Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 of Them. (Part 2)

Bad Atheist Arguments? Let’s Investigate 16 of Them. (Part 2) April 25, 2019

This is part 2 of our look at a Christian’s list of 16 supposedly bad atheist arguments (part 1). Take a look and see if your critique is the same as mine. Let’s pick up with #5.

Argument #5: The gospels are full of myths

“This objection completely ignores the definition of a myth in ancient literature. A myth looks back at the past to understand how something in the present came to be. The gospels were written as a historical narrative, discussing things that were happening at the time.”

Let’s first find what’s valid within this argument. Words like “myth” can have both a vernacular definition and a scholarly definition. From a scholarly standpoint, a myth is a sacred narrative that explains some aspect of reality. For example, the Prometheus myth explains why humans have fire, and the raven myth of the Salish people (from a region that includes present-day Seattle) explains where the sun came from.

Using this scholarly definition, someone saying that the gospels contain myths (1) would not be correct since the gospels don’t have explanations of where things come from (the Old Testament does) and (2) would not be saying anything dismissive (there’s nothing wrong with arguments that explain where X came from or why Y is true to this day).

Where this objection fails is that “the gospels are full of myths,” said by a layman is correct using a colloquial definition of “myth” such as, “a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone.”

(Click for more on myths, legends, and all that.)

The objection declares that the gospels were written as historical narrative, but that’s a claim that can’t just be assumed but must be supported with evidence. (I argue that the Jesus story is legend.)

Unfortunately, this objection falls into the category of errors that has ensnared so many other Christian arguments, the category of uncharitable interpretation. If someone uses a word incorrectly, don’t dismiss the error and declare victory. Instead, point out the error and allow them to correct their argument. (Click for more on apologists attempting to dismiss an argument on a technicality.)

Argument #6: Faith is belief without evidence 

“This definition of faith is a clear strawman of the Christian position. Most Christians view faith as involving some sort of personal trust. The trust aspect of faith is simply ignored by the ‘no evidence’ definition.”

Huh?? This article is in Frank Turek’s blog, right? That’s the same Frank Turek who co-authored I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, right? The “faith” in that title is obviously some sort of blind faith, belief based on wishful thinking, and/or belief based on insufficient evidence. To hammer this home, the book says,

The less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge (p. 26).

Don’t tell me that “faith is belief without evidence” is a deliberate strawman of the Christian position when this site supports that very definition.

Getting clarity on Christian definitions can be like chasing a greased pig. “Faith” is belief firmly grounded in evidence when the Christian is being judged by outsiders, but within the fold it might switch as necessary to belief regardless of evidence. We see this, for example, in Jesus’s response to Doubting Thomas’s demand for evidence: “[Thomas,] you believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29).

Fifth-century church father Augustine had a similar position:

If you chance upon anything [in Scripture] that does not seem to be true, you must not conclude that the sacred writer made a mistake; rather your attitude should be: the manuscript is faulty, or the version is not accurate, or you yourself do not understand the matter.

Tell me that faith can mean belief firmly grounded in evidence, but don’t tell me that faith is never defined differently by Christians or that saying otherwise is a deliberate strawman.

While we’re talking about faith, why do Christian sites often talk about how to deal with doubt, but you never see that within science? (More: a critique of faith)

Argument #7: There’s no evidence for God

“Christians claim to have philosophical arguments for God’s existence. It seems like those arguments could provide at least a tiny bit of evidence for God, even if an Atheist doesn’t consider the evidence close to satisfactory. Atheists who use this phrase are overstating their case.”

This turns on what “no evidence” means. Is there no evidence for a flat earth? Some believe this claim. Is there no evidence that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri? Millions of Mormons believe it was.

Here again, this objection contains a scrap of useful advice: don’t overstate your case. If you believe that the evidence for the Christian claims is insufficient or even insignificant, then say that rather than the convenient shorthand of declaring that there is no evidence.

My approach is to say that the evidence for Christian claims is insufficient (extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence) simply to avoid getting in the morass of this objection. I think there is as much evidence for God as for leprechauns, but hairsplitting over what the “no” in “no evidence” means is a tangent I have no time for.

Argument #8: God is a maniac slavedriver

“The idea here is that God is some sort of dictator who tells us what to do and believe and threatens to send us to hell if we don’t listen. But this characterization of God contrasts from the understanding that God offers a choice for us to escape the ‘slavery’ of sin and to experience life as it was meant to be lived.”

“God offers a choice”? I don’t even think that God exists; I certainly have no belief in this nutty plan of salvation. The first step is for me to believe in God. Belief is driven by evidence, and I can’t choose to believe. (If you disagree, show us how that works by choosing to believe in unicorns.) Give me sufficient evidence, and I’ll have no choice but to believe. (More: the problem of God’s hiddenness)

Now on to God and sin. Imperfections in a product are the fault of the designer or the manufacturer, and if humans are God’s creation, then God is to blame for any imperfections.

Jesus made clear that few make the grade:

Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13–14).

It’s a poor teacher who graduates a minority of their students. Christian dogma tells us that some of us are destined for hell, and yet God knowingly made us anyway. You’ve got a lot of ’splainin’ to do with that message.

As for God telling us what to believe, the Evangelical position is more, “believe what you will, just know that believing the wrong thing is thoughtcrime, and you’ll be punished for it.”

Finally, how are we to “experience life as it was meant to be lived”? We’re told Jesus set the example for a perfect life, and yet God in the Old Testament (who is the same god as Jesus) has an old-fashioned take on genocide, evil, human sacrifice, and slavery. Taking the Old Testament at face value—and seeing morality through an Iron Age lens—these barbaric practices were just fine from God’s standpoint.

“God’s ways are not our ways” is the Get Out of Jail Free card played when an apologist is in a corner and can’t explain God’s actions or motivations using modern morality. But then what are God’s ways? Is he bound by anything or is he just capricious? What would constitute an immoral act for him when he has committed pretty much every immoral act a person could do?

Continue to part 3.

Everyone has the right to believe anything they want.
And everyone else has the right to find it fucking ridiculous.
— Ricky Gervais


Image from Vasily Koloda, CC license

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  • ThaneOfDrones

    Argument #6: Faith is belief without evidence

    I got into this with a believer once. The first time I used this definition of faith, I invited him to provide an alternative word that means the same thing.
    The second time he complained, I pointed out that I had given him the opportunity to provide an alternative phrase and he had failed.

    • Brilliant!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      We could look to the bible:
      Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

      Let’s see, there is nothing to see, so we rely on faith. OK.

      Although I really, really like how author of the letter of Paul to the Hebrews includes the fact that it’s friggin wishful thinking! “The substance of things hoped for”!!!!!

      But basically, if you could see it, you would not need faith.

    • RichardSRussell

      God-pushers try really, really hard to conflate faith with better decision-making methods like trust (in people) and confidence (in things). But both of those techniques are based on track records. Even in the few cases where they aren’t (little kids trusting their parents implicitly, adults trusting authority figures blindly), there’s never a question as to whether the person trusted (or the thing in which you have confidence) even exists.

    • Anthrotheist

      The problem of course is that there are alternative words, but they are even less complimentary to the believer.

      Having an unshakable conviction that something is true despite having no supporting evidence, and against all existing contrary evidence, is called a delusion. (e.g., being sure that God is in heaven and that the faithful will join him when they die)
      Being certain that any particular phenomenon is the result of a particular cause, despite having no evidence that they are in any way connected or related, is called superstition. (e.g., God made sure that I got home safely because I prayed to him to do so)

      • Grimlock

        I think it behooves us not to call common religious beliefs “delusions”.

        A part of the definition of a delusion is that it is not accounted for by the cultural circumstances, which most religious beliefs are. At least in part.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          How about ‘gullibility’?

        • Grimlock

          Maybe not extremely conductive to a polite conversation, but perhaps not entirely inaccurate either?

        • al kimeea

          Credulous? I’m pretty sure most faithful would be offended by any descriptor that wasn’t fluffing the faith…

        • Kodie

          You said nothing about having to be polite.

        • Grimlock

          That is indeed true. What about it?

        • Kodie

          I dunno. Accurate words might hurt someone’s feelings, so is it suggested to go lightly and give them more respect for their feelings than they give us?

        • Grimlock

          I guess that depends on what you’re trying to achieve and with whom you are interacting.

        • Kodie

          Pushback against anyone pushy.

        • Grimlock

          Well, I’m not against matching the tone of the individuals with whom you’re interacting. I don’t always do so myself, but to each their own in that regard.

        • Kodie

          It’s not always the tone but the actual monstrous things they say because they have a superstition.

        • Grimlock

          Good point. I’ve frequently seen a religious person say something that they genuinely believe, but that I find morally abhorrent. Or condescending – often towards themselves, even.

