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Friday, October 17, 2008

An Intellectual Challenge...

At the risk of doing their job for them....

The recent post regarding annoying theist debate tactics got me thinking; what if you actually had to defend/promote theism (let's say Christianity for sake of argument), how would you go about it?

I think, as an exercise in debating technique and rationality, we should attempt to argue the opposing side from time to time. Perhaps the resident theist would care to join in and attempt to defend atheism? It's a good opportunity to see how well you really know the opposing point of view.

So, if you're willing, give it you best apologetic shot: Defend Christianity...

Cheers,

67 comments:

  1. My 'testimony';

    I first became a believer when my mother told me of the numerous miscarriages she had before I was born - the doctors said it was impossible, but she kept on praying and, through God's grace, I was born.

    At the time I didn't know who God was or what he did, but it was clear that 'Something' existed - otherwise I wouldn't!

    After a long time reading various religious texts and discussing spiritual matters with my friends and relatives, it was the accuracy of Biblical prophecy that finally convinced me that the Bible was God's word.

    After that, I put my faith in Jesus and my conversion experience sealed the deal; I knew that God had worked to remove sin from my life and His Word was true.

    With this knowledge comes significant obstacles in regard to traditional 'secular' thinking on some matters (science, in particular) that take some understanding, but I KNOW that God is real and the reality of this wins out over fallible human minds any day of the week.

    Any perceived discrepancies in the Bible are down to the athiest's inability to discern the truth; his sin blinds him from the obvious and I urge you to set aside your pride and seek God with an open heart.

    God bless,

    Matt

    /'testimony'

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  2. This isn't a defence of Christianity; it's a testimony pure and simple. The experience of coming to know God personally.

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  3. Hey, great challenge! Are you suggesting we promote the bible believing type, or just bog standard christianity?

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  4. Why I believe in God

    I was raised as a heathen in a den of sin and degradation. I thought *I* knew everything. I didn't NEED God. I wanted to be able to sin freely without consequence. This lead me down a path of self-destruction. I was sexually promiscuous and even had an abortion. I enjoyed deviant sexual behaviors. I became addicted to drugs and alcohol, even going so far as to be a "bag-bride" or "strawberry". At the time I thought I was within my rights to live my life anyway I wanted.

    One day, when I was living on the streets and going through some very serious withdraw, a young women stopped to witness to me. What she said started to make a lot of sense. I didn't realize until I talked to her that I was using drugs and alcohol to numb my feelings of guilt and shame. That I knew that I was wretched in the eyes of the perfect LORD.

    She love-bombed me into taking some tracts and gave me a free bible. And I thank God everyday for that. It wasn't until I read God's perfect word that I came to realize how wrong non-believers are. God does exist. God has created all in his perfect image. I feel him inside me, guiding my every action. I no longer have to worry about making any decisions. God's perfect word makes them all for me.

    God will judge all accordingly. Non-believers who refuse to listen to God's word will get what they deserve:

    "If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it." (Malachi 2:2-3)

    A filthy Sanchez.

    REPENT NOW!

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  5. No Christian I personally know would defend Christianity with logic. They say that they believe it's true because they feel it that way and they feel good with it. They might point out that they feel sorry for everybody who can't feel it. They might ask: Are you happy without a god who cares for you? And then they will tell me why they are happy with God.
    They might think that atheists are spiritually dead but not that they are stupid. And most will accept that I don't want that particular spirituality.
    Being Christian is something you have to feel inside you. Nothing you can rationally choose.
    If you want to convert other people to Christianity you have to live the example. Threatening them with hell and eternal damnation might work in fearful societies, but modern people don't think that way. And it's not necessary. Christianity can give so much:
    -peace of mind
    -purpose of life
    -community
    -hope
    -moral guidance
    If an atheist has all this, he's probably a good human anyway and if God want him to believe, he will make him.

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  6. I agree: nice change of pace!

    I think the topic is actually a bit too vague, however. For instance, I've started this attempt 3 times, but each I came to the conclusion that I wasn't sure of how to approach the challenge. Am I trying to pretend to be a theist? Am I trying to justify Christianity with respect to logic and reason?

    I believe I'm going to try a bit of both. I'm going to try to make a rational argument for belief in the Bible (as I would hope a fairly intelligent Christian might try).

    In 3... 2... 1...

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  7. Ahem:

    I think it's either cruel or anti-intellectual to ignore the fact that people are searching for meaning in their lives. Some find it in spouses or kids, others find it in being active within some social justice issue - but some don't find any solace in the things *of* mankind. They feel that there must be a reason for our existence outside of day-to-day living.

