John Loftus of Debunking Chrisitanity has written what it would take for him to believe. Now I’m not going to go into all of it. I certainly won’t go into all of it tonight. It’s late in the evening and I need to rest and I want to read before bed, but I would like to touch some highlights and maybe I will do so tomorrow night. There are some areas I won’t touch such as the scientific areas. I might dabble in them some, but I prefer to leave science to the scientists.
Loftus’s account can be found here.
I find it interesting that he says Christianity must be revised because God is too barbaric and cruel in events like the OT slaughter and the existence of Hell. This is simply an argument from emotion. How much justice is too much for instance? It seems that people want God to punish evil but when he does, they complain about how he did it.
Indeed, if we are talking about the Christian God, then we are talking about the most moral being of all and the omniscient one who knows the best way and the most righteous way to act in every situation. In essence, it is denying that that God is really God and wanting another one. If one is arguing in that case, then the argument goes out the window. Alvin Plantinga has done much work in showing that the deductive problem of evil is not valid any more and it’s usually the probabilistic problem of evil that must be dealt with.
However, what I suspect gets to people the most is the personal problem of evil. People die every day. We know this happens. However, your loved one dies and suddenly, the problem of evil hits home. Why did God let this happen? Unfortunately, in such cases, we’re thinking with our emotions and that’s not the best time to make a life decision.
I have told several friends with an interest in apologetics advice along the same lines. When a lady comes into your office and her son has died in a car wreck or some event of that sort and she asks “Why did this happen?”, they had better not be philosophers or theologians or apologists at that moment. At that time, that lady needs a friend, a minister, and a counselor. Now in a few weeks or so, she might want to talk about it from a rational perspective, but while she’s suffering, you don’t answer her with knowledge. You answer her with presence.
And this is also the biblical promise. The promise of God is that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord. ALL THINGS! Note that he doesn’t say all things are good. God knows they aren’t. He says all things work together for good. He also doesn’t say they work together for good for everyone. They work together for good to those that love the Lord. If you are in that camp, then you simply trust him.
Loftus also makes the request that God appear in every generation and do miracles for the people. But the question is “Why would God want to do such a thing?” The atheist will say “So he can show me that he does exist.” However, why would God want to do such a thing? Is God merely interested in showing the atheist that he exists, or does he want something more?
In the Christian paradigm, God is looking for people who will seek him. He is not looking for those who come to him merely because they feel that they have to because of force of some kind. He is looking for those who come because they want to. For those who want to, it is promised that they will find him.
For instance, Loftus ends this article saying that he’d believe in God if he revealed himself like this, but he wouldn’t worship him. If that is the case, why should God want to do such a thing again? God is wanting those who will come out of the desire to know him and worship him in Spirit and in Truth. If God is God, it is he who sets the requirements and not me. Why should God be subject to the atheistic criterion for belief?
One can think of a parallel to what the skeptic wants. Imagine a girl who says “I am looking for a man to love me.” Now this girl is exceptionally beautiful with a great form, so she walks into a gentleman’s club and strips naked and announces that she is open for love. There will be several offers there to give her that love no doubt. However, are they really wanting to love her or is their mind elsewhere?
How does the girl find true love? It is not by revealing herself. It is by finding the one who is seeking or in the case of most relationships, letting him find her. It is when the girl is found that the extent of her love is shown.
Now could miracles be done today? Of course. I believe they could be being done in some places right now. Why should this be God’s goal though? God does a miracle just to show off? In biblical times, miracles were connected with the plan of salvation or to announce God’s endorsement on a new revelation. Even with that, the Israelites were told to be cautious because just because someone does miracles, it doesn’t mean they’re of God. See Deuteronomy 13 for the passage.
What about prayer? What is being asked for in prayer is that God specifically answer prayers so that all will want to find a Christian to pray for them. Again though, why should God do this? Why should God set himself in such a way. To do so would turn God into a wishing machine that people will come to merely for their desires and not to know him.
I do believe in making our requests known to God, but there are other kinds of prayer. We can pray to intercede for someone. We can pray a prayer of thanksgiving. We can pray a simple prayer that we will know God better and walk in a Christlike manner more, and we should pray that more. How will that be tested scientifically?
I am not surprised about scientific studies on prayer. We are dealing with a person after all and we cannot treat a person like a lab rat. Now would I object to someone wanting to study my brain while I pray or know what I’m praying for? Generally no. There are some private matters I may not share but if someone is curious and wants to study, be my guest. However, I would tell them the best way is to pray on their own.
Ultimately though, the evidence has been more than enough for those who have wanted it. Why? Is it because they were smarter than anyone else? No. I do not believe it’s a matter of intelligence. There are intelligent people on both sides. What is the reason? I believe ultimately, some people just don’t want to bend the knee.
We all want to hold on to our deity. Since the Garden of Eden, we have been trying to be the God of God. Every sin we commit is saying that God is not God and we are to be the God. We are to determine right and wrong for ourselves. Coming to Christ requires a huge sacrifice on our part. We must admit that he is God and we are not. We must be willing to relinquish our claim to the throne and allow him to sit on it.
It’s a hard sacrifice. It’s a sacrifice I don’t often like to make either. There is something in all of us that resists that, but such is the path to greater happiness. If Augustine is correct and God has made us restless until we find our peace in him, then all other searching is vain. Only the Christian answer will truly provide lasting happiness. The non-Christian can have happiness this side of eternity, but will it truly last?
No. The Christian is the one who has said that God will be God and he will approach God on God’s terms and not his own.
However, Loftus has one thing we should keep in mind. He does say Christians should act more like Christians. To this, we may all say amen. I say it even of myself. We should all be praying that the love of Christ will be more manifest in our lives. I believe in the arguments for the faith and the weaknesses of those outside, but remember one of the first things said about the Christians was “See how they love one another!”
Now that’s one type of early Christianity we do need to be restored to.