Every now and then, I’ll find a list of religious questions for atheists, supposedly aiming to take down the evil heretics, and answer them. Invariably, they are chock full of irrationality and ignorance and even though the answers are easily available online, theists have no interest in looking them up, or accepting them even if they do. Here’s ten quick responses to ten supposed atheist questions, written by Heather Tomlinson, that I wanted to further explore, to show where Heather, and to be honest most theists, get it all absurdly wrong.
1) You don’t believe in Zeus, Thor and all the other gods. I just go one god more than you, and reject the Christian God.The problem with this idea is that ‘gods’ such as Zeus and Thor are not comparable with the biblical understanding of God.
“There is a vast distinction between all of the Ancient near eastern gods and the God of the Bible,” said Prof Lennox. “They are products of the primeval mass and energy of the universe. The God of the Bible created the heavens and the earth”.
This immediately betrays one of the many holes in Christian thinking, the idea that Zeus and Thor somehow need to be compatible with the Bible. That’s like saying the Christian God has to be compatible with the Enuma Elish. How many Christians do you think would be down with that? I know that this Professor Lennox person debated Dawkins, there’s a video of the pre-show at the end and I’m sure you can go look up the whole debate on YouTube, but just reading this crap from Lennox does not impress me in the least and the way that Heather spends all of her time quoting this guy, like anything he says means anything, just shows she’s spending her time bobbing on his theological knob without ever asking herself if these ideas make any sense.
2) Science has explained everything, and it doesn’t include God.
Science cannot answer certain kinds of questions, such as ‘what is ethical?’ and ‘what is beautiful?’ Even when it comes to questions about the natural world, which science does explore and can sometimes answer, there are different types of explanations for different things.
“God no more competes with science as an explanation of the universe than Henry Ford competes with the law of internal combustion as an explanation of the motor car,” says Prof Lennox.
Nobody has ever said science has explained everything, otherwise we wouldn’t need science any more. However, it is a true fact that, to date at least, science hasn’t found anything that it couldn’t explain in purely naturalistic ways. There is no need for God. Oh, and Professor Lennox, there is no law of internal combustion. You are an idiot.
3) Science is opposed to God.
There are certain conceptions of a ‘god’ that might be opposed to science, but not the Christian God. There might be certain kinds of ‘gods’ that are invented to explain things we don’t understand, but they’re not Christian.
“If we’re being offered a choice between science and god… it is not a biblical concept of god,” said Prof Lennox. “The biblical God is not a god of the gaps, but a God of the whole show. The bits we do understand [through science] and the bits we don’t.
“Among many leading thinkers, their idea of god is thoroughly pagan. If you define god to be a god of the gaps, then you have got to offer a choice between science and god.”
Again, I don’t think anyone has ever said this. Science is neutral to the idea of God. Science follows evidence to conclusions. Not one line of evidence has ever led to God. He is correct, among many leading thinkers, the idea of god is “pagan”, although I think he probably means “foreign”. So is the idea of unicorns. Or leprechauns. Or wizards on flying brooms casting spells at each other. These ideas are absurd and completely without intellectual merit.
4) You can’t prove that there is a God.
This kind of statement ignores that there are different kinds of ‘proof’.
“Can you prove that there is a God?” asked Prof Lennox. “In the mathematical sense no, but proving anything is very difficult. The word proof has two meanings. There’s the rigorous meaning in maths that is very difficult to do and rare. But then there’s the other meaning – beyond reasonable doubt”.
That’s the kind of ‘proof’ we can present: arguments to bring someone beyond reasonable doubt. For example, rational arguments such as those from philosophers Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, the personal experience of Christians, and the witness of the gospel accounts in the Bible.
Then by all means, prove God beyond reasonable doubt. Do something. Provide some objective evidence. Of course, we know they can’t, but it’s interesting to note that they dismiss the same philosophical claims for other gods that they expect everyone to accept for their own. The “personal experience of Christians” is supposed to be credible but the personal experience of Hindus is not. The gospel accounts in the Bible are supposed to be valid but the accounts in the Qur’an are not. And those supposed rational arguments have been completely discredited, yet shysters like Craig continue to use the same claims over and over again. He doesn’t care about reality, in fact, he’s already said that even if he had absolute and undeniable proof that God didn’t exist, he’d continue to believe anyhow. That is not the sign of a rational person.
5) Faith is believing without any evidence.
Christian belief has never been about having no evidence: the gospels were written to provide evidence, as the beginning of Luke’s attests. The end of John’s gospel says, “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
But believing without evidence is a common notion of ‘faith’ at present. “This definition is in the dictionary and believed by many,” said Prof Lennox. “So, when we talk about faith in Christ, they think that’s because there’s no evidence. [John’s gospel shows that] Christianity is an evidence-based faith.”
