I would call “agnosticism”. When I think of “atheism”, I am referring to those who claim that God does not exist, not to those who have simply yet to see compelling evidence for God’s existence. If your definition of atheism adheres more closely to the latter, then I would agree with you — the atheist (by this definition) has no burden of proof whatsoever, because his opinion on the matter is largely one of inconclusiveness. Furthermore, if an atheist is simply one who believes in no gods by default because none have yet to be proven, then for the sake of clarity I think another term should be chosen to denote those who have come to some kind of definitive conclusion that the evidence supports a universe with no gods better than a universe with gods (or God). I think there is a significant difference between these two worldviews, so lumping them under the umbrella of “atheism” I think muddies the waters when it comes to clear discussion.

Now, on to your counterpoints: (more…)

Scientism (Part 2)

We left the discussion in Part 1 in a difficult position, I think:

  1. There are two types of information: objective (scientific) and subjective (non-scientific).
  2. Objective information is, on the whole, much more reliable — but because of its limited scope, it cannot tell us definitively whether God exists or not.
  3. If we wish to explore seriously the question of God’s existence (which means we must go beyond the bounds of science), then we are left only with subjective evidence, which is, as a rule, less reliable than objective evidence.

What, then, are we to do?

(more…)