Categories
Religion

A Tale of Two Worldviews

Christianity is fascinating. The stories of the Bible, the miracles and teachings described throughout? It’s endlessly curious, with more nuance than it is often given credit for, particularly among my fellow unbelievers.

Far too often, unbelievers pick up on caricatures of Christianity — shallow exaggerations or distortions that can be easily mocked in textbook examples of the strawman fallacy.1 Adam and Eve, for example, get replaced by “a mud man and a transgender clone rib woman.”2

If, however, our goal is to address what the Bible says and to use what it says as an argument for why people shouldn’t believe it, we’re going to need something beyond a quick joke or meme. We’re going to want to understand why Christians believe what they do, what their theology means, and how we can best interact with them in the real world.

Christians aren’t stupid, regardless of what you might’ve heard in the seedier atheist circles, and their apologists and theologians know their religion better than most of us “on the outside” do. I promise — I’ve been there, on the inside of not only casual Christianity, but of absorbing all I could in terms of apologetics, or the art of providing a defense for something, in this case what the Bible teaches.

I bookmarked dozens of websites and read through as much of them as I could handle. The CARM apologetics notebook was a prized possession of mine years ago, and I sat attentively and excitedly for a Ken Ham presentation. Apologetics was my jam, and that’s not to mention my endless obsession with theology, both in reading it and discussing it with my closest friends.

Apologetics is the jam of many churchgoers, and despite whatever faults it has, it does one thing well: It inoculates believers against baseless attacks against Christianity.

Categories
Religion

Wheaton’s Law

Sometime in the past year or two, I was added to a Facebook group called The Black Sheep. I didn’t think much of it, nor have I interacted much therein because I prefer interacting more in the public realm than within groups online for some reason. It seemed a peaceful place, though, and the conversations therefrom which Facebook’s algorithm decided I should see seemed interesting enough, so I introduced myself to the group and solicited friend requests to spice up my news feed.

The influx of new friends lead to what you’d expect: I saw new political perspectives, new hobbies, and so on, and I considered that little experiment to be a success. My next step in spicing things up was to look at Facebook’s “suggested friends” feature every day for a few days. If I had more than ten friends in common with a person, I added the person.

Within a week or two, I had over 700 friends on Facebook, and my news feed was unrecognizable. I’m not saying that as a bad thing! However, I noticed something almost right away from many of the atheists added in this way: If I didn’t know better, I’d almost say that atheism had become a religion to them. 

Adam and Eve Had Only Three Sons!

Six to ten-thousand years ago, some Christian apologists assert, the human species began with a single man and woman pair: Adam and Eve. And we are told that they had several children:

Cain… Abel… Seth…

Wait, that’s only three children and… they’re… all… boys.

“The human race is the product of Eve having sex with her sons!” “Adam and Eve only had three male children; think about that carefully!”

The family of Adam and Eve is often held up as a “gotcha” by unbelievers: an obvious flaw in the story which calls into question everything else about it. It is implied that not only was the human race initially increased by way of incest but that it was (at least initially) incest between mother and sons.

A Family That Just Won’t Quit

While it is true that Adam and Eve only had three named children, the “Adam, Eve, and their three kids alone” atheist argument falls apart just a few chapters into the Bible, chapter five specifically.

Chapter five pulls back a little bit to give a broader view of Adam’s lengthy life and progeny. Abel had been killed, and for all intents, Cain was living in exile, no longer a part of Adam’s “generations” or family so far as the author of Genesis is concerned. So with that in mind, chapter five tells us of the birth of Adam’s third named son: Seth.

The chapter quickly moves forward with Seth’s family, their children, and so on until the narrative gets to the next big event, the Deluge, or great flood. However, before it does so, it caps off Adam’s life thus:

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. Genesis 5:4

In case you missed it, here is the critical bit: and he had other sons and daughters.

Every single meme or objection you’ve ever seen which mentions that Adam and Eve had only three sons is false. “Fake news!” as they say.

Atheists often make the claim that they are atheists because they have “read the Bible.” Fair enough; reading the Bible is what killed my faith in its god and savior as well. However, if we’re going to proclaim some sort of enlightened state brought about by reading a book, we do ourselves a disservice and call into question the intellectual rigor of our movement if we’re missing a simple detail from early in the book for the sake of a “gotcha” argument or meme.

Because Adam and Eve had “sons and daughters” over the course of several centuries, there were plenty of pairings possible to get the human race off to a good start.

Examples from the Wild

Arguments Atheists Should Not Use

I have little doubt that atheists are right about the whole god thing, namely that there is no evidence for any deity or is otherwise no reason to believe in one.

That said, atheists can be and in fact can be often wrong in how they express their lack of belief, especially in how they approach or engage those who possess theistic beliefs.

By doing this, these atheists weaken our case and present an opportunity for theists to call out the weakness of atheism’s arguments. Given how much baggage atheism is already weighed down with, expressing our message of unbelief with an eye to detail, a mind for rationality, and a voice of clarity is quite prudent.

Below, I’ll be sharing real arguments used by real atheists which I don’t consider to be good arguments in favor of atheism or against theism. I would encourage any atheist interested in arguing in favor of atheism to familiarize their self with these arguments so that they can eliminate them from their repertoire. Atheism is already stigmatized enough; we don’t need to give those antagonistic toward it an easier job with their criticisms.

Do you know of any bad arguments put forth by atheists? Share them below!

Categories
Religion

How to Prove an Atheist Exists, Biblically

As a bit of a follow-up to Definitively Proving God’s Existence, I want to add that in the Hebraic myth discussed in 1 Kings 18:21–40, God was proven to be real by Elijah’s sacrifice being accepted, with a spontaneous combustion of the sacrifice caused by God himself.

The prophets of Baal had no such luck with their sacrifice, as in the myth, their god did not exist to aid them in any way.

How would this play out in a contemporary context, if a believer in the God of the Bible decided to make a sacrifice to God as a show of faith in showing that he is real, in the face of unbelievers who may be making a counter sacrifice? 

Categories
Journal

In Which I Went from Being a Christian Fundamentalist to an Atheist

Five years ago, I left Christianity behind. It was not a decision made lightly, nor was it one which required a great deal of thought. If that seems like a contradiction, let me explain.

I wish I had journaled the situation — life-changing moments ought to be preserved, I think — the date, the context, all of it faded into the past. What I do remember is that I was upstairs in my home, sitting at my corner desk, doing some thing or another on my computer. Was I debating? Was I cross checking something?

A Bible lay open on the desk before me, the ancient words of Deuteronomy awaiting my eye. Why was I looking at that book in particular? Why chapter twenty-two in particular?