Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Debunking Christian Circular Arguments and Assumptions
Christians use circular reasoning with unsupported assumptions to justify their beliefs. They take each unsupported assumption and use it to justify another one, in effect, using "fiction to support fiction". Here are examples from their basic arguments defending their faith. This is what they typically say when asked to explain the basis of their beliefs (summarized in my own words):
"How do you know the Bible is true? How do you know it is the word of God?"
"Because the Bible says it is God's word. The Bible is internally consistent and harmonious. Its writers, who lived thousands of years apart, agree on the same message. It also contains many fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the New Testament. The odds of that happening by chance, according to Christian theologians, are astronomical. The Bible also agrees with history, archaeology and science. It is the only book that is complete with a chronicle of humanity's history, salvation, and future predicament.
The Bible has changed millions of lives. The Gospel writers and Apostles were willing to die for their faith. Now who would die for something they knew wasn't true? As C.S. Lewis, a Christian writer, put it: "No one would die for a lie." The first Christians, many of which were martyred, also died for their faith.
The Apostles saw Jesus rise from the dead. 500 people witnessed his resurrection, according to the Apostle Paul. The resurrection is what our faith stands on. It is what sets Jesus apart from the rest and proves that he was the real deal and the true Son of God. Muhammad's body is still in his tomb, while Jesus' tomb is empty.
But the biggest reason for me is that I've experienced how Jesus changed my life. The Holy Spirit lives within me. I feel its truth and have experienced Jesus in my heart. I was at the very bottom of my life when I first heard the Gospel. When I accepted Christ, I was born again. My sins were washed away and my life began anew. I became right with God and felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. I now have a personal relationship with God, not a religion. I am a living testimony to God's truth and love. And so are many of my brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are witnesses for Christ.
We can also trust that the Bible is still in its original form, because God would protect his word and not let it be changed or altered by people. The Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the 1940's, contained Biblical manuscripts from over a thousand years ago that were relatively the same as they are today, demonstrating that the Bible hasn't changed much.
The decision of whether to accept Christ or not is the most important decision of a person's life. Choose carefully. There are eternal consequences at stake. Jesus came and died for your sins. He claimed to be the only way to God. What will you do with that? Either he was a liar, a lunatic, or he was right. If he was the first two, then you can forget him. But if he was who he said he was, then your eternal destiny depends on whether you accept him or not. Remember that.
Now, based on what Jesus did and said in the Gospels, it does not appear that he was a liar in any way. He did everything he said he would, and kept his promises. And he does not appear to be crazy in any way either, for his teachings were filled with great wisdom. Therefore, the most logical conclusion is that he was Lord. He fulfilled the OT prophecies, and rose from the dead, proving that he was the one - the true Savior whom God sent to bring forgiveness and eternal salvation to mankind. Will you accept him or reject him? The choice is yours."
(End of summary of Christian arguments)
Uhhh... Okkk... Well those are the typical arguments and unsupported assumptions of Christians and their Apologists, paraphrased in my own words. I used to be one, so I know them, and they are also used today. They may sound convincing to someone desperate to believe in something with all the answers in a nice little package coupled with big promises (i.e. an eternal father who will love and take care of them for an eternity, and give them eternal life). But they are not convincing to objective logical thinkers.
Now let me take apart the above point by point:
(Note: When I refer to my treatise below, I refer to this: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Debunking_Christians/Contents.htm)
- First, the Bible is not internally consistent. It is not even one book, but 66. There are thousands of contradictions and discrepancies. (see my treatise linked above for examples and links) Not all of them can be explained away. There are even contradictions in basic theology. For example, the Old Testament predicts a Messiah who will become ruler of the Jews and establish a physical kingdom on Earth. Jesus didn't do that. What the New Testament writers did was reinterpret everything in the Old Testament to make it fit in with their beliefs: The Serpent became Satan. Satan became evil. Lucifer became Satan. The OT praises and psalms became prophecies of Jesus, though they weren't. The Messiah came to establish a spiritual kingdom, not a political one (conveniently so, since Jesus failed to fulfill the OT Messianic prophecies). Etc. Most of the alleged fulfilled prophecies by Christians were either imaginary ones that were never intended to be, ambiguous, or didn't even come true (Prophecies of Tyre's destruction, Moses and the Promised Land, etc. See my treatise for more examples.)
- The Bible was put together by the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which decided which books were to be included as canon and which were to be thrown out. Now, what makes you think this Council is infallible? Because God was protecting his word? Again, that is a circular argument, especially since it has not been established that the Bible is God's word or infallible in the first place.
- The Bible does not really claim to be God's word or divinely inspired. If you look at the beginning of them, you will see that many are simply letters sent to some group or church. Or they are introduced by name or not at all. There are only 3 verses that are used to claim that it is God's word, but they do not even clearly say that, or apply to the whole Bible. (See my treatise for a full explanation and analysis) The funny thing is that Christians heavily emphasize Biblical inerrancy and divine inspiration, while the Bible itself does not. But even if it did make that claim, so what? I could write a book and at the beginning start with, "This is the word of God..." But that does not make it so.
