Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Roman Catholic Review of Richard Swinburne's "The Resurrection of God Incarnate"

Copied from:  Loyola University Chicago


From: International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12, #1 (2004), 61-69.
 
 
Critical Notice
Philosophy of Religion and Christian Resurrection

Paul K. Moser
Loyola University of Chicago
 
The Resurrection of God Incarnate. By Richard Swinburne. Oxford University Press, 2003. Pp. vi + 224. ISBN 0-19-925745-0. $70.00.
 
Christian Resurrection

  When philosophy of religion turns to the Christian faith, it must face the defining belief of the earliest Jesus movement: the belief that Jesus was raised from the dead. The apostle Paul, in one of the earliest writings in the New Testament, summarizes the heart of the Christian gospel, the good news, as follows:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.... If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.... If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Cor. 15:3-8, 15, 17, 19-20, NIV).
Paul thus regards Christian faith as “useless,” “false,” and “futile” in the absence of the resurrection of Jesus. In particular, he links the resurrection of Jesus with the forgiveness of human sins in such a way that if there is no resurrection of Jesus, “you are still in your sins.”
The heart of the “good news” in New Testament teaching is that human sins are forgiven in connection with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. What specifically this connection involves has been and remains as a topic of controversy among biblical commentators, theologians, and philosophers of religion. If we understand atonement as the kind of reconciliation that properly deals with human sin, we may understand the heart of the controversy about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a debate about atonement. How, specifically, do the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus provide atonement? How, specifically, is such atonement to be appropriated by humans? Is such atonement really needed by humans? If so, why? These are just a few of the many pressing questions that emerge from New Testament teachings about the person and mission of Jesus. Such questions have prompted no end of controversy among philosophers of religion.
 

Resurrection and Atonement

  A controversial question that seems appropriate for philosophers, in particular for epistemologists, is: what is the status of the evidence regarding the resurrection of Jesus from the dead? What exactly is the evidence? Is it any good, in terms of what is probably true? If so, how good is it? Such questions occupy Richard Swinburne’s The Resurrection of God Incarnate. The books falls into three main parts corresponding to three kinds of evidence regarding the resurrection of Jesus: (I) general background evidence; (II) prior historical evidence; and (III) posterior historical evidence. Part I outlines principles for weighing evidence, God’s purposes in divine-human incarnation, and the salient indicators of an incarnate God. Part II examines the following: available historical sources regarding Jesus; the life and moral teaching of Jesus; the teaching of Jesus about his divinity; the teaching of Jesus about divine atonement for humans; and the teaching of Jesus regarding the church he founded. Part III offers an assessment of the following: the appearances of the resurrected Jesus to some of his followers; the empty tomb of Jesus and the emergence of Sunday as a day of worship; competing theories of what happened to Jesus; and the purposes of the resurrection of Jesus. Swinburne’s main conclusion is that “if the background evidence leaves it not too improbable that there is a God likely to act [in a particular way that seeks divine-human atonement], then the total evidence makes it very probable that Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead” (p. 203). An appendix to the book seeks to establish this conclusion via ascription of numerical values to the relevant probabilities.

 
Swinburne focuses on “the core physical element” of the resurrection of Jesus: that is, Jesus was dead for about 36 hours and then came to life again in his changed old, crucified body. This is, in the traditional Christian understanding, not only a violation of natural laws but also a case of God’s interfering with natural laws in order to give the divine signature of approval to the person, teaching, and sacrificial death of Jesus. If it’s improbable that there is a God capable of resurrecting Jesus, then it’s also improbable that Jesus was resurrected. For purposes of this book, Swinburne assumes that the generally available evidence of natural theology (e.g., that there is a universe, that the universe exhibits simple natural laws, that these laws and the initial conditions of the universe gave rise to the evolution of human bodies, and so on) makes it “as probable as not” that God exists. Citing his book The Existence of God, rev. ed. (Oxford University Press, 1991), Swinburne deems this assumption “moderate” and “modest” (pp. 31, 211), although many readers will balk at this point. The conclusions of natural theology are still widely controversial. For instance, Swinburne’s key assumption regarding the “simplicity” of his theistic hypothesis invites doubt in many quarters.
 
Another balking point for many readers will be Swinburne’s assumption that “... if there is a God (and there are humans who sin and suffer), it is quite probable that he would become incarnate (at some time or other)” (p. 211). Many readers will even balk at Swinburne’s weaker assumption that it is “as probable as not” that God would become incarnate (p. 50). They will find little, if any, basis for ascribing firm probabilities here. Indeed, agnosticism about such probabilities seems widespread, at least if we take people at their word. Swinburne owes readers considerably more argument here.
 
Swinburne proposes three main purposes in God’s becoming incarnate: to make available to sinful humans a means of reconciliation to God by God’s atoning for our sin (that is, “the life of God incarnate is to be available for us to offer back to God as our atonement” (p. 43)); to identify with us in our suffering in order to show us how much He loves us (p. 45); and to demonstrate and teach us how to live and to encourage us in living (p. 49). Such divine incarnation, according to Swinburne, must be “divided”; that is, God must be able to act simultaneously with a divine nature, whereby divine things are done, and a human nature, whereby human things are done without awareness of being divine (p. 52). This assumption, conveniently, fits with the affirmation of the fifth-century Council of Chalcedon.
 
Swinburne proposes that “it would be wrong of God to become incarnate in such a way as to be capable of doing wrong” (p. 49). He thus claims, with regard to the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, that “we can be tempted to do things to which there is not the slightest possibility of our yielding.... If Jesus was God, any temptation to do wrong must be of this kind” (p. 111). This invites problems. First, it conflicts with Swinburne’s own assumption that divinity essentially entails being “perfectly free” and God’s incarnation would not relinquish divinity. Jesus would not be “perfectly free” if he were incapable of doing wrong. Second, if Jesus were incapable of doing wrong, he would not be praiseworthy at all in resisting the temptations in the wilderness. The New Testament, however, puts Jesus forth as praiseworthy in resisting temptations in being “tempted as we are” (cf. Heb. 4:14-15). Third, it’s unclear how Swinburne’s understanding of Jesus’s temptation fits with his remark that “people only ever have a temptation to choose the bad, because they desire it” (p. 94). It seems problematic at best to hold that Jesus, while being morally impeccable, desired (to choose) the bad. Swinburne’s portrait of incarnation, in any case, robs Jesus’s temptations of their decisive significance. It involves, from God’s perspective, a morally dubious kind of pretense: God knows that Jesus cannot yield to temptation, but He puts Jesus forth nonetheless to give the appearance of a genuine struggle of Jesus with temptation. This rings of morally objectionable pretense. It has no place in the incarnation of a God who does not stoop to pretense or deception. Incidentally, Swinburne himself makes much of the truth that a morally impeccable God would not be deceptive (cf. pp. 63, 214).
 
