Aron Ra & 10 Bad Arguments for Atheism

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

|

November 9, 2015

It never ceases to amaze me how many internet atheists go to extreme, ignorant, and incoherent lengths to hold on to their faith in atheism. This is astonishing given all the evidence pointing out their worldview is probably false. Contrary to what you may read from atheists on social media today, we are living in a time when atheism is actually in retreat in academia.

The atheistic philosopher, Quentin Smith, of the University of Western Michigan laments “the desecularization of academia that evolved in philosophy departments since the late 1960s.” He goes on to describe all of the “intelligent and talented theists entering academia today.” Smith declares, “God is not ‘dead’ in academia; he returned to life in the late 1960s and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments.” The percentage of academic philosophers (those trained in logic) affirming not just theism, but Christian theism, is growing rapidly today. However, if one simply gets their education via YouTube and Wikipedia, they might never be exposed to top-tier academic rigor, and they will probably not be aware of this growing percentage of academic Christians.

Although academic theists are increasing in number, uneducated internet atheists are multiplying like cockroaches! Since most of the population today does not have access to graduate level studies in philosophy, metaphysics, and logic, our culture is being inundated and “educated” by internet atheists with bad arguments (for example: here and here). These arguments might look good to a young impressionable mind with no education in logic; however, with a little bit of training, one can see how flawed these arguments raised against the knowledge of God are.

Aron Ra is one such internet atheist who has been spreading bad arguments like a virus. Ra recently interacted with an article in which Professor John Lennox was interviewed. Ra has entitled his website, “Reason Advocates.” Let’s see if he lives up to the name. Before this specific article even begins, the subtitle of his website raises questions: “If you can’t show it, you don’t know it.”

What does Ra mean by this? Does he mean that if one cannot empirically verify or scientifically validate a certain proposition, then we cannot possess knowledge of the proposition? Does he mean that science is the only way to know things? If so, that very proposition is a statement that cannot be known via the scientific method or empirical verification. It’s simply a faith-based assumption (blind-faith) that one cannot know. Therefore, the statement “science is the only way to know,” is actually proof that the statement is false. It therefore ought to be rejected by any advocate of reason.

Now, if Ra means that if one cannot possess knowledge of a certain proposition without logical justification, then he and I are on the same page. I invite Ra and all advocates of reason to join me on a journey to follow logic wherever it leads.

The blog in question was published August 28th of 2015, and is entitled, “What do atheists think?” He mentions that his intent in writing this blog is to reach “religious believers.” It seems as Ra is attempting to be an “evangelist” of atheism.

Professor John Lennox offered some quick responses to some common claims from atheists. I will post Lennox’s words and Ra’s objections. I will then offer defeaters to Ra’s bad arguments. Lennox stated the first bad atheist argument is this:

1- You don’t believe in Zeus, Thor and all the other gods. I just go one god more than you, and reject the Christian God.

Lennox stated, “The problem with this idea is that ‘gods’ such as Zeus and Thor are not comparable with the biblical understanding of God. There is a vast distinction between all of the Ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible… They are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. The God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth.”

Ra responds: “There is no significant difference between the Bible god and the previous near-eastern deities it was apparently based on. All the gods of every religion are magical anthropomorphic immortals, and the characters of ethnospecific folklore.”

Ra doesn’t understand what the Bible teaches about God and goes on to unintentionally underscore the point Lennox was making. The Bible is clear that God is not made of matter: “God is spirit” (John 4:24) and even if the Bible didn’t make this clear, it would logically follow. According to verses like Genesis 1:1 and Colossians 1:16, God created all nature (including matter), therefore — logically speaking — God would be something other than nature. This is what philosophers call “supernatural.”

Thus, the immaterial and supernatural God of the Bible is completely different than these “anthropomorphic characters” Ra is incorrectly equating Him with.

This is supported by both logic and science. According to the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin Theorem of 2003, all nature had to have had an absolute beginning (even if the multiverse hypothesis were true). Since everything that begins to exist always has a cause, whatever caused nature to come into existence logically had to have been something other than nature. The cause of nature had to have been super natural! If a “reason advocate” lives up to their name, they will follow science and logic to conclude the Bible got this right!

Ra goes on to commit a logical fallacy: “Just as Christianity grew out of Judaism, Judaism evolved from Semitic polytheism, mixed with the influences of Hellenist, Egyptian, and Zoroastrian mythos.”

What Ra is attempting to do is assert that God did not create man, but rather, man invented (the idea of) God. Therefore, he thinks, atheism is true. However, this is a grotesque example of a logical error known as the genetic fallacy.