        • Kodie

          Nah, I don’t think so. They are swept up in a cult, how is that not a delusion, especially in the extreme cases?

        • Grimlock

          Checking Wikipedia, emphasis mine,

          A delusion is a firm and fixed belief based on inadequate grounds not amenable to rational argument or evidence to contrary, not in sync with regional, cultural and educational background.

          Using the term “delusion” to refer to common religious beliefs does not go along with the definition of a delusion.

          That is not to say that certain religious beliefs are not, or can not be, delusions. Many delusions are indeed religiously themed. But delusion is not an accurate description of most religious beliefs, because they are in sync with the cultural background.

          ETA: Messed up HTML codes.

        • Kodie

          Yeah, religious beliefs can’t be delusions because they are culturally protected from falling into that category, how convenient.

        • Grimlock

          Huh? I literally wrote that some religious beliefs are indeed delusions.

        • Kodie

          Sounded like you were distinguishing an authentic religious belief from the ravings of a mentally ill person.

        • Grimlock

          Well, I can hardly challenge your subjective reaction to what I wrote.

    • NS Alito

      In James Randi’s Faith Healers* (1987), he addressed the different types of faith in the Introduction as a basis for discussion in the rest of the book. In summary:

      Type I faith
      AKA “intransigent faith”: not affected by any sort of contrary evidence, no matter how strong

      Type II faith
      AKA “the will to believe”: willful belief where there is insufficient or no evidence either way to make a rational choice.

      Type III faith
      AKA “hypotheses based on evidence”: there is evidence, but perhaps not enough to support total belief, but you just run with it

      Using the same word, as you note, can be problematic with a believer, so I might sometime suggest French words which can variously mean “faith” (foi, croyance-volonté and confiance), mostly as a warning that I’m willing to go full frog on them if they push me.

      *”This is an angry book.”

      • ThaneOfDrones

        Have read FH. Recommend it.

    • David Peebles

      I prefer: Faith is belief in the unbelievable.

      • Kodie

        Faith is belief in something I want to be true, even though it’s not.

  • Lex Lata

    1. “A myth looks back at the past to understand how something in the present came to be. The gospels were written as a historical narrative, discussing things that were happening at the time.”

    This is just a semantic maneuver, as you note, Bob.

    The records of antiquity are littered with tales of signs, wonders, omens, miracles, etc.–some said to have occurred in the distant, mist-shrouded days of yore, to be sure, but some within the author’s lifetime, or not long before. Herodotus wrote about the Greek gods intervening to save Delphi from maurading Persians when he was a child. Tacitus wrote about Emperor Vespasian’s healing powers within a few decades of his death. Etc.

    Are we to believe these accounts, because they appear in “historical narrative[s], discussing things that were happening at the time?” Surely Linn would say no, even though he accepts analogous narratives in the NT.

    2. And what about the OT? Would Linn agree that, say, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, and the miracles attributed to Moses and Joshua are just works of explanatory imagination? If not, on what historical basis does he credit those narratives, but not analogous tales about Heracles, Gilgamesh, or Achilles?

    • Excellent points.

    • He might say such “miracles” were done by demons. Then however we face the problem of telling any true miracles from false ones without just begging the question.

      • WCB

        Mark 13:22 – For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if [it were] possible, even the elect. Oh noes! Your favorite TV faith healer may be an anti-Christ!

        • In the Bible it says anyone against Christ is anti-Christ. So that would include them yes, as they qualify. Jesus also condemns those who seek wealth or sell “miracles”. Woe to the TV evangelists.

  • Polytropos

    #5: I wonder if Linn knows anything much about the functions of mythology in ancient literature. The gospels and Acts have a lot in common with forms of mythological literature which were popular in the ancient world, and this is an interesting subject to explore. Regardless, when atheists say the gospels are full of myths, we usually mean they’re full of extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence, and since they’re asserted without evidence we rightly dismiss them. Zombies, anyone?

    #6: He’s kidding, surely. It’s right there in the numerous places in the Bible, such as this verse from the book of John, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

    #7: Easily fixed if we phrase it as “there’s no adequate, conclusive evidence for god”. But this isn’t really an argument, it’s a statement. When someone has failed to provide convincing evidence for their position, the conversation is over until they can come up with something better.

    #8: Who actually phrases it this way? I suspect by saying “God is a maniac slave driver” Linn is trying to present a silly, hyperbolic strawman of what is actually a serious objection to Christianity. The Christian god is immoral by the standards of any civilized person. Now, granted, this doesn’t necessarily disprove god’s existence, but it’s a great reason not to worship him.

