26 February 2010

"Unquestioning Christians" and Atheistic Bluster

by Phil Johnson



   don't encourage anyone to hang around the infidel sectors of the Internet or interact on a large scale with the many missionaries of skepticism who inhabit those districts. They love to vent their hatred of God along with copious amounts of profanity, smutty language, lewd innuendo, blind rage, and pathologically pugnacious attitudes wherever they can find an unmoderated forum. Face it: a sewage-flow like that is not a healthy thing to expose oneself to.

That's not to suggest I think Christians should be unaware of or unprepared to meet atheists' pet arguments against Christianity. In fact, it is every believer's duty not only to sanctify the Lord Jesus (i.e., honor Him as holy) in your heart; but also to be "prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). (The how is crucial, too: "do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame"—vv. 15-16).

Well, the atheists of cyberspace have had this little meme going for months called "Signs That You Are An Unquestioning Christian." Actually, the 10-list has been around for at least five years, but someone made it into a really badly-formatted motivational-style poster and the jpeg has recently been cropping up all over the place. Here's the bad graphic, followed by the list in a more readable format:



Ten Signs You Are an Unquestioning Christian
  1. You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of your God.
  2. You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
  3. You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Trinity God.
  4. Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and animals.
  5. You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
  6. You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by prehistoric tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
  7. You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects - will spend eternity in an infinite hell of suffering. Yet, you consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
  8. While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
  9. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% failure was simply the will of God.
  10. You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history - but still call yourself a Christian.
Now, let's be clear: no sound Christian suggests that blind, "unquestioning" credulity is a good thing. A puerile kind of fideism—faith in faith itself—often masquerades as Christianity, but it's not. There are a lot of false Christians out there, and some shallow self-styled "evangelicals" who absolutely fit the descriptions of nos. 8 and 10. Shame on them. But for the record, those aren't characteristics of true, historic Christianity either. Apparently, this list is also supposed to represent some of atheism's most iron-clad nuclear arguments against Christianity per se. (At least that's the way the atheistic consensus on the Web seems to regard the meme.) I find it totally unimpressive as an apologetic for atheism, but I do occasionally hear from Christians who have been confronted with one or more of these arguments (or others like them) who want help giving an answer. So that's what I propose to do here at TeamPyro over the next couple of weeks. We'll take these ten arguments two or three at a time and examine them. What are the claims and presuppositions these ten arguments make? Are they really accurate? Is there a biblical answer to each of these challenges, and is it a reasonable answer? If you are stumped by any of these ten arguments, you certainly don't need to be. Let's talk about them together. We'll start today with a preliminary question: Which of the ten arguments (if any) troubles you the most?
Bonus: Be sure to see this comment from the February 2005 post linked above, where the agnostic woman who made the post emphatically proclaims her own superior open-mindedness, then immediately declares the conversation over with this curt dictum: "I don't want to talk about this anymore. We will never agree, and I have better things to do."
Phil's signature

60 comments:

The Damer said...

Just trying to figure out the difference between profanity and smutty language. Thanks Phil;)

Michael said...

Is the author referring to the same "science" that was so adamantly promoting global warming?

dan said...

where do i get my own hello kitty darth vader figure?! i really look forward to this series of posts. thanks phil.

whatever said...

I would like to ask if I may obtain permission to cross-post this forthcoming series on our blog with links to you:-

http://blog.echurchwebsites.org.uk/

Mesa Mike said...

How to tell if you're an unquestioning skeptic:

1. You accept any old list of straw man assertions about non-skeptics without the slightest amount of skepticism.

Phil Johnson said...

"Profanity" profanes or defiles what is sacred--like using the Lord's name in a vain or blasphemous manner.

"Smutty language" is obscene or lascivious talk.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan:

The Vader image is a full-grown man dressed in a hello-kitty-ized costume, not an action figure. See here fior the original.

Whatever:

Yes, feel free.

Canyon Shearer said...

So many strawmen, so little time!

Roger said...

I always like J.P. Holdings parody of lists like this: "You may be a fundamentalist atheist if...."

http://www.tektoonics.com/etc/parody/fundyath.html


Oops, JP's server just went down, here is the google cache of it:
http://74.125.153.132/search?q=cache:L3l4xiJzYhYJ:www.tektoonics.com/etc/parody/fundyath.html+http://www.tektonics.org/fundyath.html&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

Sir Aaron said...

