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Questions Theists Can’t Answer: 2 Wise Observations

Belief is, by definition, the consideration of something unsupported by evidence. Because of this, it is inherently unfounded on truth.

Depends on what sort of belief is under consideration. Some beliefs are logical deductions based on other beliefs. These are founded on the truth of the beliefs that come before them. Others are grounding beliefs that have no evidence to support them one way or the other.

The problem with this statement is that it applies to atheists as well. Everyone, whether theist or atheist, starts somewhere in their structure of beliefs. Those presuppositions upon which a worldview is based are really the crux of the debate between atheism and theism. The theist starts with God, while the theist starts with nature.

I’ve also noticed that one atheist commented that one way they can tell that theists are full of “bullshit” is that we can answer every question. The scientist, it is reasoned, admits his limitation and is happy to say, “I don’t know” when he doesn’t know the answer. Theists, on the other hand, answer every question that the atheist proposes. Since we never seem to admit that we don’t know the answer, that means that we’re full of it.

So, basically, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.  Let me illustrate why.

The existence of a list such as this indicates that the atheist believes that we can’t answer every question proposed. That might be true. A few months after I started my main blog, I was forced to admit that I didn’t know the answer to the proposed dilemma:

So which is stronger, manfluence or Godfluence? Well, Hasic posits that man put the belief about God in the heads of children, and that the kids are responding to that belief, not to God. But this overlooks the fact that God determined the situation in which these kids were placed, not man. If they grow up Hindu, Buddhist, or Muslim, He wanted that to happen for a reason known only to Him and that increases His glory somehow.

I don’t know why and there isn’t any way to find out (Job 37:5). (source, emphasis added)

There really are somethings that humans don’t know the answers to, and I’ve tried to be forthright about that. Now, usually when I do, the atheist in the argument immediately claims victory: “Ha! I found a question you don’t know the answer to! I win!”

Can’t have it both ways, guys. Either you want me to answer everything, or you want me to admit that I occasionally don’t have an answer. But you can’t claim victory when I have all of the answers, and also claim victory if I don’t have all the answers. We call that “stacking the deck.”

The Textbook Example of Strawman Arguments

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.