Some Christian arguments

and why they don't work

----under revision----


On this page I have included what I feel to be the favorite Christian arguments. Some of these arguments are for specific biblical claims, such as Jesus' resurrection. Some arguments are not for Christianity in particular, but for a creator god of some sort. A few arguments are not arguments at all, but simply emotional appeals. All of them fail to support the claims of Christianity.


Design

First Cause

Second Law of Thermodynamics

Prophecy

Historical confirmation of Jesus

Transcendental Argument

Christian Martyrs

500 Witnesses

Meaning of Life

Morality

Pascal's Wager

Most people believe in God

Einstein believed in God

Hitler was an atheist

Bible code
(off site)

Faith

Universal Skepticism


Design

Some Christians argue that the universe exhibits evidence of intelligent design because it contains order, complexity and life. Their assumption is that without a creator, the universe could not contain order, complexity and life. But why do they assume this? Since the universe is all that we know of, the entirety of our experience, we have no way of understanding how a "designed" universe would compare to an "undesigned" universe. However, we do understand how natural physical forces operate within the universe to produce greater complexity from simpler arrangements of matter, so it would seem unnecessary to introduce some outside force to explain complexity and life.

Of course the introduction of God as the designer and creator of the universe begs the question of who or what designed and created God. The design argument for God ends up looping back on itself. The premise of the argument is that complexity and life require a creator. Obviously a creator would be alive and infinitely more complex than its creation and thus, by the premise of the design argument, would also require a creator, which would also require a creator, ad infinitum.

Sometimes the design argument is presented using the watch-on-the-beach analogy: A person walking down the beach finds a watch in the sand. This person knows that the watch was designed and manufactured by a watchmaker. Likewise, theists will argue, we see elements of obvious design in the universe which demonstrate that there was a designer. One of the problems with this particular analogy is that it is self-contradictory: The watch on the beach is seen to be manufactured specifically because of the way in which it contrasts with and stands out from the natural world. We know that watches are manufactured but we do not know that nature is. Theists will of course argue that it is an obvious fact that plants and animals were designed by some sort of intelligent being. However, the claimed "design" of living things is easily explained as the end result of billions of years of biological evolution, a process that does not require a creator. While it is true that we do not know precisely how life began on earth, we can certainly explain how it evolved and diversified over time, and we can do this without resorting to supernatural "explanations."

Again, it needs to be pointed out that positing a diety as an explanation for life begs the question or who or what designed the diety. Furthermore, the term "God" is never adequately defined, so claiming that "God" is the designer and creator of the universe is not intelligible. Ultimately, "God" is a fairly useless "explanation" of anything:

"There are, of course, many who regard the concept of God as an exceedingly simple explanation of everything, and who regard scientific elucidations as either incomplete or ponderous. However, that is a self-delusion. Such views are generally held by people who do not understand the scientific method. Indeed, to believe that the assertion that God is an explanation (of anything, let alone everything) is intellectually contemptible, for it amounts to an admission of ignorance packaged into the pretence of an explanation. To aver that 'God did it' is worse than an admission of ignorance, for it shrouds ignorance in deceit."

Religion - the antithesis to science, Oxford Chemistry Professor Peter Atkins


First Cause

The so-called First Cause argument is closely related with the argument from design, and has the same problems. The argument is based on the idea that it was impossible or nearly impossible for the universe to have come into existence on its own, so therefore there was, or was most likely to have been a first cause which brought it into existence, and this first cause is God (Jehovah).

First of all, if it was impossible or nearly impossible for the universe to have come into existence on its own, why is it somehow more reasonable to believe that a god came into existence on its own? If Christians say that their god has always existed, why couldn't the universe have always existed (in some form)?

Secondly, if there was such a thing as a first cause, why would it have to be a conscious entity, specifically Jehovah, rather than something else, such as a virtual particle? And if the first cause had to be alive and conscious, why would we presume that it was still alive today?