This is going to be an awesome series.

The list is obviously filled with hyperbole. The second part of number four gives me some difficulty. Not in actual understanding, but in articulating a clear and convincing response to the argument (note: second part only).

#10 bothers me the most but that is because it convicts me of my own failure to do more study. I don't think it is at all an argument. In fact, I'd argue the reason why athiets spend so much time learning about Christianity and arguing against it is because they know he truth but don't like it. After all, If an athiest really believed there was no God, why would they bother wasting their precious little time on this planet with such things?

Steve Scott said...

Phil,

I'm not troubled too much by any of them. I think #8 is the most comical, though.

tck said...

Mesa Mike: Good one.

Roger: Thanks for the link.

As for the post mr. Johnson, I can't say that any one in particular - I'm just looking forward to the series. Thanks for the work you're putting into it. :)

Robert said...

Phil,

I'm not troubled much by trying to defend against any of these claims as much as I am troubled by the fact that none of them are really accurate. "Modern science" is when a group of people with preconceived notions go out and fulfill what is declared in Romans 1...people suppressing the truth and substituing a lie in its place.

What upsets me the most is the claim of number 10, because I would say that many atheists who make this argument know PARTS of the Bible very well, but do not know ALL of Scripture. Of course, without the Spirit opening our hearts to the truth of Scripture we'd be just as lost ourselves. Sadly, many professing Christians and people claiming to have been called as pastors only know parts of Scripture as well and do not study the whole of it.

I am excited to see your discussion of apologetics and I hope that it brings much fruit in the lives of us reading this blog.

Johnny Dialectic said...

The list is indeed unimpressive and easily handled. It would be simple, too, to put together a similar list for atheists, e.g., You enthusiastically extol natural science as holding the answer to everything material, yet cannot explain the origin of matter (except via blind faith).

I do, however, agree that #10 is somewhat troubling. While atheist "expertise" on the Bible is usually misbegotten, there is no excuse for Christians not to know their Bible; and it is here that many churches are letting them down.

donsands said...

"You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (4.55 billion years),"

This is usually where I lock horns with a few atheists who I have discussions with: The whole evolution/Darwinism/Big Bang/chance thing.

The one says, "Sure, I'd love to meet the two kangaroos that swam 2,000 miles to Australia."

Looking forward to some spiritual food and wisdom from above.

I have learned to always remember, Christ is the cornerstone of all truth, and I must always return to Him, and the gospel, as I deate all the different issues in the world.
Dead sinners need Christ. I needed Christ.

James Joyce said...

My favourite definition of an atheist is "someone who spends his whole life talking about the God he does not believe in."

Looking forward to the series Phil.

Everyday Mommy© said...

"The Vader image is a full-grown man dressed in a hello-kitty-ized costume, not an action figure. See here fior the original."

Has to be Comic-Con.

Eager for the series, Phil.

Rhology said...

The fairly well-known Atheism Is Dead blogger recently recruited some bloggers ranging from competent to brilliant, and also me for some reason, to contribute to his "evilbible.com is dead" project.
I went ahead and picked up this Top 10 post that you mention. Here's my refutation of it.

I don't know if this list originated with the puerile and clumsy evilbible.com, but that's where I first saw it.

May it help y'all in your further analysis.

olan strickland said...

Phil, if you'll take 2.5 arguments at the time you can complete the list in four posts :)

Jim Pemberton said...

A few brief comments:

I don't believe in atheists. I don't think they exist.

There are so many logical problems with the list, do you think that a single series will be enough?

The quote from the agnostic woman you linked to seems pretty typical. Even many liberal "Christians" make the same astonishing contention that conservative Christians aren't open-minded enough. If they are truly open-minded, then they should accept any viewpoint of someone who is less open-minded, but the argument is meant to argue that "close-minded" people are wrong.

Caleb Kolstad said...

Thanks Phil!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Which of the ten arguments (if any) troubles you the most?"

None of 'em really.

But I wonder if some Pentecostals might blush at numbers 8, 9, and 10.

