Rebutting Reasonable Faith: The Atheists Are Multiplying!

Since I’ve been busy the past year and a half answering Lee Strobel’s Case for a Creator, I haven’t written any posts responding to William Lane Craig’s “Reasonable Faith” columns. But I’m done with Strobel’s book now – and Craig has avoided my fire for far too long!

Today I’ll address question #170, in which Craig answers a correspondent who frets that there are just so damn many atheists at his university, and he doesn’t know how to respond to them all:

Dr. Craig, I attend Louisiana State University and I am a student worker at our school’s library. Of all the people I work with, half are agnostic and the other half are atheists… I am worried for our future. I don’t know how to combat atheism. I am a Christian, I converted based on personal experiences, and I am not a philosopher. Atheists are grumpy and want answers, answers I don’t have the time to find out…. How does one who has no time to learn philosophy or read theology become a debater against these closed minded ranting non-believers?

By his own admission, this believer has no answers to the objections of atheists, and yet he wants to learn how to defeat us in an argument. In other words, he made up his mind before looking at the evidence, and now that he’s being challenged, he wants to find ways to justify that belief. It’s as if he’s asking, “I think that Christianity is true. Why do I think that?”

Common though it is, this behavior is intellectually dishonest in the extreme. If this student really wanted to know what’s true, he should begin by looking at the evidence and then make up his mind. What he’s doing instead is starting out with his conclusion and only then going out in search of evidence that supports it.

On a side note, I find it interesting that even in the heart of Louisiana, atheists on campus are becoming so common that Christians are starting to worry about us. Is this unintentional testimony to the fact that the new atheist movement is making inroads?

One easy thing that we can all do is learn to ask questions. Greg Koukl recommends asking two questions of non-believers:

1. What do you mean by that?

2. What reasons do you have to think that?

It’s amazing how these two disarmingly simple questions can tie people in knots!

Stop the presses: For once, I agree completely with William Lane Craig! The only small, trivial difference is that I think these questions can far more effectively and usefully be asked of the Christian.

For example, when Christians say that God is a “spirit”, we can ask them, what do you mean by that? When they say that God is a trinity and is three people without being more than one god, we can ask them to explain what they mean by that. When they say that Jesus’ death redeemed humanity from sin, we can ask how exactly that process works.

And the question “What reasons do you have to think that?” offers up a wealth of possibility regarding the epistemic foundations of the Christian worldview. If a theist cites their own personal religious experience, we can bring up the obvious fact that millions of people have equally convincing experiences which lead them to totally different religious beliefs. We can point out that faith can support any possible conclusion and thus can’t be used as a means for deciding among them.

A second thing you can do is refer the unbeliever to some resource. You don’t have to have any brains to tell someone, “Have you seen the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology? Before you say there are no intelligent theists and no good reasons to believe in God, maybe you’d better look at that book first. Otherwise, you’re not really informed.” …Shame the unbeliever for his ignorance of the literature.

Again, Craig apparently doesn’t realize that this is a tactic that not only works both ways, it’s arguably even more effective against Christians. If they can demand that we familiarize ourselves with their literature, then we can ask the same of them – and in my experience, the percentage of atheists who’ve read at least some Christian apologetics books is much, much higher than the percentage of Christians who’ve read any books at all arguing for atheism. This is a tactic that’s likely to backfire badly for Craig’s beleaguered correspondent.

When I’m in situations like this, I’ll always offer to read a Christian book of the apologist’s choosing in exchange for him reading an atheist book of my choosing. In my experience, the Christian will inevitably slink away in shame. (I’ve been in an exchange like this where I held up my end of the bargain, and then when it came time for the Christian to read a book I selected, he refused.) After all, there’s only one side in this debate that’s telling their followers not to read or think about the other side’s writings.

Third, learn to drop the names of some Christian scholars. When the unbeliever says that Christians are all ignorant bigots, look really surprised and say with astonishment, “Do you really think that?

