Showing posts with label Christian Apologetics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian Apologetics. Show all posts

Apologetics Based On Coincidental "Miracles" Is Dead

How many times have you heard a believer say God did a miracle, or answered a prayer, based on a very unlikely set of circumstances? All the time, right!! Christian apologists will even argue there are coincidental miracles in the Bible, called "timing" miracles, events that took place naturally at the right time. Not so fast! Become informed. Read the following books. See why they don't count as miracles, or answered prayers.

I've previously highly recommended the book The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day, by David J. Hand, who is an emeritus professor of mathematics, a senior research investigator at Imperial College London, and former president of the Royal Statistical Society. Book description is as follows:
In The Improbability Principle, the renowned statistician David J. Hand argues that extraordinarily rare events are anything but. In fact, they’re commonplace. Not only that, we should all expect to experience a miracle roughly once every month. But Hand is no believer in superstitions, prophecies, or the paranormal. His definition of “miracle” is thoroughly rational. No mystical or supernatural explanation is necessary to understand why someone is lucky enough to win the lottery twice, or is destined to be hit by lightning three times and still survive. All we need, Hand argues, is a firm grounding in a powerful set of laws: the laws of inevitability, of truly large numbers, of selection, of the probability lever, and of near enough.
Other important books by people who know say the same thing, such as: Knock on Wood: Luck, Chance, and the Meaning of Everything, by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, who also wrote the book, Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities. Rosenthal is a professor of statistics at the University of Toronto, having received his PhD in mathematics from Harvard. Fluke: The Math and Myth of Coincidence, by Joseph Mazur, who is an emeritus professor of mathematics at Marlboro College in Vermont. The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, by Leonard Mlodinow, who co-wrote with Stephen Hawking "The Grand Design", and had previously earned his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California at Berkeley. What the Luck?: The Surprising Role of Chance in Our Everyday Lives, by Gary Smith, who is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Economics at Pomona College in Claremont, California. Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and It's Consequences, by John Allen Paulos who is a professor of mathematics at Temple University.

You see evidence of miracles and answered prayers in coincidences not because there's a god doing them, but because you look for them. They are not evidence of anything but your own subjective awareness placing a grid upon these events where you see your god acting on your behalf. They are also evidence that you are ignorant of math and statistics and the probabilities built on them. Q.E.D.

I've Written Three Books On How To Honestly Seek the Truth

[First Published August 2022] I've written three books to educate believers on how to honestly seek the truth and defend it: 1) The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion is True. In it I show honest believers how to approach their faith consistently without any double standards or special pleading.

2) How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist. In it I show Christian apologists how to correctly defend their faith, if it can be defended at all. Apologists should read it before writing another sentence in defense of their faith. In it I challenge apologists to stop doing what they're doing if they're honest about defending their Christian faith. The risk is that if they stop it they cannot defend their faith at all. But the risk is worth it if they're serious about knowing and defending the truth.

3) Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End. In it I show philosophers of religion and other intellectuals how to properly discuss and debate religious beliefs. What I cannot teach however, is to desire the truth. That comes from within. Taken together these three books are the antidote to the faith virus. The problem is almost none of them desire the truth, comparatively speaking. Here's hoping a few honest believers are reading who desire the truth.

Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics, by Michael J. Alter

Michael J. Alter is an independent researcher and author of The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry (2015), A Thematic Access-Oriented Bibliography of Jesus's Resurrection (2020), and the forthcoming text from GCRR Press, The Resurrection and Its Apologetics: A Critical Inquiry, Vol. 1.

Alter has written a two part essay at the Global Center for Religious Research titled, "Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics. Highly recommended! Nonbelievers seeking an education and a publisher are not out-gunned, they just have less opportunities when up against the massive amount of resources of Christian organizations, colleges and publishing houses. I know this all to well.

Recent Trends in Apologetics, Part 3

To read Part 2 in this three part series click here.

