Why Some People Simply Will Not Be Convinced

People Miracles Arguments

I spent last weekend with Frank Turek and Mike Adams speaking at another Fearless Faith conference. We trained and talked about the evidence for God’s existence and the reliability of the Gospels because we’re dedicated to helping people overcome their skeptical objections to the Christian worldview. All of us, however, recognize that some people will simply not be convinced by our arguments and presentation of evidence. In fact, I know thatmost people will not be convinced. Why? Because (as I’ve written in Cold Case Christianity) there are three reasons why someone will “shun” (reject) a truth claim:

Some Reject Ra”shun”ally

Sometimes folks simply have rational doubts based on the evidence. You’ll recognize this form of resistance when you hear someone say something akin to, “I need more evidence. I’m not convinced.” For those of us who have taken the time to prepare ourselves as good Case Makers, this is the kind of skeptic we are hoping for; someone who’s resistance is grounded in a lack of information. Unfortunately this seldom the kind of person we encounter.

Some Reject Emo”shun”ally

Many people have doubts that are purely emotional. You’ll recognize this form of resistance when you hear someone say something like, “I know a lot of hypocritical Christians. If that’s what Christianity is about, I want no part of it.” Some skeptics have been injured or offended by Christians and now struggle to overcome negative feelings that prevent them from evaluating the case fairly.

Some Reject Voli”shun”ally

When I was an atheist, I denied the truth for volitional reasons. I was willfully resistant and refused to accept any argument offered by Christians I knew. In fact, I actually hated the idea of God and all it represented. I was happy running my own life; I was stubbornly independent. People like me typically say things like, “I don’t care if it is true, I’m not changing my life.”

If you’re a Christian trying to make the case for what you believe, recognize that your jury is filled with all three kinds of people, and only the first group will probably be willing to listen to your presentation. I’ve discovered most people actually fall into the third category; their willful resistance to the truth actually prevents them from fairly examining the case for Christianity. Frank Turek offers an excellent example of this in his “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” presentation. As part of his four step argument, he engages the issue of miracles, and offers a brief example of how a volitional presupposition can actually prevent you from recognizing a miracle, even if one occurred in your own life.

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David Hume famously argued against miracles, on the basis that we humans have no “uniform experience” of such events. But if we start with a volitional presupposition against the miraculous, this willful foundation will prohibit us from any fair, rational inference from our observations. In other words, we know the experience against miracles to be “uniform” only if we accept all reports of miracles as false. And we know all reports to be false only if we begin from the position miracles have never occurred. In essence, our volitional resistance leads us to reason in a circle.

While you and I can do our best to present the evidence to our unbelieving friends, there is clearly a foundational, presuppositional problem in the heart of man. Our own desires and love of autonomy (our rebellion from God) typically stand in the way of our investigation. I am an evidentialist; I believe in the power of the evidence when presenting the case for God’s existence. But I know that God had to do something with my heart before I could see the evidence fairly, and no friend of mine could accomplish this with his or her evidential presentation. So as I share the case with my skeptical friends, I begin by praying God will remove their enmity so they can hear my words with clarity and interest. I know volitional and emotional resistance is often the reason some people will not be convinced.

 


 

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35 replies
  1. Tracey. says:

    Christians don’t reject, the non’god atheist theory, the Atheist use this for their position chosen by them singular or en-mass. Christians don’t need, a non-god???, God is, and that’s that. Christians, do not, ‘need,’ Atheist or non-god, to be a Believer have Faith, Hope, Trust, this whole inaccurate assumption has no value to Christians.
    As I get up each morning I don’t think ponder, feel the need to find an Atheist, to sure-up I am a Christian, I’v got God the Father Lord Jesus Christ, why on earth would I want an Atheist as some, trumpeted up man-demi god to substantiate my Christian Belief, get real Atheist have the whole thing backwards to justify their, place on the planet/world, whereby Christians are in the world but no, of, it.
    Christians are Believers of God the Father, not believers of Atheist and their -non-god. Atheist do have an idol a non-god, they just don'( volitional resistance) want to believe it, so this is acceptable, go ahead and believe in the idol Non-god your own personal god.
    I do not go out and about, looking for an Atheist to justify my life, I obey the voice of God, not Atheist ramblings.

    The honesty is Christians are getting on with their prayer filled lives and Atheist, are running afters us, shouting, ‘hey prove…….. and then when one gives the God provided proof, the Atheist, then say (its’ the standard line/s), “I don’t see any evidence of …….. Well the Scripture does say, …those with eyes, see, and those with ears hear… but they aren’t the ones in the skull.
    The passage in Dueteronomy 28: 1,2. If you listen obediently to the Voice of God……., notice it is not an order you have to, no it is a question, If, so those who chose not to listen, so be it, do not listen to the voice of God, but don’t whinge about it to a Christian what do you expect us to do, for you?
    J.W.W., you’ve hit the nail on the head, any resistance is, self driven.
    Is there a bible book, Atheist read?