    Christianity attempts to answer that by providing evidence that God has actually tried to tell us why we're here, and what we're supposed to be doing. Based upon the Bible, it hopes to show that there's a path for us - from our birth to our eventual death. Following this path will lead us to happier and more fulfilled lives, and has the added benefit of eternal happiness once were gone from this world.

    The one true obstacle in our way, however, is Sin. Unless you understand, accept and sincerely ask forgiveness for violating the laws almighty God has laid down for us, you will never reach the Joy that might be yours in the hereafter.

    This is your purpose in life; it's to follow God's holy law. It's to be aware (and thankful) of Jesus Christ's sacrifice for you, and to understand what it means. It's to help others come to this understanding as well.

    We have millions of believers worldwide, and can be found on nearly every street corner and in every facet of modern society. We're Scientists and pastors, teachers and farmers, doctors and lawyers and politicians - all caring for each other and doing our best to adhere to the plan. Come and join God's one true family, and begin the journey that's been destined for you.

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  8. laof,

    You're exactly right! My testimony stands on it's own, Christ's Word needs no defending; self-evidently true, as it is.

    What these ah-theists don't understand is that coming to know God personally IS the evidence for His existence - if only they'd soften their hearts and get to know Him.

    Peace brother.

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  9. whateverman,

    Beautifully put brother!

    Liz,

    If only we could love-bomb the whole world, eh? Your story brought a tear to my eye.

    The evidence of Sin is overwhelming and only a mentally-deficient evolutionist would dare to claim otherwise.

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  11. expatmatt -

    That isn't logical proof to the existence of God.

    Don't appeal to my conscience or my emotion. No real evidence does that. You've got to appeal to my intellect.

    give me proof! Proof that I or anyone can see, feel, touch.

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  12. The only argument that works is personal experience or revelation.
    Even Paul did not believe the Jesus story until God spoke to him directly. There is no physical proof for God (creation needs a creator is not valid) so that doesn't work. Guilt and shame are not signs of God. Read up on psychology. Unusual events or coincidences are not proof of God's existence. Again read some psychology. An awesome universe or beauty in nature does not prove God. Once man thought God caused thunder and earthquakes. Now we know better. Lack of understanding does not mean a supernatural cause. Prophesy works if you are credulous.The truth in prophesy depends on when the prophesy was made and how it is interpreted. Believers and nonbelievers will not agree. So the only argument that cannot be refuted is personal testimony because it is subjective. And yes I would convert too if God revealed himself to me. But he hasn't.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. "What he means is you need to throw out logic and reason. Then the bible makes sense."

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  16. How I would approach it is by saying it is all faith based. I would also say that the bible is not inerrant but it contains the core for this faith. I would quote the passages that speak of faith, for example the faith of a mustard seed, the story of the disciple Thomas, etc. I would also point out that religion and science are not in contention. That religion explains the spiritual while science explains the natural. Probably coming back around to the fact one must have faith because it is through your faith you are saved by grace.

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  17. laof,

    You said;

    "Don't appeal to my conscience or my emotion. No real evidence does that. You've got to appeal to my intellect."

    You can learn how to circumvent the intellect if you speak directly to the conscience - Kirk Cameron taught me that.

    If you want proof, just look outside your window at the trees, the flowers, the birds, the rivers. How could all of this come from an accidental explosion of nothing?

    Stop hiding behind your sin and step into the light!

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  18. "It's clear [you] feel defensive for some reason..."

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  19. beamstalk - rocky s.

    You said:
    "I would also say that the bible is not inerrant but it contains the core for this faith."

    Then I would call you a false convert.

    Let me ask you a question; do you consider yourself to be a good person?

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  20. laof,
    if you copy and paste my comments from AC, could you please provide the source?

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  21. "I'll concede that it may be valid to call Biblical scripture as "evidence". However, the validity of that evidence is what's being questioned."

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  22. laof,

    We Christians have always been persecuted - it's one of the ways we know that we are right; the Bible tells us that we will be despised and hated and we are.

    If you see us being defensive, it only adds to the veracity of the Bible.

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  23. matt,

    I could not defend an inerrant bible. That would just require a loss of too many brain cells. The bible was written by man and man is not perfect. It says it is god breathed but not god written. Breathe is like wind and wind can shape things but it can be exact. That is how it is with the bible. The breath of god shapes the bible but man is adding the details so the details can be wrong. The basic theology behind it though is what matters. That God is the creator and man fell from grace with god. So god sent his son jesus to suffer and die for man because god loves us so much and doesnt want to be apart from us.

