Debating Atheists: Introduction (part 1/5)

By Dan Grossenbach

On November 27, 2016, I debated a local atheist leader, retired podiatrist Dr. Gil Shapiro, the spokesperson of Freethought Arizona (video here). I’ve blogged on general post-debate thoughts here but now will cover a series of five consecutive blog posts covering each of the four arguments that the atheist couldn’t answer. This is no credit to my debating skills or subject knowledge which are nothing special, but it does show how classic arguments for the Christian worldview can be powerful if we keep it simple. My hope is that this will serve as a good outline to keep in mind when you engage with skeptics in your own community, the water cooler, or the next family dinner table.

Debate Atheism Introduction

By far, the most difficult part of debate prep was planning my general approach. Knowing my opponent helped. In a story by the local paper leading up to the event, the AZ Daily Star quoted Dr. Shapiro saying, “There is the religious view and the secular point of view, and there will be some things we can’t move on our position, but there will be some things that we can.” In this spirit, I researched claims from renowned atheists and non-Christians and arrived at four aspects of reality we can all agree on even though we may come to different conclusions. They are:

1) the arrival of the universe from nothing

2) the arrival of biological information from dead matter,

3) the arrival of evil, and

4) the arrival of Jesus.

This was a community event between two amateurs so I had to stick to the basics. As a full time detective, I’m not a biblical scholar, scientist, or philosopher so I wasn’t going to get fancy. That’s why I proffered four facts that enjoy the vast consensus of scholars regardless of religious or non-religious bias. I was also intentional on my topic selection. After all, what could be more pressing for the Christian worldview than creation, sin (evil), and the resurrection? I framed the debate using only commonly accepted facts both Dr. Shapiro and I could, in principle, agree on, and provided an explanation that best fit the facts. If my logic was valid and the facts true, the conclusions I offered would remain standing as the most reasonable. At the end of each of the four separate arguments, I told the audience I would wait to see what my opponent would offer as a better explanation of these facts. In his rebuttals, he gave a lot of criticisms but never answered my challenges directly. Not only was my opponent silent in presenting an alternative explanation for any of these four facts, he didn’t offer any explanation at all.  So, if the challenges I presented demand an explanation, the Christian explanation won by default.

Christianity won because the evidence was better and the reasoning clearer than what my atheist friend offered. We all know that debates are won or lost by much more than the content. If I came across condescending or frustrated, all the evidence and logic in the world wouldn’t have helped me. Good manners and graciousness are critical. My goal was to be bold and nice at the same time. While his arguments were lacking, I owe thanks to Dr. Shapiro for keeping things cordial as well. He’s a gentleman.

A quick note about scholarly consensus is important. Few of us have the time or training to master all the arguments so it helps to stand on the shoulders of scholars who do. I’m not suggesting an appeal to authority or majority can replace sound reasoning. Surely, scholarly consensus alone isn’t an argument. It would be fallacious to appeal to the majority since the majority can be wrong and the number of noses is irrelevant to the truth of a proposition. What this shows is that each fact has been defended in published work and debated among experts on all sides of the issue. When scholars committed to a worldview contrary to Christianity concede these facts, they do so in spite of their desires because of the weight of evidence and because intellectual honesty compels them. That’s what we want it to do for our unbelieving friends as well. We just need to point this out.

To show how this works, I’ll release four short blog posts to unpack each of these facts over each of the next four weeks. When combined together, these four facts make a cumulative, or “minimal facts,” case we can use to show our skeptical friends to infer important conclusions that point us to God based on facts even atheists grant. Inspired by what Gary Habermas has done for the historical case for the resurrection, these facts can be extended into an overall case for Christianity. The compelling force of Habermas’ work is showing the mass concession by scholars from non-Christian, even hostile, worldviews on relevant facts surrounding the death of Jesus. It’s easy to point out Christian scholars in support of our views, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but citing a skeptic who is an authority on the topic blunts the bias objection from the start.

It’s not only skeptics who need to hear this. When I speak at various Christian groups, I’m constantly surprised by how many intelligent and faithful Christians don’t know how widely accepted these facts are either. Without the facts, they risk being forced into defending ideas already settled among the experts. To suggest that Jesus died by crucifixion, for example, might sound like a religious claim, not a historical one. Once we learn that the most skeptical scholars accept Jesus’ crucifixion, however, it should cause our skeptical friend to question her own reasons for denying it.

Many of the scholars I’ll cite are the same ones our skeptical friends are learning from. So if our friends are persuaded by atheist writings of Dawkins, Shermer, Hitchens, Krauss, Erhman, Carrier, and others, get ready to hear what they have to say now!

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39 replies
  1. David says:

    How on earth can you read Dawkins, Shermer, Hitchens, Krauss, Erhman and Carrier and remain a Christian. Carrier’s most recent work, “On The Historicity of Jesus” is, to my mind, devastating to a belief in the veracity of Christian claims regardless of whether an actually historical Jesus existed or not. It is so obvious that the Christian religion is a “cult”ural development and his argument against historicity, while not currently mainstream, will gain a lot of traction in the years to come. Have you read it Dan? You’re going to need a lot more than “four short blog posts to unpack” your refutation of Carrier’s arguments. I suggest you take on every argument he makes in his defense of his “mythicist” hypothesis. As Robert M. Price has been known to say, “It’s a lifetime Dan”. Until you’ve devoted decades to this study you can’t legitimately have an opinion. Dan, maybe you could debate Dr. Carrier. I would pay good money to see that. Warning, average Christian, don’t be duped by Mr. Grossenbach’s blog post dismissal of Carrier. Mr. Grossenbach admits he and his interlocutor were amateurs. So basically, two ill-informed yokels duking it out in the local fellowship hall. If you want to hang on to your Christian beliefs this is exactly the kind of debate you should attend. If you want an education spend some time listening to and reading Carrier and the like.

      • David says:

        My 2 Cents, This is a really stupid statement. What in the world does one’s employment have to do with the quality of one’s scholarship or arguments? He does have a PhD in history from Columbia University. Does that mean anything to you? Or, is that proof to you that he has been corrupted by the world? I guess to you, if someone is a professor somewhere like Biola, Liberty or Southern Theological Seminary (where they have to subjugate their intellect to a given set of doctrinal statements to even be employed) that lends credibility to their abilities as a scholar. Read Carrier’s “On The Historicity” and decide for yourself. Better bring a lunch.

        Builder Bob, I’m not endorsing myself. I’m endorsing the authors that Mr. Grossenbach claims he will easily refute. Read Carrier’s “On The Historicity” and you tell me if you think a few blog posts will be sufficient to refute his thesis. If Dan is going to have an “opinion” it better be backed up with some good data and a lot of it. Carrier’s sure is. Dare you to read it. The reason I can criticize Dan’s thesis before he even offers it is that all apologists use the same arguments. Grossenbach will just be regurgitating Turek, Withergton III, Lane Craig, Strobel (although he’s maybe the worst), Geisler, Copan, etc. They’re all pretty much the same.

        • My 2 Cents says:


          You assume that I haven’t read “On the Historicity.” Dr. Carrier is not a scholar. He’s a blogger that happens to have a PhD. In the world of real scholarship, appealing to Dr. Carrier to support the idea that Jesus never existed carries about as much weight as appealing to Dr. Kent Hovind to support the notion that the universe is less than 6,000 years old. If he’s going to stand against 99% of scholarship, Christian or otherwise, he ought to be a bit more humble in the strength of his arguments.

          But don’t take my word for it. Why don’t you take it from a fellow atheist who knows a thing or two about history:

          “For those who aren’t aware of him, Richard Carrier is a New Atheist blogger who has a post-graduate degree in history from Columbia and who, once upon a time, had a decent chance at an academic career. Unfortunately he blew it by wasting his time being a dilettante who self-published New Atheist anti-Christian polemic and dabbled in fields well outside his own; which meant he never built up the kind of publishing record essential for securing a recent doctorate graduate a university job. Now that even he recognises that his academic career crashed and burned before it got off the ground, he styles himself as an “independent scholar”, probably because that sounds a lot better than “perpetually unemployed blogger”.

          But in the minds of New Atheist true believers, far from being a failed academic (and more recently, thanks to some rather dubious life choices, itinerant beggar), Carrier is a towering figure of vast historical wisdom. This is because if there is a tenet of New Atheist Bad History that needs defending, Richard Carrier is usually there to help. Not surprisingly, Carrier is therefore a leading proponent of the Jesus Myth thesis, though given that this is a topic held in dismally low regard by real academics and one peddled mainly by cranks and loons, that’s not much of an accolade.”
          -Tim O’Neil (

          • Andy Ryan says:

            That you think a PhD is something people ‘just happen to have’ tells me we can save our time by not responding to the rest of your post.

          • David says:

            My 2 Cents, How do you know he’s not a scholar? Tell me what disqualifies him as a scholar? How does one become a scholar? Who do you consider a scholar?
            Tell me what scholar I should read to learn the truth about Jesus the incarnate god/man? What are the names of some of the scholars that have debunked his latest work? Was Galileo a hack? Was Copernicus an idiot? People of their time thought they were. When you refute Carrier’s thesis I will assume you have read his book and have something valuable to say. When those who consider themselves scholars refute his work I will consider them scholars.
            Attacking his character doesn’t prove anything. So you found another blogger that slammed Carrier for being a blogger? Well done. Mission accomplished. No one wants to entertain the possibility that Dr. Carrier might be correct. No one said his thesis was mainstream. But what if mainstream scholarship is just wrong? Could that be possible? Do the multitude of similarities between the Christian religion and other religions of the 1st century mean nothing to you? I know it would be devastating for you to admit that Jesus was a historical person that was mythologized or a mythical person historicized but I think that, as members of the 21st century, a natural interpretation of how the Christian religion became so popular should be our default position. Unless, of course, you are prepared to put Mohammad and Joseph Smith in the same category as Jesus. After all, world religions with millions/billions of followers were founded in their names as well. That certainly couldn’t have happened unless they were also god/men, could it? Additionally, if Carrier is dead wrong I couldn’t care less. But, you have to have evidence or some kind of argument to say he is. Do you have one?

    • Builder Bob says:

      “Until you’ve devoted decades to this study you can’t legitimately have an opinion.”

      Couldn’t that be used against you, David? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to at least read the other four articles before you come to your “legitimate” conclusion?

  2. Susan says:

    Dawkins said something can come from nothing and his mind virus is pseudoscience. Ehrman has been refuted by Wiitherington. The weight of biblical scholarship isn’t with Ehrman. Witherington also studied under Metzger like Ehrman and he explains Ehrman didn’t meet some of the requirements that bible scholars normally meet.

    How can you believe these men ahead of God, David?

    Your appeal to authority to dismiss others is just that.

    Too bad you have to hang out on message boards dissing people because you read second rate thinkers and believe them.

    You should have accepted God at His Word and learned to think for yourself.

    Why you want to overlay your own mind with other people’s errors is beyond me.

    Does it make you feel more intelligent and safer and in control?

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter how smart you are there is only one in control and we all die.

    Do you really feel justified trying to take other people’s hope away because you don’t have any? People should be hopeless to satisfy your reasonings’ conclusions.

