objections to Christianity

The Wrap Up – Part 1

So much to say, and hundreds of ways to say it.  I must have tackled this post a dozen times, only to leave it unfinished to go and sleep on it, so to speak.

What I’ve decided to do is to make a wrap-up post in two parts, concerning my exchange with the folks at Roll to Disbelieve (which started here and, by way of here, here, here and here, left off here).  Throughout the course of the discussion, several people weighed in, many of whom brought up some really good points that I’m anxious to discuss further.  Alas, though, my free time to write is sporadic at best these days, and facing an army of opposition single-handedly only compounds and exacerbates this predicament.  I hope those who engaged do not begrudge me the delay — after I finish these two posts, my goal is to have responded directly to those comments that I found the most relevant and engaging.  Thank you for your patience!

To preface this wrap-up, my nutshell assessment of how the discussion went down is something like this:  In essence, the entire discussion comes down to evidence — whether or not the Christian claims have the evidential legs to be taken seriously as a feasible (or even likely) model to explain the reality of our world.  This comprised perhaps 3% of the discussion.  The other 97% or so was a kitchen sink of statements and accusations concerning topics such as my discussion tactics, my motivation in becoming a Christian, my motivation in sharing my faith, my sub-par mental faculties, my flawed character, my failure to apply the teachings of Jesus in my own life, my vile hatred of those who oppose Christianity and the various ways I have threatened and insulted them, my inability to understand the points being presented to me, my failure at presenting good arguments in favor of my worldview, my poor logic skills, my inability to think for myself, my penchant for parroting other peoples’ opinions without understanding or questioning them, and my general depravity as a human being.

Pretty par for the course, I’d say, when it comes to typical discussions of this nature. (more…)

Advertisements

PRATTS and PAWs

I’m thoroughly enjoying the tennis match with my friend Captain Cassidy 😀 I really do hope the feeling is mutual — she seems to be pretty sporting about it all so far, so I think I’m not overstepping my bounds to hope that she’s also getting something out of our exchange.  Thanks also to others who have weighed in on the matter — I’ve gotten to meet several new people so far, which is always a good thing!  Y’all are very welcome, make yourselves at home 🙂

This time, I must thank the good Captain for introducing me to a new term: PRATT, which stands for “Point Refuted A Thousand Times.”  In her recent article, she establishes the groundwork for this term and then outlines a list of examples of such that I am supposed to have employed against her.  (The points she made therein seemed very similar to those she made in her first response.)  Some are fair points, others I’m pretty sure are not so fair — and some are more addressed at my tactics than my points themselves.  (If you’re interested in my answer to some of these points, feel welcome to check out my response article and my direct response to her comment.)  All, however, seem to come with a hefty dose of caricature, to the point where even I can’t find much about them to take seriously (even though I am supposed to have said them myself).

However, the article the Captain cited on RationalWiki that dealt with PRATTs had a few examples of its own — and, since they seem to be the authority on the matter, I figure I’ll go right to the source. (more…)

Deconversion: A Response – Part 3 (Morality)

Ha, bet y’all thought I forgot about this series!

The third video in Evid3nc3’s series on deconversion concerns morality:

Again, can’t say enough how much I appreciate the author’s honesty and transparency about his experiences.  I glanced over the video’s comments and saw one by an atheist who said this series helped him understand more why Christians can believe as they do.  The ability to lead others to empathy like that requires a level of artistry and tact to which I aspire in my own writing.  His decisions about his faith notwithstanding, I want to be like this guy someday 🙂

Nevertheless, I am beginning to sense a pattern in this fellow’s story, and it seems to manifest itself in the following sequence: (more…)

Objections to Christianity: Who Created God?

I’m going to borrow an illustration I heard John Bevere use once (which he probably borrowed from someone else — there is, after all, nothing new under the sun, is there?).  I’ll be paraphrasing, of course 🙂

Have you ever watched a particularly poignant, well-crafted movie?  One that methodically and artfully sets you up with an hour and fifteen minutes of pathos for that one heart-wrenching moment at the plot’s climactic moment?  When that moment comes, your eyes start welling up, your breathing becomes a little shallower, you move to the edge of your seat — you feel the strong empathetic connection to the characters in the movie.  You almost can’t help it.  Unless you’re a sociopath — c’mon, would it kill you to show a little human emotion now and then… dad…?

Just kidding, my dad’s great.  Anyway, imagine your roommate walking in right when the big climactic moment occurs — he’s never seen the movie before, and so he’s missed out on all the exposition and buildup.  He looks at the characters on the screen, looks over to you bawling your eyes out on the couch (mostly obscured by your tissue-box fort), and scoffs, “What’s with you?  It’s just a stupid movie.”

First of all, your roommate’s kind of a jerk and you should probably consider moving.  (Then again, he does pay the rent on time, and his mom is friends with your boss… I guess he’s not all that bad.)  But, really, the illustrative detail is the difference in how the two of you view the movie in that moment:  You have been taken on this hour-long journey preparing you for this scene; you connect with the characters, their stories touch you, you empathize with their plight and take on some of their pain upon yourself; your roommate, on the other hand, couldn’t give two figs about the characters, doesn’t connect with the moment, isn’t compelled in the least by the scene unfolding on the screen.  Why?  Because he’s missing the context of the scene. (more…)

Objections to Christianity: A Lack of Consensus

As a part of our ever-expanding “Objections to Christianity” series, I would like to address another objection I often come across.  Following is the general form the argument tends to take:

If God exists, and if there is compelling evidence that He exists, then why are there so many atheists?  Furthermore, why are there so many different religions, each with its unique take on who God is?  Why are there so many sects even within the same religion, each with their own idea?  If this evidence were so compelling, then it seems that the majority of people would be on the same page.

Now, in this writer’s humble opinion, this is one of those objections that I refer to as a “talking point” rather than an actual argument.  (As I mentioned in a recent post, Hitchens was a master at this style of rhetoric.)  The reason for this, I believe, is that the concept, when put into the form of an argument, requires one to face point-blank some assumptions bound up in it that (from the point of view of the proponent) are probably best left unexposed.  If I were to formulate this idea as a formal argument, it would look something like this: (more…)

Objections to Christianity: Solipsism

When giving his perspective on the Gospel message, one of the late Christopher Hitchens‘ favorite words seems to have been solipsism — and I admit I had to look it up when I first heard him use it.  From the context of his discourses on the matter, it seems he was usually referring to the second definition provided from the link (“egoistic self-absorption”), and this in response to the concept that we, the inhabitants of a planet among planets in a galaxy among galaxies (perhaps even in a universe among other universes), could have the ear of the Creator of it all, that our petty existences would be so precious to Him not only to warrant personal relationship, but such drastic measures as sending His Son to us in order to improve the quality of such a relationship.

First of all, what a cool word!  I feel like my IQ increases by at least three or four units every time I say it.

Second of all, though, is the content of the objection itself:  Is it true?  Is it egotistical to believe that the Creator of the cosmos, the Lord over every galaxy and star and atom in our vast universe, would condescend Himself to have a relationship with me?  From a naturalistic perspective, I can see how such a situation would be mind-boggling, absurd, ridiculous… solipsistic.  Compared to the vastness of the cosmos, what makes mankind so special?  And, among our race who hold myriads upon myriads of conflicting beliefs about God, what makes me special in that I have the right perspective, and the others do not?

(more…)

Proof that prayer is superstition

At Captain Cassidy’s suggestion, I checked out a website called Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?  I was soon directed to a 10-minute video claiming to prove that prayer was a superstition — and, here it is:

I was disappointed to learn that I had heard this argument before — contrary to some accusations I have received over the years, I actually much prefer hearing new stuff that challenges my faith.

Here’s the basic argument from the video:

Premise 1: If something does not have the advertised effect on actual events, then it is a superstition.
Premise 2: The Bible says that if we pray for anything, we can expect it to happen just as we prayed (citing Mark 11:24John 14:14, and later Matthew 18:19).
Conclusion 1: Therefore, if prayer works, we should be able to pray in Jesus’ name, for example, that a certain value will be returned when we roll six dice — namely, in this case, six values of six.
Premise 3: Prayer has no measurable effect on the values of rolled dice.
Conclusion 2: Therefore, prayer does not effect actual events as advertised.
Conclusion 3: Therefore, prayer is a superstition.

The argument may be valid, but it is not sound, because it employs a false premise — namely, Premise 2. (more…)