1.01 Christian Apologetics and its Mistakes
I was born and raised a Roman Catholic in India. At 6 years old I became an atheist, and at 16 I became a Catholic again! My youthful atheism was a result of being fed up with prayers and rituals, and my reconversion to Christianity was due to insecurity after losing my father. About 20 years ago, around 2001, I leaned towards rationalism and gradually became more and more rationalistic.
Christian apologetics is the organized justification of Christian religious theories and doctrines using arguments, reason, and logic to try to make a case for existence of God, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and so on. It is the branch of Christian theists’ theology that defends Christianity against objections.
Over the years, I’ve found that apologetic arguments have always proven to be false, absurd, warped, perverse, idiotic, illogical, baseless, and misleading. These days many apologists call themselves “data scientists” and “historians”—which some of them might be—but such credentials do not bring sense to their senseless theories. They aver that many great mathematicians, historians, statisticians, and early computer scientists “proved” the existence of God and the miracles of Jesus! They also rope in those theologians whose theories have been shown to be unsound and unreliable to try to “prove” their theories of the divine.
1.02 The Sakshi Apologetics’ Seminar
I had been invited by a relative (my wife’s sister), who is a “born-again” “true Christian,” to attend a seminar on May 7, 2022 at Nehru Hall of Camp in Poona (Pûné, India) from about 10 AM to 4:30 PM. The seminar was named “Bible Vastavic Tarang” (“How the Bible Changed the World”) and was organized by Sakshi Apologetics Network of India, in which speakers including Christopher Singh, Ashish John, Asher John, Narendra Sahoo, and Chandrakant Wakankar spoke.
Many statements made by the speakers were false (historically, scientifically, and logically). Even where some facts were correctly mentioned, the conclusions drawn by the speakers were laughably and outrageously erroneous and illogical. The themes of the seminar alleged many things, including:
- how the Christian Bible changed India;
- how Anglican and Protestant missionaries from Britain made social reforms in Hindu society because of the Bible
- how they got sati banned because of it
- how they made reforms in Hindu society concerning casteism
- equality in the Bible
- the Bible’s and the Protestant clergy’s opposition to slavery
- how the Protestant Reformation led to democracy
- that democracy is a Protestant idea since the first wave had Protestant countries becoming democratic
- how many famous mathematicians and scientists have proved God and Jesus’ miracles logically and scientifically
2.01 The Trivial Truths Stated at the Seminar
The seminar’s speakers mentioned a few truths. But those were are already well-known to many, such as: the greatness of every country is obviously extolled by its citizens, especially chauvinists; there were no advanced scientific inventions or discoveries, nor any evidence of such, in ancient India, as avowed by chauvinists; there was never any real “akhand Bharat” (a pan-India covering all of the Indies ruled by one power); that Manusmriti is a regressive treatise and rightfully opposed by Ambedkar; and that the members of the Hindu community did not lift a finger to alleviate the evils of casteism, sati, and misogyny. But that list exhausts the facts spoken in the seminar. Moreover, the conclusions drawn by the speakers from these facts, mingled with their false claims and ridiculously illogical fallacies, were completely false, preposterous, and outright bizarre.
3.01 Misquoting Great Minds: Fallacious Appeals to Authority
The speakers falsely stated that many great mathematicians, historians, statisticians, and early computer scientists “proved” the existence of God and the miracles of Jesus! These included Blaise Pascal, Thomas Bayes, Florence N. David, and Abraham de Moivre, among others.
3.02 Quoting the Poor Logic of Mistaken Minds: Erroneous Appeals to Authority
The participants also referred to popular Christians whose views have been shown to be unsound and unreliable—such as C. S. Lewis and Francis Collins—to try to prove their own theologies.
3.03 God and Miracles Cannot be Proven
The speakers, while self-identifying as data scientists and historians, claimed that God’s existence has been proven by many statisticians, other mathematicians, and scientists, calling out some of them (or their apologetic strategies) by name. Many intellectual believers and nonbelievers, though, have argued that the existence of God cannot be proven. The only difference between them is that some of them believe in God, whereas the others do not.
