Posts Tagged ‘arguments’

YouTube: “Poor Apologetics 4: You Were Never a Christian”

August 12, 2011 Leave a comment

I was about to write about the third objection to Christianity (regarding science) when I came across this video. I sort of felt compelled to go ahead and respond to it now:

I’ve watched a few of his videos, actually, and while they’re difficult to get through since he babbles and misstates some of the arguments on the Christian end, he does bring up some good points. I don’t mean they’re good as in wholly valid, but I can see why others would stumble on these issues.

If I catch the gist of his video correctly, he’s basically saying that he is a former Christian and now he has been enlightened into atheism. Those poor Christian apologists then have to resort to telling him that he was never a Christian to begin with. Rather than acknowledge that he has genuine insight into the faith and can therefore rebut it, people will instead doubt the veracity of his past faith completely. Azsuperman01, the YouTuber, seems to imply that this is shallow, unfair, and cowardly.

Well, here’s what I think.

As someone who went the other way when I came to the fork in the road, I would agree that he was never saved to begin with. After all, the Bible makes it clear that if a person is genuinely saved, he turns his life over to the Holy Spirit and perseveres until the end.

I grew up in a Christian home, I experienced “revival” in my heart, and believed in my head that Jesus Christ was my savior. If anyone would have asked me if I was a true believer, I would have been sure in my heart that the answer was yes.

But Jeremiah 17:9 (NASB) warns: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”

Looking back, I’d say that for most of my “Christian” life, my faith was a house built out of straw. It was a sham, and I was worshiping a false and convenient god who allowed me to live a lukewarm life for him. The god that I created in my head was more than glad and even honored to accept the morsels of worship that I would offer him in my busy, cluttered life. He would be overjoyed that I took time out of my Sunday mornings to acknowledge him for an hour or so.

But this was not the God of the Bible. Somewhere along the line, I wrestled with my doubts and fought with them openly and honestly. I reasoned, “It’s time to take an honest look at the truth. If God is real, then why shouldn’t he prevail as long as I’m not biased or trying to weigh the evidence unevenly?” Thankfully, I was right. God (the real one) proved genuine and true, and today the Holy Spirit convinces me daily that I am His.

My sympathies are with people like the maker of this video. I don’t question his honesty or integrity at all, but I do believe he was deceived like so many others out there. If I think about it, if the devil is as crafty and hyper-intelligent as we are told, what would be the best way to lead people straight to Hell? It wouldn’t be an obvious lie, like “evil is GOOD and hate is admirable!” Most of us would sniff that out in a second. Rather, it would be a false gospel that on the surface closely resembles the truth…but it falls short of literal redeeming qualities to save the souls of its adherents.

So no, I don’t think it’s a cop-out for people to tell him he was never truly a Christian to begin with, unless by “Christian” you simply mean a follower of the religion. But when I say “Christian,” I’m referring to someone who has a genuine relationship with Christ, not merely intellectual assent.

Let me also address a couple of specific lines he states in the video.

First, at 1:53, he states: “Once you become a Christian, you basically lose your free will because once you’re a Christian you no longer have the ability to change your mind. You can’t just say, ‘I no longer believe that.’ …and since Christians believe that free will is really important, I don’t think using an argument that completely eradicates your free will is really the best one to use.”

If we become truly saved, then do we in fact lose our free will? Depends on your definition. We still operate and function normally, choosing which paths to take. But of course, he’s probably referring to the aspect of faith; whether to believe or not. And in that sense, yes, we “lose” our free will. We lose our ability to fall away and be damned since we are adopted into God’s kingdom forever.

…and the problem with this is what exactly? Free will is a power or gift of ours to decide whether to choose God as our Lord and savior. I’m not just spouting Christian rhetoric here; we are choosing for God to become our LORD. That means that we are willingly submitting to him as our master, and we are becoming his slaves. We are acknowledging Him as the father, and we are the obedient children.

Elsewhere in the Bible, disciples are described as “bondservants.” This word has the sense of a slave who has completed his term with a master and is therefore allowed to go free. But some slaves—because of the harsh conditions outside in the world and/or because of the kindness of his master—would willfully choose to become bonded to that master even though he had no obligations. This is a good illustration of this relationship with God. We are giving up our freedom, in a sense, for the privilege of serving Him (and in return, being offered His love and protection).

