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5 Greatest Challenges to Christianity that Apologetics Can’t Answer – Part 1

I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet.    The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time.   To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’  What I mean is,  THESE.  ARE.  THE.  FIVE. GREATEST.  CHALLENGES.  I do not suggest that they are all that new.  I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them.  Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist?  Let’s find out.

1.  Ridicule.

Most atheistic arguments are worthless.  If you were to switch out the terms with more neutral ones, this would be seen easily.  Their main power comes from the manner in which they are expressed.

To illustrate:  God is supposed to be good.  I experience pain, which a good God shouldn’t allow.  Therefore there is no God.

That’s an unflattering presentation, but essentially the argument out of many atheist’s mouths.  Let’s swap out the terms:  Ice Cream is supposed to be good.  Ice Cream gives me stomach cramps, which something good shouldn’t allow.  Therefore there is no Ice Cream.  You disagree?  You are a moron.  You are stupid.  Do you have three PhD’s like me?  Are you peer reviewed?  All experts agree there is no Ice Cream.  All scientists know that when examining whether or not there is such a thing as Ice Cream you must first assume there is no Ice Cream.  Are you smarter than all of them?  Idiot.

The power here is not in the argument at all, but in the desire to ‘fit in’ and not appear to be a loser, or stupid, or ‘worse.’ No apologetic in the world can counter the desire to not want to appear to others as a moron, even if it means accepting stupid arguments.  And believe it or not, Ridicule is among the commonest of challenges to the faith.

2.  The ‘Naturalization’ of self-evidently non-natural phenomena.

According to the philosophical naturalists masquerading as methodological naturalists, if one has a truly scientific mind, one will seek naturalistic explanations for everything.  One of my funnest examples is the atheist who argued tooth and nail with me that there was no resurrection finally declaring, “but even if there was, that doesn’t mean God exists.  We should just look for the naturalistic explanation for a dead man rising.”

Indeed, this sort of moving the goal posts lies at the back of much of the atheistic mindset.  They call it a rejection of a ‘God of the Gaps’ mentality.  They feel like Science has continually explained away things previously explained by ‘God.’  This is historically false and theologically ignorant.  The Christian God is not categorically like Zeus on Mt. Olympus or Thor bowling.  But let’s not let the facts get in the way, here.  To the point… studies in America continue to show wide spread skepticism towards evolutionary theory.  Atheists think that this is because people are scientifically illiterate.  Actually, the truth is that many people think that this naturalistic explanatory mechanism fails miserably in explaining things.  According to their own experience of reality, evolution just doesn’t add up.

That is why they have to get people as young as possible and why they will not tolerate anything other than evolution even presented in schools.

But the problem is more pernicious than this.  To go back to the first example, if all the evidence in the world supports a real resurrection and the atheist still says that there is no evidence for God, something else is going on.   What’s going on is most clearly seen in our culture, in our movies and books and the like.  Only to illustrate, not to disparage, consider the Star Gate movie and series.  (I enjoy this series.  :)  )  All the ancient stories of gods and the like turn out to be true… but have entirely naturalistic accounts.  Do you see what I mean?  The disputed facts are suddenly accepted as real but promptly assigned naturalistic explanations.  (I call this the ‘Explanatory Fallacy.’)

It takes a lot of work to get someone to look at Paley’s watch- or their own mind- and say, “Sure looks designed… but it just appears so.  No reason to invoke a designer here!”  This is not ever presented as an argument or given any evidence, therefore it cannot be countered.   The closest you’ll get to it is a discussion of the ‘God of the gaps.’  But most people do not think it through.  It is received.  Thus, to counter it, we must direct our attention to how it is being transmitted.

With the way things are going, when Jesus appears again riding on the clouds at the end of it all, I am convinced that our world’s hardened secular humanists will not (initially) respond with any fear or apprehension.  Instead, they will scratch their heads and say, “Dang.  There are aliens, after all!”  Then they’ll send out a welcoming committee.  In the meantime, hordes of the world’s population will easily leap to the same conclusion.

Obviously, the person drenched in this way of approaching the world will not be moved by arguments and evidence or facts or, well, by anything.  Does that make me a presuppositionalist?  No.  It means that we have to take aim at the ‘drenching.’

I have talked about this often on this blog.  For example, check out all the posts on Philip Pullman, of which this one can illustrate.

In the interests of brevity, and because Stathei will not read anything over 1,000 words, I will give the next three challenges in a later post.