    People do have genuine revelations and it dosen’t matter who you read or how high your IQ. It isn’t higher than God ‘s and you can’t dispossess someone of a genuine experience with an argument.

    Arguments just don’t control other people’s reality and revelations.

    So for some reason you just can’t stop reaching in illegally off philosophical grounds and meddling with other people’s beliefs.

    Why don’t you examine your internal causes for doing that David. If you think you’re smarter than everyone else then that vain imagination allows you permission to not do what Jesus directs people to do.

    Examine yourself and your motives. All you are attempting to do with your arguments is justify people’s lower nature so God doesn’t develop a higher nature in people. You want to lead their thinking but to do that you are going to have to prove why you yourself are worthy of leading anyone in their thoughtlives.

    Jesus visited Earth and proved he was worthy. Everyone saw it in his day and a lot of people see it in the scriptures today.

    It’s really strange to watch men who think men they reason better than God does but you do a lot of damage to yourselves and to the unwary who take what you say at face value or accept science as authoritative without realizing some people use science and philosophy for self justification and boundary violating.

    You’re up here arguing because you want to change people but if you’re going to offer nothing better and just destabilize the world further then why don’t you keep your arguments to yourself.

    When you disprove the reports from 6,000 years of revelation then we will listen to you.

    Otherwise sit home and pray that God give you some humility and repentance and ask Him to enlighten you.

    You haven’t really gotten a case. There is too much revelation, knowledge and evidence against you that correllate with the account God gives.

    I hope you regain some open mindedness like Francis Collins did and go study DNA. God gave him an epiphany not an argument. He must have been in the right frame of mind to receive it.

    Examine why you are so doggedly determined to win, David. Your motives may have hardened and affected your thought processes and be attempting to control them and force certain conclusions.

    You’re in a battle of wills with people who hold a different worldview from you based on more evidence than you have so you had better check yourself regularly and be right or hold your peace.

    If you’re going to take people’s love, joy and peace and emotional stability and control away from them you had better be right when you do that.

  3. David says:

    Susan, there is so much in your post to which I could respond but let me ask you a few clarifying questions: Do you believe that the bible is inerrant? If so, how foundational to your faith is that belief? If you discovered that the bible was full of examples where texts were removed, added or changed for propagandist and/or theological reasons would that shake your confidence in the veracity of the bible? And if your confidence in the veracity of the bible were shaken, what would you do? Would that open your mind to consider that you might possibly have been duped?

  4. Susan says:

    I don’t usually use the word inerrant because I know men have made some translation errors. I prefer the word reliable like Erwin Lutzer explains in his work The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. That way I don’t have to argueover any translation errors. Would any change shake my faith? No. Because most adds or changes are notated and Bible scholars handle that and have a consensus on such matters. Also while the Bible is important I place my faith in Jesus. To place it only in the Bible would probably be to make an idol out of the text.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible, 2 Cor. 3:6
    He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.

    Has there ever been a significant change in the Bible? I think a significant key word change was made in the Bible back in early Catholicism but it’s not significant enough that good ancient language scholarship can’t reveal it. I believe the Bible has been mainly preserved through the jealousy of the sects.

    If you google and read John Wesley Hanson’s essay “Aion-Aionios” and agree with his key word analysis then only one important doctrine of the Bible has been affected. I actually would have never come across the error but atheists kept insisting that eternal torment was torture so I researched into it and I must say I think atheists did spot a doctrinal contradiction with an all loving, forgiving God’s nature. I had always heard of hell and intellectually consented to it off a superficial reading of the text but I don’t think my heart really believed it because I switched away from that belief rather easily when I found better interpretations that made more sense to me. But this could also be an interpretive issue where people reason from spiritual to literal instead of spiritual to spiritual like Paul said to do in the New Testament. Universalists are probably one of the least liked groups of Christians by other Christians because eternal torment is so wide spread a belief but if there’s any belief that should be researched into it is that one.
    Apologists have to research a lot of strange unbiblical doctrines and it surprises me so few people have picked up on it but it is a tricky doctrinal error and instead of considering God’s justice as subservient to God’s mercy theologians have posited it as co-equal but the text says God’s mercy is over all His works and His people are His works. There are many universalists to read on this but atheists usually don’t seem to be aware of this position that some hold in Christianity because it is a minority not a mainstream position and not here but in many other places this is one of the major points of Christianity that atheists like to attack. But we have universalists stretching back all the way to the early church fathers with Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, etc.

  5. Bob Seidensticker says:

    “1) the arrival of the universe from nothing”

    *Did* the universe come from nothing? That’s possible, but it’s not the scientific consensus of cosmologists, as I understand it.

    “2) the arrival of biological information from dead matter”

    Yes, that’s a valid question. It’s called abiogenesis, and scientists have some interesting ideas but no consensus theory. Is this all that important a question for you? That is, is your faith based on science not having an answer?

    And remember: just because Christianity has an answer doesn’t mean that it’s an answer worth listening to. All the other religions have answers, too.

    “3) the arrival of evil”

    We’re animals. What needs to be answered? If you’re asking why sin exists, that presupposes a God who’s defined some things as sinful.

    “4) the arrival of Jesus”

    What’s the puzzle? A religion has a founder. For Christianity, it’s Jesus. Maybe Jesus was a real guy or maybe not, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe Confucius and Lao Tzu and Buddha were real or maybe not.

    • Scott says:

      Silly Bob. Since he’s going to go over each of these points, most people would have waited to see what information will be presented before attacking self created strawmen.

      “*Did* the universe come from nothing? That’s possible, but it’s not the scientific consensus of cosmologists, as I understand it.”
      This is a non answer. Typical for Bob. Are you talking about Krauss’ redefinition of nothing? Actually you didn’t talk about anything.