Free will is important beforehand. But it’s not some kind of ultimate or eternal good.

Another point he brings up at the end of the video is this: “The problems in your religion don’t go away just because YOU don’t think I used to believe the same things you do, and experienced the same things you have.”

There are a lot of things I find funny about this statement. First, he assumes there are problems in our “religion.” If he means some of the people and institutions (basically anything human), then yes, I’d agree. But any perceived problems with doctrine need to be proved. As far as I know, I have yet to hear any problems with Christian doctrine that have not already been solved and addressed. It is his failure to find these solutions, and if he still has a problem with it, then it’s a personal opinion, not objective fact.

Second, he might have believed some of the same things that I do, that’s true. He may have even felt some of the same emotions. But so what? Does this somehow make him an authority? Are we to be fearful and approach apostate Christians with trembling and awe? Like I already mentioned, he didn’t experience the real Holy Spirit anyway, so comparisons are on the surface level only.

Excuse my rudeness, but to me, this evokes images of the skinny waterboy hanging out in the football locker room. Just because he was associated with the team at some point doesn’t empower him to call the plays or correct the real players’ technique. He’s free to express his football opinions, but no one has to care what he says. There may be times when he says one or two things that are correct—just as a nonbeliever can rightfully point out problems in the church—but the implication that he somehow has the inside scoop on all of us is absurd.

Personally, all these former “Christians” coming out and acting like they’re something special amuses me (and in some cases, I admit, annoys me). Changing your mind on something doesn’t bestow upon you magical gifts, nor does it elevate you in any way. There are countless believers today who were once atheists, so at best, it’s a wash. Personal testimony can be a powerful thing when there is a supernaturally changed life. But simply changing your mind by reading and learning some stuff isn’t really that compelling to me, sorry.


The 7 common tactics that atheists (and Christians) use (part 2)

April 6, 2011 12 comments

[Continued from part 1 here.]

Tactic #4: Using exaggerated and ridiculous comparisons to mock the other side’s beliefs.

A famous and widespread example of this would be the allusion to the “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” Atheists like to claim that believing in God is on the same level as believing in unicorns, leprechauns, and of course, the aforementioned culinary deity. By making this comparison, they are trying to automatically discredit the side of believers by implying that we are naive, immature, ignorant, and without evidence or logic backing our claims. All of this is done in one fell swoop without a single thoughtful argument.

Consider this stylized mockery of the Christian faith: “Does this make sense? The belief that some cosmic Jewish zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree?

Talk about a play on words and juicing up the cartoony level to the n-th degree. Words like “cosmic,” “zombie,” and “magical tree” bring the level of Christianity down to a bad fantasy (sci-fi?) flick. Defending this kind of faith would be a tall order indeed, but of course, any reasonable person knows that describing it in such terms is unfair and ridiculous.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Making it harder for Christians to defend their faith with any level of confidence?

Tactic #5: Stating things as fact or “just because” with nothing to back it up, even inaccurate claims based on memory or assumption.

Christians and atheists are probably equally guilty of this. It’s just human nature, and it has little to do with religious beliefs or lack thereof.

People often feel sure of wrong information—from trivial matters such as which celebrity was married to whom, or the not-so-trivial details of a witnessed crime. It comes from recalling things you may have seen or heard incorrectly, and sometimes, it’s quite harmless. A simple “oops, I guess I was wrong” might be the extent of the consequences.

But when people make the same kinds of sloppy assumptions or claims of fact in religious discussion, something greater is at stake here. The truth can easily be lost and a good discussion can be derailed by one wrong fact.

A skeptic might wrongly state with confidence: God has already been proved false, you Christians are just behind and need to catch up,” or, “Hitler was a Christian.” [God cannot be proved false because He exists outside the natural, observable world. A plethora of biblical misinterpretations can also be used here. Besides, we Christians have the same information available to us that everyone does. Hitler may have claimed to be a Christian, probably to gain favor, but his actions belie his true beliefs. In fact, he wanted to get rid of bibles and replace them with Mein Kampf, hardly an indication of a true believer. He once referred to Christianity as a “poison.”]

