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Handbook of Christian Apologetics: All the Rest

01/05/2011

God is to the fullest. And insofar as goodness is one with perfect being, God is the perfect good (1106).

Note: This concept of “good” seems pretty vacuous. God very is. So why worship him?

So as far as either scientists or theologians know, evolution is possible. Whether it is actual, whether it actually happened, is undecided. The theory is indeed in scientific trouble. Perhaps it can be salvaged. That is for science to decide (1187).

Note: Theory is not in scientific trouble. It’s in popular trouble.

God’s being cannot really be like that, and therefore that his knowledge cannot really look forward or back. He sees in a single and eternal act of vision all our free choices as they really exist (1220).

Note: So God sees the block universe. There is still no room for freedom.

Did they examine every alleged miracle story, sift through all the evidence on a case-by-case basis (1243)?

Note: Burden of proof is on miracle claimant.

Why are miracles called “maximally improbable”? They are certainly unusual, but how do we know whether they are likely to happen or not? Only if we have already decided whether or not it is likely that God exists-or that he would ever work a miracle. In that case calling miracles “maximally improbable” is not a neutral description: it stacks the deck against them (1271).

Note: Miracles are rare, if they exist, and evidence is always of the lowest quality (testimony). In addition, we have precedent for huge amounts of pious fraud. This renders miracles unlikely after examining the world.

Either Jesus was a sincere lunatic, or a demonic fraud, or he really was the Son of God-and his extraordinary deeds were in the fullest sense miracles (1304).

Note: Benevolent Alien?

First, it is the apparent proof of atheism. There are many proofs or apparent proofs of theism (chap. 3 reviewed twenty of them), but there is only one argument that even claims to prove there is no God (1393).

Note: False

But if only such evil did exist, it would be strong evidence against God. For if there is a God, his wisdom must be infinitely superior to ours, and we will not understand all his ways. This is the only answer Job got, and Job was satisfied, for he was a good philosopher. This posture is not blind fideism but eminent reasonableness. Who are we, the players on the stage, to tell off the author of the play? How pitiful the sight of the pot trying to lecture the potter. We cannot explain the particular evils we see, but we can explain why we cannot explain them (1419).

Note: Such a lame excuse that could be ued to justify any evil powerful entity. Assuming the God is good, and all powerful, there must be a reason, but the argument from evil puts those very assumptions into question.

The only two ways God could have avoided having the human race fall into this sin, which becomes hereditary and innate, would be (1) not to give us free will in the first place, that is, to create animals, not humans; or (2) to create us like angels: radically individual, not in a family, not in a hereditary oneness. The very best things in life come to us through our families, but so do the very worst (1434).

Note: Many things are not heritable, like scars. Sin need not be inherited to maintain family relationships. Lame apologetics. Also free will doesn’t exist of course.

Full justice is done: sin is punished with the very punishment of hell itself-being forsaken of God (Mt 27:46). But mercy and forgiveness are also enacted. The trick is to give us the mercy and him the justice (1477).

Note: Punishing the wrong person is not justice.

Augustine defines evil as disordered love, disordered will. It is a wrong relationship, a nonconformity between our will and God’s will. God did not make it; we did (1555).

Note: God created us and our desires that lead to evil, therefore he is the ultimate cause of evil.

The origin of sin is human free will (1562).

Note: God created free will, as well as all influencing desires. Therefore God is not “off the hook” even if evil is there for a greater good.

Heredity plus environment plus free will equals the human act (1613).

Note: And on what grounds does free will go one way or another? Is it random? Is it determined? Neither one leads to a coherent addition of free will to the formula.

We praise, blame, command, counsel, exhort and moralize to each other. Doing these things to robots is absurd (1615).

Note: Not if the robots are programmed to respond to such stimuli.

The alternative to free will is not being a human but an animal or a machine (1626).

Note: So why create humans? Question = begged.

Evil’s source is not God’s power but man’s freedom (1628).

Note: And the source of man’s freedom is God. Such blatant illogic is necessary to be a theist and assume evil.

But what a trustworthy teacher teaches can be trusted. If he is trustworthy, then we should trust him, especially about his own identity. If we do not trust him about that, then we cannot say he is trustworthy, that is, wise and good (1827).

Note: Gandhi was a good moral teacher with bullshit ideas about Western medicine. Good people can be wrong.

1. If the Gospels lie, who invented the lie and for what reason? Was it Jesus’ apostles? What did they get out of the lie? Martyrdom-hardly an attractive temptation. A liar always has some selfish motive (1847).

Note: Sometimes one can lie to preserve what the want to believe. People kill themselves over things they are uncertain of, Jonestown for example.

2. Why did thousands suffer torture and death for this lie if they knew it was a lie? As Pascal points out, the human heart is very fickle, especially the heart of a liar; all the enemies of Christianity needed to do to destroy this new religion from the beginning was to produce one confession from one of Jesus’ disciples that it was all a lie, a hoax. They used many forms of torture and bribery. They never succeeded (1849).

Note: Given that there are religions now that are blatantly false (scientology and Mormonism) that still have those who believe beyond reason, we can’t expect ancient people’s to be different.

Christianity conquered the world mainly through the force of sanctity and love (1853).

Note: Constantine = force of violence.

If it was not a deliberate lie but a hallucination or a myth sincerely mistaken for a literal truth, then who were the naive fools who first believed it (1854)?

Note: Attis, the self castrating God was naively believed in.

it would have been publicly refuted by eyewitnesses who knew the facts (1859).

Note: This does not affect true believers.

the conversion of the world by the biggest lie in history and the moral transformation of lives into unselfishness, detachment from worldly pleasures and radically new heights of holiness by a mere myth (1865).

Note: When did this happen?

If Jesus is not God, as Christians say he is, then who is he (1867)?

Note: Fallacious burden of proof shift. I need not know what happened to know what almost certainly did not happen.

Why couldn’t the disciples have made up the whole story(2235)?

Note: Stories evolve over time.

There could be no possible motive for such a lie. Lies are always told for some selfish advantage for some selfish advantage(2255).

Note: Pious frauds do exist.

1. The style of the Gospels is radically and clearly different from the style of all the myths. Any literary scholar who knows and appreciates myths can verify this. There are no overblown, spectacular, childishly exaggerated events. Nothing is arbitrary. Everything fits in. Everything is meaningful. The hand of a master is at work here (2299).

Note: Isn’t this simply false? The gospel accounts evolve over time with more miraculous things occurring in later stories, with details left out to promote particular viewpoints.

Two explanations are possible. The first supposes that “this generation” is not meant biologically but spiritually and world-historically; that is, this era, this age. A second explanation is that the prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem and the prophecies of the end of the world are mixed together in this chapter (2689).

Note: Anyone can do logical backflips of interpretation to harmonize texts. The straightforward interpretation along with the change in wording in later gospels implies contradiction that must be answered with evidence, not just possibility.

God, I don’t know whether you even exist. I’m a skeptic. I doubt. I think you may be only a myth. But I’m not certain (at least not when I’m completely honest with myself). So if you do exist, and if you really did promise to reward all seekers, you must be hearing me now. So I hereby declare myself a seeker, a seeker of the truth, whatever it is and wherever it is. I want to know the truth and live the truth. If you are the truth, please help me. If Christianity is true, he will. Such a prayer constitutes a scientifically fair test of the Christian “hypothesis”-that is, if you do not put unfair restrictions on God, like demanding a miracle (your way, not his) or certainty by tomorrow (your time, not his). The demand that God act like your servant is hardly a scientifically fair test of the hypothesis that there is a God who is your King (4922).

Note: If this is a scientifically fair test, then God does not exist.

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