How bad can an atheist argument get? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There are a number of atheists that can make good arguments. They can also dialogue. They know religion is a serious topic. They know faith is not belief without evidence and they know there are actual arguments for theism and they can say some of them are good arguments even if they think they’re wrong. They can think that Christians and other theists can be reasonable people.
Then, there are internet atheists aka fundamentalist atheists.
Please don’t be one of them.
Let’s consider as exhibit A, this hot mess that I received from someone.
I will go through it bit by bit with IA being the internet atheist.
IA: “Religious Manipulation and Evolution In 325, Constantine the Great created the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicaea after the genocide of 45,000 Christians,
Reply: Horrible grammar aside, I actually did something unusual here, well, unusual for an internet atheist, and I looked up the church fathers to see if any of them used the term “Catholic Church.” I have them entirely on my Kindle so let’s see.
Well, we were going to until I realized how long the search feature was going to take, so I just went to EarlyChristianWritings.com.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp in the second century in the very first line:
“1 The church of God which sojourneth in Smyrna, to the church of God that sojourneth in Philomelia, and to all the settlements of the holy and Catholic Church in every place, mercy, peace, and love from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ be multiplied unto you.”
Which is the first of four mentions.
Ignatius’s Epistle to the Smyrneans:
“Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.”
That Constantine must have been a time traveler!
I’m also finding nothing that says how many Christians were killed, though most Wiki sites seem to indicate 3,000 – 3,500.
Constantine: where he tortured them to renounce reincarnation.
Reply: I’ll take imaginary events for $400, Alex!
Nope. We have what was discussed at Nicea. We have the minutes from the conversations. Reincarnation was never on the table. The only church father who held a view at all similar was Origen. No one followed him on this. I recommend readers check Paul Pavao’s website on this.
IA: At the same time, the religious books of all the villages of the empire were collected and thus the BIBLE was created.
Reply: Even non-Christian scholar Bart Ehrman argues against this.
Ehrman on the NT Canon and the Council of Nicea.
Widespread Misconceptions about the Council of Nicea (For Members)
“One of the reasons I’m excited about doing my new course for the Teaching Company (a.k.a. The Great Courses) is that I’ll be able to devote three lectures to the Arian Controversy, the Conversion of the emperor Constantine, and the Council of Nicea (in 325 CE). It seems to me that a lot more people know about the Council of Nicea today than 20 years ago – i.e., they know that there *was* such a thing – and at the same time they know so little about it. Or rather, what they think they know about it is WRONG.
I suppose we have no one more to blame for this than Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, where, among other things, we are told that Constantine called the Council in order to “decide” on whether Jesus was divine or not, and that they took a vote on whether he was human or “the Son of God.” And, according to Dan Brown’s lead character (his expert on all things Christian), Lee Teabing, “it was a close vote at that.”
That is so wrong.
There are also a lot of people who think (I base this on the number of times I hear this or am asked about it) that it was at the Council of Nicea that the canon of the New Testament was decided. That is, this is when Christian leaders allegedly decided which books would be accepted into the New Testament and which ones would be left out.
That too is wrong.
So here’s the deal. First, the canon of the New Tesatment was not a topic of discussion at the Council of Nicea. It was not talked about. It was not debated. It was not decided. Period. The formation of the canon was a long drawn-out process, with different church leaders having different views about which books should be in and which should be out. I can devote some posts to the question if anyone is interested (I would need to look back to see if I’ve done that already!).
Short story: different church communities and Christian leaders preferred different books because they (the communities and leaders) had different understandings of what the faith was and should be – even within the orthodox community there were disagreements.
The *first* author ever to list *our* 27 books and claim that *these* (and no others) were “the” books of the New Testament was the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in the year 367 (45 years *after* the council of Nicea!) in a letter that he wrote to the churches under his control to whom he was giving his annual episcopal advice. And even that did not decide the issue: different orthodox churches continued to think that some books should be in, for example, that didn’t make it in (e.g. 1 and 2 Clement; the Shepherd of Hermas; the Letter of Barnabas).
There never was a church council that decided the issue – until the (anti-Reformation, Roman Catholic) Council of Trent in the 16th century!”
IA: In 327, Constantine, known as the Roman Emperor, ordered Jerome to translate the Vulgate into Latin, changing the Hebrew names and distorting the scriptures.
