Christianity is Unworthy of Thinking Adults: Three Decisive Cases in Point

Case in Point One: Even Christians Agree Faith is Opposed to Reason

According to Paul in Colossians 2:8, “See no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” Jesus purportedly said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” (Luke 10:21). Paul wrote, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? . . . For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:18–25). Tertullian (160–220 CE) asked: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In words reminiscent of Søren Kierkegaard, Tertullian wrote of the incarnation of Jesus by saying, “Just because it is absurd, it is to be believed . . . it is certain because it is impossible.” Martin Luther called reason “the Devil’s Whore.” As such, reason “can do nothing but slander and harm all that God says and does.” Immanuel Kant said that he “found it necessary to deny knowledge of God…in order to find a place for faith.” William Lane Craig agrees with Luther’s viewpoint. He argues that “reason is a tool to help us better understand our faith. Should faith and reason conflict, it is reason that must submit to faith, not vice versa.”

There is something wrong with a religious faith that needs to disparage reason like this. It's admitting Christianity cannot be defended by reason. If that's what they think, why should we think otherwise? Why should anyone? I see no reason to do so.

Case in Point Two: Why Should We Believe If the Jews Didn't?

The most plausible estimate of the first-century Jewish population comes from a census of the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius (48 CE) that counted nearly 7 million Jews. If we add in the Jews outside the Roman Empire in places like Babylon, the total first century Jewish population could have been 8 million. It’s estimated that there may have been as many as 2.5 million Jews in Palestine.

These Jews believed in God. They were beloved by their God. They believed their God did miracles. They hoped for a Messiah. They knew well their Old Testament prophecies. Yet the overwhelming majority of them did not believe Jesus was raised from the dead. Catholic New Testament scholar David C. Sim argued: “Throughout the first century the total number of Jews in the Christian movement probably never exceeded 1,000 and by the end of the century the Christian church was largely Gentile.” LINK.

Since Jews were there and they didn’t believe, why should we? Why should anyone? I see no reason to do so.

The Christian response is that these Jews didn't want to believe because Jesus was not their kind of Messiah, a king who would throw off Roman rule. But then, where did they get that idea in the first place? They got it from their own Scriptures. And who supposedly inspired them? Their God. This means that even though their God loved them over all others, s/he purposely misled them, thereby condemned them to hell along with centuries of persecution as "Christ killers" for following reason. For there is no prophecy in the Old Testament to be regarded as a prophecy that points exclusively to Jesus as the Messiah. The Psalmist literature therefore doesn't count! Sure there are passages that describe a hope for a political Messiah, but that doesn't make them predictions. All a reasonable person needs to do is look in the New Testament for the claims of fulfilled prophecy. Follow them back to the source in the Old Testament, then study the context. The young girl who was to give birth in Isaiah 7 was not a virgin, and it clearly is not speaking of the distant future. The suffering servant passage in Isaiah 53 is speaking of the sufferings of Israel as a nation, not the Messiah (Isaiah 49:3). There is no hint in the OT texts that any "double-fulfillment" is possible. Stretching these and other so-called OT prophecies to Jesus is mishandling the texts based on faith.

Case In Point Three: Not Even Christian Apologists Believe Sufficient Evidence Exists:

Most of the best Christian defenders admit there isn’t sufficient objective evidence to believe, perhaps upwards to 80% of them. Alvin Plantinga has even argued Christian believers do not need objective evidence for their faith.

They argue the evidence alone won’t convince people so they must first effectively show that God exists. They reason like this: "Only if people are brought to first believe in a miracle working god can the available evidence convince them Jesus was raised from the dead."

Still others came along and were forced to admit there aren’t even any good arguments for the existence of God. Alvin Plantinga: “I don’t know of an argument for Christian belief that seems very likely to convince one who doesn’t already accept its conclusion.” [Warranted Christian Belief, p. 201.] John Feinberg: “I wouldn’t try to prove God’s existence first, if at all, in that I am not convinced that any of the traditional arguments succeeds.” [Can You Believe it’s True: Christian Apologetics in a Modern, Postmodern Era, p. 321]. Richard Swinburne: “I cannot see any force in an argument to the existence of God from the existence of morality.” [The Existence of God 2nd, ed., p. 215.]

Now what? Did they abandon their attempts to defend Christianity? NO! Christian defenders started presupposing God exists (or even Christianity as a whole), without objective evidence or arguments to the existence of God. Thus begging the whole question.

Still other Christian defenders argued against the attempt to rationally defend their faith. They insist God must be personally experienced instead. This abandons the rational attempt to show the Christian faith is true. Subjective experiences don’t say anything objective about the objective world.

Finally, many of them now embrace an eclectic or pragmatic means of defending their faith, where the conclusion largely dictates the means. Christianity is the conclusion. Now use whatever means is needed to reach that conclusion.

Christian believers who say their faith is based upon sufficient objective evidence just don’t understand what’s been going on behind the scenes in the hallways of their seminaries. Even most of the best Christian defenders/apologists acknowledge the evidence just isn't there. Instead of acknowledging this fact they concocted several other bogus ways to defend their faith, ones they would never accept if these same rationalizations came from any other religious sect. Since there are five means to defend Christianity (above) and only one of them advocates objective evidence exists to believe, four of them--or 80% of them--reject evidence as primary. Just consider what would've been the case if sufficient objective evidence existed. Then no other means to defend the Christian faith would've been proposed, much less adopted by many others.

If Christian defenders don't think sufficient objective evidence exists, then why should we? Why should anyone? I see no reason to do so.

This third case in point is something I argued in chapter five of my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. I consider it the best chapter I've written in all my books. It documents what I say above. The book as a whole is recommended by a few important scholars, most notably by Christian apologist Dr. Chad Meister. He says, "In this book John Loftus provides some insightful criticisms of arguments by Christian thinkers, including those having to do with the problem of evil." You would think there was nothing he hadn't considered before, yet he says I provide "some insightful criticisms" in it. See for yourselves.

0 comments: