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A typical amateur apologist’s mistake: atheism requires omniscience

This thread is generating lots of comments, mostly in the form of an amusing ongoing exchange with our old pal Rhology, who’s going all postmodern and solipsistic on us in a frankly bizarre bid to deny that requiring evidence for claims is rational. But this comment from a reader named Jay contains a very basic mistake that Christians make when trying to argue with atheists, and so I thought I’d top-post it as a kind of counter-apologetics primer. My response in full follows. Jay declares:

Ok Martin,evoultion does not require you know how the universe was created, but atheism does… Unless you can prove how the universe was created and in doing so also disprove there is a God, then atheism is not rational.

Yes, I know, we all thought arguments that silly had gone the way of Pascal’s Wager and Ray Comfort’s banana. Alas, we find people who are new to this whole debating thing who still think they’re brilliant stumpers they can whip out like an “Instant” card in Magic The Gathering, to counter your atheist mojo. Sorry, not so fast.

Atheism is simply a statement of disbelief concerning the existence of gods. It does not require knowledge of how the universe was created any more than disbelief in leprechauns requires you to know why rainbows exist.

(In the case of rainbows, of course, we do know why those occur, but a person would not have to know this in order to disbelieve in leprechauns.)

Jay’s second sentence is the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. The statement assumes the truth of its conclusion, to wit, that God exists because atheists cannot prove God does not exist. The flaw in this argument is glaringly obvious simply by a slight edit to what Jay wrote.

Unless you can prove how the universe was created and in doing so also disprove there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster, then a-spaghetti-monsterism is not rational.

Literally any mythical being can be substituted for “God” in Jay’s statement. So it’s a fallacious argument rooted in a false premise.

The burden of proof for a claim always rests upon the person claiming the existence of the thing in question. There is no such burden upon those who take the skeptical view. If someone wishes to tell me that fairies live in his backyard, it is not my obligation to prove to him that they don’t, it is his to prove to me that they do. If he fails, I will not believe in his fairies. Similarly, not knowing precisely how the universe was created does not preclude someone saying, “I don’t believe the cause was the Biblical God or any other god, including Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, because I don’t think there is adequate evidence for it.”

When it comes to questions with as-yet-unknown answers, such as exactly how the universe originated, we admit the limitations of our knowledge and look at the whole mystery as a compelling subject for ongoing study. We’re not inclined simply to place our ignorance on an altar and call it “God.”

Comments

  1. says

    in a frankly bizarre bid to deny that requiring evidence for claims is rational. Anyone can read the thread to see how accurate this description is. Hint: Not much.

  2. says

    Colson’s book does a lot of this too, Martin. I probably mentioned it to you already, but check out the hilariously personal story he gives on pages 36-37. Apparently he met a life-long atheist, pronounced that atheism requires omniscience, and that agnosticism ALSO requires omniscience (yes, seriously!), and in just two sentences he converts the guy. It reads like a Chick tract, with the atheist reacting to a laughably simplistic rhetorical technique by saying “Holy shit, I never even thought of THAT before…”

  3. Martin says

    Rhology, from the thread in question:“Evidence is a good way to discover truth” is a statement from presuppositions. Facts are just bare facts until interpreted thru the grid of a worldview.Presupposing that demanding evidence for claims is a good thing.Maybe you could do a post where you provide evidence that it is stupid to believe such unsupported claims without evidence.It’s part of your worldview that you trust your senses’ input.Did I leave any out?It’s not a hate-on, it’s just that I feel compelled to present a counterview that actually makes sense when you go too far.But your counterviews never make sense, so you’re kind of at a disadvantage there.So do you trust your senses’ input? If not, how do you get through a day?

  4. says

    I think the mistake Jay makes it to presume that God is the default starting point from which to look into these things. Of course, given that he was probably raised as a Christian, he knows full well that all OTHER religions are nonsense (as we atheists do as well). There’s no need to bother with them. They can be brushed aside with little further comment. And why shouldn’t they be? Their claims are absolutely ridiculous. The thing is, he and most religionists just can’t conceptualise that their own religion also falls under the rubric of archaic myth, and that its claims are no more intellectually rigorous than those of Islam or Hinduism or the ancient polytheisms. Sure, a lot of ink has been spilled on Christian apologetics, attempting to bridge the gap between faith and reason (and often completely eschewing reason, when the entirety of modern science is thrown out the window, for example), but, again, just actually that a look at the claims being made. They’re absolutely stark-raving mad. If the polytheisms had survived by a sheer accident of history, there would be people like the ones who passionately defend Christianity on this blog defending, with no less conviction, those religions. It’s no wonder that so many people are turning off religion (admittedly, many are finding their need for a spiritual outlet in other false doctrines, like the New Age crap). “We are all atheists when it comes to most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. It’s just that some of us go one god further.” – Richard Dawkins And I think it was Christopher Hitchens who said that monotheism is actually a good thing, because we’re getting closer and closer to the actual number of gods.