The truth or falsity of a proposition is independent of how or why someone came to believe the proposition. Even if Ra was correct that the idea of God evolved from other ideas of gods, it does absolutely nothing to refute the scientific data and the logical evidence we have that points to the fact that God probably does exist and to the historical evidence demonstrating Jesus rose from the dead. The origin of one’s belief does not invalidate the truth of the proposition. One can have a true belief without proper warrant. Although this would not be a knowledge claim, it does not logically lead to the conclusion that the proposition in question is false.

Ra’s objection is based on a logical fallacy and any argument based on a fallacy is no argument at all. For a self-proclaimed “advocate of reason,” he is not appealing to reason to make his case.

Ra continues his rant: “Krishna was a Christ-like figure, credited with much more than Jesus ever was. The same goes for other gods too. Krishna gave sight to the blind, and Dionysus turned water into wine more than half a millennia before the alleged time of Jesus.  There are so many parallels between all these religions, that Jesus’ biography reads like a compilation of elder legends attributed to older gods, and the Old Testament reads the same way.”

Ra is falling prey to what I call the fallacy of parallels. Let me explain:

Internet atheists love espousing popular bumper sticker slogans like, “Christianity has pagan roots.” I have heard so often recently that the story of Jesus being the Son of God and His resurrection is plagiarized from Egyptian mythological pagan “gods” such as Adonis, Mithras, Osiris, and Attis to name a few.

This supposed challenge to the historicity of Jesus (and His resurrection) fails for several reasons. First of all, there are far more differences between Christianity and these mysterious stories of pagan religions than any similarities offered. For instance, it is purported that the pagan god Osiris was a dying and rising god, and that Christianity is a “copy cat” religion based on Osiris’ resurrection from the dead.[1] At first glance this appears to be troublesome, but when examining these stories with more scrutiny, the differences become glaring.

Osiris, it is told, was murdered by his brother, and then his body was torn into fourteen pieces and scattered all across Egypt. Then, the story goes, that Osiris’ wife, Isis, found thirteen of the fourteen pieces of his body, revived him (quite different than a resurrection), and then went on to make him “god of the underworld.” This is nothing like the historical story that Jesus voluntarily went to the cross, which defeated and destroyed sin, so that through His atonement we as humans could be reconciled with the Creator of the universe, and then three days later, Jesus rose from the dead in whole, and in a powerful, glorified body that we as Christians can also look forward to one day. The story the Bible teaches as historical fact seems quite original when compared to these mythical pagan stories.

Moreover, as Sean McDowell wrote in an article entitled Is Christianity a Copycat Religion,[2] “parallels prove nothing.” He goes on to write about a British ocean liner that could carry 3,000 passengers, had a top cruising speed of twenty-four knots, and had an inadequate number of lifeboats. This gigantic ocean liner hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage, tore a hole in the side of the ship, and sank along with 2,000 passengers.

Most of us immediately jump to the conclusion that this must be the story we read about in our history books regarding the Titanic, but we would all be mistaken. McDowell was describing the Titan, a fictional ship described in Morgan Robertson’s book, Wreck of the Titan (Buccaneer Books, Cutchogue, New York, 1898). This fictional story was written fourteen years before the sinking of the Titanic actually occurred. While the resemblance between the two accounts is eye opening, the fictional “Titan” is irrelevant to the historical evidence that the Titanic was, in fact, a real ocean liner that sank in the Atlantic after colliding with an iceberg. Similarly, even if pagan myths did exist that were comparable to the Gospel records, and before the time of Christ, this would not undermine the historical evidence for Jesus’ miraculous life, death, and resurrection. “Parallels alone are inconclusive.”[4]

Ra complains: “Every trivial element of Genesis already existed in much older works that were written by the grandfathers of the Biblical authors.  So there is nothing unique or original about western monotheism, and no distinction whatever between the gods of ancient or modern mythology.”

Again, Aron, even for the sake of argument, if we granted your objection, it would not follow that God does not exist, nor that the resurrection of Jesus was not a real event of history. Your objection has no teeth in its bite.

Lennox addressed the next common internet atheist rhetoric:

2- Science has explained everything, and it doesn’t include God.

Lennox stated, “God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with the law of internal combustion as an explanation of the motor car.”

Ra responded: “There is no question that science can’t answer but that religion can.”

I’ve got to stop Aron right there. Let’s be good advocates of reason and restate his statement accordingly: “There are questions that science cannot answer, but that logic can.”

Now, if a certain religion happens to coincide with the logical evidence, then we would have a religion that can logically answer questions in which science is impotent to even discuss.

Ra makes a case for subjective morality: “Ethics, for example, can be explained by required criteria and its value in any or every society. The same goes for morality. There are reasons why some action or choice is considered moral or immoral, and knowledge of those reasons shows God to be immoral or unethical by comparison.”

