Home > Apologia, Atheist Arguments, Christianity > Where do you start?

Where do you start?

I’ve probably hinted at this before, but I don’t think I’ve ever devoted a whole post to the issue.  If I have, read it again.  Basically, here is my issue.  After hearing Maher’s interviews with highly respected theologians about Christianity (That’s sarcasm in case you missed it, in Maher’s movie, he seeks out those people that the news talks to after tornadoes.) in which he claims its ridiculous to base our belief on a book with a “talking snake” and a world wide flood, as well as my present reading of The God Delusion I have seen one big error in the ways of atheistic arguing.  

Basically, what Maher is saying is – “Snakes can’t talk.  The Bible mentions a talking snake.  Therefore, God does not exist.”  Better yet, in his most recent interview with The View he mentions the flood and the loading of two animals of each kind onto the ark.  Aside from the fact that he claims there are millions of species and this and that, assuming that all of the animals on the ark were the ones we have today (ie, 2 chihuahuas, 2 labradors, 2 english bulldogs, etc.) in any case, he claims that this is impossible, therefore God cannot exist.

I have heard bits and pieces of everything else before, too.  In the argument of the world, Creationists claim, “How did something get created from nothing?”  To which atheists never reply and answer, but use their own question to trap the creationists with, “The same thing with God.  Who created God?”  Many times, I have found, that Christians answer correctly, but in the wrong way.  “God has always existed! He is outside of time!”  Very true, yet I feel it hits the wrong aspect of the argument.  This suddenly throws the rules of “logical debate” out, and makes new rules because we are talking about God.  (Yes, I will be the first to admit that the Bible tells us that the world views God and the Cross as foolishness, yet I think it is likewise important to understand the mindset behind their views.)  My answer is always, “If someone created God, then that means that God is no longer God, which thus means that there is a higher being who would be acting as God.  This means the circle never ends and we will never find the highest being.  The God of the Bible is that highest being.  You cannot create a Supreme and Almighty ruler, because if you created it, then you are more Supreme and Almighty than your creation.”  Whew…

So then, I move to the meat of my post.  Why then, if there are talking snakes, talking donkeys, people walking on water, and a worldwide flood, is this impossible – making God not exist?  If we have established that God is the Highest, Supreme, Almighty, and Most Powerful Being who created the earth, then we know anything is possible.  Thus, if He is everything we listed, then making a snake talk is not impossible for him.  Flooding the entire world (and thus contributing to a great fossil record) is not impossible for Him.  My point: they claim these things are impossible, thus God cannot exist, yet doesn’t this work backward?  If we’re talking about the Most Powerful, Unlimited God, then yes, it is possible.  These arguments work from the mindset that God does not exist, therefore these things are not possible.  Even though they claim the other way around, their initial reaction is working from the thought that God does not exist.  They never admit that if God “did exist” that these things would be possible.

It’s just one of my every day frustrations.  I don’t use all of that to say, “Ha! I told you God existed!” It would take much more than that.  My point with this post was simply that one has to admit that the things we find in the Bible are very much possible with an Almighty, All Powerful, Unlimited, Creator God.  If you say they’re not possible, then my guess is that you are still working from the wrong mindset.

Thoughts?

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  1. M. Patterson
    October 3, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I spent a long decade arguing with a guy about the flood and other such things. He told me that he could not believe in the great flood because there was no physical source for the water and nowhere for it to go afterward. I told him that the flood was a miracle, which is the only thing that believers have ever claimed. If I could prove a natural cause for where the water came from and where it went, then I would prove that no miracle had taken place, and I would have defeated my own point of view. He was trying to get me to disprove my own point. To argue the occurance of a miracle, one need only argue the evidence that it did happen, not the evidence that it could happen. It couldn’t happen (on its own). That’s why it’s a miracle. The flood has heaps of geologic and fossil evidence in its favor, in this respect.

  2. October 3, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    So your answer is ‘it’s magic’?

    Hey, if that makes you happy…

  3. October 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    My answer is that if an Almighty Being exists then anything is possible. Even those things that seem illogical to humans, since we are created by an Almighty God.

  4. October 3, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I agree.

    But that’s a pretty massive ‘if’ with little to no evidence supporting it.

  5. October 3, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    We can debate that one another day. My entire point of this post was simply the fact that most atheists I have ever talked to have worked the completely opposite way saying that since it’s not possible on human standards, God can not exist.

