Frank Turek’s C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument for Theism is Criminal

Frank Turek’s C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument for Theism is Criminal November 4, 2016

galaxyI’ve responded to Frank Turek and Norm Geisler’s 2004 book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist here and here. Turek has a new book, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case. I haven’t read it, though I have listened to Turek’s outline of the book. His argument for theism uses the acronym CRIMES for his six points. I’ll respond over several posts.

The C in CRIMES is Cosmos

Turek wants a beginning for the universe, so he likes the Big Bang. “I believe in the Big Bang,” he says. “I just know who banged it.”

A Big Banger? Can you likewise not have a sand dune without a sand duner? Or a mountain without a mountain maker? Or river meanders without a meanderer? Causes can be natural, and Turek must show that his favorite cause is supernatural.

And Turek believes in the Big Bang? Turek comes at science with a religious mindset. In religion, you can believe some things (the Trinity, Noah’s flood, Jesus died for our sins) and not believe in other things (reincarnation, golden plates, Mohammed visited heaven on a winged horse). Some claims are contradictory, and you can’t believe them all. But in science, the consensus view about an issue is the best approximation to the truth that we have at the moment (more here and here). These consensus views aren’t incompatible, so you can accept them all. Turek has no science degrees, and laymen like Turek and I have no choice but to accept the scientific consensus on all topics.

By what logic would we reject them?

Turek quote mines famous scientists to make his points, and yet he has little respect for science. He picks and chooses the bits that he likes as if science were a salad bar. That cosmology looks nice, so I’ll have some of that. The theologically unpalatable bits like evolution he discards as if they’re wilted lettuce.

One of quotes he gives is from cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin. Here, Vilenkin refers to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem (2003):

With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.

Yes! Let’s see the atheists wriggle out of that one. The universe had a beginning, which demands an explanation for the cause.

(I respond to the Kalam Cosmological Argument here. Physicist Sean M. Carroll makes clear that Vilenkin’s theorem must make assumptions; change those assumptions, and the beginning is no longer mandatory here.)

But the problem with quote mining is that you often miss the context. On the very … next … page we find Vilenkin saying this:

Theologians have often welcomed any evidence for the beginning of the universe, regarding it as evidence for the existence of God … So what do we make of a proof that the beginning is unavoidable? Is it a proof of the existence of God? This view would be far too simplistic. … The theorem that I proved with my colleagues does not give much of an advantage to the theologian over the scientist.

Oops.

If Vilenkin’s work is compelling evidence, as Turek imagines, surely it is convincing to the originator himself. So then is Vilenkin a theist? I don’t think so.

Continued in part 2, Fine Tuning.

It is wrong, always, everywhere, and for everyone,
to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
— W. K. Clifford (1879)

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 7/30/13.)

Photo credit: Wikimedia

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  • Kevin K

    Valenkin famously was in the audience to challenge William Lane Craig’s misuse of his science during one of those “debates”. Like Marshall McLuhan showing up in the Woody Allen movie.

    I think he probably regrets ever having written what he wrote. But the arrow of time appears to move only in one direction…

    • I hadn’t heard that. But WLC doesn’t much care about correction, I bet. It reminds me of Ray Comfort getting corrected on his biology by the best but still going back to his stupid but useful arguments, like a dog to vomit (Prov. 26:11).

      • Michael Neville

        WLC was an All-State debater in high school. He’s still clinging to that laurel, all that’s important for him in a debate is for him to win. So any tactic which lets him win is useful. Truth is not always a useful tactic for a successful debater.

        • islandbrewer

          And on the other hand, scientists, who tend to let data speak for itself, also tend to be very poor debaters, as they care more about figuring out what is true as opposed to convincing someone you’re correct at all costs.

        • Seattle Atheists is sponsoring a debate in a couple of weeks on the topic, “Is Religion Good or Bad?” (Guess which side I’m supporting.)

          We trying to make it a Rapoport debate (we’re struggling with the name) that rejects many of the typical win-at-any-cost tactics of debaters like WLC. No one ever changes their minds in a WLC debate, but the idea with a Rapoport debate is that the usual rhetorical/debating tricks are forbidden. You can push back with vigor and you needn’t be pleasant, but you must be honest and fair.

          That’s not how WLC rolls.

        • Michael Neville

          That sounds interesting. I wouldn’t mind watching it (being in Connecticut makes it a little difficult to participate).

        • MBB

          An interesting idea, and I wish you success with your debate. I have not heard of Rapoport it’ so I’ll look it up. If it works I hope it catches on, because I was pretty disappointed when I heard Neil Degrasse Tyson explain the current method of debate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kKuXgzXt5U

          One thing I am genuinely (sp?) concerned about if it may cause a schism in Atheism; does it matter if religion is good?
          (Considering how resistant religious societies persist, it must give some benefits to it’s communities to survive)
          If the meme philosophers manage to design a ‘perfect’ form of religion and social sciences prove that it is better for society as a whole or certain individuals with in it to be religious; would we just accept that or still reject it on it’s principal? Would we allow children to be tested on if it is better for some of them to be raised religious?

