Friday, November 12, 2010

FacePalm of the Day #27 - Debunking Christianity: Dr. Matt McCormick on the F - Word

John Loftus posted a link to Dr. Matt McCormick's blog in which McCormick posted his powerpoint he used in a presentation he gave last Tuesday in which he explained how atheists can counter the claims of faith. I don't agree with him at all. He based his whole argument by mischaracterizing and defining faith differently than how the Bible defines it. He makes the standard straw men arguments and then attacks them. I end up blogging on this subject a lot because it really bothers me when people try to reject Christianity on the Basis of a lie. The lie here is that God expects us to believe His word and His existence despite evidence or lack of good quality evidence. No where does the Bible say that. Part of the problem is that Christians have either failed to communicate what faith is or people have ignored what the Bible says about Faith. Either people like McCormick is lying or he's ignorant about what the Bible says what faith is.
At the risk of repeating myself, Faith is not choosing to believe something despite lack of evidence. Faith is trusting God based on the evidence of who God is and your relationship with you. It's a living thing that is supposed to grow and get deeper as you live your life. It is built on living through trials and tribulation and seeing how God has brought you through them. It always amazes me when people say that God doesn't intervene in our lives when God has done so much. He protects and blesses us. Sometimes it is easy to see it and sometimes we can't because He keeps some things away from us. We aren't even aware of those because we miss those. Because Faith is not contrary to truth or evidence of course you can have truth and faith simultaneously.
I do agree with Matt McCormick that atheist faith is absurd - no evidence for it. As for God, I have to go with Paul

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For 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 people are without excuse.
21 For 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. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Faith in other gods are not equal with faith in the God of the Bible. We have evidence for the Bible and the God who revealed himself in it. As for the other gods...we have nothing. No way are they equivalent.
Here is McCormick's presentation.

Debunking Christianity: Dr. Matt McCormick on the F - Word
The F Word
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  1. Thanks for thinking hard about this topic and reading through my material. Calling me ignorant or a liar is pretty harsh. If there is sufficient evidence to render believing in God reasonable on its own as you seem to suggest, then I'm more than happy to discuss those arguments. I have discussed many of the most popular and influential arguments for God's existence at length on my blog:

    Whatever your particularly spin on the notion of faith is, there are a great many people out there who think that when there is not sufficient evidence to render believing reasonable, then there is room or permission to go ahead and believe by faith. In general, and I don't think I am deviating from mainstream usage here, people don't see the need for or invoke the notion of faith when there is enough evidence. It's only when things are tough, doubts arise, there are challenges, or trials and tribulations, as you point out, that there seems to be a need for faith. Faith is something we invoke typically when there are grounds for doubt.

    But I'm not wedded to one particular account or another. My point is that if we are discussing the evidence that makes believing reasonable, as Christians see it, then lets discuss it and see if withstands any serious scrutiny from someone who isn't already invested in believing. If someone claims, as many do, that they can believe on faith even when the evidence is lacking, or even if they just claim that there is nothing epistemically inculpable about believing, then I have a different set of questions and objections that I'd hope to hear answered. Nothing in your gestures towards the Bible or Paul appears to answer those legitimate doubts that I've raised.

    One particularly troubling practice that I've run across countless times is the Christian believer who starts out by insisting that the evidence shows that God is real, but when thoughtful and legitimate doubts are raised about that inference, she resorts to faith as a defense. The view that I've defended at great length on my blog, in debates, in print, and elsewhere is that NEITHER route is sufficient to make believing in God epistemically inculpable.

    Thanks again for taking note of my work.

    Matt McCormick

  2. Marcus said "Faith is not choosing to believe something despite lack of evidence."

    No, faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. What we do not see...

  3. Confidence in what we hope = choosing to believe something

    Assurance about what we do not see = believe something despite lack of evidence

  4. Ryan, visibility isn't the only evidence of existence. What? Something is only real if you can see it? Do you really wanna argue that? I can't see electrons, but I know they exist because I can see how they affect things I can see. Same thing with God. Thanks for trying.

  5. Dr. McCormick, ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of. I believe you are telling the truth when you say that the definition of "faith" you used is the one most prevalent in our culture today. That's sad because it is not the definition used in the Bible. It's stupid to claim faith instead of reason when the Bible gives good enough reason without pretending believing things despite lack of evidence is some kind of virtue. It's not. Faith is not a defense against lack of evidence. I'd like to know what evidence you would consider enough proof to validate faith?

  6. Oh, great, so just like when you need to read stuff into the text that's not there, you'll read the text in a silly clumsily literal way so it'll fit with your beliefs.

    It's a literary convention, the author isn't going to list every sense just to be precisely clear and he didn't mean "faith is the assurance about what we only do not see with our eyes, however, if you can't touch, taste, smell, or hear it, then you shouldn't believe it."

  7. Ryan you know way more reading things into the text than I do. The writer of Hebrews was not telling us that faith is divorced from evidence. It is not saying that you can believe anything and everything as long as you can detect it with one of your five senses or if you can't. There are other evidences than our 5 senses - and sight is easiest one to fool. I'm not reading anything into Hebrews 11:1, you are.

  8. I don't know if it will be productive to pursue this much further, but I'll give it a try. First, a question: are you guys interested in this topic and my argument because you are primarily focused on refuting it for the goals of Christian apologetics? Or are you prepared, in principle at least, to accept a reasonable argument that could show that believing in the Christian God is unreasonable? If you're already resolved to defend Christian doctrine no matter what, then my explaining arguments that I have presented repeatedly on the blog, in public lectures, and in print won't be time well spent. I don't mean to be rude about it, but if you are committed to believing some claims and then engineering the reasoning to conform to those claims at all costs

    (William Lane Craig, among others confesses to this sort of agenda here for instance)

    then I'm not that motivated to engage yet again. But if you've got an open attitude of intellectual inquiry, then we all benefit from the discussion.


  9. Dr. McCormick if you can prove that

    1. The Bible is calling for us to believe things despite contradictory evidence and/or lack of evidence


    2. There is no good evidence for Christianity

    Then, yes you have proven that believing in the Christian God is indeed unreasonable.

    But you haven't shown any of these things according to the powerpoint on which this post is based. You haven't been rude. Let me be equally frank.

    On top of that proving that people try to to hide behind faith instead of giving good and logical reasons why they believe what they believe does not prove Christianity is unreasonable. Just proves that people don't know what they are talking about.

    My own studies and understandings of history and science and philosophy more than show that Faith in Jesus is the only logical response to the data. Of course you disagree. That's fine.

    The same charge can be applied to many atheists: "committed to believing some claims and then engineering the reasoning to conform to those claims at all costs "

    You just restated Paul's argument in Romans 1:18-25.

    In a nutshell, because of my own studies I know that Christian belief (as taught in the Bible) is more than reasonable - its necessary and sufficient to be a fully expressed and complete human being. No, I'm not prepared to accept the possibility that the Bible is wrong because the data doesn't support that. So are you wasting your time if you are not able to prove that the Bible is wrong and unreasonable? Yup.

  10. Well, so much for thoughtful open discussion. sigh. . .

  11. Faith in Jesus is the only logical response to the data.

    I don't think you know what "only" and "logical" actually mean.

  12. The point is, you wouldn't need presuppositional apologetics if your statement was true.

  13. Ryan, I don't think you understand what presuppositional apologetics is and you are just as confused on that as you are on what faith means as the Bible defines it. Of course that makes since given your apostasy.

  14. Sure thing Marcus.