    I like you. Honestly, you’re one of the easiest atheists to discuss the issue with.

  6. October 4, 2008 at 10:28 am

    “have ever talked to have worked the completely opposite way saying that since it’s not possible on human standards, God can not exist.”

    Well, there’s a difference between “possible”, “likely” and “internally consistent”.

    Certainly a god is possible. You just need to recognize that using that word, however, you can argue that anything is possible. It is possible that tiny invisible leprechauns are holding me to the earth, not gravity. It’s not likely in the least, but it’s possible.

    And what many atheists argue, probably me among them, is that many gods fail at being internally consistent.

    For example, the tri-omni god (all powerful, all knowing and all good) is not consistent with the real world. And that’s for the simple reason that random bad things happen (tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) to good people. Now, this doesn’t mean that your god couldn’t be a good god. He just couldn’t be ALL good.

    I don’t know why I went off on this jag, but hey, I’m a nitpicker. 😉

  7. October 4, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Good things, bad things, good people, etc…

    I know you’ve heard these arguments too, namely the fact that sin brought about all of this. I’ll spare you that argument.

    Onto the invisible leprechauns…interestingly enough, gravity can actually be observed in full, thus you and I both know leprechauns are not holding us to earth.

    With God, you cannot see God, you cannot experience God in full because we are human – which is the sense in which faith comes into play. Just like the faith to say that we can observe microevolution, and so if you continually experience microevolution it eventually becomes macroevolution. This cannot and never has been observed – thus it is faith to believe this.

  8. October 4, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    “Just like the faith to say that we can observe microevolution, and so if you continually experience microevolution it eventually becomes macroevolution. This cannot and never has been observed – thus it is faith to believe this.”

    You’ve lost a little of my respect by using words invented by creationists. There is no micro and macro, there’s only evolution, and plenty of evidence supporting it.

    “Good things, bad things, good people, etc…”

    So your argument is that bad people cause tidal waves?

  9. October 4, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Show me one place where we see one species observed evolving into another species? The only piece of evidence that has ever been literally observed is microevolution. Heck, if you don’t like that word, we’ll even say adaptation. No matter what you call it – it’s still a change WITHIN a species. Nothing outside of that has ever been observed, nor can be proven.

    You’ve heard the argument of sin. I’m not going to sit there and retell it to you.

    When sin entered the world, things changed. Simply put.

  10. October 4, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    “Show me one place where we see one species observed evolving into another species?”

    Observation isn’t the only way to scientifically know something.

    Check out whale evolution, as it’s the most fun. Fossils and genes trailing back over the years, originally land animals and then aquatic ones. How do we know this? Fossils, their genes, their comparative biology, their current biology, even the simple fact that they are mammals tells us so much about their past.

    I thought the Christians were all about “you don’t have to see it to believe it.” Science backs that claim up, anyway. It’s not about witnessing things, it’s about the evidence supporting it. I don’t have to see a murder take place to say that it was a murder. I just need to see the evidence.

    “Nothing outside of that has ever been observed, nor can be proven. ”

    Define ‘proven’. If you mean in some sort of absolute sense, then you’re right. But absolutes are useless when understanding anything. Science doesn’t deal in absolutes. It deals in evidence. Every single piece of evidence points to the truth of evolution through natural selection. Not one contradicts it.

    That’s close enough to proof for me.

    “You’ve heard the argument of sin. I’m not going to sit there and retell it to you.

    When sin entered the world, things changed. Simply put.”

    No, actually, I haven’t. I’ve heard the free will argument, that god allows people to be horrible to one another. But I’ve never heard someone give any support to sin = natural disaster. They’ve SAID it, sure, but never backed it up with anything.

    And even so, my point stands. A god who allows people to harm each other is not all good. He could be mostly good, but if there are bad things happening and god has the power to stop it and doesn’t use that power, then he’s not all good. Sorry.

  11. October 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I’ll be honest…when it comes to evolution, I’m not bright, thus I’ll leave that issue alone. Although, I will promise to study further into what you have said.

    Sin. God created people with free will. They can choose to obey God, or they can choose to disobey God. If God would not allow people to choose, then what type of God would that be? A God who forces people to do good is not good. That means we would be forced to love Him. I don’t know about you, but to force someone to do anything is not a real act of love, etc. Thus, we find free will.