          (The concept of ‘God’ as good or bad sadistic bastard is I think a done debate; first there was the violence of planets, but that was not enough, Then came the suffering of live, but that was not enough. Then came humans with self-awareness. But after a while God got bored and introduced religions , New ones every few decades, to keep the humans fighting over ideas.
          The religious better pray that gods do not exist, or stage a regime change when they get to ‘Heaven’ 😉 )

        • Robert Karma

          So WLC believes he is a Master Debater or just a Master Baiter?

        • Michael Neville

          Yes.

      • Esquilax

        During his debate with Shawn Carroll, WLC brought up Vilenkin’s work with Alan Guth and Alvin Borde to support his argument. Carroll, having anticipated this, went on to show video of Alan Guth stating unequivocally that actually, his work suggests the opposite. Craig’s response was to sputter “that’s just his opinion.”

        So: when science supports WLC’s views, it’s good evidence. When it doesn’t, it’s all just opinion and can be dismissed.

        • I would like to have seen that.

        • Pofarmer

          Pretty sure the debate is available on Carrol’s website.

        • MNb
        • Esquilax

          You can: the entire debate is up on Youtube. I was introduced to it via a TMM video- “WLC vs an actual scientist”- that shows the highlights, including that particularly embarrassing fumble on Craig’s part.

        • MNb
        • epeeist

          So: when science supports WLC’s views, it’s good evidence. When it doesn’t, it’s all just opinion and can be dismissed.

          “In science if the evidence contradicts the theory then the theory is wrong. In religion, if the evidence contradicts the dogma then the evidence is wrong”.

        • Zeta

          A very minor point: Carroll himself spells his first name as Sean and not Shawn (the distinction might be important when doing a Google search).

        • Esquilax

          Argh. I actually had it spelled that way to begin with, but second guessed myself and ended up getting it wrong. Dang. 😛

  • T-Paine

    Liars for God keep on lying. Same routine (strawmen, miscaracterizations, misrepresentations, quote mining) different book.

  • T-Paine

    Catherine Cook is a spammer. Please delete her/him/it.

  • eric

    Can you likewise not have a sand dune without a sand duner?

    A plum without a plumber? A screw without a screwer?

    Well those are just for fun. More seriously, this sort of argument leads to either some form of theological dualism (denying God’s omnipotence) or God invented evil.

    • Sophia Sadek

      The opposite of a plumber is a plumbum. The plumber works while the plumbum relaxes on the beach.

      • Michael Neville

        <snortle>

        Actually plumbum is Latin for lead, which is why the international chemical symbol for lead is Pb.

        • MarquisDeMoo

          Which of course is where ‘plumber’ comes from, as they worked with lead gutters and pipes.

        • Sophia Sadek

          Which is the root of the word plumber.

    • But God did invent evil.

      I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, Jehovah, do all these things (Isaiah 45:7).

      Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (Lamentations 3:38)

      When disaster comes to a city, has not Jehovah caused it? (Amos 3:6)

    • Sam

      Do you need a plumber to eat plums?

  • Sophia Sadek

    How do these theists propose to differentiate their Creator from any other creator fabricated by anyone else?

    • MNb

      Additional arguments, like the empty tomb.

      • Sophia Sadek

        It’s a matter of value add.

        • koseighty

          God — Now with 37% more risenness!!

    • Joe

      They hope nobody asks that question. If they do, they have a few other (equally terrible) apologetics as to why Christianity is the one true religion. Completely unrelated to this argument, but again, like a cheap sideshow magician, they hope nobody looks at their tricks too closely.

      • Michael Neville

        No no no! They feel the truth, excuse me, the T*R*U*T*H, in their hearts. The Holy Spirit has told them that their particular beliefs are the only true beliefs. That’s why those so-called Christians over there aren’t real Christians because the Holy Spirit hasn’t blessed their beliefs. As for “other creators”, they’re myths and the lies of Satan. The Holy Spirit told that to the only true Christians.

        In other words, the Christians are listening to the voices in their heads.

        • There’s truth, and then there’s Truth. Add a capital letter, and that makes all the difference.

        • Greg G.

          You can’t claim Truth until the paperwork is capitalized.

    • TheNuszAbides

      n/a. they’re either not permitted to even formulate that question, or not [yet] capable of doing so.

      • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

        Oh to the contrary. Our Bible instructs us to not only formulate he question but to be able to answer appropriately and logically. (1 Peter 3:15).
        Our God is vastly different. All you have to do is study what each religion claims about their God. What I’m saying is like if you were to compare Soft drinks. I don’t have to defend why Pepsi is different from Mountain Dew. When you drink it you will know.

        But just to satisfy your question to give you an idea and not side step it. The Christian God is the only God that is three in persons and one in essence. The only God that stepped down from His glorious Throne to commune with us and to save us from our sin. All other religions believe that it’s the responsibility of the individual to live right and atone for their sins. Christianity states all that was done for us. Because we are not saved by works but by faith in Jesus Christ. In Christianity religiously following Christian beliefs is not allowed. Christianity is a lifestyle. e.g. Religiously praying for the sake of it has no benefit. It’s about having a relationship with God (something other religions would consider blasphemy). Honestly there are many differences and I encourage you to research from even more qualified christian apologists. You don’t have to go far, YouTube Ravi Zacherias or Frank Turrek or William Lane Craig as they have more than answered this questions and even more troubling questions.

        • You’re saying that Christianity is different? Of course. They all are.

          I agree that the Trinity is a concept that only Christianity has. And other religions have traits that only apply to them, too—big deal. And the Trinity is completely illogical. I’d try to find something else to brag about, because that is just embarrassing.

          God stepped down from his throne to save us from our sin? Sin is a concept that your religion defined. Realize that there isn’t really any god to be offended by sin, and the salvation thing goes away as well.

          Because we are not saved by works but by faith in Jesus Christ.

          No, sorry. Read the parable of the sheep and the goats and tell me if faith gets you into the kingdom.

          The apologists you list are clowns, not scholars. Search their names on this blog to see what I’ve written about them already.

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          This how I know you are not genuinely seeking for truth. My comment was answering the above comment in which someone wanted to know the differences between Christianity and other Religions. You further said that Christians are discouraged to think in that way. So my answer was addressing that. And seemingly you agree that there are differences but you get on the attack instead of acknowledging that the initial query was answered appropriately.
          I would have loved to have a discussion with you about those matters as I, myself, came to Christianity having being troubled with those questions. But i can see you are just looking for a fight which will not benefit or challenge anyone’s world view.
          I applaud your passion and I can see you are knowledgeable.

          Enjoy the rest of your day sir.

        • Thank you for your reply.

          seemingly you agree that there are differences

          Yes, of course. But do these differences argue that Christianity is correct? Pretty much any religion can make the same argument that they’re different.

          I would have loved to have a discussion with you about those matters as I, myself, came to Christianity having being troubled with those questions. But i can see you are just looking for a fight which will not benefit or challenge anyone’s world view.

          I’m always interested in hearing new arguments or reasons why I should change my view. Do you have any? I suspect that your favorite arguments will not be new to me, but there’s a large audience here, and you’re welcome to share them to see if any of us find them compelling.

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          Fine. I agree differences doesn’t therefore mean that it is true. And that would be a ridiculous assertion to make. (As I stated I was merely answering a question).

          But as truth seekers we have to ask. Could it be true? (As with all other religions or world views)

          My strongest point is the argument of the cross. I have listened to lectures of scholars like Bart Erman and read a lot of material trying to explain the reasons why the disciples claimed to have saw Jesus. I listened to Richard Dawkins not being able to explain the evidence and the thousands upon thousands of eye witness accounts when debating John Lennox. The best/ most common explainations are it was a myth or legend, mass hallucinations and the disciples lying.
          The myth or legend argument can’t be true because myths develop over longer periods of time not 5 years.
          Mass hallucinations have never been observed.
          Psychology has proven that people may die for something they think is a lie, but never for something they KNOW is a lie. And if you see how the apostles were killed, I believe it takes more faith that ALL of them would withstand all of that.
          Bart erman said that He believed Jesus lived and died on the cross. But that it couldn’t be proven that he rose again. But when Michael Lucinda pressed him with the evidence he presented, it was clear that he didn’t have rebuttals for it.

          As an agnostic, all of that troubled me and thus I began researching it more.

          Apologies I imagine you were expecting arguments I just don’t see how conducive in such a public place. If you don’t mind exchanging emails maybe then I can show you the evidence I’m talking about.

        • TheNuszAbides

          is the evidence going to be damaged somehow “in such a public place”? are you only instructed to defend your faith the way you’re enjoined to pray–in the closet?

          not being able to explain the evidence and the thousands upon thousands of eye witness accounts

          compelling does not equate to accurate.

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          With that logic then let’s doubt anything in history happened. There are more eye witness accounts of Jesus’ death than we know Julius Caesar existed or I would be bold enough to say any event occurred. So by your logic we can’t trust that Hitler killed Jews.

          It’s not conducive because people such yourself are not here to learn and have their worldview changed. But are here to appear smart. That is why it is difficult for you to acknowledge when I have a great point. The gentlemen to which I am speaking to appears to have knowledge that may refute my views and I am totally open to changing. However in a space like this, if One has a good point it’s harder for the other party to admit they are wrong because everyone is watching.

        • TheNuszAbides

          people such yourself are not here to learn

          you’ve already shown manifest ignorance of my situation, so this is hardly wounding. but in a narrow sense (not in the blunt way you phrase your remark), you’re correct — i prefer to learn from scientific discoveries, for one thing.

          That is why it is difficult for you to acknowledge when I have a great point.

          great point? hilarious! you will only show Bob your precious evidence via e-mail but you seriously imagine you’ve already presented a ‘great point’? wait, are you going to pull the Pearls Before Swine card soon? that would be truly original!

        • TheNuszAbides

          sadly it’s getting less surprising that you have very little grasp of carrying “that logic” to any valid conclusions. please present your “eyewitness evidence”. have you seriously swallowed the notion that any extant scripture was written by an eyewitness? maybe you’re not as familiar with Ehrmann as you think you are.

          as far as any Caesar goes, i hope you won’t pretend you invented that shoddy rhetorical dodge yourself, but here’s a thoroughly informed response to such silliness. Matt Ferguson can run intellectually honest circles around Frank’s wanking and Ravi’s fog any day:

          https://adversusapologetica.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/ten-reasons-to-reject-the-apologetic-1042-source-slogan/

          just a taste in case you don’t have time for the whole thing (or pretend so):

          As we will see, the sources for Jesus are so late, unreliable, and sparse that we can only roughly reconstruct anything reliable about his life. Nevertheless, the impression that Cliffe and Turner are trying to create by spouting grand numbers like “42 sources for Jesus, but only 10 for a famous emperor” is that the historical knowledge for Jesus is greater than that of other well-established historical figures. Taken to its extreme, it is a version of the wild claim: “We know more about Jesus than any other person from antiquity!” This statement, as we will see, is completely absurd (furthermore, if anyone, we know more about Marcus Tullius Cicero, who authored a massive Latin corpus that includes details of nearly every event in his life, than anyone else from antiquity, especially a most likely illiterate Galilean whom nobody even mentions until decades and centuries after his death).

          but if you digest the whole post, at the same site there are several more detailed explanations as to why you are already in over your head, at least as far as you have revealed anything remotely resembling information or insight on this thread.

          unless, of course, the precious evidence you’ve been teasing Bob with can withstand sunlight?

          because everyone is watching

          i thought eyewitnesses were important? don’t make excuses, enlighten us or get off the pot.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and let’s quickly revisit one of your howlers:

          people such yourself are not here to learn

          you won’t actually know any such thing about me unless you make an effort to answer a single question i’ve asked (mine are nowhere near as rhetorical as Sophia’s was), and see how that plays out. perhaps you just desperately want it to be true in order to dismiss what i’m saying. but if all you do is respond with aspersions and misrepresentations then apparently you’re better off not ‘defending’ your faith to “people such as [my]self”.

        • epeeist

          There are more eye witness accounts of Jesus’ death than we know Julius Caesar existed or I would be bold enough to say any event occurred.

          Any contemporary statues of Jesus? Any coins struck with with his image while he was alive? Anything written by him? Any correspondence with contemporaries?

          No? And yet we have all this for Julius Caesar. None of this matters though because you have eyewitnesses. Now since there are eyewitnesses you can presumably point us to their testimony – over to you.

        • Greg G.

          What we have in the New Testament is one guy visiting and writing to people outside of Judea while the “circumcision faction” in Judea is disagreeing with him. The gospels all seem to be based on the literature of the day so that the deeds and sayings of Jesus are based on the deeds and sayings of others, including fictional characters. Reading the gospels in order to help understand the epistles will lead you further from the truth. You prefer false certainty to honest inquiry.

        • Greg G.

          However in a space like this, if One has a good point it’s harder for the other party to admit they are wrong because everyone is watching.

          It really isn’t that hard for a person who is interested in learning new things and rejecting incorrect beliefs. One just has to say, “I understand now. Thank you.” You just have to produce unambiguous evidence and/or sound logic with true premises rather than assertions, poor logic, and appeals to fear.

        • adam

          “With that logic then let’s doubt anything in history happened.”

          As we should.

          “There are more eye witness accounts of Jesus’ death than we know Julius
          Caesar existed or I would be bold enough to say any event occurred. ”

          Seeing as we have exactly ZERO eye witness accounts of Jesus’ death….and of course you accept Caesar’s divinity right along side Jesus’s?

          “So by your logic we can’t trust that Hitler killed Jews.”

          Don’t we still have all that evidence?

          “However in a space like this, if One has a good point it’s harder for
          the other party to admit they are wrong because everyone is watching. ”

          Nope, it is EASIER for the other party to see the error in their ‘faith’, IF they allow objective evidence to rule.