3.04 Lying for God is Still Lying & Warped Theistic Arguments Remain Warped
Although I am a Christian, I grant that God’s existence and the occurrence of miracles cannot be proven. Indeed, I am skeptical about the occurrence of miracles. But I condemn and oppose false arguments—even when they favor my faith. Lying for God is still lying, and warped arguments for God’s existence are still warped.
3.05 Using False Theories, and Falsely Using Right Theories, to “Prove” Divinity
The speakers referred to many cultured and sophisticated mathematical concepts like decision theory, Pascal’s wager, frequentist statistics, Bayes’ theorem, Bayesian probability, Bayesian statistics, data science, and so on. Making use of these concepts as buzzwords, they cited them to “show” that God and miracles are possible, and then used their false conclusions to claim that God actually exists and that miracles do happen!
3.06 What Does Reconverting Back from Atheism Prove?
The speakers made much of two reconverts from atheism back to Christianity: C. S. Lewis and Francis Collins. But conversion from atheism to theism does not prove that any theistic statement is true, just as conversion from theism to atheism does not prove that any atheistic statement is true.
3.07 The Amateur Theologian C. S. Lewis
The speakers pointed out that C. S. Lewis had once been an atheist, but then became a believer again at 31 years old, by which time he “was convinced that the Bible ‘facts’ were logically true.” With this example they tried to get two birds with one stone, conveying the fact that an atheist reconverted to Christianity, and claiming that his reason for doing so was because Bible “facts” are “logically true.”
However, C. S. Lewis’ Christian apologetics and many of his other arguments have been subjected to critical scrutiny. Philosopher John Beversluis described Lewis’ arguments as “textually careless and theologically unreliable,” and “logically unsound and an example of a false dilemma”. Though Lewis’ arguments have been widely repeated in the Christian apologetics literature, they have been largely ignored by professional theologians and biblical scholars. Many biblical scholars, including Anglican New Testament scholar N. T. Wright, criticize Lewis for failing to recognize the significance of Jesus’ Jewish identity and setting, which is an oversight that “drastically short-circuits the argument”, and they point out that Lewis’ arguments do not work as history, dangerously backfiring relying on his reading of the Gospels.
3.08 The Ex-NIH Director Francis Collins
As for the other reconvert from atheism, the speakers declared of Francis Collins that he was a medical doctor and the director of US National Institute of Health (NIH), and that he was also “Donald Trump’s medical advisor.” They pointed out that he wrote The Language of God and characterized Collins as the “world’s top most scientist.”
Like the reference to Collins as the “world’s top-most scientist” and “Donald Trump’s medical advisor,” this ploy is a kind of “credential-pleading.” The fact that an author is the director of the NIH, had reconverted to Christianity from atheism, and had written The Language of God does not argue for any of his (or any other) religious theories.
3.09 Irrelevant Anecdote
The speakers even recited an anecdote about Winston Churchill which was totally irrelevant to the topic. The anecdote was that a hostile suffragette once told Winston Churchill: “If you were my husband, I’d give you poison.” To which Churchill allegedly replied, “If you were my wife, I’d gladly take the poison.” This was unconnected to any of the speakers’ other points.
3.10 The Statistician Florence N. David
In another example of “credential-pleading,” the speakers mentioned statistician Florence N. David. Why she was mentioned is unclear, for her theories did not support any of the seminar participant’s contentions. And she was neither a theologian nor a supporter of any theistic doctrine. Her book Games, Gods and Gambling had nothing to do with theology, and one can only suppose that her metaphorical use of the word “God” in the title as flourish is what caught the speakers’ attention.
Moreover, David was a lesbian (a fact likely unknown to the speakers), which does not sit well with the frequency with which evangelists, apologists, missionaries, and so on oppose and condemn “deviants” like rationalists, atheists, freethinkers, “live-in” couples, homosexuals, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. It would be interesting to test whether the seminar’s apologists would comfortably cite F. N. David at the same time as acknowledging her sexual orientation.