Branches said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Branches said...

Wow, I hope that list would make intelligent atheists cringe. Most of those objections are either obvious misunderstandings of Christian doctrine or they portray a naive blindness to the presuppositions that underlie them. Furthermore, some of them are only descriptive of rampant anti-intellectualism prevalent in some quarters of evangelicalism which we are all well aware of. Any way, perhaps the only thing I could see as a serious objection to Christianity is why God would slaughter those children in the Exodus (though the objection assumes some things are objectively evil, the existence of which atheists are unable to account for). But I would be interested in hearing a positive response to this question beyond the negative critique that atheists have no ground to stand on to make such an objection.

Stephen F. said...

One of the signs that a person is an unquestioning ANYTHING: General, sweeping, all-encompassing statements like "THEY believe..." and "WE know..." abound.

I have to "amen" what DonSands said. Lock horns with people, I sometimes do, but the ultimate focus must be on Christ and the centrality of the Gospel. Eternal salvation does not ride on my or anyone's correct calculations of the age of Earth.

I also find that in the process of engaging with "the atheists" or "the" anybody, God often sees fit to introduce me to people who shatter the mold of whatever category I was ready to put them in. Hence, once again, the need for a clear and consistent focus on the Biblical Gospel, which is the only hinge upon which any of these confrontations should swing.

Frank Turk said...

#8 troubles me the most.

And I think it should be the one which we all pay special attention to.

Sharon said...

I have to admit . . . I firmly believed many of these points prior to Christ saving me when I was 17. And I still feel a "I'm not sure how to answer that" twinge when I see this list. So I am especially interested in this thread.

A Musician by Grace

SLW said...

As long as one is a questioning Christian I suppose the list is moot.

Paul D said...

I 2nd Sir Aaron's comment:
#4 troubles me the most as far as articulating a clear reply.
#10 convicts me.

looking forward to the series.

Mike Riccardi said...

I'm struck with how radically different these worldviews (atheism and Biblical Christianity) are. The writers of this list have constructed an alternate reality which does not exist. It strengthens my convictions about maintaining a presuppositional apologetic with unbelievers.

I'm not sure any particular one of these troubles me anymore than they trouble me as a unit.

One thing I did have a chuckle at was the "scientifically established" age of the earth, which has been growing and growing over the last decades. A while back our trusty scientific method "established" that the earth was only 2 billion years old or so. So yeah, that made me laugh.

Joel said...

While #10 may prick at many of us the most it is probably because it is meant to. It is a device used by the unscrupulous to make you feel inadequate to respond to their forthcoming dogmatic assertions. Back when I was attending school I would frequently commute on the train with several atheist friends. I can remember on one occasion peering over my quantum mechanics books to meet the eye of one of my friends as he attempted to belittle me for not having an understanding of mathematics and physics so as to comprehend the rock solid claims of micro-evolution. This same friend was a biologist who did not have enough mathematical knowledge to solve the quadratic formula. It is very seldom that I have had the charge of ignorance levied against me by anyone who themselves would not be described as ignorant by any unbiased observer.

That said although part of #4 is somewhat bothersome to try to explain to people, I am with Frank that #8 really is the most troubling to me.

Jugulum said...

I haven't seen this list before. Looking forward to your treatment, Phil.

At first glance, I'd say that 1, 2, 6 are positively silly--misguided, misinformed.

3 and 5 are silly because they lose all force if you change "You laugh at" to "You think they're incorrect". (But I suppose you could criticize Christians who do "laugh at" those.)

4 and 7 are somewhat understandable questions, though they're answerable.

8 is on-target, except for implying that science has disproved "Christianity".

9 is on-target, for people who too easily point to answered prayer as proof--in cases where it's reasonably explainable by coincidence.

10 validly points out that many Christians are too ignorant about Christianity--and "unquestioning Christian" is a reasonable label.

SammyBoy said...

#4 is, I think, the most difficult to answer satisfactorily. The answer I see most often is something which doesn't sound like, but essentially equates to, "Well, God is sovereign, and so if He did it, it must have needed to be done. Who are we to question Him?"

While technically true, it is wildly unsatisfying to anyone I know well, Christian or not.

