Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Debunking Christianity: Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True? Part 1

John Loftus has been posting several posts he calls "Reality Checks" in which he takes an aspect that he believes most Christians believe and then tries to dispute it based on trying to show that it doesn't make sense. He has been promising to make post summarizing his points. Today he published the first 30. My comments are in red. My approach is to agree that some people who call themselves Christians believe what he says, but what I wanna ask is: "Does the Bible say the same thing?"

Below I've put together all thirty theses (so far) that most Christians agree on and why they are all improbable:

1) There must be a God who is a simple being yet made up of three inexplicable persons existing forever outside of time without a beginning, who therefore never learned anything new, never took a risk, never made a decision, never disagreed within the Godhead, and never had a prior moment to freely choose his own nature.

Why does Lofus think that God never made a decision? Where does the Bible say that God is simple or doesn't make decisions? That is something people say If God is omniscient and made everything that existed, does exist, or ever will exist how can there be something that He does not know? How can anything be new to him? We don't choose our own ontologcal nature. God is,. Never changes. There is no need for Him to choose His nature. Why does this make God seem unreal? Why would you want to worship a god that needs to take risk? Supreme being means not having to risk failure. In God there is no failure. I realize some people think that God can't be omniscient because he is bound by time. God made time. Why would he be bound by it? As for agreement in the Godhead the Bible agrees.  I'm not going to pretend that I understand how the Trinity works, but the Bible says the Father is God.  The Son is God.  The Holy Spirit is God. And that God is one. One Being. Three persons.  Being and person are not the same thing.

2) There must be a personal non-embodied omnipresent God who created the physical universe ex-nihilo in the first moment of time who will subsequently forever experience a sequence of events in time.

The Bible agrees that God is spirit and does not have a Body and created everything out of nothing. However it does not say that God "experiences a sequence of events in time". We do. God is. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  In other words, God is eternal.  

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal. - Isaiah 26:4

3) There must exist a perfectly good, omnipotent God, who created a perfectly good universe out of a desire/need to glorify himself by rewarding in heaven the few human beings who just got lucky to believe by being born at the right time and place, and who will condemn to hell those who do not believe.

Excuse me God does not need anything. God certainly doesn't need anything from us. God does not just deserve praise for saving the people who believe and punishing those who don't believe. God deserves praise, honor and glory for who God is. In addition people do not believe just because they are born at the right time and the right place. If that was the case everyone born in Christian homes would be Christians and those not born in Christian homes would never become Christians. And again the Bible disagrees with Loftus. Paul told the Athenians that every single person was born in the place, at the best time, and under the best circumstances for that person to best find God. 
 24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' - Acts 17:24-28

4) That the highest created being, known as Satan or the Devil, led an angelic rebellion against an omnipotent omniscient omnibenelovent omnipresent God, and expected to win--which makes Satan out to be pure evil and dumber than a box of rocks.

When people make this argument, I've got to ask if you think that Satan was so dumb and stupid to start a war that he could not even hope to win, then why do you commit the same act of stupidity in rebelling against your creator?

5) That there was a first human pair (Adam and Eve) who so grievously sinned against God when tested that all of the rest of us are being punished for it (including animals), even though no one but the first human pair deserved to be punished. If it's argued that all of us deserve to be punished because we all would have sinned, then the test was a sham. For only if some of us would not have sinned can the test be considered a fair one. But if some of us would not have sinned under the same initial conditions then there are people who are being punished for something they never would have done.

The argument that there are some people people would not have sinned under the same initial condition  is silly because if that were true we would not sin now. However, we all sin and fall short of the standard of Holiness. Sure Adam and Eve failed their test, but we continue to fail in our tests. We are all sinners. 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23

 5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.  - Romans 8:5-8

We deserve hell. Those who are spared and their sins forgiven are given an undeserved gift.

6) That although there are many other similar mythological stories told in Ancient Near Eastern Literature that pre-date what we read in the Bible, the stories in the Bible are about real events and real people.

I haven't seen any evidence that the Bible are not talking about real people or real events. And if you really compare the Bible to other Ancient Near Eastern Literature you will find significant differences. For example, the proportionate ratio given for the ark that Noah used to survive the flood would have made it uncapsizeable and seaworthy while the description pf the craft the survivors of the flood used  given in Sumerian texts would not have worked.

7) That although we see completely different perspectives and evolving theologies in the Bible, including many things that are barbaric and superstitious to the core, it was authored by one divine mind.

I think that number seven is really weak. No proof is given that the Bible represents superstitions, different perspectives (or what they are), or what is meant  by evolving theologies. More details need to be given.

