Challenge: God’s Checklist

Posted: March 20, 2012 by Amy Hall in God Has Spoken, God is Real, Intelligently Designed, Jesus Changes Everything, Weekly Challenge

Because Brett and Alan are speaking on the STR cruise this week, the challenge today will be a little different from usual. Christopher wrote in to suggest we cover the video posted below, but since it brings up way too many topics for us to answer in one challenge response, I thought I’d post the video today and let you all take a shot at whichever topic you wish. Then on Thursday, I’ll post links to several of our challenge responses (and some articles) that address the various objections in this video, because fortunately, we’ve already covered a lot of them!

So I guess, think of this as a pop quiz. If you’ve been joining in our challenges for a while, you’ll be ready!

  1. Well, there are quite a few challenges in this one. I’ve seen atheists use this tactic before in piling heaps of arguments against Christianity on you all at once to try and disorient you so much that you are unable to give a coherent answer to any one of their arguments.

    However, I don’t think it would be hard to answer any one of his challenges, we just need to figure out how to go about it. In the true Stand to Reason spirit, I would start by asking questions. First I’d ask something like, “Where are you going with this? I get that you are listing things about Christianity that you find to be illogical or immoral but what are you inferring from it?”

    I’m pretty sure his argument can be summed up like this (or at least something similar):
    1. If God exists, the Bible would make perfect sense to everyone and no one would doubt God’s existence.
    2. The Bible contains illogical and immoral content and many doubt God’s existence.
    3. Therefore, God does not exist.

    Although issue can be taken with many of the things he said, I think we can cut his whole argument out from under him by disproving his first premise.

    Let’s start with the notion that the Bible/Christianity should make perfect sense to everyone if God exists. What if I said, “I don’t believe the President of the United States exists. I greatly disagree with his foreign policy, his attitude towards the Armed Forces, and the various laws he has supported while in office. If there was really a President he would not have done things the way he did.” Would anyone buy this logic? Absolutely not. I didn’t disprove the President’s existence. All I did was note that he didn’t do things the way I would have. In the same way, someone who takes issue with God hasn’t disproved his existence by drawing attention to his alleged flaws, he’s only saying that God didn’t do things the way he would have expected. This does not however, disprove God’s existence.

    Next, the fact that people doubt God’s existence does not disprove his existence. There are still people who doubt that the earth is round (I’m not kidding: The fact that there exists a group of people that doubts something never in itself disproves that thing.

    So, we’ve established that nothing he has said disproves the existence of God or the truth of Christianity. He’s done nothing more than to let us know he doesn’t like Christianity. Assuming I had the time, I would start taking him through the arguments for God’s existence (the Kalaam Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, the Moral Argument, etc. etc.). After establishing the case for God’s existence I would move into the case for Christianity and tackle his arguments one by one.

  2. Mark in Columbia, MO says:

    Sometimes, most times, when you encounter one of these “smartest guys in the room”, it’s best to move on and talk sports.

    But, if a true friend insists, I think an approach like Spencer proscribes is the one to take. A shorter, more flippant, version is as follows: The video-makers argument is essentially “I think my caricature of the Bible reveals Christianity to be dumb, therefore God does not exist.”

    If agreeable, I’d suggest turning it around and ask: “But If God does exist, is this caricature fair?”

    Therefore, before we get wrapped up in theology, let’s address the question of theism. If theism is reasonable, then theology is an important thing (maybe THE most important thing?). If theism is not reasonable, then forget the theology and let’s talk Reggie Theus (I say he was a one dimensional pretty boy with a sweet J and no D. You?).

    But if it IS important, then it’s important enough to get beyond a pithy youtube video and have a real conversation.

  3. be7821 says:

    The more I watched this video, the more it made me smile and chuckle just a bit. It becomes quite apparent early on that he has a vendetta against God. But hey, in order to have a vendetta against God, you would have to believe there is a God. A second thing that jumped out at me is that he is going to such extreme measures to prove there is no God. Again, why go through such extreme measures to disprove a God you don’t believe exist unless maybe he really does exist. Thirdly, as Spencer pointed out, nothing he said proves or disproves anything.