A creationist might ignorantly claim: Even Darwin confessed on his deathbed that he believed in God,” or, “There is no proof for evolution, it’s just a theory.” [There is no clear indication that Darwin came to faith, so perhaps this is just wishful thinking or some false rumor. Evolution, to an extent, has been proved true—at the very least on the micro-evolution level—and the word “theory” in science is a strong assertion of truth, though not airtight.]

Tactic #6: Ignoring their own holes and shifting the burden of proving an endless supply of further challenges to you.

I’ve often heard, “I’m an atheist, which is a belief in nothing. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon the believer to prove that there is a God.”

I have to ask, why?

Consider these simple facts:

– There are more people in this world who believe in God (or a god) today, and exponentially more throughout the history of man. Since when do the vast majority need to solely convince the small minority?

– If atheists are wrong and God exists, they are going to face far worse consequences–even possibly into eternity–than a believer would face if there is, in fact, no God. So atheists have a higher burden of proof when you consider that de-converting a believer is “riskier” than the other way around.

– Atheism isn’t a belief in nothing. In most cases, it comes with a belief and reliance upon naturalism, which is harder to believe for some people than to believe in God. I have a hard time believing that love is merely chemical or an evolutionary feature, or that art and music are solely manipulations of the physical world.

Christians should try to convince atheists out of concern, but it’s not our “obligation” to prove anything in the sense that our position is inherently more untenable. Don’t just stay on the defensive the whole time. There are just as many unanswer(able?)ed questions that the atheist should be required to address. At the very least, both sides may have to concede a few “I don’t know” moments, which is at least fair and honest.

Tactic #7: Requiring an overly high standard of proof, while calling all Christian sources “biased.”

Consider this: the issue of whether or not Jesus existed on this earth—at least as a man—was not even seriously debated for maybe 1,800 years. It was a given. But somewhere along the line, skeptics started demanding more “proof” and wondering aloud why there wasn’t more direct evidence of Jesus’ existence. This got easier to do since enough time had passed, but unlike science and technology, history tends to be more reliable when it’s closer (older) to the events.

Forget the fact that even emperors in ancient times were written about less, with scant documentation and archeology. Forget all of the historical analysis that makes the Bible, particularly the New Testament, the most confirmed work of antiquity man has ever seen. Or the many reasons why the resurrection could not have been faked…

Forget science and philosophy that seem to agree more and more with the claims of the Bible, such as a distinct beginning point in our universe rather than an infinite past. Or the experiences and personal convictions that scream that we are obviously not a random assortment of matter over time.

Videos, books, and other forms of communication that espouse atheistic beliefs are accepted without so much as a blink. And when they make a claim that seems damning to Christian beliefs (such as the comparison of Horus to Jesus, essentially calling Jesus a copycat/fictitious savior), people will believe it without investigating the matter outside the confines of like-minded Christ-mythers.

Who would then attempt to verify the accuracy of these claims? Well, obviously Christians would want to get to the bottom of it because they care about their faith and want to know if they are basing their lives on reality or myth. But then any of those Christian findings that show the falsehood of the Horus comparisons are dismissed as “biased.” The skeptic or Christ-myther might say, “I’ll wait until a non-Christian proves the comparisons to be false, thank you. Not some biased Christian with an agenda.”

Simple fact of the matter is, most people don’t have a vested interest one way or the other, so of course such works are going to come from a Christian.

There is no such thing as totally unbiased work anyway. Everyone has presuppositions and personal leanings. Writing off anything by Christian authors and researchers as “biased” is closing your mind to any contrary positions regardless of their validity. Heck, many skeptics set out to prove Christianity wrong only to realize that they’ve become convinced of the Bible’s truth—then they write about it (e.g., Lee Strobel, countless others). I guess these people are biased as well, despite their original intent.

I can understand that some people don’t want to give up their feeling of autonomy and authority over their own lives. But making the burden of proof prohibitively high is doing a disservice to the truth.