  5. says

    I think it would be nice to point out here that the default belief position is actually atheism. All humans are born without a belief in any gods. Let’s not even mention all of the non human animals.

  6. says

    Just to pick up on the the assumption that I made a “amature” apologetic mistake, let’s look deeper.Of all choices, atheism requires the greatest faith, as it demands that one’s limited store of human knowledge is sufficient to exclude God.Theists must argue their case from the standpoint, that the exsistence of God is true.Surley atheism is also required to answer the question of how we came to be.Philosophy tells us it is impossible to come to certainty about all things by pure deduction.This is why intellect must give way to faith at some point.For the atheist his/her intellect gives way to the belief that there is no God, based on the fact that the theist cannot conclusivly prove there is a God.Is there any other reason the atheist holds to atheism, other than the fact that the theist cannot prove conclusively that God exsists?If that is all atheism is, it seems pretty shallow.Maybe there is more of a connection between evoultion and atheism, than some would care to admit.Is it not true to say some atheists base their atheism on evoultion!!!It is niether possible to prove God conclusively by human science, nor is it possible to prove atheism by science.To me it is more rational to believe that the universe was created by a creative God, than it is to believe in something that is unknown.

  7. Martin says

    Of all choices, atheism requires the greatest faith, as it demands that one’s limited store of human knowledge is sufficient to exclude God.Again, replace “God” with “Zeus” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster” or “leprechauns” in this sentence, and you should see how flawed your reasoning is here. You are starting from an unsupported premise: that a God exists and that belief in it should be the rational default position. But any claim must be supported by evidence, and since you already admit that it’s not possible to prove the existence of God via the scientific method (actually, I don’t take it as a given that that should be true), I have to wonder why you’re continuing to make statements such as these when you undermine them with others later on in which you concede God’s non-scientifically-provable nature. To which the atheist can simply reply, if you admit you cannot prove your God’s existence, then how am I supposed to determine that your God is real and not simply a figment of your imagination, and why continue to insist that my disbelief in something you already admit you cannot provide evidence for requires more faith than your belief in it? Either there can be some way for Christians to demonstrate that their God is real that will enable a non-believer to distinguish that God as an actual entity apart from something the believer is simply imagining, or there isn’t. If there isn’t, then to admit to your lack of evidence for your God and in the same breath tell unbelievers that their unbelief requires stronger faith than your own is irrational on its face. The following dialogue, in which I answer your comment’s questions by simply shifting the context very slightly, makes the point.Believer: My best friend is an invisible magic elf.Skeptic: I doubt that.Believer: Of all choices, not believing in my elf requires the greatest faith, as it demands that one’s limited store of human knowledge is sufficient to exclude elves.Skeptic: I am not ruling out the possible existence of invisible magic elves, only that I require some pretty convincing evidence before I believe they exist. I had no cause to think of invisible magic elves until you brought one up. What reasons can you give me as to why I should include them in my understanding of reality?Believer: Philosophy tells us it is impossible to come to certainty about all things by pure deduction. This is why intellect must give way to faith at some point.Skeptic: Nonsense. For one thing, I am not asking for “certainty in all things” before I choose to believe in your elf, I am only asking for sufficient evidence for that specific claim you are making. In other words, what convinced you of your elf’s existence? Why not simply present that evidence to me, and let me judge whether or not it can convince me as sufficiently as it convinced you? On the other hand, if you do not have such evidence, and, in your words, you adopted your elf-belief by letting your intellect “give way to faith,” then I simply want to know what prompted you to make that choice. How can I discern your elf from any other strange being that may exist in your imagination?Believer: Is there any other reason the unbeliever holds to elf-disbelief, other than the fact that the elf-believer cannot prove conclusively that invisible magic elves exist?Skeptic: You imply that’s a bad thing.Believer: If that is all elf-disbelief is, it seems pretty shallow.Skeptic: Why? You seem to imply that your elf-belief is so special, compared to any one of a nearly endless number of truth claims human beings have made over the centuries, that evidence supporting elf-belief ought to be dismissed as an irrelevant criterion. But you consistently refuse to give reasons for why this should be. What is so special about believing in your elf that I should be willing to dismiss the need for evidence that I would require in determining the veracity of any other truth-claim in life, such as choosing which politician to vote for, or buying a car? If someone wants to sell me a used car, I’m not going to take the car’s existence on “faith,” I’m going to demand to test-drive it and to see its maintenance history. Why is demanding evidence appropriate in that instance and not in the case of your elf (aka god)?….And so forth.Hopefully this gives you a better idea of where you’re going wrong in your arguments. As for your further remarks about evolution, as Dawkins has written, all that evolution has done is provide atheists with an intellectually satisfying reason to be atheist, but evolution does not require atheism (check Ken Miller and others for that) or vice versa. A person can choose not to believe the god-claims of virtually all the world’s religions (and you reject all of them except the one you’ve chosen to embrace, the Christian one) without any recourse to scientific expertise, simply by deciding that religion does not give convincing reasons to accept their god-claims on their own merits. If evolution provides natural explanations for how lifeforms develop, then that’s really just a bonus. But it isn’t the deal-maker for most people. I had decided Christianity was unconvincing many many years before I ever thought to read up on evolution in detail. By the same token, Kenneth Miller is one of the country’s leading experts in evolutionary science, and it has not caused him to reject his theism. There’s a relationship between belief/disbelief and evolution, but it’s not a required one.Finally, in response to this:To me it is more rational to believe that the universe was created by a creative God, than it is to believe in something that is unknown.But that’s your problem: your God is unknown. Unless you can present evidence for it — once more with feeling, a means by which unbelievers like myself can distinguish between your God and something you may be only just imagining — then all you’re doing here is engaging in “God of the Gaps,” taking all the instances where you have cracks in your knowledge and filling them in with an all-purpose metaphysical caulk you call “God.” Your sentence here is a wonderfully ironic exercise in self-contradiction.Thanks for commenting, by the way, and I hope you take this debate in the friendly spirit in which it’s intended. If you have more, by all means bring it.

