Every apologetic argument? Well, perhaps that’s an exaggeration. But if not universal, it’s nearly so. The bias is this: Christians want to interpret or spin the facts to support their preconception. Instead of following the facts where they lead, Christians would prefer to select and interpret them to show how they can still justify their worldview. They don’t want to follow the evidence where it leads; they want to stay put and shore up their position with sand bags.
Consider these examples
- Are we talking about the good and bad that happens in life? They’ll tell you how the good in the world points to God’s love or God’s perfect design, but don’t blame the bad on God. That’s from Man’s fallen nature.
- Are we talking about the reliability of the New Testament? They’ll show you how their preconceptions can be maintained by reinterpreting the dating evidence to support an early date for the gospel of Mark.
- Are we talking about the Amalekite genocide in 1 Sam. 15? They’ll want to take this one slowly, to show that the plain interpretation is wrong or that God must’ve had reasons that we are simply unable to understand.
- Are we talking about God’s not lifting a finger when a tornado destroyed a church in Wisconsin? They’ll ignore the church and focus instead on the three crosses that were left standing. About that, the pastor said, “It has been a powerful sign, and it speaks volumes to us about the presence of Christ among us.”
- Are we talking about gay marriage? They’ll tell you how Leviticus is plainly against homosexuality even though the sacrifice of Jesus dismissed the other ritual abominations (kosher foods, animal sacrifices, mixing fabrics).
- Are we talking about morality? They’ll tell you how morals are unchanging and universal, and they’ll handwave away God’s support of slavery and genocide in the Old Testament.
- Are we talking about Bible prophecy? They’ll ignore how they would reject popular Bible prophecies if they came from any religion but their own.
- Are we talking about the value of science? The Creationist will emphasize the consensus view in the area of cosmology (“The Big Bang points to a beginning!”) but dismiss it in the area of biology (“Evolution argues, ‘from goo to you via the zoo’!”).
- Are we talking about the age of the earth? The Young Earth Creationist will tell you how radioisotope data is flawed and rock strata can be interpreted to show that Noah’s Flood happened.
Special pleading vs. following the evidence
This is just special pleading—having a high bar for evidence from the other guy’s religion but a lower one for evidence from your religion. And if you want to argue that the Christian god could exist, don’t bother. I grant that. What I want is positive, compelling evidence for your position.
I’ve heard these arguments called “zombie arguments” because, after you kill them, they just pop back up again. They’re not defeated by reason because they weren’t created by reason.
The problem, of course, is that no open-minded person interested in the truth comes at the question with a bias that they’re trying to support. Rather, they set their beliefs and assumptions aside and go where the facts lead. Whether they like the consequences of that conclusion or not is irrelevant. The solution is easy: go with the flow. Follow the facts where they point, and the problems answer themselves.
Christians, be honest with yourselves. If your worldview is nonnegotiable, admit it—to yourself at least. In this one area of life, you don’t much care what the evidence says. But since you didn’t come to faith by evidence, don’t expect that evidence to convince someone else.
Or, if this is precisely what you don’t want to do, approach discussions or new ideas openly. Don’t be quick to rearrange or reinterpret the facts to show how your presupposition could still be true. Be aware of this potential bias in your own thinking and ensure that you follow the facts.
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