This statement is ignorant for several reasons. First, Ra is rejecting objective moral values and duties and appealing to the majority vote and subjective opinions of a society. Thus, Ra’s position is that there is nothing objectively immoral or unethical in any sense. However, then Ra claims that God is immoral or unethical by comparison. If Ra thinks morality is simply subjective, then it’s just his personal preference. If he claims that God is objectively immoral or unethical, and therefore, God doesn’t exist, Ra would be making another self-defeating statement proving that God exists. As a self-proclaimed “advocate of reason,” Ra should appreciate this logic-based argument making my point:

1- If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2- Evil exists (some things are really immoral and unethical)

3- Therefore, objective moral values and duties exist.

4- Therefore, God exists.

Ra switches gears and said, “. . . if we ever do discover the cause of the big bang, or some better explanation for the origin of life, the universe, and everything, it too will be a wealth of new information with practical application, and so advanced that will render our previous belief in gods, ghosts, and magic just as laughably silly as every other field of study so far has already shown.”

As I mentioned above, there are some things that we can possess knowledge of simply by adhering to the laws of logic and the rules of reason. Moreover, there are some questions that science is impotent to even discuss. Science has demonstrated that scientifically testable and discoverable things had a “mother of all beginnings.” Therefore, it logically follows that the cause of scientifically discoverable things is not scientifically testable or discoverable. A scientist is simply in the wrong field to discuss this topic at this point. They are simply in the wrong field and have just as much authority to discuss these questions as plumbers. If Ra does not understand this, he loses all rights to label himself as an “advocate of reason.”

Ra says, “Every question that has ever been answered was answered by scientific methodology, philosophy and epistemology.”

This statement is confusing as I cannot tell if he means scientifically methodology and scientific philosophy, and scientific epistemology, or if he is saying in addition to scientific methodology we can also answer questions using philosophy and epistemology (the laws of logic). If it’s the former, he is clearly wrong, if it’s the later, I’ll say, Amen to that!

However, Ra goes on to say, “Religion only pretends to answer anything, and all of its answers are either incorrect, inconsistent, incoherent, or all of the above.”

Again, as I said above, if a religious claim is not only logical but corresponds with reality, then the religion is making true claims. For example, if a specific religion claims that the cause of all nature is “spirit,” then the religion in question would be making a logically coherent claim and thus, at least possibly true. In fact, if “spirit” means “other than nature,” then this religious claim must be true!

Ra doesn’t realize this and erroneously claims: “Every claim any religion makes falls into one of two categories, not evidently true, or evidently not true. There is nothing any religion can actually show that they honestly know, because none of their beliefs are evidently true. That’s why I always say that science doesn’t know everything, but religion doesn’t know anything.”

Really, Ra? What about the claim I just mentioned? The specific religion of Christianity claims that the cause of all nature is other than nature (spirit). This is a religious claim that is not only logically coherent, but it must be true (unless you want to claim that nature existed before nature existed). Christianity obviously is making a coherent and true claim. The Christian, therefore, KNOWS what they are talking about. This statement is “evidently true.” Therefore, your claim is false and must be rejected by any advocate of reason.

Professor John Lennox pointed out a common atheistic mantra:

3- Science is opposed to God.

Lennox said, “If we’re being offered a choice between science and god… it is not a biblical concept of god. . . Among many leading [atheistic] thinkers, their idea of god is thoroughly pagan. If you define god to be a god of the gaps, then you have got to offer a choice between science and god.”

Aron Ra responds: “Science isn’t necessarily opposed to gods, ghosts, or evil spirits; only to the faith required to believe in such things, because faith is the opposite of science and is opposed to science.”

That might be the most ignorant thing I’ve ever read in my life! Scientists exert faith every day when employing inference to the best explanation. Science is in the business of disproving certain hypothesis; however, science does not prove things to be true. Therefore, a scientist makes reasonable inferences that are probably true. It follows, then, that if a scientist acts according to a hypothesis they think is probably true, they are exerting a Reasonable Faith (a.k.a., an inference to the best explanation).

There is no conflict between God and science. Think about it: God is the creator of nature and science is the study of nature. What’s the big deal?

Ra exclaims: “ . . . miracles [are] inexplicable by science, because they defy the laws of physics.  That means they’re physically impossible, and can only be believed on faith.”

It’s important for any self-proclaimed “advocate of reason” to think logically here: Miracles are not logically impossible; they are simply naturally impossible unless a supernatural being interacts with nature. So, Aron, is correct in that miracles are physically impossible (left to nature’s own devices); however, if a being that created nature chooses to act within his creation, then a miracle occurs. Moreover, miracles can be inferred via logic and an inference to the best explanation.