      “Is this all that important a question for you? That is, is your faith based on science not having an answer?
      And remember: just because Christianity has an answer doesn’t mean that it’s an answer worth listening to. All the other religions have answers, too.”
      You are projecting and being disingenuous. You know Christian faith doesn’t come from science. And you’re projecting because YOUR faith is that science will one day have an answer. What is the Buddhist answer for life from nothing?

      “We’re animals. What needs to be answered?”
      Another non answer.

      “What’s the puzzle? A religion has a founder. For Christianity, it’s Jesus. Maybe Jesus was a real guy or maybe not, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe Confucius and Lao Tzu and Buddha were real or maybe not.”
      And this is why you wait until the information is presented so you don’t build a strawman (though I do understand you like jousting with windmills).

  6. Andy Ryan says:

    Just a reminder that the Christian who runs this site is still defending Trump, even after the latter excused a rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists that left someone dead.

    • David says:

      There is little room for independent thinking among this crowd. They are pretty strictly orthodox as both conservative evangelicals and conservative republicans. Sadly, I think for many white evangelicals it might be more accurate to say that they are hoping that Trump can “Make America White Again”.

      • Scott says:

        “There is little room for independent thinking among this crowd.”
        This is both a thinly veiled insult and hypocrisy. Where have you shown any type of ‘independent thinking’? You have yet to show a single iota of evidence that would convince anyone but yourself.

        “They are pretty strictly orthodox as both conservative evangelicals and conservative republicans.”
        The first half of this statement is just a moronic (and a strike against any ‘thinking’ at all). This IS a site for conservative evangelicals. As for conservative republicans, how many people that visit this site have you ever talked to about their conservative bias? Just a ridiculous statement. More hypocrisy.

        “Sadly, I think for many white evangelicals it might be more accurate to say that they are hoping that Trump can “Make America White Again”.”
        You clearly know nothing about Christianity. Another strike against your ‘independent thinking’.

        • Andy Ryan says:

          Scott, evangelicals assured American Christians that Trump was their guy. That includes the people running this site. I shouldn’t have to go through a list of all that Trump has done since the inauguration, but suffice it to say that this week he gave a train wreck of speech that effectively excused white supremacists, referring to many as ‘fine folks’, and drew an equivalence between General Lee, a traitorous secessionist, and the founding fathers. Those evangelicals who don’t admit they made a mistake must be thought to still be on Trump’s side. They’re effectively siding with the KKK and white supremacists.

        • David says:

          It wasn’t a veiled insult, it was a blatant insult for those to whom it applies. Look in the mirror Scott. Christians incessantly insult skeptics. “You’re of your father the devil”, “You don’t want to become a Christian because of your secret sin”, “You’re not a skeptic for intellectual reasons, you’re a skeptic for volitional reasons”. It gets really old. I know you have to do it to make yourselves feel better but man, could you just stick to the arguments? If you will, I will. I just thought if Christians could dish it out they could take it too.

          If you can’t condemn the way Trump handled last Saturday I’m sorry but, you might be a bit of a racist. The use of the word “might” is my concession to the fact that I might be wrong. I also didn’t say all conservative, evangelical, republicans want Trump to Make America White Again. I said “I THINK many”, again leaving open the possibility that I might be wrong about some. Am I wrong about you Scott? Condemn Trump and I’ll assume you aren’t a racist. I know a lot about Christianity. I grew up in it. I was one for 40 years (You’re thinking of a common insult right now, “David, you can’t have been a true Christian and walked away”). I bite my tongue and remain silent out of fear of reprisal each day as I listen to my southern, white evangelical, Christian friends and family make excuses for a demonstrably horrible person. When will you apply the admonitions of scripture to this vile human? I could even live with it if you said you approved of his political agenda and then condemned him as a person. If you can’t admit that Trump is scum I think you might be scum.

      • Susan says:

        David, I saw from another thread that you were a long time Christian? Was that by choice or were you just brought up Christian?

        What if instead of siding with atheist thinkers this is your time to get serious with God?

        If you want to scout up some new evidence and see God’s point about the sin nature of man then
        pick up a copy of ‘Strongman’s His Name…What’s His Game?’ by the Robesons and look at the tree of symptoms that go hand in hand with certain spirits and then check the biographies of:
        Dawkins, Shermer, Hitchens, Krauss, Erhman and Carrier and see if you can detect any symptoms of evil operating in these people’s lives. Christians would regard all of these people as false teachers.

        I was shocked just browsing Carrier’s wiki bio to see he thinks polyamory is ok and broke his own marriage for it.

        Imagine being his wife and thinking that he vowed to her yet came home 18 years into the marriage and reveals he is having affairs. Not very careful of him exposing her to all those other partners is it.

        Read the book and take those people and line them up and see if you can see any evil spirits operating in their lives as evidenced by their actions in life and ask yourself why they tolerate being subservient to sins to the point that they break their vows to other people.

        Most people arguing against Christians like to inspect Christians for spiritual failure but they don’t inspect their own houses or associates.

        That’s like being a termite inspector working for Terminix but you don’t have the common sense to inspect your own house.

        I apologize if this is in any way offensive but that is just one of the way I collect evidence. By observing people. That is what God does. He observes people.

        Isn’t it a good idea to do background checks of the people who’s ideas you are sharing. What’s more personal than your faith. It lives in your heart. If you were considering sharing a room with someone you would run a background check on them first wouldn’t you?

        That’s another reason I don’t accept arguments. There is always a subjective element in human nature and the person submitting the argument but it is almost impossible to tell which motive they are operating from in making an argument.

