“God’s Not Dead,” But this Trope Is

Image: YouTube

Have you heard the one about the Atheist University Professor who was famous at his school for mocking Christianity and a belief in God? You know, the one where a brave Christian student finally stands up to the teacher and calmly and articulately reveals the irrational basis of the “professor’s” atheism and thereby causes the professor to flee the room in shame, at which time the student shares the Gospel with his whole class?

Maybe it wasn’t “Atheism” per se.

Maybe it was Evolution.

Maybe that student was “Einstein.”

Maybe it was a Physics or Philosophy class.

Maybe there was a piece of chalk involved.

The story is always the same: an arrogant, frothing-at-the-mouth atheist faces a Christian student who exposes him as a fraud. Evil is shamed, Good is proclaimed.

Only, this never happened, at least, not that anyone can credibly verify. Snopes has two enlightening articles on this narrative: “Dropped Chalk” and “Malice of Absence.”  And, of course, there is a fantastic Chick Tract. We evangelicals love this story. We share it through chain emails and on social media. We love stories of haughty atheists being put in their place.

Now, thanks to Pure Flix Entertainment, this story has come to life in a new motion picture, God’s Not Dead:

As a friend said, this could be the first film to be based off of a chain email. There’s lots to poke fun at in this trailer. Hercules stiltedly quoting Shakespeare and Nietzsche. The title, which evokes the question: God’s not-dead what? The simplistic narrative of the evangelical standing up against the evil liberal atheist professor boogie man. But I don’t want us to write this off so easily, because this narrative is appealing to evangelical subculture, and honestly, it’s everywhere in evangelical culture.

Take, for example, dubbing April 1st “National Atheist Day” or memes about how dumb and irrational evolution or atheism is. And if you think about it, aren’t most public “debates” between Christians and atheists live dramatizations of this narrative? We send our brightest male Christian into the secular forum (the university) to put the cocky, liberal atheist in his place.

These stories comprise a popular evangelical trope and reveal a collective fantasy we have of humiliating arrogant atheists. We want to believe that atheists are not merely spiritually foolish (a clear, scriptural truth), but also haughty, stupid, jerks.

This narrative of the brave, Christian who stands up to the evil liberal professor is a subset of the larger American (human?) theme of the underdog. It’s David and Goliath (as one Snopes article points out). Only, this narrative creates several problems for Christians.

For one, these stories often lie. Even when they admit to being “fiction,” like God’s Not Dead, they still misrepresent the truth. It is quite possible to “lie” in a fictional story, which is what we see in the Chick Tract: the professor is both ignorant and arrogant while the Christian is brilliant and patient.

From my experience, it’s far more likely that your atheist professor is an intelligent person, and often Christian students are only “equipped” to respond to an antiquated straw-man of Evolution or atheism. Sometimes, the professor is incredibly gracious and sincerely concerned for you and the Christian is arrogant.

Stories like this can also give believers a false sense of security and superiority. We feel like atheism is obviously stupid and evolution is a fairy-tale for unthinking adults. We become sure in ourselves and our abilities to refute the unbeliever and in the unbeliever’s stupidity. We come to think that we have specific knowledge of the atheist’s perspective and can expose it easily. But what happens when a evangelical meets an atheist with really good questions? False confidence in a straw-man vision of atheism does nothing to build up the faith. If we are honest and humble, we ought to recognize that there are many difficult, troubling, and complex aspects of our faith. This honest recognition may mean the difference between a faith that weathers the storms of life and one which sinks under sudden and unexpected doubts.

If we truly want to minister to and protect our children when they go off to college, we need to stop preparing them to make fools out of their professors and start preparing them to prayerfully and faithfully look for answers to any significant questions they encounter.

Let our prayer be, “I believe, Lord; Help my unbelief,” rather than, “I believe, Lord; Help me mock his unbelief.”

For more great content, Like us on Facebook!

Although there may be times where it is appropriate to be blunt to unbelievers, indiscriminately sharing and wearing slogans which mock atheism as idiocy or blatant stupidity or even foolishness is unloving and unhelpful. While Proverbs may describe unbelievers as “fools,” it was not the practice of Christ or the apostles to go around sharing the Good News with a sign that read, “April 1st, National Atheist Day! Cause you’re fools! Get it?” Let them know us by our love, not our arrogance.

Instead of day-dream fantasies of embarrassing atheist professors, let us dream of loving and proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed to everyone.

This post was adapted from an earlier column, here.

About Alan Noble

(Co-Founder/Editor/Columnist) is a part-time lecturer at Baylor University. He received his PhD in Contemporary American Literature from Baylor, writing on manifestations of transcendence in 20th Century American Lit. He and his family attend Redeemer Waco, a PCA church. Alan's passion is studying how believers can be a faithful presence in culture to the glory of God and the edification of others. In addition to editing, Alan writes his column, Citizenship Confusion for CaPC.

---Follow Alan on Twitter @TheAlanNoble and on Facebook.

---For questions, comments, or interest in speaking engagements please email me at noble.noneuclidean [at] gmail [dot] com.

  • Jamison

    Alan, I don’t think you’re extending enough grace to this film. After all, we’ve only seen a preview. I’ve started Flannerizing (O’Connorizing?) all Christian movies in my mind after seeing their previews. I keep hoping that the final cut of the film ends with the main character failing to defend God in his class and then having some tragic accident happen.

  • Edward Kabara

    I’m on your side with this one. I’m interested in the move, but lets be honest here, the movie is incredibly heavy handed. Unless, the movie comes out with a crazy left hook at the end and the kind find out there is no god, then we all know where this is going…

  • Jon Sharpton

    I hold on to the faint hope that the Real Ending of this movie won’t be some generic “professor gets saved in a tearful confession in front of his class after being totally demolished by a freshman student who got help from no one but his pastor (AND JESUS) and studied nothing but the Bible (who needs centuries of apologetics, doctrine, and so forth?)”.

    No instead, after the finale of the debate, Dean Cain appears in a flash of fire and starts threatening Generic Christian Kid, before a punch from Kevin Sorbo sends him through a wall and out into the courtyard.

    There, Cain rips off his swanky suit to reveal that he is, in fact….*SuperSatan*, in all his cape-and-tights glory (Cain’s still in solid shape, it could work!).

    But Sorbo has his own surprise! As he steps onto the lawn, he rips aside his jacket and shirt, revealing that legendary chest-baring cream-colored tunic. For he is, in fact, *Professor Hercules*!

    And thus would they have an epic fist fight, with windows breaking from the sheer, raw, awesome power of their punches, all while Professor Hercules first denounces the Greek Pantheon (his dad’s totes a jerk anyways), and declares that he is now *Professor Hercules, A Christian*!

    Then *SuperSatan* growls about how he’ll get them next time, Gadget, without meddling kids, and disappears in a flash of hellfire and brimstone.

    And then the whole college gets saved because, hey, if *Professor Hercules* gets saved, why don’t we?

    It’d be horrible and cheesy, but at least all of us would have fun watching it! Search your Inner 90′s Child, you know it to be true!

  • Jon Sharpton

    Also, the fight would occur while the Newsboys inexplicably appear and sing some of their greatest hits. Possibly with a remix of Jesus Freak, since Michael Tait is their lead singer now.

  • Tyrone Barnes

    Why is his name “Josh (Joss?) Whedon”? Is this a true story or is someone messing with us?

  • Jon Sharpton

    Josh Wheaton, not Whedon. Reference to Charles Wheaton, Wheaton College, etc.

  • DKeane123

    Alan, as an atheist – I love this article. If everyone would actually investigate the “other side’s” position (religion/politics/whatever), the debate would certainly be more interesting and informative.

    “..and evolution is a fairy-tale for unthinking adults.” – as a geologist that has actually taken classes on the fossil record and radioactive dating, I have a difficult time understanding this position.

  • Steve Schuler

    I once knew a paleontologist who was an ardent creationist, and he was often asked to participate in debates with atheists. He always said no.

    His reasons: the audience will be 95% Christians anyway; if he wins the debate, his opponent will never speak to him again; if he loses the debate, his opponent will never listen to him again. Either way, he would lose the people he would most like to win over.

    I recognize there is a place for apologetics and open debate, but we must not get so obsessed with winning arguments that we lose people.

    -Steve S.

  • MorganGuyton

    Thank you so much for this Alan!

  • RegentTim

    While on the whole I agree with this article (particularly its conclusion – “Instead of day-dream fantasies of embarrassing atheist professors, let us dream of loving and proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed to everyone”), and while American Evangelicals have certainly cultivated a martyr complex which has them screaming ‘Persecution!’ for ridiculous reasons (it’s worth hearing Bishop Rowan Williams on this http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/15/rowan-williams-persecuted-christians-grow-up), and while I too am mostly just embarrassed by this kind of film (okay enough qualifiers), it is worth acknowledging that there are ways in which Christians have been unfairly mocked in the past century (as opposed to being fairly mocked for saying stupid, which also happens, but I digress).

    The best example may be the way Christians were mocked in the media during the famous Scopes Monkey Trial, and the myths concerning that trial which were perpetuated by another embarrassing film, “Inherit the Wind” (embarrassing in that it’s bad history even if it’is an interesting story). Those who listened to the yellow journalism of H.L. Mencken, or watched the film (starring Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly) would assume that the whole trial was a bunch of fundamentalist backwoods hicks viciously persecuting an intelligent young teacher just trying to teach biology. The true history is much more complicated than that, and has a lot more to do with political manipulation by the ACLU (Read “Summer of the God’s” by Edward J. Larson for a fair account). Christians have their myths about persecution, and (interestingly enough) they sometimes coincide with (and are reinforced) by certain Atheist myths about the history of science and religion, a myth in which Christians are unfairly portrayed as always being bigoted and ignorant.