    Reply
    • Bob Seidensticker says:

      You really need to stick to things you know and stop telling the atheists what they think.

      I don’t believe because there’s no good reason to believe. But perhaps you have reasons that I haven’t come across? Please share the most convincing one.

      Reply
      • Devon Cray says:

        I realize this is not a comment about creation, but maybe this will put God into perspective. Suppose you find a sock laying in your living room floor. Your wife or husband asks you how the sock got there. There is ultimately three choices to answer with.
        1. The sock was there since the beginning of time and always will be.
        2. The sock just magically poofed into creation by chance.
        3. Someone else put it there.
        When asked hiw the universe and all thats in it got here, those same answer apply. Which one sounds like the logical answer. God created everything. God is alive and real. No one will be argued or debated into believing that Jesus died and rose again, but hopefully it will trigger something that has never been triggered before.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “When asked hiw the universe and all thats in it got here, those same answer apply.”
          No they don’t. Because a universe isn’t a sock. You’re begging the question by comparing it to an item we know is man made. Instead of a sock make it a rock. How did it get there?
          1) Fell off a larger rock
          2) Formed in a volcano
          3) Chiselled by a man
          4) Rock creating pixies put it there
          etc

          Reply
  2. Bob says:

    You need to get out and meet more atheists. Of course, many simply have no god belief, and that’s about as far as they’ve thought about it. But the ones who’ve thought about it have gone through the Christian arguments, and there’s nothing there.

    As an outsider, it seems that Christian apologetics are useful mostly to pat Christians on the head and assure them that they’ve backed the right horse. Very few newcomers arrive because they have just realized that the Christian claims are actually true.

    Reply
    • Bob Seidensticker says:

      Yes, I appreciate the honesty, and I hope you’ll appreciate mine in return. I’m critiquing the Christian arguments that I’ve found in the past 10 years or so of moderately rigorous study. Again, if you’d like to share the one or two intellectual arguments that you think would be most convincing, go ahead.

      Reply
  3. David says:

    Mr. Wallace, your statement, “there is clearly a foundational, presuppositional problem in the heart of man” is nothing but an ad hominem attack on your hearer. Why do you have to make it? Your arguments are obviously weak if you have to resort to this.

    Reply
    • Larry Jones says:

      David,

      As you know an ad hominem attack is when someone doesn’t address the main points of an argument but instead makes derogatory statements about the person making the argument. In this case, I think Mr. Wallace addressed the main points and then draws a conclusion that you disagree with. Is that really an ad hominem attack?

      I don’t see any comments from you directly addressing the points made in the article. Instead, you imply that the writer has resorted to using deceptive, irrational, and/or illogical tactics. I’m not calling you a hypocrite, but I find that ironic.

      Reply
      • David says:

        Larry, how does one defend himself against a claim, and that’s what this is a claim, like “there is clearly a foundational, presuppositional problem in the heart of man”. Mr. Wallace hasn’t provided any evidence for his claim that “there is clearly a foundational, presuppositional problem in the heart of man”. He has simply drawn a dogmatic conclusion and made a derogatory statement about a man’s motives, agenda, heart condition, etc. He has said it because he doesn’t like that most rational humans won’t put their faith in the same things that he has. That’s an ad hominem attack. Sorry, this is from Wikipedia but I think it’s fairly accurate, “Ad hominem (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”[1]), short for argumentum ad hominem, in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.” Mr. Wallace’s claim is exactly this. Would you call it an ad hominem attack on Mr. Wallace if I said, “there is clearly a foundational, presuppositional problem in the brain of Mr. Wallace, only a fool could believe such nonsense as is found in the bible”? That’s essentially what he said about unbeliever’s “hearts”.