    And no I would not consider myself good in the yes of god, but it is by his grace through jesus I am saved.

    //once I get going I can fall back into this though fairly easily.

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  24. Defend Christianity...

    I can't.

    I tried for a long, long time, but in the end, I simply could not reconcile the Christian faith (or any faith, actually) with the available evidence. That's why I'm an atheist now...because I admit I cannot rationally argue the case for Christianity (or for any other faith).

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  25. Breathe is like wind and wind can shape things but it can* be exact.

    *cannot

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  26. Tilia -
    Sorry, I just garbage'd the quote.

    This is kind of late in the discussion but:

    1. Are we keeping this to 100 word or 200 word maximum?

    2. Is there any prize involved here?

    .l.a.o.f.

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  27. BTW: I personally am not trying to post satire. Although I'll stray, I'm actually trying to make a logical argument, rather than appealing entirely to emotion (which seems to be the only trick AC has up its sleeve)



    LAOF said: give me proof! Proof that I or anyone can see, feel, touch.

    I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the kind of proof (ie. science) that I think you're asking for. And really, given the presence of misinformation in today's modern society, it's probable that you could find a reason to question ANYTHING shown to you, if you were motivated to do so.

    My evidence is made up of several things:

    1) The Bible. You have to admit that few books written on this planet have inspired as many. It claims to be the account of divinity, God-made-flesh on Earth. Even if you're troubled by what it says or have doubts, shouldn't you at least take the time to understand what it says? Not merely "read" it, but absorb it?

    2) There are some things science can not explain. As far as I know, there's no Proof (<-- capital p) that ghosts exist; or aliens; or evil or good or conspiracy theories or your conscience or a zillion other things that people believe in. Does this mean those things don't exist? Of course not.


    3) Doesn't your "inner compass" tell you the world's pretty messed up? Is this based purely on our legal understanding of what society says is right/wrong, or is there something more to it?

    Maybe that inner compass has something to do with this plan that Christianity can help you understand. Maybe your inner self understands the concept of right/wrong without any reference to law books or judges or police officers.

    ---

    These things should at least suggest to you that there's more to life than meets the eye. Christianity can help you understand these things, even where science is poiwerless to

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  28. W.E.M.

    1.) I've read it and absorbed it - now what?

    2.) The FSM would fit in this catagory as well. Is he/she real also?

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  29. Expatmatt said:

    If only we could love-bomb the whole world, eh?

    Amen brother!

    Your story brought a tear to my eye.

    Awww, thanks brother. Those were heady times indeed. Thankfully I've completely recovered and even though works mean absolutely nothing in the eyes of God, I have decided to spend my life helping others. I am currently a counselor at a "Pray the Gay Away" camp. Doing God's work is awesome!

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  30. ...and
    3.) what 'something more' are you implying? Isn't there 'something more' to just about anything, if you prod the listener enough?

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  31. Whateverman, you nailed it with your post.

    If you want to boil things down to 'intellectualism' as laof apparently wants us to do, you're left with three fundamental truths:

    The Bible
    The Unexplained
    The Moral Compass

    Nothing in history, science or sociology respectively comes close to providing an explanation for these things - but God's word does.

    laof,

    The FSM didn't die for your sins.

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  32. Take my word for it:

    You guys are doing nothing different than the AC people; you're re-hashing.

    You would be horrible debaters and horrible defenders of anything with these arguments.
    Now, I AM off for the weekend. I'll check your progress on Monday.

    .f.o.a.l

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  33. Take my word for it:
    laof said;

    "You guys are doing nothing different than the AC people; you're re-hashing.

    You would be horrible debaters and horrible defenders of anything with these arguments.
    Now, I AM off for the weekend. I'll check your progress on Monday.

    .f.o.a.l"

    And so the atheist runs away from God's Truth yet again, when will they learn?

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  34. Don't worry .f.o.a.l; we'll be here when you get back - God, on the other hand, will be with you, always.

    Peace,

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  35. LAOF wrote: 1.) I've read it and absorbed it - now what?

    Reading is not absorbing!

    Besides, I suggested you read it at 1:23 PM, and you claim to have done so by 1:33??? I may be a simple man, but I'm not an idiot :)

    (heh)

    If you can not see the important of the Bible, might I humbly suggest that you spend time with Christians who've been reading and studying it for years (as opposed to minutes). The truth in those pages may not be immediately apparent, but it's there - and it takes a sincere pursuit to begin to understand.

    2.) The FSM would fit in this catagory as well. Is he/she real also?