If God is to become incarnate among humans, according to Swinburne, God’s incarnate life must satisfy five “prior” requirements. God’s incarnate life must include: (a) a perfect human life wherein God provides healing to humans; (b) the teaching of deep theological and moral truths; ( c) the manifestation of self-consciousness that God is here incarnate; (d) the teaching that this incarnate life provides atonement for human sin; and (e) the founding a church that preserves and promotes the teaching and work of God incarnate (p. 59). Swinburne contends that if we leave aside Jesus, “there is no known serious candidate in all human history for satisfying even most of the prior requirements for being God incarnate” (p. 61). He notes that, unlike Jesus, neither Moses nor Muhammad nor the Buddha claimed to provide an atonement for human sin. In addition, Swinburne devotes chapters 4-8 to showing that Jesus does satisfy the five prior requirements.
 
The case for God incarnate in Jesus, according to Swinburne, is not thereby settled. He observes that “it is possible (though not, of course, in my view, probable) that there is no God,” and infers that we must “take seriously” the possibility that someone satisfies the five prior requirements but fails to be God. This inference is unpersuasive, however, especially if the mere possibility that God does not exist need not be “taken seriously.” It’s unclear when, in Swinburne’s account, mere possibilities must be “taken seriously.” He might have said that possibilities should be taken seriously only when they enjoy a certain kind of evidence. Perhaps he should say that since, for the sake of argument, he has assumed that atheism is as probable as not, he will take seriously the possibility that God does not exist. This would be a more plausible strategy than the aforementioned inference. At any rate, Swinburne concludes that God must give us evidence beyond the five prior requirements. God must, in particular, give His divine signature of approval to the incarnate life in a way that could be given only by God Himself. Enter, then, the “posterior” requirement of the “super-miracle” known as the resurrection.
 
Swinburne contends, in chapters 9-12, that Jesus meets the posterior requirement of being raised from the dead by God Himself. The New Testament reports about the resurrection appearances of Jesus exhibit differences, but, according to Swinburne, “the differences are certainly not substantial enough to cast doubt on the basic story” (p. 148). In addition, Swinburne concludes that the earliest disciples of Jesus believed that the tomb of the crucified Jesus was empty on Easter Sunday (p. 163). The bodily resurrection of Jesus, in Swinburne’s view, would be the kind of signature of approval God would need to put on His incarnate life, upon becoming incarnate. Regarding the historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus found in the New Testament, Swinburne finds that it “is the sort of evidence (not too much of it, but of the right kind) we would expect to have if there was such a super-miracle” (p. 212). He thus concludes: “... the coincidence of there being significant evidence for a super-miracle [viz., the bodily resurrection] connected with the life of the only prophet [viz., Jesus] for whom there is significant evidence that he satisfies the prior requirements for being God incarnate would also have been very improbable unless God brought it about” (p. 202). Finally, then: “... the total evidence makes it very probable that Jesus was God incarnate who rose from the dead” (p. 203).
 
 
Three Problems

  Three troublesome assumptions of Swinburne’s merit attention. First, he assumes that the following “principle of testimony” is true: “we should believe what others tell us that they have done or perceived – in the absence of counter-evidence” (pp. 12-13). This principle enables Swinburne to recommend that we should believe much of the testimony in the New Testament regarding the life and teaching of Jesus. Quite aside from the matter of the reliability of New Testament reports about Jesus, Swinburne’s principle of testimony is at best dubious. If a person is not in a position to know or to believe with justifying evidence what he or she is reporting, then we should not believe, on the basis of that person’s report, what that person reports to us, even in the absence of counter-evidence. The mere fact that a person reports something in the absence of counter-evidence does not entail that we should believe what is being reported. The person reporting information must be in a position to know or to believe with justifying evidence the information in question. Otherwise, we may have a mere report of information, and not a report that confers epistemic status on the information reported. Swinburne’s use of testimonial information from the New Testament must be accompanied, then, with argument that the reporters were genuinely in a position to know or to believe with justifying evidence what they reported. This is a significant gap in Swinburne’s case. It results from his reliance on the dubious principle of testimony.

 
Second, Swinburne assumes that divine incarnation must involve evidence that preserves a kind of “epistemic distance from God which we need for free will and responsibility” (p. 50). This entails that the evidence for divine incarnation must not be too clear, or “obvious.” Swinburne assumes further:
... humans have two natural desires: to be thought well of by the good and the great; and to go on living good lives for ever.... Given those desires, inevitably if the presence of God were known for certain, that would make choice between good and evil impossible (p. 36; cf. p. 172).
It’s less than obvious that humans have the two natural desires in question. I, for one, know a number of people who definitely do not have the desires in question, and they do not seem to be missing anything “natural.” It’s even more questionable whether human freedom and morality would be undermined by our knowing “for certain” that God exists. A person can know for certain that God exists but freely choose to go against God’s ways. Some people have even testified to this reality in their own lives. We don’t, then, need to have uncertainty about God’s existence to pursue immorality freely. Of course an all-powerful could choose to do things that would extinguish human freedom, but conclusive, or certain, knowledge of God’s reality would not necessarily have this result. The case of Moses, for example, seems to illustrate this point. Swinburne, at any rate, has given us no compelling reason to think that certain knowledge of God’s reality would undermine human freedom regarding moral decision-making. At a minimum, the probabilistic evidence for divine incarnation could be much more accessible and transparent than it actually is without extinguishing human freedom. Swinburne needs to explain why this is so.
 
Third, Swinburne assumes that a compelling account of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus can make do without acknowledgment of the role of God’s Spirit in testifying to believers regarding the resurrection. Thus, Swinburne overlooks the cognitive role of the Holy Spirit in belief in the resurrection. This goes against the grain of New Testament teaching, according to which the God who raised Jesus goes beyond divine revelation as the imparting of information and experience. This God, according to various New Testament writers, offers a distinctive kind of evidence of divine reality and the lordship of Jesus, a kind of evidence widely overlooked in philosophical and theological discussions of God’s reality. The evidence is the imparting of God’s Spirit to humans. Such evidence is reported widely in the Jewish-Christian scriptures, and receives special acknowledgment in the letters of the apostle Paul. It calls for attention in religious epistemology to the human conditions for receiving the Spirit of an all-loving God.
 
