25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid September 29, 2014

stupid Christian argumentsHey, gang! Get your Christian Fallacy Bingo cards ready, and cross off the bogus arguments as they’re called out! These are some of the dumb arguments apologists often use. Christians, do us all a favor—yourself especially—and make good arguments. These aren’t what you want to use.

Stupid Argument #1: the consequences of atheism are depressing. Atheism is sad or unfortunate or otherwise discouraging, or atheism declares that life is hopeless and meaningless.

This is like saying that the consequences of earthquakes and hurricanes are sad or unfortunate. Sure, the consequences of reality can be sad, but that doesn’t make them untrue. “Atheism is depressing; therefore, it’s false” is a childish way of looking at the world. A pat on the head might make us feel better, but are we not adults looking for the truth?

As for life being meaningless, I find no ultimate meaning, but then neither can the Christian. I have plenty of the ordinary kind of meaning. Look up the word in the dictionary—there is nothing about God or about ultimate or transcendental grounding. (More on objective truth here.)

Stupid Argument #2: I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.

The argument is more completely stated: If God existed, I would sense his presence; I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists. This is the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent (if P then Q; Q; therefore P). I’ve discussed this in more detail here.

I can’t tell whether you’ve deluded yourself or whether you’re justified in believing in a supernatural experience. Nevertheless, your subjective personal experience may be convincing to you, but it won’t convince anyone else.

Stupid Argument #3: defending God’s immoral actions. Christians might say that genocide or slavery was simply what they did back then, and God was working within the social framework of the time. Or they might say that God might have his own reasons that we mortals can’t understand.

This is just embarrassing. You’re seriously going to handwave away God’s being okay with slavery and ordering genocide? If it’s wrong now, it was wrong then. How do you get past the fact that the Old Testament reads just like the blog of an early Iron Age tribal people rather than the actual wisdom of the omniscient creator of the universe? And if you dismiss slavery as not that big a deal, would you accept Old Testament slavery in our own society?

As for God having his own unfathomable reasons for immoral actions, this is the Hypothetical God Fallacy. No, we don’t start with God and then fit the facts to support that presupposition; we follow the facts where they lead—whether toward God or not.

Stupid Argument #4: I’ll believe the first-century eyewitnesses over modern historians. The Christian gives more weight to writings closer to the events.

The Christian wants license to dismiss unwanted ideas from modern sources. It’s fair to be concerned about the accretion of layers of dogma or tradition over time, but a good New Testament historian would try to do the opposite and strip away these layers to uncover the history of the first century.

As for the “eyewitness” claim, this is often slipped in without comment or justification. None of the gospels claim to be eyewitness accounts. That Matthew and Luke (to take two of them) borrow heavily from Mark—often copying passages word for word—make clear that they’re not eyewitness accounts. And those gospels that do make the claim (the Gospel of Peter, for example) are rejected by the church. Show compelling evidence for the remarkable eyewitness claim before confidently tossing it out.

Of course, getting closer to the events is a good policy. Problem is, this doesn’t work to Christianity’s favor. We’re separated from both Islam and Mormonism by less time than from Christianity. Mormonism in particular fares much better than Christianity in a historical analysis (more here). This is an argument the Christian wants to avoid.

What arguments should be in this list?

There will be some controversy about this list. Maybe some of these have enough merit that they deserve more space. Maybe you’d combine or divide them differently. And I’m sure there are plenty that I’ve forgotten.

At the very least, referring back to the argument number might be a shorthand way for us to respond to bogus arguments by Christian commenters. But my hope is that thoughtful Christians will understand the problems behind these arguments and minimize them in their own discourse.

Continue with Part 2.

DNA and [radioisotope] dating shows that
we evolved with all life over billions of years.
Bible says God created us from dust and ribs.
I’m torn.
— Ricky Gervais

Appendix: 25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Complete List)

Continue with Part 2.

 


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