  8. says

    I feel like I am watching a basketball game where the home team is hitting nothing but net. The visitors have yet to score, yet still think they are winning. Shots are getting blocked left and right, yet the visiting team still keeps high fiving each other and their fans go home thinking “man we showed them.”

  9. says

    Of all choices, atheism requires the greatest faith, as it demands that one’s limited store of human knowledge is sufficient to exclude God.No, it doesn’t. This atheist does not claim 100% certainty that our universe was not created by some higher power, just that the god you worship is not that higher power.Surley (sic) atheism is also required to answer the question of how we came to be.No, it isn’t. Atheism is simply lack of belief in a deity. Just because I don’t know how the universe came to be does not mean that the Genesis account of creation wins by default. Again, as I wrote above, I don’t believe it is 100% impossible that there is not some higher power that created our universe, but it does not follow that if there is such a creator that it cares what you eat or who you have sex with.For the atheist his/her intellect gives way to the belief that there is no God, based on the fact that the theist cannot conclusivly prove there is a God.More like you cannot conclusively prove to me there is a God that cares whether or not I believe in its existence. Here’s the way I see it, the universe is an immensely vast and complex place in which our planet is but an infinitesimal speck. I cannot rationally accept that any being powerful and intelligent to create all that is going to stomp up and down like some immature child demanding “You better worship me or I’m going to make you suffer.” If that is all atheism is, it seems pretty shallow.Maybe there is more of a connection between evoultion and atheism, than some would care to admit.Again, atheism is merely the absence of belief in a god. As for any connection between atheism and evolution, while I accept that evolution is valid, it does not inform how I conduct myself on a day to day basis. I don’t go consulting Darwin’s Origin of the Species to guide me in dealing with life’s challenges.Is it not true to say some atheists base their atheism on evoultion(sic)!!!To be honest, evolutionary theory played absolutely no part in my journey from Christianity to atheism. It was the study of comparative religion, history and a variety of other factors.It is niether(sic) possible to prove God conclusively by human science, nor is it possible to prove atheism by science.It is not about proving whether God exists or not, but about demonstrating that a particular god exists, namely yours.To me it is more rational to believe that the universe was created by a creative God, than it is to believe in something that is unknown.If the universe was created by a higher intelligence, then yes it would be accurate to say that it is a creative being. But again, it assumes that such a being really cares if we acknowledge its existence or that it gets really, really angry if Adam kisses Steve instead of Eve.But one of the beauties of living in a pluralistic and free society is that you have every right to believe that the universe was created by a god who impregnated a virgin Jewish teenage girl in the Galilee some 2,000 years ago, that the superboy who resulted from this union performed miracles, died for the sins of humanity, and rose from the dead, and that our lives on this Earth are just a test for this god to determine whether or not we will suffer for an eternity in the after life based on whether or not we accept this story.Martin, I didn’t read your response to Jay before composing mine, so I apologize if some of my remarks repeat what you already wrote.