- As to the Bible agreeing with history, archaeology and science, see my treatise. In short, just because a written work contains real places and cities, does not make it all true, especially the extreme parts. Greek mythology includes Mt. Olympus, which is a real place, but that doesn't mean all the stories about the Greek Gods were true. Any book can include historical events and places, but that doesn't make it God's word or infallible in any way. It is easy to mix fact and fiction together. This is a no-brainer. For example, the story and film, "The Wizard of Oz" features Dorothy in Kansas. Now, just because Kansas is a real place does not make the entire story true and accurate. You see what I mean? Plus many historical events described in the Bible are unproven and ambiguous, such as the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the resurrection, King Herod's census in Bethlehem, etc.
- Lots of lives have been changed by other religions and belief systems too. Christianity is not unique in this regard. They always forget that, conveniently. Why is a Christian's testimony any better or more valid than a Muslim's or Mormon's? Christian's never address the testimonies of people in other religions, except by saying, "Satan can come as an angel of light", which is their typical copout.
- Plenty of people have died for lies throughout history. Many soldiers died for the war propaganda that they were fed. In Vietnam, 60,000 American troops died for a lie for example. And many cult members have died for their beliefs too (Jim Jones, Heaven's Gate, David Koresh, etc). And in the Middle East wars, many Muslims have died over petty religious feuds. So this is a silly argument. Many throughout history have died for things that often were not true. Therefore, dying for something is not proof that it is right or true. People are easily brainwashed and deluded. Plus we are not even sure that the Apostles did die because we do not even know whether they existed or were just myths themselves, which Christians fail to consider.
Now I know Christians will respond with "I meant no one would KNOWINGLY die for a lie that they knew to be a lie."
My response to this would be: Well now, how do you know they weren't deceived? But most importantly, how do you know that they even died or existed at all? You see, you are assuming that everything in the Bible is true and that all events in it are a given as stated, when in fact that has not been proven to be so. That's the big catch you missed. Anyone can write anything. You gotta remember, there is no historical basis for these events outside the Bible. Thus, your assumption is totally circular and unsupported. It is like taking a fiction book and automatically assuming that everything in it is a given as stated, and then using each part of it to support the other parts, using "fiction to support fiction, so to speak". That's the CHIEF problem you overlook.
- As to the resurrection of Jesus, the same as above goes. No one knows who wrote the Gospels. There are different theories. So you gotta ask, "Why would anyone writing such an important book to save the world be anonmyous rather than put his full name to it?!" Does such an anonymous writer expect to be taken seriously? Again, just because it's written in a book, doesn't mean it's true. Why not take the Koran or Book of Mormon as truth by default too? I can write a book that says that you gotta believe in me to go to heaven too. But would that mean it's true?
As to the resurrection witnesses, well they simply exist only in the Gospels. There is no independent verification of them, or of the resurrection itself. No non-Christian sources attest to them. Paul says that there were 500 witnesses. But one man claiming that there were 500 witnesses is not the same as 500 people claiming to be witnesses.
Again, this is a classic case of Christians "using fiction to support fiction". I could use the same arguments to prove that Superman had super powers. For instance, I could say that Superman stopped a runaway train according to one story, by grabbing it and slowing it to a halt. When he did so, there were many passengers on board who were eyewitnesses to what Superman did. This proves that Superman had super powers. See how easy that is?
Moreover, even if a person with supernatural powers were to come and do amazing things, including seemingly dying and rising again, that doesn't mean he is God or infallible or controls the eternal souls of everyone. Magicians could do such things (e.g. David Blaine, David Copperfield) and Extraterrestrials with advanced technology could come and amazing things with their technology that defy our explanation too. But that doesn't mean that they are Gods. I'm not saying that Jesus was an alien, but just saying hypothetically. The point is that just because someone has more technology than you, or more "powers" than you, does not make this person or being right about everything, nevertheless infallible.
- Christians forget one important thing. Jesus didn't write down anything, at least not that we have today. All that they know about him were written by others, his alleged followers. We do not even know if any of his direct disciples wrote anything down. Therefore, the stories about him are all hearsay by unknown sources. No one knows who Jesus really was, what he said, or if he even existed, since he has so many resemblances to ancient Pagan Gods and mythologies, and his teachings have so many parallels with Buddhism. This is why secular historians, while they believe in a historical Jesus, do not believe that the Jesus depicted in the Gospels existed. This was also the conclusion of the Jesus Seminar.