3.11 Abraham de Moivre and David Hume
The speakers falsely claimed that the mathematician Abraham de Moivre “used the ‘central limit theorem’ to prove God’s existence,” and they also misquoted David Hume with regard to de Moivre. But de Moivre never discussed God’s existence in his mathematical calculations, and David Hume was widely condemned as an atheist in his day.
3.12 Bayes’ Theorem Does Not Make Any God-Claim: Richard Price Started it All
The speakers talked about many theories of probability and tried to “prove” the existence of God and the occurrence of miracles by using them, citing many mathematicians who they claimed had proved as much. This included Thomas Bayes, the statistician and clergyman famous for having formalized Bayes’ theorem.
Bayes’ theorem is still used in universities, the speakers proclaimed, “to prove Jesus rose,” citing a book published by Oxford University Press (OUP) arguing as much. These statements are false and misleading. The fact that Bayes’ theorem is still used in universities has nothing to do with proving the existence of God, and it’s simply false that the application of Bayes theorem has “proven” that Jesus rose from the dead (without putting “prove” in quotation marks). The fact that OUP published a book arguing as much has nothing to do with the credibility of the claim, among mathematicians as a whole, that Jesus rose from the dead.
Although Bayes was a clergyman, it was not he who claimed that his theorems could prove God’s existence and such. His friend Richard Price probably started the first Bayesian God-claim after going through Bayes’ papers when Bayes died.
3.13 The Fallacies of the Argument on Jesus’ Empty Tomb
The speakers also declared: “Historians and atheists agree that Jesus’ tomb was empty.” But in fact, they do not agree on any such theory. And even if they did, their alleged agreement on this point would not establish that Jesus rose from the dead. Since grave-robbing is a glaring possibility, how does the disappearance of a body provide evidence of its resurrection? And when the very existence of Jesus as a historical person can be reasonably questioned, how can you beg the question that he had been placed in a tomb? An empty tomb can also mean that Jesus was never put in a tomb in the first place.
3.14 Pascal’s Wager
Blaise Pascal was a 17th-century French mathematician, physicist, and Catholic theologian. Though he was a brilliant mathematician, his theology failed miserably, especially his famous wager.
The speakers quoted Pascal’s wager to “prove” God’s existence and the necessity of religious belief for “rational persons.”
The speakers put the argument this way: “If God does not exist, a believer will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas if God exists, the believer stands to receive infinite gains (eternal Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternal Hell), and hence it is better to believe.”
But if God does not exist, nothing affects the gains or losses to both believers and nonbelievers except for the fact that believers waste time and money.
And if God exists, he may be a God who respects reasoning, despising those who believe without reason, and may actually condemn such believers to Hell while sending reasonable atheists to Heaven. Moreover, one cannot force oneself to believe, even after hearing Pascal’s argument. For example, try believing that Odin is the one true God!
These three YouTube videos explain all the deficiencies in the logic of Pascal’s wager:
3.15 Bertrand Russell and the Concept of Probability
The speakers deliberately misquoted Bertrand Russell as having said (in 1929): “Probability is the most important concept in modern science.” But what Russell actually said was: “Probability is the most important concept in modern science, especially as nobody has the slightest notion what it means” (in a 1929 Lecture cited on p. 587 of E. T. Bell’s 1945 book The Development of Mathematics).
The misquote misleads listeners to think that Russell endorses theories of probability, whereas the correct one makes clear that Russell himself was confused by the concept of probability. The speakers also conveniently forgot to mention that Bertrand Russell was himself an atheist!
4.01 Changes in Hindu Society were by the British or the Missionaries?
The speakers averred that changes in Hindu society came “not because of the British, but because of Christianity and the Bible.” That is false and ridiculous. They also asserted that “the Bible transformed India,” and that “only because of the Bible, people of all castes could meet and eat together.” They also said that “the British were not concerned about casteism and also not about sati; and the Protestant missionaries helped in fighting against both.” Both claims are false.
The British were not concerned about casteism—that much is true. But neither were the missionaries, whether Catholic or Protestant. And Christianity did not influence changes in casteism in any way.