In Romans 5:5, Paul writes: “... hope [in God] does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (NASB). Through the Holy Spirit given to us, our hearts (that is, our innermost centers) receive the love of God and are thereby changed from being selfish to receiving God’s unselfish love. Paul’s insight bears on our available evidence of God’s reality and the lordship of Jesus. Our hope in God has a cognitive anchor in God’s giving His Holy Spirit to us, whereby God’s love changes our hearts toward the character of divine love. Paul expresses a similar insight in 2 Corinthians 1:21 in referring to the God who “has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (RSV). The Spirit given to human hearts guarantees, as a down payment, that God will complete the work of transformation begun in those hearts. Such transformation is by God’s indwelling Spirit is salient evidence of God’s reality.
 
The Spirit of God brings new power to a person, and this power is felt by its recipient and is even observable by others. It can be observed by someone looking for the power of unselfish love in a life. This power is from God’s indwelling Spirit, the Spirit whereby Jesus was raised from the dead. So, belief in the resurrection is compelling, cognitively, because the Spirit responsible for the resurrection of Jesus is received and experienced by people open to God’s Spirit. This Spirit empowers people to love as God loves, even in the self-giving way exemplified by Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection. Evidence of God’s reality and the lordship of Jesus arises from the power of divine self-giving love present in a human life. Our appropriating such evidence firsthand calls for our welcoming and being moved by such power. Eduard Schweizer has thus characterized the Spirit of God, in Paul’s writings, as “... the power which involves [a person] in the saving act of God in Christ, ... and lays him open to a life of love (agape)” (“Pneuma,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 6, eds. G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964-76)). So, resurrection belief depends, for its persuasiveness, on one’s becoming “involved in the saving act of God in Christ” by means of the Spirit responsible for that saving act. Swinburne’s account omits this central New Testament teaching.
 
We may easily overlook the power and evidence of God’s Spirit if we are looking for a kind of power or evidence foreign to an all-loving God. Indeed, the power of God’s Spirit may even seem to be foolish pseudo-power to people out of tune with an all-loving God. To know God aright is to be volitionally united with God in the power of God’s Spirit, and this is to be united, in love, on the cross with God’s crucified and risen Son. Schweizer thus remarks:
At the very place where Paul writes about the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, he states he has nothing to preach but the Crucified [Jesus], which is a stumbling-block to the Jews and folly to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23, 2:2). Thus the power of the Spirit is demonstrated precisely where normally nothing is to be seen but failure and disintegration. What no eye has seen nor ear heard God has revealed to his own through the Spirit which “searches everything, even the depths of God”: salvation in the Crucified [Jesus].... Thus it is above all the Spirit that reveals ... that the “power of God” is to be found in the Crucified [Jesus] (2 Cor. 13:4; cf. 12:10) ( “On Distinguishing Between Spirits,” Ecumenical Review 41 (1989), 411).
Evidence of the divine Spirit’s presence, then, involves a kind of manifested power foreign to natural expectations. This is the power of self-giving love, as manifested in the crucified and risen Jesus and in his true followers. The Spirit of God is thus the Spirit of Jesus, the one who gave his life in self-giving, servant love.
 
God’s Spirit, according to Paul’s writings, reveals God and our relationship with God. In 1 Corinthians 2:12, Paul remarks that “... we have received ... the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (NASB; italics added). Only the Spirit of God knows the things of God; so, ultimately, only the Spirit of God can reveal God to us. Paul thus concludes that we are given the Spirit of God in order to know God and God’s ways of self-giving love. By giving his Spirit, God shares himself and knowledge of himself with others. In Romans 8, Paul comments that “... you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!”, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God....” (Rom. 8:15-16, RSV; cf. Gal. 4:6-7). God’s Spirit thus confirms to an individual’s spirit that he or she is a child of God, a child called to filial relationship with God. The same Spirit testifies to Jesus as the risen Lord.
 
The Jewish-Christian God is inherently personal. So, the personal Spirit of God is the best source, including the most direct source, to confirm God’s reality and our standing before God. Indeed, given God’s being inherently personal, God’s personal Spirit is the only self-authenticating source of evidence of God’s reality. If God’s own personal Spirit cannot authenticate God’s reality for us creatures, then nothing else can either. Certainly nothing other than God can. In picking something other than God to authenticate God’s reality, we can always plausibly ask: What is the cognitively reliable connection between that thing and God’s reality? This question will leave an opening to doubt the authenticity of the supposed witness to God’s reality. So, God’s Spirit authenticates God’s reality directly, with unsurpassable authority and in agreement with God’s character of love. This kind of cognitive inspiration yields knowledge of God and of Jesus as risen Lord, according to the New Testament. If we omit this theme, we overlook a central theme of the New Testament good news: the news that the resurrection of Jesus includes the availability of God’s Spirit to people here and now, and that this Spirit supplies the cognitive foundation for knowledge that Jesus is the risen Lord of Heaven and Earth.
 
 
 
 
 
Gary's Comments on above Review:
 
This (presumably Roman Catholic) professor of Philosophy at Loyola University, Chicago, says:  "The Jewish-Christian God is inherently personal. So, the personal Spirit of God is the best source, including the most direct source, to confirm God’s reality and our standing before God. Indeed, given God’s being inherently personal, God’s personal Spirit is the only self-authenticating source of evidence of God’s reality."
 
I find it interesting that a Roman Catholic philosopher would be in agreement with evangelicals that the best evidence for the existence of the Christian God and for the historicity of the Resurrection is the perception of an internal spirit...or my preferred term...an internal ghost.
 
But Muslims, Hindus, and Mormons all report the same intense and very real (to them) perceptions of their gods' presence, so how can Christians assume that their subjective perceptions are true and those of every other exclusivist religion in the world are false?

That said, wouldn't it be wonderful if conservative Christians would stop trying to prove that a dead man walked out of his grave 2,000 years ago with their weak historical "evidence", but would just admit that their supernatural beliefs are based on perceptions, feelings, and intuition, just as this Roman Catholic theologian suggests?
 
But wait...then I wouldn't have anything to blog about!
 