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3641484758a605f709b7a067bee6bed3f832a3ee135e160e4a32b93e19bfabd3.png

          Lay out all your evidence for your MAGIC, and lets see what reality says about it.

        • MNb

          “Could it be true?”
          No and you already wrote yourself why. It’s because this is nonsense in the most literal meaning of the word:

          “The Christian God is the only God that is three in persons and one in essence”

        • But as truth seekers we have to ask. Could it be true?

          By that logic, you should take the same approach to any worldview. Are you consistent? Do you inquire about Scientology and Baha’i and all the rest?

          I have listened to lectures of scholars like Bart Erman and read a lot of material trying to explain the reasons why the disciples claimed to have saw Jesus.

          Let’s be precise here. We don’t know that the disciples claimed to have seen Jesus. We have stories that say that the disciples claim to have seen Jesus—big difference. Show me first that these stories are history. If the conclusion is, “And that’s why this amazing supernatural thing actually happened,” I’m going to need a lot of evidence.

          I listened to Richard Dawkins not being able to explain the evidence and the thousands upon thousands of eye witness accounts when debating John Lennox.

          I find that John Lennox makes a very poor argument (which is sad, given all the doctorates he has and his obvious expertise in math). I can’t imagine anything that Richard Dawkins wasn’t able to answer, but that’s unimportant. If you want to bring up something in particular, go ahead.

          The best/ most common explainations are it was a myth or legend, mass hallucinations and the disciples lying.

          Yes, it was a legend.

          The myth or legend argument can’t be true because myths develop over longer periods of time not 5 years.

          Prove it. Stories will evolve in a single day.

          when Michael Lucinda pressed him with the evidence he presented, it was clear that he didn’t have rebuttals for it.

          Give me a try.

          If you don’t mind exchanging emails maybe then I can show you the evidence I’m talking about.

          I don’t mind, though I’m not sure what the benefit would be. You’ve got a much larger audience here.

        • I’ve explored why the Jesus story is best explained as a legend here:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2015/08/12-reasons-why-jesus-is-a-legend/

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          Well your very own atheist scholarly historians betray you.

        • MNb

          BWAHAHAHAHA!
          All scholarly historians recognize that lots of legends are attached to Jesus.

        • Which tells me nothing. If you have some suggestions or criticisms, you need to make them obvious.

        • adam

          “Well your very own atheist scholarly historians betray you. ”

          Actually scholarly historians betray YOU and your ‘beliefs’ in MAGIC, which historians dismiss as IMAGINATION.

        • adam

          “Could it be true?”

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6597272c55aa1dd14b2602406d98ba576903e53dce5800dd7f26a6fb2ca9728c.jpg

          “I believe it takes more faith that ALL of them would withstand all of that. ”

          Your ‘belief’ in ‘faith’ is meaningless:

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b4daa8eb8f6cdde7dc6cef1fd33a8d0acc554ea42510fdbeea6ee4c3b3b5a9c2.jpg

        • adam

          “My strongest point is the argument of the cross. ”

          An argument over a torture device, with no evidence.

        • adam

          “The myth or legend argument can’t be true because myths develop over longer periods of time not 5 years. ”

          http://www.wikihow.com/Create-an-Interesting-Mythology

          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fc5052395df4245eea4be5c0ed8c3b68e270c0fa018bedc137d977df5526cff2.jpg

        • Pofarmer

          and the thousands upon thousands of eye witness accounts when debating John Lennox.

          Eh?

          And if you see how the apostles were killed, I believe it takes more faith that ALL of them would withstand all of that.

          O.k. First of all, we don’t actually know that there were any apostles, and we also don’t know how any of them died. Although there are legends about how some claimed apostles died.

          If you don’t mind exchanging emails maybe then I can show you the evidence I’m talking about.

          Don’t be shy. If it’s that strong, then out with it. Think of all the good you could do.

        • Kodie

          Delusional religious freak presumptuously accuses non-believers of not “genuinely seeking truth”.

          Hello? Being immersed in fantasy is nothing to be proud of, or to expect to attract people to want to do. You sound like a crazy baby, not a functional adult. Is this the best your god can offer in way of “evidence” for his existence?

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          lol so being a Christian makes me not a functional adult. Please do tell more of your words of wisdom.

        • Kodie

          You have an imaginary friend, and you repeat bullshit like the gullible moron you are. Just because you believe it doesn’t give you the right to accuse people of not seeking truth.

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          No carry on. Don’t let me stop you. Show me what atheists deem as tolerant speech to people who disagree with them.

        • Greg G.

          It is not the disagreement that is objectionable. It is the inability to defend your assertions with rationality and evidence that makes it objectionable. Is WLC the best you have? Good luck with that.