        Guardingyour heart which is your inner being and includes your mind is what God advises. Unfortunately, people don’t usually know to do this. They are out in the world getting exposed to all kinds of ideas both evil and good on a daily basis. Imagine if the Germans had been able to silence or turn off Hitler before he had communicated all his evil ideas. Then the world would have been a different place for them and others. All ideas aren’t equally worthy of being heard even if we do uphold freedom of speech to prevent tyranny and errors from occuring and to accomodate change.

        • David says:

          There you go again Susan. Those evil people, with evil thinking, with evil motives, blah, blah, blah. Speaking of Hitler, I would assume that you hold Luther in the highest regard. Are you aware that his condemnation of the Jews helped lay the ground work for the holocaust? If the Germans had been able to “silence or turn off” the sentiment communicated in his writing, “On The Jews and Their Lies” that might have helped to prevent the holocaust as well.

  7. Andy Ryan says:

    Scott, evangelicals assured American Christians that Trump was their guy. That includes the people running this site. I shouldn’t have to go through a list of all that Trump has done since the inauguration, but suffice it to say that this week he gave a train wreck of speech that effectively excused white supremacists, referring to many as ‘fine folks’, and drew an equivalence between General Lee, a traitorous secessionist, and the founding fathers. Those evangelicals who don’t admit they made a mistake must be thought to still be on Trump’s side. They’re effectively siding with the KKK and white supremacists.
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    • Scott says:

      First, I don’t even like Trump. He’s not a good person. But you are blinded by some ideology and you have yet to show any independent thinking.

      “evangelicals assured American Christians that Trump was their guy. ”
      This is a blanket statement without any evidence. Besides Mr. Turek, give me the quotes from the evangelical leaders you say assured Christians. Where are the links to the quotes?

      “but suffice it to say that this week he gave a train wreck of speech that effectively excused white supremacists, referring to many as ‘fine folks’,”
      This is false. He didn’t excuse white supremacists. Read the transcript. He also didn’t say many. He said ” You also had some very fine people on both sides.” Do you know any of the people in either group? These people who believe differently than you couldn’t have been good people? Not a single one? They couldn’t have just wanted to preserve the statue? There were absolutely white supremacists in the group and President Trump condemned them. And you condemn one side while you categorically excuse the “alt left” from any blame.

      “and drew an equivalence between General Lee, a traitorous secessionist, and the founding fathers. ”
      Again false. He specifically said that people are changing history because they don’t believe with their views or actions. Then he asked ‘where does it end?’. Some of the Founding Fathers had slaves. At what point does that incite the same reaction? If you can’t see this as a fair question, then your mind is closed. You are displaying sandbox sophistry – a child’s response.

      “Those evangelicals who don’t admit they made a mistake must be thought to still be on Trump’s side. They’re effectively siding with the KKK and white supremacists.”
      You say Trump compared Robert E. Lee with the Founding Fathers and then you make yet another gigantic leap into the Void of Logic? Trump specifically denounced all White Supremacists. Here’s his quote: “You had people and i’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists. They should be condemned totally.” So your statement is categorically false including your leap to fantasy land.

      You really need to think before you type. You claim you’re on the side of rational thought but almost every one of your posts proves exactly the opposite.

      “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
      Were you triggered? You need your safe space from different views? Sad.

      • Andy Ryan says:

        Scott, stop defending the indefensible. And now you’re talking about safe spaces and triggering, while defending Trump, the most easily triggered snowflake in America. And you think removing a statue from public ground is ‘changing history’. You’ve heard of history books and museums, right? When Iraqis took down statues of Saddam, they weren’t ‘changing history’. Likewise when early Americans removed statues of the British royal family.
        And yes, all the people marching and chanting Nazi slogans are bad people. Nazis are bad, Scott. These fabled history buffs and statue fans marching alongside them, waving torches – what were these supposed people thinking, if they actually existed? “I’m not down with all this anti-Jew stuff, but I’ll just keep marching anyway, it’s good exercise”?
        You’re backing the wrong horse here, Scott.

        • Scott says:

          First, you didn’t actually answer any of my questions. Not a single one. Underdeveloped cerebrum?

          If you take a statue down you are absolutely changing history. ANY ACTION TAKEN CHANGES HISTORY. You should know this because history books are a recording of actions taken. That fact that this has to be said is disappointing.

          You think that pulling down a Robert E Lee statue 100 years late is the same as the destroying the King George statue in New York during the revolution to make musket balls? Did you learn your history from Howard Zinn?

          Nazis are bad. Nobody is arguing this except you. It’s called a strawman. I was simply saying that TRUMP said some of the people COULD BE decent people. Do you know for a fact that everyone one there was a Nazi or had Neo-Nazi beliefs? Of course you don’t. It’s just so much easier to wave the brush and include everyone.