Richard Swinburne's, "The Resurrection of God Incarnate"

A Christian reader referred me to this book as a deductive argument for the Resurrection of Jesus.  Below is the article abstract.  Below that is one liberal theologian's assessment of Mr. Swineburne's probability argument.  I will attempt to read more reviews of Mr. Swineburne's book, but I don't intend to read his entire book.  Reading NT Wright's 800+ work, "The Resurrection of the Son of God",  was enough.

I will intersperse my comments in red. 
 
 
The Resurrection of God Incarnate
 
by Richard Swinburne

 
Print publication date: 2003
 

Abstract: The (alleged) Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead involved a violation of natural laws, and so could have happened only if natural laws depend for their operation on God, who set them aside on this occasion. The main reason he would have for setting them aside would be any reason he had himself to become incarnate; the Resurrection would then be the divine signature on his work, showing that he had become incarnate.
 
Mr. Swinburne, at least in this statement, assumes there is a God and when he does refer to "God", to which god is he referring?  Is he referring to an unidentified Creator God or is he simply assuming that there is a Creator God and that that God must be the Christian god, Yahweh/Jesus?
 
So any evidence from natural theology that there is a God with a certain nature, and any reason to suppose that having that nature would lead a God to become incarnate, is evidence (background evidence) that some sort of super-miracle like the Resurrection would occur. Any evidence against the existence of God or against him being such as to become incarnate would be evidence against the Resurrection.
 
I argue that God does have reason to become incarnate—to provide atonement, to identify with human suffering, and to reveal truth. Mr. S. is assuming that the Bible is historically accurate in all its assertions of fact..  No one but a conservative Christian would accept this as a true premise. Our evidence about the life of Jesus (the prior historical evidence) is such that it is not too improbable that we would find it if God was incarnate in Jesus for these reasons. No Jewish scholar would agree with this statement.  This is a Christian assumption.  We have no available evidence for the details of Jesus life other than four anonymous first century works of literature, three of which copy much of the first.  All Jewish scholars and most if not all secular scholars do not believe that any Old Testament prophecies can possible refer to Jesus.  Our evidence about what happened after the death of Jesus (the posterior historical evidence) is such that it is not too improbable that we would find it if Jesus had risen from the dead. Only a conservative Christian would make this claim.  The actual evidence for this alleged supernatural event, apart from hearsay and second century assumptions, is sparse to nonexistent.
 
For no other prophet in human history, is there anything like this combination of prior and posterior historical evidence.  Evidence for this sweeping claim?

Given a moderate amount of positive background evidence, it then becomes very probable that Jesus was God Incarnate who rose from the dead. 


 
From:  Faith and Theology
 
 
Theology FAIL: Richard Swinburne proves the resurrection
A conversation yesterday reminded me of Richard Swinburne's 2003 book, The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Using Bayesian probability and lashings of highfalutin mathematical jargon, Swinburne argues that "it [is] very probable indeed that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ who rose from the dead" (p. 214). His mathematical apologetics for the resurrection boils down to the following argument:
  1. The probably of God's existence is one in two (since God either exists or doesn't exist).
  2. The probability that God became incarnate is also one in two (since it either happened or it didn't).
  3. The evidence for God's existence is an argument for the resurrection.
  4. The chance of Christ's resurrection not being reported by the gospels has a probability of one in 10.
  5. Considering all these factors together, there is a one in 1,000 chance that the resurrection is not true.
It's almost impossible to parody this argument (since in order to parody it, you would have to imagine something sillier – a daunting task!). But let me try:

The probably that the moon is made of cheese is one in two (since it is either made of cheese or it isn't); the probability that this cheese is camembert is also one in two (since it's either camembert or it isn't); and so on...


 
  

Is your World governed by Science and Reason or by Ghosts and Ghouls?

In my many discussions with conservative Christians regarding their belief system I have noticed that we always run into two major problems:

A.  What constitutes evidence?
B.  What is the basis of reality?

Christians regard the following as evidence:

1.  The existence of four first century books that tell the same general story is evidence that the story is historical fact.
2.  The fact that a small group of first century Jews would believe in the resurrection of one person, (an unheard of concept in Judaism...but not in the teachings of Jesus...) is evidence the Resurrection occurred.
3.  The fact that a new religion in the first century spread rapidly throughout the known world, its followers being subjected to persecution and sometimes violent deaths, is evidence that the teachings of the new religion are true.
4.  The fact that "all" early Christians came to accept the 27 books of the New Testament as the inerrant, inspired words of God the Creator is evidence that, in fact, these 27 books are the Word of God.
5.  The probable fact that Papias, in the early second century, knew people who had known the apostles is proof that the four Gospels were written by their traditional authors.
6.   The fact that the Christian Bible states that "all Scripture is inspired by God" is proof that all 66 books in our modern Bibles are the very words of the Creator.
7.  The evidence for a Creator is evidence for the Christian god.
8.  The absence of Roman and Jewish documentation of the events of the Resurrection is evidence of a conspiracy to suppress the story.
9.  The fact that the majority of New Testament scholars (the majority of whom are Christian believers) believe that there was an empty tomb is convincing evidence that there was an empty tomb.
10.  An empty tomb can only be explained by a supernatural resurrection.
11.  Grave robbers, the disciples, the Romans, the Jewish authorities, nor Joseph of Arimethea could not have removed or moved the body, resulting in an empty tomb,  because the source in question, the Bible, in only one version of the story, states that the Romans had placed guards at the tomb.
12.  Jewish rabbis do not convert to new Jewish religious sects, such as was early Christianity.
13.  The conversion of a Jewish rabbi, to a religious sect that he once hated and persecuted, confirms that the rabbi's new religion is true in all its supernatural claims.
14.  If a former Jewish rabbi says that he encountered a talking, bright light that told him that it was a dead man, this is evidence that the former rabbi actually saw the body of a walking, talking resurrected dead man.
15.  If someone claims that there are 500 people living in a distant country who can verify that a dead man walked out of his grave approximately 20-25 years ago, this is sufficient evidence to believe that dead people do walk out of their graves, or at least, one dead man walked out of his grave...2,000 years ago.

Question:  Would most rational, educated people, who have never heard of Christianity, consider the above statements as "evidence"?  Graduates of seminaries and divinity schools may be able to present very complicated arguments using logic as to why you and I should believe the above "evidence", but is the above "evidence" strong enough to convince you that our universe is controlled by invisible ghosts and ghouls? 

Question:  Have you ever seen or spoken to a ghost our ghoul?  Based on your experience and the experience of other educated, 21st century people whom you know, what is the probability of the existence of invisible ghosts and ghouls?