If “the unbeliever” said that, they’d be rightfully taken to task. But this claim is more often made in Christians’ imaginations than in the actual arguments of real atheists. What we actually say is completely different: that Christians may be intelligent and educated people, but that they don’t apply this intelligence to critically analyzing their own religious beliefs. For example, Craig cites Francis Collins as an example of an intelligent and educated Christian – but while Collins’ scientific achievements are indisputable, his arguments for God are downright terrible.

Fourth, offer this handy-dandy rejoinder to his assertions:

“Now let me get this straight: your argument is that

1. Christians are stupid and illogical.

2. Therefore, Christianity is not true.

Now can you explain to me how (2) follows logically from (1)?”

It sure is easy for a Christian to win a debate when he gets to make the atheist’s arguments for him, isn’t it?

Again, this is an argument that occurs more in the imagination of evangelists than the writings of real atheists. Insofar as we use any form of this argument at all, it would be in the opposite direction: because Christianity is not true, therefore Christians are illogical to believe it.

I feel sorry for the letter-writer who, confessing his ignorance in matters apologetic, tries to use these lines in an actual debate. Craig’s advice would only help him if he were arguing against the imaginary atheists that Christian apologists fantasize we are, i.e., people consumed by personal hatred of Christians who are ignorant of the actual teachings of Christianity. In a debate with an actual, knowledgeable atheist, meanwhile, I think this correspondent would fare disastrously. I realize that it serves Craig’s apologetic ends to promote the false claim that atheists are all ignorant misanthropes – but I’m genuinely surprised to find out that he seems to genuinely believe it himself.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://booksidontlike.wordpress.com Sean Wills

    Wow, I think I lost count of the number of straw-man arguments Craig used up there. Is this actually the think of advice he thinks Christians need if they’re going to ‘combat’ atheism? Because it seems as if he’s doing our jobs for us.

  • penn

    How does one who has no time to learn philosophy or read theology become a debater against these closed minded ranting non-believers?

    How is the atheist in this conversation the close-minded one? He admits he hasn’t taken the time to actual learn anything about the subject yet he is certain he is right. How are the atheists who come at him with these questions and evidence that he has no answer for are being close-minded? They’ve at least taken the time to learn something about the subject matter.

  • Max

    “Short of thinking, learning, or knowing what I’m talking about, how can I win a debate?”

    My dear, ignorant, benighted child — you don’t need debate points. You need a taser.

  • CSN

    Moreso even than the number of atheists surrounding this person, I think their apparent openness and willingness to debate are the great successes of the “New Atheists.”

    Also notice Craig’s complete lack of encouragement for the librarian to actually educated him- or herself in the material from either side. Though I suppose they’ve made it clear that they’re way to busy for that…

    One easy thing that we can all do is learn to ask questions.

    If only it were so easy to teach people to listen to and honestly consider the answers to these questions. Or at least stick to one question until it is resolved instead of bouncing topic to topic without conceding a point until they land upon something that is less easily dismissed.

    Not that we should stop attacking on all fronts, but as ubiquitous as this “decide first, ask questions later” method of belief is, (aka faith), I’m becoming more and more interested in the thought processes that lead to a belief, what constitutes acceptable evidence (and how do you know it is reliable), etc. As convincing as the many lines of logic and evidence should be, I think driving straight for the core of the thought process like this might be the only way to really nail anyone down. (They’re so damned slippery!) We are belief machines after all and I feel like we’re treating the symptoms rather than the disease with the vast majority of our arguments. Not that there’s anything wrong with palliative care.

    This approach has the added benefit of allowing one to leave religion out of the conversation at least temporarily and so not set off the defense mechanisms that lead to a snapped-shut mind and dead-ended discussion. As good as we all are at compartmentalizing it probably would be good to eventually bring the subject back around! Any future articles on the subject or anything from the past anyone can point to would be appreciated!