From the outset I should say that a great many Christian theologians don't think highly of apologetics, following in the footsteps of Karl Barth who thought natural theology was a failure. In their colleges there is no apologetics department, or apologetics classes! According to them, Natural Theology is a failure. God is his own witness. Stands to reason, right? Only God can reveal God. Revelation from God can only come from God, or as Barth himself said, "the best apologetics is a good dogmatics". [Table Talk, ed. J. D. Godsey (Edinburgh and London, 1963), 62]

I should also say that most apologetics books are just more of the same old, same old thing. I can't tolerate reading any more them, as they rehash what others have already said, for the umpteenth time. It can even be seen in their annoying and false book titles, using words like Evidence, even though there is no direct or objective evidence, Eyewitness, even though everything we have is filtered down via 2nd-3rd-4th hand hearsay, and Comprehensive, even though the chapters in those books are superficial treatments.


J. Daniel Hays, A Christian's Guide to Evidence for the Bible: 101 Proofs from History and Archaeology

Allen Quist, Evidence that the Bible is True: The Apologetics of Biblical Reliability


Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony [Expanded and Updated], 2017.

Daniel P. Buttafuoco, Consider the Evidence: A Trial Lawyer Examines Eyewitness Testimony in Defense of the Reliability of the New Testament


Joseph M. Holden, ed., The Comprehensive Guide to Apologetics, 528 pages. I did a search inside this book for Dawkins, Harris, Barker, Price, Stenger, Carrier, Avalos, & Loftus. None of these names are mentioned. Barker is quoted as saying there isn't any evidence for their faith. Dawkins is quoted the most, someone admittedly untrained in philosophy or theology.

William A. Dembski, Joseph M. Holden, Casey Luskin, eds., The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith, 656 pages.

Now on with the show.

Recent Trends in Christian Apologetics, Part 2

To read Part 1 in this three part series click here. Now on with the show.

I'm going to begin at the beginning, what's considered to be the resurgence of Christianity touted by Christian apologists. Over at Patheos, there is a page for Evangelicalism that offers little more than self-congratulatory bluster for its philosophical and apologetical achievements in the recent past, given the religious diversity in the world. Atheist philosopher Quentin Smith was quoted as saying that God "is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments." That's the LAST stronghold. "God" has already been ousted from most every other department in the university. So why on earth would evangelicals be quoting Quentin Smith on this, or feeling good about what he said? The bottom line is that you cannot have a religious trajectory that will last very long without a good solid foundation. What evangelicals will have to come to grips with is the lack of a Biblical foundation for what they believe. It simply is not there. They have completely and utterly ignored this fact.

I'm here to remind them that Natural Theology is dead, so their philosophical renaissance is nothing more than fundamentalism on stilts, as Dr. Jaco Gerike argues. I especially love Gerike's chapter 5 in my anthology The End of Christianity titled, Can God Exist if Yahweh Doesn't?

One problem with answering the philosophical arguments of WLCraig, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, and company, can be seen in Craig's response to the atheist literature over the last few decades that trounced their fundamentalist arguments. A fine summary of that atheist literature can be read here. Craig seems jubilant about it all, saying:
You have masterfully surveyed for us the current philosophical landscape with respect to atheism. You give our readers a good idea of who the principal players are today. Moreover, I hope that theists, especially Christian theists, who read your account will come away encouraged by the way Christian philosophers are being taken seriously by their secular colleagues today. The average man in the street may get the impression from social media that Christians are intellectual losers who are not taken seriously by secular thinkers. Your letter explodes that stereotype. It shows that Christians are ready and able to compete with their secular colleagues on the academic playing field.
In other words, responding to fundamentalist philosophy only encourages fundamentalist philosophers!

Recent Trends in Christian Apologetics, Part 1

I'm going to revisit this topic for a Part 2. I already have a draft to post. Help me out. What are some trends in apologetics that you've noticed?

[First Published 11/13/19]. As the author of a book that offered good advice to Christian apologists, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, I should keep up with how they're doing. Given that Evangelicals concede they are losing in the marketplace of ideas, and that they partially blame this on the rise of the internet, no wonder apologetics is in demand. Everyone is doing it, or so it appears. This is a sign, all by itself, that Christianity of the evangelical kind is dying. For apologetics is necessitated by the need, and the need is dire.

So what's recently been happening in the apologetics publishing world? Let's look at some books.

1) Apologists are making apologetics more accessible to readers.

We've seen the advent of apologetics study Bibles. The first one to be published was The Apologetics Study Bible: Understand Why You Believe, by Holman Bible Publishers, 2007. 

