40 Questions for Christians: Morality

I have returned to blogging!

I’ve decided to answer the questions on this hub, written by Thomas Swan.  Dr. Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion.  And his questions betray a very shallow understanding of Christianity.  Let’s get to today’s batch. Read the rest of this entry

40 Questions for Christians: Characteristics of God

For my return after a year’s absence from blogging, I have decided to answer the questions posed by this hub to Christians.  Thomas Swan has a Ph.D in cognitive science of religion as well as a masters degree in physics.  So far, this list has been nothing but the usual atheist groupthink.  This group starts off the same way — I even answer one question with biting sarcasm.  The last two questions, however, are thoughtful and will offer some insight. Read the rest of this entry

40 Questions to Ask Christians: Communication with God

After a one year absence from apologetics blogging, I have returned, inspired by this hub from Thomas Swan.  Swan has a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion.  Sadly, these academic decorations do not give him the ability to generate better questions about religion than my 7 year old.

As infantile as the understanding of Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? and God is Imaginary websites’ understanding of prayer was, I think it was deeper and better-reasoned than Dr. Swan’s.  So let’s get to the questions. Read the rest of this entry

40 Questions to Ask Christians: World Religions

Has it really been a year since I’ve written anything on this blog?

Wow.  I always kept putting it on the back burner.  “I’ll get back to it.”  “Really.  Soon.  I will get back to it.”  And I never did.

For better or for worse, I decided to return with a series inspired by this hub written by atheist writer Thomas Swan.  Dr. Swan appears to have a Ph.D in physics and a master’s degree in the cognitive science of religion.  In the hub, Dr. Swan asks Christians 40 questions based on “a decade of pondering religions and their followers.”

So, he’s spent ten years on this, and he has a master’s degree in cognitive science of religion.  So the questions are good, right?

Nope.  But he hopes they’re original, so there are at least some original ones, right?  Again, no.  Nothing Christians haven’t written about before.  Therefore, I have decided to add my two cents to the mix.

I will tackle them in several separate posts, grouped the same way he did on his hub page.  So let’s begin with the broad strokes:  Christianity and world religions. Read the rest of this entry

What an Apologist’s Job is NOT

Cory Tucholski:

Melissa Cain Travis pretty much hits the nail on the head with this piece. Excellent work!

Originally posted on Hard-Core Christianity:

job A year or so into my grad school work, I tentatively assumed the role of public apologist. The landmark day was in the summer of 2010, when I instituted this blog to formally make myself available to both believers and non-believers struggling with questions about the alleged truths of Christianity. Not surprisingly, as I’ve worked to educate others, I have learned many valuable lessons on what to do and what  not  to do in apologetics ministry. For the benefit of apologists of all levels, I’d like to share a couple of important insights that may change the way you see and practice this discipline at the interpersonal level.

I’m going to tell you what your job is NOT.

You are not a spoon-feeder. I have found that many folks, abrasive atheists/agnostics in particular, aren’t willing to undertake serious research on their own. They’re armed with a hundred pop-atheism talking points that have long been answered, which…

View original 556 more words

A Manual for Creating [totally unreasonable] Atheists

Cory Tucholski:

This made me laugh out loud. I have debated several of the truly UNREASONABLE atheists. To be fair, many atheists are very reasonable. But for those that aren’t, this post is all about them and perfectly satirizes their arguments. Just epic.

Originally posted on HashtagApologetics:

This blog post will teach you how to talk people out of their faith. You’ll learn how to ridicule the faithful through mockery, because this kind of behavior will force them to value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their beliefs, and mistrust their faith. I call this activist approach to helping people overcome their faith, “Street Awesomeness”.
The goal of this blog post is to create a generation of Street Awesomes: people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools who actively go into the streets, the prisons, the bars, the churches, the schools, the community, and ESPECIALLY THE INTERNET — into any and every place the faithful reside— and help them abandon their stupid religion and embrace atheism.
Enter the Street Awesome: an inarticulate, unclear, unhelpful voice with an unremitting desire to force people into overcome their faith and to create a better world— a world that…

View original 1,195 more words

Book Plunge: A Manual For Creating Atheists

Cory Tucholski:

Part of the reason I didn’t write a review on the blog for Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists is because I knew that my reaction was the same as most Christians who are informed in matters of faith and philosophy. Sure enough, Nick Peters wrote the exact review that I wanted to.