  10. says

    Jay, your mistake in thinking can be partially blamed on the English language. When some one says “I don’t trust him” in English, it is usually taken to mean “he is untrustworthy.” The statement “I don’t trust him” really means something more like “I have not (yet) established trust in this person.” The same goes for the statement “I am an atheist.” To be an a-theist means to remain (as yet) unconvinced of the existence of any gods. What atheism doesn’t (necessarily) mean is “I assert that no gods exist.” There are certainly atheists who proclaim this (I happen to be this type of atheist with all traditional conceptions of gods) but these atheists are not the exemplars of the term.

  11. Martin says

    I should add one point. Here’s another mistake Jay makes.Philosophy tells us it is impossible to come to certainty about all things by pure deduction.This is why intellect must give way to faith at some point.The conclusion that “intellect must give way to faith” does not follow from the premise that we cannot know all things with certainty. Especially considering that “faith” in this context simply means “the permission people give themselves to believe in certain things without evidence.” The honest thing to say when you don’t know the answer to a question is “I don’t know the answer to that.” It is not honest to say, “I don’t have an answer to this, so I will allow my intellect to give way to faith, declare the existence of a supernatural deity, and proclaim that to be the answer.” Making stuff up — no matter how you may be justifying it by calling it “faith” — is not a way to solve life’s great mysteries. If anything, as RD has pointed out, it’s the way religion persuades people to be satisfied with not knowing.

  12. says

    I had a problem with this too, Martin, but for a different reason. Deduction is the act of making ones mind up about broad general categories and then using these definitions to describe particular cases. Induction is the act of examining all available cases in order to discover something about general categories. Induction builds truth the way that a foundation is laid, supported all the way down. Such is the nature of science. Science is an inductive process.

  13. Robert Morane says

    rhology said: “Evidence is a good way to discover truth” is a statement from presuppositions.Facts are just bare facts until interpreted thru the grid of a worldview.”If you woke up tomorrow and started puking blood all over the place, which worldview would you trust?Would you go to church and pray to your omnipotent god? Or would you rather go to the hospital and put your trust in the hands of materialistic science? Funny how people like you forget about their worldview when things get serious…If materialism and science are but worldviews, then how come the quasi totality of you god believers are willing to trust them with your lives?The fact is that deep inside, you know very well that science deals with facts while faith is make belief.In fact, the only reason you are capable of living a normal life is because you apply good ol’ materialism in your every day life.I don’t see you going on a hunger strike? I mean, maybe you wouldn’t die after all? Maybe the evidence we have that hunger kills cannot be trusted, I mean with evidence being a “mere interpretation” of a worldview and all…Robert M.

  14. says

    How is love provable without evidence?How is guilt provable without evidence?How is hate provable without evidence?Here is three subjective areas of one’s mind or “heart”.Lets do a conversation between a man and women who want to get married,and are both atheistic and rational.Husband to be “Do you love me?Wife to be “Yes”Husband to be “How do I know you love me”Wife to be “Because I am telling you I do”Now in this short dialogue the husband is expected to believe the wife, for all he knows she could be filled with hate and ready to kill him.Now unless you are gonig to live in a bunker all your life, you are going to have to believe certain things to be true without conculsive evidence.Indeed it is true to say all of us be it atheist, or Christian, believe in things everyday that we have no evidence for, eg love, belief in one’s own ability, hate, guilt and so forth. The idea that Christians believe in God without any evidence is simply not true.To try and draw a parallel between God and a flying spaghetti monster is not really a sound argument.The basis of belief in God has both reason and faith.It is reasonable to believe prophecy for instance.Now there is evidence from both historical documents, (see the works of Josephus) and the Bible, of prohecies given thousands of years before they happened.I have seen prohecies come to pass in the lives of people I fellowship with, and all so on a larger scale as in the Berlin wall being dismantled.Now please don’t say all these things are self fulfilling prohecies because they could not have been.It is also reasonable to believe if you see a garden perfectly formed and groomed, there must be a gardener. When I look around and see creation I can come to no other conclusion, the evidence is all around us.Let me just say to Matin I appreciate you letting me comment on his blog, your comments have been fair and conducted professionally.

