Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Contradictory Objections to Christianity

*****Currently being re-edited*****

This is a more elaborate version of some comments I left at this blog:

Steve, I thought the same thing at times.

I've noticed that objections to Christianity (and the Christian worldview) are often contradictory, neutralize each other to some extent or actually cancel each other out. Sometimes these objections come from DIFFERENT groups and individuals. Other times, they come from the SAME groups and individuals. Here are just some examples that people of different epochs and/or differing degrees of knowledge make. There are variations in each of these statements. They can also be formulated more precisely or in a more informed way. I've opted to state them in the most popular form (i.e. less rigorous) and therefore can appear to be strawmen representations. Though, SOME people will actually state it in these ways. Also, the comparisons aren't always exact opposites since sometimes they are comparing two similar or dissimilar types of arguments or objections but applying them to different categories or subjects.

There are Christian answers to these arguments or objections. In this blog post, I'll be noting how many of these objections to Christianity often conflict or contradict each other. Or how the objections don't really make sense because if the case were opposite, one could still make a similar objection. This shows how many people will go to great lengths (sometimes even to the point of contradicting themselves), in order to justify their rejection of the Christian God.

1 a) The God of the Bible is too human to believe in. He's like the pagan gods of Greece and Rome. (i.e. God is too immanent).
b) The God of the Bible (esp. in Calvinism) is too sovereign that humans can't relate to, or understand him (i.e. God is too transcendent).

2 a) The world is too complex and there's too much that people don't yet know to come to firm conclusions about the nature of reality. Or, because of the limits of induction (i.e. no one has universal inductive experience) no one can know anything for sure.
b) There's enough (inductive) evidence to conclude that there's probably no God (e.g. because of gratuitous evil etc.). Or, It's clear and obvious that God doesn't exist. Or, there's not enough/sufficient evidence to conclude a God exists [yet they usually can't make a case for what's "sufficient"].

3 a) The Bible has such a low view of humanity because it presents human beings as such wretches and unworthy worms (especially in relation to God).
b) Christianity is (and Christians are) so egotistical because it has the audacity to claim that humans are the zenith of God's creation (in this physical universe). Even to the point of promising that redeemed man will one day be exalted above angels and will be as close to being like the infinite God as finite creatures can possibly be.

4 a) The universe so so vast that it's unlikely that a wise God created it because it's a massive waste of space.
b) Yet, I suspect that if the universe were much smaller, people would probably say that it's unworthy of the God we Christians claim exists (i.e. a transcendent, great, powerful and glorious one).

5 a) The Privileged Planet hypothesis fails because it makes its conclusion based on a sample of one (planet). Therefore it's no evidence for design or God.
b) Because of the multiverse (world ensemble) theory, any possible world may eventually (even inevitably) come into existence and therefore there's no need for a Creator to account for the amazing (but merely) apparent design in the universe.

6 a) Advocates for the fine-tuning the universe, solar system, earth (etc.) have weak imaginative powers because they can't imagine/envision a totally different kind of lifeform (or of evolutionary processes) because they are stuck on seeing life in terms of what they have seen.
b) Christians take too much liberty in their use of imagination (or too readily appeal to mystery) to resolve Bible contradictions, or theological paradoxes/antinomies (e.g. Trinity, theodicy, incarnation etc.).

7a) Christians readily appeal to mystery to resolve or accept problems in their worldview.
b) Even though there are many unknowns when it comes to how life arose by unguided mindless processes, as unlikely as it was, we know that it must have happened, and chance had a part in it.

8 a) God cannot exist because he has no observable substance/being, weight, power, inertia, mass, will.
b) Life occured by "chance". [They say this even though "chance" itself has no being, weight, mass, inertia, will, or power. I'm using definition #6 below].

Note: The word "chance" can refer to (among other things) 1. mathematical probability, 2. randomness, 3. our own ignorance of the conditions of a situation, 4. coincidences, 5. metaphysical contingent events, 6. power or force like luck, or fate, or fortune. Careful scientists usually use the word in the senses of 1-3. Sloppy scientists or common folk equivocate (by switching definitions within an argument) or use the wrong sense of the word "chance" in various contexts.

9 a) The Bible is too complex to understand. If God has written it, it would have been more easy to understand so that everyone could understand it.
b) The Bible is too simple or too child-like to believe. If God had written it, it would have been more complex and intricate. Or it's unbelievable because written by, and in the context of, ignorant and ancient peoples in an agrarian and superstitious society.

10 a) Christians are illogical and overly emotional.
b) Calvinists are too logical and don't have basic empathy.

