11. Arguments Christians Should Not Use

Click here to hear episode #11.

In order to have an effective apologetic, it is important that Christians avoid using fallacious arguments in defense of their faith. This episode covers 6 common arguments that do more harm than good. For the book reviews we take a look at The Only Wise God by William Lane Craig and Losing Faith in Faith by Dan Barker.

See the full transcript.

  1. I rarely see people use the argument from genocides committed by atheist dictators as a case against atheism. Rather, I see people point to these as counterpoints to atheists pointing to the violent faults of Christianity or religion in general. Pointing to the frequency and extremity of violence also committed by unbelievers shows that violence is not universally belief-based. It thus renders the entire violence-and-religion line of reasoning null.

    I have a question about your treatment of Pascal’s Wager as well. It seems like your treatment of it is based on the connotation of the argument being coercive. However, what if it was used with a kind and gracious manner? Would that fix the problem? I think the primary disclaimer for your criticism of the argument should be that it is probably appropriate to use it with a person who has reviewed the arguments and understands the issues surrounding belief in God, and now only has a choice to make.

    Great Podcast, thanks for that.

    Philip    Nov 20, 08:45 PM    #
  2. Why is the christian god the natural choise to the solution of the finetuning/multiverse argument? Seem you could just as well say; “No, the multiverse theory is not true because [insert favorite deity] did it”. Nice podcasts btw.

    Trond    Nov 22, 09:49 AM    #
  3. Trond,

    The fine-tuning argument is an argument for the existence of a designer of the universe, and it could very well actually be the Islamic God that did it. So the fine-tuning argument does not necessarily support the Christian conception of God. However, a strong case for God gives a stronger foundation for believing that one of the monotheistic religions is true. Thus, after arguing for God’s existence you would then have to see which monotheistic tradition has the best position.

    Philip    Nov 26, 10:01 AM    #
  4. The final point you make how Christians should not use the argument from blind faith, mentions in its place we ought to reason from our personal experience that the Holy Spirit compels us to believe. And that the Holy Spirit impresses us in unique ways that are subjective, and this leads us to believe when we, 1) ask or allow, and, 2) are ready.

    I find this equally problematic as arguing from blind faith. It suggests by merely seeking to believe, by entering into “self-defined ready state”, that we can summon the Holy Spirit, and this is the means by which all Christians can reason and believe. However, if it is we who summon said compelling experience, and moreover, we who then interpret it and become followers, then whether it is authentic or not, aren’t either still “Christians”? Your argument necessarily suggests the potential for this inauthentic experience, and this can be measured by the fruit in the person’s life. However who is the differentiator between an unauthentic experience that leads astonishingly to lifelong faith and a fruitful life, since you intimated to us even atheists can lead extremely moral and objectively fruitful lives, it is possible. So what is the differnece between such a person and one who is authentically touched and does the same? Not to mention the one who receives authentic HS experiences, but then squanders his faith, by which you rationalize the “evils of Christianity”. I would hope but of course could not know, that both categories of fruitful and gracious lives would be saved Christians on judgement day. So the point is moot. Your reasoning creates a problem, because it seeks to address every category of non-believer to provide them concrete answers to why they don’t believe, when there may be no concrete answers. Attempting to be concrete then is the culprit. If you give us the decision power of determining when we are “touched” by HS experiences, authentic or not, if production of fruit and gracious results, which you admit potentially can, then your HS argument has created the pseudo-Christian. This category will then need further rationalizing to your unbelieving neighbor, so this appears to be digging yourself deeper.

    If it is the Holy Spirit we summon to touche us and cause belief, then I ask, what is a god, and what is a believer? How can God obey our command to supply us with belief of him? It has been said that he can increase faith. But can he provide prime belief of him? Furthermore, who is responsible for said belief, 1) the believer who has free will to choose to see it or not?, or, 2) the God who controls everything, all that we see, interpret and decide? It would appear it is the believer who manifests the prerequisite experience for belief in either the authentic or unauthentic case, as we are evidently free to interpret our experience. Unless of course you are a Calvinist. Otherwise, how can one ask Holy Spirit, God, any god, for an experience that will cause one to believe? Is belief no longer within the realm of free will? Doesn’t God in creating us and our potential understanding of the cosmos, provide either overwhelming reasons to believe, or not? If he never provided it to anyone, then of course nobody would have come up with the notion of him in the first place, so we should assume that he has. We humans do have reasons to believe, and whether they are entirely self-fabricated is the only thing left open to interpretation. Unfortunately we have opened the pandoras box of whether it the individual who interprets it, or if it destiny, but I digress on that can of worms for now.

    Since I should always try to decide what my experiences are, otherwise they are not my own, (and as you intimated, we have no precise way of relating personal and subjective experiences to others) then, how can anyone ever hope to authenticate a Holy Spirit experience without prerequisite belief in the Holy Spirit? You can’t have an HS experience, until you believe in the existence of Holy Spirit, and that itself is the leap of faith no matter how you cut it.

    Therefore reasoning by the Holy Spirit, is no better or worse than the argument from blind faith, it is simply muddying the water. It is merely a pre-subscribed way of expressing yourself and doesn’t really help us argue one way or the other to non-believers. In fact this type of pre-subscribed reasoning is what gets us into trouble when arguing with atheists.

    harpoonflyby    Dec 5, 12:45 PM    #
  Textile Help