Christianity is not pretending to be a faithless pursuit that can satisfy a person purely on logic and facts. Faith is a big factor, no doubt. All we’re asking is that you weigh one side against the other and to give us a fair trial. Don’t use tactics, don’t make assumptions that we’re idiots. Go where the preponderance of your reasoning take you, rather than setting up an impossible task so that the other side necessarily fails in your view.

After all, in the end, it’s not really about “winning,” as is the goal in formal debates. That’s why I hesitate to use the word “debate” at all, since actual truth is secondary to the arguments in that context. What’s important is that we all get to the bottom of this and try to convince the other side by sound reasoning. If that isn’t possible, then at least a slight crack in the wall of dogma might lead to a change of views down the road.

This Muslim has Christians all figured out (?)

April 1, 2011 3 comments

This is a list of 100 so-called proofs we Christians have against Islam.

[Note: This list was not written by the author to be funny. I wish it was an April Fool’s joke. This was a Muslim site’s attempts to actually show how ridiculous Christians’ objections to the Islamic faith are. What’s ridiculous is how off-the-mark this list is.]

Here are some samples and my translations, not necessarily in order. Remember, this is supposedly from the viewpoint of the Christian believer, so the “I” refers to Christians. Warning: Some of this may be inappropriate.


  • Muslims are obligated to pray to God 5 times a day while bowing down and reciting from the Qur’an.
  • Muslims are also obligated to fast during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
  • Islam teaches other things which are simply too hard to stick to, and also unnecessary in my opinion. I would rather accept Jesus and be saved, because it’s easier.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: Christians are lazy, and therefore don’t want to accept a truthful religion like Islam if it’s inconvenient.]


  • Islam teaches polygamy.
  • Even though it is taught in the Bible, you have to read between the lines and also find other verses which contradict it.
  • I also disagree with polygamy, personally.
  • I do not think God would allow polygamy.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: If you want to have multiple wives, become a Muslim today!]


  • A Muslim insulted me once.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: Christians are extremely petty and their reasons for rejecting Islam are equally petty.]


  • Muhammad was married to a 6-year old girl named Aisha.
  • God would never allow this to happen.
  • Muhammad was the founder of Islam however.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: Hmmm…I’d say this one actually works in the Christians’ favor, sir.]


  • Islam teaches that believers will have maximum pleasure in Paradise; which includes sexual pleasure among other things.
  • I don’t think that God would allow sexual pleasure in Paradise.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: Christians object to Islam because they are prudes who don’t like to have sex. Also, Muslims will get to have sex for eternity in Paradise, whereas the Christians will not. If you like sex, become a Muslim.]


  • Islam forbids anal sexual intercourse.
  • I do not like that.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: Oops, maybe those Christians aren’t prudes after all! Apparently, Christians all love to have anal sex, which keeps them from accepting the teachings of Islam. Bogus.]


  • Vampires in movies are harmed by coming in contact with a cross.

Therefore, Islam is false.

[Translation: …uh, what??]


  • F***k you.

Therefore, Islam is false.

BONUS SECTION (try to tell the difference between mine and the Muslim site’s):


  • Hardly any Muslims are obese.
  • I like to eat hamburgers and hot dogs all day to the point where my BMI will shoot past 30.

Therefore, Islam is false.


  • The name of the holy book, the Qur’an, has an apostrophe in it.
  • I do not like apostrophes, and I sometimes miss the key when I type on the keyboard.
  • I do not have this problem with the Bible.

Therefore, Islam is false.


  • Islam has no evidence for its claims that can be confirmed by any external means, even though it does not need it because it comes from the mouth of Allah directly into a great prophet’s head.
  • People who need some external evidence are nerds.
  • I am a nerd.

Therefore, Islam is false.


  • Muslim scientists have not achieved much in the field of science, nor have they won hardly any Nobel Peace Prizes.
  • I like to ignore the fact that Allah has already told us everything we need to know about science, including that the human embryo at one point looks like chewing gum, which is true, just as Muhammad spoke.
  • I also like to forget that Arabic science was the most advanced in the world from the 8th to the 14th centuries!

Therefore, Islam is false.


  • Converting to the Islam faith–while very reasonable and smart–would require me to call myself a “Muslim.”
  • I like being called a “Christian.” It sounds better.

Therefore, Islam is false.