    When man acted upon his free will to go against what God said, we find sin. Sin – in Greek – means to miss the mark. When sin entered the world, things changed. Men killed each other – they sinned.

    As for tidal waves, earthquakes, etc. I’d like to say two things. First, I believe that it is part of God’s judgment for sin. God told Adam and Eve to not eat of the fruit, acting upon their free will, they chose to and sinned. Sin must be punished. This of course is not satisfactory answer to atheists, as it does not seem just, and I can see why.

    Finally, what is unjust about people dying by natural disasters? I mean,no, we don’t want people to die in such a sad way. But, I have one problem with this argument – the death rate for humans is 100%. All people die. What makes it wrong that some people die by natural disasters and some die by natural causes? What makes it right that some live til they are 90 and some til they are 9? Where’s the standard of judgment as to the fact that because they died in a tidal wave it’s suddenly an unjust death, yet if they lived until they were 40 and died of a heart attack, it’s no longer wrong?

  12. October 4, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    “I’ll be honest…when it comes to evolution, I’m not bright, thus I’ll leave that issue alone. Although, I will promise to study further into what you have said.”

    You should. There’s no reason that your faith should keep you from understanding good science and what it tells us.

    “I don’t know about you, but to force someone to do anything is not a real act of love, etc. Thus, we find free will.”

    He doesn’t have to force good, all he has to do is prevent evil. Not necessarily the same thing.

    “Finally, what is unjust about people dying by natural disasters?”

    From my view, nothing. But I don’t believe in a god.

    If there exists a creature who could have the power to prevent natural disasters, and then does not, that is horrible in my opinion. With great power comes great responsibility.

    If I had the ability to stop a tidal wave and then did not use it, did not even try to stop it, I would be just as guilty as if I had caused the wave in the first place.

  13. Bob Frankson
    October 5, 2008 at 7:36 am

    Well, I think that it’s very horrible to say that God allows horrible things to happen to people because they have sinned. I think that point is absolutely hurtful. I know that things happen to cause death, naturally and man-made, but I think to blame it on sin is completely ridiculous. I don’t think the sin of anyone in a particular area merits the death of many others who had nothing to do with the said sin. Who knows what all was allegedly going on in Saddam and Gomorrah (no clue how to spell those) but I am sure there were some good people there. Surely an entire city was not indulging in horrid acts such as lying, truancy, and homosexuality. I think to condemn an entire people/place for sin is pretty uncharacteristic of a loving god. I also think that man-made deaths are not an act of god. Killing of innocent people is not a reprimand from god for their sins. I don’t think that the innocent killing of 150,000 people in Hiroshima is a judgment from God for their sinful ways, even if they were opposed to the Christian motherland, the USA. I agree that these acts do not mean that your god is a horrible person. I just take offense to your arguing that bad things happening to people with sin is merited.

    I am a person who is genuinely baffled at how this world all happened. I walk out of my door every morning and am amazed at the insane beauty of where I live. I have no clue how it happened and agree that something had to start somewhere. Where, I don’t know. Because of fundamental skepticism of Christianity, I can no way agree with it. I don’t agree with the condemnation of sins that aren’t really sins, such as homosexuality (a topic that hits close to home). I cant accept that at the age of three, maybe four, the devil had already tricked me into believing that I was gay. I also can’t agree with simple logic that doesn’t make sense. For instance, why in the world did God create Adam and Eve knowing that they would sin, causing horror for the rest of the world to come. That’s pretty crappy and unfair when he knew it would happen and didn’t change his mind to make other people who would do what they were supposed to do and love him. Why the heck did he make the devil/let him corrupt his creations. Why didn’t he want everyone that he created to just be happy and have fun with him? Why does he demand praise? Why would he make satan and in a sense make hell? If he knew it was coming, why would he put his creation that he loved through that. Why does he play this game of self-righteousness, making us “serve him”, whatever that means, or not serving him, condemning us to hell as well as the rest of the world who have not hear about the one and only way to god and the people who were born, just like us, into a society with a chosen religion that they did not choose. You have to think that if you were born in India who would probably think that the doppelganger version of yourself born in America was a crazed lunatic on a mission to press his opinions on the rest of the world. Because he was born into that, he is obviously not given the same chance that you have, buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, too bad sir, you are still going to hell. Sounds fair to me. Luckily we were born in a Christian country huh. Too bad Asia, Africa, and other places who weren’t lucky enough to be born in America. This all just does not add up to me and scares me that if your god is real then its devastating to me. I feel for those that have not even had the chance to hear about him but are condemned to hell. Does this ever cross your mind? Does the eternal suffering of innocent people cross your mind? Because some youth group spends their “mission trip” touring Niagara Falls, at the expenditure of the church, some people will not get the “message” and ultimately burn in hell. Does the selfishness of Christians, their concentration on their own lives and not others, and their neglect warrant the suffering of so many people just because they can’t get off of their self-serving butts and talk to people warrant the damnation of billions of people? Sorry people in Africa. I was spending money ordering a satellite system for our big ole church dinner so we could watch the Super Bowl, but… you have no food and haven’t been lucky enough to hear about our man that got us a ticket to the ultimate eternal party. Not fair, downright horrible, and no one cares because hey, they’ve got the ticket, so who cares. It’s sad to think that the eternal suffering of billions of people depends on the generosity of a religious people group who, through their actions, could care less.