The gospels are no more evidence than the Qur’an or the Vedas are. They cannot be verified to be true and verifiability is one of the hallmarks of evidence. The Bible is, at best, heresay. If you actually have evidence, you don’t need faith. I have no faith in gravity, I can test it any time I want and so can you. The fact that the religious continue to profess faith is proof that they have nothing of substance to present.
6) Faith is a delusion. I’d no more believe in God than I would in the Easter Bunny, Father Christmas or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
These ideas have been made famous by people such as Prof Richard Dawkins. The only thing they are good for is mockery.
“Statements by scientists are not always statements of science,” said Prof Lennox. “Stephen Hawking said, “religion is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”. I said, “atheism is a fairy story for people afraid of the light”.
“Neither of those statements proves anything at all. They’re all reversible. What lies behind all these delusion claims is the Freudian idea of wish fulfilment [that we believe what we hope to be true.] This works brilliantly providing there is no god. But if there is a god, then atheism is wish fulfilment.”
In this case, Dawkins is entirely correct. Any belief which cannot be substantiated by objective evidence is not rational. It is delusion. Some guy on a street corner talking to an invisible alien is considered mentally unstable. The same guy on a street corner talking to an invisible god isn’t. There’s no difference between the two, one is just socially acceptable and the other is not. Both people have bad brain chemistry that cause them to think something that is not demonstrably real is actually there.
7) Christianity claims to be true, but there loads of denominations and they all disagree with each other, so it must be false.
Why does the existence of denominations imply Christianity is false? It might imply that Christians have very different personalities and cultures – or even that Christians aren’t good at getting on with each other – but not that Christianity isn’t true.
“There are all kinds of different kinds of teams in football, but they all play football,” said Prof Lennox.
But these denominations aren’t just various clubs, they all believe different things about Christianity, many of them diametrically opposed. Football teams are all playing the same game under the same rules. The more than 43,000 distinct sects of Christianity are not. This Lennox guy is a complete moron and so is Heather for paying any attention at all.
8) The Bible is immoral.
If you want to question the morality of the Bible, what basis does that morality have? There can be a serious contradiction within atheist criticisms. Dawkins wrote: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”
If this is true, then why does he question the morality of anything? “Dawkins says faith is evil,” said Prof Lennox. “But at the same time he abolishes the categories of good and evil. That doesn’t make sense.”
There are certainly a lot of things in the Bible that we would consider immoral today, there’s no question about that. Slavery, murder, rape, etc. are all spoken of favorably in the Bible. Are you unaware of that? Lennox can’t change what’s in the Bible so he tries to take an end-run around without addressing it. Indefensible faith is indefensible.
9) Surely you don’t take the Bible literally?
Some atheists (and a few Christians) have a very black and white idea of how to interpret the Bible. You either have to take it ‘literally’ or chuck it away, they think. That ignores the reality of language and how it reflects truth.
“Jesus said ‘I’m the door’,” said Prof Lennox. “Is Jesus a door like a door over there? No. He is not a literal door, but he is a real door into a real experience of God. Metaphor stands for reality. The word ‘literal’ is useless.”
I don’t think any atheists think that the Bible, or any religious book for that matter, ought to be taken literally, but if you do not, the question of how you know that your interpretation is the correct interpretation, especially considering the thousands and thousands of other sects who interpret it differently, arises. How do you know? How do you defend your view? How do you decide what is metaphorical and what is not? Some people take the Adam and Eve story literally. Some do not. Some people take the flood story literally. Some do not. If you think you get to pick and choose what parts of the Bible are really true and reject the ones you don’t like, then you’re no longer being a rational individual. Produce a demonstrable standard. Otherwise, why can’t I just reject all of it as fantasy and be just as valid as you?
10) What is the evidence for God?
You can debate the existence of God until the cows come home. It can be very interesting, especially when you go into the detail and explore the subject in depth. But for an atheist, they might be missing the point or avoiding the real issue. Prof Lennox advises to ask them the most important question:
“Suppose I could give [evidence for God], would you be prepared right now, to repent and trust Christ?”
Of course there are more in-depth answers to all of these claims – try out videos of debates between Prof Lennox and Prof Dawkins like this one:
If there is solid evidence for the existence of God, then yes, I would accept said God as real. I may or may not worship such a God, especially given his behavior in the Old Testament, but I accept things based on evidence. Here’s the reverse question though, if I could give you evidence against God, would you be prepared right now, to reject belief in God and Jesus and give up your Christianity? No? Didn’t think so.
Ultimately, I’ve seen a ton of these things and every single one is laughably pathetic. Why should anyone take these things seriously when a toddler could poke holes in them? It really betrays the utter absurdity of religious belief, that anyone with any kind of education whatsoever should be able to see straight through the massive problems with these arguments, yet apparently, the blindly faithful cannot, or at least they refuse to acknowledge them. It’s really quite silly and that’s why atheists laugh at the religious.