- Regarding Christian personal testimonies, changed lives, and miracles, well they exist in all religions. Christians seems to insinuate that their faith is unique in this regard. But it is not. Many Muslims and Mormons will tell you that God touched their hearts too and that they've experienced him in their souls as well, which proved to them that their faith was true. So what? Even Scientologist members have made such claims. I don't doubt that some kind of spiritual or psychological purification happened to these people. The point is, since testimonials and changed lives are NOT unique to Christianity, they cannot claim it as proof that their faith is the "only way to God" or truer than others. After all, why is a Christian's testimony more valid than a Muslim's? Each calling the other "deceived by Satan" is not a valid reason at all.
- Claiming that the Bible has not been altered because "God would protect his word" is a circular reason and baseless assumption. First, they have not even established that it is God's word in the first place. So even if it remains unaltered, it doesn't mean anything. Lots of ancient books and recent novels remain unaltered. That doesn't make them true.
Plus, the original Bible manuscripts must have been in Hebrew. But the copies we have in existence are in Latin. So there is no airtight proof that we even have the original manuscripts.
Furthermore, why would God need people to write down "his word"? If he had a "word" can't he write it himself or materialize it like the Q does in Star Trek? Or better yet, just appear in person and tell everyone his word? That would be much fairer than being invisible and judging people by their willingness to give blind trust and faith in unseen things, which is not reasonable at all. There are hundreds of questions like this I could ask, cause the Bible version of reality makes no sense at all, and contradicts the notion of an all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful perfect God.
- Now we get to the final ultimatum point about the eternal consequences of accepting or rejecting Christ. Notice how Pascal's Wager and the Trilemma argument are used. Pascal's Wager states that if you deny Christ and you are right, then you lose nothing. But if you deny him and you are wrong, then there will be eternal consequences. So you're better off betting on Christ just in case you are wrong if you don't. Well gee, that is such a small-minded hackneyed argument. I could spin that around and say to Christians, "You'd better accept the Koran just in case, because if you don't, there may be eternal consequences." So what should they do then? Become both Christian and Muslim, which both say the other is false? lol Plus, you can't really believe in something out of fear of punishment. The heart doesn't work that way.
As to the Trilemma argument - Lord, Liar or Lunatic, originally proposed by C.S. Lewis (author of the Narnia Chronicles), gimme a break. I know Christians think this one is irrefutable. But it's not. Again, it takes a fictional story and gives one three choices, assuming that the story is real. What Christians forget, is that historians believe in a fourth explanation, that the Gospels are myths and not historical events. Therefore, it should be a Quadrilemma - Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Legend. And Legend is the most logical conclusion, since no historical evidence or sources support these alleged events.
Again, I could do the same for Superman and say that Superman was either a Liar, Lunatic, or Super Hero. In the comics and movies, Superman never lied. He was a good person with values who always told the truth. Even Lois Lane said so. He never acted crazy, but was always rational and responsible. He did what he said and demonstrated his super powers over and over again in full public view. Therefore, he must be a Super Hero. I can take any work of fiction and do that.
Finally, as mentioned before, just because someone or some thing has unexplained powers, does not mean this being is infallible or right about everything, or has power over your soul.
So you see, these Christian circular arguments and assumptions are nothing more than fiction used to support fiction, presumed true by default, when they are not. That is their primary fallacy. Brainwashing and mind control tactics usually contain such fallacies. You've got to learn to question things, otherwise you are easily fooled and duped. So check both sides of an issue before jumping to conclusions. Ask experts on both sides. Seek evidence. Don't take anything on faith.
For a more elaborate version of Christian arguments debunked, see my treatise at:
Now, if you want truth, you're going to have to know something. Truth does not come in a neat convenient package like a religion, where you don't have to think. That is known as "fast food theology". But truth doesn't work that way. Truth is mysterious. There are layers of truth, and the path to it is a lifelong process and journey, as you peel off each layer. At a certain point, it will be difficult to peel off more layers, for human comprehension has its limits, as there are some things beyond it. But don't try too hard. You gotta go with the flow and let you intuition guide you. Have fun, relax, open yourself up, and enjoy learning new things. Don't forget that everything should be in moderation.
To start on the path to truth, remember these things:
1) Question everything. Don't take whatever you hear on faith, even from the alternative crowd.
2) Stop caring what others think of you. If you don't, you will always be bound in fear. But if you do, you will free your mind, which is the first step to truth.
3) Empty your mind. Follow your intuition and go with it, for it sees from a higher level than your conscious mind does.
4) Discover who you really are. Remember, you are a spiritual being having a human experience.
5) Clear your mind. Avoid highly toxic and stressful activities and environments. Pay attention to health and nutrition. Always remember, everything in moderation.
6) Ask questions, seek answers, and you will find them.
To close, I’d like to share this important advice for the truth-seeker by Darryl Sloan from his book Reality Check:
"The most productive mindset you can have is simply this: always, always, always have a belief system that doesn’t resist change. Go wherever the information leads you, without fear, because surely the truth is never something to dread." - Darryl Sloan, Reality Check
Anyway, I hope I've given you a lot to think about. Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all of you.