  • http://journal.nearbennett.com Rick

    When I first read the letter from “John” I thought “Sock Puppet”. I found the statement “half are agnostic and the other half are atheists” sounded like a Christianists imagined situation where the persecution complex comes out strongly, but rarely ever encountered in real life.

    Whether John is real or not, I loved your assessment. Craig’s response is really just laughable for any knowledgeable atheist. But he really takes the cake by recommending his own book, On Guard. I just love the chapter titles, for example: What Difference Does it Make if God Exists? Why Did the Universe Begin? Why is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life? Can we be Good Without God? What About Suffering?
    I’ve not read the book but it sure sounds like the same old apologetics.

  • Brian

    You don’t think the question might be a Dorothy Dixer, do you? It sounds pretty contrived.

  • javaman

    The scientific method always takes the default position of uncertainty, that a phenomenon is not true until reproducible evidence is presented by the party making the positive statement. The burden of proof always falls squarely in the lap of the party making a claim. The eloquence and beauty of the scientific method revolves around the claim standing up to questioning and inquiry. Atheists are not close-minded. I will be happy to believe in god when I am provided with evidence, and I’m even willing to set the bar very low for Christians. Even with this very low standard, I have never read any convincing evidence to examine. Remember Carl Sagan’s quote: Fantastic claims require fantastic evidence. Faith, by very definition, means that you have no proof. When I debate Christians, a line that I borrow from Dawkins is: You may not need proof to believe in god, but I do.

  • Wayne Wislon

    HIstorically, it hasn’t been long since the practice of burning,
    drowning, decapitating or somehow disposing of anyone that
    spoke against the church or bible.
    In some countries, we are able to do this now. We can speak out
    and continue to live.
    As more of us speak out, those in the countries that have
    yet to speak -for fear of drastic retribution will want to speak out
    even more.
    Stepping forward.
    Don’t stop.
    Speak out.

  • Leum

    How does one who has no time to learn philosophy or read theology become a debater against these closed minded ranting non-believers?

    Maybe if they spent their debating time learning philosophy they wouldn’t need to debate in the first place.

    Note to Adam: new e-mail address, same Leum

  • Joffan

    With regard to the anomalous preponderance of unbelievers note aboved, perhaps this is a reflection of Christians not seeking work in libraries – or perhaps the hidden power of so much stored knowledge to “atheize” those in close proximity! However I have to agree that the previous suggestions of sock-puppetry/Dorothy-Dixerism/planted-questioning sound more likely. And thanks Brian for that quirky Australianism.

  • CSN

    I’m happy to believe that the questioner is the real thing. The same delusions that create the atheist straw-men in apologists’ minds are also working in the minds of most believers to create the constant perception of persecution where none exists.

  • Siamang

    That’s funny, that thing where you and a Christian agree to read the other guy’s book, and then the Christian doesn’t.

    LOL.

    You mean that’s happened to people besides me? LOL!

    It’s kind of a THING? isn’t it?

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    half are agnostic and the other half are atheists

    That’s 100%. I guess we won down there. What’s the next University on the list to conquer?

    You don’t have to have any brains to tell someone, “Have you seen the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology?

    No, but you probably have to read it yourself. Rather than turning the question around and ask them if they read, say, Dawkins, ask them if THEY read the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Odds are they haven’t either.

  • http://peternothnagle.com Peter N

    Siamang,

    Heh. I’ve printed up Ebon’s post
    Ten Questions to Ask Your Pastor in handout form, and I keep a few copies handy near the front door for such occasions. When the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses come calling, and offer me a tract, I tell them that I will agree to read what they are offering me, if they agree to read the Ten Questions. Furthermore, they are welcome to come back and discuss their tract with me, as long as we can also discuss the Ten Questions. Guess what? Two things then invariably happen — they agree to my proposal, and I never see them again.

