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Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Final Thoughts

01/05/2011

After skimming over the book once again, I do find myself impressed by the clarity and span of the arguments. I really do consider this to be pretty much the best introduction to Christian/theistic apologetics that exists. I think that barring some philosophical misunderstanding on my part, the 20 proofs for God are pretty lame. Perhaps I too hastily dismissed them, but abstracting agency and omnipotence/omniscience from these proofs seems impossible, even if they are valid up to that point. The proofs are put forward to prove “something” and then the label of God is applied, and along with it comes Christian theistic baggage.

I have more trouble with the factual claims presented in the historical case for Jesus’ divinity and resurrection. A lot of that stuff I just don’t know that much about. All it takes is a broader understanding of the Bible, as well as biblical times, and a lot of the evidence gets weaker. We also have the jump from nice people to truth of claims, which is a non-sequitur. An understanding of psychology is all that’s needed to undermine claims of testimony reliability. The ability for stories to evolve and become exaggerated rapidly, even after a few years also undermines the case. Lastly, what is it about a resurrection that logically entails a Christian God? Aren’t there other equally plausible paranormal explanations with the same scope and power? Benevolent aliens, time travelers, psychics. How does one distinguish Christ as God from Christ as anything else magical? If there is not a way, and I don’t think there is, Christianity is undermined.

So I still have questions about the Bible, and about history itself. I could use more expertise on memory, on the evolution of legends. Only then would I feel more comfortably equipped to tackle and answer well the assertions made in this book. Until then, I find the philosophical case against God to be persuasive and raise the bar of evidence higher than is currently passed by cases I have thus far heard.

At the same time, I notice my own biases, as I get annoyed at some of the arguments, including ones I don’t have an answer to. I know my subconscious mind is telling me that there must be some bullshit behind it. But that’s the wrong way to experience it. Even if I can’t answer it, I should avoid emotional baggage either way. Being annoyed at irrational arguments may be okay, but the lameness of the arguments may just stem from a misunderstanding on my part, and my annoyance may hinder future correction. Less emotional baggage is recommended.

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