Ten Questions to Ask a Christian: My Responses

Not long ago, I received an invitation from Marcus at The BitterSweet End to respond to his Christian (Theist) Challenge. It’s my understanding that he’ll also be responding to my own list of Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist, so stay tuned. (For those who remember, I also compiled the numerous responses I received from atheists in another post).

Now, the questions:

1. Do you feel like Religion, God and The Bible conflict?

I don’t believe God and the Bible conflict. I do recognize that religion, defined as “imperfect people seeking to follow a perfect God”, can sometimes conflict, in practice, with God and the Bible.

2. If God told you kill someone, (And you are 100% it’s God).  Would you kill that person?  Why or Why Not?

If you’re asking whether or not I ascribe to some version of divine command theory, the answer is yes.

At the same time, God obviously can’t contradict His own nature…so it’s difficult for me to answer this question without additional context. In many ways, it’s like asking, “Can God make a rock so big He can’t pick it up?”

Until God begins recruiting unsuspecting Christians as His personal hit men, I wouldn’t be too worried about this kind of hypothetical question.

3. Who created God; if he came from nothing or has no creator doesn’t that violate The First Law of Thermodynamics?

The First Law of Thermodynamics tells us that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but it doesn’t address the question of “where all this energy came from in the first place”. It specifically describes energy within the universe, so it’s not clear why it should be applied to the state of things before the universe began.

I touched on this issue in a previous post, but the main idea is that God is defined by Christians as the Prime Mover; the “first cause” of all that exists.

4. If you believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God; do you believe it to be inerrant or infallible?  And, If the Bible is found errant, does God still exist and is the Bible still a trustworthy source?

I hold to the inerrancy of the autographic text of Scripture. Obviously not all manuscript copies are perfectly preserved.

As to the second question, it would really depend on the circumstances (and more importantly, what one means by “errant”). I don’t generally draw a distinction between inerrancy and infallibility.

On a side note, there is sometimes confusion between inerrancy and strict Biblical literalness. To borrow a line from the Chicago Statement: “history must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth.”

5. In the Bible their are stories of God telling the Israelites to kill innocent women & children and children being punished for the sins of their father.  Is this morally right or morally justifiable?

I hope this isn’t too much of a cop-out, but I would recommend checking out this Q&A post from Dr. William Lane Craig. It’s also relevant to question #2.

6. If God is perfect, how can something imperfect come out of something that is PERFECT?  Did God make a mistake?

This question touches on the problem of evil, which I’ve written on previously.

Briefly: I don’t see any reason why God’s perfection and omnipotence should be incompatible with the existence of evil, provided He has sufficient reason to create creatures with free will (the ability to rebel against Him).

7. If a Christian goes into a forest and gets lost.  And he prays to God to be saved and not die.  Does a God still hear him?  How do you know?  And, how can you be sure?

God hears him, yes. [Psalm 116:1-2, Proverbs 15:29, I John 5:14]

8. If you were to die, and when you go before God; it’s some other God you have never seen or heard of nor worshiped?  What would you do?  Would you plead for him not to judge you harshly and what would you say?

Assuming the God you refer to is singular, it couldn’t really be “some other” God. In this case, your question becomes, “What would you do if it turns out that your understanding of God is largely incorrect?”

According to the beliefs that I already hold, my sins in this life leave me deserving of nothing less than eternal punishment. As it stands now, my solitary hope rests on an act of divine mercy.

So the worst-case scenario – in your hypothetical situation – is that I end up receiving the punishment that I already rightfully deserve.

Would I plead for mercy? I don’t know. Maybe. But that seems more a question of personality than theology.

9. What is something that would convince you that Christianity is wrong and that there is no God?  (If your answer is NOTHING, than please explain WHY?)

Christianity is certainly falsifiable. It would require showing that the resurrection of Jesus never happened. [I Corinthians 15:17]

Of course, even if one were to disprove the resurrection, this wouldn’t disprove God – only Christianity. I’m convinced that the moral, scientific, and philosophical arguments for God are entirely sound. If I were to abandon a belief in God, it would have to be for emotional or existential reasons – not intellectual ones. It would have to be a matter of personal rebellion against God (and the idea of God).

I don’t anticipate that happening, fortunately.

10. This is a quote by the atheist Richard Dawkins…”We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go ONE god further.“-Richard Dawkins. Why does the Christian reject all other gods, but not their own?  Why are you Christian?  Why do you believe in only the Judo-Christian God?

In response to your quote from Richard Dawkins, allow me to provide a quote from CS Lewis:

“If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view.”

I am a Christian because I believe Christianity provides the most comprehensive, coherent understanding of God. For more details, see points 4, 6, 7, and 8 on my “Evidence for Christianity” list.

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79 thoughts on “Ten Questions to Ask a Christian: My Responses

  1. If mankind would but seek God with honesty and sincerity they would be found of Him.

    And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD Jeremiah 29:13-14

    Specificaly in this verse the Israelites are in view but the principle is pre -Israel..

    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    Heb 11:6

    I would encourage all athiests to seek the LORD while they can, and not delay, for procrastination is fatal.

  2. “…but the main idea is that God is defined by Christians as the Prime Mover; the “first cause” of all that exists.”

    Thanks for being honest. One comment, and one only.

    Pick up a rock and look at it. Congratulations: you’ve just examined direct, irrefutable evidence that the universe exists. Even if we are all in a Matrix-style simulation, we can all independently verify that the rock you are holding in your hands has mass, and weight, and texture, and chemical composition, etc. No faith is required. Scientific experiments would confirm that the rock exists.

    Why is the rock here, one might ask. Why does it exist?

    To attempt to answer this question, an honest scientist would now generate a scientific, falsifiable hypothesis. A falsifiable hypothesis is one that can — in principle — be demonstrated to be either true or false, using EVIDENCE.

    Why does the hypothesis need to be falsifiable? It’s quite simple. Rather than a long-winded philosophical explanation, here is a short list of non-falsifiable hypotheses we could propose:

    1) The rock is here because an invisible, undetectable, giant purple Gila Monster placed it here.

    2) The rock is here because extraterrestrial aliens — who vanished millions of years ago and left no trace of their existence — put it here.

    3) The rock is here because people who lived 2000 years ago wrote a book describing a supernatural being who created the rock.

    4) The rock is here because the god who lives in my heart placed it here.

    Scientifically speaking, all four of these hypotheses are equally valid. None can be supported with evidence, and therefore all of them can be dismissed as pure speculation.

    Why is Number 3 not supported by the bible? Why is the bible not evidence? Well, if you read Number 3 again, you will see that it attributes the existence of the rock to a claim written in a book. If one now uses this book as “evidence” for the claim itself, one is committing an egregious logical fallacy called Circular Reasoning — which is more commonly known as begging the question.

    A simple example further demonstrates the circularity of the “God” hypothesis:

    Claim: The God of the bible exists.
    Question: What or who is the “God” of the bible?
    Answer: The “God” of the bible is the God of the bible.

    No Christian knows anything about “God” — other than what is written down in the bible, which we’ve just shown to be fallacious circular reasoning.

    Alternatively, the claim that “God” exists as a “feeling” in Christian hearts is also an unfalsifiable claim, because there is no way a scientific experiment could demonstrate whether a “feeling” in a human heart (or brain) provides evidence for the “God”. (It could just be heartburn, for instance.)

    Thus, an assertion of “God” as a “first cause” adds absolutely nothing to the original question of why the rock exists. The rock exists, PERIOD.

    Why is the rock here? An honest person would simply say “I don’t know why it is here.”

    Be honest, Christians.

  3. Pingback: Finding and Understanding Words and Meanings « Bijbelvorser = Bible Researcher

  4. Everyone must be agnostic, to some degree. Bertrand Russell’s teapot is the best reply I know to your question. Sure, a teapot COULD be orbiting the Sun, and since we cannot see it, we must be agnostic about its existence — but it isn’t very likely.

    Richard Dawkins devised a 1-to-7 point scale for agnosticism, with 1 representing fundamentalist theism, and 7 representing strict atheism. I would say I’m a 6.8 on that scale.

    Matt, check out this amazing video which shows a NASA computer simulation for how galaxies form. It begins with a “bang” and ends with surreal beauty:

    Enjoy!

    • I entirely agree that we can’t have our “own” truths. That’s never been my position.

      To clarify, my position is that the Christian understanding of the universe is *the* Truth – not some kind of subjective truth.

      I generally agree with the content of your article, but would caution against moving beyond this into Scientism: “The only way we can know truth is through science.” This very statement is self-defeating, because it isn’t a scientific claim! It’s a philosophical claim. There’s no way we can prove, scientifically, that the scientific method is the only way to know truth.

      I would also point out that induction – the basis for scientific inquiry – is very much rooted in a Judeo-Christian understanding of the universe. If our universe is mindless and irrational, then what grounds do we have, really, for trusting the validity of our own thoughts?

  5. I’m going to make a claim:

    “Zimbobble exists.”

    What, in your mind, should be the next step in evaluating this claim?

  6. Here is a more complete definition of Zimbobble:

    1: the supreme or ultimate reality: as

    a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

    b Zimbobblian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind

    2: a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

    3: a person or thing of supreme value

    4: a powerful ruler

    Does this help?

    Next question.

  7. Some of the evidence is outlined on my website tab entitled “Evidence for Zimbobblianity.”

    In particular:

    #1 Fine-Tuning
    #2 Argument from morality
    #3 Religious experience
    #4 The success of mathematics

    As I’m sure you’ll agree, these items are supportive of Theism and/or Deism, *generally*.

    Next question?

    • Great! So we agree that there’s an entity (I call Him God; you call Him Zimbobble) that accounts for the “first cause”. He is responsible for the finely-tuned physical parameters that allow our universe to exist, and He is the source of objective moral values. Since we were created by an intelligent entity, we also have a basis for believing that our own thoughts are rational. We have a basis for the correlation between mathematics in nature and mathematics derived by man. Since you cite “religious experiences”, I take it that Zimbobble is, to some degree, active in your own life (or the lives of your fellow Zimbobblians). So Zimbobblianity is *probably* more of a Theist system of belief than a Deist one.

      So what else do you know about Zimbobble, and how do you know it?

  8. Zimbobble is not “God”. That’s a False Equivalence fallacy. Zimbobble is Zimbobble. Period. Where did you get THAT strange word?

    As far as additional evidence, 2000 years ago, give or take, a book was written about Zimbobble by wise goat-herding philosophers. It contained many prophecies that have come true in our modern times.

    Unfortunately, this book was lost when Rome burned in 64 AD, and only survives as an oral tradition among Zimbobblists.

    Next?

  9. “So Zimbobblianity is *probably* more of a Theist system of belief than a Deist one.”

    From Wikipedia:

    “Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists.”

    This is the sense in which I’m using it. My translation of the Greek word “theos” is “Zimbobble,” just in case you’re wondering.

    • If this is your definition of Zimbobble, then why do you take issue with me observing that your idea of “Zimbobble” is my idea of “God”? False Equivalence fallacy? You’re making the same equivalence. 😉

      You say,

      “As far as additional evidence, 2000 years ago, give or take, a book was written about Zimbobble by wise goat-herding philosophers. It contained many prophecies that have come true in our modern times.”

      So far so good. Can you give an example of one of these prophesies?

      Also, do you have any physical or textual evidence to support Zimbobblianity aside from oral tradition? [Because if you’re going to play that game, then you’re DEFINITELY committing a false equivalence fallacy in your implicit comparison between Zimbobblianity and Christianity.]

  10. “If this is your definition of Zimbobble, then why do you take issue with me observing that your idea of “Zimbobble” is my idea of “God”?”

    Because I don’t have any idea what you mean by that (nonsensical?) word “God” that you’re using. It’s your word. Perhaps you can define it better for me, because I seriously don’t know who or what you’re talking about.

    In a previous comment, I’ve already given you a fairly detailed definition of Zimbobble. Are you saying that your “God” (whatever that means!) can be defined in an identical fashion? Pardon me for saying so, but there is only ONE Zimbobble, for precisely the reasons stated earlier:

    –> the supreme or ultimate reality

    –> the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe

    –> the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit

    –> a person or thing of supreme value

    There is only one Zimbobble that fits this definition.

    Think of it this way. I describe my brother Mutt:

    –> he is 5’6″ inches tall
    –> weighs 150 lbs
    –> has brown hair and blue eyes
    –> plays to a six handicap in golf
    –> is married to Hilda
    –> is a construction worker

    Now, you come along and say “Hey! I know a person just like that. His name is Jeff.”

    Clearly, Mutt is not Jeff. I know Mutt. I have no idea who Jeff is. They are definitely not the same person. That’s a given.

    Similarly, I have no idea who this “God” is, despite your assertion that He has identical characteristics to Zimbobble.

    Do you see what I’m saying?

    • This comparison doesn’t work. The details you use to describe Mutt could potentially describe more than one person. It’s conceivable that someone named Jeff could ALSO have all of those qualities.

      The details you use to describe Zimbobble could *not* potentially describe more than one entity. If Zimbobble is indeed “the supreme or ultimate reality”, then there obviously couldn’t be another “supreme or ultimate reality”. So if we both agree that there’s an entity that meets these criteria, then the only reasonable conclusion is that we’re using different names to describe the same entity.

  11. “Can you give an example of one of these prophesies?”

    Sure. I can give you several. The authors of the Zimbobble-Bible (or Zimbible) predicted the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, the election of an African-American president, and the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun.

    “[Because if you’re going to play that game, then you’re DEFINITELY committing a false equivalence fallacy in your implicit comparison between Zimbobblianity and Christianity.]”

    What game? Who said anything about comparing Zimbobblianity to Christianity? What the heck is “Christianity” ??? Please define it.

    Zimbobblianity is simply faith in Zimbobble:

    — He exists
    — He created our universe
    — He had a daughter Zelda who danced for our sins
    — Zelda could create an entire herd of goats from one pig
    — Zelda was forcibly raped by Arabs and had a son Zeke
    — Zeke became a minister and preached against rape
    — Zeke was beheaded and miraculously grew a new head

    The story is much too long and involved to relate in its entirety here, but it was all written down in the Zimbible before the book was destroyed in the ruins of Rome, of course.

    How could I be committing a false equivalence with something (Christianity) that you haven’t defined yet? Does what I just described resemble Christianity? If so, I’m sure it’s mere coincidence.

    • I’m calling a time-out from the Zimbobble game.

      It seems evident that the point you’re trying to make is that my own Christian beliefs are in some way equivalent to someone inventing an imaginary religion with Zimbobbles and Zeldas and regenerating heads. (I’ll continue to call it imaginary until you can introduce me to others who keep the oral tradition, or produce *some* other form of evidence.)

      The problem with this, of course, is that none of your *specific* claims about Zimbobble/Zelda/Zeke can be substantiated (that is, claims that provide additional detail beyond general Theism). On the other hand, the resurrection of Jesus (and other specific claims of Christianity) can be supported by a great deal of historical, textual, and archaeological evidence.

      You’re committing the same same error that Bertrand Russell did when he compared belief in the Christian God to belief in a celestial teapot. There is a great deal of evidence to support the idea of a Christian God (even if you don’t personally find it convincing). There is no evidence, on the other hand, to support the idea of a teapot floating around in space…and there are a number of compelling reasons to believe there *isn’t* a teapot floating around in space.

      It’s a false equivalence fallacy if there ever was one.

  12. “It seems evident that the point you’re trying to make is that my own Christian beliefs are in some way equivalent to someone inventing an imaginary religion with Zimbobbles and Zeldas and regenerating heads.”

    Yes, indeed. But this isn’t the main point. Let’s go back to something you said earlier (in our discussion below your post on Thomas Friedman):

    “I’ve collected a very small fraction of the available evidence for Christianity in a tab at the top of this blog. Several of the points apply to God (generally), while others apply to Christianity (specifically).”

    In this statement, you admit (and I agree) that your collection of evidence falls into two basic categories:

    A. Evidence for God (generally)
    B. Evidence for Christianity (specifically)

    Now, if you’ll review our discussion here in this thread, when you asked me “What reasons do you have for believing in Zimbobble?” — I responded with YOUR evidence from Category-A. (The evidence in Category-B was purposely not mentioned.) In your very next response, you even suggested that my “Zimbobble” and your “God” were one in the same. Indeed, for a monotheist like yourself, at this point there was absolutely no way to distinguish between my “Zimbobble” and your “God” — we were just using different names for the same thing.

