(Want a chew toy? I’ve had a number of submissions to the “Why I am an atheist” series from Christians trying to play the apologetics game. Most of them are embarrassingly illiterate and incoherent, and I just throw them away; this one is at least competently written, even if the ideas are nonsense cribbed from William Lane Craig. Have fun tearing them up.)
Hi PZ, I know this isn’t exactly what you called for, and you probably won’t post this on your famous blog (understandably), but I feel quite strongly that I have two very good reasons for being a Christian:
2) The Uniqueness of Christianity
Now I’ll elaborate a little:
1) The universe exists. Disregarding modern philosophy for a minute, I think this one is fairly obvious. As far as I can know anything, I know that the universe exists. That means it had to have a beginning. Now, the existence and order of the universe may or may not be explained by the Big Bang (I’m no theoretical physicist), but it seems to me that the Big Bang still needs a Big Banger. Someone or something to start the whole thing off. Multiverse theory? I think it still needs some work. And evidence. An eternal Universe? Ok, but I think there are some problems with assigning non-material properties (namely eternal existence) to material things (namely matter). I’ll come back to that. But for now, I’m at the point where I admit that there has to be a beginning, an “uncaused cause” as the philosopher’s put it.
2) That “uncaused cause,” that “Big Banger,” the being that caused everything else to exist, must be the God of the Christian Bible. Why? Because of Christianity’s uniqueness. Say what you will, but after years of studying world religions, Christianity is entirely unique. To oversimplify my case: Every other religion requires an action (service, certain words or actions, good works, etc.), in return for a reward. Christianity is the exact opposite. You are called by Christ first, saved from yourself (that’s the reward), and then the good works flow out of gratitude, or a desire to be more like God. You don’t have to do good works to be saved. Can you see how this is unique?
Now, as to the point about assigning eternal properties to material objects, I don’t see how this is beneficial. Christianity says God created the universe, and He is eternal, intelligent, and caring. Atheism says that the universe created itself, and it is eternal, unintelligent, and uncaring. Is that really better? Personally, I can’t believe that this universe is unintelligent, nor that all of the pain and suffering I see is purposeless.
It seems pretty straightforward to me, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
God bless, and stay warm up there,
(My response: #1 is meaningless. Physics has evidence that our universe had a beginning, but there is absolutely no reason to suppose a cosmic benign intelligence was behind it. An avalanche also has a beginning, but we don’t assume it was a little man triggering it by intent. #2 is absolutely the dumbest reason I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard it many times) for believing Christianity is true. Here, I’ve just invented a religion: you achieve salvation by hopping precisely three times on one leg every morning. If you forget and die unhopped, you go to hell; so long as you have hopped, you are forgiven and go to heaven. That’s entirely unique, but it doesn’t make it true — in this case, and in Christianity’s case, it’s just stupid.
Now compare this Christian entry, selected as the best of the religious submissions so far, to the atheist submissions, which were chosen entirely at random.)