Some great books on Apologetics and an encouragement to begin in Apologetics

Over the years I have read numerous books on apologetics by many different authors. I put together a list of my favorites.

There are many that I am not listing that are just as good as these listed, but for simplicity sake I will keep it to around 50.

Some of these can be obtained by going to http://www.alibris.com/ you will pay much less and I’ve been very fortunate to get good quality books in great condition. There is a great deal of reading here, much of which I should read again. Some of these are introductory, others are more advanced and some will need a good hot coffee and an alert mind.

Please take advantage of the tremendous information to be found in these books. Some of my favorite authors…

Alister Mcgrath, Cornelius Van Til, William Lane Craig, Ronald Nash and Nancy Pearcey to name a few.

I encourage you to begin discussing ways to start an apologetics class or group in your church, grab one of these great books, read it and invite others to learn how to defend the faith.

I attempt ( by God’s great grace) to defend the faith on 5 fronts. Theologically, Philosophically, Historically, Logically and experientially. Begin with one of these areas and learn how to confront error and defeat it, then make way for the gospel message which alone is the power of God unto salvation.

Be solid bible student first, learn your theology first, obtain a coherent and well understood systematic theology. I am reformed so its easy to stay within the confines of solid biblical orthodoxy. Then branch out, begin to learn how to think, reason, learn the rules of logic. Develop an understanding of philosophical ideas so that you can recognize them and know how to confront various philosophies. Add to your knowledge Church history and familiarize yourself with the Church Fathers. Know what the Reformation was about and what it did in the world. Lastly recognize and acknowledge the work of God in you own life, take note of God’s gracious dealings with you and extend to others the kindness and grace He has extended to you through Christ. Spend considerable time in prayer and intercessions, be bold in prayer, be bold to believe and seek God for answers. Even though I have not listed them, I have many books on the subject of prayer, intercessions, God’s promises and encouragements to pray and intercede for others.

Take advantage of the tremendous sermons on apologetics on YouTube featuring Ravi Zacharias and William Lane Craig.

Put away the childish and immaturish ideas that are common in American Cultural Christianity today, learn what it means to judge righteous judgment, to be discerning without being condemning, learn how to confront without being mean spirited or even rejected and abused without taking offense and becoming carnal. Be that 1 in a thousand Christian who dives in deeper to know and enjoy Jesus Christ, and that 1 in 10,000 Christians who knows his bible backwards and forwards and yet knows his complete dependence is upon the Holy Spirit to bring fruit from what is said and done.

Put away time wasting sloth, put away filling your mind with the numbing and dumbing-down droll from TV and video games. Invest in God’s word, invest in God’s kingdom, spend your life burning brightly for a worthy master and loving Lord Jesus Christ.

Read on and enjoy.

1. Mere Apologetics by Alister Mcgrath

2. Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview William Lane Craig; J.P Moreland

3. Backgrounds of Early Christianity Everett Ferguson

4. History of the Reformation 16th century J.L Merle D’Aubigne

5. Christian Apologetics Norman Geisler

6. On Guard William Lane Craig

7. Evidence and Truth Foundations for Christian Truth Robert J. Morgan

8. Pensee’s Blaise Pascal

9. How shall we then live? Francis A. Schaeffer

10. Total Truth Nance Pearcey

11. Fool’s gold John Macarthur

12. Religions of the Roman Empire John Ferguson

13. I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist Normal Geisler and Frank Turek

14. Biblical Basis for Modern Science Henry Morris

15. Reasonable Faith William Lane Craig

16. End of Reason Ravi Zacharias

17. Classical Apologetics R.C Sproul John Gerstner

18. Scandal of the Evangelical mind Mark A. Noll

19. Think John Piper

20. The last Christian on earth Os Guiness

21. Creation in Six days James B. Jordan

22. World views in Conflict Ronald H. Nash

23. Faith and Reason searching for a reasonable faith Ronald H. Nash

24. The Case for Christ Lee Strobel

25. Relativism Greg Koukl and Francis beckwith

26. Christian Apologetics J.K.S Reid

27. That’s just your interpretation Paul Copan

28. The book of Beginnings Henry Morris III

29. The kingdom of the Cults Walter Martin

30. The kingdom of the Occult Walter Martin

31. The God who is there Francis A. Schaeffer

32. Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design Jonathan Wells

33. What’s so great about Christianity? Dinesh D’Souza

34. Apologetics for the 21st century Louis Markos

35. Dismantling Evolution Ralph O. Muncaster

36. Christless Christianity Michael Horton

37. No Other God John Frame

38. Intelligent Design William Dembski

39. Mere Christianity C.S Lewis

40. Van Til’s Apologetic Greg Bahnsen

41.  Atheist Delusions Phil Fernandes

42.  Christianity’s dangerous idea Alister Mcgrath

43. Deliver us from Evil Ravi Zacharias

44. Balanced Apologetics Ronald Mayers

45. Varieties of Christian apologetics Bernard Ramm

46. Beyond Opinion Ravi Zacharias

47. True Spirituality Francis Schaeffer

48. New Testament Documents F.F. Bruce

49. Jerusalem and Athens Critical discussions on the philosophy and apologetics of Cornelius Van Til E. R. Geehan

50. The Defense of the faith Cornelius Van Til

What do you think of Christian Apologetics?