  15. Martin says

    How is love provable without evidence?How is guilt provable without evidence?How is hate provable without evidence?They’re not. When did I or anyone else here imply they were?Husband to be “How do I know you love me”Wife to be “Because I am telling you I do”Now in this short dialogue the husband is expected to believe the wife, for all he knows she could be filled with hate and ready to kill him.Considering that more spousal abuse takes place in religious marriages — especially hardline fundamentalist ones — than atheist marriages, there’s no reason this little dialogue needs to be thought of as taking place solely among atheist couples. Then again, the whole thing is straw-man silliness. If this is how you really think couples interact with one another and express their love for each other, you need to get out and start dating some! :-) Now unless you are gonig to live in a bunker all your life, you are going to have to believe certain things to be true without conculsive evidence.Not really, why should you? I could live in a bunker or in a skyscraper penthouse, and if someone presented me with a supernatural claim, I would still want extremely strong evidence for it. You have made yet another common error: conflating human emotions and behaviors with supernatural claims about gods. We know that emotions exist, and we know that the way human beings express emotions is through the way they act towards one another, not merely by what they say. If a man repeatedly told his spouse he loved her, and yet never did anything to demonstrate that love — consistently ignoring her, carrying on behind her back, angrily lashing out at her — we would have good evidence to disbelieve his claims that he loved her. If on the other hand he always demonstrated respect and devotion to his wife in all his actions, we’d have good evidence that his love was sincere.So the existence of human emotions, and the visible behavior people engage in as a way of reflecting those emotions, can hardly be conflated with the question of whether or not invisible universe-creating deities exist. Not even in the same ballpark, really. Indeed it is true to say all of us be it atheist, or Christian, believe in things everyday that we have no evidence for, eg love, belief in one’s own ability, hate, guilt and so forth.I see evidence all the time for those things. It is usually always extremely clear.Now there is evidence from both historical documents, (see the works of Josephus) and the Bible, of prohecies given thousands of years before they happened.The passages in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews are widely regarded to be later insertions by other writers, most likely Eusebius, who is the first church scholar (from the 4th century) on record who mentions the passage known as the Testimonium Flavinium. Origen, a first century Christian scholar who studied Josephus in detail, never mentions it. There are other problems with the Testimonium that have caused scholars to be dubious as to whether it existed in Josephus’ original text, or was added later. Josephus was an orthodox Jew, writing under Roman patronage, and would not have been the sort of person to praise a Jewish messianic figure whose goal was to overthrow Roman rule.Even if the passage is authentic, it would provide shaky grounds for believing the supernatural claims concerning Jesus’ life. If you ever get a chance to read Seutonius’ Lives of the Twelve Caesars, you will see that this historian includes reports of supernatural occurrences and divine omens relating to these emperors too. These were superstitious times, and people believed this kind of stuff. Rumors would circulate about this god or another appearing to a Roman general on the eve of battle, and the soldiers would believe them. It’s just how people were back then. It was a primitive culture in very many ways.Bible prophecy is a very messy area. The Gospels often refer to Christ’s resurrection on the third day as the fulfillment of some sort of prophecy, when no such specific prophecy in the OT is to be found. Other prophecies are equally problematic. The famous virgin-birth prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 does not in fact refer to Jesus at all, but a contemporary event. Suffice it to say that, given the centuries of ecclesiastical editing the Bible has undergone — taking nearly three centuries before the NT canon was finalized, and even then under fierce debate — it’s not surprising NT scribes would be referencing OT passages, with which they would have been extremely familiar, and writing that this, that, or the other thing was “as scripture had foretold.” This, and the fact that so many Bible prophecies must be subject to tortuous interpretations in order to be defended, makes their credibility hard to take at face value. What is lacking is any credible extra-Biblical confirmation of any kind of prophecy believers might care to claim, and that’s where the whole thing runs into trouble. It’s the same reason we have to cast doubt on some of the more outlandish claims from Seutonius and Herodotus.It is also reasonable to believe if you see a garden perfectly formed and groomed, there must be a gardener.Perhaps, but then we know gardeners exist, and that they are responsible for perfectly formed and groomed gardens. We don’t know that universes have divine creators, and there’s quite a lot about our universe and our world that is less than perfectly groomed and formed, that makes me think an all-powerful perfect being ought to have done a better job.