The idea that you cannot get something from nothing seems self-evident, yet, interestingly, the spontaneous creation of the universe would not appear to violate any physical laws, according to Victor J. Stenger, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii:

"Let me begin by addressing two common sense notions: (1) you cannot get something from nothing, and (2) the order of the universe requires the pre-existence of an active intelligence to do the ordering. I will leave it to the theologians to explain how the postulate of a creator God solves the problem of creation ex nihilo, since God is something that, itself, must have come, uncreated, from nothing. Instead I will address the physics issues implied by the creation of the universe from nothing. In physics terms, creation ex nihilo appears to violate both the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

The first law of thermodynamics is equivalent to the principle of conservation of energy: the total energy of a closed system is constant; any energy change must be compensated by a corresponding inflow or outflow from the system. Einstein showed that mass and energy are equivalent, by E = mc^2. So, if the universe started from "nothing, " energy conservation would seem to have been violated by the creation of matter. Some energy from outside is apparently required.

However, our best estimate today is that the total energy of the universe is zero (within a small "zero point energy" that results from quantum fluctuations), with the positive energy of matter balanced by the negative potential energy of gravity. Since the total energy is zero, no energy was needed to produce the universe and the first law was not violated."


The Second Law of Thermodynamics

The SLOT argument is a misinterpretation of a scientific principle. First, a definition:

"The second law of thermodynamics gives a precise definition of a property called entropy. Entropy can be thought of as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium; it can also be thought of as a measure of the disorder in the system. The law states that the entropy—that is, the disorder—of an isolated system can never decrease. Thus, when an isolated system achieves a configuration of maximum entropy, it can no longer undergo change: It has reached equilibrium." (1)

So order should not increase in a closed system.

Theists try to say that life on earth violates the second law of thermodynamics, and thus a god must exist to create the order and complexity of the world. However, the earth is not a closed system. When this is explained to theists, they will reply that the universe itself is a closed system and exhibits increasing order, and thus this is evidence for a god. I'll quote from Stenger again:

"The second law of thermodynamics requires that the entropy, or disorder, of the universe must increase or at least stay constant with time. This would seem to imply that the universe started out in a greater state of order than it has today, and so must have been designed.

However, this argument holds only for a universe of constant volume. The maximum entropy of any object is that of a black hole of the same volume. In an expanding universe, the maximum allowable entropy of the universe is continually increasing, allowing more and more room for order to form as time goes by. If we extrapolate the big bang back to the earliest definable time, the so-called "Planck time" (10^-43 second), we find that the universe started out in a condition of maximum entropy--total chaos. The universe had no order at the earliest definable instant. If there was a creator, it had nothing to create."

Here's another point to ponder: If the second law of thermodynamics is held to be inviolable by the theist, how did the creator god itself manage to avoid increasing entropy?

Go here for a further explanation of why the thermodynamics argument doesn't get creationists where they want to go.

Prophecy

Some Christians point to Bible "prophecies" as evidence that the Bible is divinely inspired. There are so many problems with this argument that it is hard to know where to start. First of all, if a prediction comes true, this does not necessarily indicate that some supernatural entity was involved. Secondly, it is extremely difficult to know if a biblical event which supposedly fulfills a prophecy actually occurred, or if it was invented merely to satisfy a prophecy. Thirdly, a "prophecy" can easily be inserted into ancient texts after an event occurs. The authors of most of the books of the Bible and the dates the books were written are sketchy at best, and we recognize that the Bible has gone through numerous hands and been edited many times over the centuries. Forgery in the early Church is well known, at least to scholars.

Here's an example of a prophecy that isn't: The writer of Matthew, whoever he was, says that Jesus was born of a virgin and that this fulfills a prophecy in Isaiah. If you take a look at Isaiah 7:14, you see that this prophecy was not for a virgin birth, had nothing to do with Jesus, and was fulfilled a few paragraphs later in Isaiah itself. It looks very much like Matthew was simply fabricating a prophecy to make Jesus appear as a divine figure. After all, to be considered a god back then you had to be born of a virgin.

For more on prophecy, go here.


Historical confirmation of Jesus

When Christians talk about the historical confirmation of Jesus, they are referring to a few sentences found in non-biblical, first to third century writings which they believe authenticate Jesus Christ's existence. As far as I know, the following citations represent the sum total of claimed "historical confirmations" of Jesus from that period.