    • NS Alito

      #6: He’s kidding, surely. It’s right there in the numerous places in the Bible, such as this verse from the book of John, “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

      So many believers seem to conflate having been persuaded with having evidence. If people they trust seem to accept something, it must be true. It saddens me to see how many adults have lived their lives without understanding their own thought processes, and don’t know how to discipline their own brains against casual certainty.

      • wtfwjtd

        I recall, when examining my own reasons for believing Christianity, one of the big ones that came up was “because my father believed it.” Being the curious type, I naturally had to ask the obvious question: “And why did he believe?” Well, because *his* father was a believer, and so on and so forth. I could see this was getting me nowhere–and realized it all came back basically to believing something because it gives you the warm fuzzies, ie believing based on emotion, not evidence. I ultimately decided that this wasn’t enough for me.

        • Pofarmer

          I think that’s a big one for my wife. Her family is Catholic, and that’s just the way it is. I never had a desire to be Catholic, and, basically, don’t generally like the inlaws, so, ya know, there was no pull. I’ve written this before, but, when my kids were younger, I decided to examine to see if “Catholicism were true” and I was going to convert. Boy, did that turn out differently than I expected.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’d hazard a guess that like me, you expected that process of examination to be more of a formality, rather than a life-altering event. Wow, was I mistaken! Once I jumped in, I was shocked to discover how thin the veneer really was, and how weak and shaky that even the basic historical core turned out to be. And you know where it went from there…
          I’m often humbled and amazed at how sometimes what we think is a small, inconsequential action or decision on our part can lead to big, unexpected changes down the road.

        • Kodie

          Think how many people convert to Catholicism from “meh, dunno, whatever” because it’s so normal to have a religion, so they just say what they’re supposed to say to get married in church, and then don’t even care that it’s so fucked up.

      • Polytropos

        Often I think it’s deliberate. They’re invested in the belief and don’t want to examine it too closely in case it doesn’t hold up.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not even that. A lot of things about the religious belief prevents them from inspecting it. They simply can’t. There are too many things in the theological beliefs that misfire the process.

        • NS Alito

          I like the comment from the ex-JW who said that the Jehovah’s Witnesses trained you to gaslight yourself.

        • Kodie

          So, that’s why I don’t know why we can’t call religious beliefs a delusion – according to the definition of delusion and another post up there.

      • Pofarmer

        and don’t know how to discipline their own brains against casual certainty.

        Dude. That’s basically the history of the whole human race up until the last couple hundred years.

        • NS Alito

          Yes, and with what we know now, for modern people that’s worse than illiteracy, at least for me.

      • anne marie hovgaard

        A lot of people actively dislike System 2 thinking, and will not only go with what “feels right” every time, but refuse to consider any alternative.

        • NS Alito

          “System 2 thinking…”
          My first exposure to that terminology.

          I haz lernd today.

        • anne marie hovgaard

          You should read “Thinking, fast and slow”. I really liked the first part, towards the end it gets a bit less captivating 🙂 (possibly because the first part was mostly known to me from articles and lectures, but it seems to be a common view).

        • NS Alito

          Hah! I’ve bought and given away (without reading) copies of TF&S two different times. Maybe I’ll buy it a third time. 😉

  • Damian Byrne

    Using this scholarly definition, someone saying that the gospels contain
    myths (1) would not be correct since the gospels don’t have
    explanations of where things come from (the Old Testament does)

    I disagree with this, since the Gospel According to John opens with this statement

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

    It’s a load of gibberish really, but it does seem to me to be an attempted explanation of where things came from.

    • I prefer to rephrase the beginning of John:

      In the beginning was the Vacuum, and the Vacuum formed a quantum fluctuation, and the quantum fluctuation was the Big Bang. 2 It was with Vacuum in the beginning. 3 Through him a ll things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was the Universe, and that Universe was the light of all mankind. 5 The light of science shines in the darkness, and the darkness of religion has not overcome[a] it.

      • Ficino

        But the Vacuum is not pure Act. It is assimilated to prime matter. Prime matter is not actual, so you need something actual beyond the vacuum to keep the vacuum in existence and to move motion and change.
        Checkmate, atheist. /s

    • Perhaps you’re right. In my mind, the OT has plenty of “and that’s why it’s called X to this day” explanations, but that’s not the gospels’ style.

      I’ll be interested to read others’ comments.

