to improve the argument for unbelief.
of mind, of pride, courage, freedom,...hatred of the sense, of the joy
of the senses, of joy in general is Christian."
might be a good thing if anyone ever tried it."
There are two characteristics
within the typical writings of atheists and agnostics that always flag a
believer's attention. Such weaknesses within the position of unbelief tend
to draw avoidable fire during discussions with believers and distract from
the core issue of the gospel.
If nonbelievers would correct these, it might improve the dialogue between
the two sides.
1. The first weakness in the position of unbelief is its inability to provide
a consistent and coherent alternative to the biblical worldview.
On one hand, nonbelievers
can claim the defense attorney analogy and say that discovering the correct
analysis of "life, the universe, and everything" is simply not
their job. Many do, some effectively, but end up being predisposed to any
or all beliefs, even contradictory ones, as long as the beliefs do not involve
God. For some, just arousing the possibility of doubt about God's existence
is sufficient to reject belief.
Doubt, however, can
also exist about secular alternatives to the biblical worldview. For example,
there are doubts even among nonbelievers as to the exact answer to the question
origin. When pressed on the subject of a preferred theory, a nonbeliever
A. Support evolution
along the lines that Charles Darwin suggested (Darwinism),
and doubt modern variations of that theory, or...
B. Endorse the revisions
to Darwinism suggested by genetics (neo-Darwinism),
and doubt Darwin's initial assessment, or...
C. Prefer the modifications
Gould and Eldridge suggested (punctuated
equilibria), and doubt classic Darwinism, or...
D. Adopt a theory
along the lines Crick and Orgel suggested (directed
panspermia), and doubt all previous theories, or...
E. Go with Hoyle and
to that, and doubt Crick's directed panspermia, etc., etc.
The point is that nonbelievers
cannot reject propositions about God solely because "those can
be doubted", and yet accept propositions of atheism when each
of those can be doubted as well. Mere doubt is insufficient grounds to reject
Furthermore, an unbeliever
dedicated to winning an argument with a believer is likely to internally
favor any or all of these theories over the possibility that God was involved
in any uncomfortably direct fashion. But to either embrace or favor contradictory
theories only so long as they are atheistic is being neither logical nor
true to scientific method; and it is only on logic and scientific method
so many atheists claim to stand when they say there is no God. This is philosophically
inconsistent, and is not a tenable position from which an unbeliever should
expect to win either converts or arguments.
2. The second weakness in the position of unbelief is that proponents cannot
seem to get their accusations straight against believers. The quotes
at the top of this page by two nonbelievers are an example: is Christianity
supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?
Inconsistency in accusations
makes it difficult for believers to know exactly what nonbelievers really
object to, and to what exactly they should respond. It also makes nonbelievers
appear confused or dishonest in their reasoning. Here,
from various sources, are examples of the conflicting accusations or contradictory
pairings I'm talking about:
- The denial that Jesus
even existed...AND assertions that he was actually the bastard son of
a Roman soldier.
- Statements criticizing
Jesus' "vile moral commandments"...AND claims that nonbelievers are upholding
them more faithfully than believers.
- Proclamations that
the Bible contains numerous accounts of sex, lies, wars, and power struggles...AND
complaints that the Bible isn't realistic in it's portrayal of human history.
- Claims that the
God-given biblical teachings are but a crutch for the weak and oppressed...AND
the accusation that God has provided nothing for the weak and oppressed.
- Assertions that
the Bible has no relevance and doesn't relate to anything today...AND
complaints that the Bible is sticking it's nose into issues where it doesn't
- Claims that the
message of the cross is unrealistically hopeful and falsely liberating...AND
claims that the message of the cross is overly guilt-ridden and cruelly
- One portrayal of
the average Christian as a smiley-faced simpleton...AND the portrayal
of the average Christian as a scheming, sour-faced killjoy.
- Authors expounding
that Christians don't fully enjoy life like unbelievers...AND expounding
that life is utterly pointless and is nothing but a tragedy to be endured.
- Accusations that
Christians don't think or reason...AND pages upon pages of articles dissecting
and arguing with Christians' thinking and reasoning.
- Statements claiming
that believers refuse to believe the real truth about the Bible...AND
declarations that there is no such thing as truth, or that truth is relative.
- Assertions that
modern theology is bad because it's structured and systematized...AND
assertions that modern science is good because it's structured and systematized.
(So skeptics who hate organized religion equally hate organized science?)
- Concern voiced that
sentences in articles by nonbelievers are being taken out of context...AND
absolutely no concern voiced where a three or four-word verse fragment
is being used to judge the entire 800,000+ word Bible.
to unbelievers: Be
sure to get your story straight about what you believe and to what you object.
You have the right to be heard, but also the obligation to be honest and
What is truth?
God, evidence, and atheists