I'm not real familiar with Dr Randal Rauser but I have to respectfully disagree with him. The following "argument" by John Loftus is neither new or "novel". It is truly an example of a failure to understand what Christianity is. I thought Loftus says he used to be Christian.
I don't know whether it's new or not, but the thought tickles my fancy. A novel argument is hard to come by these days because the ancients have stolen all of our ideas! Here is what Rauser said:
John Loftus just came up with a new argument against Christianity. He summarized it like this:How does Loftus know this? What evidence does he have for this?
1) If Christianity is true then the Christian faith will probably not die out if Christians stop proselytizing.
(2) The Christian faith will probably die out if Christians stop proselytizing.
My argument asks What Would Happen if Christians Went on Strike?
(3) Therefore Christianity is [probably] false.
It is, if nothing else, a novel argument. Link
Walter, whose Quote of the Day provoked such an argument, is defending it in the comments:
I think what John is getting at is that it might be reasonable to expect the One True Revelation from God should occur supernaturally to all people at all times, and the Christian revelation did not happen that way–it spread just like every other false religion has since man first started inventing religions.I think Walter does not understand what happens to person when he/she is born again. Being a born-again Christian - Accepting and living out the gospel - is itself supernatural - meaning that no human being does it on his/her own or chooses to do it apart from the power of God. This make it different from ALL other religions from the start.
This used to bother me too before I realized that the scriptures doesn't support this viewpoint...neither does history. Christianity's growth is unprecedented and unmatched when you look at how it began with just 120 people - around a crucified prophet - and covers the planet in just 2000 years. What seems slow to us doesn't mean it's slow to God. Also given that the majority of all those who have ever lived, lived after Jesus completed his salvation work, it seems to me that Jesus came at just the right time (just like the Bible says). And given that salvation is retroactive for everyone who has ever trusted God and walked in His ways - even if they did not understand the whole picture. For example - Abraham, Moses, and Ezekiel are just as saved as I am although I have Jesus in hindsight while they looked forward to Jesus. I have more pieces of the puzzle than they but not all of it.
It bothered me in my Christian days to think that the most important event in the history of man had to be spread by the glacially slow process of word-of-mouth between mere humans. It took the Native Americans some 1500 years to get the news. Seems a rather inefficient way of doing things.
A true revelation from the Creator would not need human effort to sustain it; it would propagate in a supernatural manner.
Who says the revelation of Jesus is dependent on human effort. God uses us as means to spread the Gospel but he doesn't need us. There are countless stories of people coming to become Christians without being witnessed to by human being. Check out this link containing such accounts: links here and there.
The Christian faith appears to propagate by purely natural means, and the faith would disappear if no human kept spreading the message.Again see the links and look around for more information. There is plenty of evidence destroying such an assumption.
Who said that God has never revealed himself to anyone else like he did to Paul? Or that no one ever sees or experience something supernatural? There are many reports that say exactly that God still moves this way. And once you realize how truly steeped in sin and spiritually destitute we all are you begin to see the fact that anyone gets saved at all is a miracle from God.
An omniscient and omnipotent being who seeks to get an important message out can easily come up with a better method of communicating to humanity besides appearing to a handful of men in backwater Palestine, then commissioning these men to spread this important message to the whole world via proselytism. Such a God could easily have every person on earth experience their very own Damascus road vision. In fact, an omniscient deity could dream up all manner of supernatural means of communication that I couldn’t even imagine.
Keep in mind I never said I could convince Rauser of this. It's a thought experiment. For some people it will be convincing. For others it won't. The point behind it is stated well by Walter I think.
I don't think anyone who knows what God did for them would ever be convinced by such a thoughtless experiment because we know that we weren't saved just by someone proclaiming God's message but that God transformed and changed us from the inside so that we are now not the same people that we were. Walter and John Loftus completely miss the point of Christianity.
There are so many scriptures that deal with this and that is why I would not call this argument "novel". No, "Facepalm worthy" fits it so much better. Here are just a few scriptures that show my point.
First, no one comes to God on their own without God redeeming them.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8
These verses describe all of us before one comes to God. So how do you explain a person overcoming their default hostility and hatred of God? Jesus said:
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. - John 6:44
How do you come to Jesus? You believe He is who He Claimed to be.
24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” - John 8:24
As for why you are born when and where you find yourself:
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 human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.- Acts 17:24-27
And lastly, 2000 years ago it was recognized that if God was not behind or in control of the Christian movement it wouldn't last. That it would have long died out. Now I recognize that this is not the best argument because if Christianity had failed and never left Palestine it would be proof that there was nothing supernatural to it, but the fact that it survived the best efforts to destroy it does not exclusively mean Christianity is true but it does add evidence to its validity.
Gamaliel is famous. He was Paul's teacher before Paul became a Christian and on top of that He is recognized even in Judaism today. Take a look at what he said.
29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead —whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. - Acts 5:29-40
Hmmmm....looks like this movement is from God.
Debunking Christianity: Dr. Randal Rauser Says I Came Up With a New Argument!