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Myth: Atheists Have Just Never Heard An Intelligent Defense Of Christianity


Eccles
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I came across this by Austlin Cline on "About Agnosticism/Atheism. I thought I would post it here for comment.

 

Myth: Atheists Have Just Never Heard an Intelligent Defense of Christianity

http://atheism.about.com/od/knowledgeofrel...pologis.htm?p=1

 

Would Atheists Convert if They Experienced More Intelligent Apologists?

 

 

Myth:

Atheists have probably never heard an intelligent presentation of our Christian beliefs; if they did, they would convert and become Christians themselves.

 

 

 

Response:

Christians who are completely caught up in their religious beliefs sometimes have trouble understanding why someone else would fail to agree with them. They regard their religion, doctrines, and traditions as so obviously true that it's inconceivable that a person could take a serious look at them without ultimately accepting them. Assuming that the atheist isn't an idiot or being perverse, then the most viable conclusion to draw from their disbelief is that they are ignorant of the facts.

 

Sometimes, this ignorance is assumed to be a complete lack of familiarity with Christianity and Christian teachings.

 

Some Christians continue to treat the world as if the Christian message were still new and that there are large, ignorant masses out there who must be evangelized to. More seem to recognize, though, that there aren't many people left who have heard of Christianity and who haven't been exposed to its basic message. This means that persistent rejection of Christianity must be attributed to some defect in the presentation of the message — it certainly can't be because the message itself can be deemed unworthy of belief.

Given that so many atheists who reject Christianity do so on intellectual grounds, saying that the arguments on behalf of Christianity are unsound and unpersuasive, then it must be that the presentations of Christianity were simply not intelligent enough. The apologists who tried to evangelize atheists must have failed to provide the strongest, most intelligent arguments available and thus failed to convince the atheists that Christianity is a sound, rational, defensible religion to adopt.

 

The first problem with this has already been brought up: it's based on the assumption that there couldn't be anything wrong with the Christian message itself and thus also that the Christians couldn't possibly be wrong — or that there might be sound reasons for disagreeing with Christianity, even if it's right. There is no support offered for this assumption, it's just taken for granted without argument, discussion, or closer consideration.

 

The second problem is the fact that so many atheists are familiar not just with Christianity and the Christian message, but also with many of the most common arguments offered on behalf of Christianity. It's true that they may not be familiar with the most sophisticated versions of those arguments developed by Christian philosophers and theologians, but then again neither are most Christians themselves. If a person can be a Christian without knowing those arguments, then can't a person be an atheist without knowing them?

 

This leads us to a third problem: most Christians are not only unfamiliar with the most sophisticated theological arguments on behalf of the existence of God and the truth of Christianity, they aren't even familiar with moderately sophisticated versions of these arguments. Far too often, they barely know the most superficial versions of these arguments and know little or nothing at all about the most common responses, objections, or rebuttals.

 

Atheists, on the other hand, frequently understand more about these arguments and their rebuttals than the Christian apologist who is trying to evangelize them. This isn't true of all atheists, naturally, but it is true of many — and it only needs to be true of a few for the above myth to be undermined. The problem thus isn't that atheists have never encountered an intelligent presentation of Christianity, it's that they don't consider even intelligent presentations of Christianity do provide compelling, credible reasons to think that Christianity is true.

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Good post. Fervent Xians are so blinded by their beliefs they fail to employ common sense. The proof of this is in the fact they think that unbelievers of any stripe only need to hear an "intelligent" explanation of their religion in order to bring about an instant conversion.

 

Sad to see human beings, capable of so much, degrade themselves like this :rolleyes:

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I was just in a debate on another board where the question was asked, in both directions, "What if absolute proof that God did/did not exist was produced, would you change your mind?"

 

Almost universally, the Christians who answered said they could not fathom being proven wrong about the existence of God, so they could not even see the agrument from the Atheist side. Most said they would STILL believe, no matter how much evidence there was. And a couple admitted they would be so depressed and destroyed emotionally that their whole world would end.