          You have bad rhetoric and non-existent dialectic. You’re not tall enough for the ride.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            “First, you didn’t actually answer any of my questions”
            What, smart incisive questions from the alt-right playbook like: “Were you triggered? You need your safe space from different views?”
            “If you take a statue down you are absolutely changing history. ANY ACTION TAKEN CHANGES HISTORY”
            If any action at all fulfils your definition of ‘changing history’ then the phrase becomes meaningless. “Don’t eat that toast – you’ll CHANGE HISTORY!” So when you said Trump: “specifically said that people are changing history”, he was using a definition of ‘changing history’ that would apply to any action at all. You’re equivocating between a) performing an action that becomes part of history and b) An Orwellian or Stalinist erasure of inconvenient historical facts for propaganda purposes. That you do this with a faux-lofty ‘that this has to be said is disappointing’ is pretty rich.
            “Do you know for a fact that everyone one there was a Nazi or had Neo-Nazi beliefs?”
            I already answered this. Yes, that’s right, I answered one of your questions that you said I didn’t answer, regardless of whether you liked my answer. Here’s what I said:
            “And yes, all the people marching and chanting Nazi slogans are bad people. Nazis are bad, Scott. These fabled history buffs and statue fans marching alongside them, waving torches – what were these supposed people thinking, if they actually existed? “I’m not down with all this anti-Jew stuff, but I’ll just keep marching anyway, it’s good exercise”?”
            And nice bait and switch from Trump saying some of them were ‘fine folks’, me replying that they were all ‘bad people’ and you now asking me if knew everyone there was a ‘Nazi or had Neo-Nazi beliefs’. Again, ‘Fine folks’ don’t take part in co-ordinated marches organised by white supremacists and neo-Nazis chanting Nazi slogans. If they somehow accidentally find themselves in such a group, they leave.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            How bad do you think it has to be before even Mitt Romney (and as he says himself, leaders of the US branches of military service) are calling out a GOP president in such terms saying he needed to apologize?

            ‘Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney on Friday called on President Trump to address the nation and apologize for his remarks about Charlottesville, warning of “an unraveling of our national fabric” if Trump doesn’t take “remedial action in the extreme.”
            Romney: “Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.
            The leaders of our branches of military service have spoken immediately and forcefully, repudiating the implications of the president’s words. Why? In part because the morale and commitment of our forces–made up and sustained by men and women of all races–could be in the balance. Our allies around the world are stunned and our enemies celebrate; America’s ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished. And who would want to come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist if ever the need were to arise, as it did after 9/11?
            The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute.
            And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.
            This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.”
            End quote

        • Scott says:

          This was too easy.

          Some well placed rhetoric and you destroy your own worldview. Yes, you destroyed your own worldview. Actually easy to do when it is built on quicksand.

          The irony is that you don’t even see it. You come to this site practically every day to poke holes in other people’s world view, with no positive outcomes. Then, without me even trying hard, I provoke you to disown your own worldview.

          Do you see how you did it?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            You know nothing of my worldview. Are you perhaps making a strawman of what you believe atheists have as a worldview? Probably. And no, I don’t poke holes in people’s worldviews. If people make bad arguments against atheism I’ll point it out. I’m glad to hear, however, that you weren’t trying too hard. I’d hate to think that you asking me if I needed a safe space was your A game.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Hey Scott, don’t leave us hanging. Nine days on from your ‘well placed rhetoric’ and you’ve not dealt what you obviously believe is a killer blow. Out with it man!

    • Susan says:

      Andy, you have the mind virus. Sin is the mind virus. A lot of sin is communicated from the world and from exposure to the wrong people the way a computer virus can be picked up by traveling to the wrong sites.

      If you love your sin virus though you won’t listen to God and let Him cure and correct you. Instead you will start to justify your own evil thinking that comes from the world to serve your idol which is self.

      If you allow yourself to pass a certain point you could become a reprobate which means you have corrupted your own internal system so bad that you are no longer correctable.

      You can call out to God though. Maybe He will intervene.

      Your database is so corrupted now though that you are constantly busy rejecting Him from your thought life so you can serve your own motives and people’s motives are never as holy good as God’s.

      Right now you are so corrupt that you are a part of Dawkins’ network of corruption and busy spreading corruption to people who have repeatedly indicated to you that they don’t want to receive your disabling ideas.

      If you want to deny that sin exists and call into question God’s transcendent good and purposes then go do it. But stop making a nuisance out of yourself by derailing threads.

      You have injected Trump into several threads when he was not even a part of the official topic.

      Not so clever of Dawkins to claim mind viruses for people he doesn’t like. Maybe it is because he is so busy denying his own immorality and inability to get control of it.

      But then nobody could control sin without God’s help. The only cure to sin that has ever been offered is the one Jesus gave on the cross.

      So if you want to let sin control people then you are communicating a grave error and I hope you think about it.

      The higher the sin and corruption level is in this world the more unsafe it is.

      You have to wash unholiness from your mind by the blood of Jesus and the water of the Word. That is the way God supplies. The world doesn’t supply any way to wash unholiness out of people. It doesn’t have anything but cheap rationalizations and a pill to mask symptoms to offer.

      Only Jesus is the cure. Get real with God or you are stuck in Satan’s realm where he presides in people’s evil thoughtlives like a computer virus in a computer’s core.

        • Susan says:

          I am just getting your attention, Andy. Do you know what started me seriously debating years ago before I switched over to trying to teach the Bible to correct atheist worldviews? First I was on one site where several people were blaspheming the Lord. So we had words and I left that site only to end up on a site with a lot of atheist science and philosophy geeks. One of them used the word “delusion” in reference to me and I took it as a psychological definition though perhaps they just meant it in it’s philosophical way which means “false belief”.

          Dawkins means it in a psychological way or else why call it a mind virus?

          But it hit me this morning that sin is the mind virus. That is what God contends and Dawkins did with sin what he did with semiotics.

          He took God’s term “sin” rephrased it as “mind virus” and uses it against God’s followers.

          He did something similar with memes. Memes is just a repackaging of the term semiotics.

          He twists and redefines terms to turn them to his advantage. Anything but accept what God says at it’s face value.

          You had better be careful who you read.

          Some people are intelligent and book smart but they lack wisdom. prudence, self control and common sense.

          It takes a really good teacher and or some seriousnlife lessons to learn to master wisdom, prudence and self control which people like to call common sense.

          Remember that old saying “Common sense is not that common”.

          It is hard enough to see what God’s point is without someone determined not to see them coming along and changing everything around making it harder for you to understand.

          Pray on it.

