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Christian Apologetics

Horrendous Evil and Christian Theism: A Reply to John W. Loftus

In his recent article, "God and Horrendous Suffering," John W. Loftus argues that what he calls horrendous suffering is incompatible with traditional theism. The extent of horrendous suffering in the world, he says, "means that either God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is not smart enough to eliminate it, or God is not powerful enough to eliminate it." For Loftus, however, the problem is not simply evil, but horrendous suffering, a particularly acute form of evil which renders theism completely untenable. Here I will argue in reply, first, that because horrendous suffering is itself a form of evil, it cannot be easily reconciled with naturalism, since naturalism actually precludes the existence of evil. Then I will argue that horrendous suffering is not only compatible with theism, but is best explained in the context of Christian theism in particular. Finally I will suggest that because God's work of creation is not yet complete, we have good reason for maintaining hope even in the face of horrendous evils.

Open Letter to Dr. Adam Francisco, Editor of the Global Journal of Classical Theology

In the summer of 2023 retired lawyer Robert G. Miller invited legal apologist John Warwick Montgomery, then-editor of the Global Journal of Classical Theology, to participate in a truly legal assessment the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, but Montgomery declined citing time constraints. So Miller turned to systematically inviting as many other legal apologists as he could think of to demonstrate the resurrection of Jesus. Unfortunately, he could not find a single lawyer who would even discuss the possibility of facing an actual opponent in a procedure closer to a real adversarial process in court. Miller therefore took the initiative by drafting an unopposed brief providing three independent reasons why apologists cannot prove Jesus' resurrection by legal principles, in addition to critiquing standard legal apologetic arguments for the resurrection of Jesus. In this follow-up open letter, Miller invites the incoming editor of the Journal to respond to his unopposed brief, either directly or by slating editorial board members to do so, or to at least issue a call for papers responding to the brief. Will legal apologist continue to skirt their 1 Peter 3:15-16 mandate to answer the call to anyone who requests it?

Shall Thou Not Kill? The Sixth Commandment as an Insufficient Argument Against Abortion

Is abortion morally wrong from a theological standpoint? Christians of the pro-life persuasion certainly believe so, arguing that it constitutes the murder of an innocent human life. In this essay, Adam Taylor examines the various arguments leveled against abortion by prominent Christian apologetics like Normal Geisler and Paul Copan, showing that their arguments fail to justify their apologetic conclusions. Taylor goes on to explore how the very Bible that they appeal to for justification of their opposition may in fact provide any number of reasons why abortion cannot, from a Christian standpoint, be reasonably opposed.

God and Horrendous Suffering

The evidential problem of horrendous suffering is one of the most powerful refutations of the theistic God as can be found: if there's an omni-everything God, one who is omnibenevolent (or perfectly good), omniscient (or all-knowing), and omnipotent (or all-powerful), then the issue of why there is horrendous suffering in the world requires an explanation. The reason why is that a perfectly good God would want to eliminate it, an all-knowing God would know how to eliminate it, and an all-powerful God would be able to eliminate it. So the extent of horrendous suffering means that either God does not care enough to eliminate it, or God is not smart enough to eliminate it, or God is not powerful enough to eliminate it. The stubborn fact of horrendous suffering means something is wrong with God’s goodness, his knowledge, or his ability. In this paper John Loftus argues that horrendous suffering renders this omni-everything God unbelievable.

Will No One Answer the Call? Update to the Open Letter to Bradley J. Lingo, Dean of the Regent University School of Law

A month prior, retired lawyer Robert G. Miller challenged the Dean of the Regent University School of Law, or any legal apologist willing to take his place, to participate in a genuine adversarial debate with him emulating typical legal procedures, to be facilitated by Internet Infidels online. Since legal apologists regularly claim to be able to demonstrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead using legal argumentation, Miller's aim was to put this assertion to the test. Sadly, however, despite efforts to reach out to various legal professionals directly, to date no legal apologist has agreed to Miller's challenge. In this update, Miller informs readers of the next steps that he is mulling over in light of legal apologists' failure to show up.

Open Letter to Bradley J. Lingo, Dean of the Regent University School of Law

Within evangelical circles, legal apologetics denotes attempts to defend the Christian faith using legal arguments that would ostensibly "prove" certain central tenets of Christianity by the standards of the American legal system. Like other forms of apologetics, however, it is rife with buzzwords and relies on no identifiable criteria by which these tenets might be "proven" by established legal standards. Legal apologists also tend to respond to the arguments of fictional opponents to their "cases" for core Christian doctrines rather than engage real-world legal opponents. Since this has a more propagandistic than truth-seeking function, in this essay retired lawyer Robert G. Miller challenges the Dean of the Regent University School of Law—or any legal apologist for that matter—to accept his invitation to agree to initiate a real online debate with him by September 29, 2023 using long-standing legal standards to "prove" the central Christian doctrine that Jesus rose from the dead.

Courtroom Apologetics: You Call Them Eyewitnesses?