    Ultimately, we should all take a little bit more care in paying attention to our histories, providing more charity in how we portray the ‘Other’, whether the divide between us is political, religious, cultural, or something else. If we do, then perhaps our tropes about so called ‘Persecution’ will finally die, and with a little bit of luck (read grace) Evangelicals will stop making these sort of bad movies.

  • Frank Turk

    So I read your essay, Alan, and I get to the last sentence, and I think you’re bluffing.

    Here’s why:

    Your complaint is that the mythical Atheist Philosophy professor is nobody at all — certainly nobody in particular. But look who you say we ought to be dreaming about: “everyone.” Who is that in particular?

    To paraphrase Dash Parr, when “everyone” is the subject of evangelism, then no one is.

  • Gerard Charmley

    The truth is that all authors have their biases, whether it’s Voltaire having an idiot stump the doctors of the church, or the arrogant, ignorant professor being shamed by a freshman. I had a high school teacher who was an atheist and believed in evolution. I thought he was wrong, and we argued. We did so with the greatest respect for each other’s opinions. I still respect his integrity, and am grateful for his humility in not pulling the ‘power’ card.

  • tylerclark

    I’m troubled by the paranoid persecution complex that seems to be common in American Christian culture. Everyone’s out to get them!

    There’s a War on Christmas (despite Christmas being the most omnipresent cultural event in much of the world).
    There’s a War on Family (despite same-sex marriage actually not presenting any harm to heterosexual couples).
    There’s a War on Christianity (despite there being a church on every corner and laws based more on theology than Constitutionality).

    The United States is still a Christian-dominated society. We’ve never had a major party presidential candidate who didn’t profess to be a Christian.

    Christians who cry over invented persecution are doing a disservice to people around the world who truly are victims of real religious persecution.

  • Brian Westley

    I’ll put on my arrogant atheist hat long enough to point out that it’s “per se” (Latin for in itself), not “per-say”.

  • Alan Noble

    Fair enough, Frank. Let’s change it to dreaming of witnessing to all our non-Christian professors.

  • Alan Noble

    Good grief. I repent in dustin ashes.

  • Alan Noble

    Jamison, gosh, that would be a fantastic ending. Hey! I hope I’m wrong. But I do think it’s appropriate to judge films based on their previews. That *is* what the previews are for; they are a sales pitch for the film. I certainly would be remiss to state that this movie *is* terrible, but I think it’s fair to criticize the plot and dialogue insofar as we are told about it.

  • Alan Noble

    Absolutely. I mean, the liberals still regularly mock conservative Christians as a bunch of backwater hicks. And atheists have their set of wish-fulfillment films, bill maher’s “Religulous,” for example.

    The difference is that Maher’s atheism doesn’t require him to be honest or civil or charitable, and ours does.

  • Alan Noble

    Good catch, Jon. Still pretty funny.

  • Josh Duncan

    Elane Photography? Hobby Lobby? Those aren’t fictitious stories or chain emails.

  • Tyrone Barnes

    That makes sense.

  • Jamison

    Oh, I absolutely agree. I’m right there with you. I hope my comment didn’t make me sound as if I *actually* have a gracious bone in my body towards films like this. I’m much to busy worrying about ways to avoid the awkward conversation that will occur when my mom tells me this movie is super good and that I should see it, then worrying if my presumption about this movie being terrible are unfounded.

  • LycanthropeDoomspire

    HOLD IT, YOU FANATICS!
    … Sorry, I’ve just always wanted to say that. Carry on. :D

  • http://pastorjamesmiller.com/ Jim Miller

    I went to UC Berkeley. In my freshman year, an English professor read “Amazing Grace” as an example of poetry. He then laughed and said, “Sounds like something a Christian would come up with.” Then he proceeded to insult various elements of Christian theology and continued to do so throughout the semester. I finally went to his office and told him it was degrading, and he told me I should just discuss my feelings about it in class – the class in which he had been teaching a hundred students how to laugh at Christianity. So while I suspect this movie will be a caricature, I have to say the narrative of Christian students bullied by professors is a real one.

  • Alan Noble

    Absolutely. I’ve had professors at state universities who mocked Christianity in one way or another.

  • Martyn Jones

    Great piece.

  • Arthur Davis

    Most disturbing for me is the way in which this trope/movie reflects a Christianity that has already taken leave of the academy and public space. So you’re a hardy young Christian ready to brave the “secular world”—tell me again why you’re the only one here?

  • tylerclark

    Reread my last sentence. There are real examples of injustice against Christians. But Christians also dominate American culture. Complaining about invented injustices only discredits the real injustices (like the ones that you mentioned).

  • Darkhill

    In the book “Johnny Come Home” Sproul writes about a young seminary student that is mentored by an older professor to not argue with the professors he disagreed with. I was thinking, Romans 13 would imply that the professor’s position, even if non-believing, should be respected.

  • Nemo

    On the matter of talking points like this, I love how the student often refutes evolution to a philosophy professor, or refutes the Problem of Evil argument (using a stupid response to what is a stupid argument anyway) to a biology professor (my first chain email involved a biology professor using the problem of evil only to be silenced with “cold is lack of heat, evil is lack of God”).
    For that matter, equating atheism with evolution, or for that matter, cosmology, geology, or anything contradicting Young Earth Creationism. There were atheist philosophers long before we had Darwin. Those were the days when skeptics were challenged to explain how rainbows or lightning could form without God. And many of the people who gave us those scientific discoveries pointing to a very old earth were, themselves, Christians. The Big Bang Theory is often described as an atheist lie, but it was formulated by a Christian preacher.

  • Nemo

    I only had one professor who mocked Christianity. It was a World Civilizations class, focusing on the history of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Greece and Rome. We were also supposed to do India and China, but he did not. I was at the time still a Christian, albeit I was beginning the apathy which would ultimately play a role in my deconversion. For this class, we were required to write a journal page after each class with our response to that class. I frequently made it clear that I didn’t approve of him using class time to push religious and political views. That semester, I got a B in every class except his. A. Close to 100% on the exams. One of my favorite classes in college, which I enjoyed at the time in spite of the jabs at what I then believed.

  • Josh Duncan

    Thanks. Just wasn’t sure when I read your comment the first time.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    The Big Bang Theory ties in very nicely with the Kalam Argument—a handy tool in apologetics.

    In point of fact, evolution is very poorly supported anyway, but I don’t equate it with an Old Earth.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    DKeane, I’ve studied the arguments on both sides extensively, in multiple areas, and I’ve concluded all the evidence points towards Christianity. I believe there is still a good deal for you to investigate and would encourage you to dig deeper. For example, you praise Bart Ehrman’s _Misquoting Jesus_ in another comment from your Disqus feed, but that’s a surface-scratching book. If you want to know whether Ehrman is giving you the historical reality, you have to dig even deeper. It’s not glamorous work, but fortunately others have done a lot of it for you. Repeatedly, Ehrman will make a claim that supposedly discredits the gospels, but further historical and archaeological evidence actually turns the claim on its head into a point in their favor.

    Many people, including Christians, don’t really understand the depth and breadth of what’s out there, although it may require a tad more flexibility to appreciate it than the AIG types can offer. (For example, you have to be willing to concede a few minor errors or re-orderings in the Bible, e.g. that the woman caught in adultery story might actually be a misplaced fragment of Luke, which is earth-shattering for some people even though in reality it’s not that significant.) Also, I’m interested to know why you’re equating evolution with Old Earth creationism. I realize fundamentalists do this all the time, but have you ever heard of progressive creationism? This is the belief that there is good evidence for an old earth but poor evidence for evolution. In other words, God did take his time to create the world, but He still created it ex nihilo.

    Here is a lecture series on Youtube that may interest you. This video takes on seven alleged contradictions in the Bible. There’s a second part to the contradictions lecture as well as a whole lot more where those two came from. I highly recommend the whole series, as it deals very practically with the “nitty gritty” of a variety of evidences in response to arguments like Ehrman’s. I agree with you that our faith needs a foundation of reason, but I happen to believe we do in fact have that foundation. Enjoy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJizWvoGCIg

  • Esther O’Reilly

    And yet, many people have asked for answers to these questions and been persuaded to believe after surveying the evidence. On the flip side, young people are leaving the faith in droves because they’re no longer sure why they believe what they believe. Yes, we need to maintain grace in all things, at the same time, let’s acknowledge the positive impact of apologetics both for winning souls and keeping them in the fold.

  • DKeane123

    Esther – thanks for the long reply. Unfortunately, I have no interest in progressive creationism (or any of it’s forms). The facts are that biology, geology, and paleontology have created a narrative that fits very well with respect to the age of earth, the first forms of life, and their fossilized remains. Add in genetics, and there is a mountain of scientific (peer reviewed and repeatable) evidence gathered by scientists from different cultures across the globe.

    We can discuss biblical creationism all day long, but there is no reason to believe any of the opinions, they are mere hand waving.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Well, I think you’re under-selling the work of some scientific experts who happen to accept intelligent design. But, waiving that for the moment, what about the historical evidence for the gospels? The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is really the core of Christianity. If there’s evidence that supports those events beyond a reasonable doubt, then frankly the rest are details—perhaps very important ones, but ultimately that’s the foundation. And the fact is that Bart Ehrman isn’t the be-all end-all in that area. In fact, he’s a good enough scholar to know that not all of what he puts in his own books is entirely true. But he does it anyway because he knows it will convince people who don’t know better.