Joel said...

SammyBoy:

I hear you there. I also think it is unsatisfying to most unbelievers and many believers because they don't have a biblical understanding of the grotesqueness of their own sin. I guess the latter part of #4 stopped being an issue for me when I realized that a Holy God should have done the same to me long ago. This also went a long ways to answering my questions about natural disasters that God is in control over and the reprobation of unbelievers.

Jmv7000 said...

All ten arguments are understandable and coherent only if your natural reasoning skills suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. The natural man understands not the things of God, for to him, He is foolish and His wisdom is foolish.

I guess this means man must be born again to understand and rightfully appraise spiritual issues!

round.tuit said...

I guess it would be safer to target "Unquestioning Christians" instead of "Unquestioning Muslims" - which, to the atheist should be viewed alike.

misty said...

I witness with a group from church at a local university and, I'm ashamed to admit it, but the science questions (#6) give me the most problems. I know evolution really isn't science at all, but it's hard to refute their claims when you are in a one-on-one conversatioin with an atheist.

I've been listening to MacArthur's "Battle for the Beginning" series which is very informative and helpful. But it's a series of 12 sermons so it's tough to remember all that information.

Any help you can provide in this area would be greatly appreciated!

Joel said...

misty,
You need to Google Ray Comfort and study the way he uses the gospel to go straight through the Atheist's arguments and to their conscience. I have spent/wasted hours debating with my atheist friends about science and have even had some of them come to the point of confessing to me that their beliefs in evolution where religious rather than scientific, but ultimately if you can't get to their heart with the gospel than it is a wasted effort.

I hope that good will come of my having overthrown some of the myths of false-science that they held, but I wish I had spent more time understanding the gospel for myself so that I could have given it to them more clearly.

Have a look. I hope this helps.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I'm looking forward to this series, and I hope you take your time in addressing these in small portions for those of us who can only handle a little at a time. Numbers 3, 4, and 5 are the most "complicated" in my mind to try to explain to an unbeliever. Numbers 8, 9, and 10 are the most troubling to my heart. I'm tempted to think that #4 could be the solution to the problem of #8, but I might be labeled cruel and unmerciful.

round.tuit said...

Misty, Check out Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research.

truth mission said...

Atheism: the fundamentalist religion of unbelief where they believe so strongly in their unbelief they will argue to the death anyone who has the temerity to believe what they believe rather than to believe in the absolute superiority of believing in the unbelief in which they so strongly believe.Makes sense to me

SamWise said...

Ten Signs You Are an Unquestioning Atheist

You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by religions, but feel outraged that anyone still believes in the existence of a God.

You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when with the Bible teaches we were created when God breathed life into dirt but you have no problem when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, space aliens, etc.

You laugh at polytheists, or those who believe in a Trinity but you have no problem believing in an unguided chance universe, in aliens planting DNA, etc.

Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Yahweh, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how atheists like Stalin and Mao slaughtered millions of men, women, children, and animals.

You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, Greek gods sleeping with humans, the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary, giving birth to the God-man who was crucified for our sins, resurrected, and ascended into heaven, but your face turns purple when you hear anyone discounting the meta-narratives of Darwinism, myriads of atomic theories, etc.

You are willing to spend your whole life looking for little loopholes in the revelations recorded by historic tribesmen sitting in their tents who knew their ancestors were recently wiped out by a flood a few generations back but you find nothing but wrong in dating methods that establish the age of Earth as much less than 4.55 billion years.

You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival schools of thought - will spend eternity in an infinite state of mindless non-existence Yet, you consider your beliefs the most "tolerant" and "loving."

While modernist, progressive science, history, geology, biology, and physics may have convinced you and not others, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "disprove" Christianity.

You define 0.3% of Carbon Dioxide as a "high rate" when it comes to “green-house gases.” You consider that to be evidence that global warming is “man caused.” And you think that the remaining 99.6% of gases do not contributing anything to the mass and therefore the heat energy and temperature of the atmosphere.

You actually know a lot less science than many Christians do especially about origins, intelligent design, and non-Darwinian science but you still call yourself an atheist.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

This is a very good idea for a series.