        Reply
  4. David says:

    I find it rather amusing that the bible asks us to believe that all kinds of crazy miracle happened in the “olden days” and, according to biblical prophecy and John The Revelator, at some point in the future god will turn the miracle machine back on. Isn’t it curious that just as mankind started to develop a disciplined way of thinking about and evaluating the world and its’ processes that all the miracles stopped. No one teleports from one place to another anymore, no folk heroes slaughter whole armies with the jawbone of an ass, axeheads don’t float on water, angels don’t kill people, animals don’t talk, blind people don’t all of a sudden start seeing, millions of people don’t subsist off of fluffy white dew that appears on the ground each morning. The existence of the doctrine of cessationism is proof positive that Christians know they have to deny the miraculous today to not be seen as nuts. Mr. Wallace, is it not possible that skeptics simply evaluated the facts on the ground, didn’t see anything in their current experience that would cause them to believe in miracles and simply concluded that, “until I have evidence to the contrary I am not going to believe in miracles”. Surely you must admit that skepticism has to be the default position until solid evidence for the miraculous is presented. And, I can hardly see how referring to a 2,000 year old sacred book could provide such evidence. Until you can provide evidence to support your presupposition that the bible is true and that all that is written in it literally happened I think the burden of proof is on you. I have an idea J. Warner, have Frank cut your leg off on live TV and then get Sean McDowell to pray it back on and heal it. Then I promise you I’ll believe in the miraculous.

    Reply
    • Susan says:

      Jesus healed lepers and lepers lost digits.

      Also Jesus healed people who sought genuine healing not people submitting him to tests.

      What a thoroughly callus and irresponsible request to ask someone to cut off a limb to suit you especially when you can make up an exclusion later and renege even if the miracle goes through.

      Jesus Christ got out of the grave and plenty of people are denying on that today and we have the evidence he did it too.

      They simply reserve to themselves the right to act as judge.

      But some people don’t care what something cost someone else they lack empathy.

      Reply
      • David says:

        Jesus got out of the grave and we have the evidence to prove it? That’s a pretty big claim. What’s your evidence? Please don’t say the bible.

        Reply
        • Susan says:

          Find your own. Since you’re going to reserve the prerogative of judging it then you should locate it and be a diligent seeker.

          I am not a left brained dominant thinker like you are so I weigh evidence differently for you.

          You and I wouldn’t even prioritize the same way so if you want evidence you will have to research with an open mind yourself otherwise you are just playing a game you learned from someone or something else.

          Why would I share your criteria?

          I don’t believe in undervaluing my own senses, perception, intelligence and gut instincts in favor of a methodology used to screen material objects.

          I don’t consider people to be objects so why subject the Person of God to such a test.

          Like I said if you don’t trust your own judgment then you will have to locate the evidence yourself.

          Be sure to seek now. You might have an actual revelation if you are sincere.

          Enjoy!

          Reply
          • David says:

            How fortunate we are that science is not conducted with your mindset Susan. I don’t think Jonas Salk discovered a polio vaccine by thinking with his emotions. He used his intellect and a disciplined process of thinking called the scientific method. Deciding whether the bible should be believed as literal truth or as historical fiction is a scientific endeavor not one of intuition or superstition.

        • Sule says:

          I think you have a problem with orginized religion maybe you were born in catholic religion. Most likely yes you were. I suggest asking the question to self.. where does my spirit go when i die.
          Just saying…

          Reply
          • David says:

            Nope, not Catholic. Baptist roots. Sule, why doesn’t the spirit that you think you currently possess have memories of the eternal life that you believe it possessed prior to being placed in your body? If your spirit is eternal, what was it doing 1,000, 1 million years ago? Surely it remembers? Why does your spirit need grey matter to have a memory? Just saying…

        • Devon Cray says:

          The Bible has been a proven historical document. Atheistic history scholars have accepted the Bible as a TRUE historical reference.

          Reply
    • Tracey says:

      That request is very concerning; belies the state of , the mind.
      Very, very strange.
      Funny it is not.
      But perfect example of what the article is pointing to.
      Here is your example Bob get past all the padding and there lies the truth.
      I’m more knowing my God is good, you can most definitely keep your non-god.
      Not for me thanks for the offer.
      Sooner or later an Atheist provides proof Jesus Christ is the Saviour; the response the one above is a humdinger.
      Jesus is alright for me.

      Reply
  5. Bob Seidensticker says:

    And let me just make a comment to the ether. Lots of Christian sites moderate comments or even refuse to host comments. I appreciate that Cross Examined does encourage the dialogue and debate.

    Reply
  6. Sule says:

    Interesting. i am a mirackle of god! Born in a muslim country jewish decendent born again christian. Hmm just saying what are the odds without the saviour and i did not inherit my belif like most people i was called by name hmmm chew on that a bit folks.

    Reply
  7. Susan Tan says:

    Francis Collins is a believer and has helped cure a few diseases.

    I am not stopping believing for changeable science’s claims. Science is always under revision.

    I believe God’s claims and legal evidence.

    Legal evidence doesn’t change like scientific evidence does.

    Google and read Simon Greenleaf’s ” Testimony of the Evangelist.”

    And don’t reply until you have checked that legal evidence expert’s opinion.

