Monthly Archives: March 2011
J.P. Holding was one of my inspirations for entering apologetics ministry. Before I saw his site, I had no idea that Christians even did things like that. I love writing, I love arguing my point, and I love teaching people things. Apologetics seemed to offer that, and an opportunity to serve God while doing it.
I was in.
I’ve seen an evolution in Holding. He used to be extremely sarcastic and derisive toward anyone who disagreed with him, including creating a Screwball of the Month Award for atheists who used the dumbest/most ignorant arguments against Christianity. Though he still does much of that, his main site has had most of that material expunged or edited for Christian charity. Mostly, he keeps the sarcasm at bay.
He’d never admit it, but I think he finally started listening to the other side and realized that Christian charity is most important when dealing with outsiders. They know we’re supposed to “turn the other cheek,” and they basically expect us to be doormats on account of that command. Let’s give them what they expect–and more. And, above all, “so far as it depends on you [the Christian], live peaceably with all” (Rom 12:18).
In certain places, however, the sarcasm flies freely. Though J.P. has said a lot of sarcastic gems in the past, this has to be the best retort hands down:
God as a constant fixer-upper is the contrivance of a lazy and ignorant generation that thinks the whole purpose of being omnipotent is to be able to create rational beings and then entertain them. (source)
I laughed for 5 minutes straight. I still chuckle reading back over for the hundredth time. Thank you, J.P., and keep fighting the good fight!
How many of us have said, “I’ve been meaning to do [something], but [this] got in the way.” I’ve been guilty of that many times, especially around the house. I keep “meaning to,” but something else happens.
Wives are pretty forgiving here–or at least mine is. Provided that [this] is reasonable, and not, “I just had to beat my high score at Yahtzee, and after 10 hours of rolling those dice, I finally did it!”
Supervisors at work are much less forgiving, even if [this] is extremely reasonable. “I meant to get that paperwork faxed over, but four people called off for lunch rush and of the people that showed up, no one knew how to run the drive-thru register except for me!” Those who have worked in fast food know that what I just said is a very legitimate reason for missing office work, but they also know that no district manager would actually accept that excuse.
In the world of blogging, “I’ve been meaning to write a post on [something], but [this] got in the way” has far less severe consequences than it does in the corporate world. Usually, another blogger ends up writing the post, generally making the exact points that you would have raised. Then comes the inevitable internal groan, “Why didn’t I just write the post sooner?”
Today, as I read over the usual blogs, I discover that the post I’ve been meaning to write on the so-stupid-it-burns talking point that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” has already been written by Dr. Randal Rauser. Although I’ve disagreed with Dr. Rauser in the past, in this particular post he is 110% spot on. This paragraph sums up my own points to people about this claim:
The problem starts with this: who decides what is “extraordinary”? Without an absolute, objective standard this principle collapses into “Anything that appears really implausible to me requires extraordinary evidence” and that in turn collapses into “No evidence will be good enough to convince me of something I find really implausible”. In other words, this is a recipe for an irrational dismissal of any evidence counter to what one already accepts.
Literally, all the “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” talking point ever does is allow the atheist to dismiss with a simple hand wave anything that he doesn’t want to believe–the existence of God, the Resurrection, any miracle in the Bible, or whatever else they don’t want in their worldview. All they need to do is class whatever their opponent says as “extraordinary,” and whatever evidence or argument offered in support as “not extraordinary.” BAM! Case dismissed faster than a pothead’s lawsuit on Judge Judy.
All that is required to believe any claim, extraordinary or not, is sufficient evidence. Period.
Another question from that old Reddit thread that has questions designed to stump theists:
If the Bible is the word from God, and the word from God is perfect, why does it need interpretations? Why don’t you stone adulters or avoid wearing clothes made from mixed fibers as stated in the Bible? Why don’t you sacrifice animals to your God?
This is really two questions. First, Why does the word of God need to be interpreted? And second, Why don’t Christians adhere to the Old Testament Laws? Read the rest of this entry
“On the seventh day, he rested.”
So many thing wrong with that one statement, who would a god need to rest?
I don’t need to drink Pepsi, but I do. I don’t need to blog, but I do. I don’t need to pain miniatures, but I do. I don’t need to watch The People’s Court everyday, but I do. Shall I go on?
No where in the Bible does it say God needs to rest. It says that he does rest. Big difference.
A day is a measure of time on Earth, who did not exist.
It does now. What’s your point?
If he worked for 5 days on one planet, thats pretty damn slow, at that the rest of the universe would take a lot longer that 14 billion years.
Actually, Genesis 1:1 says that God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 says that the earth is there now, formless and void. So everything–the universe, the earth, etc–existed before Genesis 1:2 continues the narrative. Verses 3-31 show God ordering what already exists.
We can prove that the solar system took billions of years to form and used only 2 things, gravity and time.
Okay. So no matter or energy involved there? Just gravity? That’s an amazingly dense statement.
With that in mind, why would a god, any god make things by just waiting around for gravity to do what it does naturally? And theists will just say, “oh well god made gravity and put the wheels in motion”, ok well thats not how it says he does shit in the bible, so one of them must be wrong.