      • Damian Byrne

        the OT has plenty of “and that’s why it’s called X to this day” explanations, but that’s not the gospels’ style.

        Ooh, another one bites the dust 😉 The field of blood where Judas died? From Acts 1

        Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong,[a] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 This became known to all the residents of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their language Hakeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

        Or how about from Matthew 27?

        But the chief priests,taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into
        the treasury, since they are blood money.” 7 After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8 For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.

        • Greg G.

          In Jeremiah, it is called the Field of Slaughter because many people were killed there.

          It was a potters field. It was red clay.

      • Rational Human

        One thing that always nagged at me as a Christian were the many “just so” names of biblical characters that wouldn’t you know it, turned out to perfectly describe their personality or life experience. Like, why would anyone name their child “Usurper” , or “bringer of pain” ? It was a source of much dissonance before I realized or finally acknowledged that these were legends in every respect.

        • ThaneOfDrones

          Knowing some Latin and Greek is helpful in reading fiction. For example, there is a tradition of naming evil characters “Mal*”, because mal is a Latin prefix for bad.

  • The problem with #7 is: why said God has to be the Abrahamic one and especially the Bronze/Iron Age Yahweh, who if one goes by the book is clueless about the existence of other continents and the actual size of this planet, not to mention the Universe, not any other of the thousands of deities that have been worshipped through history, those fictional, or the kind of entity way beyond our understanding that would have been able to bring from scratch something as arcane as quantum mechanics or as complex as the physical laws an Universe as this requires -not just the “outside space and time” BS Fundies love so much-

    #8 could have a pass if one replaced Hell with oblivion -some claim John was an annihilationist and John 3:16 should have been interpreted that way-. Alas, in both cases and especially the former He cannot be all-loving, no matter how a Fundy may spin it, and it just looks like North Korean/1984 propaganda. And if one takes the original sin doctrine the mess just grows larger.

  • eric

    #5-7 are like #2-4 in that they misunderstand the burden of proof

    #8 is like #1 in that it simply assumes a trait of God that the theist wants to try and convince the nonbeliever God has. Sure, there is an understanding of God where he “…offers a choice for us to escape the ‘slavery’ of sin and to experience life as it was meant to be lived.” But that’s just one possible understanding among the many options. So why should I accept that premise? What the Chrisitan really needs to do here is give an argument that that understanding is a better choice than alternative understandings; some justification for this particular premise rather than another. But they don’t. And stating that the bible supports that premise is just more circularity.

    So, the count is 2 circular arguments and 6 misunderstandings of where the burden of proof lies.

  • wtfwjtd

    “Argument #6: Faith is belief without evidence.”

    How in the world could any Christian object to this statement? That is literally the Biblical definition of faith.. I could be snarky and use Mark Twain’s definition of faith–“believing what you know ain’t so”–and maybe they’d have room to carp a little. Maybe. But geez, when they’re ashamed of the way that their own Bible defines it, you’d think that would be a clue that maybe their belief system isn’t as iron-clad as they like to think it is.

    • Redefining faith to be “trust” is in vogue now. Get with the program.


      • wtfwjtd

        Silly me, and to think I expect most Christians to actually read their own Bible!

      • Kodie

        Trust in what other people tell you? I mean, I think most of faith is safety in numbers.

        • No, “trust” defined to mean belief strongly grounded in evidence (and changed in the face of new, contradicting evidence). They want to define “faith” like that, too.

          And they do it with a straight face. They’ll read an article about Christians dealing with doubt (such articles are common)–which is clearly faith not grounded by evidence–and then turn around and ridicule silly atheists who don’t realize that Christian faith is obviously the same thing as “trust.”

    • Maltnothops

      In the Cranach blog in the evangelical section, the blogger and commenters are quite insistent that there is tons of evidence for Christianity. You can be saved only thru faith but there is evidence for the truth of the Bible. It is weird.

  • WCB

    The idea that there is no evidence for God being a bad argument is not a bad argument. There is no evidence for God. Christianity’s theology is basically what is called perfect being theology. It is expansive, and is based on numerous unproven propositions. That God is simple, not made of parts, that God’s essences including moral goodness are essential and necessary attributes, that God resides in a supernatural realm, and so on. When we stack unproven claims like this we achieve what is called logical explosion. With well chosen but non-demonstratable propositions, you can pretend to prove anything.

    And then these proposed simple attributes self destruct. We have the problem of evil, free will vs omniscience and creation all and more. These basic propositions not only can’t demonstrate God exists, but rather confirm, God as described cannot exist.