    Reply
    • David says:

      Susan, you say science is always under revision. Nothing is under revision like Christian apologetics. Susan, do you realize that your boy Francis C said this, “The evidence supporting the idea that all living things are descended from a common ancestor is truly overwhelming. I would not necessarily wish that to be so, as a Bible-believing Christian. But it is so. It does not serve faith well to try to deny that.” He also said, “And ultimately, over hundreds of millions of years, give rise to creatures with intelligence and in whom he could infuse this search for him and this knowledge of good and evil.” I thought the earth was 6,000 years old. Does this present any problems for your belief? He has also estimated that man may have been on the earth for as many as 100,000 years. So who is the fool Susan, Dawkins, the scientific community or you? Oh, Collins is still clinging to his faith in the bible in the face of overwhelming evidence against it. He is like all apologists, when they finally have to admit something is true scientifically, they reformulate their apologetics and keep right on with the self-delusion. Do you know that WLC has admitted, reluctantly, that the universe is somewhere in the neighborhood of 13.6 billion years old? He also scoffs at the idea that dinosaurs and man co-existed. I know Susan, you can’t let facts get in the way of your faith. Science is, and has been for centuries, undermining orthodox Christian beliefs but you just can’t let it go. Do you believe the earth is flat Susan? That it’s the center of our solar system?

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        David you rely to heavily on materialistic explanations. I am sure they are useful for maximum benefits derived from nature. I always found science to be eminently practical but I am actually your strongest opponent because I am weak on science. But I am not weak in believing in God being able to do all things.
        As you search for causes you are narrowing the range of things that are plausible. On science I don’t even concern myself about the details. Flat earth? Age of the Earth? What is all that?

        People think we have to explain what God did with 100 percent accuracy or we lose. I never think that way. I think it’s impossible to know what and how God created everything. So I am open to all theist creation positions. What if God did use evolution but didn’t give us the specifics because at the time the Bible was written we couldn’t understand it and He just picked a starting point to start to bring up the human race with more structure and then implanted a spirit in us. Genesis could be part allegorical because we’re like little children incapable of fully comprehending everything He does. Adam and Eve were like innocent children until their eyes were opened.

        I don’t base my faith on trying to understand the creation. I always believed God and I base it on Jesus because I believe he was so much more enlightened than everyone else that the claim that he is God is true.

        I think people can scramble for all sorts of evidence and theories and may never be able to putma complete composite picture of the Creation together. They just keep learning more and more and trying to control the interpretations of the evidence to match their theories. IDers want to match, evolutionists want to match, theistic evolutionists want to match, creationists want to match….Everyone wants to control the interpretations…
        But I am not that interested in science….so I just let everyone argue it…it keeps them occupied….but I know God did it….I just never try to control the interpretation of the evidence because I never mastered the scientific method.

        I do think you can tell Jesus is God just by reading the scriptures and anybody denying he lived is wrong. Occam’s razor. The simplest explanation is best and most people don’t start religions without founders and there were plenty of people still around in Jesus’ day to contest his existence if he didn’t live but there are no accounts of anyone contesting his existence. So the apostles witness is uncontested. Even if it weren’t uncontested the Gospel accounts just ring true to me and I know something marvellous was done for me and I am thankful for it.

        I don’t try to understand everything. I mainly understand the things I am good at and that are easier for me to understand.

        Why do I want to wade into science at all? But I always enjoyed being around and observing people. I even had a relative tell me once I stare too much at people. It gets me in trouble. But it could be I am just a natural student of human nature and a visual learner so I learn by studying people until my brain or mind takes a composite picture.

        I think we have the composite picture of Jesus as God in the Bible and my mind refuses to dismiss it off of other evidence.

        You can argue evidence all day but it’s really an interpretive problem so who’s interpretation is going to control things.

        I am one of the people least interested in origins. I am much more interested in salvation and doctrinal questions and solving prophetic mysteries.

        I had several people try to force me to learn evolution but i don’t like studying science,

        Besides I think studying evolution may make people socially regressive. When you study evolution you will tend to identify with apes in your mind.

        When you study Jesus you will tend to identify with God.

        Would you rather be like an ape or like God? It is that simple.

        Besides even if there is some truth to evolution how do you know that isn’t all prototypes by God before He commenced His final model for man.

        There is too much we don’t know. I can tell that by the number of opinions and groups debating the evidence.

        Anything hard to explain tends to have a lot of subgroups where people haggle over the details. Like the afterlife in Christianity. 3 camps: annihilationism, eternal torment and universalism. Like in prophecy: amillenialism, premillenialism, preterism, etc.

        When you have that much dissension the jury verdict is really still out.

        So I am happy to go with Jesus. He wins hands down over every other religious founder hands down. No contest.

        Reply

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