Question:  Regardless of the complicated logical arguments presented by graduates of seminaries and divinity schools for the existence of reality-controlling ghosts and ghouls, are you willing to give up your world view that Science and Reason best explain reality and submit to the schemes and whims of these invisible ghosts and ghouls?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An Ex-Muslim explains why real Truth cannot be found by Faith

Copied from:  Nairaland Forum


Until few years ago I used to think that my faith in Islam was not based on blind imitation but rather was the result of years of investigation and research. The fact that I had read a lot of books on Islam, written by people whose thoughts I approved of and delving into philosophies that were within my comfort zone, emphasized my conviction that I had found the truth. All my biased research confirmed my faith. Just like other Muslims I used to believe that to learn about anything one has to go to the source. Of course the source of Islam is the Quran and the books written by Muslim scholars. Therefore, I felt no need to look elsewhere in order to find the truth, as I was convinced that I had already found it. As Muslims say " Talabe ilm ba'd azwossule ma'loom mazmoom ". The search of knowledge after gaining it is unnecessary.

Now I realize this was a mistake. What if we want to learn the truth about one of these dangerous cults? Is it enough to depend only on what the cult leader and his deluded followers say? Wouldn't it be prudent to widen our research and find out what other people have to say about them? Going to the source makes sense only in scientific matters, because scientists are not "believers". They do not say something because they have blind faith. Scientists make a critical analysis of the evidence. It is very much different from the religious approach that is based entirely on faith and belief.

                                                                                                                   --Ali S.

What is the REAL reason why Ex-Christians speak out against their former Faith?

If you are a regular reader of this blog you are aware that fundamentalist Christians often point out to me in the comment section that my continued "rants" against (the Christian) god are a sure sign that in my heart I know that the Bible and Christianity are true.

Could they be right?

Well, if one allows for the supernatural, anything is possible.  However, there is a problem.  Talk to ex-fundamentalist Mormons and Muslims, adults who grew up in those Faiths from early childhood, and they will tell you that removing the deeply ingrained indoctrination of their childhood religion is very, very difficult.  It doesn't happen overnight.  It takes years to "deprogram" and many will tell you that they are never fully free of the fear that:  they have made a mistake in deconverting; that their former religion really is the one and only truth.

Every post I put on this blog is part of my deprogramming, my therapy, my healing, from the deeply ingrained fundamentalist/conservative/orthodox Christian indoctrination of my childhood.  Yes, it could be a sign that God is convicting me of my sin and rebellion...but then how do Christians explain the exact same fear among Muslims and Mormons, even Muslims and Mormons who have converted to Christianity??

Probability says that it isn't "God" that is "convicting" ex-Christians and ex-Muslims to return to Christianity and Islam respectively, but fear; the fear of being burned alive in Jesus' or Allah's Hell; a fear based on brutal and sadistic stories driven into the impressionable brains of the little children of fundamentalist Christian and Muslim parents.

Click here to watch testimonials by ex-Mormons:  I am an Ex-Mormon.com

An Example of Christians using faulty Deductive Logical Reasoning. Anyone see a Problem?

Copied from this Christian website:  Weslyan Theology

 
   
 
Following is a brief argument for the inerrancy of Scripture:
 
Premise A: Every utterance of God is perfect, and thus free from error.

Premise B: All the truth claims of the Bible writers are the utterances of God.

Conclusion: All the truth claims of the Bible writers are free from error.

Premise A is supported by the teaching that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2) and that He knows everything (I John 3:2). God cannot say anything contrary to the way things really are. He is morally perfect and will not lead anyone astray, especially since He is omniscient. Bible writers declare that the words of God are pure (Psalm 12:6, Prov. 30:5). Paul calls Scripture the “word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). According to Romans 9:1, the truth excludes the possibility of lying. There is nothing spoken by God that is contrary to what is really real.

Premise B is supported by II Timothy 3:16 (“All Scripture is God-breathed”), and other scriptures that refer to the words of Moses and the prophets as actual words of God (Romans 3:2, Acts 28:25).

That is the deductive argument for inerrancy. If Premise A and B are true, then the conclusion (that all of the truth claims of the Bible writers are free from error) must be true. If the conclusion is true, then we must approach Scripture from the stance of faith, trusting that when properly interpreted there will be found no error in Scripture, no matter how small. Nothing will be stated as a fact (by the Bible writers themselves, not necessarily those they quote) that does not correspond to the way things really are.

Gary:

Let's substitute a few words in this argument:

Premise A: Every utterance of Allah is perfect, and thus free from error.

Premise B: All the truth claims of the writer of the Koran are the utterances of Allah.

Conclusion: All the truth claims of the writer of the Koran are free from error.


Gary's conclusion:  Holy Cat Whiskers!  With this irrefutable deductive logical argument, I had better convert to Islam!

 

Why do Conservative Christians use so many Logical Fallacies?

Copied from:  Fullerton.edu


COMMON FALLACIES IN REASONING


1. FAULTY CAUSE: (post hoc ergo propter hoc) mistakes correlation or association for causation, by assuming that because one thing follows another it was caused by the other.
example: A black cat crossed Babbs' path yesterday and, sure enough, she was involved in an automobile accident later that same afternoon.
example: The introduction of sex education courses at the high school level has resulted in increased promiscuity among teens. A recent study revealed that the number of reported cases of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) was significantly higher for high schools that offered courses in sex education than for high schools that did not.
                    Gary's example:  One proof that Jesus rose from the dead is that his disciples' behavior and attitude dramatically changed after his death.  This would only occur if the Resurrection really happened.


2. SWEEPING GENERALIZATION: (dicto simpliciter) assumes that what is true of the whole will also be true of the part, or that what is true in most instances will be true in all instances.
example: Muffin must be rich or have rich parents, because she belongs to ZXQ, and ZXQ is the richest sorority on campus.
example: I'd like to hire you, but you're an ex-felon and statistics show that 80% of ex-felons recidivate.
                    Gary's example:  You are only trying to disprove the Resurrection because you hate God.  All atheists hate God.


3. HASTY GENERALIZATION: bases an inference on too small a sample, or on an unrepresentative sample. Often, a single example or instance is used as the basis for a broader generalization.
example: All of those movie stars are really rude. I asked Kevin Costner for his autograph in a restaurant in Westwood the other evening, and he told me to get lost. 
example: Pit Bulls are actually gentle, sweet dogs. My next door neighbor has one and his dog loves to romp and play with all the kids in the neighborhood!
                    Gary's example:  Papias, who knew Polycarp, who was the disciple of the apostle John, believed that John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark, therefore we can be confidant that the four Gospels were written by the traditional authors.