Josephus Flavious (37-104?, Jewish Roman historian)

Jospehus wrote a history of the Jews called "The Antiquities of the Jews" (93) in which is found a passage now known as the Testimonium Flavianum:

"Now there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works,-a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was (the) Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had him condemned to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared alive to them again on the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day."

Most scholars believe this citation is a either a Christian embellishment of what had originally been a brief, passing reference to Jesus, or that the whole passage is a forgery. Why? The Testimonium Flavianum is missing from early copies of the works of Josephus and was not quoted by Christians until the 4th century, which seems strange since it was supposedly written around 93. The Christian writer and theologian Origen (185-254) quotes freely from Josephus yet never makes note of it. Bishop Eusibus, who said it was permissible for Christians to lie to further Christianity, is the first person to mention the passage in the 4th century. Curious.

Since Josephus was a Jew, it is difficult to understand why he would write such a glowing description of Jesus, the founder of Christianity. Also, if Josephus thought so highly of Jesus, why doesn't he write more extensively about him? (In Josephus' writings there is another brief citation said to confirm Jesus-see below) The passage itself does not mesh with what comes before or after it in the chapter in which it is found. The chapter describes misfortunes of the Jews, and this passage about Jesus, who was condemned to death at the behest of Jewish leaders, could hardly be considered a tragedy for the Jews, unless, of course, the writer was a Christian.

The Testimonium Flavianum is not a confirmation of the biblical Jesus.

Josephus apparently refers to Jesus in passing later in "Antiquities," where we find this passage:

"so he [Ananus, son of Ananus the high priest] assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before him the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others (or some of his companions) and when he had formed an accusation against them, he delivered them to be stoned." ("Antiquities" 20.9.1)

This may or may not be a forgery. If it was written by Josephus, it still does not confirm the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (69-140, famous Roman biographer and historian of culture)

Suetonius, writing about AD 120, mentions that emperor Claudius "banished the Jews from Rome, since they had made a commotion because of Chrestus," and that during the reign of Nero (54-68), "punishments were also inflicted on the Christians, a sect professing a new and mischievous religious belief."

The second reference is to the existence of Christians. No one disputes the existence of Christians. The first reference may be to Jesus. However, there were many messiahs making their appearance during this period and "Chrestus" was a common name, not necessarily a variant of "Christ." It should be noted that nowhere in his writings does Suetonius specifically mention a Jesus of Nazareth.

Cornelius Tacitus (55?-after 117, Roman historian)

The following passage is found in his "Annals," Book 15, Chapter 44, dated about 117:

"Nero looked around for a scapegoat, and inflicted the most fiendish tortures on a group of persons already hated for their crimes. This was the sect known as the Christians. Their founder, one Christus, had been put to death by the procurator, Pontious Pilate, in the reign of Tiberius. This checked the abominable superstition for a while, but it broke out again and spread, not merely through Judea, where it originated, but to Rome itself, the great reservoir and collecting ground for every kind of depravity and filth. Those who confessed to being Christians were at once arrested, but on their testimony a great crowd of people were convicted, not so much on the charge of arson, but of hatred of the entire human race."

From an article by Gordon Stein:

"While we know from the way in which the above is written that Tacitus did not claim to have firsthand knowledge of the origins of Christianity, we can see that he is repeating a story which was then commonly believed, namely that the founder of Christianity, one Christus, had been put to death under Tiberius. There are a number of serious difficulties which must be answered before this passage can be accepted as genuine. There is no other historical proof that Nero persecuted the Christians at all. There certainly were not multitudes of Christians in Rome at that date (circa 60 A.D.). In fact, the term "Christian" was not in common use in the first century. We know Nero was indifferent to various religions in his city, and, since he almost definitely did not start the fire in Rome, he did not need any group to be his scapegoat. Tacitus does not use the name Jesus, and writes as if the reader would know the name Pontius Pilate, two things which show that Tacitus was not working from official records or writing for non-Christian audiences, both of which we would expect him to have done if the passage were genuine."