Moreover, if Ra wants to hold the position that it is logically impossible for a supernatural substance to interact with the physical world, then he will ultimately be denying that he possesses knowledge of anything! I refer you to my “Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism.”

Ra said, “The only value any claim can have is in how accurate it can be shown to be. If you can’t show that it’s true at all, then it has no value at all.  It is just an empty assertion of blind speculation, unworthy of serious consideration.  If you have to believe it on faith, then you have no reason to believe it at all; and having no reason to believe something is a pretty good reason not to believe it.”

This is too easy! Given Ra’s own claim he must reject atheism! Atheists claim that God does not exist. Can Ra show that to be true? The claim, “atheism is true,” is nothing but an empty assertion of blind speculation, unworthy of serious consideration that Ra and all self-professing atheists must believe on blind faith! At least Christians have a Reasonable Faith.

Ra stated: “Science isn’t concerned with ‘belief’, but knowledge, what you can show to be true . . . So it doesn’t matter what you believe; all that matters is why you believe it.”

Knowledge is defined as justified true belief. Therefore, since belief is a key ingredient of knowledge, if science is concerned with knowledge, it logically follows that it is also concerned with belief.

Although Ra is making many elementary mistakes, he does make one point that I agree with: we should not just know what we believe, we also need to know WHY we believe it. Sadly, most churchgoers today cannot explain why they believe what they profess to believe. However, although that is the case for the majority of Christians in the world today, it would be a hasty generalization to state that this is the case for all Christians. I for one take great pleasure in having logic-based discussion with anyone wanting to know exactly what I believe and why I believe it. Aron Ra and his disciples don’t know why they believe atheism is true, or at least they are demonstrating that they don’t have good reasons to put their faith in atheism.

The next atheistic mantra pointed out by Lennox is this:

4- You can’t prove that there is a God.

The original article stated: “This kind of statement ignores that there are different kinds of ‘proof’.” Lennox said, “Can you prove that there is a God? In the mathematical sense no, but proving anything is very difficult. The word proof has two meanings. There’s the rigorous meaning in maths that is very difficult to do and rare. But then there’s the other meaning – beyond reasonable doubt.”

The cumulative case of evidence utilizing logic, science, metaphysics, and the historical method all demonstrate that God exists with extremely high degrees of certainty. After examining all the data, it seems that it requires more faith to reject theism that it does to be a Christian.

Ra says, “With religion, you start with reasonable doubt, or rather you should.  The default position is the null set, a lack of belief until you become convinced.”

My questions for Aron are the following: Why not start with neutrality to avoid bias? Why not start with the question: Is there more to reality than what can be empirically observed or scientifically tested? From that point, we can engage in logic and follow reason wherever it leads. After examining all of the cumulative case of evidence it becomes reasonable to infer that the best explanation of all the data is theism.

Moreover, what data does the atheist possess that demonstrates that God does not exist? Oh yeah, it is simply a statement believed on blind faith and blind faith alone!

Ra said: “People can present evidence and arguments to try and convince you, but what can they say in this case?  None of their arguments are rational; they require faith, which is the very definition of irrational.”

Ra is oblivious to the faith that he is exerting to hold to his incoherent atheistic affirmations. Moreover, if the inference to the best explanation (faith) is the “very definition of irrational,” then he is flushing science down the toilet! Let’s talk about rationality and examine one of my favorite logic-based arguments leading to three deductive conclusions and one abductive conclusion based on the inference to the best explanation of the data. I referred to it earlier; I call it the Freethinking Argument Against Naturalism.” It goes as follows:

1- If naturalism is true, the immaterial human soul does not exist.

2- If the soul does not exist, libertarian free will does not exist.

3- If libertarian free will does not exist, rationality and knowledge do not exist.

4- Rationality and knowledge exist.

5- Therefore, libertarian free will exists.

6- Therefore, the soul exists.

7- Therefore, naturalism is false.

8- The best explanation for the existence of the soul is God.

What Ra doesn’t comprehend is that according to atheistic naturalism, the process of rationality is nothing but an illusion. Therefore, if one affirms that naturalism is the rational position to hold, this worldview is self-refuting and true advocates of reason ought to reject it.

Ra continues to chant: “ . . . there is no proof of God, because there isn’t even evidence of God, and not one compelling argument for such a thing either.  Logical fallacies are all there are.”

I hate to beat a dead horse, but it is Ra that has been demonstrating that his atheistic and naturalistic worldview is suffused with logical incoherence and based on logical fallacies. Again, any argument based on a logical fallacy is no argument at all. Moreover, he ignores the cumulative case of logic based arguments, many of which are supported by scientific data, which are quite compelling for theism.

