AIK is a new probabilistic argument against the existence of the Christian God. According to one version of the argument, if the Christian God existed he would ensure that (nearly) all human beings have an excellent knowledge of the Bible before they die. But, as a matter of historical fact, most human beings do not even get close to having an excellent knowledge of the Bible before they die (if they even know it at all). Therefore, the Christian God probably doesn’t exist.
Ted Drange develops two arguments for the nonexistence of the God of evangelical Christianity, an all-powerful and loving being greatly concerned about the fate of human beings and desiring a personal relationship with them. According to his argument from confusion (AC), widespread confusion between Christians over matters of ultimate importance entails that the God of evangelical Christianity probably does not exist. In particular, the rampant diversification of Christian sects on such matters entails that, even if any one of those sects is correct, large numbers of Christians must hold false beliefs about issues of ultimate importance–contrary to what one would predict if the God of evangelical Christianity existed. The argument from biblical defects (ABD) contends that if the God of evangelical Christianity existed, then the Bible would probably be perfectly clear and authoritative and without marks of solely human authorship; but since the Bible does not meet either of these criteria, the God of evangelical Christianity probably does not exist.
Theology professor Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction is a clear and comprehensive theology textbook that is balanced, at least, when presenting conflicting Christian opinions. This review by Michael Reynolds from the perspective of a nonbeliever is not intended to be comprehensive, but focuses on McGrath’s treatment of issues found to be incomplete or misleading, or otherwise his omissions of discussion (or even mention) of large and important topics within Christianity. Some of these topics include the pernicious effects of Christian theology on social progress (such as equal rights for men and women), the conflict between science and religion, Christianity’s history of suppression of thought by imprisonment, torture, and murder, religious wars, and rationalization of the conquest of non-Christian cultures. In short, McGrath neglects a large swath of issues close to the heart of Christianity in a way that suggests that Christian theology is taught in order to promote a set of fictions.
Church History Is Littered with Oppression and Violence, (Objection #7) (2001) by Kyle Gerkin
Part of Gerkin’s comprehensive review of Lee Strobel’s The Case for Faith, Strobel’s interview with John Woodbridge is analyzed and critiqued.
Christian Salvation (2002) by B. Steven Matthies
Ever wonder how you can be saved? Christians can’t agree, and the confusion is embarassing. A survey of sixteen major denominations proves the point.
Through the many tantalising clues left in Acts itself, and with our knowledge of Josephus’ testimony as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Damascus Document, we have enough evidence to prise open the received understanding of Christian origins and allow some new light to fall on the subject.
The Interpreting Ancient Manuscripts Web [ Index ] (Off Site)
Given standard criticisms of Christianity and certain plausible interpretations of it, Christianity is filled with ridiculous incongruities and unreasonable beliefs and practices. It can therefore be considered absurd.
The Illusory vs. the Real Mother Teresa : A Review of Christopher Hitchins’ The Missionary Position by By Michael Hakeem (1996) (Off Site)
Hitchens writes: “Ever since Something Beautiful for God the critic of Mother Teresa in small things, as well as great ones, has had to operate against an enormous weight of received opinion, a weight made no easier to shift by the fact that it is made up quite literally of illusion.”
In this essay Michael Moore provides ample evidence that discrimination against the handicapped is often doctrinally justified in all five of the major world religions today. Moore cites not only direct scriptural support for discriminatory attitudes toward the disabled, but also actual instances of such discrimination by religious perpetrators and even apologists’ use of explicit arguments for holding handicapped persons in low regard. The specific example of religiously inspired discrimination against the disabled illustrates the more general point that believers can use scripture to rationalize virtually any human behavior.
Meynell’s book contains a brief, superficial treatment of some relevant issues and a complete neglect of others. I suspect that it will be hard to find even a moderately sophisticated person of good will who, having serious doubts about Christianity, will be persuaded by this slender volume.
Review of A.N. Wilson’s Paul: The Mind of the Apostle (1997) (Off Site) by Earl Doherty
Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity (with no question mark in the title) aims to rebut the “new atheists” on their own ground. Its most evident goals include convincing the reader that there is justification for a theistic world view and demonstrating the cultural superiority of Christianity. In service of the first goal he covers many of the standard arguments, but with little originality, except perhaps for his use of the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. His general procedure, illustrated in this case and in a number of others, is to present background material and then make an unjustified transition that purports to establish his case. This triumphant style of reasoning is not likely to convince atheists, or even doubters. Beyond this, almost nothing he says in favor of the truth of Christianity would be persuasive to someone with a different religious view. The book’s principal defect is that it presents too many different reasons for its theistic conclusion, rather than treating a few decisive arguments in depth. This suggests that the book is ultimately political, with its implicit goal to reassure those already leaning toward Christianity that they are on the right side.
“For almost the last two thousand years, there has been one single institution which has had a significantly powerful realm of control and oppression over the everyday lives of the majority of individuals, especially women, in Western Europe and subsequently North America. This insidious institution is the Roman Catholic Church, or, in fact, Christianity in general (henceforth written xianity).”
Laupot analyzes the reference to “Christiani” in Tacitus’ fragment 2, specifically as to whether it is a later Christian interpolation or an authentic extrabiblical source. Finding connections between a parody of Isaiah, the Christianoi of Acts, and certain writings of the Church Fathers, the author brings all of these elements together to conclude that fragment 2 is authentic and not the product of a later redactor.
In “Tacitus’ Fragment 2: The Anti-Roman Movement of the Christiani and the Nazoreans,” Eric Laupot argues that a passage in Sulpicius Severus actually comes from the lost section of the Histories by Tacitus, and is therefore a very early testimony that the original “Christians” represented a major Jewish rebel movement that participated in the War of 66-70 A.D. and used the Temple as its base of operations. Carrier points out several flaws in Laupot’s argument, noting that alternative explanations of the facts are far more probable than Laupot’s account given current historical knowledge.
According to Eric Laupot, Richard Carrier’s alleged “rebuttal” to his first Vigiliae Christianae article published in 2000 is extremely muddled, as Laupot never referred to the Christiani as Christians or implied that they were Christians. Instead, Laupot has always maintained that the Christiani were Jewish Zealots or anti-Roman guerrillas (as opposed to pacifistic Christians)—an opinion ironically shared by Carrier himself! Carrier and Laupot therefore arrive at similar conclusions by different routes, a circumstance of which Carrier appears to be entirely oblivious. Carrier thus does not appear to understand Laupot’s work. Moreover, top Latinists since 1866 have agreed that, contra Carrier, Fragment 2 belongs to Tacitus.
Was the success of Christianity too improbable for Christianity to have been false? According to James Holding’s “Impossible Faith,” no one would have accepted early Christianity if it were not true. In particular, he offers seventeen hostile conditions, plus an additional critical assumption about the role of luck, that he claims would have made it impossible for Christianity to succeed–unless it was true. In this remarkably extensive chapter-by-chapter critique, Richard Carrier evaluates Holding’s arguments in light of historical scholarship and identifies several troubling fallacies in Holding’s reasoning.