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A change in the opening approach


Wertbag
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I might have too small a set of data to make this claim, but it feels that there has been a change in the way Christians start talking to non-believers.  For years the go to answer was "I've experienced Him in my life, my testimony of this one piece of good luck, and that is all I need to confirm He is there".  But more recently I hear the same statement over and over "But you must think the universe came from nothing!"

When pushed Christians fall back on the same few arguments; fine tuning, complexity and where did life or the universe come from.  Many now seem almost embarrassed to talk about personal experience, perhaps such stories have been smacked down so many times they are realizing how empty such claims are?  When apologists and preachers will tell their followers that personal experience is of no value to anyone else, then perhaps the message is finally sinking in? 

 

The three apologetic favourites seem to be brought up over and over, and I'm wondering if that's the message that is now being pushed in more places.  They understand that previous arguments are poor, so are sticking to the ones that non-believers cannot counter...  because they are all god of the gaps arguments.  The answer being pushed is "I don't know, therefore god did it".  There's no attempt to communicate, to show prayer works, to perform miracles, to do any physical task which the bible says should work, instead we are left with a claim against questions which are so remote and hard to answer that we shouldn't know the answers yet.  The contradiction of "I don't know how this works" so "therefore I know god makes it work" is obvious and yet completely ignored.

 

I don't disbelieve because of the big bang, evolution or abiogenesis, and I'm pretty sure no one is a believer because of problems they have with those theories.  They aren't subjects which are the basis of faith, and yet they seem to come up a large amount of the time as the first line of defense.  But what else is there?  Back to personal experience?  Its no wonder the numbers of Christians and firm believers keeps dropping when this is the best they have to prove god.

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This reminds me of our recent christian visitor, Johnny.   He was convinced that life could only have come about through divine creation.  In challenging us to show how life could have developed without such a deity, he declared victory when we didn’t answer to his satisfaction.  He refused to disclose how he got from “therefore god!” to “it’s the god of the bible!”, supposedly because we wouldn’t concede his premise.  Maybe he has good arguments in that area, maybe not: we’ll never know.  In which case, I’m assuming “not”.
 

In my opinion, one of the best arguments for the existence of a sentient creator is the so called “fine-tuning” argument.  But that only gets you to deism, and as you suggested, nobody becomes a christian by that route.  Making the leap from deism to theism - belief in a benevolent deity who cares how we live and who intervenes regularly - comes either from an emotional desire for such a “sky daddy” or from deep indoctrination and presupposition.   
 

8 hours ago, Wertbag said:

Its no wonder the numbers of Christians and firm believers keeps dropping when this is the best they have to prove god.

 

Indeed, if mere deism is as far as so many people can get these days.  That plus $1.30 will get me a regular coffee at McDonalds.  

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9 hours ago, Wertbag said:

When apologists and preachers will tell their followers that personal experience is of no value to anyone else, then perhaps the message is finally sinking in? 

 

That's a good question. 

 

9 hours ago, Wertbag said:

The contradiction of "I don't know how this works" so "therefore I know god makes it work" is obvious and yet completely ignored.

 

I don't disbelieve because of the big bang, evolution or abiogenesis, and I'm pretty sure no one is a believer because of problems they have with those theories.  They aren't subjects which are the basis of faith, and yet they seem to come up a large amount of the time as the first line of defense.  But what else is there?  Back to personal experience?  Its no wonder the numbers of Christians and firm believers keeps dropping when this is the best they have to prove god.

 

The contradiction is another example of cognitive dissonance. The christian mind virus causes it. 

 

The numbers have been dropping and should continue to drop. I'm sure that's probably provoked the virus minded preachers to try and account for it somehow. Desperate to throw anything at the wall and see what sticks. 

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And even with the fine tuning being the best argument it still suffers from the water and the hole problem wherein the water considers the hole finely tuned for it when in fact it just happens to fit into the hole because that's the way things are.

 

Well that, and the rather large problem of... where did this sentient creator come from?

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When I was in youth group, we were taught how to "witness" and how to share the gospel.  There was even a Sunday School course for high school and college students who wanted to learn how to be effective at reaching the lost.  One of the things that was constantly drilled into our minds back then was that nobody could argue with personal testimony.  That if we could demonstrate what god had done in our own lives, there was no argument that could disprove it.  Of course, in my own experience, that led to a little bit of 'lying for the lord."  But the ends justified the means, as far as anyone could tell.

 

There does seem to have been a shift since then.  We've entered the age of the internet, where information is literally at our fingertips and verifying claims is as easy as a Google search.  As a result, people are less likely to be satisfied with mere assertions and unsupported claims; and apologists need more convincing arguments.  In response, there is an almost desperate need to demonstrate that the existence of a god or gods is possible, from which platform then the meat and potatoes of the gospel can be shared.  It's something I never had to do when I was a christian; because there was a much more presuppositionalist atmosphere back then.  I could enter straight into a theological or doctrinal argument based on the acceptance that a god exists and build my case for the christian god from there.  Apologists today do not have that luxury; and they are filling the void as best they can.

 

But this puts them into a bit of a pickle, as it were.  Because, as has already been pointed out, demonstrating the possibility of a god's existence still doesn't establish that god as being the christian god.  But, of more concern and import, in my opinion, is that faith necessarily requires a lack of evidence; and the more evidence one presents to support the existence of god, the less faith is required to believe it.  Apologists are shooting themselves in the foot without realizing it.  In their desperation to "prove" god, they are obviating the very thing required to come to god: faith.  It presents yet another logical contradiction--that god remains hidden and mysterious because he requires faith; but god has demonstrated his existence and power throughout all of creation because he wants us to know him.  Any god capable of successfully sustaining both positions can have my disbelief any day of the week, and be welcome to it.

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Due to divine hiddenness the apologist has to rely on inferring gods existence by saying "Things look the way they should if a god exists".  All claims to fine tuning, complexity and creation are pointing this way, it just hints at it being what they would expect if there were a god.  This line of thinking makes the problem of suffering stand out, because that is not what we should expect, and divine hiddenness itself is not what we should expect from a god that wanted us to know Him.

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If true believers are moving away from personal testimonies to science-based arguments for their god, why is it that so many of them don't understand the basics of science?

 

 

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24 minutes ago, walterpthefirst said:

If true believers are moving away from personal testimonies to science-based arguments for their god, why is it that so many of them don't understand the basics of science?

 

 

Based in my "lying for the lord" comment above, I'd submit they never understood the basics of giving testimony either.

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44 minutes ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

Based in my "lying for the lord" comment above, I'd submit they never understood the basics of giving testimony either.

 

Which perhaps suggests that they never understood the basics of evidence gathering and evidence giving either.

 

😬

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30 minutes ago, walterpthefirst said:

 

Which perhaps suggests that they never understood the basics of evidence gathering and evidence giving either.

 

😬

And this fits perfectly with the scripture that commands them to lean not on their own understanding. 

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