    Once again, I encourage you to go beyond Ehrman and get your own hands dirty with this stuff. The link I provided will give you a very good start, and there are many solid resources to delve into from there. If you won’t even attempt that, maybe you should ask yourself whether you really want to follow the argument wherever it leads. If you did all your homework and found the evidence for Jesus’ life, death and resurrection truly was convincing, would you accept it as the truth?

  • DKeane123

    “Well, I think you’re under-selling the work of some scientific experts who happen to accept intelligent design. ” – I would disagree. They have no scientific evidence for ID, and therefore this isn’t science. Read the Dover ID decision.

    I have read other books than Ehrman’s on the history of Mohammed and also some on the Old Testament. I would note that other historical scholars (outside of Evangelical Christianity – who have a significant bias) have come to similar conclusions about the veracity of the Gospels. If I am wrong, please cite a published critique of the book by a legitimate historian.

    I’ve done mountains of homework, I would accept it as true, if it was published and peer reviewed to the extent that evolution has been.

  • jasmine999

    I’m sorry, but there is no “convincing evidence” that Jesus performed miracles, was resurrected, etc.

    The New Testament is not the only non-fiction from the era to offer a miracle-working hero. If the miracles recorded there are viable historic evidence, then you must also conclude that Apollonius of Tyana raised the dead as certainly as Jesus did, as Philostratus says so. Caesar had divine guidance in his conquests, as Suetonius says so. Vespasian cured a blind man, as BOTH Suetonius and Tacitus, reliable, respected historians, say so…etc.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I don’t assume prima facie that a miracle is logically impossible, because it’s not. I accept the miracle accounts of the Bible first of all because I judge it as I would any other ancient historical document, and I conclude, based on a variety of things, that it’s genuine. By contrast, all the other miracle claims you’ve mentioned have been shown patently false by the same tests I use to judge Scripture. I know this because every single example in your comment was raised and dealt with in excruciating detail several centuries before the creation of the infidel website where you probably first ran across them. It’s David Hume at the bottom of the beer mug, again, and it’s just unfortunate that his writings are still circulated while the devastating critiques he received in his own time are not. I highly recommend that you find and read for yourself William Adams and George Campbells’ detailed critiques of Hume’s _Of Miracles_.

    Plus, your claim is philosophically false in general. If you place a real coin and a counterfeit coin in front of me, I must consider the genuineness of each on its own. The fact that a counterfeiter is trying to pass off the fake coin as the real thing does not necessitate that I accept both as real.

    By the way, this page neatly summarizes the failure of the Jesus/Vespasian parallel:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/06/alleged-miracles-of-vespasian.html

  • ortcutt

    Those are instances of religious persecution? I guess we’re defining persecution downward to the point that having a corporation that you own participating in the health care system is now religious persecution. Are Quakers persecuted by paying taxes that fund wars? If a Muslim owns a corporation and his employees spend their paycheck on pork, is that religious persecution? How would you feel about a photographer with a no-Christians policy?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    So, are you automatically discounting the work of all Christian scientists and historians as “not legitimate?” Meaning William Lane Craig, Paul Maier etc. wouldn’t count? If you’re going to discount anyone who might potentially have a bias, aren’t you being inconsistent by discounting Christians but not atheists—or apostates, as in Bart’s case? Would you engage with a work by somebody who began as an atheist and then was convinced by the evidence for Christianity, that is, the mirror image of Bart? There’s no less reason for one than for the other.

    Two non-Christian scholars off the top of my head who don’t agree with the scientific consensus about evolution are Jonathan Wells and David Berlinski. Also, from a philosophical angle, I recommend John Earman’s work _Hume’s Abject Failure_. Earman is not a Christian, but he lampoons some of the most common arguments against Christianity as philosophically bankrupt.

    If you’re willing to dig for detailed evidence, it’s out there for anyone to find, not just people with a degree in history. Once again, the links on the channel I pointed you to go through a lot of the specific “contradictions” Ehrman raises and answer them based on primary source material and archaeological evidence, all publicly available.

  • ortcutt

    Religulous was a documentary. You’re free to think what you like about Maher’s commentary, but these weren’t fictional scenes set up as wish-fulfillment.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I would say the photographer has a right to serve or not serve whomever he wants and it’s not the government’s business to interfere.

  • ortcutt

    So, you oppose the public accommodations protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related state laws such as the New Mexico Human Rights Act (that does prohibit discrimination in services and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation)? Are you OK with a restaurant with a “No Blacks” sign or a hair dresser that says “No Christians”. I thought we crossed this bridge decades ago, but I guess not.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    There are many things I’m “not OK with” that I don’t think should be illegal. I’m not OK with breaking one’s promises. I’m not okay with using foul language. I’m not okay with people acting like jerks. That doesn’t mean I think people should be legally punished for these things. That gives the government way too much power. I wouldn’t frequent a business that denied service to Christians or people of a different race, and I would encourage others to follow my example. Then hopefully, we could run the owner out of business through the power of the free market.

  • jasmine999

    What are your reasons for not believing that Emperor Vespasian cured the blind man? As I said, both Suetonius and Tacitus, both respected historians who were alive while Vespasian ruled report it. Why don’t you believe them?

  • ortcutt

    The question is whether you’re OK with it being legal in our society. I don’t want to live in a society where blacks or Christians, or the non-native-born, or gay people are excluded from services open to the public. It’s really striking to me how a segment of the population has never accepted the Civil Rights Movement, even this long after the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Well, for one thing, Tacitus was the official historian under Vespasian, so there was probably pressure on him to write stuff that would put the emperor in a good light. He had something to lose by not doing so and a cushy job to keep if he did. (By contrast with the apostles, who had everything to lose by sticking with their story and their lives to keep if they abandoned it.) However, even in Tacitus’s somewhat rosy account, you can tell that Vespasian does not approach the sick men like Jesus in the gospels, at all. At first he actually says no. Then he consults with doctors to figure out what the probability of recovery in both cases would be anyway. They tell him there’s a good chance that neither man will be disabled permanently even if the “miracle” attempt fails. So, assured that whatever happens he won’t be embarrassed, he goes ahead with it.

    Does that sound like a God-man miracle-worker to you? It sounds like a phony to me. But in the gospels, when Jesus decides to heal somebody, he doesn’t hem and haw and calculate the odds. He just does it, because he knows he can. Of course that doesn’t prove he actually did, not by a long shot. However, what is clear is that the Vespasian claim bears many internal marks of inauthenticity.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I want to live in a society where the government hasn’t monopolized the private sphere to the extent that people no longer have control over their own property. I think the damage done by that monopolization has been just as bad in its own way.

  • ortcutt

    I really have no idea what you mean by “monopolized the private sphere”. Obviously, government (at the Federal, State and local level) has a monopoly on the ability to make laws and regulation. That’s simply a truism. So, that can’t be what you mean. But you surely can’t be counting any laws whatsoever governing businesses as monopolizing the private sphere. I’m also not clear what this has to do with property rights, since the activity in question is a service rather than a location. Unless you object to all and any regulation of business services whatsoever, you need to have a justification why you opposed Civil Rights Laws and don’t oppose other regulations.

  • jasmine999

    Same source prejudice applies to the gospels; they were written to bolster the claims of the religion to historic truth, and they were written to evangelize.

    All the rest (imo) proves that Vespasian, in fact, performed a miracle. Gospel accounts make sure to include the fact that many people witnessed a miracle, as that adds to the veracity of the account. Tacitus does the same thing; the passage ends with the statement that many people witnessed the healing of the blind man. Tacitus one-ups the gospels in including the report of a doctor that the man who begged for a miracle really had issues with his sight.

    Vespasian then cures the man. Here is Suetonius’ version of the miracle: “Though he [Vespasian] had hardly any faith that this could possibly succeed, and therefore shrank even from making the attempt, he was at last prevailed upon by his friends and tried both things in public before a large crowd; and with success.”

    Again, what reason do you have to doubt that Vespasian performed a miracle?

  • ortcutt

    If you’ve concluded on the basis of the evidence that evolution is very poorly supported, write up your findings, send them to the journals Science and Nature, and collect your Nobel Prize.

  • DKeane123

    No William Lane Craig is not a scientist. I’m looking for impartial observation. I have seen his talks, and he really does not provide any evidence beyond the usual – everything has a cause – therefore God.

    Neither Wells nor Berlinski are evolutionary biologists or geologists (because they have a Doctorate does not mean they are equally qualified to comment on all fields of science). Have they published their results in scientific journals? They haven’t because all they have is a God of the gaps argument of “Wow this is complex and I can’t believe it arose naturally, therefore God.”. If they publish, they will essentially overturn the entire basis of Biology, Geology, and Genetics – Nobel Prize and Fame/Fortune await them.

    I will look at the You Tube channel tonight if you read the Judge’s decision on the Dover ID trail.

  • Josh Duncan

    Imagine if a LGBT activist photographer opened a business and was asked to photograph an event by the Family Research Counsel? Does that photographer, that artist, have a right to refuse business or not? I’d call forcing an organization to choose between paying a daily million dollar fine and paying for insurance plans which would be forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs an unjust law, not just religious persecution.

