Jumping to Unwarranted Conclusions
I’ve read enough atheistic material to make the (I hope) accurate generalization that atheists are impressed by evidence and that they refuse to leap to any unwarranted conclusions.
For example, Hemnant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist) asked, “If a miracle came, would it convince you [that God exists]?” In the comments section, the virtually unanimous answer was an emphatic NO. A commenter named Drew even said this:
So, as much as I feel like a humbug, it would take quite a bit. And, if something like this rearrangement of stars happened, without some personal contact with God, I’d be wary that it is an illusion– after all, how many people have said the same prayer as I and not been answered? God would have to show me why he preferred to answer my prayer to millions of others.
MorseCode, who comments on this blog as well, said this:
Moving stars is certainly impressive. Unfortunately, it only serves as evidence for something that can move stars.
So, for all practical purposes, most agree with this fellow:
At this point in my life, I honestly can’t think of anything that would make me believe in God, expecially the God of a particular religion. I don’t think I’m closed minded, but after 47 years of searching and exploring these issues, I think it’s fair to have come to a pretty solid conclusion.
So, based on this information, it is fair to say that atheists do not leap to unwarranted conclusions, nor would they be convinced by material that does.
Unless the unwarranted conclusions are in their favor.
Enter the website Christianity Disproved. I only looked at two pages and I knew that this website is a complete waste of my time. First, I read their page on science. After a brief Astronomy 101 discussion of how to calculate the age of the universe and a series of YouTube videos detailing Evolution 101, the essay abruptly ends like this:
Science has revealed to us that the Universe is 13.7 ± 0.14 billion years old (Dick 2008), that the Earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old and that life emerged on Earth around 3.5 billion years ago (National Academy of Sciences 2008). The Genesis account of creation is a myth; it is inaccurate and has been disproven.
How, exactly? I read that essay carefully and I didn’t see any attempt to disprove Genesis, only a (very) basic introduction to science.
Next up, I read the page on the Bible. The writer showed us several passages of the Gospels that tell (apparently) different sides of the same story at various points in Jesus’ life. These passages seem to be mutually exclusive–which isn’t uncommon when dealing with eyewitness testimony, by the way. Ask any police officer who has done a traffic accident investigation.
After that, the writer correctly states “In Matthew the stone is rolled away whilst Mary Magdalene is present, in John the stone had been rolled away prior to Mary Magdalene’s arrival at the tomb.” Then incorrectly concludes, “Once again, at least one gospel is making content up because they can’t both be correct.” Going against the grain of most traditional Christian apologetics, I actually agree that they both can’t be right. But why does anyone have to be making content up? Instead, what about this reasonable hypothesis: Matthew talked to someone who recollected the situation differently than John. That would also fit the evidence, but is never even considered or discussed.
After that, they wax philosophical:
The Christian God is omniscient/all-knowing, in 1 John 3:20 it says that “…God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” Let’s be clear here, the Christian God knows everything. This means that the Christian God cannot make mistakes because if you know everything, you know everything.
The Bible contains mistakes therefore it cannot have been written/inspired by the Christian God.
I agree that God can’t make mistakes, but we can. God has entrusted us fallible humans with the preservation of his word. And we have made mistakes with it. We, as Christians, believe that the Bible is only inspired and inerrant in the original autographs. What we have today has the human element of copyist errors introduced into it. A basic knowledge of textual criticism yields the fact that we can be as close to sure as you can get that the word of God was well-preserved.
They anticipated that I would say that:
You also can’t say that the Christian God gave us his Word originally but it got corrupted. The Christian God is all-knowing, if he existed, he would have had the foresight to write his Word in a non-degradable material such as stone or metal. An omniscient/ all-knowing (1 John 3:20; Job 37:16) , omnipresent (Psalms 139:7-12), omnipotent (Genesis 18:14), eternal (Deuteronomy 33:27), infinite (Revelation 22:13; Psalms 102:25-27) God would not and could not, make such mistakes.
Again, why must God take all responsibility upon himself? He charged us with the responsibility of teaching his word to future generations (Lev 10:8-11), which includes the accurate preservation of his word. There are things that God will do, but there are also things that he expects us to do (Deut 29:29).
I’ll end this with some words of wisdom that won’t sit well with most sue-happy Americans: Take responsibility for your own actions! If God expects you to do something, do it. Don’t wax philosophical about how it should be God’s responsibility because he is all-powerful and all-knowing. No philosophy of religion has ever declared that the all-powerful and all-knowing aren’t allowed to delegate. Delegation, in fact, is the key to a successful management strategy, and God (who is all-knowing) would know that!