The Bible describes God as active in nature and using nature to achieve his ends. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit, which represents the active hand of God moving in the world around us. The book of Colossians describes it best:
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (1:15-20, emphasis added)
Preeminence and sovereignty don’t always imply an active hand in every single detail that transpires, but it does imply that God worked everything to create what he desired. In him, it all hold together. It’s possible that both the people who say God set it in motion and the Bible which describes God as active are both correct.
And thats essentially the first thing in the bible, how can they assume anything else to be true after that?
Begging the question.
I told you this was lame.
John W. Loftus discussed what it would take to convince him to believe. The discussion was prompted when Jayman, a Christian, asked Loftus if he witnessed a bona fide miracle, would he then believe in God? Let’s look at the hubris displayed in the answer:
I have said that it would take a personal miracle for me to believe. I didn’t say what kind of miracle nor did I comment on the other things that would have to accompany that miracle. Let me do so now. . . .
Let’s say the miracle was an anonymous one, like the resurrection of my cousin Steve Strawser, who died at 58 alone in the woods of a massive heart attack, or the skeptic Ken Pulliam who died in October. I would believe in a supernatural reality, yes, but an anonymous one. I don’t think I could conclude anything different. But it would be an anonymous god who did it. I could not conclude much about this god other than that he could raise the dead. (emphasis added)
Once telling us that a miracle would convince him, he qualifies that by saying that a miracle is only evidence of a supernatural entity, but the identity of said entity is still open for conjecture. Then he backtracks:
So I would need more than a miracle, even though that scenario is already far fetched to begin with. (emphasis added)
After the miracle, Loftus wants God to take credit for it, by making a personal appearance (of course). Loftus further considers that proposition:
But let’s say that along with such a miracle I am told by this deity to believe exactly the way Jayman does about Christianity. That presumes even more than that a miracle occurred, since there are so many brands of Christianity around, some accusing the others of heresy. Would I believe then?
Assuming that the miracle came, the worker of the miracle has shown himself and taken credit, then he tells Loftus to believe exactly as a specific Christian believes. Meaning God’s power has been demonstrated, and then asserts his authority. Does Loftus submit?
So, if I experienced a personal miracle I would require more than just that to believe in Jayman’s god. I have so many objections to the Bible and the biblical god I would have to reconcile what I know with what this deity told me to believe. I cannot even understand why any god would require me to believe in the first place! At that point I would be forced to chose between Jayman’s god and a trickster conception of god, and the trickster god would have to be my choice given what I know. (emphasis added)
Wow. Don’t miss Loftus’s this:
- An incontrovertible miracle occurs.
- God himself appears to Loftus and takes credit.
- God tells Loftus which Christian denomination is correct in all doctrinal points.
- However, Loftus doesn’t think that any branch of Christianity is correct.
- Loftus assumes that the deity who appeared and worked the miracle is now tricking him.
If I was convinced Christianity is true and Jesus arose from the grave, and if I must believe in such a barbaric God, I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God. I would fear such a Supreme Being, since he has such great power, but I’d still view him as a thug, a despicable tyrant, a devil in disguise; unless Christianity was revised. (source, emphasis added)
This is quite educational. My conclusion: John W. Loftus is an arrogant and unrelenting narcissist who has put himself in place of God. In his own words, Loftus has said, “Even if God himself proved his existence beyond a reasonable doubt and told me that Christianity is true, I’ll believe it but I’m still not going to worship God.”
Literally, John Loftus has just told us that he knows better than God. Only on the Internet can you witness egos this big first hand. And, this proves that no one is in hell kicking, screaming, and crying to be let out (as I’ve frequently argued). Loftus would rather be there then to bow down and worship God.
I don’t think I can add anything further. This speaks for itself.
Guest Post by Tom Scanlon
All right, I’m new to blogging so you’re going to have to give me some room. My name is Tom Scanlon, and I’m an atheist. But I feel like I’m different than most atheists in a very important way. I consistently apply the attitudes and methodologies that led me to atheism to all areas of my life.
My life is pretty messed up because of that, but I don’t care. I’m actually happy because I’m 100% consistent in all of my conclusions about life–no matter how weird they are. In the coming weeks, I’m going to post about that, so you’ll see just how messed up things are.
Cory and I used to go to school together and we reconnected through Facebook. I saw Cory had a blog and I talked to him about how to start one, since I was thinking about doing one about how consistent my atheism has become. When I heard that you have to update blogs fairly regularly to get traffic and build loyal readers, I balked because I don’t think I have that much to say, or that I’ll even post that often. So, being a gracious friend, Cory agreed to let me post every now and again to his blog.
So, hi, everyone! I thought I’d start out with a brief introductory post and then maybe later this week or something I can put up a post about applying the methodology for rejecting Christianity to my personal life, and why it messed stuff up so badly.
All my posts will be under the Consistent Atheist category of the blog, so click on that to check me out. Also, I got my own page. All right, that’s it. Hopefully I’ll be back around Friday or so with my first post.