"Perhaps most damning to the authenticity of this passage is the fact that it is present almost word-for-word in the Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus (died in 403 A.D.), where it is mixed in with obviously false tales. At the same time, it is highly unlikely that Sulpicius could have copied this passage from Tacitus, as none of his contemporaries mention the passage. This means that it was probably not in the Tacitus manuscripts at that date. It is much more likely, then, that copyists working in the Dark Ages from the only existing manuscript of the Chronicle, simply copied the passage from Sulpicius into the manuscript of Tacitus which they were reproducing."

According to this detailed review of the Tacitus quotation, it was not cited by Christians until the 15th century.

Mara Bar Serapion

In the second or third century this gentleman wrote a letter to his son in jail. The letter mentions that the Jews had killed their "wise king." It is not clear who this is referring to. Mar Bar Serapion certainly was not a contemporary of Jesus so it is hard to see how this is a confirmation of Jesus.

Thallus

Go here.

Pliny the Younger (62-113, Roman official)

Pliny the Younger corresponded regularly with the emperor Trajan (98-117). In his letters, Pliny specifically mentions and describes the beliefs and practices of Christians in Asia Minor, and asks Trajan's advice about what action to take against them, if any. Pliny's writings provide no independent confirmation of the events of the New Testament, but just show that there were indeed Christians living in Asia Minor around 100.


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If you take a moment to consider each of these alleged historical confirmations of Jesus, you realize that they do not confirm the existence of the Jesus portrayed in the Bible. This doesn't seem to prevent Christian apologists from rattling them off in debates, however.

It is not hard to imagine that there was a real person upon whom the Gospel stories of Jesus are very loosely based-a flesh and blood human being who became mythologized. However, no reasonable person can look at these presumed confirmations of Jesus and believe that they are evidence for the existence of the supernatural, miracle-working, son-of-God Jesus portrayed in the Gospels.
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So then, what about the Gospels? Well, the Gospels can not be considered particularly reliable documents. To begin with, the Gospels are anonymous; no one knows who wrote them. Of course there are names attached to them, but these were added later and the real authors are unknown. The evidence indicates that the first Gospel, Mark, was not written until at least forty years after Jesus is supposed to have died. The next two Gospels, Luke and Matthew, copy Mark to a greater or lesser degree. Interestingly, the original version of Mark did not contain any mention of a resurrection.

The four Gospls contradict one another regarding times, dates and events.

The Gospel writers allege that various amazing, miraculous events occurred in front of numerous witnesses. However, there are no contemporary writings that exist that support the various miracle claims found in the Gospels. For example, the writer of Matthew claims that re-animated corpses climbed out of their graves and marched into Jerusalem. However, no one who lived at the time that this was supposed to have happened seemed to have noticed it. Similarly, there is no mention of the miracle healings of Jesus and the feeding of the multitude found in any contemporary writings. They are only found in the Gospels.

What we have in the Gospels are anonymous, late, contradictory stories alleging completely absurd supernatural events. These stories are not supported by any contemporary, corroborating testimony. There simply is no good reason to think that the Gospel stories are reliable and accurate.


More on the historicity of Jesus
Yet more on the historicity of Jesus
Was There No Historical Jesus?
A look into the World of the Gospels
Why I Don't Buy the Resurrection Story
Examples of Christian forgery
yet more examples of Christian forgery
even more on Christian forgery
pagan christs
pagan christs
pagan christs
pagan christs
pagan christs
pagan christs
books about the pagan christs
Bibliography


Transcendental Argument

The following quote outlines this argument:

"(T)he atheistic world view is irrational and cannot provide an adequate basis for intelligible experience. You see, an atheistic world is ultimately random, disorderly, transitive, and volatile. It is therefore incapable of providing the necessary preconditions to account for the laws of science, the universal laws of logic, and the human need for absolute moral standards. In short, it cannot account for the meaningful realities we encounter in life.

The Christian theistic world view, however, _can_ explain these transcendental aspects of life. The uniformity of nature stems from God's orderly design of the universe. The laws of logic are a reflection of the way God Himself thinks, and would have us to think as well. Absolute moral standards, such as "Thou shalt not murder," mirror the perfect moral nature of God.