  16. says

    Martin said”If a man repeatedly told his spouse he loved her, and yet never did anything to demonstrate that love — consistently ignoring her, carrying on behind her back, angrily lashing out at her — we would have good evidence to disbelieve his claims that he loved her.”Indeed you would have good evidence, unfortunatly it is not that black and white.How would you define love from a evoultionist/atheist point of view? The idea of human emotions being a straw man as in regards to connecting them with faith, is hardly a straw man.The aim is to prove that an atheist/rationalist operates faith. Martin said”it’s not surprising NT scribes would be referencing OT passages, with which they would have been extremely familiar, and writing that this, that, or the other thing was “as scripture had foretold.” This, and the fact that so many Bible prophecies must be subject to tortuous interpretations in order to be defended, makes their credibility hard to take at face value.”The famous virgin-birth prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 does not in fact refer to Jesus at all, but a contemporary event.This scripture could not have been a “contemporary event” as Ahaz’s son Hezekiah was already born, so his wife could not have been a Virgin.I don’t know what hermenutics you are using but they are way off base.Here are some proof texts for the the first coming of Jesus I don’t see what is tortuous about these texts.Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23)A descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18; Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16)Of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10; Luke 3:23, 33; Hebrews 7:14)Of the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1:1)Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7)Taken to Egypt (Hosea 11:1; Matthew 2:14-15)Herod´s killing of the infants (Jeremiah 31:15; Matthew 2:16-18)Anointed by the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2; Matthew 3:16-17)Heralded by the messenger of the Lord (John the Baptist) (Isaiah 40:3-5; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-3)Would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6; Matthew 9:35)Would preach good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:14-21)Would minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1; Matthew 4:12-16) Would cleanse the Temple (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 21:12-13)Would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25; Matthew 21:4-11)Would enter Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:4-9)Would be rejected by Jews (Psalm 118:22; I Peter 2:7)Die a humiliating death (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53) involving:rejection (Isaiah 53:3; John 1:10-11; 7:5,48)betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:3-4; John 13:18)sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 26:14-15)silence before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14)being mocked (Psalm 22: 7-8; Matthew 27:31)beaten (Isaiah 52:14; Matthew 27:26)spit upon (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 27:30)piercing His hands and feet (Psalm 22:16; Matthew 27:31)being crucified with thieves (Isaiah 53:12; Matthew 27:38)praying for His persecutors (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)piercing His side (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34)given gall and vinegar to drink (Psalm 69:21, Matthew 27:34, Luke 23:36)no broken bones (Psalm 34:20; John 19:32-36)buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60)casting lots for His garments (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24)Would rise from the dead!! (Psalm 16:10; Mark 16:6; Acts 2:31)Ascend into Heaven (Psalm 68:18; Acts 1:9)Would sit down at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3)

  17. says

    If you woke up tomorrow and started puking blood all over the place, which worldview would you trust?Spoof Rhology: What is your basis for believing that puking up blood all over the place is bad? What if I believe that puking up blood is a good thing?

  18. says

    “It is also reasonable to believe if you see a garden perfectly formed and groomed, there must be a gardener.”1) The only reason we know about gardens (and have a particular term for them) is that we, as humans, decided to make them. If we have never seen a human make a garden, how would we even be able to tell what they were. How many other universes (or even worlds) can we compare this one to, to see evidence that there is something special about this one?2) This argument works as well for ant hills. Since we see that ant hills are created by creatures, then doesn’t it follow that the world was made by creatures? Of course, since ants aren’t intelligent, then the designer does not need to be either. Or to continue the garden analogy – bower birds make great displays, but are not very intelligent – what rules this – maybe the Earth is some Space Bower (cue 50′s sci-fi/horror music)?3) Even if we had something that said that a gardener was needed, and an intelligent one at that, then which is more reasonable – intelligent being(s) from another world (or universe) or a cosmic invisible garden gnome?