A strawman argument is basically arguing against something that’s easier to debunk than what your opponent actually said.
For example, John W. Loftus calls this one of the most asinine claims made by Christians:
It’s claimed that people like Dawkins, or Hitchens, or Harris don’t know enough to reject Christianity. How much should a person know about a religion or the various branches of it in order to reject it? Really. I’d like to know. (source)
If that’s the way that Christians actually articulate this objection, then yes, that’s asinine! However, I don’t think that anyone is saying this in spirit, even if they are in words.
What I think they are trying to get across is that Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris don’t know enough about Christianity to adequately criticize it. Dawkins is the prime example–one of the arguments central to The God Delusion is the second grade retort, “Well, who made God then?” That’s pretty sad coming from a man of Dawkins’s caliber. He’s a decorated scholar and an eminent scientist; you’d think he’d realize that philosophy has long progressed past that point.
It’s undeniable learned scholars such as Dawkins venture into territory which they are not as familiar with as they should be before taking the plunge. Maybe they know enough to confidently reject Christianity–they probably know at least as much about Christianity as I do about Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholicism and I reject all of those.
However, before I try to criticize something, I attempt to become familiar with what it actually argues. These guys don’t. They stick to surface-level arguments and barely take a nick out of those. Much of what they do is argue by outrage, which is the direct opposite of the rational inquiry that they always call for.
I have no doubt that, in a slip of many tongues, Christians have probably said that the New Atheists don’t know enough about Christianity to reject it. However, that isn’t correct. These men don’t know enough about it to criticize it. I have a feeling that, while the formulation may have been incorrect, the articles by my fellow apologists would clearly explain that these men have seriously misplaced criticisms due to profound misunderstanding of basic Christian doctrines, theology, or arguments.
And that makes this a strawman argument from John Loftus.
If real life were like Dungeons & Dragons, atheism wouldn’t be an option. Especially if you challenged a god by temple desecration and lynching followers.
Here’s a novel idea for an awesome web comic. Replace the Knights of the Dinner Table with the Four Horsemen. I bet it would look something like this:
So, I haven’t posted in a while. I actually have several posts in the works, but for some reason I was never quite happy with any of them.
Then, I got bit by the Creative Bug and turned to writing some fiction. I don’t write nearly enough fiction, actually. I have an “idea folder” filled with books and screenplays that I might write “someday.” I even have a proposal for a TV show that I’ve been kicking around for about two months that I’m not sure what to do with just yet.
As I wrote a blog article defending a Christian participating in fantasy role-playing games, I kept getting ideas for adventures. So, I thought, why not actually write one?
Dungeons & Dragons adventures are tough to write; maintaining game balance is difficult, especially when you lack the ability to playtest. Which led me to think backwards to my first brush with the world of role-playing games, the simplified board game of Hero Quest. Back in 1998, I wrote a trio of Quest Packs for a HQ fan site called Agin’s Inn (defunct now, the Ye Olde Inn has taken its place). I only ended up writing two of the three planned packs, both of which planted a seed for a fourth Quest Pack to tie up the storyline.
Typical me. I start projects which I never finish.
Anyway, with the fresh bite from the Creative Bug, I set to work revamping the two original Quest Packs that I wrote, and finally started writing the third and fourth.
This was all supposed to be a quick diversion from apologetics, which I confess I’m getting a tad burned out on. I had planned on maintaining a proper posting schedule here, but working on the Quest Packs wound up being all I did for the last two weeks. That was not planned, I assure you. But it was nice, and I needed it.
Then, I started getting tons of ideas for other HQ Quest Packs and D&D adventures. I opened a gate or something. It would be a shame to do nothing with them. I guess I could always sell the ideas on eBay for exorbitant amounts of money.
That’s when I thought: everyone has to have a creative outlet. Look at J.P. Holding’s Annals of Hearthstone. Why not me? So I thought I might create a blog that offers free D&D adventures (as well as adventures for other role-playing systems, and maybe some of my other fiction) from time to time.
I’m still working out the details of that. How often would I post? What would I offer? Strictly adventures, or some fiction as well? And what would that do the posting over here, especially with me starting training for Pharmacy Tech?
What’s in store on this blog? I’m glad you asked.
- The final two installments answering DaGoodS’s questions for Christians (I didn’t forget!).
- God “tells” people to do horrific things, and every devout Christian can justify obvious sins by saying that they “know” God approves. How, then, can we know what’s going on, then, if God places a “stamp of approval” on actions that contradict his word?
- Brief introduction to law and grace, and why that’s so important.
- The Parable of the Seeds (Mt 13:1-9) and how it applies to Christianity today.
- More questions theists allegedly “can’t” answer.
- Regular updates to my revamp of God is NOT Imaginary. Co-author Joshua Rasmussen has been sending me some replies of his own to add to the my material. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how I’m going to do this; the co-author thing is new to me. I’ve always been a one-man show.
In conclusion, I’m still here and I’m hoping you are, too. Stay with us; it should get very interesting from here on out!