    This might be a good point, except that we know the FSM to be created by man. It's a false god, meant to be satire and to mock the very serious nature of the real God.

    Even if you question the accuracy of Wikipedia, you can search one or two links and see that the FSM appeared within the last 10 years. The holy God of the Bible?

    Much, much older...

    3.) what 'something more' are you implying? Isn't there 'something more' to just about anything, if you prod the listener enough?

    Your original post asked for proof, and not an appeal to emotion or you conscience. Unfortunately, the reality of God is not that simple - your conscience is very much part of this equation.

    If you search honestly, your conscience will reveal that there is more to this issue than meets the eye.

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  36. Sorry, I can't do it. Even if Jesus appeared here right now that would only be (sorry, I thought I heard someone at the door) a subjective personal experience, and I wouldn't expect anyone to accept it as evidence.

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  37. tripmaster monkey,

    ""I can't.

    I tried for a long, long time, but in the end, I simply could not reconcile the Christian faith (or any faith, actually) with the available evidence. That's why I'm an atheist now...because I admit I cannot rationally argue the case for Christianity (or for any other faith).""

    Sounds like you may have experienced a false conversion. Nevertheless, let's hear your "rational" argument for atheism. Go ahead, convince me. God Bless.

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  38. Can someone make Scmike go away?

    The point in this post is to defend christianity. Go back to the F.A.C.T.S. blog.

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  39. scmike,
    did you read the post? Your job here would be to try to argue for atheism.
    Should be easier than the other way round. At least, atheism only claims that there is no god whereas there seem to be as many interpretations of the christian god as there are christians.

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  40. tilia,

    ""did you read the post? Your job here would be to try to argue for atheism.
    Should be easier than the other way round. At least, atheism only claims that there is no god whereas there seem to be as many interpretations of the christian god as there are christians.""

    I believe this is the first time we have spoken. It's nice to meet you.

    Yes, I did read the post, the problem is, Tilia, atheism cannot be logically defended, because it is an illogical worldview that ultimately leads to absurdity and foolishness.

    If you don't believe me, go to provingthebible.blogspot and check out the post "The Veil that Blinds" (Sept. 22). Hope this helps. God Bless.

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  41. @scmike

    "atheism cannot be logically defended,"

    I think you can defend atheism. You can pretty much defend anything as long as you can support your position.

    I'm not saying it's easy to argue in favor of atheism, but it's possible.

    "because it is an illogical worldview that ultimately leads to absurdity and foolishness."

    Yeah... I think you're right. But it doesn't mean atheism isn't right for me. I can't imagine being anything other than an atheist.

    Despite the absurdity and foolishness, I believe I made the right decision in becoming an atheist.

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  42. I should add that I don't think atheism itself is illogical, but certainly some of the reasons for becoming an atheist can be.

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  43. My standard argument for god would be
    -
    1)The Lebinizian argument for the existence of god.
    2)Ontological proof (the recent one by Plantinga is kinda cool)
    3) The historical argument for the resurrection of jesus.


    If I had to argue for atheism I would-
    1) probaly appeal to ddivine hiddeness. Use some arguments against it. (but only if i was talking to someone who believes in free will. It won't work against Calvinists or determinists)
    2)Appeal to mind-body dependency.Say god as a mind cannot exist without a body
    3)show why I think the universe was not designed or caused.
    Can't thinkofmany more arguments.
    Presuppositionalism is interesting to discuss but as evidenced here , it often goes over people's heads and does prove much

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  44. whateverman -

    You assume that because you told someone to read the bible, that they had not done so before you told them.
    You cannot use the bible to prove the existance of YOUR god, because that would be circular reasoning.

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  45. whateverman,

    that's a different freed.

    Cynthia

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  46. @ The Real Freed: it's ok, I'll respond anyway. Thanks for the heads up, I never woulda noticed otherwise

    You cannot use the bible to prove the existance of YOUR god, because that would be circular reasoning.

    Well let's be fair, I never claimed the Bible proves the existence of God; that proof comes from within.

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  47. Tilia, Kaitlyn,

    Please do not start arguing with MrFreeThinker. This post is not for that. If you want to debate him please first read this. After reading, if you still want to enter a useless debate, please post there so that this thread goes where intended.

    G.E.

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  48. The Frog-o-matic peeks in, sees ample discussion, ducks out through the back door......

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  49. @WEM & 'real'freed

    I apologize, there was no intent to confuse.

    I'll change on the next post.