Moreover, the missionaries did not fight against nor help in diminishing casteism. It was the British who inadvertently did so. Since their laws did not permit caste-based differences, people of all stations of life were forced to mingle together in public places. A famous example was that of the train network made for the purpose of connecting people to the main centers of cotton mills and factories, and so people of all castes were forced to sit, travel, and eat together.
4.02 Casteism in Christianity
The speakers boasted that “there is no casteism in Christianity.” But at least two of the speakers—namely, Asher John and Ashish John—were of Kerala. I pointed out in the question and answer (Q&A) session that since they were from Kerala, they should know that there are separate churches for different castes in Kerala.
4.03 The Claim of Equality in the Bible
The speakers talked about “equality in the Bible,” citing a senseless example where God created Adam equal to himself! But the Bible itself is grounded on the idea of a specific group of people, Jews, being the “chosen people of God.”
4.04 Slavery in the Bible and in Christianity
The speakers declared that “democratic values of individual liberties were primarily Christian values from the Bible,” and that it was the Protestant countries that abolished slavery. Wrong! What about the clear passages where the Bible licenses slavery? And what about slavery in the predominantly Protestant United States until 1865? I also pointed this out to them in the Q&A session.
4.05 The Claim that the Reformation Led to Democracy and Education in Europe
The speakers’ assertion that the Protestant Reformation led to democracy is also wrong. Perhaps the rebellious habit of the Reformists led to it, but that rebellion was against the practices of the Catholic Church, and led to more rebellion between the Protestants themselves.
The speakers’ contention that the Bibles printed after the Reformation led to education is also wrong. The Bible, or any other sacred text, is not a source or means of learning, and nothing scientific or educational has come from any sacred text, including the Bible.
4.06 The Claim that Christianity Led to Democracy in India
Neither the missionaries nor Christianity influenced democracy in India. As they did in other respects, the British inadvertently did so by conquering and thus unifying all India’s kingdoms—and so independent India was formed on democratic principles.
4.07 Missionaries Did Not Come to Reform Society Nor to Transform India
The speakers also said that missionaries “go to remote places to samaj-sudharo” (to reform society). But this is wrong. The agenda of missionaries is to spread their religion, as it is for any evangelizing faith.
The speakers also claimed that missionaries “came to transform India and not to make money.” The first claim is false, and the second is debatable. The fact is that they came to spread religion.
4.08 The Missionary William Carey
Perhaps the missionary William Carey was moved to oppose sati. But that was a testament to his personal character and sense of justice against that particular evil, rather than any influence by biblical principles or Christianity.
The speakers misleadingly stated that William Carey “had to leave India because of opposition by the British government and the East India Company.” But he was pressured to leave because of opposition by non-Baptist missionaries, and he did not in fact leave India, but only the Indian territory, and went to a Danish settlement in the same town!
4.09 The British Government’s Opposition to Missionaries in India
One of the speakers, Chandrakant Wakankar, said that the British “realized that the 1857 Revolt was because of misinformation, and hence opposed the entry of missionaries to India as they may make social reforms about sati”! But the speaker did not realize that the opposition to missionaries coming to India dated to before the 1840s, whereas the revolt was in 1857. This was a big blunder in the seminar.
The speakers said that the British government and the East India Company were only interested in profits and “did not want missionaries to come to India and teach about Jesus because they may offend the Hindu people by their reforms.” But that claim is false. Yes, the British and the Company were interested only in profits. But the reason for not wanting missionaries in India (also based on the profit motive) was the unnecessary funds required to be spent for the missionaries.
4.10 Christian Conversion Does Not Mean Improvement
The speakers conveyed that “conversion to Christianity means improvement.” Wrong! A person can change from the local religion to atheism, for example, and still improve.
4.11 The Stupid Claim that Only Humans can Love, Not Animals
The speakers idiotically said that “only humans can love, and dogs, etc. cannot really love.” They wanted to correlate divine love with humans, and deny that any nonhuman animal is capable of real love. The well-known fact is that all higher animals are capable of love, and warm-blooded animals like mammals (including humans) and birds also possess yearning for friendship and social bonding.