4. FAULTY ANALOGY: (can be literal or figurative) assumes that because two things, events, or situations are alike in some known respects, that they are alike in other unknown respects.
example: What's the big deal about the early pioneers killing a few Indians in order to settle the West? After all, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. 
example: Banning "head" shops from selling drug paraphernalia in order to curb drug abuse makes about as much sense as banning bikinis to reduce promiscuity.
                    Gary's example:  No one questions the authorship of The Iliad and the Odessey and we have far fewer copies of it than we do the Bible for which we have thousands of copies. Therefore we can be absolutely certain that our existing copies of the Bible are the same as the originals.


5. APPEAL TO IGNORANCE: (argumentum ad ignorantiam) attempts to use an opponent's inability to disprove a conclusion as proof of the validity of the conclusion, i.e. "You can't prove I'm wrong, so I must be right."
example: We can safely conclude that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy, because thus far no one has been able to prove that there is not. 
example: The new form of experimental chemotherapy must be working; not a single patient has returned to complain.
                    Gary's example:  Atheists cannot prove that God does not exist, therefore He does!


6. BIFURCATION: (either-or, black or white, all or nothing fallacy) assumes that two categories are mutually exclusive and exhaustive, that is, something is either a member of one or the other, but not both or some third category.
example: Either you favor a strong national defense, or you favor allowing other nations to dictate our foreign policy. 
example: It’s not TV. It’s HBO.
                    Gary's example:  Either you believe every statement of fact in the Bible is true or you consider the entire Bible a lie.


7. FALSE DILEMMA: (a form of bifurcation) implies that one of two outcomes is inevitable, and both have negative consequences.
example: Either you buy a large car and watch it guzzle away your paycheck, or you buy a small car and take a greater risk of being injured or killed in the event of an accident. 
example: You can put your money in a savings account, in which case the IRS will tax you on the interest, and inflation will erode the value of your money, or you can avoid maintaining a savings account in which case you will have nothing to fall back on in a financial emergency.


8. FAULTY SIGN: (also includes argument from circumstance) wrongly assumes that one event or phenomenon is a reliable indicator or predictor of another event or phenomenon.
example: the cars driving in the opposite direction have their lights on; they must be part of a funeral procession. 
example: That guy is wearing a Raiders jacket and baggy pants. I’ll bet he’s a gang member.
                    Gary's example:  I have never seen a half monkey/half human, therefore evolution cannot be true.


9. DAMNING THE SOURCE: (ad hominem, sometimes called the genetic fallacy) attempts to refute an argument by indicting the source of the argument, rather than the substance of the argument itself.
example: There is no reason to listen to the arguments of those who oppose school prayer, for they are the arguments of atheists! 
example: The American Trial Lawyers Association favors of this piece of legislation, so you know it has to be bad for ordinary citizens.
                    Gary's example:  It is a waste of time for Christians to debate the validity of the Bible with skeptics because Satan controls the minds of skeptics.


10. TU QUOQUE: (look who's talking or two wrongs make a right) pointing to a similar wrong or error committed by another.
example: Gee, Mom and Dad, how can you tell me not to do drugs when you both smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol? 
example: The United States has no business criticizing the human rights policies of the Third World nations, not as long as discrimination and segregation continue to exist in the United States.
                    Gary's example:  Atheists and skeptics have no business criticizing the behavior of God in the Old Testament since they support abortion.

11. EQUIVOCATION: allows a key word or term in an argument to shift its meaning during the course of the argument. The result is that the conclusion of the argument is not concerned with the same thing as the premise(s).
example: Only man is rational. No woman is a man. Therefore, no woman is rational. 
example: No one who has the slightest acquaintance with science can reasonably doubt that the miracles in the Bible actually took place. Every year we witness countless new miracles in the form recombinant DNA, micro-chips, organ transplants, and the like. (the word "miracle" does not have the same meaning in each case)


12. BEGGING THE QUESTION: (petitio principii) entails making an argument, the conclusion of which is based on an unstated or unproven assumption. In question form, this fallacy is known as a COMPLEX QUESTION.
example: Abortion is murder, since killing a baby is an act of murder. 
example: Have you stopped beating your wife?
    Gary's example:  Something cannot come from nothing, therefore God created the universe. 
    Gary's example:  We know that the Bible is the Word of God because the Bible says so.
    Gary's example:  We know that the Exodus happened, just read the Book of Exodus for the proof.
    Gary's example:  We have proof that the Resurrection happened because the Bible says it happened.  The Bible is the Word of God and God wouldn't lie.


13. TAUTOLOGY: (a sub-category of circular argument) defining terms or qualifying an argument in such a way that it would be impossible to disprove the argument. Often, the rationale for the argument is merely a restatement of the conclusion in different words.
example: The Bible is the word of God. We know this because the Bible itself tells us so. 
example: You are a disagreeable person and, if you disagree with me on this, it will only further prove what a disagreeable person you are.


14. APPEAL TO AUTHORITY: (ipse dixit also called ad verecundiam sometimes) attempts to justify an argument by citing a highly admired or well-known (but not necessarily qualified) figure who supports the conclusion being offered.
example: If it's good enough for (insert celebrity's name here), it's good enough for me. 
example: Laws against marijuana are plain silly. Why, Thomas Jefferson is known to have raised hemp on his own plantation.
                    Gary's example:  All the early Church Fathers believed that Matthew, John Mark, Luke, and John wrote the Gospels, so it must be true.

15. APPEAL TO TRADITION: (don't rock the boat or ad verecundiam) based on the principle of "letting sleeping dogs lie". We should continue to do things as they have been done in the past. We shouldn't challenge time-honored customs or traditions.
example: Of course we have to play "pomp and circumstance" at graduation, because that's always been the song that is played. 
example: Why do I make wine this way? Because my father made wine this way, and his father made wine this way.
                    Gary's example:  We know that the New Testament is the Word of God because Christians have always believed it to be the Word of God.

16. APPEAL TO THE CROWD: (ad populum or playing to the gallery) refers to popular opinion or majority sentiment in order to provide support for a claim. Often the "common man" or "common sense" provides the basis for the claim.
example: all I can say is that if living together is immoral, then I have plenty of company. 
example: Professor Windplenty's test was extremely unfair. Just ask anyone who took it.
                    Gary's example:  Common sense tells us that humans did not evolve from an amoeba.