Originally posted on Deeper Waters:

Manualforcreatingatheists

What do I think of Peter Boghossian’s book on creating atheists? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Boghossian’s book in the past month or so has been the subject of great conversation on the internet. Why is this the case? Is it because there’s a new argument in here? No. There’s nothing new. Is it because there’s a really powerful demonstration of atheism in here? No. That’s not here also. It’s because now, Boghossian claims to have a way to apply principles of critical thinking and train others in them so that they can become “street epistemologists” with the goal of deconverting others.

Unfortunately, what I’ve seen is that these epistemologists are thoroughly unequipped for the job, and it’s no surprise because the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

And yet at the same time, I found great confirmation for so much of what I’ve been saying…

View original 2,456 more words

Is the Bible Imperfect, or Was God Unable to Create it Perfect?

Dave, an atheist on Twitter, was arguing with Man-E, a Christian who blogs here.  The subjects were many, but one thread had to do with inspiration.  Dave poses this seemingly unanswerable question:

This is what we in the business call a “false dichotomy.”  The reason?  A serious misunderstanding of divine inspiration.

God is not a suit-and-tie executive and the 40+ authors of Scripture weren’t beleaguered secretaries trying to take dictation.  It was, unfortunately, a little less precise.

It was more like God gave an author an idea, and left that author to write his own expression of that idea.  So the essence of what the Scripture reports is perfect, but the method of that expression is fallible since it was man who committed it to writing.

To complicate matters, we have copies of copies of copies.  While these have proven very reliable as we uncover older and older copies, some variants have creeped in and that hampers us.  Further complicating it is the cultural gap that exists between the ancient Israelites of the second millennium BC or the early Christians of 2000 years ago, and the average 21st century citizen.

So what we have is that God is capable of creating a perfect Bible.  However, the task of writing the law was given to man and the task of preserving and teaching the Word of the Lord also to man.  The textual variants, the cultural gaps, and all of the other barriers to understanding that Word are man-made, but not insurmountable.

To overcome it, you either need to roll up your sleeves and study ancient culture and customs.  Or crack open a good Bible commentary.  I personally have a concise commentary and a Bible dictionary, both of which help me understand things in the Bible that aren’t immediately clear.  There’s even an online Bible, the NET Bible, which helps with translating the ancient languages (in case that question ever pops up; but unless you blog on apologetics it rarely will).

If you’re not the solitary, bookworm type, there are people that have studied ancient culture and customs and own those resources I mentioned.  They might even have better ones than I do!  The Bible, in fact, mentions that not everyone is called to be a pastor or teacher (see 1 Cor 12, esp vv. 27-31) — and it is only through using all of our spiritual gifts as a body that we can grow and prosper.

To me, Dave is neither making an argument, nor a very good point within the context of a larger argument.  All Dave is doing is whining that God expects him to work to understand things.  And who wants that?

I think J.P. Holding is on to something here:

Defeating Religion in One Easy Step, part 4

Part 4 — Explanatory Scope

Luke Muehlhauser, the proprietor of Common Sense Atheism, has proposed that we can defeat religions in one easy step.  To do so, he takes a broad look at different arguments for God and notices what they all have in common: They all posit God as the best explanation for something.

Luke identifies the following four criteria for a good explanation:

  1. It’s testable and it passes the tests we give it.
  2. It’s consistent with our background knowledge and experience.  (What philosopher Tom Morris called The Principle of Belief Conservation).
  3. It’s simpler than the alternatives.
  4. It has good explanatory scope — in other words, it explains a wide variety of data.

I’ve already argued that God creates a testable hypothesis and that this hypothesis passes that test.  I also argued that God doesn’t violate Morris’s Principle of Belief Conservation.  Yesterday, I argued that God’s own complexity doesn’t mean he isn’t a simple explanation.  Today, I will talk about the explanatory scope of God and make my concluding remarks. Read the rest of this entry

Defeating Religion in One Easy Step, part 3

Part 3 — Simplicity

Luke Muehlhauser, the proprietor of Common Sense Atheism, has proposed that we can defeat religions in one easy step.  To do so, he takes a broad look at different arguments for God and notices what they all have in common: They all posit God as the best explanation for something.

Luke identifies the following four criteria for a good explanation:

  1. It’s testable and it passes the tests we give it.
  2. It’s consistent with our background knowledge and experience.  (What philosopher Tom Morris called The Principle of Belief Conservation).
  3. It’s simpler than the alternatives.
  4. It has good explanatory scope — in other words, it explains a wide variety of data.

I’ve argued that God creates a testable hypothesis and that this hypothesis passes that test.  Yesterday, I argued that God doesn’t violate Morris’s Principle of Belief Conservation.  Today, let’s find out if God, as an explanation, is too complex. Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,388 other followers