John Loftus again provides an example of why it nearly always results in a FacePalm when atheists attempt to discuss "Free Will". I keep hoping to find an example of an atheist explaining "Free Will" well. I have provided Loftus' post with my comments in red.
Christians have developed so many ways to escape the force of the evidence that it’s frustrating to those of us who are trying to reason with them. I’ve written about several of them before. There is the big one I call The Omniscience Escape Clause. Another one I haven’t quite developed yet I call The Faith Trump Card, which is leaping beyond the actual probabilities of the evidence itself. No reasonable person can leap beyond what the evidence calls for. If Christians conclude it’s 51% probable Jesus arose from the dead then they simply cannot conclude they know he did. That’s an unjustified leap. If I thought it’s 51% probable the Colts will play in the Super Bowl and win it this year (fat chance) I would be ignorant to say I know this will happen, especially enough to bet all my meager life savings on it (which is zilch).
I sure would like to know what Christian told Loftus that they thought that Jesus' Resurrection was 51% probable. I would think that anyone who gave their life to Christ would think that the evidence for the Resurrection was better than just a 51% probability!
Then there’s something I focused on in my book, Why I Became an Atheist, which I’ll call Punting to the Possible. Time after time when confronted with an intractable problem for their faith Christians will respond by saying that it’s still possible their god exists, or that Jesus arose from the dead, or that a donkey talked. When it comes to the problem of evil they’ll say it’s not impossible that god is good despite the weight of evidence. That is, unless we can prove their god doesn’t exist then they can go on their merry way believing. But this is unreasonable, utterly unreasonable. Who in their right mind would require that a skeptic must prove a god doesn’t exist? The Mormons use the same tactic by saying that despite the evidence to the contrary it’s still possible their god exists. Of course it is. It’s just very very improbable.
Anyone who checks out the evidence for the Book of Mormon and compare that against the Bible one must honestly come to one inescapable conclusion: They both can't be true. They are in contradiction with one another. This means that only one of them can be completely true or both of them are not true. Now because the evidence supports the Bible and goes against the Book of Mormon, it's not even a contest. The Bible has better credentials and attestation. Reality attests to the Bible's validity. Loftus attempting to equate the evidence for Mormonism with historic Christianity is truly an epic fail. Does it make sense to say the miraculous cannot happen? Nope.
Now we have what I’ll call The Free Will Fumble. Someone fumbles the ball so to speak on an important play and Christians will attribute it to free will. After all, they’ll opine, their god doesn’t want to coerce people to obey or to believe. So there’s murder and mayhem in the streets? No problem. “People have free will,” is the answer (a libertarian will say this). A Christian loses his or her faith? Again, no problem. God doesn’t coerce faith.Here is the problem with Loftus argument: "Free Will", from a Biblical Standpoint, is an illusion. We are incapable of not sinning. That means that we are not free to act or not to act otherwise. We are enslaved to sin. We sin in thought, word, and deed. This is not saying that we don't make choices. Apart from God, we can only choose what sins we will and not commit up to a point. We are condemned. Given all that we have have no way to be really free apart from Jesus. God doesn't coerce faith - He gives it to you.
But when someone does something good then god gets the credit. God inspired Handel to create "The Messiah." Praise god for this! Someone found my wallet and returned it. Thanks ya Jesus. God granted us safety for our trip from any potential muggers out there. God is good. My boss gave me a raise. Hallelujah.When we do good of course God gets the credit! There is no good in us. We have no hits apart from God - all we can do is miss. God has to move all of us who become believers to believe. We are not capable to believe on our own. God has done and given you everything you need to believe. He put you in the right place at the right time for you to best find Him. So of course the obvious question is why haven't people like Loftus found him? It's not like God's hiding. The Bible says that those who miss God love their sins more than they love God.
Just look what’s going on here. Christians are treating these actions exactly as they do with unanswered prayer. They are counting the hits and discounting the misses. If Christians want to opine that their god doesn’t coerce us, then be consistent. Does he or doesn’t he? In the Bible there are several characters who were convinced by god to believe, like Moses, Gideon, Mary & Joseph, and Saul of Tarsus, apparently without abrogating their free will. So which is it? Can god do this or not, and if he can do this with them why not me, or anyone else?
Scientific studies on prayer have consistently shown that petitionary prayer doesn’t work. The evidence is against prayer. And the evidence is against god’s actions in this world through people too. I mean, really, can god answer any prayers that involve the actions of other people? If he can, then why isn’t there evidence that he does (beyond anecdotal evidence, which is no evidence at all)? And if he can’t, then how in the world can he answer any of these prayers, or to be praised when someone does something we prayed for?Not all scientific studies on prayer reach those conclusion so Loftus over reaches yet again. At least he got the part about how God can't answer many prayers without making behave and think in ways they might not ordinarily think or do. I mean when he keeps a pedophile from raping a child he's acting against that person's free will, for example. When God makes the burglar bypass your house, God messed with that person's will. God is not beholden to anyone for anything. He can choose to allow or stop anything he wants to do.
Free will becomes an excuse for a God that does nothing. The Free Will Fumble is yet just another excuse for an incompetent god. I mean really, what can God do if we have free will?
God is not incompetent. Loftus just doesn't know God is doing and why He does the things He does. All humans are in that boat. The difference is that Believers trust God. We know that we can trust him to do the right thing - the just thing. Let's talk about "fair" for a moment. Do you really want God to be "fair" or do you want His mercy. Given that we all deserve hell - I'll take mercy.
Debunking Christianity: The Free Will Fumble: Why Christians Treat it Just Like They do With Unanswered Prayer