        • Kodie

          You think condescending to us and babbling your superstition is tolerant speech, deal with the responses to that attitude.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Oh to the contrary.

          if you’re actually hoping to contradict heavily qualified statements, you might more carefully consider whether or not those statements are referring to All Christians Now and Evermore, as opposed to [for example] the Christians you count yourself one of who are (a) at all aware of 1 Peter 3:15 in the first place + (b) apply such guidelines to their daily life in a rational way and not merely because ‘God’ [via ostensibly Inspired Intermediaries] said you should. arguments by authority/scripture aren’t as conclusive as you seem to think they are.

          that being said, i realize that my comment to which you responded was rather ‘snarky’, as are probably most of my more recent Patheos comments. so it’s perfectly understandable that you suspected i was coming from a very shallow perspective. i hope this response establishes otherwise — at least, using a definition of “shallow” that isn’t wholly dependent on an immature dichotomy of belief-vs.-nonbelief.

          All you have to do is study what each religion claims about their God.

          all i have to do … for what purpose? is that ‘all’ it took for you to be convinced of the Special Truth of your lifestyle? just how much of this study did you undertake? i’m fairly sure that i’ve studied such things more than most humans, perhaps especially more than most Christians (after being raised as one) … though i suppose the latter won’t be significant since you clearly expose a “No True Christian” bent (look up ‘No True Scotsman’ if you are unfamiliar).

          When you drink it you will know.

          i’m glad i wasn’t drinking when i read that. i’m sure my keyboard is grateful too. perhaps you’re experienced with nurturing wide-eyed innocence and other means of converting low-hanging fruit, but really, you’re barking up the wrong tree with lines like this. for a potentially disastrous tangent from this remark, would you care to guess how many times i’ve been baptized?

          But just to satisfy your question to give you an idea and not side step it.

          it wasn’t actually my question this time around, but okay: i sincerely appreciate that you made a sort of effort, but you presented no ideas or suggestions that were at all new to me. perhaps you called a lurker off the fence, which is likewise what the majority of my late-to-the-party comments tend to be intended for — though if that’s all it took to call anyone off the fence, they weren’t much of a fence-sitter anyway.

          The Christian God is the only …

          nothing in this or the following four sentences gave me any perspective i haven’t shared, affirmed, considered and rejected, all at great length, over the course of my life thus far.

          three in persons and one in essence

          if you expect this centuries-old and centuries-late (relative to the scriptural earthly life of Jesus) theological chestnut to be compelling, you’re going to have to reference a rather obscure (because i’m familiar with quite a few “go-to” ramblings) yet profoundly illuminating (same reason) explanation. hint: appealing to ‘mystery’ won’t help. at all.

          All other religions believe that it’s the responsibility of the individual to live right and atone for their sins.

          i can come up with quite a list of what any number of religions have in common. do you really want to go there? also, in appealing to the concept of sin i hope you have a more compelling moral argument than “what is [displeasing to, forbidden by, etc.] God”, because otherwise you would indicate that you are ignoring (or at least neglecting to take into account) the post/blog where you found my comment in the first place.

          Christianity states all that was done for us.

          i’m quite familiar with the standard narrative, much of the “retcon”, and even a wide variety of variations in detail. however, you are so far extremely unlikely to persuade me that there is any compelling evidence as to the truth of the pretensions packed into the simple phrase “done for us”.
          and incidentally, [how do you feel/what do you think] about non-canonical scripture? how much of it have you read? what do you know (and how do you feel) about the methods used by the people who selected the scriptures you happen to prefer?

          In Christianity religiously following Christian beliefs is not allowed.

          going by the number and variety of Christians i’ve encountered over the last several decades, that statement is hugely incoherent. you’ll have to either (1) give a detailed explanation of your use of “religiously” or (2) give a more specific name than ‘Christianity’ to your preferred brand … or you’ll simply come off as a drone–not that anything you’ve presented so far has been remarkable for any qualities other than relative patience and coherent sentence structure, compared to many drones who pass through these blogs.

          Religiously praying for the sake of it has no benefit.

          i think i know what you mean, but the way you’ve used “religiously” elsewhere gives me the impression that quite a few sincere believers and nonbelievers might take issue with your definition/context. regardless, i suspect (based on both anecdote and scientific discovery) many/most people who pray feel that the act is necessary and/or beneficial, and yet aren’t consciously aware of what the procedure is actually doing for them — in both directions, i.e. wishful thinking that it is doing something more, and/or merely not knowing much about how nervous systems function.
          i’m also personally not particularly interested in the atheist-challenge-via-scripture that goes something like “Jesus said _____ about prayer, so why doesn’t it actually work like that?” (or “… so why don’t you pray for _____ to happen?”) because i understand the theist fondness for concepts like “in vain” and “divine plan”. still, everyone has different ways of considering/questioning their beliefs (assuming they ever make an effort to do so) and i wouldn’t suggest that the challenge shouldn’t be made at all. i’m just more likely to assume that it won’t be effective with most Christians.

          even more qualified Christian apologists

          wow. you didn’t name anyone i’d qualify to lecture anyone who takes the world’s problems seriously, on any topic — or at least, any topic they deign to lecture about on youtube.