 

Even when I asked, "Can't you at step into the Atheist's shoes for a second and see it from their side?" I was told flatly they could not, even for a minute. Could not even empathize. These are mostly parents with kids. What are they telling their kids, "You know when I tell you that you shouldn't say mean things to others because you wouldn't like it if they said them to you....well, when it comes to Atheists, they don't count, so don't worry about understanding them at all becasue they will be in Hell shortly anyway."

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I was just in a debate on another board where the question was asked, in both directions, "What if absolute proof that God did/did not exist was produced, would you change your mind?"

 

Almost universally, the Christians who answered said they could not fathom being proven wrong about the existence of God, so they could not even see the agrument from the Atheist side. Most said they would STILL believe, no matter how much evidence there was. And a couple admitted they would be so depressed and destroyed emotionally that their whole world would end.

 

Even when I asked, "Can't you at step into the Atheist's shoes for a second and see it from their side?" I was told flatly they could not, even for a minute. Could not even empathize. These are mostly parents with kids. What are they telling their kids, "You know when I tell you that you shouldn't say mean things to others because you wouldn't like it if they said them to you....well, when it comes to Atheists, they don't count, so don't worry about understanding them at all becasue they will be in Hell shortly anyway."

It's not that they can't, it's because they daren't... I do love intellectual dishonesty in a person... means I can dismiss them as a waste of carbon and water so much easier.. and that applies to what ever the dishonesty is...

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I'll imagine myself to be an atheist for a moment and say my response would probably be:

 

"Yes, I've never heard an intelligent defense. However, contrary to what you probably assume, it's not like no one tried. It's rather that I've heard every defense you can come up with and found them all to be dumb. Go figure."

 

All that of course with sweetest irony in my voice. :fdevil:

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It's not that they can't, it's because they daren't... I do love intellectual dishonesty in a person... means I can dismiss them as a waste of carbon and water so much easier.. and that applies to what ever the dishonesty is...

 

Yeah, god would strike them dead if they thought for a single instant that he did not exist. Funny thing is we atheists manage to survive many dark nights--not only of the soul but othewise, too. Why would god treat believers any different if they disbelieved for a single moment just as an experiment?

 

Okay, here's why. That is how I started off. And look where I am today.

 

Hmmm. Is it so bad being me? *looks around* I rather like being me.

 

But if god existed why would he disappear just because someone did not believe in him? I'm quite sure that most of you don't know I exist. If I posted under my real name people would think I'm a newbie. If you read an article with my real name you wouldn't know it's the Ruby of the internet forums. Does that make me more unreal? I DON'T THINK SO!

 

Is god less capable of existing without being known--and acknowledged--than a mere mortal???

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Yes, I've never heard an intelligent defense. However, contrary to what you probably assume, it's not like no one tried. It's rather that I've heard every defense you can come up with and found them all to be dumb. Go figure.

 

Excellent reply! I, too, have heard no good defense for Christianity. And it's not because I didn't look. No one looked longer, harder, or more fervently than I. I cannot comprehend--or see the relevancy of--many of the heavier theological debates. But I do understand that Christianity is supposed to be a religion for women, children, and uneducated slaves. That being the case, no one should have to be forced to read the heavy tomes of the educated theologian or philosopher in order to make sense of Christianity.

 

Yet the bald face of Christianity is so illogical that some of us note its impossibility even as little children--out of the mouths of babes and sucking thou hast ordained praise.... Might it be deduced that Christianity is so illogical that twenty years of education is required to properly understand it? Let's see. Someone said it's supposed to be a simple religion that even children and uneducated slaves can understand. I'm getting the clear sense of feeling somewhat fuzzy and dizzy from spinning too many circles....