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0131a.txt

First of all, the phrase "God's orderly design of the universe" begs the question. There is no evidence that the universe was designed. "Natural law" is a description, not a prescription. The term is not an allusion to a supernatural law-giver, but to the predictability of natural processes. Atoms, molecules and energy waves behave in predictable ways because they are what they are and cannot operate contrary to their inherent, fundamental properties and qualities. It is not clear why Christians think some kind of nebulous, supernatural entity must exist to micro-manage the existence and behavior of every atom and particle wave.

Claiming that the laws of logic are "reflections of the way God Himself thinks" also begs the question. The laws of logic are basic, self evident and necessarily true.

The Laws of Logic


The Law of Identity: For things, this law asserts that "A is A" or "anything is itself." For propositions: "If a proposition is true, then it is true."

The Law of Excluded Middle: For things, "anything is either A or not-A." For propositions: "A proposition, such as P, is either true or false."

The Law of contradiction: For things: "Nothing can be both A and not-A." For propositions: "A proposition, P, can not be both true and false."


Why would these laws require the existence of the Christian god?

The claim that the existence of logic and natural law reveal that God is in control of the universe is interesting since theists also claim that miracles-the violation of natural law and logic-are also evidence for God. So which is it? It would seem any conceivable state of affairs can be appealed to as evidence for the Christian god.

Asserting that "absolute" moral standards are only possible within the context of Christian theism is a popular cry, but is not intelligible. What is an absolute standard? Is "Thou shall not murder" an absolute standard? If we mean, by "absolute standard," that "Thou shall not murder" is a perfect, unbreakable, non-negotiable rule, then this is contradicted by the God-ordained butchery of innocents found in the pages of the Bible. In fact, in the Bible, we find that the Christian god supports slavery, it slaughters infants, it repeatedly orders the massacres of women and children, and it threatens to torture billions of people for eternity simply because of their opinions. Therefore the assertion that the biblical god is necessary for an "absolute moral standard" does not appear to make a great deal of sense. (For more on Christianity and morality, go here)

To see the transcendental argument AGAINST God, go here.


Christian Martyrs

Christians will claim that since people were willing to die for their belief that Jesus was the son of God, this means that Jesus is the son of God.

No one denies that Christians have been willing to die for their beliefs. But then so have other religious believers. If a Christian is going to use this argument, he must acknowledge that Christians are not history's only martyrs. Muslims have died for their beliefs, Jews have died for their beliefs, Buddhists have died for their beliefs, Hindus have died for their beliefs. A few years ago thirty-eight cultists and their charismatic leader willingly and happily went to their deaths believing they would be raptured into a spaceship traveling behind the Hale-Bopp comet. In 1993, followers of David Koresh gave up their lives believing he was a prophet of God. In 1978, more than 900 people committed suicide/died because of their faith in the Reverend Jim Jones. Martyrdom can show devotion and conviction. It can also reveal gullibility and ignorance. It does not help us determine if a claim is true or false.

A further examination of the Christian martyr appeal can be found here and here.

The 500 witnesses

The writer Paul claims that 500 witnesses saw Jesus after he had risen from the dead. This seems impressive. Wow. 500 first-hand witnesses. The problem is that Paul's mention of this in 1 Corinthians 15:6 is not very specific as to who these people were, where they were, when they were there, and what, exactly, they were supposed to have seen. Nowhere else in the Bible are the 500 witnesses mentioned, and nowhere in history do any of these witnesses speak about what they saw. It is difficult to understand how this claim functions as evidence for Jesus' resurrection.

It should be mentioned that in 1 Corinthians 9:20, Paul admits to deceiving people to promote Christianity. It would thus seem prudent to take Paul's claims with a grain of salt.


Meaning of Life

Christians often will ask, "If there is no God, what is the purpose and meaning of life?" They assume that meaning can only be derived from God. A better question to ask is this: What meaning can possibly be derived from basing your entire life on a falsehood such as Christianity?

Of course the meaning of life question is not really an argument for God but is an emotional appeal. The following exchange illustrates the way this "question" is used.

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<< What gives life meaning? Family, friends, wealth, etc. These are the common responses of the anti-theist. Yet, what if you were to lose them? Where would meaning be found?? Within yourself? Unless we have some trancendent purpose no matter how hard we try our search for meaning will ultimatly let you down.