    Then, the crucial moment arrived. It was only after I began describing ADDITIONAL characteristics of Zimbobble — things written down in an ancient book by men, and things that I intentionally devised to sound absurd to your ears, that you immediately realized that Zimbobble wasn’t your God.

    Therefore, by YOUR OWN reasoning, Category-A DOES NOT, and CANNOT support Christianity, because it can just as easily support “Zimbobblianity”. The evidence in Category-A supports EVERY monotheist religion, even made-up ones (which they all are).

    This is why I stated earlier, and will say it again: you are being disingenuous to lump the evidence in Category-A into your collection of evidence for Christianity. I would once again suggest, with all due respect, that a person with scientific integrity would perhaps create TWO tabs on his website, one listing the evidence for a deist “Creator” (with largely unknown characteristics), and one compiling “evidence” (from scripture, etc.) that supports Christianity.

    Of course, a COMPLETELY honest Christian would simply point to his FAITH as his reason for believing, and as an atheist I would merely reply “Faith is belief without evidence” and move on.

    • “Therefore, by YOUR OWN reasoning, Category-A DOES NOT, and CANNOT support Christianity, because it can just as easily support “Zimbobblianity”.”

      This isn’t true at all. It’s like saying:

      “Evidence that object A has four sides DOES NOT and CANNOT support the proposition that object A is a square, because it can just as easily support the proposition that it’s a 5×7 rectangle.”

      Your suggestion that I separate the list into two sections (one for a Creator, and one for Christianity specifically) isn’t a bad one. I’ll think on it. But yours is frankly a qualm with *organization of content*, rather than the usefulness of the content itself. Evidence for Theism *necessarily* counts as evidence for Christianity, because Christianity falls within the bounds of Theism. Evidence for Theism *alone* can’t take us to Christianity, but that should be immediately obvious to anyone. We’ve been over this a few times before.

      “Of course, a COMPLETELY honest Christian would simply point to his FAITH as his reason for believing, and as an atheist I would merely reply “Faith is belief without evidence” and move on.”

      You’re referring to “blind faith”, but faith need not be blind (and I would argue that it ought not be blind). My own faith is grounded on the best evidence available to me. It certainly can’t be *reduced* to the evidence (in the same way that my love for my wife can’t be reduced to the evidence that she’s an awesome person). But it’s nonetheless *grounded* on evidence (just as my decision to marry was grounded on evidence of her character, personality, and other characteristics).

  13. One final point. You say:

    “There is a great deal of evidence to support the idea of a Christian God (even if you don’t personally find it convincing).”

    Can everybody have their “own” evidence? No, this would be absurd, in scientific terms. Science would never get anywhere if this were the case. Surely, as a chemist, you must comprehend this important point.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Scientific claims must be in-principle falsifiable and testable using controlled experiments.

    If we cannot agree on this point, then I believe it will be time for me to once again extend my sincere thanks for your patience and participation and wish you the best of luck in your Well Spent Journey.

    (Your blog name is a great atheist sentiment, by the way…) 😉

  14. “Evidence that object A has four sides DOES NOT and CANNOT support the proposition that object A is a square, because it can just as easily support the proposition that it’s a 5×7 rectangle.”

    This is a true statement. The evidence supports the hypothesis that the object is a four-sided geometrical object. Period.

    You can’t jump from there to a “square” without further evidence — and asserting that poetry written in an ancient book comprises such evidence is nonsense.

    • “The evidence supports the hypothesis that the object is a four-sided geometrical object. Period. You can’t jump from there to a “square” without further evidence…”

      That’s why I included further evidence. 😉

      “…and asserting that poetry written in an ancient book comprises such evidence is nonsense.”

      I would counter: asserting that the evidence I presented is nothing more than “poetry written in an ancient book” is itself nonsense.

      ______

      “Can everybody have their “own” evidence? No, this would be absurd, in scientific terms.”

      I agree! We can’t all have our own evidence. I believe the evidential case for Christianity is *objectively* true. Just because some people (like yourself) reject the evidence, doesn’t make it less true.