          You don’t have to go far

          i can understand if you interpreted my quip as indicative of a person who doesn’t have much patience/time for tooling around on the web, but trust me, i am both fortunate and apathetic enough to have many hours available for youtube research. however …

          Ravi

          uses smooth but empty rhetoric to leverage immature doubt (calling his talks an appeal to ‘skepticism’ is far too generous) into boringly fuzzy relativism and “what if”ery, so, no thanks.

          Frank

          you didn’t even want to qualify that with something like “despite what this blog post series is saying about how horrible Turek’s apologetics are”? the first time i heard Frank was very similar to the first time i heard Ravi: a few minutes of “hey, i’m impressed that he’s bringing up these topics for thought” followed by “oh, darn, just another bait-and-switch artist”. Ravi is better at it, but that’s not saying too much.

          [WLC]

          you should probably familiarize with how much time is spent on this particular blog ridiculing Craig’s pompous question-begging and special pleading, before you float his name as a ‘helpful suggestion’.

          they have more than answered this question[] and even more troubling questions.

          sorry, those three are manifestly unconvincing to those of us who fairly apply critical analysis. they may have slightly different styles of rhetoric, but all three styles are severely flawed and entirely unwelcome among those of us who are concerned with intellectual/skeptical integrity and attention to detail — which it is repeatedly made abundantly clear that most fans of Ravi and Frank in particular aren’t. it’s unfortunate that you think they can do better than you can at apologetics, because that indicates you might not even try to meet my challenges.

          but i can certainly appreciate that you at least acknowledge that some of these questions (or the issues they address) are troubling.

        • Kgaugelo ‘Kg’ Sepota

          Smart people can be stupid sometimes. Make sure you read This comment carefully.

          The question was: is Christianity different.

          Not: is Christianity true
          Is Jesus God
          Belief vs non belief
          I repeat the question was: is Christianity different.

          And I answered.
          The reason I quoted scripture was to show you that Christians are instructed to have answers to the questions you are asking BECAUSE YOU SAID CHRISTIANS DONT DO THAT.

          It was not:
          proving that scripture is authoritative or,
          Arguing and using the Bible.

          It was me showing you that it is the in the Bible (that book Christians believe is true) that we are instructed to be able to defend our faith.

          I made no assertions of Christianity being true. I made no arguments that you’re presenting. Why? Because it was not asked.

          E.g. If I asked is the earth round?
          You answered by saying America is in the northern hemisphere and Africa isn’t. And went on a tangent. Whereas the answer was simply yes.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Smart people can be stupid sometimes.

          how profound and terrifying, truly. i’ve NEVER questioned my beliefs, thoughts, sanity or intelligence. hold my hand, please!

          (hint: it pays to maintain accurate representations of what people are saying if you want aspersions like that to stick. and you’re rapidly falling behind on that score.)

          The question was: is Christianity different.
          Not: is Christianity true
          Is Jesus God
          Belief vs non belief
          I repeat the question was: is Christianity different

          it’s a shame you felt that needed repeating, because it wasn’t the question. perhaps a gross oversimplification of the question, or perhaps you felt you needed to ‘cut to the chase’ or something by putting words in Sophia’s mouth, but definitely not the question asked. the question was “How do these theists propose to differentiate their Creator from any other creator fabricated by anyone else?” and you still haven’t answered Sophia, who was actually the person asking. you were curiously more interested in addressing my non-answer to her, which was a shorthand description of the tactics of clowns like Turek, the credulousness of his fans and the rank and file drones who proudly label themselves Christian but spend their lives in an echo chamber, having either no use, no training, no mind or no stomach for the instruction you mention. and if all you’re saying is that those people aren’t True Christians, then this exchange is done. you certainly haven’t indicated any inclination to further explain curious pieces of your first response — you know, the things i actually asked questions about.

          and speaking of that, and of Turek, i’m still wondering why you thought bringing him up at the end of your response was even vaguely sensible without the slightest effort to defend the aspects of his work that were taken apart in the post that this thread is here to discuss. if you think he does a great service in differentiating Christianity from other religions, well, good for him for getting you on his side … but that really doesn’t tell us anything relevant/significant. most of us come to this board after already having seen or heard plenty of drivel like Turek’s — for example, Bob’s post is part of a review of Turek’s work. at this point it’s ridiculous that you haven’t addressed this at all but become increasingly patronizing towards me as though there’s some big picture i’m missing.