  8. Susan says:

    I am starting to wonder if apologetics should be taught to people who aren’t taking on public figures , Dan.

    The reason why I say that is because belief in God is relational and we live out our faith best by being Christlike not by supplying arguments.

    If more people would simply tell unbelievers they have a relationship not subject to other people’s arguments then maybe more of these anti-Christian people would stop meddling.

    Would you let people approach you and make disparaging statements about a member of your family on the basis that they are being rational when they do that?

    No, an attack on the head of your family is an attack on your family no matter whether they claim to be doing it from rational motives or not. Their motives may not be purely rational because everyone entertains their own subjective reasons as well as the ones they publicly project as the reason for their arguments.

    Why even teach people to engage other people who may be dangerous zealots to prove a point? Do we really have to score points so badly with people that we risk getting hurt ourselves to make an impression? No look for the receptive people if they give verbal opposition twice then look for the actual receptive people still capable of seeking the truth.

    A lot of people in religious and political debates lack self control. In fact some people may want to lose control and psychopathic and sociopathic people like to hang around hotbed areas like religion and politics.

    We need to stress the relationship aspect more and the arguing less.

    Do you let a person walk up to you in the street and let them try to argue you out of a relationship with your wife?

    Of course not. They don’t even know your wife.

    We only have to supply an answer. If people refuse to answer or want to meddle with Christians relationships then don’t give them the opening to meddle. Just tell them to examine their own motives. God’s main requirement is repentance not an argument.

    Tell them that you love God because He laid down his life for you and for them to and that they need to repent.

    Imagine replacing the core doctrine of repentance and reconciliation for an argument that could bring pride to the forefront in both people arguing.

    The Great Commission is the most important thing to do. I see the repentance and reconciliation messages getting lost a lot while people argue and it shouldn’t be that way. Jesus rose from the dead a long time ago for everyone so stop letting them replace what he did for them with a load of false self justifications for their old sin natures that skirt that fact.

    There is nothing rational about sin or loving your sin.

    Do you want to stop these divisive arguments on this blog’s comment section? You can do it by delivering the Gospel.

    Delivering the Gospel is the Sword of the Spirit and it is God’s peacemaking weapon of choice. We only have to run defense because we failed to run offense effectively.

    Deliver the Gospel more and change the world. Lead with the Gospel not your arguments.

    The Gospel is the Great Commission and it isn’t the great debate.

    The Gospel is very simple really. Arguments aren’t. They are attempts in which Christianity’s opponents attempt to obfuscate and make things more difficult than they are so they can deny claims.

    So when people obfuscate and try to make things more difficult than they are cut through it with the simple truth. There is power in simplicity. Do you really need to prove you are smarter than them? Why? Just tell the truth.

    If you have to debate then you might be up against a repobate and why deepen their reprobation by giving their arguments quarter? Tell them to examine themselves and repent. At least give them a chance to do that before arguing. Maybe they were never told it or realized that that is God’s directive and applies to them. They stay too distracted projecting lying arguments not dealing with their own inner issues unless you make them notice that they have them.

    Why allow someone to,project evil ideas onto you or into the world and into people’s delicate sensibilities when they can turn to God and learn to deal with their own problems.

    Christians are suppose to refrain from evil. We’re suppose to keep our garments white and we do that by not allowing ourselves exposure to evil. Evil could deprogram our mental holiness.
    There really is a limit to the amount of corrupt talk a Christian has to entertain. We’re not the world and we’re not suppose to be hanging around corruption even if we are trying to fix or help them. Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife because she was not only a temptation but because she was a corrupting influence and corrupting influences sometimes like to disturb the peace. They can’t help themselves. They are so mentally and morally corrupt that some of them take it onto a soap box and project all that corruption publicly into the hearts and minds of people trying to lead them away from God.

    Yes, Christians seem to fear telling people to repent but we should all be doing it more. Many Christians are falling away today most likely because they listen to the world too much and don’t realize they never made a full repentance themselves but that is God’s requirement. It is a breaking point where God starts to work on, in and through His people.

    Christianity is not a mere intellectual assent to the truth. It is a matter of the heart and a whole new changed nature.

    We need to stop worrying about the vain and pride filled arguments so much and simply share the Gospel more.

    The arguments are the back up plan but if you deliver the Gospel right you may not need a back up plan.

    Deliver the Gospel. That is what a true disciple does. It is what marks him as a disciple which is the truest student of Christ.

    • David says:

      Man Susan, “reprobate, evil, violent, anti-Christian, disparaging, dangerous zealots, psychopathic, sociopathic, sin loving, divisive, mentally and morally corrupt, vain and pride filled”. Sounds to me like you think a true disciple is the one that can demean and offend her opponent with the most thorough barrage of insults. You say I complain too much about Christian’s ad hominem attacks on those that disagree with them but your rant above should serve as ample evidence of my point. Why do you have to attribute so many negative motives to those who disagree with you? You must really feel like you’re losing the argument. You should try to calm down. Maybe have a glass of wine or something. You’re going to give yourself a stroke. I’m not mad and I wouldn’t hurt a fly. If I saw you in need I would risk life and limb to help you. I just argue vigorously with your ideas because I think they are bad ideas. I’m sure you are a lovely person. I don’t think you’re “reprobate, evil, violent, anti-skeptic, disparaging, a dangerous zealots, psychopathic, sociopathic, sin loving, divisive, mentally and morally corrupt, vain and pride filled”. Just afraid.

      • Susan says:

        Actually I am not afraid. In fact I am more like clinically detached and corellating human behavior with the Bible.

        I think the way you weigh evidence may depend on your background and interests. I knew early on in life that people had evil tendencies just from watching children fight and later on by reading novels and studying history. Quite a bit of history is just episodic warfare with breaks of peace and prosperity in between.