In "Courtroom Apologetics: You Call Them Eyewitnesses?" G. P. Denken critiques a genre of popular evangelical apologetics that he labels "courtroom" apologetics. Courtroom apologists are recognizable by the way that they season their arguments with courtroom jargon and analogies. Denken highlights three apologists who make their cases by relying heavily on the four "eyewitness" accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Though the apologetic authors seek verdicts from their jury of readers in favor of Christianity, Denken offers a rebuttal case in their imaginary trial. He discusses how these apologists have not only misidentified the Gospel authors, but ignored how their proposed authors could not have been eyewitnesses to many famous scenes in the canonical Gospels.

Does God Exist? A Definitive Biblical Case

Atheist philosophers of religion try to disprove the existence of the Christian God by arguing against the philosophical proofs put forth for it. This is okay as it goes, but it overlooks the fact that Christians will just come up with different conceptions of "God" in response, despite the fact that these new conceptions are foreign to the gods we find in the Bible.

In this essay atheist John Loftus argues that there is a better approach, one that changed his own mind back when he was a Christian apologist himself. This (shockingly novel) approach involves simply taking the Bible seriously. When we take the Bible at its word, we find that the Judeo-Christian God had a complex evolution over the centuries from Elohim, to Yahweh, to Jesus, and then finally to the god of the philosophers, without the original gods having been credited with any merit.

Psychic Epistemology: The Special Pleading of William Lane Craig

In this paper John Loftus aims to expose the special pleading inherent in William Lane Craig's psychic (or spirit-guided) epistemology. After questioning the need for apologetics and warning about the monumental challenges to it, Loftus urges Christian apologists to become honest life-long seekers of the truth, to get a good education in a good field of study, to accept nothing less than sufficient objective evidence, and especially to determine how to know which religion to defend. He then goes on to sharply contrast these recommendations with the modus operandi of today's Christian apologists.

The Demon, Matrix, Material World, and Dream Possibilities

René Descartes searched for certain knowledge, a goal that was long ago abandoned by most philosophers. But a lack of certainty does little to undercut the need for sufficient evidence before accepting a proposition about the nature of our experience in this world. All we need to do is think inductively rather than deductively, think exclusively in terms of probabilities, and understand that when speaking of sufficient evidence what is meant is evidence plus reasoning based on that evidence. I know as sure as I can know anything that there is a material world and that I can reasonably trust my senses. I conclude that the scientific method is our only sure way for assessing truth claims.

Are the Americas Mentioned in the Bible?

The Pledge of Allegiance states that the United States of America is "one nation under God." Additionally, polling shows that an overwhelming majority of American evangelical Christians believe that the United States is "uniquely blessed" by God. But is there any mention of the Americas in the Bible, or were they ever mentioned by Jesus or any of the Old Testament prophets? This article seeks to answer this question.

What’s Wrong with Using Bayes’ Theorem on Miracles?

In this essay John Loftus defends Hitchens’ razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens' point was that miracle claims without any evidence should be dismissed without a further thought. Bayes' theorem requires the existence of some credible evidence/data before it can be correctly used in evaluating miracle claims. So to be Bayes-worthy, a miracle claim must first survive Hitchens' razor, which dismisses all miracle claims asserted without any evidence. If this first step doesn't take place, Bayes is being used inappropriately and must be opposed as irrelevant, unnecessary, and even counterproductive in our honest quest for truth.

Thinking and Unthinking Faith

Ross Douthat is a conservative American writer whose recent opinion piece in the New York Times constitutes a digest of present-day Christian apologetics, one written by a respected layman and published on the front page of a major newspaper. As such, that piece cries out for a reply. This essay thus constitutes Michael Reynolds' response to and analysis of the common apologetic themes that Douthat parrots.

The House of David and the Chinese Zhou Dynasty: A Comparative Study

Kings David and Solomon are said to have ruled over a huge kingdom that stretched from the Euphrates River to as far as the border of Egypt (according to the Bible). Archeological confirmation of the existence of such an expansive kingdom is inconclusive, however. Some apologists hold that evidence for their reign would not have survived some three millenia later. In this essay, however, Robert Shaw considers a similarly sized civilization, contemporaneous with that of David and Solomon, to explore what remnants of a three-thousand-year-old polity can reasonably be expected to be discovered today.

On the Existence of Barbers and God

A popular advocacy video on YouTube attempting to rebut arguments from evil has been disseminating among Christian religious organizations for about a decade. In an attempt to show that arguments from evil for the nonexistence of God fail, the video likens them to arguments from (human) longhairs to the nonexistence of barbers. In this article, James R. Henderson refutes the suggested theodicy that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God allows apparently gratuitous evils to occur because God wants more human beings to come to Him of their own free will.

The Pandemic Disproves God

The pandemic gripping the world raises the age-old philosophical dilemma called "the problem of evil"—which asks why a supposedly all-loving God does nothing to stop horrors like diseases, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like. If there's an all-merciful father-creator, why did he make breast cancer, childhood leukemia, cerebral palsy, natural disasters, and predator animals that rip peaceful grazers apart?