    One final observation, he employs a strategy of non-accountibility. In other words, if there is a God, it’s His fault not mine. This would give him the green light to do whatever he pleases and not be bound to any moral standards other than his own. My question to him would be, where did your moral standards originate? A follow up question would be, who determines right from wrong?

  4. Matt says:

    I guess my first question after listening to a diatribe such as this would be, “Why should I take your characterization to be true? Since it seems you’ve pretty much misrepresented virtually everything Christianity (when properly understood) believes (the Straw Man Fallacy), why should I believe you actually even want answers rather than just an excuse not to believe?” I agree with be7821’s final observation here.
    I would then try to employ a combination of Spencer’s and Mark’s approaches and see where things went.

  5. Jack says:

    “1. If God exists, the Bible would make perfect sense to everyone and no one would doubt God’s existence.”

    Have you read it? The answer in 999 cases out of 1000 is ‘No’. I win.

    “2. The Bible contains illogical and immoral content and many doubt God’s existence.”

    See 1). If you haven’t read it you are not in a position to make that claim and even if you have read it you haven’t said anything substantial, just made a noise. And even if your claim was correct it does not follow that because the Bible contains immoral and/or illogical content, therefore God doesn’t exist. That’s illogical.

    “3. Therefore, God does not exist.”

    But you are being illogical therefore you don’t exist either. I win again.

    (Hey Amy, how come you missed out on the cruise?)

    • Amy Hall says:

      I’m just a lowly blogger! But maybe someday they’ll take pity on me and take me along anyway. 🙂

  6. Well I know this guy, one of my favorite Youtube Atheists. I would have picked another one of his videos though, this one is all over the place and not really meant for response. TBS is one guy on youtube that is not afraid of response nor is he afraid of debate. Out of all the atheists on youtube, he is probably the most well thought out and thorough in his approach. This video is probably one of the hardest ones he’s made to respond to just because of the approach…this more speaking to his atheist audience rather than looking for Christian response.

    • Amy Hall says:

      Well, maybe it’s possible he was purposefully creating straw men in this video for rhetorical effect to make his audience happy. But if not, he has a very superficial understanding of Christianity.

  7. Paul says:

    Lets just start with the fact that I am an atheist. I grew up as a Christian, but I can no longer believe in it. It is not my intent to debate (since being on this site, I am sure you are up to speed on all the tactics), but rather to give you insight as to why I dont believe. If you want to ever have a fruitful discussion with an atheist, you must understand what they believe. So please ask away. Ask me why I dont believe. I will be as honest as I can be. All that I ask is for mutual respect. I have a lot of friends and family that are christians, and I respect them alot. If you treat me with respect, I will try to do the same.

    @Spencer, The problem is the Christian god is supposed to be all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing. The question is why would such a god with these traits design an universe that seemingly does not fit with the bible which is suppose to be his infallible, perfect, holy word? And the real kicker is if you can not reconcile the difference in the observation of the world and the perfect word, you go to hell. So if the Christian god is true, then he set us up for failure and offers the ultimate torture when you inevitably fail. Do you think every Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Gay, etc dies and goes to hell for eternity? The bible says yes. What if they were 8 yrs old? 10? 15? What if all they ever knew was what their society taught them? Do they go to hell? According to the bible, yes. But since your god is perfect in Justice and Mercy, you don’t know. You would hope he would be merciful, but that would violate his perfect word. So why would an all-powerful god create cognitive beings that can not understand him? Why purposefully make himself so mysterious? I think god is a mystery b/c god is a myth. A creation of man to describe what we have not been able to understand. He is mysterious because we make him mysterious.