Pitfalls of Atheist Rejection of Moral Absolutes

 

broken machines

Even if the Bible was no better than this the atheist cannot justly condemn it with a double standard.

 

Eager to be free from Moral Absolutes

One of the pitfalls the Atheist makes for himself is the rejection of Moral Absolutes. The common atheist I have met normally shuns Moral Absolutes because it then becomes tied to a metaphysical Morality-maker who everyone knows is God. In the atheists eagerness to make sure he cannot be brought under the compliance to any moral code, commandments from God or a Morality-maker he creates an abyssal that removes him from everyone else.

Justifications for morality in Atheism

To make matters worse for the atheist he then attempts to ground any moral conception or ethic in materialistic explanation. This explanation is supposedly the shield of defense against Christianity or any metaphysical authorship because it locates all morality in a variety of naturalistic explanations.  Darwinian naturalism, gets a few votes, materialism gets its votes, humanism gets it adherents, personal concoctions of newspaper, magazines, atheist blogs and YouTube commentary fill out the concept for many others.

The laymen resources

Some more sophisticated anti-theist propagandists refer to Dr. Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett or John Loftus. All of these men have written their books and debated various Christians (often with disastrous results) but they are the mainstay for new ideas, and for some the courage to attack Christians in all forms of media and public mocking.

The Atheist writers offer little help

Even with these PhD’s the inescapable conclusions reemerge in every atheist challenge. What conclusions? Morality does exist whether you claim it from God or from nature or from societal norms. What other conclusion? If there is no absolute morality there is no specific moral code binding on any one of us. I am not ruled by another’s conscience except by consent. If I am compliant without consent I am under moral constraint and seek to be free from it. It is in this mixed bag that some atheist will not admit to any morality, they are amoral and live according to their own dictates with all the internal modifications needed to interact with the world they live in. If there were any people group that need to comply the most it would be this group. Since everyone outside of themselves thinks tangental to their mental construct of morality they cannot say they have anyone agreeing with them in principle, only in terms of pragmatism…lets get along to live peaceably. The Atheist horsemen cannot set this atheist free in this world, they can only give credence to particular nuances in individual atheist ethic. For the rest who admit to morality whether its a mixture of moral absolutes or personal moral principles these people have the difficulty of preaching morality to others without the slightest authority to do so.

Read this short article taken from John Loftus website.

 http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2009/02/what-can-account-for-morality-were.html

What Can Account for Morality, We’re Asked?In David Eller’s excellent book, Atheism Advanced, Eller basically explains morality as those moral rules made up by people in order to define what it means to be part of any culture. They are usually based upon the religious myths each culture accepts. There is no morality then, only “moralities.”
He finds that there are moralities among animals like Chimps, so it shouldn’t surprise us when language bearing humans came up with more elaborate moral rules. And since we’re talking about human beings, it’s no surprise that our moralities have some major similarities since we are social animals who need to get along, to be loved and to love, to help and to be helped. Anyone who doesn’t accept the moral rules of a culture are not allowed in the group, or we banish them, ostracize them, imprison them, and kill them. Do you want the benefits of being in the group? Then obey the moral rules, or at least don’t get caught. Otherwise, you’re on your own. As such, there is nothing prohibiting someone from not accepting the moral rules of a culture if s/he doesn’t want the benefits of the group (which would be a Freudian “death wish”). Are acts like murder, rape, and theft objectively and universally “wrong” then? That’s probably a nonsensical question. 
Therefore, there can be no argument for the existence of God based on morality. Human beings make up their own moralities because we’re social beings who need to belong and get along. Morality is part of our survival instinct. We need other people to survive!
———-For a Christian who might be stunned by the conclusion that it’s probably a nonsensical question whether or not murder, rape, and theft are objectively and universally “wrong,” then think again. Look at your own Bible. There is plenty of that to be found in it, all sanctioned by your barbaric God. Elsewhere I’ve argued that rational self-interest can account for our morality.