  • http://villageatheist.org Drew

    A Mormon at work found out I didn’t believe in a god(s), he went into lengthy discussions and it really ended up with him trying to preach to me all day once. At the end though, he suggested I read his Mormon bible, I agreed only if he read a book of my choosing. We each agreed I’d read his first, then he’d read mine but he needed to bring me the bible. He never brought it and later on he even admitted that even if he read the book of my choosing, he would not be able to read it open minded and not believing it was the work of the devil. The funny thing is, I had already read that stupid Mormon bible years ago, I just wanted a refresher. :)

  • MS Quixote

    reading an atheist book of my choosing.

    Hey Ebon,

    I’d actually like to know what this might be…

  • Rob Tyler

    The questioner might be a sock puppet or a poe, but on the other hand I recognise myself at 17 in that too. I’d just always accepted Christianity and compartmentalised it, not really questioned it. I wasn’t anti-science, I just took the attitude of “science reveals how goddidit”. And I could have remained like that, but like that questioner, I got interested in defending my faith. But it turned out, when I actually thought about it, even I didn’t buy the arguments. And I read a LOT, searching for the good ones. It turned out there weren’t any. So anyway, my point is: whether or not the individual questioner is real, I know the attitude all too well.

  • Demonhype

    Hmm. Francis Collins. Yes, but like most of the intelligent and educated Christians, his belief is a matter of cognitive dissonance.

    Now here’s an example of an intelligent Christian–the Slacktivist. He acknowledged at some point in his Left Behind dissections that people are often taught in their churches how to evangelize, and the converstations with non-believers are never representative of real believers but (as Ebon says here too) occur mostly in the imaginations of believers. When they take this “knowledge” to the street, they usually get creamed severely because the unbeliever never sticks to the imaginary script but pops out all manner of off-script sentiments that they have no answer to.

    Then they use that to justify how “angry” these unbelievers are, and chalk it up to unbelievers being upset at how right the Christians are.

    I love that “atheists iz soooo GRUMPY!” thing! I was instantly reminded of the little turtle boy in Disney’s Robin Hood, who pouts “I don’t like Prince John. He’s cranky” as he withdraws into his shell. Is we gwumpy, widdle boy? What meanies we is, making the widdle boy feew awl sad! Do they even realize how childish they sound? Grumpy? I think the only time I really hear that word is either in kids shows (old kids shows) or from the mouths of mommies when speaking to their kids.

    Somehow this is more delicious than your typical Chick-tract kind of “Did you ever hear of the Lord Jesus” response: “Certainly not, tell me more!”, wherein the believer just recites his creed, and the unbeliever, who apparently believes anyone who talks without ever questioning anything, goes “Golly gee, I’d better convert!”

    That is funny one one level–the believer thinks that unbelievers have never even heard of the existence of their religion and also believe that their Faith and Creed are so Powerful that all they have to to is recite it and magic will happen. When that doesn’t happen, of course, we’re just mean grumpy jerks.

    This is even funnier, because the believer engages the unbeliever thinking he’s totally and brilliantly prepared and that even if he doesn’t get a conversion he’ll at least win the argument and make the atheist’s head spin. Instead, the material he’s been prepped with is exactly the kind of shit that applies to him a thousand times more accurately and can be easily turned around to wrap around his neck. And once again, the atheist will be “grumpy” and “mean”.

    Pascal’s Wager, anyone? That’s a popular one that many believers don’t think we’ve heard–even despite it’s having been refuted since it’s inception–and I don’t know if I’m sick to death of hearing it in all its variations or not. Sometimes it’s hilarious to listen to a believer pretty much hand us the home run while thinking they’ve cornered us. :)

  • Demonhype

    Max @ 3: That was a yummy perfect summary of the guys’ entire position.

