Friday, February 21, 2014

Logical Fallacies via Tumblr

I recently found the above graphic on Tumblr. It attempt to show how Christians often commit logical fallacies. I think it is important to recognize that some of the examples are truly bad and should not be used. Others need to be understood. Let's look at each one and see if the examples make sense. 

Special Pleading

"Everything has a cause but God"

The reason why non-believers think saying such a thing is special pleading  is because they think that God is like every other created thing in existence and Christians are merely trying to assert that we can think of God as a special case. This is not what Christians are advocating. If God was a created being, then who ever made God would be God and worthy of worship and glory. The buck has to stop somewhere or you have infinite regression. The universe is not eternal but had a beginning therefore it can't be UNCAUSED.Something or Someone came before it. That cannot be avoided or ignored. Dr John Lennox dealt with this problem.

Emotional Press:

"Jesus suffered on the cross to save you miserable wretches from eternal torment."

I don't see this as playing on emotions. This is just telling the truth. Not one of us is more of a wretched sinner than anyone else. We have all failed to meet the standards of God and your own. That is undeniable. Someone has to pay for that. You can pay for it in hell or you could accept that Jesus paid the penalty for your sins on the cross.

Knocking Down Straw Men:

"Evolution is like a hurricane assembling a fully functional 747 from parts."

What we have here is a failure to communicate. The way evolution is now  understood and explained is not chaotic chance driving the evolutionary process. This is why it's bad idea to raise this argument. It is a straw man. The analogy does not work. 

Stretching the Truth

"Those trapped miners were saved by a miracle from  God."

Such a statement stretching is not stretching the truth. In order to make that charge, you have demonstrate that the saving of the miners was not miraculous and that God did not do it. That is not possible. 

Running From Contrary Evidence

God created the universe, so it can't be 14 billion years old. 

The Bible does not say that the universe is not 14 billion years old. This is another argument Christians should not use.

The True Christian.

Those atheist arguments don't have any effect on me. 

I do not see how this argument says anything about true Christianity. The reason why atheistic arguments  against God would have no effect on a believer is because they are bad arguments.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Debunking Christianity: The Ten Commandments of Rational Debate

Now if people could just follow this list

Debunking Christianity: The Ten Commandments of Rational Debate

FacePlant of the Day - Debunking Christianity: Dear Christian, Would You Kill Your Kid for God?

JM Green has recently posted an article on  Debunking Christianity that attempts to discredit Christianity and Judaism using the story of God telling Abraham to kill his son as a sacrifice. This is one of his best written papers I have read on this site. He attempts to actually use the text and respond to real objections to his argument that a Bible believing Christian would raise. However, he still faceplants in his attempt. A failure. My comments are in red. 

Christian parent, I have a question for you.
Would you be willing to murder your child to prove your loyalty to your boss?
Imagine that your boss came to you and said, “Look, I know you are a good
employee and all, but I really need to know for sure that you are 100%
loyal to my company.  So, next Saturday, I want you to take your son on a
camping trip, and while you are in the mountains I want you to cut his
throat and burn his body, to honor me as your boss.“
You would look at your boss like he was insane, and refuse to do it –
right?  I hope that I am right in assuming that all of you would refuse
such a vile request.

I have two small chiidren: 7 and 4 and no way would I kill my children just to placate a person who just signs my paycheck. I could always get another job but I cannot replace my children. 
Let’s up the stakes a little. What if – instead of your boss – it was your
god who told you to kill and sacrifice your child - to demonstrate your
faith? Would you do it, or not?

Which god would that be. My God made the universe including earth, Me, you, and my children. That God redeemed me from sin and death. That God is not just my boss but my master. Therefore this is more than just a "yes/no" question. If you think your God is asking you to murder your own children, it is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. More on this later. 

Again, I would love to think that most of my Christians would refuse to do it,

but I suspect that right now, some of you are experiencing some mental
dissonance; feeling uneasy about saying “no” to your god, and hedging
with thoughts like, “Of course, God would never ask me to do something
like that.” 