Not so fast, there’s a problem

The Christian finds an inherent problem with this authors conclusion; namely, if that group creates its own morality that is for the purpose of a survival instinct, what makes them think that nature has not selected us to adopt a different morality that derives glory and honor from completely annihilating this other people group? We are completely with our moral right and without the slightest implied wrong-doing on our part we may conduct our warring as long as we exist. While the doomed to extinction people group may find us reprehensible we are naturally disposed to it and consequently beyond reproach. Transfer this same line of reasoning to God, the bible and Christians, how can the atheist possibly find Christianity, the bible or God morally wrong in any case since we have adopted our own moral code? It would not matter if the bible was a complete jumble of failing tic-tac-toe games or unfinished seduko games. It would not matter in the slightest if the numbers were wrong or the games were all ties. Its irrelevant. The atheist by his own admission has a morality that is only adopted by an agreeable society of atheists (if they wanted to form community) and that morality has no power to condemn or approve my morality no matter how different it may be to them.

The right to judge is rendered powerless by the atheist

The pitfall of the atheist moral relativism is that it has no authority to condemn God or the bible except among those who agree with them. The outsider need not concern himself in the slightest because their moral code is not founded upon anything other than their own personal proclivities and tastes. The atheist in his eagerness to declare himself free from moral absolutes has rendered his angry moralizing of God and the bible as irrelevant since I do not hold to their moral code…and cannot since it is not standardized.

Condemnations are no more than personal bias

There are a great many other things that can be said about atheist moralizing, but one thing is for certain, their condemnations are strictly personal and according to their own axioms I am free from any condemnation by them. Now, they spend alot of time bashing God, condemning the bible’s texts on slavery, rape or genocide, but all of that is mere bluster and grandstanding…and it has no relevance whatsoever unless the atheist is playing by the rules of the Christian where such actions would be condemned.

The double-standard renders their argument illogical

But, is this not the point? The atheist refuses to be constrained by a Morality-maker other than themselves, therefore the atheist is using a double-standard against the Christian and blatantly calling the Christian into account to the atheist…where in fact the atheist has claimed the Christian cannot condemn him because he does not believe in God or any Morality-maker.

This is the working of the power of sin in the atheist, it is the irrationality of the Void, a reigning of Sin in the heart.

LOOKING INTO THE VOID

nothingness

 

Personal experience

As a Christian Apologist its difficult to understand at times what makes the Atheist tick. Over the years I’ve come to understand some basics of how atheism works in people. I was an atheist while I was growing up, my mom was a strong atheist and would have nothing to do with religion or religious people. I learned from the outset that religion was to be mocked and relegated to unproved and unsubstantiated claims. It seemed God was an idea not thought-through. I had many questions for the theist growing up, but I never met one where I could articulate my questions and expect any kind of reasonable answer. My distance from religious people was not one that I created or even my mom, I just never grew up around religious people that would share their faith or question me about mine.

Atheism must grow to survive

Of course not everyone shares that estrangement from religious people, others grew up in homes that were Christian or Catholic and they always had doubts about God and the bible. For a while they acquiesced to their parents and Christian friends at church but those nagging questions and uncertainty sat powerfully upon the throne of intellect. After a while atheism for them was the adolescent quintessential rebellion, it struck at everything around them and formed a world of isolation. This isolation is the pairing up of what was in their hearts and what they were now experiencing by going against the tide of Christian upbringing. It takes strength to swim against the norm, atheism in the heart could not be just a simple ‘uncertainty’ it must have greater horsepower in order to survive the Christian assumptions of God, the authority of the bible, the morals of the Christian and the meta-narratives of creation, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and many other Christian teachings.

What is the Void?

What the young atheist needs is a way to find freedom from all constraints in order to garner all the horsepower one can from a belief that describes itself as unbelief. Enter the Void. This is a mental construct that is placed upon the throne of the heart to reign supreme. What is it? Negatively it is a rejection of all moral constraint, all religious authority, all personal bonds with any ideology that attempts to bind their conscience to a code of ethics or morality that impinges their free expression. Positively it is the personal construction of a mindset that unbinds itself from genuine logic or reasoning that pushes them back into religion or ideologies they have renounced. Here in the Void logic need not be true logic, reasoning need not be coherent, irrationalism is never exposed to the light of actual logic. The Void is a suppressed conscience validated by the emotional state protected by the intellect.

Atheism must reject sound reason

There is a lot of work that goes into maintaining the supreme power of the Void when the intellect is assaulted by sound reason and valid logic every day. In order to maintain the Void, the atheist must become a spin-master. When I say he must, that is an understatement, he absolutely under no circumstances can permit the entry of valid reasoning or logical argument that questions the authority of the Void and its right to hold such a sway in his/her life. In short, as amazing as this seems, the atheist which glories in proclaiming himself the logician and sits in judgment over vast multitudes as reasoner-extraordinaire, cannot allow the entry of valid argument and logical conclusions move him/her from abandoning the Void.