David A...>>

Yes, you can lose them, that's why they are so precious to have. What is more valuable, something that is rare or something that you can have anywhere, all the time, with no fear of loss? The fact that our loved ones can be taken from us, and our own lives will end someday, gives meaning to the time that you have to live, and gives value to the few moments you have to enjoy the company of others. This need for transcendence is just an unwillingness to accept mortality.

If a finite period of time is meaningless, why is an infinity of time meaningful? If my earthly life is meaningless, how does extending that out to infinity give it meaning? Infinity times zero is zero.

Duke

(from a bulletin board)
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This quote from a former Christian lays bare the hypocrisy of the theistic "meaning of life" question:

How exactly does "loving God and enjoying him forever" give meaning to life? Any satisfying secular activity can give meaning to life. Why does the Christian assume that a metaphysical meaning for life is necessary? Isn't it the Christian who imposes meaninglessness on this present life, declaring that meaning depends for its existence on the life to come? And if Christians did not believe they will live forever, would they continue to love and serve God? Isn't it really eternal life that the Christian loves, and not God?

For a great article on the meaning of life, go here.


Morality

This is a perennial favorite. It is also the most ridiculous. Christians claim that human morality can only come from their god. The big problem with this idea is that Christians cannot show that their god exists in the first place. This makes it somewhat difficult for them to demonstrate that morality comes from this god.

I have had a long e-mail discussion with a Christian on this topic and I think the conversation shows both how the morality argument is used and how it fails.

For more information on the natural basis of morality and on morality and Christianity, follow these links:

The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality the esteemed Christian apologist William Lane Craig puts forward the Christian moral argument.

No morality without the Bible? Farrell Till examines this most curious theistic notion.

Absolute morality and Christianity.

Does Morality require a God?

The Human Basis Of Laws And Ethics a must read.

Ethics Without Gods Frank Zindler explains the source of human ethics.

Morality numerous articles on Christianity and morality.

The Moral Foundations of Atheism and Christianity by Mark Vuletic.

Morality in the Bible or, to be more accurate, moral abominations in the Bible.


Pascal's Wager

Blaise Pascal (1623-62), was a French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist who is considered one of the great minds in Western intellectual history. He was also a rigid Catholic and his famous wager ought to be renamed "Buy or Fry." Pascal said that people have everything to gain and nothing to lose by believing in Catholicism, and that they have everything to lose and nothing to gain by not believing in Catholicism. So, he concluded, people should believe in Catholicism. Like the meaning of life question and the argument from authority, this provides no way of determining the truth or falsity of biblical claims. It is just the bribe of eternal life and the threat of eternal hellfire, dressed up to look respectable.

In any case, it is not true that people lose nothing by believing in Catholicism, or one of the other 20,000 varieties of Christianity. If Christianity is false, as it surely seems to be, it wastes precious time, money and energy. If it is false, it inculcates guilt, bigotry, fear, intolerance, delusional thinking and all manner of psychological problems for absolutely nothing. Additionally, if you accept Christianity and some other religion turned out to be true instead, you would go to its version of hell. Indeed, if we were to follow this wager to its logical end, we should just pick the religion with the worst hell, or believe in every religion at the same time so that all the bases were covered. This points up the most glaring problem with Pascal's Wager: A person cannot genuinely accept religious claims based on a cost/benefit analysis.

I get downright gleeful when someone tells me he's just making a rational bet that there is an eternal life. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Me: I love Pascal's Wager. It's such a craven argument.

Christian: What do you mean?

Me: Basically it says your belief isn't very sincere, that you only believe because you expect this huge reward. I can't think of a worse reason to believe in something.

This usually ends that exchange.

From the June 1999 feedback section of the Secular Web.


Most people believe in God

At one time most people believed that the earth was flat. This is called the argumentum ad populum fallacy. Even if everyone on the planet believed in the Christian god (most people are not Christian), this would not show that the Christian god exists. It doesn't matter how many people believe in a claim, what matters are the reasons why they believe.


Einstein believed in God

This is the so-called argument from authority. A respected, intelligent person is said to believe in a claim and this is supposed to give the claim legitimacy. This is merely a persuasive technique, not a reasoned argument. It is a reliance on "authority" rather than explanation. In any case the argument from authority cancels itself out. While there are many intelligent people with several academic degrees who proclaim that a god exists, there are also many intelligent people with several academic degrees who say that a god does not exist.