  • jasmine999

    You are, in turn, underselling Christians who don’t believe that ID is science. See what Father Coyne, director of the Vatican observatory, has to say about intelligent design and “crude” creationism. He is not amused by either stand, finds both to be beliefs that belittle God “http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=18503

  • ortcutt

    If their refusal to photograph the event was based on the religion of those being photographed, then it’s absolutely a violation of the New Mexico Human Rights Act.

    Maybe it’s because of those signs in restaurants that say “We reserve the right to refuse service for any reason,” that people develop the misapprehension that businesses have the right to refuse service for any reason. That’s obviously not true under current law.

  • http://www.culturewarreporters.com/ CultureWarReporterEvan

    If you had told me that Hercules and Superman would one day star in the same movie I would have told you to a) get out of town and b) direct me in how I could get a hold of this film. My actual reaction is way more of the former than the latter.

    That being said, I love the main point of all this which is to stop looking down on the beliefs of others. I mean, as a Christian I believe I’m right, but that doesn’t mean deriding others because they might not be.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Look. Here’s a comparison chart regarding Suetonius’ account. (By the way, I got Tacitus confused with Josephus as Vespasian’s special protege, although Tacitus as an official Roman historian would still want to write something to please the emperor. My mistake. As for personal gain, you’re totally missing my point with the apostles—if they were lying they were lying for absolutely nothing, to the point of gruesome death. That’s my point.) Also, yes, the man had issues with his sight, they were also issues that those same doctors said could potentially clear up on their own!

    Gap between the event and the writing of the records in question

    Resurrection: ~3-5 years for the early creed quoted in 1 Corinthians 15; ~30-40 years for the Synoptics; ~65 years for John

    Vespasian’s healings: ~40 years for Tacitus; ~55 years for Suetonius

    Proximity of the author of the record to the event

    Resurrection: Two eyewitnesses to the risen Jesus (Matthew and John), two companions of eyewitnesses (Mark and Luke)

    Vespasian’s healings: Neither Tacitus nor Suetonius was an eyewitness; we have no record of whether they had personally known eyewitnesses

    Relationship between the event and the local religious authorities

    Resurrection: Opposed fiercely by the Jewish leadership, who had procured Jesus’ crucifixion

    Vespasian’s healings: Promoted the worship of the local deity, Serapis

    Relationship between the event and regional military power

    Resurrection: Undermining the authority of the Roman military who had executed Jesus

    Vespasian’s healings: Redounded to the honor of Vespasian, a Roman general who had declared his aspirations to the imperial throne

    Information regarding the state of those on whom the miracle was performed

    Resurrection: Jesus was crucified by professional killers

    Vespasian’s healings: The two applicants were examined by doctors, who determined that the blind man was not wholly blind, and the lame man not hopelessly lame

    Consistency of the records with one another

    Resurrection: Minor discrepancies in the description of the events

    Vespasian’s healings: Minor discrepancies in the description of the events

    Also, here is a link to Adams’ rebuttal of this exact argument in Hume. If you can get past the “f” for “s,” you might save both of us some time by simply reading it:

    https://archive.org/stream/essayinanswertom00adamiala#page/74/mode/2up

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Well, that’s his right to have that opinion, but the evidence is what it is. Other Christians are free to disagree and I won’t question their faith for it, I just think they’re wrong.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Why bother? They wouldn’t accept anything supporting ID no matter how well researched it was. :-)

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I didn’t say Craig was a scientist. I pointed to him and Maier as examples of historians/philosophers.

    Just now saw this. You’re on. I will make time for that soon and leave a comment here when I’m finished.

  • http://soulwinningstudents.com/ Neil

    WE don’t lose anyone. God via the Holy Spirit acts in salvation. People aren’t going to reject God because of the attitude of people claiming to follow Him, they are going to deny Him because their ultimate desire is to be their own god.

  • DKeane123

    Watched the You Tube video and do not find it convincing. The fact that the Gospels agree on “major points” is not the issue – they should when Luke steals from Mathew.

    These Gospels are the inspired word of God and his only true revealed message to us. Why is there even a need for apologetics? On top of that, there is ABSOLUTE EVIDENCE that the Gospels were modified from scribe to scribe – The ultimate word of God is very week against the scribe that makes a mistake or changes something to fit a narrative. So much for all powerful.

    With the “ultimate” author I would anticipate a clearer message. Instead we get pro-slavery messages, genocide, and the idea of eternal torture as being a-okay.

    On top of that, not a single ounce of current non-christian account of Jesus. One man cleared out an entire temple of money changers (the size of several football fields) and there were almost riots when he came to town. Not a word from anyone about it.

    Finally, there is nothing in Bible that gives veracity to the supernatural claims. Even if Jesus did exist and he said a bunch of stuff, it isn’t evidence for God or that he was the son of God.

    Thank you for the link. Let me know what you think of the Dover Decision.

  • MumbleMumble

    Thank you. I think this is a great message for believers to hear, and I really appreciate you saying it.

    I think the flip side to it (atheists acting in similar fashion to believers) should also be the case, and I probably don’t embody that as well as I should. But I’ll try to do better.

    Thanks again.

  • ortcutt

    So, tens of thousands of biologists in a hundred countries are engaged in a vast international conspiracy to ignore certain evidence in order to justify evolution and discredit intelligent design. And they’ve somehow managed to keep this conspiracy under wraps for more than one hundred years. Sorry, but I don’t know any biologists who are clever enough to pull off something that complicated.

  • jasmine999

    I read the page. It does nothing of the sort; it’s a horrific insult upon the sainted memory of the good emperor Vespasian!!! If there was an outraged smiley I would have inserted it here. lol but the author simply provides us with what Ehrman would describe as a miracle-free version a historian could accept. The only problem is, the author would, of course, refuse to do the same to the Christian account, insisting on its historicity, miracles and all. That’s a contradiction. On to your points:

    1. martyrdom: Whether the apostles were martyred or not is a controversial topic, as you know. There’s no real evidence that they were. Even if we assume they were, it
    would be best to remember that people have a most unfortunate habit of dying for various causes, and that the deaths do not prove the veracity of the cause. Remember the sad, sad saga of Heaven’s Gate.

    2. Whether the doctors could have healed the man is immaterial. Point is, Vespasian did. It was a miracle.

    3. Authors: per contemporary scholarly consensus, gospels are not eyewitness accounts; we simply do not know who wrote them. Compare these anonymous authors to Suetonius and Tacitus, respected, reliable historians both. We even know that both men at least lived through Vespasian’s reign. That might not be much, but we don’t even have that about the authors of the gospels.

    4. Vespasian’s healing must have been a promo opportunity for new emperor. Similarly, miracles and resurrections must have helped Christians gain new converts. If that kind of bias does not invalidate gospel miracles, it also does not invalidate Vespasian’s miracle.

    5. Discrepancies: There is little discrepancy between Suetonius and Tacitus. There are some major contradictions in the Resurrection story. The most glaring ones for me involve the discovery of the Resurrection, the one thing, you would think, they would get right. Who went to the tomb? Who was at the tomb? What did the women/woman (depending on the gospel) do when they/she found it empty? Contradictions, wherever you look, and, again, this is the RESURRECTION, the central tenet of Christianity.

    If you are willing to accept the Resurrection, you should be willing to accept Vespasian’s miracle. Being inconsistent is fine, so long as you admit that you are inconsistent on faith. Your wording, however, was that there was excellent EVIDENCE that the resurrection really happened. There isn’t.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Actually, I know enough inside baseball to know that’s not too far off. ;-)

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I really wish I had the time and the energy to go through every one of your points and deal with them as fully as possible. There are answers to all of them, but since you seem prepared to reject whatever I say I’m not sure what the point is. This is the trouble of being a Christian apologist—it takes only a moment to punch up a question on Google, but it may take hours of careful research to answer it fully.

    To pick just a few, first of all we have the writings of Paul, whose status as a historical figure is actually accepted by many biblical scholars, including Bart Ehrman. Paul was martyred and writes in detail about the work of the other apostles, including Peter. As for martyrdom, you’re failing to make a key distinction between people who die for something they claim to have WITNESSED, personally, and people who die SIMPLY for a cause or a belief. This is the very common “Muslim terrorists” argument, but it’s flawed because it fails to make that distinction. Once again, the apostles were in a position to know, for certain, whether or not what they claimed was true. Attempts to explain away their belief by hallucination, fake death, twin theory (yes, there really is a theory out there that Jesus had a twin) are all very unconvincing. If they did not in fact see these things happen, then they really had NO reason to be claiming that they did. Muslim terrorists and other religious martyrs, on the other hand, don’t base their beliefs on something they see anyway. It’s a belief, something they accept on faith from the beginning.

    Regarding the contradictions surrounding the Resurrection, all of them can be reasonably dealt with without detracting from the gospels’ reliability. See this video, which examines each one carefully and individually, as originally listed by Bart Ehrman (btw you could at least have HTed him on these because you pretty much took the words out of his mouth!):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww7_NKv6_Sg

    Here’s another link examining the question of who wrote the gospels:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldvim1yjYM

  • https://twitter.com/atheist_in_nc Heisenberg

    Having watched this trailer several times, it looks cringingly awful.

    This movie looks like it makes the same mistake that most Christians make when approaching atheists: that atheists can’t possibly have compelling arguments for not believing in God!