Go on to Part 2

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111 Responses to 5 Greatest Challenges to Christianity that Apologetics Can’t Answer – Part 1

  1. Tony,
    Simple end to this:
    Lay that evidence out in your next blog post:

    I claim you cannot. I claim to be a Christian you must accept the bible as the word of god without evidence; blind faith.

  2. JR,

    Simple to satisfy you.

    Use the Search feature and go through the archives.

    I claim you really aren’t interested in any evidence. Just more ammo to keep shooting out hot air.

  3. Of course he can’t – don’t you think that if he could he would have by now? Ironic that he is denying that he dodges questions in a post in which he and his little minion, EB, try to make question dodging an art form.

    Anyway, JR, I strongly suggest that you stop wasting time here and give yourself, as I have, to the glory of Pastafarianism http://www.venganza.org .

  4. \Of course he can’t – don’t you think that if he could he would have by now?\

    Not unless he’s \bored and drifts away.\ ;)

    You, Stathei, have been the poster boy for SJ’s assessment in the topic of this blog, and simply demonstrate why guys like you and JR aren’t worth being taken seriously or wasting all that much time on.

  5. Yeah I’m in… but you’re paying for flights! First Class would be best, but I’ll take Business Class if I have to.

    I don’t know if this applies to Stathei, but I often just forget about threads. I’ve done it a couple of times… you have put up a long response, I’ve intended to go back to it, but then get caught up in subsequent posts, and after a while I just forget.

    So it is possible to leave a thread without having taken your ball and gone home. :-)

  6. Just as it is possible to stay in a thread and not let anyone play with your ball unless they play by your rules and don’t ask awkward questions.

    SJ, I’m reconsidering. Since Tim is from Oz, if you’ll fly me half way (coach would do) we could meet somewhere exotic. I’m thinking Cook Islands.

  7. Looks like SJ has picked up his ball and gone home again…

  8. By the way, JR, just looking back at your posts and your plea for evidence – I actually was successful in obtaining what Tony thinks is evidence a few years ago!

    Turns out it was a single biblical prophesy (of many, many, many prophesies) that might – or, in all probability, might not – have correctly predicted a future occurrence. I can’t remember exactly what it was because, well, because it was absolutely nothing at all.

    The reason why you are not getting an answer is not because you don’t deserve one, not because you might laugh and mock, not because you wouldn’t understand – it’s because there isn’t one. Except, of course, “because the bible tells me so”. That’s all they’ve got, and they know it.

  9. Stathei,

    I know there is no evidence that the bible is the word of god. Just as there is no evidence for the Quran.

    I press the argument for precisely that reason. When someone is pressed for evidence they do a few different things:

    1. reverse the demand for evidence.

    2. The goal post is too far complaint.

    3. Simply pretend that the evidence is there. The go find it non-sense.

    4. Develop absurdly overly complicated methods to justify that belief. The old violation of occam’s razor.

    If the bible could withstand scrutiny, by that I mean it is perfectly accurate, moral, and consistent; 100% correct. Then, I would not fight this fight. The bible would be the evidence that could make the case for Christianity. I do not deny the bible simply to deny it. I deny the bible because it is far from perfectly accurate, moral, and consistent.

    Now, why put so much time into this? I’ll share a little college story. I went to the University of Georgia. While I was there, a family pulled the their child out of the hospital. He had bacterial meningitis. I remembered the father made this quote:

    (7:7-8) Ask, and it shall be given you … For every one that asketh receiveth.”

    They prayed, their whole community prayed. Now, this is not a story about what I think or don’t think what a parent’s rights are. It is one solely of blind faith. In my hart I know they were/are true believers. Jesus himself according to the bible made this statement. That child like some many others, died from the bacterial meningitis.

    Tell me that faith does not have dire consequences. Tell me that the bible is the word of god. Tell me that it is an infallible document. By all accounts from the evidence I see tell ME that not only is the bible fallible, immoral, inaccurate, but it’s blind faith is dangerous. To accept an irrational belief trying to appear rational is an absurdity on the level of a snake oil salesmen. One absurdity I feel the need to stand against.

    JR

  10. “By all accounts from the evidence I see tell ME that not only is the bible fallible, immoral, inaccurate, but it’s blind faith is dangerous.”

    By all accounts the only thing you show and prove to be dangerous is ignorance.

  11. Do you really want to go here End Bringer. I can provide evidence of the bible’s fallibility, immorality, and inaccuracy. I think you need to ask yourself two questions.

    1. Do you really want to have this discussion?

    2. Can you honestly have this discussion?

    For now, I’ll just leave it as a personal attack against me. I am aware that the bible is at the core of your faith. I don’t think you can go into biblical errancy without flipping out.

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