The World’s Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many, whether believers or not, to consider how widespread suffering can be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. In this article, Shaw considers the arguments advanced by people of faith to square this circle, such as the idea that the novel coronavirus has been sent by God as a punishment.

Miraculous Cures?

Many claims for miraculous cures concern recovery from cancer. These are highly impressive and dramatic, and to many people they seem to provide incontrovertible evidence for a miracle. But how often does cancer remit spontaneously outside a religious context? And how do such spontaneous remissions come about? While medical events that could not be accommodated within the realm of the natural can easily be imagined, such as the regrowth of an amputated limb or the restoration of sight lost through glaucoma, in this article Anthony Campbell divulges that he is unaware of the documentation of any such case.

The Future’s Not Ours to See

In this article Robert Shaw examines some of the successes attributed to the authors of the Bible, and compares them to those of other secular prophets such as Nostradamus, in being able to precisely tell the future. Shaw looks at a number of ways in which these prophecies are given the appearance of fulfillment by those that advocate their validity. He then argues that the skill of being able to predict the future accurately is scientifically impossible.

Establishing Errancy Beyond Error

The fundamentalist claim that the Bible is inerrant does not stand up to scrutiny. Just one error is sufficient to refute the claim. Given the quite inventive explanations that inerrantists have devised to explain away textual problems, it nevertheless takes a really choice error to flummox them. In "Establishing Errancy Beyond Error," Stephen Van Eck presents just such an error.

An Earthly Version of Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal is famous for, among other things, devising an argument for belief in God's existence even in the absence of good reasons to believe in God. He proposed that a rational person would reason that if God does not exist, then either believing or not believing that He does exist would cost nothing. But a rational person would also reason that if God does in fact exist, then failing to believe that He does would cost personal salvation. Does Pascal's wager really work? Would a rational person place greater value on a questionable promise of benefit than on intellectual rigor? How rational would a parallel belief in "Philo's benefactor" be, and what does the answer to that question tell us about the reasonableness of forming beliefs on the basis of Pascal's wager?

The Titanic and Christian Apologetics

While it may at first glance seem a stretch to make a comparison between the Titanic and Christian apologetics, a fundamental truth exists within that comparison: namely, that so-called experts do make mistakes, and that it is unreasonable and potentially misleading to assume that they are always correct. It should be noted that experts designed, built and sailed the Titanic on its fateful maiden voyage and that each of those disciplines had a hand in its ultimate destruction. Unfortunately, Christian tradition and its accompanying apologetics fare no better in their claims of unassailable accuracy in portraying the life of the historical Jesus.

Griffin Beak, Mermaid Fin, and Dragon Blood Stew

"Occasionally apologists will ask me what I would consider to be sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus resurrected from the dead. Fair enough. Seeing as I deny that there is sufficient evidence to reasonably believe in the resurrection, what amount or type of evidence would I consider adequate to meet the onus probandi for establishing such an extraordinary claim? The best approach that I have found to answering this question is by an equally extraordinary analogy."

Craig, Kalam, and Quantum Mechanics: Has Craig Defeated the Quantum Mechanics Objection to the Causal Principle?

Over the past three decades, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has been appealing to the beginning of the universe in order to argue for the existence of God. This article quickly outlines a common objection (known as the quantum mechanics objection) to Craig's appeal and then examines Craig's typical rebuttal, concluding that Craig's rebuttal is not only irrelevant to the quantum mechanics objection--but comes with a whole host of other problems.

The Complete Irrelevance of the Fine-Tuning Argument

The Fine-Tuning Argument—the argument that it is so improbable that life in the Universe is just a lucky accident that it is much more reasonable to think that a supernatural being fine-tuned the universe to sustain life—not only does not and cannot, by itself, increase the credibility of a supernaturalistic explanation of the Universe, but is completely irrelevant when it comes to practical considerations.

A Problem for Apologists: Is the Proposition “From Nothing, Nothing Comes” Analytic or Synthetic?

What about the claim made by many Christian theologians that God created the world or the universe ex nihilo—out of nothing? As it turns out, this claim presents a considerable difficulty for the theologian. To understand the problem, we must turn to the great David Hume, who famously argued that any proposition that is neither analytic nor synthetic is nonsense.

On the Value of Ontological Arguments

An ontological argument is one that uses reason and intuition alone to come to a conclusion, most often the conclusion that God exists. Well-known Christian apologists William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga use ontological arguments for this very purpose. DeLaney argues, however, that we cannot derive knowledge regarding external reality simply by manipulating words, and that that every attempt to generate knowledge must be grounded in empirical observations.

Dialogue Between a Protestant Minister and a Dying Teenager

I decided to write this story as a way of explaining my position as an atheist. Like the teen in the dialogue, I believe that there is no objective meaning to life and that we have an opportunity to create our own subjective meaning. "Imagine" by John Lennon is my favorite song because of its beautiful melody, voice, and the message it tells. I thought that a fictional dialogue would be a satisfying method to express my views. The idea of a dialogue between a minister and a dying person was inspired by the Marquis de Sade's work Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man, wherein a priest tries to convert a Man to Christianity before he dies.