    Come on… an atheist university professor with a doctorate in philosophy is going to be well-versed in the historical/critical analysis of the Bible; he’ll know just how problematic the Bible is. He’s not going to be flipped by some 18 year old kid whose only exposure to the Bible has been the 21st century popular evangelical view.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    With Elaine Photography, you are ignoring a very vital fact. You see, in order to run a business that caters to the public, you must apply for a business license from the state (not federal) government. Receiving that license means that you have signed a contract with the government to run your business in accordance with the laws laid down by the representatives elected by people in your state. These laws cover everything from child labour laws to how clean a freezer must be. Virtually all states have a non-discrimination clause, meaning that if you run a business, there are certain things that you cannot use to deny people service. Sexual orientation is one of them.

    So when Elaine Photography refuses service to a couple based on their sexual orientation, they have broken the contract that they agreed upon and have therefore broken the law. And they must face the consequences. It doesn’t matter that Jesus told you to be mean to those nasty gay people. Religious discrimination does not override state law, and no judge in any court of the United States has ever upheld discrimination over law in any circumstance, whether orientation, gender, race, or religion.

    If you want to delude yourself by thinking that poor Elaine is being persecuted for her religion, go right ahead, but those of us who truly understand and experienced the damage your religion does on a constant basis will never take you seriously. Neither will those of us who hold the Constitution over the Bible.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    No. They would not have the right to refuse if the refusal is based on the religious affiliation of the client. That’s the beauty of the law, and the price of operating a business that caters to the public.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    ….

  • A. Christian

    Dean Cain, Kevin Sorbo and The Newsboys are in a movie together. All of your arguments are invalid.

  • Nemo

    Yes Neil. I am skeptical of the existence of supernatural forces because I think I myself have supernatural powers. As for your first point, Richard Dawkins might be the face of atheism, but he’s got nothing on the Religious Right when it comes to bolstering the ranks of atheism. You deny this at your peril. But it’s not my place to tell you what to do, so please, double down on yelling “turn or burn” on the streets, and then tell yourself that the passersby who aren’t interested must be selfish, wicked fools.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    What’s the need for apologetics? Well, we can’t just accept that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God on blind faith. We need to begin by finding out what sets it apart from other holy books so we can make an informed decision about whether it really is what it claims to be. Otherwise there’s nothing to distinguish Christianity from Mormonism, Hinduism or what have you. Although I don’t believe having a reasonable, justified faith is necessary for the salvation of the soul, I think ultimately reason can be an anchor for that faith. Emotion comes and goes, and God doesn’t always “feel real” to us. That’s when we go back to the facts and the evidence, which may seem “dry” to some people, but can be a remarkably assuring presence when the burning in the bosom is absent.

    The video you watched is just part 1 of one section of a longer lecture series, so it’s certainly not supposed to build the entire case for Christianity by itself. I would recommend the rest of the series for more evidence and examples. Here are two more examples of the holes in Ehrman’s argument, from a different video:

    1. Ehrman says in Jesus, Interrupted that Matthew never ONCE refers to Jesus as God, when there are at least two highly significant passages in Matthew that indicate just that.

    2. Ehrman claims that most Jews didn’t engage in ritual hand-washing before eating, so Mark 7:3 is mistaken when it says they did. It’s true that the people weren’t required by Levitical law to do so (as opposed to the priests), however, according to documents like the Letter of Aristaeus (c. 200 BC) and various tractates of the Mishnah, they in fact did.

    As for the well-worn argument that the gospel authors stole from each other, hundreds of undesigned coincidences say each author had independent sources from the others. Luke will make an off-hand comment that’s not explained unless you turn to Matthew, and vice versa. Same for John and Mark, Mark and Luke, Mark and Matthew, etc. A forgery would take care not to leave loose ends like that. This is an internal mark of authenticity.

    Another thing, and this is discussed in another link I’ll give you at the end of this comment: The gospel writers get hard things right. There are minute details about the time, the place, the culture, the money, the government, etc. that an author fabricating the work many years after the fact wouldn’t have been able to recreate accurately owing to the Destruction of Jerusalem. Professional archaeologists have realized they can actually use the book of Luke as a guide to their digging.

    Your complaint about no contemporary sources is common but flawed. People fail to realize how relatively small an event Jesus’ ministry was in the context of the time. The rest of the civilized world did not revolve around Israel, to put it mildly. Why should we expect to find other detailed contemporary accounts? It’s not like the witnesses to Jesus’ miracles brought iPhones and posted pictures for the whole world on Instagram. “Saw this a-MAZING miracle today. Please like and share!” Information traveled very slowly in those days, and who else would be interested in the wanderings and dealings of some obscure Jewish rabbi?

    However, you DO see Roman records of the period mere decades after the setting of the gospel events that talk about the spread of early Christianity, because by then it was spilling out beyond Israel so that the Romans couldn’t help noticing it. There are writings from Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and also the Jewish historian Josephus that confirm the traditions, persecution and claims of the very early church. Of course this by itself does not prove that the claims are true,and again, must be distinguished from the martyrdom of the APOSTLES, but it does dispense with some frivolous myths about the exaggeratedly late date of the religion’s development.

    Also, Bart Ehrman himself freely acknowledges that the letters of Paul are authentic, and whether he recognizes it or not that’s quite a serious piece of evidence in favor of Christianity. In fact, here’s an interview clip where Ehrman argues with and corrects an atheist interviewer on this point, much to the interviewer’s surprise:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRx0N4GF0AY&feature=player_embedded

    RE the Dover document: I read it in its entirety, but I found a lot of it to be philosophically flawed. Even aside from the deeply problematic constitutional issues (a part of me dies a little at each fresh mangling of the “establishment” clause which proceeds from the mouth of the courts), I thought some of the language was over-the-top and politically charged. For example, the passage about “protecting impressionable children from religious views that appear to carry official imprimatur” almost struck me as funny—I wouldn’t talk that way about “protecting” kids from the theory of evolution! A lot of the claims are philosophical opinions disguised as scientific statements, which ironically is the very thing they accuse ID proponents of doing. Their definition of what exactly constitutes scientific reasoning is extremely narrow and fails when applied to many of science’s most richly fascinating theories and discoveries. All the logical fallacies and problems with these arguments are very concisely addressed in this article:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20060927232952/http://www.stnews.org/Commentary-2690.htm

    I also found it amusing that huge sections of the decision are taken up with solemnly demonstrating that “ID is a form of creationism,” as if this is somehow scandalous, unscientific, damning, etc. Again, it’s just a fallacy simply to assert that an acknowledgment of supernatural possibilities is definitionally anti-scientific. Science is about figuring out how the world works. It’s conceivable that part of how the world works is that there’s a outside being who gave it its existence. Moreover, this absolute refusal to entertain ID as a scientific theory has generated a vicious cycle when it comes to publication. If there’s a philosophical bias against a certain argument from the get-go, this is naturally going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Finally, I compared it with the transcript of Behe’s cross-examination, and there was at least one place where it blatantly mis-attributed a quote to him that was actually coming from the examiner, namely that the articles about the immune system he mentioned were “not good enough” according to Behe. Behe never said that, in fact he expressly rejected that opinion when it was suggested by the examiner. He said he was sure they were “excellent” but was skeptical that they addressed the highly specific question he had raised in his work.

    Furthermore, they repeatedly harp on this “flaw” Behe acknowledges in the reply to his critics, but I don’t read the quote they keep gesturing to as a withdrawal of the basic objection, more like a slight modification or finetuning of it. But the decision comes across more like this: If the biochemical systems we see today were, in all essentials, the only types involved in evolution, then the challenge of knocking out a single component and finding that it renders them non-functional would be spot on. But PERHAPS there are somewhat simpler living (i.e. replicating) systems that were involved earlier in the evolutionary process. And if so, then PERHAPS they were not vulnerable to the irreducible complexity criticism in the same way as current ones are. Therefore, the entire neo-Darwinian synthesis is obviously true, Behe is refuted, ID is nonsense, Christianity is false, and Jesus probably never existed anyway. Any questions?

    And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that nothing in the document even began to touch the problem of abiogenesis (“arrival” versus “survival”) or the origin of consciousness.

    However, I appreciate you directing me to the link. It did take me several hours to comb through, so perhaps you should watch another video to make it fair. ;-) I recommend this one on the external corroborations of the gospels and Acts as historical documents. This gets into the “getting hard things right” details I mentioned earlier:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAPG3eECaxw

    Finally, regarding the moral issues: We could spend dozens of comments going down that one rabbit trail alone, but I’ll put one thing out there regarding the Canaanite slaughter and similar passages where God orders and allows people to kill innocents—to be perfectly honest I find those passages difficult too, but because I’m not a strict inerrantist I have the freedom to bite the bullet to some extent and call them into question. I have no other textual evidence to do so, but it contradicts what’s been revealed to mankind by the natural light and the knowledge we’ve been given into the character of God, plus it contradicts the commandment not to murder. So I consider it at least possible that the order did not come from God.

    At this point you’ve shown enough of a tendency to poison the well that I’m not sure how profitable it would be for me to suggest more resources or more arguments. I packed a lot into this comment, so if you want to have the last word, go for it. Time is short and multivariate calculus is unforgiving. However, I hope you continue to think critically about these things.

  • http://bit.ly/glUAR7 Calladus

    Right! And if you don’t like blacks, they shouldn’t be allowed to eat at your restaurant. It’s just not the government’s business to interfere, right?

    Or are you just being an idiot?

  • Noah Smith

    You Sir/Madam win the internet

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Young people are leaving the Church in droves (in my homeland at least) because Christians there have a long and rich history of enslaving our young women, raping our children, and killing people with car bombs and bullets.