The 7 common tactics that atheists (and Christians) use (part 1)

March 31, 2011 8 comments

After many hours of perusing religious/anti-religious forums, engaging in debate, and reading comments made by atheists, I can honestly say that things start to blur together after a while. Arguments start sounding the same and the common tactics used against Christianity can almost be coalesced into neat categories—though with any human behavior, things are not always so cut and dry.

Truthfully, many of the same generalizations can be made against Christians. Not every atheist is antagonistic, and not every Christian fights fair. Pretty much everyone is guilty in some way, and I’ll try to point out how by giving examples from both sides. But my subjective view is that atheists use the following tactics to a greater degree. If both sides would focus more on the issues at hand rather than simply trying to “win,” we might have more productive discussions.

Tactic #1: Insulting the intelligence of others.

Tactic #2: Citing some “higher authority” on the issue and restricting further discussion or evidence.

Tactic #3: Attacking strawmen or going off-topic (includes attacking people as evidence against the faith).

Tactic #4: Using exaggerated and ridiculous comparisons to mock the other side’s beliefs.

Tactic #5: Stating things as fact or “just because” with nothing to back it up, even inaccurate claims based on memory or assumption.

Tactic #6: Ignoring their own holes and shifting the burden of proving an endless supply of further challenges to you.

Tactic #7: Requiring an overly high standard of proof, while calling all Christian sources “biased.”

Let’s take a closer look at each one and some examples, including real quotes I’ve seen.

Tactic #1: Insulting the intelligence of others.

“Christians are stupid, mindless sheep who ignore all the obvious evidence out there. There’s no point in arguing with these idiots.”

There are many problems with this one. Where to begin?

First of all, it seems to imply that atheists are smarter, and when it comes to arguments of reason, the smarter person wins by default, right? Who decided that atheists are smarter anyway, the atheists themselves? And is the smarter person always right?

Now, I admit, this is where my pride is tempted to say something mean and boastful to these people. Statistically speaking, very few people making these kinds of comments would objectively be smarter than me, at least in terms of IQ or something. But a better way to go about this is to point out that brilliant scientists, philosophers, and other great minds have been Christian. For every smart atheist, there is usually a smarter Christian, and vice versa. How does this kind of statement account for the intelligence of many believers? Is that atheist smarter and more knowledgeable about science than, say, geneticist Dr. Francis S. Collins—the leader of the Human Genome Project who is a devout Christian?

For the sake of argument, let’s say that atheists are in fact, on average, smarter than Christians. After all, intelligent people do tend to question things and seek knowledge for themselves, as many atheists do, rather than believing anything blindly. Does this really prove that they’re right about everything regarding the reality of God?

By this reasoning, one could conclude that a higher IQ spouse—whether the husband or the wife—should always get to be right. No arguments allowed, just submitting to the greater mind. Does this make sense at all? No, of course not. People are smart in different ways, and sometimes, the most obvious things to a common man can be an enigma to a learned man. Heck, Einstein could fathom things about this world that no one else could, but he couldn’t even reliably memorize his own home address.

A funny (and fictitious) example would be Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the TV show, The Big Bang Theory. It’s pretty clearly established that he is the smartest one out of his friends. He is a genius physicist. But there was a running joke for a while where he would ask his friends during a conversation, “Was that sarcasm?” To everybody else, it’d be obvious and in plain sight. To him, despite his attempts to research sarcasm and break it down into logical components, his accuracy rate of detecting it was very low. Why is this? Because high IQ and thorough training in science and other subjects can’t grant you the ability to form a complete knowledge of this world. Even things that are obvious to lesser minds can elude the great ones.

Tactic #2: Citing some “higher authority” on the issue and restricting further discussion or evidence.

This is another cop-out technique, and we Christians are guilty of it, too. Atheists might cite the works and ideas of a great scientist or philosopher, and then challenge you by saying, “Do you think you’ve studied these things as deeply as him? If not, how can you challenge his conclusions?”

Christians might resort to the credibility-killing argument of, “Well, God and the Bible tell me it’s true, and therefore I believe!” [Sometimes, at the most basic level, this is indeed the reason we believe something. But we first need to establish why God and the Bible are trustworthy to begin with. Naked circular reasoning helps no one.]