        So it is pretty obvious human nature isn’t perfect.

        That’s why I am always a big advocate of studying human nature and history against the Bible’s claim that sin exists. That sin is a fact in this world is unmistakable if you study human behavior and history.

        It’s quite brilliant of God to label all this social deviance as “sin” because it simplifies things for people to understand.

        Because I am so detached at times I probably don’t need to argue so much because really who wants to spend so much time meditating on evil to quantify and prove God’s claims to people when it isn’t good for us.

        Just accept what God says and move on to better things.

        Philippians 4:8

        Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

        Psychiatrists have the highest suicide rate of all doctors. Probably because they are exploring people’s evil issues, ideas and thoughtlives so much and many of them with no protection from the Holy Spirit at all because they don’t believe in putting on the whole armor of God.

        Well I have been studying ugly human behavior intensively from a young age and I believe the only reason I am not looney is because I have the clinical detachment to not let other people’s problems get to me too much plus I have the Holy Spirit protecting me.

        Some people take everything too personally so they can’t objectively evaluate situations themselves so they need methodologies. Other people are so cooly detached and observant that they can build psychological methodologies. Like Jung did. Like Myers-Brigg did. Like Cloninger did in Hamer’s study of the God gene.

        Not everyone has the capability to analyze others like a psychiatric expert. It takes a certain cool detachment and steadiness to do it and an interest in people.

        It’s possible a lot of scientists aren’t people people so they are more comfortable studying objects and hard scientists. People are messy and make them feel uncomfortable. So the sin case that God makes that some people like me find unmistakable gets swept under the carpet.

        Everyone has a personality type that is going to predispose him towards certain types of evidence and methods.

        Mine may not work for you. But alot of theists probably conclude just like I do that God is dead right about sin existing.

        • Susan says:

          Oh and what I said about some people prefering the obective and orderly is true if you read Francis Collins description of himself. He thought he would work in chemistry because biology wasn’t orderly like chemistry then he discovered that genetics had an elegance to it so he changed his mind about biology and specialized in genetics.

      • Susan says:

        Well it could be you are a Christian going through a phase, David and are letting the wrong thinkers influence you.

        Sometimes being overly tolerant works against us. There are all sorts of toxic and strange people in this world who like to influence others and sometimes we let them get away with it because we didn’t recognize the dangers.

        Read ” God Will Make A Way ” by Cloud and Townsend if you get the chance.

        Right now large segments of society may be engaging in a sort of groupthink fostered by this pressure for everyone to be politically correct. In my ooinion that is a form of peer pressure that doesn’t really tolerate an individual thinking for himself. There is always a subtle hint that you will be an outcast if you don’t conform and most people aren’t used to standing up to that kind of pressure. It goes against people’s social instincts and nature.

      • Susan says:

        You’re going to have to do the same thing I told Andy to do. Throw out all the lightweight thinkers who protest against God and let God make a real godly man out of you.

        If you didn’t learn doctrine then how do you even know God’s position to object to it. Especially publicly.

        I don’t know science but I do know God’s nature so I protest against atheist ignorance all over the place.

        If you never submitted to God and let Him make a real man out of you then how can you really know anything about Him.

        The people that really know are usually the most evangelical disciples. Those are the ones that actually put worldly things away to follow God.

        So it makes no sense for youmto pretend you know something they don’t.

        You held back something and never put yourself in God’s hands and let Him put you to the test. When God tests you then you also learn something true about Him but you never really believed in God enough to let Him test you and you let all the suspicous, doubting and distrustful people teach their unbelief to you.

        But Christ made real men out of all his disciples. They ran before Pentecost just like all the atheists are running from him in their minds now but they returned later and on Pentecost finished making really spiritual men out of them.

        But then they were just ordinary men who had the good sense to obey God and let Him tutor them personally and return for the next step of spiritual manhood on the day of Pentecost.

        Keep studying with the moral and mental lightweights David and refuse to learn doctrine and letting God make a spiritual man out of you.

        You have freewill. You can be a spiritual failure if you want to be and fail to obey God and follow His commandments and teachings.

        This world is not going to stop you from failing spiritually. Only you can do that by seeking to know from God.

        And don’t ever call me afraid again. I never walked out on God like you did without even trying and I had a lot of men trying to convince me that it is a woman’s place to stay in the background so they could run the show. They almost convinced me but I turned out to be a better student of the Bible than they were and these were preachers and pastors.

        But I figured out from the prompting of one Bible verse that the Spirit is higher than the letter and while all the men in my family were failing to take spiritual headship I refused to not take it. So now I have spiritual headship because God won’t leave a woman spiritually headless.

        Right now you are spiritually headless because you abdicated spiritual headship in favor of the lightweight thinking of mere carnal, worldy men.

        So I hope you repent.

        I bet you won’t have any peace with God in your heart until you repent.

        Seriously God offers to justify, adopt and teach people and you run after lightweight thinkers instead.

        I can’t believe it. I have seen a few videos of Dawkins and he reminds me of a narcissistic peacock. Yes, he has some good attributes and listening skills but something is interfering with his thought processes. Maybe it is self love buttressed by a strong will but it is hard to tell for sure on such a limited observation.

        Take care and I hope God blesses you with the gift of repentance so you can return home to Him like the prodigal son in the Bible.

  9. Ben Elyon says:

    When I first read David’s words whereas he wrote, “How on earth can you read Dawkins, Shermer, Hitchens, Krauss, Erhman and Carrier and remain a Christian.”

    I thought, “How on earth can you read Dawkins, Shermer, Hitchens, Krauss, Erhman and Carrier and remain an atheist?”


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