    If you don’t want us to make sweeping generalisations about you, give us the same courtesy. You don’t get to decide why people leave the church. It’s different for each person and it sometimes has nothing to do with anything but how your brothers and sisters in Christ behave.

  • duke_of_omnium

    Sure. Just like apartments can refuse to rent to ethnic tenants, and restaurants don’t have to serve “their kind”

  • James

    Uhhh. No. Atheists do not want to be their own god. They simply do not believe in your god in exactly the same way that you don’t believe in the Muslim god, the Sikh god, the Bahai god, the Zoroastrian god; the gods of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Mesopotamian etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

  • ahermit

    Good article; thank you for writing this.

    But what happens when a evangelical meets an atheist with really good questions? False confidence in a straw-man vision of atheism does
    nothing to build up the faith.

    Evangelicals also make the mistake of assuming that those who don’t share their beliefs are ignorant of those beliefs and would be easily persuaded once they here the “truth”. But many of us who no longer believe in gods are intimately familiar with the beliefs and the language of evangelical Christianity. You might think you’re telling us something new when in fact it;s nothing we haven’t heard before; even passionately believed ourselves. We are not atheists or agnostics or humanists becasue we have never heard the Christian message; we have come to our unbelief because of a deep familiarity with that message and a long process of examining it carefully and critically.

    You’re right to say that there are many difficult and troubling aspects to those beliefs and the answers to those problems, where answers are even offered, are not convincing enough for someone like me to maintain that belief. (There’s also a lot of good stuff and I still honour and respect Christ’s message of love and compassion even if I can no longer believe in his divinity.)

    So while I’m always willing to listen and always open to new ideas and willing to be persuaded to change my mind I don’t have a lot of patience for people who try to lure me back to the faith of my youth with the same stock answers and tired arguments that I used to use myself, and which ultimately came to sound so hollow and unpersuasive.

  • Sam

    I hope you’re not saying there’s evidence for the biblical Jesus having existed as written in said bible. Since there isn’t. Any. At all.
    (The bible itself, Josephus and Titus Flavius are not proper sources, since it’s non-contemporary hearsay.)

  • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    If the Newsboys are on the payroll, there’s no way they’ll let that happen.

  • Occupy Christianity

    Thanks for sharing this, Alan. Everything you’ve said is right on the money, and we Christians would be well advised to look at the mirror when we accuse others of stereotyping us. Atheists and their arguments come in all sizes and shapes and IQs.

    But is it our place to even make the argument that student makes? If we truly have something in our lives that would draw people to Christ, is it an argument over God’s existence going to draw anyone in? Does loving people work better, maybe?

    Second, this whole trope reveals the anti-intellectualism so rampant in certain sects of Evangelicalism and American culture in general. The student takes down the professor. Not that there are not brilliant students or not-so-brilliant professors out there, but the whole idea of “turning the tables” is really an Evangelical indictment of people who actually use the brains God gave them.

    Finally, there is the question you bring up of what the best way is to equip children. “Train a child in the way he should go” in Proverbs 22:6 isn’t saying (at least to me) that we train a child WHAT to think. We should (and I do with my son) train children in HOW to think. Raising children through indoctrination is only setting them up for a crisis of faith that inevitably will come when their belief system meets something that turns it on its head. Rather, teaching children how to think equips them to deal with that crisis when it happens.

    Just my $.02. Thanks for the way you’ve dealt with this topic.

  • http://JoshBrahm.com/ Josh Brahm

    This is an excellent piece, Alan. I love the attitude you’re encouraging Christians to have. Keep it up!

  • Todd Devitt

    Are you a dunce? The question is not the danger same sex marriage presents to traditional marriage. It is what same sex marriage does to the culture!
    I’m not going to take away your Christian credentials…but lets be real you’ve settled for reason and not faith. You do not express love, by being silent on sin.

  • Todd Devitt

    I know what we really need is another American Pie movie…This pseudo intellectualism that is continually propagated here does not reveal the flaws of the church…but the joke of leaning on “reason” before faith.

  • Todd Devitt

    One more thing…while attaining my masters in theology…I’ve come to the conclusion, in my experience, that the most intellectually lazy/slothful person on the planet is the tenured college professor.

  • Jim

    “In point of fact, evolution is very poorly supported anyway”

    Please, go read a book about evolution, something like “the Greatest Show on Earth”. You’re just making yourself look completely ignorant.

  • TypicalWiredReader

    O MY GOD. Culture is ruined. Going shopping. Merry same sexmas!

  • Esther O’Reilly

    That is what I’m saying. I’d love to hear your arguments to the contrary though. For example, what compelling evidence would you like to point to that the gospels are non-contemporary? See the long comments I’ve made elsewhere in this thread giving detailed evidence that they are. Furthermore, if you’re a Jesus myther (i.e., someone who believes there never was a guy named Jesus who was crucified and started a new religion), you do realize that you’re on the wrong side of most contemporary scholarship?

    Please do some actual historical and textual research and get back to me when you’re done.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I’m speaking based on what I’ve personally witnessed in the American evangelical community. You’re free to draw your own conclusions about your culture. Let me draw mine.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Yes, some people are emotionally detached from God and will indeed be drawn in if you present a well-thought-out, consistent evidential case. I’ve watched it happen. I’m not down-playing the power of example, but that’s really not enough when a person asks “Why should I believe THIS religion as opposed to these other religions which seem to make people nice and happy too?”

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Could you give some examples of the arguments you heard most commonly which were unpersuasive? Not trying to start a new thread here, just gathering information. Thx.

  • Mary J. Nelson

    You are missing the point, I think. Nobody is talking about paying taxes or not. Furthermore, payment of wages is a contract between the employee and the employer and the employer generally will not set up the contract so that the employee has to have all his or her expenditures approved ahead of time. The employee might, in limited circumstances, be fired for certain activities outside of work that said employee uses his paycheck to fund…driving under the influence, drug use, gambling, etc. ). In the case of Elane photography, we are talking about an artist (or artists) forced to artistically celebrate an event they disagree with. In the case of Hobby Lobby, the proprietors are being forced to provide money for an activity they deem as murder (I assume that if an employee used his paycheck to murder someone, the employer could fire said employee?). In neither case, is the customer or employee being denied services by the company or employer, the employer is simply asking to not be obligated to pay for said services.

  • Sam

    Well, here we go.
    The gospels were written and re-written after the supposed death of Jesus. A couple of times, actually.
    I read your long comments, but your evidence isn’t good at all, it’s mostly apologetics and conjunction we’ve all heard before.
    I disagree with you putting me in a box, I bet there was at some point a guy named Jesus that got crucified, lots of guys got crucified in those days. I also don’t disagree there were lots of Messiah-figures and ‘prophets’ around, one of them might’ve been called Jesus. Maybe he got crucified as well. I’m not believing the biblical Jesus ever existed, however.
    I’m very much on the right side of contemporary scholarship, I believe.

    I’ve done my historical research, I believe. You should stop making assumptions about me.
    Have you read the Vulgate and the Septuagint? In their respective languages, I mean, not some modern translation. I have.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Odd, I’ve been in America for a number of years now, but nothing suggests that young people leave because they’re ‘not sure why they believe what they believe.’ Rather it’s a combination of free information on places like the web, church abuse and hypocrisy, the gag-inducing effect of Christian pop-culture, education, reassessing values in a rapidly globalised world, and sheer boredom. You are still doing a large percentage of the population a huge disservice by self-righteously deciding that their spiritual choices are simply because they’re not as faithful or educated as you are.

  • ortcutt

    The New Mexico Supreme Court rejected the compelled-speech argument. You’re free to read the opinion if you want to read the legal arguments.

    http://law.justia.com/cases/new-mexico/supreme-court/2013/33-687.html

    To make your argument with regard to Hobby Lobby you need to assume that

    (1) For-profit corporations “have a religion”, and
    (2) Government has no authority to impose business regulations to which the owner of that corporation objects.

    Both of those assumptions are non-sensical.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    It has now been ten years since same-sex marriage became legal in Massachusetts. Please describe, in detail and with specific examples, how culture in Massachusetts has degraded in the past ten years as a direct consequence of the implementation of same-sex marriage.

  • BigMikeLewis

    I watched the preview video and while it’s not a real situation, and could be construed as corny and sensationalized, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary about the circumstances of a fictional story where someone stands up for what they believe. It’s done all the time in movies. I can name a lot of movies where the real situation looks nothing like the film.

    Why can’t there be one about Christians standing up for their faith in a situation many college kids do actually face whether people want to admit it or not? There are numerous professors who fictionalize and turn God into a narrative and attack the Christian faith. There are many Christians who do not want to watch the filth that Hollywood pushes out every day. Here’s a choice for them. They can watch a fictional account of someone standing for their faith.

    That it’s being attacked I think only proves that this DOES happen every day to real people. It’s happening right here in this article.

  • Nope

    But not as intellectually lazy as using a generalization, right?

  • Mary J. Nelson

    Don’t really care what the New Mexico Supreme Court said (i.e. courts can be wrong and often are). As to your other point, “For-profit” corporations (a) are owned by actual persons with actual beliefs and do not exist in a vacuum as some dis-embodied entity completely without values and (b) do not exist because of or at the whim of the government and while the government may try to regulate them, the owner is free to try to overturn overly officious regulations (and, as more often the case, regulators). I would, in this case, say that the Government has exceeded its authority to impose business regulations, whether any given owner objects or meekly submits to said regulations..