Problem is, these discussions shouldn’t come down to a contest of who’s swinging the bigger sword of authority. The point should be to argue both sides and consider the merit of the points discussed.

The atheists’ assertion that a point can’t be debated—based on your lack of credentials or your weaker sources—is faulty to begin with. Why? Well, as I mentioned, the smarter person is not always right, and neither is the one with better credentials. Furthermore, there is the simple fact that it is exponentially easier to point out errors in something than it is to create/develop it in the first place.

For instance, I’ve seen a number of typos and grammatical mistakes made by superior writers in various forms of media. Even if I can’t write as well as these people, it doesn’t preclude me from being able to correct them. It doesn’t matter very much that my own writing wouldn’t hold a candle to theirs, as long as I’m competent overall.

This happens all the time in sports, as well. Every time we yell at our TVs, wondering how a coach or coordinator could make such an obvious blunder, are we saying we could do a better job ourselves? Not really (we might think it, but we’d be woefully wrong). These professionals have spent much of their lives and countless hours learning the ins and outs of their respective sports. But that doesn’t keep a competent layman with far less knowledge from being able to see the professional’s mistakes clearly sometimes.

Having too much knowledge and being deeply engrossed in something can dampen common sense and narrow one’s field of vision. Like Dr. Sheldon Cooper or Albert Einstein, brilliant people simply might not see what lesser minds do. You can’t discard the refutations of a Christian because his credentials seem less impressive than the atheist originator of the work. You have to judge the conclusions made based on their own merit. Besides, many of us have access to the same information. At some point, it’s how you interpret that information that can cause such divergent views, and interpretation is hardly set in stone.

Tactic #3: Attacking strawmen or going off-topic (includes attacking people as evidence against the faith).

I guess I should start by clarifying what “attacking strawmen [arguments]” means. I can’t really say it better than Wikipedia, so I’ll just quote it here: “To ‘attack a straw man’ is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the ‘straw man’), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.”

For instance, consider the following hypothetical exchange:

Christian: “All you have to do is allow Christ to come into your life and accept Him as your Lord and savior. Then you will be saved for all eternity. I think that’s the greatest and most generous gift imaginable.”

Atheist: “So I have to allow an invisible dude to take over my life and become his slave? That doesn’t sound like a good deal at all to me, I prefer to be free.”

This is a straw man because the atheist is equating Jesus with just some “invisible dude” and leaving out his God nature. Allowing Jesus into your life is a good thing, whereas the atheist is taking the leap and comparing it to slavery, which everyone can agree is a bad thing.

Another example:

Christian: “God sent his own son to earth to die for us.”

Atheist: “What a contradiction. Doesn’t the Bible say ‘thou shalt not kill’?”

Pretty off-the-mark, I know, but not that far from what I’ve heard from some people. God sending his son to die (and Jesus willingly dying on the cross) is heroism and true sacrifice. If you twist it to mean sending someone to his death and equate it to murder, you ignore all of the good behind it. It becomes an act of malice instead of love.

Straw man arguments happen almost instinctively when we argue because naturally, we want to be proved right. Christians are guilty of this, too.

Atheist: “It’s clear that humans and apes were descended from a common ancestor.”

Christian: “If humans came from apes, then why are both humans and apes still here?

This Christian is making a straw man argument (kind of) and also a logical/factual error. He is first using the assumption that humans are further along in the evolutionary process than apes. Then he is trying to state that being descended from a common ancestor is the same as being on a lineal progression. Since apes clearly exist today, this twist of logic makes it apparent that since apes are not extinct or superseded by humans, the atheist’s assertion is wrong. Of course, what the atheist is really saying is that evolutionists believe that in the past, there was a common ancestor that branched off into modern day apes and humans—so both can exist without being mutually exclusive.

I lump together straw man arguments with attacking the actions of Christians as evidence against the faith because both tactics attempt to sidetrack the main point by turning to imaginary or exaggerated side issues. A Christian misbehaving is no more damning for Christianity than one person of a certain ethnicity committing a bad crime. It is not representative of the whole group.


[To be concluded in Part 2…]