    I always find it odd when people “know” they are saved or “know” the nature of god. I find this especially funny b/c when I talk to Christian friends about my issues with Christianity, they inevitably ask “don’t you think it is possible that humans are in capable of understanding god?” So many acknowledge that they can not understand god, but somehow know what god wants or if they are saved…

    @Jack, you would be surprised to find that many/most of the hard-line atheists have read the bible, and frankly, that is why we are atheists… I grew up in the church. My whole family (including my wife) are Christians. I’ve read the bible and been to church my whole life. We are familiar with the bible, it just makes not since that the god described by the bible would give us stories that do not match the “creation” we see… Also Jack, unless you convert them and “save their souls”, you dont win. You just shield your own faith. For a Christian to win, a conversion must be made. If your whole goal is just to win an argument, then you missed the entire point.

    @be7821, his beef is not with god, it is against religion in general. Since his world view, as an atheist, is that we dont necessarily know all the answers, then the only point to argue is if there is a god. Atheists dont claim to know how the universe or life began. There are very good scientific theories based on observation, but if observation showed them to be wrong, those theories would be thrown out (as has happened time and time again in Science). So if you were to try to disprove Big Bang or Evolution, that is fine, but it does not answer the question you claim to know the answer to: is there a god? That is the question to debate, and do debate that question we must look at what it would look like if God did exist, and specifically in America, the Christian god. I am sure that if TBS were living in the Middle East, he would be attacking the Muslim god.

    The reason that atheism is on the rise is because many of us see religion as a source of much of the hate and bigotry in the world. Mainstream Christianity is showing hate towards Gays, Muslims, Atheists, etc. What is ironic about this is it is directly contrary to the teachings of Jesus…

    Finally, I am insulted that you think morality can be based only on a god. I did not become an atheist to live an amoral life. I did not choose to not believe in a god so I can have orgies, murder, do/deal drugs, rape, etc. This was not the easy choice. It would be far easier for me to walk around in America pretending to still be a Christian. I would not have to tell my dad, who I have a deep respect for, I don’t believe in god. I would not have to make my wife cry b/c we will not be in her idea of a heaven together after death. I would not have to be hated or looked at differently b/c I find it so difficult to believe in a God that does not make himself known.

    Morality does not need a god and in fact, I think may Atheist do a better job of showing the love Jesus taught than most Christians. Here is another video of his that talks about morality, though Sam Harris does it in a more scientific way, TBS is good enough for now and a shorter listen.

    • be7821 says:

      Paul, thank you for taking time to respond to this post. Whether we agree or not is not as important at this time as to whether we can at least have dialogue. You have addressed many different issues. Here are my thoughts on a few of them:

      1). God does not condemn one to Hell for not being able to reconcile the difference in the observation of the world and the perfect word. God condemns one to Hell for nor believing in and trusting in His son Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Sin separates us fron God. Jesus’s death and ressurection reestablishes our relationship with God. Jesus is the bridge between a broken and fallen world and a perfect and Holy God. This is our choice. God will not force Himself or His son upon us.

      2). God’s word is very clear in what we need to do to be saved. So yes, we can know if we are saved. God’s word also reveals His nature. So yes, it is possible to know His nature. However, He is infinite and we are not, so we will never be able to fully understand Him (Isaiah 55:9).

      3). You mentioned that the stories of the bible do not match the “creation” we see. How so?

      4). In addressing the question of whether God exist or not, we must examine such issues of how did the universe begin and where did life originate. These things did not happen on there own. Also, I am not quite sure how examining what “it would look like if God did exist, specifically in American,” is relevant. Please elaborate?

      5). When you say religion, what exactly do you mean?

      6). Yes, Jesus did instruct us not to hate and judge. He also instructed us to speak the truth in love. You state that mainstream christians show hate and intolerance towards Gays, Muslim’s and Athiests. Could you please site some specific examples of this? I believe it could also be said that there are those who are intolerant of Christianity. Is that okay?

      7). As for the issue of Morality, who determines what is right and what is wrong? On what basis is something right or something is wrong? Do you believe in absolute truth or is truth relevant?

      Hope to continue the dialogue!!