    • Ficino

      I think without their doctrine of analogical predication of names of God the guys you describe find their project much harder going. So they double down and link their doctrine of analogical predication to their doctrine of an analogy of Being. So then we get existence as a perfection/predicate, with different senses of “existence” corresponding to different degrees of the perfection of existence. They are also fine with deducing the existence of a particular from systems of universal premises. The result is a logical mess, but it sounds very deep. Especially when a lot of the key terms get capitalized, like Being or Goodness Itself.

      When some term in a deductive system is not predicated univocally, the conclusion can’t be legitimately presented as known with certainty. But these guys gloss that over by falling back on their doctrine of the analogy of Being.

      • WCB

        The problem with all of this is the underlying doctrine of the simplicity of God. God’s existence, omnipotence, omnibenevolence et all are all one big glob of essence/substance by necessity. So the theologian can cherry pick something out of the glob and treat it as a real thing, not just a hypothesis. Of course they usually do a half assed job of it and never take it to it’s logical conclusion. If God’s simplicity entails that God is good, God then must also necessarily be, as per Bible, merciful, just, fair and compassionate and loving. Which qualities then should be manifest in the Universe.

        But we seem to not see these sub-goodnesses of God manifested. We don’t have God manifesting his mercy or compassion when we are having to deal with the Hitlers, Stalins, or Genghis Khans who spread misery and evil.

        So, what we should note here is that the Universe is as it is and if there is a God who is simple, the God’s necessary essences/substance rather exhibit indifference, apathy, and a lack of love, mercy, compassion and action in the face of great and unnecessary evils. That then is God’s necessary and testably essential nature, God’s obvious essences/substance. And now, the special pleading starts.

        But the fact remains, the supposed simple God with all great exemplary traits does not seem to exist at all.

    • ThaneOfDrones

      Christianity’s theology is basically what is called perfect being theology.

      Christianity has a clear fault line between the God of their scriptures, some of which they stole from the Jewish religion, and the Perfect Being which comes from philosophy.
      YWHW is the petty, jealous, vindictive, violent and demonstrably imperfect God inherited from Jewish scriptures. For example, losing a wrestling match to Jacob, a human (Genesis 32:22-32), is a clear sign of imperfection. There are many others.
      The “perfect being” comes from a philosophical consideration of what a being must be like to qualify as “God”.

      The bait-and-switch between these two contrasting ideas is at the heart of a lot of bad apologetics.

      • WCB

        Deuteronomy 32:4
        “The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

        Mat 5:48
        Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

        There a number of OT verses telling us God is perfect. But the OT is not a dense theological work that explains everything to the last iota, so that was left to later theologians to expound upon and try to explain what that perfection is in detail. That is an ongoing project to this day.

        • DanD

          God is perfect for definitions of perfect that are god.

          If a human ruler were as destructive as god is in the OT, they would be up there on the list with Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot. Hitler only attempted genocide (and got unfortunately far with it), god committed it or commanded it multiple times. Yet his followers claim that it is all part of god’s plan, and therefore it must be okay.

          On a related topic, this is the same argument that I get when I discuss the natural miscarriage rate versus abortion. “God” terminates 60% of pregnancies, frequently before the woman knows she is pregnant, and without regard to the life the eventual child would have. But it is okay because it’s god doing it. Whereas a woman terminating 1 pregnancy is evil incarnate, even when she knows that the she is incapable of doing right by the child that would otherwise result.

    • And when you look at the claims of God’s various attributes, you don’t find that these are each the conclusion of a chain of reality-based evidence. Rather, you find that they either come from a magic book or they’re ass-covering necessary rationalizations to try to make sense of (or preserve) previous “conclusions.”

  • adriancrutch

    …God gets a little itchy on “third” days…since “second” days are burrito days…

    • Kodie

      Taco Tuesday

  • adriancrutch

    I purchased the Gospel of Nicodemus on Amazon for $.99…since I’d rather read something NOT in the Canons of Similarity…and I own most of Bart Ehrman’s books…I do…I do…

  • Ann Kah

    In the end, we don’t need atheist arguments, either good or bad. It’s not our job to convince christians. The only person with whom I must consider the matter is myself. And the only necessary answer to any christian who tries to convert me is “I don’t believe that.” Actually, I have no reason to believe it, nor do I have any explanation at all of WHY I should want to believe it, but I wouldn’t want to confuse the average front-door evangelist with too many concepts at once.