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"If you don't believe, you'll got to hell and experience eternal torment. However, and more importantly, if you don't pay the church and follow 'The Rules' we shall either cast you out of the community, or arrest you and torture your ass for a while, then execute you. That's where the Hell-For-All-Eternity bit comes in. But God loves you"

 

i think that used to be the old method. These days it's more

 

"If you don't believe, you'll got to hell and experience eternal torment. However, and more importantly, I'll give you a solid hiding, disown you and throw you on the street, where you'll die of drugs alone. Then I'll pray for you. But God loves you"

 

It's called 'Fear' it's all you really need to understand, and as HPL said "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

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But God loves you"

 

Yeah, right. God loves me so much that when I do take off and find my own life he causes my mother to die so that he can use all these relatives to send me religious sympathy cards full of prayers and poems to make me return to the fold. I just remembered that I hadn't opened all my mail yet from today. I didn't recognize the name on the return address but inside it's full of poems and it ends with saying, "I'm praying for you."

 

That nerve! That's one of my cousins the age of my baby sister. Have they no respect for the gray head? The Bible commands them to respect the head with gray hair.

 

Lev. 19:32 "You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of an old [person]

 

The Revised Standard Version.

 

Prov. 16:31-32 A hoary head is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life. He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

 

The Revised Standard Version.

 

Confession: I copped some stuff from the first passage because it assumes that the hoary [gray] head believes in god. I posted those two verses from Proverbs because I think I am slow to anger, ruling my spirit well, and therefore a righteous person. Some translations of the bible say in Prov. 16:31 that the gray head is a crown of glory IF it is gained in a life of righteousness.

 

I can't read Hebrew, but perhaps we have someone here who can. If we do, could that person check it out? Okay, I checked the KJV and it indicates that they inserted the word "if." So much for good ol' King James, Defender of the Faith in England. I hear he was anything but righteous.

 

Maybe one of his translators wanted to get back at him and knew it would be safe to bury that little addition so deep inside the OT.

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About as 'righteous' as Constantine (or any king) for that matter. We had worse... these days they're pretty anodyne, relatively speaking. We've not had a good murder or incest in centuries. Unless you count the stupid bony Sloane who found she wasn't too special to wear a seat belt in the back of a Merc.

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About as 'righteous' as Constantine (or any king) for that matter. We had worse... these days they're pretty anodyne, relatively speaking. We've not had a good murder or incest in centuries. Unless you count the stupid bony Sloane who found she wasn't too special to wear a seat belt in the back of a Merc.

 

We? Who's we? I look at where you come from.

 

UK.

 

Yay! I'm not the only Brit on here! Good to meet you, Harley! *shake*

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About as 'righteous' as Constantine (or any king) for that matter. We had worse... these days they're pretty anodyne, relatively speaking. We've not had a good murder or incest in centuries. Unless you count the stupid bony Sloane who found she wasn't too special to wear a seat belt in the back of a Merc.

 

We? Who's we? I look at where you come from.

 

UK.

 

Yay! I'm not the only Brit on here! Good to meet you, Harley! *shake*

Evolution_beyond is one too :)

 

I try to remember that being a mad limey is a minority here, using Amazon.com links for book recommendations etc.

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About as 'righteous' as Constantine (or any king) for that matter. We had worse... these days they're pretty anodyne, relatively speaking. We've not had a good murder or incest in centuries. Unless you count the stupid bony Sloane who found she wasn't too special to wear a seat belt in the back of a Merc.

 

We? Who's we? I look at where you come from.

 

UK.

 

Yay! I'm not the only Brit on here! Good to meet you, Harley! *shake*

 

So Ruby Sera and Grandpa are Poms. Mmm, how about the cricket? The Barmy Army booed England off the field in the West Indies. Now I suppose Freddy and mob will have to seek political asylum somewhere. And the Poms are looking for a new coach. For the record, Australia murdered the Kiwis last night (AEST).

