Heard any stupid Christian arguments lately? Here are some more to slap down. For the first post in this series, go to part 1.
Stupid argument #35: Christianity is pleasing.
True/false is such a harsh dichotomy. Aren’t there other metrics we can use to illuminate Christianity’s role? For example, Christianity can be pleasing. Apologist Greg Koukl asked, “Wouldn’t it be more satisfying” for God to ground morality? (audio @16:25)
Huh? You want to know if some aspect of reality would be more satisfying if God was involved? Who cares? If Koukl is trying to brainstorm possible new realities, why bother with ones that don’t exist? Living as a character in your favorite movie might be more satisfying, but it’s not reality. And if we all knew that God existed, listing reasons why that’s a good thing would change nothing.
This is the Appeal to Consequences—something is correct or not based on whether it would lead to good or bad consequences. And it’s pointless speculation until he’s shown us that God exists. (More here.)
This apologetic stance reminds me of the commercial for HeadOn (“Apply directly to forehead”), a product that implies that it will relieve headaches but doesn’t actually make a single health claim. I heard of someone seeing a tube of HeadOn on a night table and commenting on it. The reply: “I know it doesn’t work, but it works for me.”
This is related to Stupid Argument #1: The consequences of atheism are depressing.
Stupid argument #36: Nature is intelligible.
Apologist Frank Turek demands* that the atheist explain these challenges: “Why is there evidence at all? Why is this universe rationally intelligible? . . . Why is the world rational to begin with?”
Who says the universe is rational? It’s only as rational as it is, which isn’t particularly rational. It’s certainly isn’t simple or easy to understand, as anyone who’s gotten a doctorate in physics, chemistry, biology, or any other science will tell you.
Turek looks at science’s conquests and dismisses them as not that big a deal, as if they were common sense. No, science has fought a long uphill battle to learn things that are very much counter to common sense: atoms and quantum mechanics, DNA and cells, galaxies and black holes. Science still has plenty on its plate—questions about dark matter, abiogenesis, extraterrestrial life, epigenetics, consciousness, the multiverse, prime numbers, and much more—which is yet more evidence that declaring the universe “rational” is an inept approximation.
What fraction of the realities of nature do we understand now? What fraction will we? Do humans have the ability to understand everything? This certainly doesn’t look like a reality with a god who designed a simple and obvious universe, smoothing the way for us to understand it all. That is what you get from the Genesis creation stories, but that’s not the way reality actually is. (More here.)
When Turek imagines that reality is easy to get our minds around, he defeats another argument he likes to try, “Science can’t explain everything; therefore, God” (Stupid Argument #20a).
In fact, nature’s complexity likely encouraged religion. There must be a powerful force behind an unpredictable nature—likely an anthropomorphic one. Storms and famines must be caused by someone; if we could only figure out what pleased and displeased this great being . . . (h/t Birdman Bryant).
Stupid argument #37: Joshua made the sun stand still.There’s the story about how NASA scientists were running calculations forward and backward in time to check where all the celestial bodies were and would be. They came across a missing day that could only be resolved by factoring in the sun stopping for Joshua and moving backwards for Hezekiah. Check with NASA—they know about it.
Yes, NASA knows all about it, and the story is nonsense. They’ve reportedly issued a press release dismissing the story. Even young-earth Creationist organizations such as Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International advise against using it. (I discuss the story in more detail here.)
Stupid argument #38: Christian atrocities? Atheistic regimes did much worse!
Think of Stalin in the Soviet Union or Mao in China. These have been terrible countries, and atheism drove the persecution. Atheism has no moral compass. While atheists as individuals might be nice enough, they’ve invariably created murderous regimes when given the chance. They can’t be trusted with power!
First, atheism has no tenets or philosophy by which to do anything, let alone declare that a group must be killed. Atheism is nothing more than an absence of god belief, and it has as much of a moral element as stamp collecting or cat fancying. For a moral foundation that would appeal to many atheists, look to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Humanist Manifesto, or the Satanic Temple’s Seven Fundamental Tenets.
Second, the problem in the Soviet Union or China was that they were dictatorships. Religion competed for allegiance, so it had to be eliminated. Atheism was a consequence of the dictatorship, not the cause. (More here.)
Reynolds says that a bad priest can be reprimanded by Christian beliefs, but of course that bad priest can also be supported by Christian beliefs. About atheists, he says, “A bad atheist cannot [be rebuked] since atheism has no creed or necessary beliefs beyond not believing in God, a life force, or a higher power.”
Correct! That’s precisely the point. Atheism is no more than a lack of god belief, and no one has been killed in the name of atheism.
If only Christianity could say the same.
To be continued.
Never shut up about Jesus Club.
— seen on the internet
* This is from Frank Turek, “Doubting Toward Faith with Bobby Conway,” 9/9/15 Cross Examined podcast @43:21.
(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 11/17/15.)
Image from woodleywonderworks, CC license