  • Mary J. Nelson

    Furthermore, if a photography shop owned, say, by an African American couple, refused to celebrate a KKK event, I don’t think we would be having this discussion.

  • Scott

    I’m troubled by the assertion that liberal = atheist & conservative = theist. What an incredibly naive false equivocation. This is a major part of the problem where you’ve been spoon fed this political rhetoric, and it has stuck.

  • ortcutt

    Courts can be wrong, but they wrote dozens of pages of well-thought-out legal arguments. Are you just going to completely ignore those arguments and pretend that they didn’t happen.

    Corporations are separate persons from their owners. Corporations do actually exist at the “whim” of the government. Corporations are created by filing articles of incorporation with a state. Without filing those papers, there is no corporation.

    You’ve concluded that government has exceeded its authority. What legal argument do you have for that claim? What statutes and cases are you citing?

  • TypicalWiredReader

    Here is Scientific Proof that the gays hurt MA culture:

    Patriots lost the super bowls in 2007 and 2011
    Bruins lost the Stanley Cup in 2013
    Celtics lost the NBA finals in 2010
    RedSox lost the World Series in 2013, and may lose it this year if the gays have anything to do with it.
    Oh, also, Romney was a big old loser in 2012.

    There… happy?

  • Mary J. Nelson

    In regards to corporations, I will take the libertarian approach (although I am conservative rather than libertarian):

    The basis of treating a group of individuals who form a corporation as a single entity are the rights of the individuals who make up the corporation, i.e. the rights of the shareholders, corporate officers, employees (management, etc.), and the rights of all individuals who choose to trade with that corporation under the terms of the corporate agreement. The right to form a corporation is not a “privilege” granted by the state, but is an inalienable right (perhaps under freedom of association, among other things).

    The definition of a corporation as “An artificial…entity created by or under the authority of the laws of a state” (Blacks Law Dictionary) is only valid when it is understood that the just laws of any government are based on the principle of rights. The point is that the state has no overriding authority to force the violation of conscience rights just because it licenses a particular activity.

    I would note that the notion of whether a corporation (for profit or otherwise, since both are, according to you, formed at the whim of the government) is a “person” (or not who can (or cannot) be covered under the free exercise clause or whatever (I am not a lawyer) is currently a bit incoherent, legally speaking, with certain courts saying yeah or nay without any particular overriding pattern that I can ascertain at this time. Note that many religious groups organized under the corporate form have made successful Free Exercise Clause or RFRA claims. I don’t see any particular reason why this shouldn’t apply to so-called non-religious corporations owned by very religious persons, but that is where the debate lies and, depending on your adherence to the bill of rights and original intent, where we may agree to disagree.

    I entered this website to read an article on the engagement of atheists and have now gone far afield and my lunch hour is over, so I will have to bail. –MJN

  • jasmine999

    1. As I said, whether the apostles were martyred or not is a controversial issue. There is no evidence that most were; no one knows, for instance, how Paul died. IF they were killed by the authorities, there is no evidence as to the cause. This was a time of Hebrew rebellion against Roman occupation. Times like that provide the willing with plenty of reasons for violent, gruesome death.

    Note that I did not mention suicide bombers, but the Heaven’s Gate cult.

    2. Re the contradictions in the Resurrection story: You can’t reconcile them, and I fear noting them is not limited to Ehrman. I’m using my New Catholic Study Bible here, not Google:

    a. who visits the tomb:

    Mark: Mary Magdalene, James’s mom, Salome
    Luke: Mary Magdalene, James’ mom, Joanna, other women
    Matthew: Mary Magdalene, “the other Mary”
    John: Mary Magdalene

    b. Who do the women see at the tomb:
    Mark: a young man
    Luke: two men
    Matthew: Pilate’s guards and one angel
    John: No one

    c. What do the women do upon finding an empty tomb:

    Mark: They are “distressed and terrified.” They tell no one.
    Luke: They tell the disciples
    Matthew: They “rejoice,” tell the disciples
    John: Mary Magdalene tells the disciples, who look at the tomb and leave. She hangs around, and meets two angels and Jesus.

    Matthew also mentions an earthquake when the angel rolls the stone away from the tomb. No one else does.

    Look, we’re not going to agree. I thank you for keeping it civil. btw, there are consistent ways out of this problem: you can claim that both Vespasian and Jesus performed miracles, but Vespasian’s were different in that Satan helped him. You can say that you believe in Jesus’ miracles thanks to a leap of faith, without resorting to words like “evidence.” You can also say that neither miracle happened. You can’t, however, aver that there is excellent evidence for accepting Jesus’ miracles while dismissing Vespasian’s. It’s the inconsistency that is bothersome.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Yeah, I’m sorry, but you can’t just insist “But you ARE inconsistent” and offer nothing but “There are contradictions” by way of a further argument. I gave you a resource that deals in great detail with everything you just mentioned about the Resurrection, which I can tell you haven’t even looked at. If you’re not willing to actually engage with my arguments then perhaps this is a waste of time.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I don’t necessarily blame them for being poorly equipped to handle the questions. In fact, I blame pastors, churches, etc. who are too afraid to step up to the plate and answer the questions when their children come and ask. Once again, I speak from what I know. As for hypocrisy, that’s certainly a psychological explanation, but whether it’s evidentially sound is another question altogether. You can’t decide a religion isn’t true simply because of the actions of its followers. You have to go to the source material and figure out whether they’re actually commanded by that religion to do these things or not. If they’re contradicting their own Scriptures, that’s a sign that they’re not representing the faith properly.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    You left out the part about the claims of the apostles and the early church, which were specifically linked to one Messiah (or “Chrestus” in the words of Tacitus). This is corroborated by multiple external sources. Not a proof of their veracity, but also on the right side of contemporary scholarship.

    I’ve heard all of your objections before as well—please elaborate on exactly what you mean by “written and re-written” since this comment is vague by itself. Also, if you’d like to simply wave away the evidence I’ve offered, a point-by-point rebuttal would at least be worth more than “this just isn’t good, moving on.”

    I’ve read and translated some portions of the Vulgate, yes. I started learning Latin when I was about five and studied it for a decade or so. Haven’t brushed up on it recently though.

  • jasmine999

    Whether the gospels were written by authors who knew an eyewitness, or by authors who were told the story by a friend of a friend of a friend of an eyewitness, is immaterial, as we already know who wrote about Vespasian’s miracle. Suetonius and Tacitus are the most reliable historians from the era to have on your side, and they happen to be on Vespasian’s side here. Your linked youtube, if reliable, merely raises the gospel evidence to (sorta kinda) match what we already have for Vespasian.

    I would have remained silent if you had said nothing about evidence, and claimed a leap of faith. We can’t agree. I do again thank you for a relatively civil discussion.

  • Tamist

    So I take it then you are pro-choice, even if you are not “okay” with terminating a pregnancy, you realize that it is none of the government’s business, yes?

  • Tamist

    Who’s “property” to do you consider a pregnant woman’s body to be?

  • Tamist

    I might deem that cursing is murder, but I can’t fire someone for cursing under the assumption that I “deem” it murder because cursing is not murder. Only murder is murder. You can’t “deem” something murder and use that to defend your prejudice. ONLY MURDER IS MURDER.

  • Tamist

    I’m morally opposed to kidney transplants for religious reasons. Should I be allowed to get coverage for my employees – even the ones that hold different views from me – which doesn’t cover kidney transplants on grounds that it is my religious freedom?

  • Noah Diamond-Stolzman

    It’s actually illegal to refuse to rent to someone based on race.

  • vbscript2

    This is a straw man. It’s not a matter of Hobby Lobby’s employees spending their own money on something, it’s a matter of the company being forced to directly do something it considers to be immoral. Same for catholic hospitals, charities, universities, etc. And, yes, it is, by definition, religious persecution. It is further a violation of the first amendment. While I would agree that the persecution card is overplayed, these are actually legitimate examples of violations of religious freedom. When you say that in order to conduct business you must violate your religious beliefs, then, yes, religious freedom has most certainly been violated.

    And, while this is unrelated to an employer being forced to take what they consider to be an immoral action, I wouldn’t have any problem, legally speaking, with a photographer who had a no-Christians policy. I would simply not use their services. They should be free to do what they want with their own property.

  • Alex Brodhagen

    I have a friend who went through the issue of a teacher telling her she had to write an essay on “God’s death”. This later caused her to “loose” her faith, but she later gained an even stronger one. She is older than me, wiser too. She is my role model! And what that teacher said to her is violation of her Charter rights! I hate that people think they can trash this and say it’s not real, it doesn’t happen! It does, but there are few who acknowledge it’s wrong, and fewer still who fight against it. Don’t tell us we’re all just over exuberant Christians, yes we are passionate, but we’re passionate for the right reasons and in the right way. We do our best not to get carried away and force feed our FAITH(NOT RELIGION) to the masses. Plus! this movie isn’t even out yet, so why ask for the comments you’re getting now, if you haven’t even seen it.

  • vbscript2

    Sure. And they should be allowed to get supplemental coverage which does cover it or find somewhere else to work. Or you could just decide to provide it anyway because you don’t want to lose valued employees. However, if it violated your beliefs to purchase that insurance, then the first amendment grants you every right to refuse to purchase it. Any law that contradicts that is null and void due to the first amendment and the fourteenth amendment which extends first amendment rights to the realm of state and local laws.