The atheist it seems identifies him/herself with the Void to such an extent all information is sifted through the grid of “Void-protection”…kinda like a virus protection program for a computer where every program is checked and every file scrutinized to protect the internal information from corruption.

Atheist maintenance

This is where the work must begin, in order to keep up the pretense of Atheism-is-logical, the atheist must engage in the dangerous occupation of listening too and articulating a logical argument and display valid reasoning. The problem of course is not seen immediately. You find many atheists who argue very persuasively and many people reading or listening to them find their logic and reasoning sound, verifiable and coherent. But, using the evolution analogy the micro-evolution or adaptation equivalent to minor atheist claims eg. gods have been found false, religions oppressive and superstitions harmful, are valid claims. But atheism itself wants the whole enchilada, it wants to validate itself with a jump to macro-evolution which is equivalent to saying  those smaller generalizations inductively prove atheism as an ‘unbelief’ is founded upon science, logic and evidences which cannot be denied. However, when the Christian goes beyond the first defense of intellectual battles and recognizes their defeat is actual even though they claim-in-chains they have won; the emotional battle begins. Now all bets are off; logic, reason and evidence serve no purpose for the atheist. It must be understood the Christian is under strict rules not to break the laws of logic, but that does not apply to the atheist, nor will he permit it to apply to him/her. A double standard is paramount in atheist conversations where emotion is the attacker.

Protect the Void by all means

The atheist is nuanced, he/she has a Void that is purely their own and has no authority outside of itself. This is partly why we read of so many atheists that will not align with any other atheist to protect the Void. The atheist own personal intellect  is the sole guard and has been entrusted with that duty. Atheists band together for the peripherals eg. evolution, gay rights, leftist agendas. These activities are the first defense, albeit the weakest. The intellect of the atheist can agree with other atheist intellect to form a common alliance for the purpose of protecting the Void within each of them. This is where the Christian often meets with the front-lines of atheism, when anti-theist claims are made, the Christian fights against those claims, or when evolution is promoted the Christian resists with anti-evolutionary counter-claim. But, again the Void is never actually questioned at all. The atheist can talk all day long and invent myriads of assertions and claims that contain no substantive argument or evidence. The atheist may join ranks with another atheist on an intellectual level for the sole purpose of attacking the Christian and yet personally hold no other commonality than the defense of their own personal Void.

The Void has its reasons

Remember the Void itself is the engine that powers all of the arguments and produces the desire to reject anything that endangers the Void.  Remember also that the Void is not a logical choice, its an emotional action who’s sole purpose is to suppress the internal knowledge of God, truth, logic and anything else that disrupts the emotional state and draws the mind into conclusions it cannot accept. At the base of many atheist arguments you hear this. My mom died…God should have; I was alone, afraid and victimized…God could have; I am unloved, unwanted, rejected…where is God? These difficult scenarios are encountered by us all, but some at their darkest hour wanted to believe, but their hopes were crushed and with that there arose an anger that ‘rejected God back’ for what happened to them. After years, these scenarios have been overlaid with intellectual argument that compares to the strata of the Grand Canyon. This is only one type of person that chose the Void, there are others. The point here is not to psychoanalyze the atheist, its to recognize the chosen Void that set them free ( in their opinion) to live how they want is completely self-serving. It seems the real purpose of the Void is for self-preservation and atheism is one aspect or avenue the mind can use to deal with reality. If any atheist is reading this right now and says “religion does all of these things too”. That would be true, the difference of course is humanly devised religion invents a god while rejecting the true God. The invented god is one that is tame, one that is predictable and always one that is accepting of their own personal proclivities. Its an opposite method using the same principles found in atheism. For this reason Christianity is opposed to false religions equally as much as atheism; they both deny the One True God and replace Him with alternative solutions.

Atheism and its intellectual arguments are smoke-screen

From the most advanced and intellectual Christian Apologist to the novice Christian believer, they both know that atheism and false religions are suppressors of the truth which permit the person who is suppressing the knowledge of God to have emotional stability while he endeavors to please himself however he wills.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
Rom 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Rom 1:22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

It is the experience of every Christian who debates or engages in conversations with Atheists or Agnostics that suppression of the truth is the very heart of the Void. What other group of people declare how wise they are in logic, reason and science than the atheist? I know of none. What other group of people see without perceiving  refuse to give thanks to God nor acknowledge him or his creative power than the atheist? What other people are to be so pitied and so lamented as the atheist? Who among men in our culture are so backwards in their thinking, so illogical and so irrational as the atheist? I can think of no other people group that pretend to so high of intellectual and rational thinking but internally they are in a chaotic world, lost and scared. Oh the smoke screens are up, the actors are on stage, the masks are on and the directors are guiding the cast. But the play must come to an end and the actors eventually remove the masks step off the stage and join the audience.