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About as 'righteous' as Constantine (or any king) for that matter. We had worse... these days they're pretty anodyne, relatively speaking. We've not had a good murder or incest in centuries. Unless you count the stupid bony Sloane who found she wasn't too special to wear a seat belt in the back of a Merc.

 

We? Who's we? I look at where you come from.

 

UK.

 

Yay! I'm not the only Brit on here! Good to meet you, Harley! *shake*

 

So Ruby Sera and Grandpa are Poms. Mmm, how about the cricket? The Barmy Army booed England off the field in the West Indies. Now I suppose Freddy and mob will have to seek political asylum somewhere. And the Poms are looking for a new coach. For the record, Australia murdered the Kiwis last night (AEST).

Never understood cricket...

 

I think Pakistan are looking harder.

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Eccles, where I live the crickets sing when it gets dark on a summer evening. Are you talking about a game? Don't you have the spelling wrong?

 

Anyway, I don't know the game and I don't know what Pom is/means. Nor do I know anything else about the stuff you assume I would know as a Brit. I've never been outside Ontario, lived most of my life as a horse and buggy Mennonite, and "broadened" my horizons by earning a few degrees at the local university.

 

Not quite done with the second one yet. Maybe I'll learn the answers to your questions in the last little bit but I doubt it. Can Aussies only think about the world in terms of sports? My roots go deep and this includes loyalty to the Queen of England.

 

We Ontarians (in what was formerly known as Upper Canada) refused to submit to or sympathize with the rebels on the other side of the Lakes. We were loyal to the British crown.

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No, he spelled the word correctly, but, despite being forced to play the accursed game, I've never taken much of an interest.

 

As to loyalty to anyone... I don't regard myself as a monarchist or a republican... Our constitutional monarchy is interesting, since that is who the oath of loyalty of the armed service is dedicated to, not the Government. The Government orders the armed services, but only with ER's tacit consent. If her maj decided to dig her heels in it could be pretty bloody. By and large the Queen leaves affairs of state to incumbent Gov't, but there is some power there.

 

From the ever useful Wiki

 

"The most significant family of constitutional monarchies in the world today are the sixteen Realms, all independent parliamentary democracies in a personal union relationship under Elizabeth II. Unlike some of their continental European counterparts, the Monarch and her Governors-General in the Commonwealth Realms hold significant "reserve" or "prerogative" powers, to be wielded in times of extreme emergency or constitutional crises usually to uphold parliamentary government.

 

In both Britain and elsewhere, a common debate centers around when and when not it is appropriate for a monarch to use his or her political powers. When a monarch does act, political controversy can often ensue, partially because the neutrality of the crown is seen to be compromised in favor of a partisan goal. While political scientists may champion the idea of an "interventionist monarch" as a check against possible illegal action by politicians, the monarchs themselves are often driven by a more pragmatic sense of self-preservation, in which avoiding political controversy can be seen as an important way to retain public legitimacy and popularity."

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Ruby Sera,

My apologies. I forgot you live in Canada. I should have remembered that from the Group I was on and left. (Thankfully). I do agree with you about the Australia obsession with Sport. That is about all Aussies talk about and think about. It is the only country that stops for a horse race. I really hate sport. We get it day in, day out. It is worse that a Televangalist in the Bible Belt of the United Christian States of America. However I do enjoy international cricket, but I am not obsessed with it. I can't sit in front of the TV for days watching cricket.

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Okay. Looks like I tried playing expert on something I know nothing about.

 

However, two centuries ago when the Americans (then known as the Thirteen Colonies or something like that) rebelled against Britain, there was a British crown that people in what is now Canada (Ontario, Quebec, and other Eastern provinces) were loyal to. That is what Mark A. Noll, an American historian said in 1992.

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Ruby,

 

The word Pom means an Englishman in Australia and New Zealand. It is supposed to have derived from the convict days in Australia and so it is said, it was an abbreviation of "Prisoner of His/Her Majesty".