  14. October 5, 2008 at 8:58 am

    First off Bob, I completely understand your confusion with why God would allow these things. If you don’t accept sin – then I have no other arguments.

    Secondly, you make some harsh generalizations about Christianity, which is quite offensive to me. As a youth minister in my first year, I can promise you we have yet to take a “sight-seeing trip” on the church’s dime. In fact, the missions trip that we took this summer, we spent five days in 100 degree weather building a church, beginning at 5am, and working til 5pm.

    Thirdly, myself – I have been on missions trips plenty – if you look at my posts from the beginning of September, you’ll recognize that I do see people who are starving for both food, and to hear about my God, and I have been able to go. So your generalizations sound as though you have some personal hurt going on from a specific group of people. If that is the case, know that there are Christians out there who don’t fit you generalization.

    As for your other objections, such as people not hearing – my entire post two before this one – “Romans and Atheism” addresses that issue. But, I am already going to guess that you won’t buy into it. That’s not sarcasm or rudeness on my part – it’s simple honesty.

  15. Bob Frankson
    October 5, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Ok, so I reread and reread once again the previous post you mentioned only to be confused why you referred me to the post. It does not mention at all people in different parts of the world being at a complete disadvantage based on the country in which they happened to be born. If your argument is that everyone can see god in nature and that that somehow means that they should follow a religion they have never heard of, then I am very baffled. Christianity clearly points out the steps you have to go through to get into the elite club and I don’t think these other unprivileged people have the correct password (Yankee Doodles for instance). You also talk about these people continuing in unrighteous ways. These people don’t even know they are not following the Christians set rules of what is ok and what is not. True, everyone knows right from wrong, but if religion had not told us some things were wrong then no one would think anything about it. So, I don’t understand your previous post in relation to my argument. It doesn’t address it at all, unless you are saying that these unfortunate people somehow innately have Christianity built into them and that they refuse it. If that’s the case, then come on lets be a little be rational and play the devil’s advocate a little bit. I have many friends that were raised in other religions and cannot accept that Christianity is the only way out of eternal damnation, just as you cannot believe the same. If this is some sick game of chance, then that’s messed up and you have to at least in your heart see how disturbing that is.

    On the mission trip extravaganza: This is not a one time deal with only one youth group. This is based on several accounts throughout my life and many of my friend’s lives. I have seen so many drives to “help” the people of other countries and in your definition you do and I can accept that we definitely agree to disagree on this one. Your mission is to save these people in a spiritual way and if you are correct then you have given them the best gift out there, but I have seen so many times, churches spend tons of money on building churches and jazz like that but I never hear of people going to countries and teaching the people trades so they might be able to better their lives and be happy even while they are on earth. This is not a rash generalization of the Christian faith by any means and for you to flat out deny that this happens is denial. This definitely happens much more than not. I was actually involved, in my youth, in an effort to save the world by promoting Christianity to impoverished countries by send them Christian materials. I was approached by one woman who had a little for humanitarianism in her than I did at the time and asked to instead donate money for food for the people. When I approached the leader of the rally, they said that we were not accepting money for food, only things in a religious nature. It wasn’t until that point that I realized how errant the ideology of the people surrounding me was. The rationalization that now does not matter, only that they get to heaven is a very American and sad way to look at it. “The people are hungry for the word.” Well they are also hungry for some beans, but hey, at that welcome table there are gonna be a lot of beans so lets worry about getting them there instead. I think it’s a flawed philosophy but I am on the incorrect end of the spectrum anyway so what do I know. You can tell me that there are good guys among the masses of uncaring hypocrites, but in the end, people cannot change their belief system when the majority represent the exact opposite of what the church preaches.