The gospel is the power of God unto Salvation

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

This is Paul’s words to the Romans before he commenced to illustrate the downfall of pagan men. The best Christian apologist cannot remove the Void, we cannot nullify irrational arguments with rationality. We cannot introduce enough logic to persuade the illogical man/woman that its ok to abandon their need for self-preservation. In short, they would die first…and that my dear Christian is the genuine call of discipleship and biblical salvation. It is recognizing that until we all come to grips with dying to self that God will lavish His love upon us and pour out grace after grace and bring faith and hope and love into empty lives.

Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Eph 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
Eph 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility

ESV.

For a remarkable and first rate explanation of Atheism please visit this blog where I took the term ‘Void’ and used it to clarify my own understanding of atheism.

http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2013/01/principles-of-atheism-part-1.html 

 

 

 

 

SYE TEN BRUGGENCATE and the Apologetic Method

Sye Ten Bruggencate

As I become more familiar with different apologists on the internet and watch them on You Tube, I learn what to do and what not to do. Sye Ten Bruggencate teaches me both. Its interesting how Sye really cages in his hosts and virtually stone-walls his dissenters by calling upon them to scale an epistemic wall that is impossible for them to do. His method is to call into question their inadequate epistemology and then demand them to abandon that tool or at least attempt get them to call ‘uncle’. The ‘pin’ is when he refuses to acknowledge their assumptions about ‘knowledge’ or ‘truth’ and demand via a (verbal stone-walling) as I call it; that only when they abandon their own presumptions about knowledge or truth can they be allowed to judge Sye’s claims about Christianity. I believe Sye wants to offer the planking necessary to build a new belief-platform, but I’ve not heard any of his debates get that far.

A couple of things to note:

1. I agree with Sye that the unbelieving mind cannot rightly judge the things of God, God himself or Spiritual things because they cannot know them.

2. I agree with Sye that the unbeliever must use the borrowed tools of Christianity or ‘from a world where an Almighty God exists’ in order to attack Christianity.

3. I agree with Sye that unbelievers have an unbridgeable gap between their assumptions of truth and knowledge and the ‘rightness’ of their criteria using their own personal epistemology based upon human autonomy.

4. I agree with Sye that unbelievers are not honest with themselves, nor have they adequately thought through what he asks them, nor do they fairly permit any other criteria that is not based upon skepticism and human autonomy.

There is no doubt much more we may also agree upon. Nevertheless I do have some things I do not feel is conducive to good apologetics. I think as Sye leads his hosts and debaters into this stone-wall it creates more frustration, and hence a rejection of Sye’s position rather than inviting them to consider it…even when Sye’s reasoning has truly stopped them in their tracks, I just don’t see Jesus leading his people into frustration.

I’ll just get to the point. As I see it, Jesus brings people to the end of themselves by revealing to their minds the truth that they have failed themselves, God and His word. But the gospel invite remains ever so bright and clear without any insinuation that their present state of mind must be re-worked first before they believe.

In short, its not a pre-salvation revamp of epistemology that gets the unbeliever to validate the Christian’s claims. What epistemic-revamp that does occur takes place in the transformed mind subsequent to salvation whereby the new believer can piece together the revelation of God and the world he lives in and begin to make sense of it.

Presuppositionalism is not about demanding the unbeliever to change his mind before he can make judgments. Yes, I understand what Sye is getting at, that folks like AronRa will publicly attempt to beat down Christianity with cat-tails and Sye is trying to show everyone atheism beats upon the anvil of God’s word with daffodil stems. For Sye and every other biblical apologist recognize the atheist attempts are worse than vain, they are ruining their own souls in the process.

It appears to me that the salvation of God comes to us, not because the abstractions of epistemology have been corrected, but because the person himself believes the claims of the person of Christ will forgive, love and accept them. Its personal not abstract reasons that convince. In saying this, I do not in anyway want to suggest God doesn’t have myriads of ways to work on the minds and hearts of people and God can use Sye’s method all he wants and get glory from it. Nevertheless there are things that red-flag in me and appear contradictory to sound evangelism/apologetics.

I don’t see that Sye is accomplishing the goal of evangelism. Apologetics is only a tool in which to conduct evangelism under another method. Though I can cheer on Sye when he stops the arrogant atheist debater…I am saddened the atheist walks away not feeling engaged but stone-walled, not challenged to consider Christ but challenged to re-work his belief-platform without the planks of God’s word to build with.