Ra says, “I’ve been engaged in this topic continuously for decades, but all the subjective anecdotal impressions I’ve ever heard still wouldn’t be indicative even if they were true, and they’re clearly not true.  Almost the entirety of apologetics is simply lies.”

Make no mistake, Aron Ra is an apologist! He is simply an apologist for atheism. Apologia is simply Greek for “defense.” Therefore, anyone who argues for a certain worldview is an apologist. I have demonstrated – not simply asserted – the mistakes Ra makes. Therefore, I have advocated reason to demonstrate that Ra’s brand of apologetics is either based on ignorance or “simply lies.”

Ra helps make my point with the following statement: “Remember that a lie is misinformation, or information misrepresented, with deliberate intent to deceive.”

He goes on to imply that making an inference to the best explanation is “oxymoronic,” and stated: “In his oxymoronic book, ‘Reasonable Faith’, William Lane Craig says that no one rejects Christianity because of intellectual difficulties or a lack of evidence, but that is one of the reasons most ex-Christians cite when they no longer believe . . . [this has] NEVER been true in ANY case. This claim is absolutely false, and Craig knows that it is.”

Ra did not directly quote Dr. Craig so I don’t know if this is an accurate representation of his exact words. I do know that Craig has demonstrated that most committed atheists simply offer emotional reasons against God but they disguise them as intellectual.

Ra continues: “Citing blatant liars like William Lane Craig does no good to anyone trying to defend religious beliefs they have mistaken for truth.”

Ra simply asserts that William Lane Craig is a liar with no evidence and then ignores the fact that Craig uses the laws of logic, scientific data, and the historical method to confirm certain truth claims. Some of these truth claims also happen to be affirmed by Christianity.

Lennox offered another common atheistic mishap:

5- Faith is believing without any evidence.

Professor Lennox said, “This definition is in the dictionary and believed by many. So, when we talk about faith in Christ, they think that’s because there’s no evidence. Christianity is an evidence-based faith.”

Ra retorts: “At best, the Christian gospels are hearsay.  At worst, it’s propaganda. In neither case is it evidence.”

Really? How does Ra know this? Even if the Gospels didn’t exist we could still know several things regarding Jesus via the historical method alone. These historical facts happen to be affirmed in all four Gospels. Michael R. Licona has demonstrated that we don’t even have to touch the Gospels to come to the historical conclusion that Jesus rose from the dead via the historical method alone. Since this is the main point of the Gospels, it seems to be a hasty generalization for Ra to assert the Gospels are nothing but hearsay or propaganda. The historical method supports the Gospels without presupposing the Gospels. This is powerful reason to trust – put one’s faith in – the Gospels!

Ra grumbles: “Christian faith criticizes doubters, praising instead those who have NOT seen and yet believed; believing things hoped for, but not seen, looking at things that are not seen, and not seeing what is seen; a circular argument routing back to an assumed conclusion. Faith is, and always has been a belief that is held independent of evidence, and which must not change because of evidence.”

Ra seems to be advocating the logically self-refuting view of empiricism here, but the passage of scripture he is referring to isn’t based on circular reasoning. One cannot “see” the risen Jesus, yet can utilize the historical method to logically conclude Jesus probably rose from the dead. Therefore, one does not need to empirically validate or “see” the risen Jesus, but can rationally affirm the inference to the best explanation of all the data is that Jesus rose from the dead. This would be a reasonable faith and the Bible suggests that those with this kind of faith are blessed.

Ra continues his rant: “Note that there is not one objectively verifiable fact that is either positively indicative of any religious belief, or exclusively concordant with them, or that isn’t better explained without any reference to them.”

Let’s get back to the Biblical claim that nature began to exist out of nothing. This claim was rejected by non-theists for ages, but big bang cosmology finally caught up with what the Bible has made clear for thousands of years. Moreover, Paul argues that we have the freedom to take our thoughts captive (2 Cor 10:5) before they take us (Col 2:8). Moreover, in Romans 12:2, Paul states that we can be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” (the way we freely choose to think actually transforms us). Atheistic naturalists exclaim that free will does not exist and that all things are causally determined via the laws of nature – including our thoughts! Science has finally caught up with what Paul has been saying for two thousand years via self-directed neuroplasticity. This research out of UCLA has confirmed that the way we freely choose to think actually transforms our brain structure. Science has validated that Paul’s “religious claims” were on to something!

Lennox offered another atheistic objection:

6- Faith is a delusion. I’d no more believe in God than I would in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Lennox pointed out: “Statements by scientists are not always statements of science.” For example, Lennox stated, “Stephen Hawking said, “religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”. I said, “atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light.”

