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Christian Apologetics

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.

Apophatic Theology: the Apologia of Last Resort

Apophatic theology is yet another attempt to explore the meaning of God, in this case, by negation—to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the arcane being that believers call God. At first blush this doesn't seem like too bad an idea, since all previous attempts to explain God by telling us what He is and how He does operate leads most intelligent people to roll their eyes in disbelief at the twisted logic in which the explainers engage.

Answering Theists’ Questions

Hemant Mehta, known as the "Friendly Atheist" and the man who "sold his soul on e-Bay," is a well-known defender of the atheist stance who has written at least one best-selling book. Mehta recently persuaded Christian apologist Lee Strobel to answer some questions posed by his atheist friends. Strobel, in turn, asked his Christian theist friends to submit questions for atheists to answer. Seven of Strobel's friends complied. Whittenberger offers his answers to the questions posed by Strobel's Christian theist friends.

Review of Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great about Christianity

Dinesh D'Souza is a bestselling author and conservative Christian activist who has turned his talents to religious apologetics. In What's So Great about Christianity? D'Souza presents himself as the man to defend theism in general and Christianity in particular against the recent upsurge of atheist argumentation from authors such as Dawkins, Dennett, and Hitchens. D'Souza starts off with a healthy skepticism to all irrational claims, those made in the name of science as well as those made in the name of religion. The stage seems set for an exciting intellectual confrontation, with overblown atheists at last feeling the "horse kick of a vigorous traditional Christianity." The most positive thing one can say about this book, however, is that it beautifully illuminates how intelligent people can get trapped in incredible belief systems.

Is the Evidence for Theism Ambiguous by Divine Design?

A popular theistic "explanation" for why God would permit even a slim evidential basis for atheism goes something like this: "God does not give us absolute proof because this would work against our free will. He gives us just enough evidence so that we can find Him and just enough to reject His existence if that is our desire." But is this reasonable? Kuchar says not.