I had a similarly caricatured view of what Christians believe at one time, but it would be hard to explain to a skeptical non-believer what the change has been, except to explain it in inherently presuppositional terms (being born again in the Holy Spirit).

There's something specious or spurious about the way that almost every one of those claims is written, although as others have noted, #10 probably has the most traction, and it is a travesty that the concept of an intellectually robust, Evangelical Christianity seems to be an oxymoron to so many people, both professed believers and non-believers alike.

Appropriately, argument #1 comes first, and it really is the first principle: either the triune God of the Bible exists, or He does not. If He does, then all aspects of our lives and our worldview are shaped by what the Bible testifies about Him.

Somewhat tangentially, this post and some of the comments have reminded me of the value of solid Biblical hermeneutics in both evangelism (why is Gospel good news?) and apologetics.

Evidential apologetics, rightly handled, are a powerful tool (especially when it comes to the central historical event in the Bible: the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ), but ultimately, our understanding of God and His relationship to man—and the reason for the hope that is within us—is driven by the internal evidence of the Bible, its internal coherence, its testimony about itself, what it says about the existence of God and the necessity of the Incarnation, its according with the verities of human nature (our manifest sinfulness), and the consistency of its redemptive narrative from Genesis to Revelation—despite its having been written by three dozen different authors over a period of 1500 years.

Stefan said...

Oh, and this:

"A puerile kind of fideism—faith in faith—itself often masquerades as Christianity, but it's not."

Well put. Unfortunately, could that not describe quite a lot of what passes for contemporary "evanjellybeanism"?

SamWise said...

Number 10 is the fault of either laziness, sloth, or not being encouraged to read for oneself by goat herders instead of shepherds.

The White Horse Inn has many sad sound bites from undergraduate Bible college students who were completely clueless about simple facts about Galatians.

Part of this is due trying to be so "relevant" and not wanting to offend about Biblical illiteracy. Another part is Sunday School dumbing down as Mike Horton says, "I know it sort of sounds like it should be a squirrel but I will answer Jesus."

In my case, the lack of Biblical knowledge drove me to read and read to learn more. I wanted to know more and was thankful and not upset when a Bible teacher helped me to see the context or the historical support for some passage.

I agree about the value of apologetics for the believer. However, God the Holy Spirit uses His word to resurrect His elect to salvation. Winning arguments alone does not convert. Yet I Peter 3:15 tells us that we still have to be prepared to give an apology to anyone He brings to us by His providence asking "Why do you have hope?"

Sir Aaron said...

I thought Turk was being facetious.

dan said...

wow. i honestly thought the darth vader illustration was either a bizarre japanese action figure or one of phil's neat photoshop jobs.

~Mark said...

" Frank Turk said...

#8 troubles me the most.

And I think it should be the one which we all pay special attention to."

~That one doesn't bother me 'cause if it isn't done in the way directed by Scripture, it's set aside at best, counterfeit at worst.

Bobby Grow said...

One of the things I've always found funny about atheists is that their very name must presuppose what they deny (the negating "a"). They lose before they start, and the admit a notion of 'god' before they ever get started (of course not the Christian God who is Trinity).

SamWise said...

Number Four:
“About how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus"”

Psalm 105 is a great summary of how God views Exodus:

O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk you of all his wondrous works. Glory you in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember His marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth (Psalm 105:1-7).

We are to praise God for both the wondrous works and the judgments!
He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom. (Psalm 105:17-22).

Thus, Egypt was taught the wisdom of Yahweh by Joseph and the country was saved:

When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world (Genesis 41:56-57).

What was the “Pharaoh who knew not Joseph’s” response?

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live" (Exodus 1:15-16).

So the killing of male children originated with the nation that had specifically been saved and taught by Joseph’s God. God brought to pass the judgment they wanted to execute upon the Hebrew boys upon their boys (i.e., the killing of the firstborn males not all children)!

“Ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and animals.”

What was the LORD’s perspective on the land of Canaan? It is revealed to Abraham:

Then the LORD said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure" (Genesis 15:13-16).

The sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure. Why is God driving out the other nations (context is all the horrible Canaanite sexual sins the Hebrews are explicitly told not to practice):

Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants (Leviticus 18:24-26).