  19. Martin says

    How would you define love from a evoultionist/atheist point of view?The question has a false premise. There is no “evolutionist/atheist point of view” regarding love or any other human emotion, nor is there any need for one. Like everyone else, atheists understand and possess the same range of human emotions as anyone else. It’s a shame this appears to come as a surprise to some Christians.The aim is to prove that an atheist/rationalist operates faith.If this is your aim, it has not been successful.This scripture could not have been a “contemporary event” as Ahaz’s son Hezekiah was already born, so his wife could not have been a Virgin.The original text uses the word “almah,” which means “young woman,” not “virgin.” The translation into virgin is an error.Also, the passage can easily be said not to refer to Jesus, as it implies in verse 16 there will be a substantial period of time in the child Immanuel’s life when he will lack the ability to distinguish right from wrong (not something commonly attributed to Jesus in the Gospels) and that, within that time, the destruction of Samaria and Damascus will occur, referring to the war being fought at the time of Ahaz himself.Anyway, I don’t have time or inclination to go through your list of “proof texts” (an apologetics term that really isn’t recognized in scholarship), except to repeat that it does not surprise me that you would find NT writers constantly referring back to OT prophecies with which they were certainly familiar, in order to “prove” that the events they were writing about were “fulfilled” prophecies.

  20. says

    Almah means young woman before the age of marriage.For a woman to be married in Judaism, she would have had to have intercourse.So the verse is correcly translated “virgin”.Of course when Jesus was an infant he could not distinguish right from wrong, nobody has a problem with that.Just because he did not understand did not make him a sinner.He was always righteous as a child (as he was born without sin) even though he did not undertand until later in life.If you don’t accept Josephus as a proof text, try Celsus, Tacitus and the Talmud.Martin said:”The question has a false premise. There is no “evolutionist/atheist point of view” regarding love or any other human emotion, nor is there any need for one. Like everyone else, atheists understand and possess the same range of human emotions as anyone else. It’s a shame this appears to come as a surprise to some Christians.”Yes the atheist possess the same range of emotions as anyone else.The question is though, do they simply believe they exsist via chemicals in the body, or can they prove they exsist by testing chemicls in the body.If they can be proven, I should like to know the chemical compound for consience.It would be more “honest” to say you simply believe in a subjective expereince within your own mind, which proves you have more blind faith than you might think.

  21. says

    This is my first ever blogger response. Let’s see how it goes.Jay,Now unless you are going to live in a bunker all your life, you are going to have to believe certain things to be true without conclusive evidence.I disagree with Martin’s comment on this. You can absolutely believe certain things to be true without conclusive evidence. A world where people only believe in the irrefutable sounds like a world without imagination. I believe that the Mona Lisa is a beautiful painting. Do I have conclusive evidence to support my claim? No. I believe it to be true anyways.The problem, as Martin points out, is instead the equating of a belief in God with a belief in emotions. Emotions are definitely one of those concepts that are inconclusive. Scientists attempt to understand human emotions, but cannot presently fully understand them. Few will deny that. However, scientists are able to conjecture on human emotions based on perceivable evidence such as what people say, how people act, and what people do. Our belief in emotions are indeed based on inconclusive evidence, but they are nonetheless founded in our perceptions. I claim on the other hand that a belief in God is based purely on faith with zero perceivable evidence. Now, I know you believe that perceivable evidence exists to prove the existence of God, and I do not necessarily fault you for that. Personally, though, anytime I hear “evidence” for God, my mind always seems to find a flaw in the evidence. I say this so that you can understand why atheists do not believe in God not to argue the existence of God. I understand why you believe in God, although I disagree with it wholeheartedly, and I think its important that you understand why I do not believe.To try and draw a parallel between God and a flying spaghetti monster is not really a sound argument.I think you miss the point. You’re original claim was:Of all choices, atheism requires the greatest faith, as it demands that one’s limited store of human knowledge is sufficient to exclude God.Martin’s point is that your argument is not a valid one. That is to say your premises do not imply the conclusion. In any argument in order to prove your conclusion, you have to do two things. One, you must convince us that your premises are true. Two, you must convince us that your premises imply your conclusion. If you can do that then we must accept your conclusion. Let’s take a look at your claim rephrased:Premise: Atheism requires being able to conclude, in our limited minds, that God does not exist.Conclusion: Atheism requires the greatest faith.I believe this is an accurate interpretation of your claim. Now, I believe the premise is true. Atheism does indeed require us to be able to conclude that God does not exist. The question is does the premise imply the conlusion. Well, the standard way of testing validity is to plug in different values. So now we look at:Premise: A-spaghetti-monsterism requires being able to conclude, in our limited minds, that spaghetti-monsters do not exist.Conclusion: A-spaghetti-monsterism requires the greatest faith.Well, I think that this conclusion is clearly false. So the premise does not imply the conclusion. Therefore your original claim is invalid.David