In all fairness and love towards my brother Sye Ten Bruggencate, I offer this critique for myself first, then for him and any others using his methodology. We as brothers and sisters in Christ are in this battle together, my admonitions are for edification and help.

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments, and Why They Fail

Excellent article by Eric Hyde, reposted here.

http://ehyde.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/top-10-most-common-atheist-arguments-and-why-they-fail/

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments, and Why They Fail

Point FailI write very little in the area of Christian vs. atheist apologetics, and for good reason.

It was in atheist chat-rooms and blogs that I first cut my teeth in theology many years ago. Since those days I have not heard anything new from atheists.

It seems that many atheists today (some like to use the title ‘New Atheists’ to distinguish them from the more profound philosophical atheists of yesteryear) have very little to add to the discussion. To be fair, the same goes with most Christian apologists.

However, I thought it would be fun to comment on the ten arguments I hear the most. My hope is that it will help expose some of the more obvious problems with them and maybe help both sides—atheists and Christians alike—to move on to more interesting debate material.

One additional note: another reason I do not enter into the atheist-Christian debate world much anymore is because of the sheer discourtesy that both sides tend to show the other. I will not delete any comments, no matter how uncivil or juvenile they become, because, for me, it is an important part of the article. The responses (if there are any) will demonstrate the current state of atheist vs. Christian banter. Also, I will not respond to rude posts. This is advanced warning so please don’t think me rude as well if I ignore them.

Okay, here we go:

1. There is no evidence for God’s existence.

There are a couple of problems with this line. Starting with the idea of ‘evidence,’ what exactly does one mean by evidence? What is sufficient evidence for one person is often not sufficient evidence for another. A court of law provides innumerable examples of how two parties can possess the same collection of data, the same power of logic and reasoning, yet argue for completely different interpretations of the data. The old saying is true: the facts do not determine the argument, the argument determines the facts.

When confronted with the charge that there is no evidence for God the Christian often does not know where to start with a rebuttal. It’s as G.K. Chesterton once said, asking a Christian to prove God’s existence is like asking someone to prove the existence of civilization. What is one to do but point and say, “look, there’s a chair, and there’s a building,” etc. How can one prove civilization by merely selecting a piece here and a piece there as sufficient proofs rather than having an experience of civilization as a whole?

Nearly everything the Christian lays eyes on is evidence of God’s existence because he sees the ‘handiwork’ of God all around him in creation. But this is hardly sufficient evidence in the court of atheist opinion, a court which presupposes that only what can be apprehended by the senses rightly qualifies as evidence (in other words, the atheist demands not evidence of God’s handiwork, but rather material evidence of God Himself). For the Christian who believes in a transcendent God, he can offer no such evidence; to produce material evidence of God is, ironically, to disprove a transcendent God and cast out faith.

The second part of the line is equally short-sighted. What does one mean by ‘existence’? If one means, ‘that which has come into existence,’ then surely God does not exist because God never came into existence. He always was; He is eternal. This was a famous assessment of the matter by Soren Kierkegaard (dealing with the incarnation of Christ). The argument is a bit involved, so for times sakes I’ll just have to state it and leave it there.

2. If God created the universe, who created God?

This is one of the more peculiar arguments I’ve ever come across. Those who use this charge as some sort of intellectual checkmate have simply failed to grasp what Christians understand as ‘eternal.’ It is an argument usually levied once a theist posits that a ‘first cause’ or an ‘unmoved mover’ is required for the existence of the universe (a ‘necessary’ Being upon which all other things exist by way of contingency). Some atheists then shift the weight over to the theist saying, “Well then who created God?” What is a Christian to do but smile at such a question? God is the antecedent of all things in creation and is eternal. If God had a Creator then His Creator would be God. God is God precisely because He does not have a creator.

3. God is not all-powerful if there is something He cannot do. God cannot lie, therefore God is not all-powerful.

Bang! Owned.

Not so fast. This argument would be fantastic—devastating maybe—if God was more of the ancient Greek god persuasion, where the gods themselves were subject to fate and limited to their specific roles in the cosmos. The Orthodox doctrine of God is much different. Christians (at least Orthodox Christians) view God’s ontology as subject to His perfect free-will. Why is He good? Because He wills to be good. Why does He not lie? Because He wills to be honest. Why does God exist as Trinity? Because He wills it. He could just as easily will to not exist. And yes, He could just as easily will to lie. The fact that He doesn’t is no commentary on whether He could.