The question of whether a god exists, or whether Jesus rose from the dead and is the son of a god, or whether every animal on the planet was shoe-horned into a wooden boat for 200 days 6000 years ago, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, is not decided by how many people weigh in on one side of the issue or how many years they spent in college. It is decided by facts and reasoning.

By the way, Einstein was not a theist. He said, "I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls." (5)


Hitler was an atheist

Based on his words, Hitler was a Christian. Even if he was an atheist, this wouldn't somehow make Christianity true. This claim is little more than a ham-fisted, Bible-inspired debating tactic-the association of atheism with evil. It is an exceedingly hypocritical ploy because the Holocaust followed centuries of anti-semitism and pogroms instigated by the Bible and the Church, which labeled the Jews the murderers of Christ.

Christians who make this claim about Hitler need to be asked what they think the eternal fate of the Jews is. According to Christian theology, all the Jews who suffered and died during the Holocaust are now or will someday feed the fires of hell. Doesn't this make the god that Christians worship worse than Hitler?

Theists will say that Stalin and Mao were atheists as well. Maybe they were. So what? It is very likely that Hitler, Stalin and Mao did not believe in leprechauns. This would make them aleprechaunists, people without a belief in leprechauns. Would these mass-murderers' aleprechaunism prove that leprechauns exist? No. Does this show that aleprechaunism is evil? No, it does not. Now, do Christians believe in leprechauns? No. So Christians are aleprechaunists, just like Hitler, Stalin and Mao were.

Frightening, isn't it?

Some interesting articles on Hitler and Christianity can be found here and here.


Faith

I have made an interesting discovery-I've found that if you discuss Christianity with a believer long enough to demonstrate that all the arguments he uses are invalid, he will most often say that, well, he just believes on faith anyway. What does this mean? Believing on faith means believing because you believe. Read that last sentence again: I didn't leave anything out. Needless to say, this is not very impressive.

For a more detailed discussion of Christian faith, go here.

To see a few of the underlying psychological elements which compel Christian belief, go here.


Universal Skepticism

This is the doctrine that we must doubt every knowledge claim because human beings are fallible and nothing can be known with "100%" certainty. Christians often become universal skeptics when they encounter knowledge claims that they do not like. For example, if an atheist claims that the Christian god is impossible, a Christian may reply that this is an absolute statement that requires "infallible knowledge." The atheist, of course, will point out that this is a strawman, that it is not necessary to have "infallible knowledge" to say that logical contradictions are impossible-and will then demonstrate that the qualities that are attributed to the Christian god are mutually contradictory. At this point, the Christian may claim that the atheist can't know with "100% certainty" what God's qualities really are, or what particular words really mean, or whether contradictions are really contradictions, or what reality ultimately is, etc., ad nauseum. In short, a Christian will appeal to human fallibility in an effort to neutralize any knowledge claim that conflicts with his belief system.

The main problem with universal skepticism, of course, is that it is self-refuting:

Skeptics either have valid reasons for their universal doubting, or they have no valid reasons for it. lf they have valid reasons, they surely know something that is valid, and they no longer are real skeptics. If they have no valid reasons, they have no reason to doubt. In the first case their position is inconsistent, and in the second case their position is irrational. Whichever way they turn, their position is untenable.

C. N. Bittle

This extended excerpt from the book Atheism: The Case Against God details the myriad problems with this doctrine.



Constructing a logical argument from the Secular Web.
Refuting God former minister Dan Barker lets the air out of theistic arguments.
a collection of atheist arguments from the Secular Web.
a few theistic claims examined-from the internet infidels.




Bibliography
1. Thermodynamics, Microsoft (R) Encarta. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation.

2. Michael Martin, The Case Against Christianity, 1991, Temple University Press, Philadelphia.

3. G.A. Wells, Who Was Jesus? 1989, Open Court, La Salle, Illinois.

4. Dan Barker, Losing Faith In Faith, 1992, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin.

5. Albert Einstein, The World as I See It, 1949, Philosophical Library, New York.

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