    Ya know what’s fascinating too? I constantly seem to hear believers asking other believers how to “win” against the atheists without having to resort to *gasp* learning anything if they can help it–and so often, the advisor allows this as if it is a good thing. Reason, after all, is the devil’ whore. But on the atheist side, I hear people asking about how they can learn more, and lamenting that it is so hard to keep every fact and every argument in their heads for recall at a moment’s notice because of the sheer amount of knowledge and the fact that you can’t predict where a conversation will head. And the atheist advisor never says “facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true, facts schmacts [/HOMER SIMPSON]!” like the believing advisor, but they do admit that the wild amount of knowledge is nearly impossible to keep a constant working mental library of. They might have a “handy dandy” trick to help out with those weaker spots in their personal knowledge, but under no circumstances have I ever heard an unbeliever advise someone to just let their brain rot and use the debate and philosophical equivalent of card tricks to avoid learning anything.

  • Tom

    Did I seriously just read that? “Shame the unbeliever for his ignorance of the literature,” that the shamer himself hasn’t read either?

    This is probably a result of the same mechanism that is much more obvious in mystery religions like scientology, who see no problem in deriding unbelievers for being ignorant of their tenets whilst simultaneously refusing to tell the unbelievers what most of those tenets are.

    In this modern age of skeptical, rational empiricism, it’s dangerous to lay your articles of faith bare to potential converts whilst they’re still impartial observers, lest they loudly and publicly point out something wrong with them. It’s much safer to attract people with just the vague, good bits that everyone agrees are generally laudable (nebulous, generic virtues that are already pretty widely held, etc), then wait until they’re emotionally and practically invested in the faith before giving them the details about the really wacky stuff. Though cults like scientology are far less subtle about this than more mainstream religion (probably a contributing factor to their not being quite so mainstream), I’m sure the same basic mechanism can be inferred to be present to some degree in any religion that has large numbers of vocal, arrogant believers who are yet staggeringly ignorant about their own damn faith.

    I’m especially disgusted by the attitude, pretty much expressly stated in the phrase “you don’t have to have any brains to tell someone,” that there’s no reason why the ignorant shouldn’t still expound on something they even themselves admit they have no clue about. This isn’t even a strictly religious thing, either; the attitude seems endemic globally, and getting worse, that one is perfectly entitled to have an opinion on, and even a controlling hand in something without knowing the first thing about it, in the name of equality and fairness. This is nothing new, of course, but it seems worse today because modern civilisation affords so many more people the rights, the power to influence their world, without sufficiently impressing upon them the intellectual responsibility that goes with it.

  • kennypo65

    Yes, I’m a big old meanie because I won’t indulge you in your delusion, you spoiled petulant child. Try to resist the urge to curl up in the fetal position and suck your thumb.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    I’ve found that a simple “No thanks, I’m faithless” is often so startling that I’m left alone.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    At the end though, he suggested I read his Mormon bible

    Drew, I have been noticing the last few years that the Book of Mormon is becoming common in motel room drawers along with the Bible. My family and I were at the Marriott in Niagara Falls a couple of weeks ago and I tossed the Book of Mormon in the trash.

  • http://Daylightatheism.org J. James

    Go forth and multiply, my children! Recruit amongst the believers! Leave no superstition unburdened by doubt! LONG LIVE THIS MOVEMENT!! WE SHALL RULE THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY!!

    Damn, how I want my own dictatorship.

  • Tacroy

    One easy thing that we can all do is learn to ask questions. Greg Koukl recommends asking two questions of non-believers:

    1. What do you mean by that?

    2. What reasons do you have to think that?

    It’s amazing how these two disarmingly simple questions can tie people in knots!

    I’m surprised they left out the third question, which (I think) is an incredibly obvious omission any scientist would have noticed:

    3. How would you know if you were wrong?

    I’ve never met a person who could give an objective answer to that question when talking about religious subjects.

  • http://steve.mikexstudios.com themann1086

    Demonhype @ 18:

    people are often taught in their churches how to evangelize, and the converstations with non-believers are never representative of real believers but (as Ebon says here too) occur mostly in the imaginations of believers. When they take this “knowledge” to the street, they usually get creamed severely because the unbeliever never sticks to the imaginary script but pops out all manner of off-script sentiments that they have no answer to.