    All of these accounts are from first hand experience and, yes, I do have hard feelings towards the people who brainwashed me for a good part of my life. These comments though come from a rational point of mind that, at the core, you have to see. They are not biased accounts of an angry person. They are what goes on and, without a doubt are still happening. In the end, we fundamentally have different bases that cannot be settled because at the base we both speak on terms that the other cannot agree to. Like, I don’t take sin as an answer for genocide or widespread deadly diseases. I don’t think entire countries in our history have been so horrible that everyone deserves to be killed. Don’t buy it. It’s pretty callous to say that it does. In the end, my arguments don’t matter because you are as stubborn as me. Sorry we cannot agree.

  16. October 5, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    You’re right, you have issues to overcome before you can see my way, as I suppose I do to see yours.

    Secondly, back on the needing beans, etc…you have obviously not read about the mission that I am involved with in Haiti. I don’t exalt my efforts at all, but I say this to let you know that your assumption is wrong. When I recently went to Haiti, I paid for a plane ticket. I paid for transportation from the airport to our mission compound. In addition, I gave money (along with the other 7 people) in order to buy a cow, rice, beans, spaghetti, and lots of vegetables in order to be able to feed the 400 Haitians who come to the compound for our little missions trip two meals a day. With our mission, we also have a bakery that supplies bread not just to the Christians in the community, but to every person in the community. Not only that, but our mission is single-handedly responsible for bringing electricity to the village, when most other villages don’t have it. It’s not for the Christians, its for all. In addition, our mission hires out help for building our churches, for building houses, for building gates for homes, for gardening, on and on – supplying jobs for the community. In addition, our mission has a medical clinic which treats people who are too sick to make a 6 mile WALK to the hospital, for free. In addition, there is a trades school to teach women how to sew, in order to make mandatory school uniforms for the Catholic school – which is in complete opposition to the theology presented by our mission. Oh yeah, we have churches that feed people spiritual food too.

    So yes, I do think there is harsh generalizations that you are bringing out. I do agree that there are some, if not a lot, of Christian organizations who say, “We will only help you if you worship our God.” I obviously think spreading the message of my belief, but if I do it and don’t actually care for the person, I have missed the entire point.

    As for your objection to seeing God in nature, agree to disagree I guess. I would say one thing though – shame on Christians for not being willing to go to these other places to share their beliefs, as well as bring about a better way of life. Christians, specifically American Christians, are sad representatives of Christ. It becomes way too me focused, and people no longer represent the one whose name they carry. For those people who have not heard the message of Christ, then I blame Christians. If we believe it, and are commanded, then we are responsible for not telling the message to those who have not heard. Secondly, there are a lot of unreached people groups who know nothing of Christianity – but there are also a lot who know. My assumption is that many Muslims know of Christianity. Haiti, who is dominantly Roman Catholic and Voodoo, is one of the most evangelized countries in the world. The list could go on. I know this argument will far from satisfy you, but I blame Christians. We’re commanded to love all people and to tell those about Christ – in combination – which goes deeper than just telling them, but truly caring for them – yet most Christians do not.

  17. October 6, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I’m going to digress to a previous point. I think we’ve “missed the mark” on something. It’s not that people die due to natural disasters because there is sin in the world. People die because there is sin in the world. When man sinned, bad things started happening in the world such as natural disasters. These things happen not because people sin, but because people sinned. Bad things don’t just happen to bad people. In fact, there is a woman in my church who everyone can see loves God with all her heart. She raised three Christian children who raised Christian grand-children. The problem is that she is very very sick and will, in all likelihood, die very soon. Her faith remains unshaken, but she’s still sick. Her death isn’t a judgment on her, it’s a result of God’s judgment of sin in general.

  18. October 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Very true Britchie…(I can’t wait to use that one)

    I did completely miss that one. Thanks for picking that up.

  19. October 6, 2008 at 9:55 am

    No problem. That what my friends call me, anyway.

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