4.12 The Ridiculous Claim that Without Missionaries, There Would Have Been No Ambedkar, Nehru, or Phûlé
An absurd claim by the speakers was that Ambedkar “would not have been allowed to attend school, or to learn English, if it had not been for the missionaries.” This is a ridiculous claim. Ambedkar was allowed to attend school by a relenting Hindu teacher, and his later education was helped by the Maharaja of Baroda. The fact that he studied in Bombay’s Elphinstone College does not prove nor even support the claim in any way. A similar claim was made about Nehru, which is false.
The speakers claimed that if there had not been the two pro-religious politicians Charles Grant and William Wilberforce, “then there would have been no Phûlé, Ambedkar, or Nehru, since those two paved the way for Protestant missionaries in British India.” Wrong! First, there is no connection between missionary work and the rise of Indian reformists. Second, if those three particular figures did not emerge, others would have emerged, non-English speaking ones if not English-speaking ones. The principle is that from a crisis, some or other strong revolutionary figure emerges.
4.13 The Bible Describes the Solar System and Galaxy and the Earth’s Shape and Position in the Universe
The speakers asserted that the Bible did not say that the Sun and Moon are gods, but that God created them. They overlooked the fact that neither did the Bible say that the Earth is round, nor did it describe the solar system or the galaxy. In fact, the Bible expressly implied the Earth “being flat” and having “four corners,” and being the center of the universe with the Sun, Moon, and stars orbiting it.
4.14 The Claim that Bible Teaches Good Business
The speakers recklessly said: “Many business brands are started/owned by Jews” (to “prove” that “the Bible teaches good business”). The actual fact is that many Jews were/are good in business because they were forced to be for millennia because of their persecution and scattering, first led by the Romans and later by Europeans and others (similarly to what happened to the Sindhi community of India).
4.15 The Missionaries Did not End the Kerala Breast Law
The speakers also falsely stated that “the ‘Kerala breast law’ was abolished not by the British, but because of the missionaries, who for fifty years fought to end it.” (In Travancore, some “lower-caste” women were required to keep their upper body uncovered in the presence of higher castes). The statement is false, as some abolition was effected by the king of Travancore under pressure from the British Madras governor. Later the missionaries may have supported the total abolition of the law for only the Christian converts from that community, but that is all.
4.16 Believers Can and Should Oppose Bad Arguments
I repeat: I myself am a Christian, yet I acknowledge that God and miracles cannot be proven, and I am skeptical about miracles happening. I condemn and oppose false arguments, even if they are in favor of my faith. Lying for God is still lying, and warped arguments in favor of God are still warped.
4.17 Skepticism, the Scientific Temperament, and Questioning Nature
Skepticism is a virtue. Intelligent adults should double-check their experiences to see if they comport with reality. Mature adults should also question whether an experience that feels like it came from God might be better explained as a hallucination or one that was produced by aliens, for that matter. What is wrong with this? Nothing at all. Believers should do that with their own private subjective experiences.
 Manusmriti is a treatise of the 2nd century BCE on laws and social rules, which supports the horrible caste system. In it women and outcastes are considered filthier than pigs. In at least two places in the treatise, it says: “Drums, donkeys, women and outcastes: the more you beat them, the better they work.” The treatise has been acclaimed by unenlightened people, even among the British in India, and even Gandhi, but denounced by Nietzsche and Ambedkar. In fact, Ambedkar, who held it as responsible for the caste system in India, publicly burnt copies of the treatise.
 See Loftus, “What’s Wrong with Using Bayes’ Theorem on Miracles” (January 25, 2022). The Secular Web. <https://infidels.org/kiosk/article/whats-wrong-with-bayes-theorem/>.
 N. T. Wright, “Simply Lewis: Reflections on a Master Apologist after 60 Years.” Touchstone, Vol. 20, No. 2 (March 2007): 28-33.
 The 1857 Revolt is also called the Indian Mutiny of 1857.