Casey

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Ruby Sera,

My apologies. I forgot you live in Canada. I should have remembered that from the Group I was on

 

Eccles, I don't necessarily expect people to remember such details all over the internet. If you look in the info under my avatar, you can see where I'm from. That's how I knew where you are from. I was going to say "American mind," then I looked and saw. You're from Australia. Not everybody says where they are from but many people do.

 

It is worse that a Televangalist in the Bible Belt of the United Christian States of America.

 

How can you possibly know what it's like living in the Bible Belt? Do you live in a place where you feel safe stating your religious position, i.e. atheism, in public? Or do you live in a place where you will twist things in your brain so you can identify as Christian for public purposes if at all possible? If you are like me you will just let people think you are Christian unless there is a really good reason not to. I don't fear physical violence but there have been serious emotional costs and other difficulties. I have decided it may be best for me not to mention my religious position when job-hunting.

 

Maybe it was before you joined. I once read a post on here that really hit me hard. A young male Afro-American living in the American South (Bible Belt) wanted to go public with his atheism (do volunteer community work while wearing an atheist t-shirt) to prove to the public that atheists are not evil. Someone advised him, "You are Black, in the South, and want to come out with your atheism. I hope you're big." In other words, "you may be in danger of your life."

 

Eccles, I understand all you are talking about is that it's a bother. I am suggesting that televangelists in the American Bible Belt seem to have much more power than just being a bother. When a young man wanting to come out about his atheism has to be prepared to deal with seriously violent attacks on his person, we are talking about something far more serious than just a bother.

 

But I get what you mean--you're not into sports but you live in a place where sports are The Thing, and it's a pain in the neck or worse for non-sports-minded people. I can identify.

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So Ruby Sera and Grandpa are Poms.

 

Casey said:

 

The word Pom means an Englishman in Australia and New Zealand. It is supposed to have derived from the convict days in Australia and so it is said, it was an abbreviation of "Prisoner of His/Her Majesty".

 

Well, I guess then I am not a Pom. Neither I nor any of my forebears so far as I know was never a prisoner of any British monarch. We might have been prisoners of some continental rulers and monarchs because of our religion but hardly the Brits. A lot of people hated my Anabaptist forebears and did what they could to rid the earth of them and their ilk. But they didn't ship us off to other parts of the world. We left Europe of our own accord when land in the Americas became available.

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I read about the Anabaptists in Luther's time. If what he said about the Peasant's Revolt in Germany is anything to go by, hatred must have been very strong indeed. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that even today, somebody must always be persecuting somebody else, but that I suppose is a part of the human condition.

 

To matters less solemn, OK, no you're not a Pom. But you might be amused by this little tale. When I was in Primary School many years ago, we learned a song known as Botany Bay. Its first and most well-known verse goes like this:

 

Farewell to Old England forever!

Farewell to me ol' rum culls as well,

Farewell to th' well-known Old Bailey,

Where I used for to cut such a swell!

 

Rum culls = drinking buddies or companions in crime

The Old Bailey = The Central Criminal Court in London

To cut a swell = to make a name for oneself in criminal circles.

 

The irony of this was that whereas we were told this song was 18th Century in origin, I discovered much later in life that this wasn't so. The thieves' cant it uses isn't Georgian for a start; it's far more Regency and Early Victorian. The song itself was a music hall ditty written I believe in the 1860's in the last days of Transportation.

 

Nonetheless a song was written much earlier under the title "Botany Bay, a New Song" and this was Georgian, right enough. Its author is unknown and it was probably wise for him to be anonymous, because if you were openly "agin the Guv'mint" back then, you might well find yourself with a free ticket for the hold of the next transport. One can feel the sardonic Georgian mockery from the first verse, which is:

 

Let us drink a good health to our schemers above,

Who at length from this land have contrived to remove

Thieves, robbers and villains, they'll send 'em away,

To become a new people at Botany Bay

Botany Bay = name for the penal colony.

Casey

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