Hey, 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.
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.)
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.
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.
— Ricky Gervais
Stupid Argument #1: The consequences of atheism are depressing.
Stupid Argument #2: I sense God’s presence; therefore, God exists.
- Stupid Argument #3: Defending God’s immoral actions.
- Stupid Argument #4: I’ll believe the first-century eyewitnesses over modern historians.
- Stupid Argument #5: You can’t prove Christianity false.
- Stupid Argument #6: Creationism.
- Stupid Argument #7: If you throw out the account of Jesus, you must discard the record of every other figure of history.
- Stupid Argument #8: Witnesses are innocent until proven guilty.
- Stupid Argument #9a: Argument from silence.
- Stupid Argument #9b: Demand for counter-evidence.
- Stupid Argument #10: Appeal to objective truth.
- Stupid Argument #11: Argument from accurate place names.
- Stupid Argument #12a: The Bible makes clear that God’s existence is plain for all to see.
- Stupid Argument #12b: The good in the world shows the hand of a loving god.
- Stupid Argument #13: Pascal’s wager.
- Stupid Argument #14: You’ll be sorry!
- Stupid Argument #15: Citing Bible quotes.
- Stupid Argument #16: Excusing God’s excesses.
- Stupid Argument #17: Failure to acknowledge the incredibleness of the Christian claim.
- Stupid Argument #18: Christians are better.
- Stupid Argument #19a: God’s making himself plainly known would impose on your free will.
- Stupid Argument #19b: Those in hell choose to be there.
- Stupid Argument #20a: Science can’t explain everything; therefore, God.
- Stupid Argument #20b: Science has been wrong; therefore, God.
- Stupid Argument #21a: Scientific illiteracy.
- Stupid Argument #21b: Mathematical illiteracy.
- Stupid Argument #22: Relying on the ignorance of your audience.
- Stupid Argument #23: Atheism is an empty philosophy.
- Stupid Argument #24: You really believe in God.
- Stupid Argument #25a: Rationalization.
- Stupid Argument #25b: God as the unfalsifiable hypothesis.
- Stupid Argument #26: Deconstruct the atheist worldview
- Stupid Argument #27: Flawed claim to Argument from Authority fallacy
- Stupid Argument #28: You take stuff on faith, too!
- Stupid Argument #29: America is a Christian nation
- Stupid Argument #30: Atheists just had bad father figures
- Stupid Argument #31: Excusing Christian scandals
- Stupid Argument #32: Providing good evidence is hard!
- Stupid Argument #33: Hypothetical God Fallacy
- Stupid Argument #34: But I can’t reject Christianity now—I’ve invested so much!
- Stupid Argument #35: Christianity is pleasing
- Stupid Argument #36: Nature is intelligible
- Stupid Argument #37: Joshua made the sun stand still
- Stupid Argument #38: Christian atrocities? Atheistic regimes did much worse!
- Stupid Argument #39: Were you there?
- Stupid Argument #40: Interpret difficult passages in the light of clear ones
- Stupid Argument #41: Appealing to polls to resolve scientific issues
- Stupid argument #42: Why do atheists worry about someone they don’t think exists?
- Stupid argument #43a: For the benefit of the Little People, don’t take away their God
- Stupid argument #43b: Religion is useful
- Stupid argument #44: Time’s up! Now answer all questions.
- Stupid argument #45: Who are you to judge God?
Continue with Part 2.