8) That when it comes to verifiable matters of historical fact (like the Exodus, the extent of the reign of David, Luke's reported world-wide census, etc) the Biblical stories are disconfirmed by evidence to the contrary as fairy tales, but when it comes to supernatural claims of miracles that cannot be verified like a virgin birth and resurrection from the grave, the Bible reports true historical facts.

I don't know any Bible-Believing Christians who would agree to number eight. I do know that some scholars disagree about the Exodus, the extent of David's reign, and Luke's report of a world-wide census, but Loftus misrepresents that it's agreed by all experts that these things are not facts. This is not true. There is evidence that such things are true. As for the unverifiable miracles, assuming that they aren't true is also disingenuous. Loftus also ignores the facts reported in the Bible that most scholars and experts do agree.  For example they agree that Jesus really was crucified. 

9) That although a great number of miracles were claimed to have happened in the different superstitious cultures of the ancient world, only the ones in the Bible actually happened as claimed.

I don't know any where in the  Bible that claims that  reported miracles in other cultures were lies or hoax. The Bible is clear that Satan deceives people Remember: Pharaoh's magicians were able to turn water to blood and make their staff turn into snakes.  How do we know when a miracle is from God or not?

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you. - Deuteronomy 13: 1-5

Realize "testing" doesn't mean tempting them to do evil, but allowing them to be  exposed so that they will know what the counterfeit looks like.  

10) That an omniscient God could not foresee that his revealed will in the Bible would lead believers to commit such atrocities against others that reasonable people would conclude there is no divine mind behind the Bible. I call this The Problem of Miscommunication.

There is no problem of miscommunication. God did forsee that there would be false prophets and liars. We are warned throughout the Bible. In addition to Deuteronomy 13:1-5 we can add

23At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time. - Matthew 24:23-25

12And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. - 2 Corinthians 11:12-14

11) That God created human beings with rational minds that require evidence before they accept something, and yet this same God does not provide enough evidence but asks them to have faith instead.

Loftus does not know what faith is. At no time does the Bible condone blind faith. The Bible disagrees with Loftus.
11Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11

 1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. - Hebrews 11:1

12) That although people around the world are raised in different cultures to believe in their particular god(s) there is only one God and he will judge all people based upon whether or not they believe Jesus is Lord.

People often cite this as though it means something. They again ignore Acts 17:24-28. And another relevant passage is Romans 1:18-32

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
 24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
 26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
 28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The  Bible also tells us that obeying the laws leads one to Christ. We know that if one follows what God has given us you will be led to Christ.

19This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." - John 3:19-21

13) That Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy even though there is not one passage in the Old Testament that is specifically fulfilled in his life, death, and resurrection that can legitimately be understood as a prophecy and singularly points to Jesus as the Messiah using today's historical-grammatical hermeneutical method.

That's a bold statement. Completely erroneous,  but bold. Here is one single example: 

41Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him. - John 12:41 

What did Isaiah see? Who did he see? When?

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
       "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
       the whole earth is full of his glory." - Isaiah 1:1-3

Isaiah saw the Lord. How is it that Isaiah saw God? John is saying He saw Jesus. John is explicitly calling Jesus God.

14) That although there were many false virgin birth claims about famous people (like Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Plato) mythical heroes (like Mithra, Hercules) and savior gods (like Krishna, Osiris, Dionysus) in the ancient world, Jesus was really born of a virgin.

Jesus' virgin birth was not sexual. Alexander's mother was supposedly impregnated by a snake. Hercules' mother had sex with Zeus who had taken human form (how would that be a virgin birth?). Dionysus came out of Zeus' thigh (how does that even compare to Jesus?). I've done some research on just how close these examples really parallel Jesus. Take a look at these. In case you don't want to take the time to look it up yourself I'll save you some time: They don't.

15) That while there is no rational explanation for how a person can be 100% man and 100% God, and although ancient pagan superstitious people believed this can take place (Acts 14:11-12; 28:6), Jesus was incarnate God in the flesh.

 The Jews believed that God could take human form.  Recall that Abraham saw God  (Genesis 18). These are called theophanies. The Old Testament is full of examples. Jesus is not the same as the Greco-Roman gods taking human form.  Don't forget the Greco-Roman gods had bodies and were not spirits. Jesus was not an example of God minus. But Jesus was God plus an uncorrupted sinless human nature. Jesus is what we should strive to be. He is what God is transforming a believer into. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God incarnate

 14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. - John 1:14

Debunking Christianity: Reality Check: What Must Be the Case if Christianity is True?
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  1. You sir, are a complete idiot.

  2. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was really insightful rebuttal!!! Clap it up! NOT!