The Five Most Powerful Reasons Not To Believe


I'm being approached on Facebook by Dr. David Geisler in his attempt to change my mind. He's an Evangelical scholar/leader and the son of the late Norman Geisler. His focus is on philosophical arguments to the existence of his god, especially the ones of his father. Those kind of arguments bore me to death, especially since Christian apologists Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne and John Feinberg don't place much stock in them. Over on Twitter there are a cadre of atheists who love to debate these philosophical arguments with Christians back and forth, to what effect I don't know. So I asked them in a Tweet: "Let me know when you're having a discussion about the value of debates with fundamentalist Christian philosophers over beliefs that have no objective evidence." I'm still waiting for that discussion. My take is they don't want to deal with the arguments in my book, Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End

So I've put together the five most powerful reasons not to believe, and they're not philosophical arguments per se, but evidential ones. Keep in mind it's brief for effect:

"Don't Read Apologetics!"

This "New Testament Review" podcast is fantastic! Listen in as two Christian PhD candidates at Duke University discuss Lee Strobel's book, "The Case for Christ." While they treat the general outline of the gospels as historical to some degree, they destroy the argument that the gospels were written by eyewitnesses. At least listen up to the 21:30 minute mark! Then keep listening to the end to hear them rip into apologetics itself! The whole discussion is good!

Ian says Strobel's book isn't just bad. He says, "This book will make you dumber. No matter how much you already will almost certainly know less by the time you finish this book. It is profoundly deceptive..." (25:45).

It's not just Robert M. Price saying it in his book, The Case against the Case for Christ, or me in my anthology The Case against Miracles--the book apologist Tim McGrew should read before he says anything more about miracles!

The podcasters call Strobel's book dishonest and deceptive from the get-go. It's a textbook case of deceptive apologetics. If this is so, why accept apologetics at all? Ian says it plainly, "Don't read apologetics!" That is, not if your primary goal is to understand the gospels.

Is Timothy McGrew An Expert When it Comes to Miracles?

Christian apologist Tom Gilson said: "Timothy McGrew is an international expert on epistemology and miracles. If Loftus has come up with a better defense than Tim has already encountered, that would be a miracle all its own."

John Loftus: If Timothy McGrew is considered an international expert on miracles and concluded a virgin named Mary gave birth to the second person of the Trinity, then he's not really an expert. He's certainly not a historian using the standards of the historical method, which is the kind of expert we should turn to for miracle claims in the past, not philosophers. Let's see him respond to this link to show that he's an expert. Can he respond or not? If not, then what atheist Michael Levine says is dead on.

Despite the condescending attitude of Jonathan McLatchie and the McGrews, I think they stand to learn from me. If you know anything about me you know I'm well-read. So I'm telling you there are plenty of critical things said in my book on miracles that I don't think they have considered before. See one of them below.

The Meta-Apologetic Problem of Sophistication

Meta-apologetics is concerned with apologetical issues, especially with regard to which apologetics method is the best one for defending the Christian faith, if one exists at all. I'm introducing a previously ignored meta-apologetical problem for Christian apologists to answer, if they can answer it at all. It constitutes a serious problem aimed at the whole apologetical enterprise. Why does it take so much effort and sophisticated knowledge to defend the Christian faith?
The probability that the Bible is God's word is inversely proportional to the amount of work it takes Christian apologists to defend it from objections to the contrary (that is, the more work its defense requires, the less likely the Bible is God’s word), and it requires way too much work to suppose that it is.

Consider the sheer numbers of Christian apologists/scholars and books that have been published by the following author/editors: C.S. Lewis, Norman Geisler, William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne, Paul Copan, Alvin Plantinga, N.T. Wright, Chad Meister, J.P. Moreland, Gregory Boyd, Gary Habermas, Steven Cowan, Douglas Groothuis, Peter van Inwagen, Randal Rauser, Michael Murray, William Dembski, Richard J. Bauckham, Michael Brown, Dan Wallace, D.A. Carson, G.K. Beale, Craig Blomberg, Craig Evans, Stephen Davis, Donald Guthrie, Ralph Martin, Richard Hess, Dinesh D’Souza, and Timothy Keller to name some of the more noteworthy ones. While some of these authors deal with the same issues most of their material is unique to them, for further defending their faith. If we add in their magazine and journal articles we already have a small library of works. If we were to get and read the references they quote from we have a whole library of works in defense of the Christian faith, a comprehensive case. That’s what a comprehensive apologetic requires. The important question left unaddressed by them, as always, is why a defense requires so many books? Why does Christianity need such a defense at all?