17. STRAW MAN: stating an opponent's argument in an extreme or exaggerated form, or attacking a weaker, irrelevant portion of an opponent's argument.
example: A mandatory seat belt law could never be enforced. You can't issue citations to dead people. 
example: What woman in her right mind could truly desire total equality with men? No woman wants the right to be shot at in times of war, the right to have to pay alimony, or the right to have to use the same restrooms as men.


18. SLIPPERY SLOPE: (sometimes called a snowball argument or domino theory) suggests that if one step or action is taken it will invariably lead to similar steps or actions, the end results of which are negative or undesirable. A slippery slope always assume a chain reaction of cause-effect events which result in some eventual dire outcome.
example: If the Supreme Court allows abortion, next think you know they'll allow euthanasia, and it won't be long before society disposes of all those persons whom it deems unwanted or undesirable. 
example: If I let one student interrupt my lecture with a question, then I'll have to let others and, before long, there won't be any time left for my lecture.
    Gary's example:  If we abandon the belief that morality comes from God, all Hell will break loose.


19. APPEALING TO EXTREMES: A fallacy very similar to slippery slope, which involves taking an argumentative claim or assertion to its extreme, even though the arguer does not advocate the extreme interpretation. The difference between the two fallacies is that appealing to extremes does not necessarily involve a sequence of causal connections.
example: Husband to ex-wife: Well, if you want to be completely fair about dividing everything up, you should get one of my testicles and I should get one of your breasts! 
example: Debtor to creditor: Hey, you've already repossessed my car and my television. Why don't you just draw a quart of blood or carve a pound of flesh from my heart too?


20. HYPOTHESIS CONTRARY TO FACT: This fallacy consists of offering a poorly supported claim about what might have happened in the past or future if circumstances or conditions were other than they actually were or are. The fallacy also involves treating hypothetical situations as if they were fact.
example: If you had only tasted the stewed snails, I'm sure you would have liked them. 
example: If Hitler had not invaded Russia and opened up two military fronts, the Nazis would surely have won the war.
                    Gary's example:  If skeptics would only repent of their sins and believe in Jesus by faith, they would then see how the supernatural claims of Christianity are all true.

21. NON SEQUITAR: (literally means "does not follow") in a general sense any argument which fails to establish a connection between the premises and the conclusion may be called a non-sequitar. In practice, however, the label non-sequitar tends to be reserved for arguments in which irrelevant reasons are offered to support a claim.
example: I wore a red shirt when I took the test, so that is probably why I did so well on the test. 
example: Mr Boswell couldn't be the person who poisoned our cat, Truffles, because when I used to take Truffles for walks he always smiled and said "Hello" when we walked by.


22. RED HERRING: attempting to hide a weakness in an argument by drawing attention away from the real issue. A red herring fallacy is thus a diversionary tactic or an attempt to confuse or fog the issue being debated. The name of the fallacy comes from the days of fox hunting, when a herring was dragged across the trail of a fox in order to throw the dogs off the scent.
example: accused by his wife of cheating at cards, Ned replies "Nothing I do ever pleases you. I spent all last week repainting the bathroom, and then you said you didn't like the color." 
example: There's too much fuss and concern about saving the environment. We can't create an Eden on earth. And even if we could, remember Adam and Eve got bored in the Garden of Eden anyway!
 

23. INCONSISTENCY: advancing an argument that is self-contradictory, or that is based on mutually inconsistent premises.
Example: A used car salespersons says, "Hey, you can’t trust those other car salesman. They’ll say anything to get you to buy a car from them."
Example: A parent has just read a child the story of Cinderella. The child asks, "If the coach, and the footmen, and the beautiful clothes all turned back into the pumpkin, the mice, and the rags, then how come the glass slipper didn’t change back too?"
    Gary's example:  God loves you very much but will burn you alive for all eternity if you don't love him.

Dear readers:  Please list in the comments below any logical fallacies that you have encountered in your discussions with conservative Christians regarding their belief system.

Martin Luther: Reason is the Devil's Whore

Copied from:  Ex-Christians.net

 

By Jake Rhodes ~

This serene and somewhat uneventful evening finds me listening to commentary on various theological debates while gazing upon the few empty beer bottles laid waste in front of me. My not quite “drunk”, but ever so slightly unreserved, state emboldens me so that I am convinced it is advisable to pen my musings on a topic I have been contemplating for the past few months. Fairly recently it appears it has become fashionable for religion, Christianity in particular, to append the adjective “reasonable” to a selected form of faith. In fact, William Lane Craig has actually authored a book with a title that conjoins the opposing concepts of reason and faith to form the epitome of an oxymoron. I must admit that I have not read the aforementioned book; this article is not intended to refute any of the points contained within Dr. Craig’s book. I have gleaned enough of Dr. Craig’s philosophy from his public debates to conclude that I have no interest in reading any of his writings. My goal in writing this article is simply to examine a few basic doctrines of Christianity to determine if they can in fact be deemed reasonable. As I stand perplexed by apologists’ claims that belief in Christianity is entirely reasonable, a few simple questions that I would like to posit come to mind. My intention is for each question I propose for every specific dogma to serve as a sort of litmus test in order to see if the belief holds up under scrutiny. Let us take a few moments to ponder some core beliefs of Christianity and determine for ourselves if they are reasonable or irrational.

In order to establish the criteria for determining what dogmas can be declared reasonable, we should first define reason. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines reason as follows:

reason - a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; especially : something (as a principle or law) that supports a conclusion or explains a fact

From the above definition, we can justifiably conclude that any reasonable doctrine must be logically coherent. As such, no doctrine that is defined as reasonable should require the employment of absolute blind faith in order to establish its validity. For argument’s sake, I will grant that a proposition without directly contradicting evidence or arguments can be tentatively accepted as somewhat reasonable, although it must be accepted in some sense on faith. However, any dogma that is demonstrably fallacious must be discarded as wholly unreasonable.

