Jay Maynard (jmaynard) wrote,
Jay Maynard

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18 arguments that won't work on one atheist

Tomorrow's Minneapolis Star-Tribune has an article on an atheist who talks to classes at religious universities: The Atheist and the Christians. In it, they mention 18 arguments that Christians try to use to convince him. A separate article lists those, along with his answers:

1. The holy books say so: "Stories written by humans."

2. People have had revelations of God: "Subjective. Hearsay. Could be delusions."

3. Many people have a personal sense of God: "You're sincere, but it's not proof."

4. If you open your heart, God will enter: "Emotion."

5. Miracles and resurrection stories: "Unverifiable."

6. Fear of death, hope for heaven: "Wishing won't make it so."

7. Fear of hell: "An attempt to get you to believe through fear what you won't believe through reason."

8. Pascal's wager (briefly stated, it's a good bet to believe in God): "You can't just pretend God exists."

9. It's your choice not to believe: "I can't help it that I don't believe. Why blame the victim?"

10. The end of the world is coming: "A scare tactic."

11. Faith gives life meaning: "Atheists find plenty of meaning without faith."

12. God, like love, is intangible: "Love is tangible. It's a feeling defined by actions."

13. Morality depends on faith: "A moral code can exist independent of belief in God. ... Christians don't even agree among themselves what's moral."

14. Faith inspires altruism: "I could argue there's no such thing as altruism, that people do heroic things because it advances themselves, their family, society or the species."

15. Without God, there's no free will: "Atheists have no problem admitting that free will might be an illusion."

16. People suffer for religion, an indication it's real: "Belief motivates them. That doesn't mean God exists."

17. False dichotomies, which is what he calls statements such as "No one would die for a lie" or "Either Jesus was insane or he was God": "Not necessarily true. There are many other possibilities."

18. Many things aren't explained except by God: "That's the 'God of the gaps' argument: 'We don't know where the universe came from, so God must have made it.' Atheists are content to say we just don't know."

I'll add my own comment to the one about resurrection stories: I used to work for a guy who had a near-death experience. His recounting of the story has all of the usual features: the tunnel, the great white light, the Voice, which told him "No, it's not your time yet. You're going back." He says that that experience was what gave him the strong faith he feels. I do not for a moment doubt his account, nor do I doubt that he has every reason to believe in God because of it. I simply cannot share that belief based on his experience.

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