Reply: This was quite an accomplishment again! Where did Constantine get his time machine?! Jerome wasn’t even born until 347! Before he was born he was asked to translate the Vulgate, which is the Latin version of the Scriptures that Jerome translated, into Latin! Well, that doesn’t sound right to translate Latin into Latin, but hey! What do I know?
Also, we can compare the Masoretic texts to the Dead Sea Scrolls. No Hebrew names were changed.
IA: In 431 the VIRGIN cult was invented.
Reply: The first mention I know of perpetual virginity is in the Protoevangelium of James which is around 2nd-3rd century. In 431, Ephesus said that Mary was the mother of God. This is hardly the establishment of the cult of the virgin though, if you want to call it that.
IA: In 594, the CLEANER was invented.
Reply: Um? Lysol? Windex? Oxyclean? What is the cleaner? I can find nothing specific being invented in 594.
IA: In 610, the title POPE was invented.
Reply: Again, we have Popes going back before this time.
IA: In 788, the worship of pagan deities was introduced.
Reply: For the most part, Paganism was long dead at this point essentially and I can find no references to any pagan deities being introduced in 788.
IA: In 995, the meaning of the word “kadosh” (sanctified) was changed to saint.
Reply: Again, I can find nothing on this. Saint comes from the Greek term “Hagios” and Kodesh is a word referring to something holy in Hebrew.
IA: In 1079, celibacy was imposed on priests >> a completely Catholic word.
Reply: Yeah. Again, not as cut and dry as that. The only sources I can find with a 1079 date are ones like this. Again, no sources cited.
IA: In 1090, the Rosary was installed.
Reply: Again, no sources given and Catholic sources talk about events even later.
IA: In 1184, an inquisition was carried out.
Reply: The first one was carried out then, but again, it would be horrible for an internet atheist to actually read a book on the topic like this one.
IA: In 1190, indulgences were sold.
Reply: I find a lot of anti-Catholic websites giving this date and generally, I want to go with friendly sources as much as I can. Either way, if true, what follows from this?
IA: In 1215, priests were forced to confess.
REply: The same sources say confessions began at this time, but again, nothing from Catholic sources I find.
IA: In 1216, Pope Innocent III. made up a story about the fear of bread (a god in Greek mythology) becoming human flesh.
Reply: It was Transubstantiation and had nothing to do with a fear of bread or bread being a god in Greek mythology.
IA: In 1311 he overcame the karst.
Reply: Wow! That Pope sure lived a long time! He makes up a story in 1216 and overcomes something 95 years later! Incredible! At any rate, the event I see happening is the Council of Vienne and I have no idea what is meant by the Karst.
IA: In 1439, the non-existent PURGATORY was dogmatized.
REply: This could be somewhat true.
IA: In 1854, the Immaculate Conception was invented.
Reply: No. It was dogmatized at that point. That’s not the same as being invented.
IA: In 1870, the absurdity of an infallible pope was imposed, in which the concept of a contract was invented.
Reply: Contracts go back much farther and there was a statement on infallibility in 1870, but again, so what?
IA: There are more than 2500 things invented by this religion to enslave people to Christianity…
Reply: Things the author gets right are really only things that are much more recent. The further back he goes, the more wrong he gets.
IA: Religions and their Gods were created as a means of MANIPULATION and BUSINESS.
Reply: Those early Christians were rolling in wealth and glory for sure!
IA:As part of the EVOLUTION of man comes liberation from these modes of manipulation. Although man is gradually in the age of AWAKENING, for two generations young people are becoming less FAITHFUL every day and the Catholic faith will be in decline. (I’d like to see this moment)
Reply: I am fully Protestant, but I do not see this happening and our atheist gives no data to back this. As for moments he’d like to see, I’d like to see the moment of this guy reading a book and learning something.
IA: All this will be part of our EVOLUTION. It is up to you to continue to believe what you now consider to be the absolute truth because you have not asked yourself… ask yourself and you will see that all religions are fabrications… of man.”
Reply: Nothing about metaphysical arguments for God. Nothing about historical arguments for Jesus. Seriously internet atheists! Do some research on this stuff before going on like this. It’s embarrassing.
I think only one thing can be said in closing to this person.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)