(Note: Due to the immense amount of discussion that this point has raised, one clarifying statement is worth noting. An argument based on strict logical word games can render the idea ‘all-powerful,’ or ‘omnipotent’ self-defeating. When one considers the juvenile question, “Can God create a rock so big that He can’t lift it?” this point becomes clear. But in reality, such an argument winds up further solidifying what Christianity means by calling God all-powerful. For the Christian it simply means that all power and authority are God’s. Following the logical word game above forces the believer to make a redundant proclamation in order to remain consistent: “God cannot overpower Himself.” But this fact is anything but confounding, it merely stresses the point that there is no power greater than God, so much so that one is forced to pit God against Himself in order to find His equal.)

4. Believing in God is the same as believing in the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

What I love about this well-worn atheist ‘argument’ is that it actually serves to demonstrate how vastly different a belief in God is to these myths and imaginations. When one honestly assesses the Judeo-Christian doctrine of God he will find multiple thousands of years of human testimony and religious development; he will find martyrs enduring the most horrific trauma in defense of the faith; he will find accounts in religious texts with historical and geographical corroboration; etc (these fact are of course not ‘proofs,’ but rather ‘evidences’ that elicit strong consideration). Pit this against tales of the Tooth Fairy, Santa, and Spaghetti Monsters and one finds the exact opposite: no testimony or religious refinement, no martyrs, no historical and geographical corroboration, etc. Instead, one finds myths created intentionally for children, for point making, or for whatever. It’s strawman argumentation at its worst.

5. Christianity arose from an ancient and ignorant people who didn’t have science.

Indeed, those ancient, ignorant people who believed in the virgin birth of Christ must have believed it because they did not possess the knowledge of how babies were born. Goodness. The virgin birth of Christ was profound and of paramount concern to the ancients precisely because they understood that conception was impossible without intercourse. Ancient man considered the virgin birth miraculous, i.e., impossible without divine action (and at the time most people scorned the idea), and the same could be said with every miraculous story in Scripture.

Indeed ancient people did not have the Hubble telescope, but they were able to see the night sky in full array, something almost no modern person can claim (thanks to modern lighting which distorts our ability to see the full night sky). On average, ancient people lived much closer to nature and to the realities of life and death than many of us moderners.

In terms of a living relationship with these things the ancients were far more advanced than we are today, and this relationship is essentially the nature of religious inquiry. If people lack religious speculation today, maybe it is because they spend more time with their iphones and Macs then with nature. Maybe.

But the claim that Christianity was viable in the ancient world because it was endorsed by wide spread ignorance is a profoundly ignorant idea. Christianity arose in one of the most highly advanced civilizations in human history. The Roman Empire was not known for its stupidity. It was the epicenter of innovation and philosophical giants. I would wager that if a common person of today found himself in a philosophical debate with a common person of first century Alexandria, the moderner would be utterly humiliated in the exchange.

6. Christian’s only believe in Christianity because they were born in a Christian culture. If they’d been born in India they would have been Hindu instead.

This argument is appealing because it pretends to wholly dismiss people’s reasoning capabilities based on their environmental influences in childhood. The idea is that people in general are so intellectually near-sighted that they can’t see past their own upbringing, which, it would follow, would be an equally condemning commentary on atheism (if one was consistent with the charge), but the idea is fairly easy to counter.

Take the history of the Jewish people for example. Let us say that to ‘be’ Jewish, in the religious sense, is much more than a matter of cultural adherence. To be a Jewish believer is to have Judaism permeate one’s thinking and believing and interaction with the world. But is this the state of affairs with the majority of the Jewish people, whether in America, Europe, Israel, or wherever? One would have to be seriously out of touch to believe so. The same phenomenon is found within so-called Christian communities, that is: many sport a Christian title, but are wholly derelict in personal faith. “Believing” in Christianity is a far more serious endeavor then merely wearing a church name tag. Indeed, being born in a Jewish or Christian centric home today is more often a precursor that the child will grow up to abandon the faith of his or her family, or at least be associated with the faith by affiliation only.

7. The gospel doesn’t make sense: God was mad at mankind because of sin so he decided to torture and kill his own Son so that he could appease his own pathological anger. God is the weirdo, not me.

This is actually a really good argument against certain Protestant sects (I’ve used it myself on numerous occasions), but it has no traction with the Orthodox Christian faith. The Orthodox have no concept of a God who needed appeasement in order to love His creation. The Father sacrificed His own Son in order to destroy death with His life; not to assuage His wrath, but to heal; not to protect mankind from His fury, but to unite mankind to His love. If the reader is interested to hear more on this topic follow this link for a fuller discussion.

8. History is full of mother-child messiah cults, trinity godheads, and the like. Thus the Christian story is a myth like the rest.