We can only understand any of this by faith:

At that time Jesus 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 (Matthew 11:25-26).

misty said...

Joel, you definitely feel my pain! Thanks for the advice. Bypassing the endless merry-go-round of intellectual arguments and starting with the Law (which is on their conscience) probably does work better.

round.tuit, I looked up Answers in Genesis and it's a goldmine of info! Thanks!

Did anyone else notice that #7 doesn't make sense? Since we Christians know the Bible is God's Word and the Bible tells us of hell, wouldn't we be horribly unloving if we didn't warn people about that?

After all, we didn't invent hell - God created it. We can't send anyone there, but God certainly will, so not mentioning hell at all would seem the most unloving, uncaring thing we could do.

Am I oversimplifying this? I just don't think it makes sense to call me unloving if I tell you that jumping off a high cliff will lead to your death. It's unpleasant information, I realize, but gravity exists whether you like it or not.

SamWise said...

Misty,

When I inverted the 10 subject/predicates the only one I didn't have to was number 7!

Look at Phil's and my wording--they're the samw!

Mike Riccardi said...

SamWise,

Well done sir. I enjoyed that.

pgepps said...

None of these are troubling in an "unanswerable argument" sense. The great crux for us all is still the problem of evil, so far as I can see. (just as we should expect, from Scripture)

However, several are troubling from a rhetorical standpoint, because their de-centered logic is an invitation and a seduction to reactions which create more confusion and anger, rather than advancing the Gospel.

Constantly stirring the pot is like an addiction, and whoever wrote this list suffered from it, and tempts others, because that is what addicts do.

Jmv7000 said...

Misty et al,

defeating atheism is not about answering fact for fact, answer or answer. Trying to argue God with atheists with facts is like trying to cut down a tree by removing one leaf a week from the tree! Your better off to attack the presuppositions. Probably the better thing to do is show them their inconsistencies at their presuppositional level and show them that they don't really live by their worldview and give them the gospel!

Man cannot accept or know God by facts, he must be born-again. I look forward to seeing Phil bring this out over the coming series.

Charlie on the T said...

Remember the most important Christian distinctive against purported absurdities: "Yeah? So what?"

Sir Brass said...

Stefan, just don't mistake evidentialism as being the same as using in your apologetic evidentialist arguments.

Evidentialism is inherently unbiblical and leaves the biblical ground of truth for the unbiblical ground of playing the apologetics game in the skeptic's court. By doing that, you're leaving the ground you're trying to defend and assuming that the skeptic or atheist actually has a valid point in his denial of God when in reality he has none.

The only way we can soundly and consistently answer the mocker is with a solid presuppositional apologetic that is grounded in holy scripture. Scripture is true, and we believe that, so we should never surrender that ground when answering the unbeliever who tries his hardest to deny that truth. We also know that NO argument whatsoever will convince that unbeliever unless he is awakened by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that itself is an even more powerful argument to stay away from the unbiblical basis of evidentialism (not evidentialist arguments.... those can be helpful as secondary witnesses to the truthfulness of scripture's testimony, not to be used as proof or refutation of the truthfulness of scripture).

Jim Pemberton said...

Sir Brass,
I wouldn't say that evidential apologetics is not biblical. You are right in that it can be helpful and that presuppositional apologetics is more sound logically. But God himself has regularly used evidence apologetically. In the OT he typically encouraged his people to faith by reiterating the visible (evidential) acts he did among them. The miracles of Jesus are referred to as "signs" (evidences). Even faith is referred to in Hebrews as being evidence.

As far as using presuppositional apologetics, most people don't have the intellectual self-awareness to fully understand their own presuppositions much less the good rationale offered by the presuppositional apologist. This is why we must understand and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide our evangelistic encounters and instruction to fellow believers for it is he who truly influences our presuppositional motives toward greater faith. Sometimes people already have the right presuppositional inclination, but merely need the evidence of what theological information is true to follow.

Stefan said...

Sir Brass:

Your points are well taken.

But as Jim has pointed out, the Holy Spirit Himself does use "evidentialist" arguments in support of God's promise of redemption throughout Scripture.

The fact that Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead was fundamental to the Apostolic proclamation of the Gospel, for example.