Lennox goes on to say, “Neither of those statements proves anything at all. They’re all reversible. What lies behind all these delusion claims is the Freudian idea of wish fulfillment [that we believe what we hope to be true.] This works brilliantly providing there is no god. But if there is a god, then atheism is wish fulfillment.”

Ra responds: “One of the most dishonest tactics of apologists is the lies of equivocation, and trying to project their own faults onto the opposition, as if religion is scientific, or as if science requires faith.”

I need to remind Ra that a reasonable faith is nothing more than an inference to the best explanation. Moreover, there is ample scientific data that strengthens premises in philosophical arguments which lead to logical conclusions with theistic implications or supernatural significance. What scientific evidence does Ra have that God does not exist? All Ra is left with is question-begging assumptions and any argument based on a logical fallacy is no argument at all.

Ra incorrectly asserts: “Atheism wishes for nothing, and has nothing to wish for, but I have multiple examples of believers admitting in one way or another that they’ll only believe what they want to believe, simply because they want to believe that, and they’ll continue to believe that even if it is proven false.”

This seems to be the very boat that Ra is in but he does not want to admit it. Atheists sure wish (and hope) that God does not exist. Moreover, they hope that hell is nothing but a fairy tale. Atheists hope that once their bodies die, that there is no soul that continues to live. Atheists hope for — and wish — that life ends at the grave. If they are wrong (and the evidence points that they probably are), they will have eternity to think about it.

Ra says: “I even have examples of Christians admitting that they believe things they know can’t be true, and they don’t want to know if it’s true or not.”

This is not my view! I’m sure there are many uneducated Christians who might feel this way, but Ra commits a hasty generalization (another logical fallacy) by trying to paint all Christians with the same broad brushstroke. “I’ve even seen a sermon,” Ra proclaims, “where a Christian minister that I knew admitted to his congregation that Christian faith is a delusion by definition because it is a persistent false belief that does not change despite evidence to the contrary.”

I know I speak for many Christ followers when I say that this is not my brand of Christianity! I confidently contend there is not one belief I possess which is logically incoherent. Some of my beliefs in the past have been challenged, and based on logic and science, I have changed a few of my beliefs under the umbrella of Christianity. Be that as it may, the Christian umbrella has grown stronger through this process.

Lennox referenced this common claim:

7- Christianity claims to be true, but there loads of denominations and they all disagree with each other, so it must be false.

The original article offered a great point in response: “Why does the existence of denominations imply Christianity is false? It might imply that Christians have very different personalities and cultures – or even that Christians aren’t good at getting on with each other – but not that Christianity isn’t true.”

Lennox said, “There are all kinds of different kinds of teams in football, but they all play football.”

Ra reacts, “Christians may be Unitarian, Binatarian, or Trinitarian.  There is not one facet of Christian dogma that all Christians agree on.”

What does Ra think this logically implies? I know of Ph.D. scientists who reject the physical world and even atheistic scientists that reject biological evolution as an explanation of primate complexity. Does it logically follow that science must be false? Of course not!

We have evidence that God exists and for the resurrection of Jesus. If the proposition, “God raised Jesus from the dead,” is true, then it logically follows that “Mere Christianity” (as C.S. Lewis phrased it) is true. Christians can argue about the fine-points of doctrine – and believe me I love to engage in these arguments – but at the end of the day, we still agree that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Ra roars, “Show me one aspect of Christian theism that every Christian agrees on!”

I just offered it above, Aron: “God raised Jesus from the dead.” If one rejects this proposition, they are just as much a Christian as I am an atheist.

Lennox brought up the eighth common objection to Christianity:

8- The Bible is immoral.

Lennox points out that atheists (like Aron Ra and Richard Dawkins) say, “Faith is evil. But at the same time [they] abolish the categories of good and evil. That doesn’t make sense.”

Ra counters: “Lennox obviously has no idea what he’s talking about, nor did he understand what he read. Dawkins was correct about the universe having no evil or good.  These are concepts applied only by people, but people do apply them.”

According to Dawkins and Ra, there is nothing really or objectively wrong, bad, or evil with the actions of Stalin, Pol Pot, Mau, Ted Bundy, Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, the KKK, or ISIS. Ra might have a personal preference that happens to be different than some of these folks (I don’t know him personally), but since he affirms atheism, I do KNOW that Ra does not think their actions are really wrong in an objective sense. Christians, on the other hand, believe that, racism, kidnapping, rape, murder, and cannibalism are all objectively evil.