Wouldn’t he?  It’s exactly what the Bible claims that Yahweh asked Abraham to do. 
your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the
land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the
mountains, which I will show you.”  Genesis 22:2
As Christian, aren’t bound to obey whatever command your god was to give
you?  Doesn’t your god’s will supersede your own desires?  So why are
you balking?  

Of course I am bound to obey whatever God commands and my will does not even come close to superseding God's will. The next question is would God command me to do something like that just because God commanded Abraham to do it? Nope. God commanded Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, does that mean I am commanded to lead Israel out of Egypt? Nope.  Would a God that would make the fooling commandments also command me kill my own children?

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. - 1 Timothy 5:8
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. - Ephesians 6:4   

Let me hand back to you all the standard responses that Christians offer: 
“Are you qualified to judge God?”
“His ways are not our ways; his thoughts are higher than ours.”
“God must have a good reason for wanting this, and it will all make sense in heaven one day.”
Still not willing to say that you would kill your kid for your god?  Oh ye of little faith!
The mental struggle and tension you are feeling is a conflict between what
your innate love, empathy, and reason tells you (murdering my child is
horribly wrong) and what your religion tells you (obeying my god is
always right).

If you are honest you have to admit that there is no loop hole in the Bible that could be used for justifying a parent to murder his or her own children. NOTHING. The lack of faith here is Green's. Green does raise a valid point: Why was God justified in his commandment of Abraham and why was Abraham justified in obeying him? For Abraham's part obeying God is always the way to go. No where does the Bible say that this was easy for him, but he trusted God so completely. 
Can you see how insidious it is that your religion and Bible present
something as vile as child-murder and human sacrifice as good, when
commanded by your god?  Why then do so few Christians seem bothered when
they read, or hear sermons about this story?

Because we understand it better than Green does. 
Hebrews 11:17 holds up Abraham as a hero of faith – someone to be admired:
It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was
testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to
sacrifice his only son, Isaac…”
“But,” some of you will no doubt be saying, “He didn’t actually go through with it, God was only testing him.”
True, but according to the story, he was in the process of carrying out the
murder of his son, until Elohim had an angel stop him at the last

Abraham was fully willing to murder his own child, to please his god, and the Bible praises him for it. 
Let that sink in.

If the point is that God is not worthy of such a sacrifice then Green does not know or understand Abraham's relationship with God. That's not surprising if you have no relationship to God of your own.  There is much more to say but let's save those comments in rebuttal to his arguments
As to the ‘testing’, why in the world would a god who know all things
(including the hearts of men, according to the Bible and Christian
belief) need to carry out such a sadistic test?  An all-knowing god
would know exactly what Abraham would do already, so it would be a
pointless exercise.

It was not a test to see if Abraham was loyal or worthy. God had already declared that Abraham was righteous.  The point was to give other people the picture and example of what true Faith looks like. The point wasn't to show God what Abraham was made of but to show him and all those who would hear of Abraham's faith. 
Hebrews 11:19 speculates that Abraham was willing because he believed that his
god would raise Isaac back from the dead, after he killed him.  It is
quite possible that a deranged mind might rationalize the act in this
way, but it does nothing to remove the horror and immorality of it.

Green is forgetting several things. First, Isaac was promised to Abraham. And God promised to bless Abraham and the entire world through Isaac. But Isaac was not born until Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was in her 90's - pointing to Isaac's birth being nothing but a miracle. Added to that Abraham had been waiting 25 years for that promised to be fulfilled. Given that God had kept his promise of a son born of miraculous birth, Abraham was more than reasonable in believing that if God commanded him to kill Isaac that God would raise him from the dead. Nothing immoral there. Everything else God had said was true, why would this be different. Just basic logic. Again, I would not kill my children because God would not tell me to do it.
The other justification that believers offer for the disgusting story is this:
“It is a beautiful foreshadowing of how God would one day sacrifice his own son for our sins.”
Ah yes, a human sacrifice which was to be a beautiful foreshadowing of another human sacrifice… lovely!

Green does not realize how amazing a foreshadowing it is. According to Jewish tradition, Isaac was not a child at this time, but a grown man in his early thirties - like Jesus. There is the assumption that Isaac was a child many Christians make but nothing in the text says that. And like Jesus, Isaac could have stopped the situation himself, but did not. In Judaism, Isaac is thought of as the hero of the story not the victim. 
§       Do you think that it is right for human beings (especially children) to be used as mere objects - pawns -as a kind of twisted sermon illustration? 