Countless times I have been subjected to a sweating, riled up, Pentecostal preacher shouting with enthusiasm his profession of faith in mid sermon. This declaration of belief often contained the statement that Jesus Christ was “both fully God and fully man”. Although I suspect that many pastors I have heard make this profession were unaware of its origin, it is perfectly supported by the Chalcedonian Creed (451 AD). However, consensus among church leaders does not necessarily prove a doctrine to be perfectly reasonable. I contend that the characteristics of fully God and fully man are actually mutually exclusive by their very nature. In order to solidify my position, I would like to ask a very simple question. Was Jesus CAPABLE of sin? The answers “yes” and “no” are entirely comprehensive, therefore the Law of Excluded Middle prohibits any cleverly construed middle ground. If the reader asserts that Jesus was not capable of sin, then I say it is impossible that he was fully human. By biblical definition, human nature is inherently sinful (Gensis 6:5, Psalm 14:1-3, Romans 3:23). If Jesus was actually incapable of sin, then he could not have been fully human because he did not share the curse of original sin and sinful nature alongside the rest of humanity. Suppose the believer argues that Jesus was in fact capable of sin, but that he abstained from it. I would then argue that it is entirely impossible that he was fully God. The defining line between humans and God is supposedly that God is incapable of sin (James 1:13, Hebrews 6:18). The notion of being fully human and fully divine is a paradox. On the basis of logic, the belief in the simultaneous humanity and deity of Jesus must be disregarded because it is completely nonsensical.

The second doctrine I would like to challenge is that concerning the eternal destination of the souls of those ignorant of the gospel, through no fault of their own. According to fundamentalist Protestant beliefs, every soul will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell (for this article, I will neglect to consider the Catholic belief in Purgatory). One must be completely foolish or willfully deluded in order to deny that countless people have lived and died without ever hearing even the name Jesus. So I ask, are the souls of these people sent to Heaven or Hell? Again, I perceive my question to only allow for two entirely comprehensive possibilities. One must concede that those ignorant of the gospel are either sent to Heaven or Hell. If the believer affirms that these poor souls are indeed condemned to the tortures of Hell, then I argue that God has to be a sadist. Although I’m sure this belief poses no real difficulty for the Calvinists, most reasonable people could never conceive of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god that would predestine anyone for the tortures of Hell without AT LEAST presenting them with the chance for salvation. If God allowed people to live and die without providing them with the opportunity for salvation, one would be forced to conclude that he created those people solely for the purpose of sentencing them to Hell. All of human history has failed to produce a better example of sadism. If, on the contrary, the believer asserts that those ignorant of the gospel are admitted into Heaven by default, I would argue that he/she has unwittingly negated the foundation of the entire Christian belief system. The idea that God grants salvation to those ignorant of Jesus insinuates that Jesus’ coming and death were entirely unnecessary! If God is indeed capable of granting salvation to those who have not heard of Jesus, then the need for redemption and reconciliation is negated. What purpose could the coming of Jesus have served? The only logical conclusion I can draw is that Jesus must have come simply so God could punish those who knowingly reject him. However, this would directly contradict John 3:17. Clearly, either answer to my question seems to require the employment of fatally flawed logic. So once more, another dogma must be disregarded because it is absolutely unreasonable.

The next issue I would like to scrutinize deals with the relationship between the Christian God and objective morality. Believers often make the claim that objective morality only exists if God exists. Debate centered on the existence of objective morality has been carried out to great lengths amongst philosophers and theologians for centuries. It seems that the issue has become obfuscated such that both sides of the debate can easily become frustrated. I assert that Christianity is challenged with the dilemma of determining whether behaviors are good because God commands them, or if God commands behaviors because they are good. If the believer affirms the latter, then the argument could be made that objective morality does exist. However, if the believer asserts that the former is true, then there would be no objective basis for morality. Morality would be entirely contingent upon the whims of God, therefore it would be subjective. I think the debate over the relationship between God and morality can be laid to rest quite easily. Simply ask the believer if he/she could brutally murder at the behest of God. If the believer responds by claiming that God would never give such a command, I would argue that they cleverly side stepped my question. What he/she actually answered was “Do you believe God would ever command you to kill?” and my original question still stands unanswered. The logic of that answer would be completely unfounded anyway since God did in fact order countless murders in the Bible. If the believer is bold enough to respond that they would rebel against such a command, then it is clear that the basis for morality exists independently of God. If the believer confirms that he/she would follow God’s order, then it is clear to any unbiased observer that God is grossly insufficient as a basis for objective morality. (As a side note, I would advise that any believer who answers in the latter manner be subjected to psychiatric evaluation.)

The final dogma that I will examine deals with the nature and authority of the Bible. The foundation of fundamentalist Christianity is grounded in the belief that the Bible is God’s holy word to man. The skeptic usually inquires as to how the determination that the Bible is actually God’s word can be made with such confidence. Most commonly, believers reply by appealing to the Bible’s supposed inerrancy. As one who has read a considerable amount of the Bible, I stand puzzled by this claim. It appears that once again a paradox has been imposed by a fundamentalist claim. The argument for scriptural authority seems to be presented from both perspectives: The Bible is God’s word because it is inerrant. There are no errors in the Bible because God does not err. Anyone even remotely acquainted with biblical criticism can see that the Bible contains a myriad of biological, historical, cosmological, and internally contradictory errors. Apologists’ attempts to rationalize most of these errors through unfathomable mental gymnastics gives testament to the fact that inerrancy is only based on the presumption that the Bible is God’s word. The claims for the Bible’s inerrancy and divine inspiration are entirely codependent. Neither of the claims can be proven independently of the other. The argument for scriptural authority commits the ultimate intellectual sin of employing circular reasoning. Although the term does contain the word “reasoning”, circular reasoning cannot be employed in order to assert that a belief is reasonable. Belief in the divine authority of the Bible is entirely based on blind faith, therefore it is not reasonable.

In a free society, everyone should be allowed to have whatever measure of faith they so choose. However, a certain degree of indignation from skeptics should be expected when Christians make the assertion that their faith is reasonable. What is implied is that rejection of Christian dogma is done so on unreasonable grounds. This is not the case. Reason refutes Christianity at every turn. If Christians (or followers of any religion) choose to have faith, that is their prerogative. I would simply advise that they have the courage to admit that their belief system is based on faith and divorce themselves from the masquerade of reason. In closing, I would like to recall some of Martin Luther’s words on reason:

“Reason is the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
“Reason is the Devil’s greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil’s appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom… Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism… She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets.”

Gary:  Dear conservative/fundamentalist/orthodox Christian:  Is that the kind of world you want to live in?  A world where reason, logic, and science are considered "evil" and the belief in invisible ghosts and ghouls is your basis for reality??  It's an ignorant superstition, friend.  Open your eyes.