Ra goes on to quote a soap opera actor as an authority on the topic: “A particular action or choice is moral or right if it somehow promotes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow minimizes unnecessary harm or suffering or both.  A particular action or choice is immoral or wrong if it somehow diminishes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow causes unnecessary harm or suffering or both.”

What Ra and this day-time actor do not realize is that they fail to address the deeper issue: Is promoting happiness, well-being, and health OBJECTIVELY good? Is it objectively evil to deny a human this kind of prosperity? Is it objectively good to minimize human suffering and harm? Is it objectively wrong to maximize suffering and harm? I made this case clear in my article entitled, “An Ought from an Is.”

Ra adds, “These are universally applicable to every society on earth, and the Bible utterly fails by contrast . . . God is supposed to be an objective moral authority, but he’s entirely SUBjective . . . One minute he says “thou shalt not kill” and on the next page, he says “Kill every man and his brother”.  The Bible is not any kind of moral guide, and anyone who actually does everything the Bible commands would be a criminal in every country on this planet.”

First of all, if Ra had a proper understanding of the Law of Christ, he would see that the Jesus commands all people to love their neighbor as themselves (Matt 22:39) and to even love their enemies (Luke 6:27-36)! Jesus commands all people to love all people! Who doesn’t want to live in a world where everyone actually followed Jesus’ great command?

Ra is uninformed regarding Divine Command Theory and why it is not objectively wrong for God to give commands to perform a specific action that would be objectively wrong apart from such a command. Ra’s objection is akin to one complaining that the government is hypocritical by commanding that we drive the speed limit, yet they teach ambulance drivers how to drive faster than the speed limit in certain scenarios. Moreover, this is like complaining that the government commands people not to kill people, yet Obama is a horrible president because he ordered the Navy SEAL to shoot and kill Osama Bin Laden.

Killing another human being is always wrong, unless a higher authority with superior knowledge of the situation issues the order to pull the trigger. This is why Aron Ra cannot coherently condemn God — or Obama — in these situations.

For more regarding this and related issues, please read my article entitled: “An Ignorant objection to the moral argument.”

Lennox examined bad objection number nine:

9- Surely you don’t take the Bible literally?

Many atheists object to the Bible because there seems to be aspects to it which are allegorical or figurative. They suggest that if you cannot take the whole thing literally, then the whole thing should not be trusted. This is ludicrous to say the least. Professor Lennox noted that Jesus said “I’m the door.” He asks, “Is Jesus a door like a door over there? No. He is not a literal door, but he is a real door into a real experience of God. Metaphor stands for reality. The word ‘literal’ is useless.”

Ra states: “How I interpret truth is obviously different than religious people do.  I say the truth is what the facts are. Truth is commonly defined as “that which is concordant with reality.”

Wait a second, I am a Christian theist and I define truth as “statements corresponding with reality” (basically the same definition). Moreover, I note that reality is defined as “the way things are.” Since I am “religious” and I define truth the same way Ra does, we have evidence and proof that Ra’s statement above about religious people is flat-out wrong.

Ra reasons in the following manner: “That means reality itself is not truth, but statements about reality can be -if they’re true.” So far-so-good, but then he concludes: “So if we have to determine whether it is true before we call it ‘truth’, then there is no truth in any religion.”

Yikes! How about phrasing it this way, Aron: “If the claims a certain religion makes corresponds to reality, then that religion is true!” The Christian religion claims, “God exists and raised Jesus from the dead.” The logical, scientific, and historical data demonstrate that we have good reason to believe that claim corresponds to reality. Therefore, “Mere Christianity” is probably true!

Ra states: “ . . . we know for certain there was never a global flood, and the tower of Babel didn’t happen that way either.”

Aron Ra does not know this with 100 percent certainty. Now, if he has data that he thinks overwhelmingly demonstrates there was probably no global flood or that the tower of Babel was probably not historical, then Ra would be justified in stating that these events probably did not occur. There are some conservative Biblical scholars that agree with him. Be that as it may, Ra’s objection here does not disprove God’s existence or the resurrection of Jesus (even if he happened to be right about the worldwide flood). At most, Ra’s objection is only to taking Genesis in a literal manner. Some conservative Christian’s hermeneutical experts believe the first eleven chapters of Genesis are to be taken as poetry and are not to be taken literally. To be clear, I am not making that case; however, I am simply pointing out that if they are right, the problem is not with Genesis, but with the uneducated interpreter.

Ra continues: “Snakes can’t talk, and none of that nonsense even can be literally true. The only way to glean any meaning out of it is to interpret the entire compilation as allegorical, because not one bit of it is historical.”