          BECAUSE YOU SAID CHRISTIANS DONT DO THAT.

          it’s okay, i could already hear you.

          it’s starting to look like you’re trained to grossly oversimplify what other people are saying in order to put forth your favored talking points. you pose your first response as a simple answer to a simple question, yet you rephrase the question to encompass a broader topic; then you attempt to tell me what i said in a similarly inaccurate manner. what i in fact said [inserting the words of Sophia’s question where relevant] is that “these theists are either not permitted to even formulate that question, or not [yet] capable of doing so.” that you suggest i was referring to “Christians” as a monolith was one of your errors. but you also quite obviously missed the distinction that my non-answer to Sophia focused on, because her specific wording “from any other creator fabricated by anyone else” was the crucial phrase that i don’t believe “these theists” formulate in those terms. i wasn’t trying to smuggle in a simplified question when i said that “these theists” we were referring to wouldn’t formulate one; i meant Sophia’s exact wording, not a banal challenge to write a short essay on Why Christianity Is Different. but again, it was brief and snarky and i apologize for misleading you.

          you also seem to have made the erroneous assumption that Sophia’s question was asked in ignorance of the distinctions between one religion and another, one fabricated creator and another. her question was somewhat rhetorical, but it was only asking about the Creator concept, not about the entire religion. in this case you indeed didn’t oversimplify but rather covered too much ground. which makes your “I made no arguments that you’re presenting. Why? Because it was not asked” an unfortunate choice of words, since you made statements which weren’t answers to questions being asked.

          we are instructed to be able to defend our faith

          (1) wait, is “defend our faith” indistinguishable from “explain how our faith is different from other faiths”? that’s either very odd or very shortsighted.

          (2) and how’s following those instructions working out for you? again i wonder what particular brand yours is, because your statement:

          In Christianity religiously following Christian beliefs is not allowed.

          is very much at odds with the “lifestyle” of a large number of people who also call themselves Christians. but apparently you lost all the patience you displayed in your previous comment and have chosen to ignore the numerous questions i am actually asking (recall again that i didn’t even ask the question of Sophia’s which you have curiously reworded and insisted you were focusing on).

          and if your entire comment was supposed to be relevant only to the question “is Christianity different” (terribly verbose for a supposed “simple yes”), why include :

          All other religions believe that it’s the responsibility of the individual to live right and atone for their sins.

          ? or

          Religiously praying for the sake of it has no benefit.

          ?

          sorry i touched a nerve, but your suggestion that i was ignoring or misreading anything is falling flat and gaining zero traction. rather, you’re demonstrating a misreading or deliberate ignoring of just about everything i’ve posted in this thread. whereas i’ve already carefully asked several questions for clarification which you seem entirely unwilling to address.

          I made no arguments that you’re presenting.

          you made statements which you are now pretending were all in aid of answering the question [that wasn’t asked] “Is Christianity different?” yet several of those statements look at best irrelevant and at worst preachy. and only indignation and condescension since then. true, there may be a hint of condescension in some of my reply — but perhaps turning the other cheek is not your favorite instruction?

          You answered by saying America is in the northern hemisphere and Africa isn’t.

          how embarrassing, i guess? even granted (for laughs) your bluff pretense that my actual response was irrelevant. was that supposed to cast aspersions on the precision of my geographical knowledge?

          Whereas the answer was simply yes.

          “yes” is no answer to a “how” question. i have no doubt you wish it were so simple in your attempt to paint me as the foolish over-stepper, of course. but you’ve made at least one wrong turn somewhere. might want to back up and start over, if your goal was indeed to be taken seriously. and perhaps begin to address actual questions i actually asked, if your goal was indeed related to truth, defense and/or differentiation.

        • Greg G.

          All religions are different. That’s why there are so many of them. There are 45,000 different denominations of Christianity. You said in a previous comment, “All other religions believe that it’s the responsibility of the individual to live right and atone for their sins.” Ameribear, another Christian who is Catholic, is telling us that there are several sacraments to do.

          That makes Jesus the biggest prayer failure of all time:

          John 17:20-23 (NRSV)20 “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

          To fulfill that prayer, Christians would have to agree on everything, not just enough to be identified as Christians, but enough to impress the rest of the world so that everybody knows Christianity is true.

        • Kodie

          What other religions oppose a “relationship with god”? What you imagine is god is really your own ideas, mixed with whatever you’ve heard about this character god.

          Soda is bad for you, Pepsi owns Mountain Dew, people like whatever they like, they don’t have to choose your favorite soda to have made a valid decision to buy soda.

        • MNb

          “Our God is vastly different.”
          The god of every single religion is vastly different, so shrug.

          “The Christian God is the only God that is three in persons and one in essence”
          and hence makes even less sence than every single other one. Thank you.