  22. says

    Ok David I do take your point.For the Christian we see evidence as being all around us as in Creation, obviously we disagree on that one.The three main proofs that I believe God has given us are as follows.1 Creation2 Prophecy3 The life and death of Jesus ChristNow none of these claims can satisfiy the skeptic.For me this is enough evidence to satisfy my questions.I beleive faith is a quality we all have and use everyday.Personally I have always thought ther a designer that designed the universe, even before I became a Christian.As I said earlier reason gives way to faith, and the process of faith is subjective, it is at this junction a non beliver becomes a believer.I admit that belief in God is a leap of faith.It was only after I took that leap did God reveal himself to me, through prophecy and providence.Anyway I know that I am not convincing anyone here.Let me say I have been treated fairly and with respect on this blog, to which I wish to thank everyone for their comments.I have dicovered that there is more than one type of atheist, and debating is rather futile as the Christian faith cannot be proved the way atheists would like it to be.I even believe skepticism is a good qualtiy in regards to money preachers, and evil men who are wolves in sheeps clothing, so at least we agree on something.Peace Jay

  23. says

    “1 Creation2 Prophecy3 The life and death of Jesus ChristNow none of these claims can satisfiy the skeptic.For me this is enough evidence to satisfy my questions.”Creation? If by that you mean “the bringing by God of the universe into being”, then that’s one of the things that you need to corroborate, not assume from the outset. What exactly do you mean by creation? Science has given us a very detailed – though obviously incomplete – view of how the universe has developed and even some plausible stabs at how it came to be in the first place. Prophecy? A lot of these so-called prophecies were written after the fact; others are so vague as to be insignificant, and are easily accounted for by chance resemblance to something that happened to eventuate. For something to count as evidence for the supernatural in this context, the prediction made by a prophet would need to be of such a quality and precision that it could not reasonably have been made by someone living at the time in the absence of special advice from outside. As for the life and death of Jesus Christ: there were many people posing as messiahs at the time; today, there still are, and people still fall for it. Jesus could simply have been the person who happened to catch people’s ear more often than not. There were plenty of opportunities for the people writing the New Testament to add things in that would have bolstered Christ’s formidable reputation. There are things about his life and about events at the time that are mentioned in the NT that are not mentioned in secular sources but that should have been if they were so earth-movingly important. One can say that they were removed from secular sources to hide or downplay Christ, but one could also say that these things never happened in the first place. Extraordinary claims (and we ARE talking about extraordinary claims) require extraordinary evidence. So far, this evidence has not been forthcoming in the case of God (or any god).It is right that none of these claims have satisfied the sceptic. “I have discovered that there is more than one type of atheist, and debating is rather futile as the Christian faith cannot be proved the way atheists would like it to be.”I beg to differ. There are things that we would expect to find if the God of the Bible were real. This is something amenable to scientific investigation, and if compelling evidence could be found, then we would adjust our probability estimates accordingly. So far, no such evidence has been found, so we are given no good reasons to believe that God exists. Saying that there are limitations to our knowledge (which no one denies) is no reason in and of itself to suppose that God exists. If that were a reason to believe in God, it would also be a reason to believe in Allah, Baal, Zeus or any of the other gods that humanity has ever believed in. On what basis would these gods be dismissed if not through evidence of actual events that have transpired? If we cite our limited knowledge, then that abyss becomes a room into which phantoms of all sorts can (and in fact are) placed, all claiming the same justification. Secondly, saying that something is mysterious means only that: it’s mysterious (to the extent that we can’t yet describe or explain it). If it’s mysterious, then invoking God as an explanation will not alleviate that mystery. If anything, it will compound it. This isn’t a reason for why there can’t be a God, only that we should at least be wary of appealing to the supernatural when our knowledge of the natural comes up short. If something is mysterious, then how can we judge that God is the answer? If something is deeply mysterious, then much less can we judge. What we know is that we don’t know the answer – and accordingly, we don’t know when or if we shall finally find it – but that in itself isn’t a reason to suppose that a supernatural account should be taken as equally – let alone more – compelling than a natural alternative. Saying that God did something seems to me rather lazy; it’s the termination of inquiry, and it smacks of anthropocentric yearning to place ourselves at the centre of the universe’s concerns. Countless phenomena have been attributed to the intervention of gods throughout the ages; science then made those gods retreat.

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