The fact that it takes so much work to defend Christianity is a strong indicator, all by itself, that the Christian God does not exist, or he doesn’t care if we believe.

"Follow the Money" Michael Alter and Matthew Ferguson On Apologetics

On this blog and especially in my book How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, I have defended several claims regarding Christian apologetics, such as: 1) Honest Evangelical Scholarship is a Ruse. There is No Such Thing!; and 2) All apologetics is special pleading (see my book). Then there's the money problem. Other writers here have mentioned the money, like Robert Conner, who wrote a piece called, EVANGELICAL BAD FAITH V: FOLLOW THE MONEY, and former DC team member Harry McCall, who lamented The Disappearing Atheist Who Holds a Degree in Religion due to the outrageous costs, and hence, financially forbidden to earn the degrees necessary to be taken seriously by our counter-parts.

Here are two recent links to an extremely helpful breakdown of the money problem, written by Michael Alter, author of the fantastic book, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry. ONE) Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics (Part I); and TWO) Follow the Money Trail: Faith-Based Education and Publishing in Apologetics (Part II)

Matthew Ferguson, a doctoral candidate in Classics at the University of California, Irvine, commented on this in a post that is now gone. They both know the problem well. Michael Alter, because he must fund his own research, and Matthew Ferguson, because for an atheist scholar to be gainfully employed in his field (and be able to pay off his educational loans) isn't too promising, compared to others who are believers. This is good, really good. I especially like Ferguson's comment under the essay itself, from which I'll quote below:

Why Do So Many Christian Apologists Act Like Know-It-Alls?

No humble people they! Ask them. They'll answer all your questions. They know-it-all about quantum mechanics, able to reject scientists (with a single bound) who have theories opposed to their god concept, while siding with those who support it. Doing this must mean they know as much as the scientists in these fields do! Unlike the wise Socrates who admitted he was not wise, they claim they're wise, thereby making themselves out as fools. Not the fools Paul the Apostle spoke of, who rejected the wisdom of the world, but the kind of fools Peter Boghossian wrote of, who pretend to know that which they don't know. They reject evolution, or the clear implications of evolution, which means they know as much as evolutionary scientists do, and/or theologians! They know as much as biblical scholars do, since they're able to take sides in their disputes (and tell us who wins but not why, except to mindlessly quote--mine from them). They can even read the ancient biblical languages and know which translations are best! They know as much as philosophers who debate god-concepts. They know as much as archaeologists, astronomers, historians, ethicists, cultural anthropologists, geologists, cosmologists, and so on, and so on, because they can tell which scholars are right in every discipline that touches on their faith. And guess what? Surprise! They always judge which of these scholars are correct based on their previously adopted faith with its sectarian interpretation of an ancient pre-scientific book, written mainly by anonymous people! This is either truly amazing or utterly ignorant! It's what you get by pretending to know that which you don't know, rather than practicing the virtue of authenticity. Defending the Christian faith requires special pleading. We already knew that. It's also an exercise lacking the virtue of authenticity, the antonyms of which are found online, with words like, counterfeit, fake, concocted, deceptive, delusory, disingenuous, inauthentic and misleading. "Liars for Jesus" seems to be a phrase that fits. [Hence the tag below].

Five Deceptive Apologetic Strategies

[Written by John W. Loftus] The social sciences (which broadly speaking includes psychology) have shown us that people hold to unrecognized contradictory beliefs and that they can deceive themselves to accept their conscious beliefs despite the evidence. People have asked me from time to time if Christian apologists lie to defend their faith and I have repeatedly said that even though there are some Christians who do so, most Christian apologists are sincere believers. I still think that. But what's really going on is that these Christian defenders have become experts at deceiving themselves first. They are therefore deceiving others because they are deceiving themselves.

My task is to show them this is what they're doing. It's very hard to convince the deceived that they are deceiving themselves though. They don’t take too kindly to my doing so. They use several deceptive apologetics strategies and they use them all really well. The following apologetic strategies are used by defenders of the Christian faith to deceive. They are used to convince themselves against the evidence. They are used to convince others to embrace Christianity. Don't buy into their spiel.