This argument seems insurmountable on the surface, but is really a slow-pitch across the plate (if you don’t mind a baseball analogy). There is no arguing the fact that history is full of similar stories found in the Bible, and I won’t take the time to recount them here. But this fact should not be surprising in the least, indeed if history had no similar stories it would be reason for concern. Anything beautiful always has replicas. A counterfeit coin does not prove the non-existence of the authentic coin, it proves the exact opposite. A thousand U2 cover bands is not evidence that U2 is a myth.

Ah, but that doesn’t address the fact that some of these stories were told before the Biblical accounts. True. But imagine if the only story of a messianic virgin birth, death, and resurrection were contained in the New Testament. That, to me, would be odd. It would be odd because if all people everywhere had God as their Creator, yet the central event of human history—the game changing event of all the ages—the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Christ had never occurred to them, in at least some hazy form, they would have been completely cut off from the prime mysteries of human existence. It seems only natural that if the advent of Christ was real it would permeate through the consciousness of mankind on some level regardless of their place in history. One should expect to find mankind replicating these stories, found in their own visions and dreams, again and again throughout history. And indeed, that is what we find.

9. The God of the Bible is evil. A God who allows so much suffering and death can be nothing but evil.

This criticism is voice in many different ways. For me, this is one of the most legitimate arguments against the existence of a good God. The fact that there is suffering and death is the strongest argument against the belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God. If suffering and death exist it seems to suggest one of two things: (1) either God is love, but He is not all-powerful and cannot stop suffering and death, or (2) God is all-powerful, but He does not care for us.

I devoted a separate article addressing this problem, but let me deal here with the problem inherent in the criticism itself. The argument takes as its presupposition that good and evil are real; that there is an ultimate standard of good and evil that supersedes mere fanciful ‘ideas’ about what is good and evil at a given time in our ethical evolution, as it were. If there is not a real existence—an ontological reality—of good and evil, then the charge that God is evil because of this or that is really to say nothing more than, “I personally don’t like what I see in the world and therefore a good God cannot exist.” I like what C.S. Lewis said on a similar matter: “There is no sense in talking of ‘becoming better’ if better means simply ‘what we are becoming’—it is like congratulating yourself on reaching your destination and defining destination as ‘the place you have reached.’”

What is tricky for the atheist in these sorts of debates is to steer clear of words loaded with religious overtones. It’s weird for someone who does not believe in ultimate good and evil to condemn God as evil because He did not achieve their personal vision of good. So, the initial criticism is sound, but it is subversive to the atheist’s staging ground. If one is going to accept good and evil as realities, he is not in a position to fully reject God. Instead, he is more in a position to wrestle with the idea that God is good. This struggle is applauded in the Orthodox Church. After all, the very word God used for his people in the Old Testament—“Israel”—means to struggle with God.

10. Evolution has answered the question of where we came from. There is no need for ignorant ancient myths anymore.

This might be the most popular attempted smack-downs of religion in general today. It is found in many variations but the concept is fairly consistent and goes something like this: Science has brought us to a point where we no longer need mythology to understand the world, and any questions which remain will eventually be answered through future scientific breakthroughs. The main battle-ground where this criticism is seen today is in evolution vs. creationism debates.

Let me say upfront that there is perhaps no other subject that bores me more than evolution vs. creationism debates. I would rather watch paint dry. And when I’m not falling asleep through such debates I’m frustrated because usually both sides of the debate use large amounts of dishonesty in order to gain points rather than to gain the truth. The evolutionist has no commentary whatsoever on the existence of God, and the creationist usually suffers from profound confusion in their understanding of the first few chapters of Genesis.

So, without entering into the most pathetic debate of the ages, bereft of all intellectual profundity, I’ll only comment on the underlining idea that science has put Christianity out of the answer business. Science is fantastic if you want to know what gauge wire is compatible with a 20 amp electric charge, how agriculture works, what causes disease and how to cure it, and a million other things. But where the physical sciences are completely lacking is in those issues most important to human beings—the truly existential issues: what does it mean to be human, why are we here, what is valuable, what does it mean to love, to hate, what am I to do with guilt, grief, sorrow, what does it mean to succeed, is there any meaning and what does ‘meaning’ mean, and, of course, is there a God? etc, ad infinitum.

As far as where we come from, evolution has barely scratched the purely scientific surface of the matter. Even if the whole project of evolution as an account of our history was without serious objection, it would still not answer the problem of the origin of life, since the option of natural selection as an explanation is not available when considering how dead or inorganic matter becomes organic. Even more complicated is the matter of where matter came from. The ‘Big Bang’ is not an answer to origins but rather a description of the event by which everything came into being; i.e., it’s the description of a smoking gun, not the shooter.

That’s it… my top 10 list. Thanks for reading. Cheers.