    Yes, yes, a million times yes to this! I remember reading, on one of the major anti-scientology websites, that scientologist proselytizers are amongst the worse offenders of this, where they aren’t even able to hold conversations with non-scientologists.

  • Bruce Gorton

    A second thing you can do is refer the unbeliever to some resource. You don’t have to have any brains to tell someone, “Have you seen the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology? Before you say there are no intelligent theists and no good reasons to believe in God, maybe you’d better look at that book first. Otherwise, you’re not really informed.” …Shame the unbeliever for his ignorance of the literature.

    Which most atheists will point out is a blatantly dishonest line of argument called the courtier’s reply. The point is that if you ask someone “Have you read XYZ books?” you are implying that you have. Not only that but you understood the basic argument, and should be able to give a reasonable precise of it.

    This doesn’t successfully even challenge atheists. And besides, what the heck do you do when somebody points out they have in fact read Blackwell, and asks you what you found compelling in it?

    If you haven’t read it yourself you go from losing the argument to getting thoroughly splatted to public humiliation.

    And the rest of his stuff is more of the same, the pseudo-intellectual faking it that so characterizes religious apologists.

  • Lion IRC

    An evangelist would regard even one atheist as one too many.

    However, as far as hyperbole goes, I think the comment “…half are agnostic and the other half are atheists..” is one bridge too far. I actually think overt atheism as a world view is starting to decline.

    If “John” thinks 100% of the people he “works with” are non-theists then I would start to question how he ascertains this and what his definition of atheism includes. Are we expected to believe that “John” has asked every single person to identify their theistic position? Mr Craig says he was surprised by the “atmosphere of unbelief that characterizes the university community there” but can it really be so obvious what the entire community there thinks? A failure of the LSU non-discrimination policy? Too many “Johns” on campus too afraid or incompetent to self-identify as theists leaving the impression that there aren’t any theists there?

    I agree with the thrust of Ebonmuse’s OP here.

    Don’t verbal your opponent in a contest of ideas. Don’t assume to think on their behalf. Just ask them. If someone applies a straw argument …”oh you probably think xyz” don’t jump up and down crying “Strawman, Strawman, Strawman. Just say…NO! I don’t think that at all. Another atheist might but I don’t.

    Don’t assert that all theists/atheists are hopeless debaters and have one standard of logic for themselves and a different standard for others.

    Don’t expect your opponent to read your “stuff” if you aren’t prepared to read theirs. I would be lost without my quote-mine resource from “prominent atheists”. It is an invaluable aid when proving to “non-prominent atheists” that although they may claim to know what “real atheists” think they cannot avoid the reality that they DO NOT.

    And above all, don’t presume that every apologist you bump into will be someone like “John” who needs to write to Mr Craig to find out how to deal with that devastatingly brilliant silver bullet argument, that head shot counter apologetic which stops them dead in their tracks and has no riposte….

    “believers are stupid and illogical”
    Neh, neh, neh, neh!

    Lion (IRC)

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org Ebonmuse

    penn (#3):

    How is the atheist in this conversation the close-minded one? He admits he hasn’t taken the time to actual learn anything about the subject yet he is certain he is right. How are the atheists who come at him with these questions and evidence that he has no answer for are being close-minded? They’ve at least taken the time to learn something about the subject matter.

    penn wins the thread for that comment. :)

    Rick (#5):

    When I first read the letter from “John” I thought “Sock Puppet”. I found the statement “half are agnostic and the other half are atheists” sounded like a Christianists imagined situation where the persecution complex comes out strongly, but rarely ever encountered in real life.

    It’s certainly possible that the question is a plant. But even if it is, what I find interesting is that Craig doesn’t think so. He treats this as if it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to ask. This is consistent with his view that Christians don’t need any evidence to verify their beliefs; they know them to be true through the “self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit” (which is just another way of saying, “since it makes me feel good, there’s no way it could be wrong”). Thus, the question’s assumption that you don’t need to know anything about atheism to know it’s wrong is very close to a view that Craig himself explicitly holds.