Left to their own devices, Snakes cannot talk. However, it is not logically impossible for snakes to talk. It’s not on the same incoherent level as married bachelors or square circles. If God and the supernatural exist, a snake could talk, but this misses the point. Even if Satan never really took the form of a snake and tempted a literal Adam and Eve, this does nothing to diminish what we can prove with high degrees of certainty: “God exists and raised Jesus from the dead!”

Therefore, even if Genesis and some other portions of the Bible are not to be taken literally (I am not arguing they shouldn’t), Mere Christianity is still true!

Finally, Lennox offers the tenth common objection of atheists today:

10- What is the evidence for God?

As I mentioned throughout my response to Ra, there is a cumulative case of data employing logic, science, and the historical method that not only proves the existence of God with high degrees of certainty – but the truth of Christian theism specifically. Be that as it may, Professor Lennox advises to ask [atheists] the most important question: “Suppose I could give [evidence for God], would you be prepared right now, to repent and trust Christ?”

Ra takes this question to mean something completely other than Lennox intended. Ra exclaims: “At least we finally have an implicit admission that there is no evidence of God, but the question still doesn’t make sense.”

I have no idea how Ra thinks asking if a person is prepared to follow the evidence wherever it leads implies that there is no evidence! Ra has lost any ground to consider himself as an “advocate of reason.”

Ra resumes: “First of all, if there was evidence of a god, it wouldn’t be the Christian god; even if it was, there is nothing to ‘repent’.  According to Christian dogma, it doesn’t matter how evil we are.  All sins will be forgiven if we but believe; but if you don’t believe, then it doesn’t matter how good you are, because the only sin that will not be forgiven is the sin of disbelief.”

According to the Bible, the only “unforgivable sin” is the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, John 3:16 states that whoever believes will have everlasting life (in heaven). However, the Bible also says that there is another kind of belief that the damned (in hell) will have. James 2:19 states that the “Demons believe and shudder.” The difference between saving belief and the belief of the damned comes down to faith, or shall I say, “trust!”

There are three key ingredients to saving belief (K.A.T.):

K– knowledge: One has understanding of the proposition found in John 14:6.

A– assent: One believes the proposition found in John 14:6 is probably true.

T– trust: One chooses to act (on faith) regarding the proposition found in John 14:6.

Demons (and many churchgoers today) can have the “K” and the “A.” These are necessary conditions for salvation but not sufficient. One must choose to put one’s faith in Jesus and trust in his teachings. The person who has put his trust in the teachings of Jesus has the “T” as well and is saved. This is truly a follower of Christ (a.k.a., Christian)!

Ra exclaims: “Believers can be saved only if they believe and unbelievers will be damned simply because they don’t believe.”

I disagree! No one goes to heaven or hell by accident. Heaven is a true love “marriage” with the Creator of the universe, and hell is the “Great Divorce” from God (as C.S. Lewis stated). I believe that everyone will ultimately get to make an informed decision to either enter into a “marriage” with God, or to be eternally divorced from Him.

Ra exhorts: “You have to believe impossible nonsense for no good reason, or face the threat of a fate worse than death. If you have evidence, you don’t [have] faith, and visa versa.”

I must remind Ra that a cumulative case of data counts as evidence to demonstrate that God probably exists and that the resurrection of Jesus is probably historical. Therefore, it is the inference to the best explanation – a reasonable faith – to conclude that Christianity is probably true.

David Hume said, “wise men choose probabilities.” I couldn’t agree more! Choosing to put your trust (a.k.a., faith) in what you know is probably true is very wise, indeed.

Ra concludes with this: “ . . . there isn’t any reason to believe in a god, but there are plenty of good reasons not to.”

Please share them with us, Aron Ra; I’m all ears! I would love to hear ONE sound argument — that did not commit a logical fallacy of some sort — ending with a deductive conclusion: “Therefore, God does not exist.” Remember, an argument based on a logical fallacy is no argument at all. Until Aron Ra begins to understand and apply logic, he has no right to associate with the word, “reason.”

A true advocate of reason (Philippians 4:5 ESV),

Tim Stratton


NOTES

For more defeaters to bad and incoherent atheistic arguments I encourage everyone to read the “Stuff Atheists Say” series by Timothy “The Orthodox” Fox.

[1] Sean McDowell, Is Christianity a Copycat Religion?, found in The Apologetics Study Bible for Students, Holman Bible Publishers, 2009 (1366)

[2] Ibid

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About the Author

Tim

Stratton

(The FreeThinking Theist)

Tim pursued his undergraduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Kearney (B.A. 1997) and after working in full-time ministry for several years went on to attain his graduate degree from Biola University (M.A. 2014). Tim was recently accepted at North West University to pursue his Ph.D. in systematic theology with a focus on metaphysics.

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