11 a) If there were an artistic God of creativity, then there should be much more life in the universe/solar system than we find. Since life seems to be scare in the universe, therefore that counts against God's existence.
b.) If we found much more life in the universe, that would be evidence of evolution and how easily it can get started. Therefore it would count against the idea that life on Earth is specially made by God.

12 a) Reality is too perfectly ordered that something like pantheism must be true.
b) Reality is too imperfect that a wise God (with the "omni" attributes) couldn't have created it.

13 a) The loving God of the Bible, if he existed, wouldn't send anyone to hell (i.e. God is too strict).
b) The God of the Bible is too gracious because even a Hitler could go "scot-free" if he sincerely repented of his sins and believed on Christ (i.e. God is not strict enough).

14 a) Christianity is a mercenary religion. Christians do good because they want to be rewarded by God.
b) Christianity is morally abominable because it teaches that salvation is by grace and so encourages slack morals.

15 a) Penal substitution is unjust, and we want justice.
b) The God of the Bible is too just. Why can't He just let things slide so that no one needs to go to hell?

16 a) Salvation by grace is morally abhorrent. People should get what they deserve.
b) Yet sometimes the same people who say the above have no problem with the government doling out vast amounts of money to help EVEN THOSE who make no effort themselves to better their lives.

17 a) There are no moral absolutes. Therefore Christianity's morality doesn't/cannot universally apply.
b) Christianity is wrong or evil because of the things God allegedly did (does) or required (requires) or commanded (commands) of human beings. [Notice this objection assumes moral absolutes]

18 a) People should have the right to believe whatever they want, and practice what they believe [think of the rhetoric used by those in the Gay Rights movement]. We should be tolerant of all people and beliefs.
b) Some people shouldn't be allowed to practice what they believe, nor should their beliefs be tolerated or respected (e.g. Christians, pedophiles, rapists, murderers or anyone who they disagree with) [notice the blatant contradiction and double standard in those who believe this kind of "tolerance"].

19 a) Humans are smart enough to determine/recognize right from wrong (or true and false) for themselves apart from God. That's why we don't need God.
b) Humans by nature are driven by motives they usually don't understand or can control. They make decisions based on feeling, emotion and preference rather than for rational reasons. That's why so many people irrationally believe in God.

20 a) It's unfair for God to judge people for not having enough evidence for His existence.
b) People generally have enough moral sense that they don't need the Bible to tell them what's right and wrong [yet, often their morals are similar to those of the Bible and they freely admit they don't perfectly live up their morals. Hence God COULD judge them for failing to live up to even their own moral standards].

21 a) Judgements like those (allegedly) executed on Sodom and Gomorrah display a bloodthirsty God who delights in and looks forward to punishing his creatures whenever He can and as soon as He can (i.e. God has no patience or mercy).
b) The God of the Bible is unjust because he allows certain crimes to continue to happen without punishing the guilty immediately. And we all know that justice delayed, is justice denied.

22 a) The universe is so hostile to life that it doesn't make sense for it to have been created by God. Think of the vacuum of space; solar radiation; earthquakes; volcanoes; Gamma rays from supernovas; the coldness of space; asteroids hitting the earth etc.
b)Yet, if the universe were perfectly habitable, then it could be argued that God wouldn't be necessary for the creation of and sustaining of life because it's only natural and necessary that all things exist in such a way as to foster our existence. This is similar to the commonly used defeater for the Anthropic Principle. Namely, if the universe weren't the way it is in making our existence possible, we wouldn't be here to observe it's limited hospitability.

23 a) God, if It did exist, would be so transcendent that we human beings would be too insignificant for It to care about, love or to take notice of. Since, the Bible often portrays God as being concerned about trivial human matters it [i.e. the Bible] cannot be the revelation of God. It wouldn't even make sense for such a transcendent God to waste It's time to give a revelation to puny humans. The Biblical God is too loving.

b) The God of the Bible (and especially that version conceived of by Calvinists) is so sovereign and transcendent that it doesn't care enough about the needs and suffering of human beings. The Biblical God is too sovereign in His punishment of sinners to hell. More than that, the Calvinist God is too sovereign and transcendent in His reprobation of the non-elect sans [i.e. apart from] the creation. Such a God isn't loving enough.

24 a) The Calvinist conception of the Sovereignty of God is so all encompassing that it's non-falsifiable in that no amount of suffering or evil in the world could possibly falsify or call into serious question the existence of such a God.
b.) And yet some atheists believe in the multiverse. As John Polkinghorne has said "...[the multiverse] can explain anything...If a theory allows anything to be possible, it explains nothing; a theory of anything is not the same as a theory of everything." [John Polkinghorne: Anglican priest, philosopher and theist who was at one time a theoretical particle physicist at Cambridge]

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