    Siamang (#12):

    That’s funny, that thing where you and a Christian agree to read the other guy’s book, and then the Christian doesn’t.

    LOL.

    You mean that’s happened to people besides me?

    It does seem to be a thing, doesn’t it?

    MS Quixote (#16):

    I’d actually like to know what this might be…

    This was some years ago, so I may misremember, but as I recall I read Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ for him. If he’d held up his end of the bargain, I would’ve given him Dan Barker’s Losing Faith in Faith.

  • Jeff

    Somehow this is more delicious than your typical Chick-tract kind of “Did you ever hear of the Lord Jesus” response: “Certainly not, tell me more!”, wherein the believer just recites his creed, and the unbeliever, who apparently believes anyone who talks without ever questioning anything, goes “Golly gee, I’d better convert!”

    Many of them really do think this is the way it works. After all, it worked that way for them!

    Re: Craig’s statements and the question of whether or not the letter is fictitious – Craig is a master of obfuscation. It’s all he has. I’m sure he thinks making up a letter is a perfectly legit thing to. “Christian students are being outnumbered and outgunned! What can we do about it?”

  • http://theotherweirdo.wordpress.com The Other Weirdo

    After I read this particular article, I went and read the others you’ve posted on the same topic, “Rebutting Reasonable Faith”. Something interesting popped out at me from your first article back in 2009. This is your quote of his quote, and it appears at the very top of the “Is There Non-Culpable Unbelief?” article. I highlighted the relevant portion I want to discuss briefly.

    …I remember when as a non-Christian I first heard the Gospel. I was leading a pretty morally upright life—externally, at least—, and yet when I learned that according to the Bible, I was guilty before God and therefore on my way to hell, I had absolutely no problem believing that. When I looked into my own heart, I saw the blackness within, how everything I did was tainted by selfishness. I knew how wretched I was really was [sic].

    Over the last few months, I’ve read a fair bit of CARM and have also communicated back and forth for quite a while with fundamentalist that posts as Revenator, and I’ve read some of Reasonable Faith. I find it interesting that they all have two things in common: they are bitingly and unapologetically fundamentalist and, even more importantly, they didn’t come by their faith naturally. They have all found God and converted, usually after some sort of Event. CARM even admits that his Event doesn’t make sense.

    That’s the thing that I find most fascinating; those that come to it late in life seem to be the most rabidly fundamentalist and critical-thinking-free, at least from the ones I’ve seen. They seem to be almost desperate for something, pre-conversion, and they go for it with gusto.

    Revenator, for example, posts large tracts every day, full of bible verses to prove his points, but there is little in the way of actual argument in his(and CARM’s) articles. I suppose I could say that the bible verses he quotes don’t so much prove his point as they are his point. There is no(or very little) original content, and from what I’ve read of CARM, the same holds true there, too.

    Perhaps by having nothing before conversion(or so they thought), they have nothing after conversion. Theism doesn’t actually add any understanding of the universe, it merely covers a lack of knowledge with perceived piety. But unable to admit to a lack of any meaningful argument, they resort to quoting the bible for everything, because like every theologian before them, after the bible, all theology boils down to quote-mining from the bible and hope that they got the translation right.

  • Zietlos

    Peter, thanks for that one. The Jehova’s are coming about more often nowadays, and every so often I worry that my “I’m possessed by a demon, retreat or let thine soul be consumed by my black fire” won’t annoy them enough to let them know I’m not interested. More material is always a good thing. :)

    Lion, I know I shouldn’t be replying to you, but I love the little chats. :) I can’t help but think that you’re acting logically purely to troll us, because I agree with pretty much most of your post. :p Hopefully you aren’t quote-mining out of context, but other than that, you seem surprisingly agreable today. Something good happen?


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