      “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

      http://jwwartick.com/2011/04/19/extraordinary-claims/

  15. “It certainly can’t be *reduced* to the evidence (in the same way that my love for my wife can’t be reduced to the evidence that she’s an awesome person).”

    Well, I thought we were discussing science and cosmology. Unless you can form some sort of scientific, testable hypothesis regarding your love for your wife, I’m afraid our discussion of this matter will be pointless.

    In other words, I’ll accept your statement on its face — because scientifically I can’t process it.

    • The mistake here (and the mistake PZ Myers makes in the link you provided) is assuming that God – if He exists – must necessarily be equivalent to something we could observe in a test tube. It puts God in a box.

      The Christian view is quite different. The Christian view is that *by God all things ARE*. It’s unfalsifiable in the same way that an atheistic materialist’s view of the universe is unfalsifiable. We can’t verify either worldview using experiments…but we can compare the worldviews side-by-side and decide which one is superior.

      I think mine wins…convincingly. 🙂

  16. “Evidence for Theism *alone* can’t take us to Christianity, but that should be immediately obvious to anyone.”

    Au contraire, it isn’t obvious at all, and conflating the two is disingenuous and patently unscientific.

  17. “I agree! We can’t all have our own evidence. I believe the evidential case for Christianity is *objectively* true. Just because some people (like yourself) reject the evidence, doesn’t make it less true.”

    People like me, and 95% of all scientists on Planet Earth. I’m in good company. 😉

    • 95% of all scientists? Can you provide a source for that figure?

      But more importantly, you’re once again making the implicit assumption that belief in God (or acceptance of Christianity) is predicated on a testable, scientific hypothesis.

      See my paragraph on worldviews above.

  18. “It’s unfalsifiable in the same way that an atheistic materialist’s view of the universe is unfalsifiable.”

    An atheist, by definition, makes no unfalsifiable claims. In fact, atheism is the LACK of belief in unfalsifiable claims — like “God exists,” for instance.

    You Christians are making that extraordinary claim. Please provide evidence for it.

    Is not collecting stamps a hobby? Similarly, atheism is not a religious faith or belief system, because we don’t collect evidence for “no Gods”.

    We’re still waiting for y’all to put up or shut up! 😉

    • The materialist does indeed make an unfalsifiable claim:

      “Physical matter is the only reality, and all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter.”

  19. A book written by men isn’t evidence. The men who wrote the book could be simply fabricating stories for a multitude of reasons.

    No, we’ll need more than just words in a book.

  20. “The materialist does indeed make an unfalsifiable claim:

    “Physical matter is the only reality, and all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter.”

    Citation, please? Who said this?

  21. “But more importantly, you’re once again making the implicit assumption that belief in God (or acceptance of Christianity) is predicated on a testable, scientific hypothesis.”

    No, I know it’s merely faith. I’ve already stated this.

    • I should say:

      You’re making the implicit assumption that belief in God – if He exists – could be confirmed like a testable, scientific hypothesis could.

  22. A dictionary definition of “materialism” isn’t a scientific claim.

    “You’re making the implicit assumption that belief in God – if He exists – could be confirmed like a testable, scientific hypothesis could.”

    Of course! This is the crux of our debate. If you cannot propose a way to determine the existence of “God” scientifically, then we might as well talk about the existence of Harry Potter or Godzilla.

    • I just figure most materialists believe in materialism. Seems reasonable, right? The problem is that materialism – like Theism – makes an unfalsifiable claim.

      “…might as well talk about the existence of Harry Potter or Godzilla.”

      You’re doing the teapot thing again. 😛

  23. From your source:

    “Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists — people in disciplines like physics, chemistry and biology — said they do not believe in God. Only 31 percent of the social scientists do not believe.”

    Social scientists? An oxymoron, if there ever was one. 😉

    3.3% of the members of The Royal Society, and 7% of the members of The National Academy of Sciences believe in “God” — and it isn’t clear from the source whether this meant Christianity, or simply deism.

    You can have the social scientists — I’ll take the cream of the scientific crop on my team. 😉

    • Hey, 38% is a long way from 95%. 😉

      But you do make a good point about the distinction between Christianity vs. deism (I would also add Islam, Hinduism, etc.). Nonetheless, atheists don’t make up the majority of scientists at large.