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  50. No need to apologize. If no one else feels like continuing it, I'd rather let it die - and then try another challenge some other day. Forcing will kill the idea :)

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  51. //Tilia, Kaitlyn,

    Please do not start arguing with MrFreeThinker. This post is not for that. If you want to debate him please first read this//
    So you poisoning the well now GE.
    If you'd really like to have a discussion I suggest you respond to this challenge
    http://facilis.wordpress.com/2008/10/05/the-counter-challenge/
    But I don't blame you . Too bad you didn't answer any of Scmike's questions

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  52. Ups, Tilia and Kaitlyn

    Actually my apologies, I saw "scmike" and thought "mrfreethinker." Since the latest presupp was mrfreethinker. In any event, both using the presupp crap makes my warning equally valid.

    MFT,

    scmike and I have had our conversations already.

    G.E.

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  53. "Presuppositionalism is interesting to discuss but as evidenced here , it often goes over people's heads "

    I lol'd.
    For real.

    HAY GUYZ IF U DEWNT AXCEPT MAI ARGEWMENZ ITS CUZ U DEWNT UNDERSTANDZ THEM!!!!!!!111111111!!!!11111

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  54. So, if you're willing, give it you best apologetic shot: Defend Christianity...
    I don't know if I could defend it but I could do an okay job of selling it... I might point out gaps in knowledge, some presuppositional apologetics, a bit of TAG, then I would swing around to "emotional" "arguments".

    [ I would ignore people who told me presupposition was circular and TAG could used to prove Allah...]

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  55. Very good, Adam Nardoli. It would be a lot easier to sell Christianity or any other irrational belief, than defend or actually prove it.

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  56. Oh and Adam,Allah doesn't have the unchanging nature needed to ground logic.
    IMO I would stick to the historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus and the standard philosophical fare.

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  57. Oh and Adam,Allah doesn't have the unchanging nature needed to ground logic.

    Allah is "Samad". It's also one of His 99 names. It means "UNCHANGING"

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  58. g.e.,
    I've seen these pointless arguments with scmike and I won't get myself involved in that nonsense ;).

    Anyway, I'm seven hours ahead of this time stamp, so I'll probably never participate in American evening entertainement...

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  59. My impression of the typical fundubmentalist:

    "Evolution- That's crazy talk. I didn't come from no monkey!"

    I've seen that exact ststement a thousand times at fundie sites.

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  60. I think a conclusion can be drawn.

    A few atheists gave it a go and basically resorted to emotional appeals and eventually were inexorably drawn towards satire (or downright silliness) as they realised that they couldn't logically make a case for God without sacrificing a few million brain cells in the process.

    The theists didn't even try (laof - your copy pasta of Tilia's comments doesn't really count, does it?) and lent credence to the idea proposed recently that fundies lack basic empathy skills - nothing conclusive, just suggestive.

    The win goes to Adam Nardoli who said...

    "I don't know if I could defend it [Christianity] but I could do an okay job of selling it... I might point out gaps in knowledge, some presuppositional apologetics, a bit of TAG, then I would swing around to "emotional" "arguments".

    [ I would ignore people who told me presupposition was circular and TAG could used to prove Allah...]"

    Well put.

    Thanks guys, it was fun while it lasted.

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  61. Expatt matt- did n't you read my posts?I tried to make some but all the arguments for atheism are bunk.
    I could probaly do a Sam Harris style emotional appeal " Why did god let that little girl die (sob*sob)?" or Dawkin's appeal to ridicule if I really wanted to sell atheism though.

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  62. @Adam
    You do know that among those other 99 names they call him deceiver and destroyer right?
    How are you sure allah isn't deceiving you when they said he was unchanging?

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  63. @ free

    You wrote "How are you sure allah isn't deceiving you when they said he was unchanging?"

    How do you know your god isn't?

    In fact how do you know that Satan didn't invent your god?

    Hmm now there's a thought. Would certainly explain why a psalmist wrote that people would be blessed when they dashed a baby's brains out on a stone wouldn't it?

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  64. sorry mrfreethinker, but your attempt was pathetically half-arsed; you didn't even try to get into the spirit of things!

    Check out laof's post for how it should have been done:

    "expatmatt -

    That isn't logical proof to the existence of God.

    Don't appeal to my conscience or my emotion. No real evidence does that. You've got to appeal to my intellect.

    give me proof! Proof that I or anyone can see, feel, touch."

    See, isn't that more fun?

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  65. Allah is "Samad". It's also one of His 99 names. It means "UNCHANGING""


    FALSE!!!!!


    الصمد As-Samad The Self Sufficient, The Impregnable,
    The Eternally Besought of All, The Everlasting

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