  • Nathaniel Lardner
  • vbscript2

    No, you need to assume that:

    (1) The people or groups of people who run or own for-profit corporations (or non-profits, for that matter) may have a religion.
    and
    (2) They have the right to not be forced to violate that religion in order to legally operate their organization (whether it’s for profit or not is irrelevant.)

    The first of these assumptions is obviously true and the second is enshrined in the first amendment and, thus, is the law of the land throughout the U.S.

  • vbscript2

    Actually, as a more libertarian-minded person, I would agree with that. I would just also point out that I have the right not to eat at that restaurant because I don’t like promoting bigotry. Just as I have the right to not do business with them because of their views, they should have the right not to do business with me because of mine (or really for whatever other reason they desire.) Just because it shouldn’t be illegal doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do, though.

  • mindlessgeek

    How are those real injustices?

  • Tamist

    What if they couldn’t afford supplemental coverage? Should they be denied healthcare because of my personal religious beliefs?

    Also, the first amendment does not grant you the right to claim anything, do anything and forcing anything on someone in the name of “religious freedom.” I cannot murder someone and say “but god told me to do it!” and think that excuse is going to hold up in court, even if I sincerely believe it to be true. There are definitely limitations on the first amendment, including those of employment discrimination. When you decide to open a business you are making a contract with the state and have to follow the state’s rules, which at the moment include getting full coverage for your employees.

  • rightright

    It’s happened to me like 12 times this week o_O

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Those stereotypes somewhat oversimplify, but have considerable underlying empirical correlation behind them — at least in the US and Canada. Atheists and the other religiously unaffiliated disproportionately tend liberal and democratic, while the religiously devout disproportionately tend conservative and republican.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Similarly, it is unlawful in Arizona to refuse to do business with someone because they are gay; and as with federal civil rights law on race, religious belief does not grant an exemption to this constraint.

  • Nathaniel Lardner

    DKeane,

    You’ve made several claims here that just look wrong. Here are three that stand out.

    1. “The fact that the Gospels agree ‘on major points’ is not the issue – they should when Luke steals from Mathew.”

    The question is not the Gospels in general: it is the resurrection narratives. Please supply some evidence that the resurrection narratives in Luke are dependent on the resurrection narratives in Matthew. Be specific. Give references.

    2. “These Gospels are the inspired word of God and his only true revealed message to us.”

    Where do they claim that? If they don’t, then you should make it clear that your quarrel is not with the records but with the theology of some people who have made strong claims on their behalf, claims that go well beyond general historical credibility.

    3. “On top of that, not a single ounce of current non-christian account of Jesus.”

    Like nearly all arguments from silence, this is very weak. From which surviving “current” (I assume you mean “contemporary”) non-Christian sources should we have expected an account of Jesus? Recall that the Roman administrative records are lost. Philo lived in Alexandria; there is evidence that he made, in his life, one trip to Jerusalem, and his principal concern toward the end of his life was trying to quell the persecution of Alexandrian Jews. Josephus was born in the decade after the events with which the Gospels close, and he does mention Jesus. Tacitus was born in the 50s, and he also mentions Jesus.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Such a no Christians policy, however, is not consistent with Federal Civil Rights law, which the SCOTUS upheld back in the 1960s.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    God’s.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Some things are morally wrong but should fall outside the government’s jurisdiction. Other things are both morally wrong and do fall within that jurisdiction, such as the taking of innocent life. Which should be obvious. So, no cigar.

  • Mary J. Nelson

    Hmmmm….. While it is obvious that cursing is not murder (it is not even “killing”) and I don’t know too many (i.e. zero) persons who think it is such. Abortion, on the other hand, is considered by many to be murder (unjust or illegal killing) and many more at least admit that one is killing a human being (although they find the trade-off acceptable), so one should at least be able to argue against forced involvement in the procurement of an abortion on religious grounds (not to mention on the grounds that human beings should all be protected from under the law regardless of age per an “equal rights under the law” argument).

  • DKeane123

    Excuse me – I meant Mark.

  • tylerclark

    To be honest, I’m not very familiar with the Elane Photography story. I’m giving Josh the benefit of the doubt.

  • NothingIsAbsolute

    There are places in the South where this sort of mindset would regulate minorities to second class citizens – and did through much of our history. Leaving it to the marketplace sounds great until the marketplace is full of bigots. Owning a business is a privilege not a right and you have to abide by the rules of the state that you operate in.

  • mindlessgeek

    It’s the same kind of false sense of persecution, where the victim protests because they’re not allowed to trample on others’ rights using their religion.

  • tylerclark

    Three things:
    1. No, I’m not a dunce, but thanks for starting off with name calling. And they’re know you are Christians by your condescension.
    2. I gave up my Christian credentials several years ago.
    3. Same-sex marriage opponents ABSOLUTELY claim that gay marriage presents a danger to traditional marriage. Look at the language that they use: “defending marriage”, “pro-family”, “destroying the sanctity of marriage”. Those are not about culture. Those are about presenting same-sex marriage as a threat to heterosexual marriage.

  • NothingIsAbsolute

    I think Christians being contradictory is an accurate representation of the Bible

  • NothingIsAbsolute

    Ahh the old WLC specialty. The whole premise of the Kalam is that something had to happen before the beginning of time. This is nonsensical, without time there can be no before. What’s more, Craig’s assertions rely on discounting special relativity (something we rely on for everything from GPS to setting our clocks properly) in favor of the Neo-Lorentzian view of time which is unfalsifiable, and therefore unscientific.

  • Tamist

    I see you didn’t reply to my other comment about this topic..

    If you want to set laws against abortion you cannot use the argument that a pregnant woman’s body is god’s property. At least not in the USA.

  • SamH

    Actually, since Christ said that forgiving the sinner is as important as reaching out to them with love, they can’t hide their hate by using the Bible as a shield. God’s law joins secular law in condemning prejudice.
    Time to either pick another battle, or let your pride get the better of you. Which will it be?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    That’s not my argument. You asked whose property it was, but I believe it’s not a question of property. Please see my other comment, which I wrote an hour ago in reply to your other comment.

  • Tamist

    When terminating a pregnancy, you are not taking an innocent life for no reason. You are protecting yourself from a medical condition you don’t want that puts you in danger, which is self defense.

  • Tamist

    What factors do we use to determine which things fall into which category? My answer would be we look at our society and determine what is better for the greater good. It’s pretty clear that making abortions safe, legal and rare is what is best for society. What criteria do you use?

  • Rachel Williams

    A buddy of mine wrote a great book about his experience helping make a believer out of an atheist philosophy prof. The true story is much less dramatic than these made-up ones and FAR more interesting: http://www.tippingourkings.com

  • george clooney

    Has it ever occurred to you that some atheists wouldn’t mind if god was real, it’s just that they don’t believe in it? I don’t “hate god” and I’m not “emotionally detached from god” so you can stop using those as crutches for your absurd statements.

    You have this conception of what an atheist is and why they don’t believe in deities that is completely assumed and lacks all sense of perspective and experience.

    Most atheists you meet in the US are ex-Christians. We know your arguments, we’ve seen your “evidence”, and we reject them forthright.

  • Guest

    So not serving blacks is totally okay in your eyes?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Of course you would. It bothers atheists to no end when Christians claim to have reasons for what they believe. ;-)

  • ortcutt

    I was unaware that you could get an abortion at Hobby Lobby. I guess they’ve expanded their business since I was last in one.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I didn’t actually have atheists in mind when talking of emotional detachment, more a personality type. Some Christians are less emotional than other Christians. Different people need different types of arguments. That’s all I meant. Have a nice day too.

  • ortcutt

    You’ve made a lot of legal assertions, but you haven’t made any legal arguments. What case law are you relying on to draw those conclusions?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    That’s a very tiny fraction of the abortions performed and sanctioned each day. What’s your defense when the woman’s life isn’t in danger?

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I know, I’ve read those arguments from your side and I’m not convinced. In particular, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong badly misunderstands and mishandles the distinction between actual and potential infinities in his debate with Craig on this issue. Craig’s ultimate point can be boiled down to this simple problem: It’s impossible to count backwards from infinity. If you’re going to argue that time and the universe never had a beginning, that’s what you’re going to have to deny. So, good luck with that. I’ll be over here munching on some of IrishAtheist’s popcorn while you work on it.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I’m sorry, please re-read my comment. I said it’s not okay, but “not okay” does not equal “must be made illegal.”

  • NothingIsAbsolute

    No, what I’m arguing is that the Universe has always existed because it has existed at every point of time. Since time as we know it came into existence when the Universe did, then the Universe has existed at every moment of time. You don’t need actual or potential infinities to make this argument. Again, my argument boils down to the absurdity of asking what happened before time. Could there be something outside the Universe? Sure. Is there evidence of it? As of right now just theoretical mathematics that could point to a multiverse, and god of the gaps arguments by theists. So I don’t believe in any of it until there’s better evidence.

  • ahermit

    Well I don’t want to open a whole debate here, I’ll just say I got tired of answers that weren’t really answers; for example appeals to mystery or the ineffable nature or incomprehensible purpose of God’s plan to rationalize the problem of suffering.

    I don’t have problem with mystery, the universe is full of them, but a mystery is not an answer or an argument.

    That and the kind of oversimplifications or misrepresentations of other points of view like those described in Alan Noble’s excellent post above…

  • Esther O’Reilly

    The problem of evil is certainly a difficult one, but if those really were the only answers you got, then you’re a perfect illustration of what I mean when I say the church failed people like you.

    I’m truly sorry you didn’t obtain real answers in time. Please know it’s never too late to reconsider upon a better foundation.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X