     There is not a just a sermon illustration happening here. We get to see how much God loves us. God sacrificed his son for us and we didn't ask him to but needed him too. We needed a good picture of faith.

18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. - Romans 4:18-25
      If you tried to murder your child in the name of religion, but stopped at
the last minute, what harm do you think that would do to your child’s
mental state and to your relationship with that child?
T  There is no evidence in the text of Isaac and Abraham's relationship was negatively impacted. I'm certain that Isaac had his own relationship to God and Isaac learned more about God and his father that day. I think it deepened his relationship. In Genesis 25:9 both Isaac and Ishmael buried Isaac suggesting that the three of them reconciled on good terms.

I regard the Bible’s celebration of a parent who is willing to murder his
child and offer him as a human sacrifice to be both immoral and evil.
Thestory is presented in such a way in Christianity, as to desensitize the
reader to the true horror of what is going on.  The reader’s loyalties
are directed away from the child-victim, and aligned to the perpetrator
(Abraham) and the instigator (Elohim).  This is dehumanizing, and a
perversion of morality.

That is very distorted view. The point was the God would provide his own sacrifice and not one of us would have to give up our own sons to pay for the sins of humanity. God does not require human sacrifice. The God man Jesus sacrificed his own life. It was not taken from him. 

There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer  - Deuteronomy 18:10
In closing, I offer this 1-minute video clip of the late Christopher Hitchens’ response to the Abraham/Isaac story:

 I can't comment on the video because for some reason the clip was not working on the original article when I first responded to this article.

Christian reader, if after viewing the clip, if you are more bothered by
Hitchen’s f-bomb than you are by the fact that your religion
romanticizes a parent being willing to murder his child, then I would
suggest that your moral values are seriously deficient.

Agreed. But the story is not about a parent being willing to murder his child. 
If you are troubled by the Abraham/Isaac story, and would not
be willing to kill your child to prove your faith, then
congratulations, you are more moral than the god you worship.  If this
is the case, then please ask yourself why you are worshipping such a

UM, no. The only reason why  this story of Abraham and Isaac could be troubling is if you did not understand it. If you reject Christ, you do not understand it. 
A god who would ask a parent to murder their child is not loving, moral,
or holy, and is certainly not worth of worship.  A book which promotes
such an immoral act disqualifies itself as a source for morality.  Why
not do the moral thing, and reject the Bible and it’s sadistic god?

What about a God who would sacrifice his son to save people he created who hate him and his son? How moral and just is that? I ask because it's the same God. It is not sadistic. It was not Abraham's conflict and suffering about sacrificing Isaac that brought God joy or pleasure. It was about Abraham's complete trust in God that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. As a Christian, I should do the same. As a godless heathen one cannot understand that.

Written by J. M. Green

Keep praying for this guy.

Debunking Christianity: Dear Christian, Would You Kill Your Kid for God?

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Euthypro Dichotomy Revisited

The point of the Euthypro Delimma can be summed up in the following quoted text:

In Plato’s Euthyphro, Socrates proposes a dilemma that calls into question the premise of theistic ethics:

1. Is something good because God proclaims it?

2. Or, does God proclaim it because it is good?

This comes down to us even today by some people who try to discredit God and religion by suggesting that God and morality must be inconsistent. I have seen two very good articles in the past few days that should be considered when discussing and thinking about the origins of morality and how we define "morality".

District Supt. Harvey Burnett has posted a really good video from CARM Ministries. 


And Chad over Truthbomb Apologetics posted an article comparing how various religions and philosophies fail to untangle this dilemma but Christianity "splits the horns of the Euthypro Dilemma".
Featured Essay: The Euthypro Dichotomy by Ken Ammi

Truthbomb Apologetics: How We Got the Bible: Ancient Versions: The Old Testament

Here is an awesome and short article comparing ancient translations of the Old Testament. 

Truthbomb Apologetics: How We Got the Bible: Ancient Versions: The Old Testament