  24. “You’re doing the teapot thing again.”

    You’re going ’round in circles. Concluding that ancient books written by goat-herders provides convincing evidence that a man literally rose from the dead is equivalent to claiming there are teapots in orbit.

    • It would only be equivalent *IF* one first accepts materialism as dogma. If that’s your pre-existing worldview, then of course a resurrection will seem as preposterous as there being teapots in orbit.

      Anyways, you really ought to check out the William Lane Craig v. Bart Ehrman debate on the historicity of the resurrection. 🙂

  25. “The problem is that materialism – like Theism – makes an unfalsifiable claim.”

    Wrong. Scientists make claims. Materialism is a linguistic, philosophical definition. Please don’t conflate these things.

    • “You Christians are making that extraordinary claim.”

      “Wrong. Scientists make claims. Materialism is a linguistic, philosophical definition.”

  26. From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osiris

    “The myth described Osiris as having been killed by his brother Set, who wanted Osiris’ throne. Isis joined the fragmented pieces of Osiris, but the only body part missing was the phallus. Isis fashioned a golden phallus, and briefly brought Osiris back to life by use of a spell that she learned from her father.”

    Why don’t you believe in Osiris? He was also raised from the dead.

  27. “Anyways, you really ought to check out the William Lane Craig v. Bart Ehrman debate on the historicity of the resurrection.”

    I’ve seen it. *Yawn*

    As a scientist, I’m not interested in “He said, she said” stories. If a man rose from the dead, then surely we can test this claim with modern technology. Hmmm…. nobody else seems to be abl to rise from the dead.

    Why? Oh that’s right, because the only one to do it was the “son of God”. He was a magic man. Very convenient.

    *More yawning*

    • In that case, I’d highly recommend “Miracles”, by CS Lewis. I think it would go a long way toward addressing your “magic man” problems with the resurrection.

      Anyway…what kind of scientist are you?

  28. “Craig v. Ehrman debate.”

    Ehrman has to make a living, apparently. Just like Catholic priests.

  29. In that case, I’d highly recommend “Miracles”, by CS Lewis. I think it would go a long way toward addressing your “magic man” problems with the resurrection.

    Give me the executive summary. I’ve got more important things to do, like laundry and cutting my toenails.

    😉

  30. Long ago, somebody fabricated a story about a god-man-son who rose from the dead.

    Now, Christians spend all their time trying to make “history” fit this cockamamie story.

    I have a B.S. (with Distinction) degree from Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering. I was the 4.0 GPA valedictorian of my high school.

    I was raised a Catholic, and remained a believer through my twenties and thirties.

    As Monty Python would probably say, I was turned into a newt by religion, but I got better. 😉

  31. “If you’re into multi-tasking, you could even keep a copy behind the toilet…”

    Good idea. That way, given a serendipitous nudge or two, it might even end up where it truly belongs. 😉

  32. “You Christians are making that extraordinary claim.”

    You, for instance. Case closed.

    Now, name one scientist who made the dictionary claim about materialism.

    • Dictionary: “…all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter”

      PZ Myers: “[The principles of “new atheism”] are a reliance on natural causes and demanding explanations in terms of the real world”

  33. “But as I said: if you ever want to get inside the mind of someone who believes in miracles, this is what you ought to read.”

    No offense, but I think neurological science is better equipped for this task. Sam Harris is a good start.

  34. Matt,

    1. How do you reconcile the accounts of God in the OT with the accounts of Jesus in the NT?

    2. Were you brought up in a family that regularly attended church?

    Regards, Ryan

    • Probably. But I don’t think it’s that important, doctrinally, one way or the other.

      And even the “literal” interpretation is open to…well…interpretation. Take for example Genesis 2:7.

      “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

      Is this something that happened over the course of 5 minutes, or 5 million years? I don’t think either interpretation is necessarily less literal than the other.

  35. “But I don’t think it’s that important, doctrinally, one way or the other.”

    how do you decide what is important doctrinally?

    • I just mean that the exact *method* God used to create the world isn’t important to how we follow Him in our daily lives. It isn’t related to the central narrative of Christianity (the message encapsulated in the Apostle’s Creed, for example).

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