The Problem With Saying Christianity Is Wasting Your Life

What does it mean to say you’ve wasted your life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My friend Jonathan McLatchie recently had a round table discussion where Jesus mythicist David Fitzgerald entered the Lion’s Den as it were to defend mythicism. I would have joined in but unfortunately, normally, my own podcast normally takes place at that time, and second I even had to cancel that because I had a massive toothache at the time. (In fact, the bad news is I’m due for three root canals this week. Please be praying for me for recovery and for the financial difficulties this puts us in.) Fortunately, the conversation was recorded and I did get to watch it.

While it would be fun to talk about mythicism again, and I do plan on reviewing Fitzgerald’s book someday (I didn’t when I read it because I was preparing for my debate with Ken Humphreys and didn’t want him to see any responses I would have), I had something else really catch my attention. Fitzgerald finished a dialogue with one Christian and then told him that he was wasting his life following Christianity. That struck me as an odd thing to say and a rather inconsistent thing for an atheist.

Suppose my ship came in and suddenly I won a million dollars. I have so much that I could do with that money. Of course, one would expect I might have some purely pleasure spending that is a bit frivolous, but let’s suppose that I took all the money and went and did something like buy McDonald’s french fries. I didn’t buy these for the poor or to donate to others. I bought them all for myself.

That would be seen as wasteful spending. Why? Because that was money that could go towards so many more noble deeds and causes. I could have donated to charity. I could have taken my wife on a good vacation. (Indeed she would get one. Ready to go to Japan sweetie?) I could have really given my ministry the boost that it needs. No. I spent it on something silly.

We call it wasteful because we look at all the good and wise things it could have been used for. We also realize money is meant for something different. Buying fast food every now and then is not the worst thing in the world, but spending that much money on it would be.

Now what about a life? I do agree with the Apostle Paul that if Christianity is false, we are above all men to be pitied, but as it stands, what would it take for there to be a waste of life. It would require that we have at least two things.

First, the one we’ve mentioned is that I am using my life on something not fit for the purpose of life.

Second, and this is the underlying assumption of the claim of Fitzgerald, there is a purpose of life.

Now I find this problematic if atheism is given. How can there be a purpose if all is a random accident? To say there is a purpose is to say that there is a cause of existence. Now we could say there is a cause in the sense that there were events that happened that led to the universe existing and to us being there, but this is a different cause I’m talking about.

This is what Aristotle would call the final cause. It is the purpose of life. In order to violate a purpose, there must be a purpose. If you have a hammer, it is great to use to hammer in nails. It is not great to use if you want to knock out your neighbor and steal his IPhone. That is a way to use a hammer, but it is not in accord with the intent of the maker of the hammer. (Well, let’s hope there isn’t anyone making hammers hoping people use it that way)

As soon as we say there is a purpose to life or a waste of life, we are saying there is a a reason why we are all here beyond the fact of how we got here. Now of course, it could be Christianity could still be false and in that sense, there is a waste of life. That Christianity is false would need to be established, but before someone says Christianity is a waste of life, they need to show that there is a purpose of life.

One more thing, please note that I do not say this in the sense of ID and design in that way.  What I mean by inferring some sort of design is a completely different thing. ID will have to establish itself on its own grounds.

And of course, don’t waste your life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Core Facts

What do I think of Braxton Hunter’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Braxton Hunter is a professor of Christian apologetics who holds a PH.D. in the same field. He’s recently written a book called “Core Facts” written to not just give a good start to apologetics, but it also is a kind of teaching guide to help others learn how to do apologetics.

The presentation that Hunter presents surrounds his “core facts.” The list is as follows:

C – Cause of the universe
O – Order of the universe
R – Rules of morality
E – Experience of God

F – Fatality of Jesus’s death on the cross
A – Appearances of Jesus to the disciples.
C – Commitment level of the disciples
T – Testimony of the disciples
S – Salvation taught through the Gospel.

Now granted there are some here that I would not use. At the start with the cause and order of the universe, the scientific arguments are cited, but this is something that gets me wondering at times. Is it because I am opposed to science? Not at all! Is it because I am opposed to scientific apologetics? Again, not at all! It is because I have this fear that too often we make the case scientific and I want to make sure that those of us who do have taken the time to learn the sciences not just for apologetics purposes but general purposes. This is the reason why I do not use scientific apologetics. I am not a scientist (And I don’t play one on TV) and I do not want to speak in a field that is not my area.

I also am cautious about the idea of the experience of God. The problem is that experience is not an on-demand kind of thing and to this day, when Bill Craig gives his fifth way in a debate of knowing that God exists, I still cringe.

For the last group, I think in this day and age I would replace fatal with something like “Fact of Jesus’s existence.” There are more people who are Christ-mythers today than there are people who hold to the swoon theory.

For C, I would have probably gone with the idea of conversion, such as that of James and Paul. Why is it that those who were skeptical of the faith were the ones who later on joined it? They had nothing to gain and everything to lose. After all, C and T sounded awfully similar to me at times.

And as for S, an excellent ending would have been shamefulness of Christianity. It is too often overlooked that in the honor-shame context of the ancient Mediterranean world, Christianity was a shameful belief and that that belief not only survived in the face of persecution and shaming but also came to dominate is something that needs to be explained.

Still, the areas that Hunter does present, he does very well on. I was also pleased to hear him say that evolution is not a battle that we have to fight. Very few apologists make such a statement, but I agree entirely with Hunter. I would not argue it unless one was skilled in the sciences and making a purely scientific argument for or against. I only wish he’d gone further on this point and said that we can also go with an eternal universe or a multiverse and Christianity is still safe.

A bonus also is that Hunter does have tips at the end of each section for how to transition the material to a teaching presentation. This makes this kind of book ideal for a leader to use when teaching a class. There are several sidebars as well that provide more detailed information and Hunter has indeed read both sides of the issue.

If there’s one section though that contains poor argumentation, it’s the last one where Hunter has a debate that he did with the owner of an atheist forum who simply goes by the name “Will.” To be sure, the poor argumentation is not on the side of Hunter. It is on the side of Will. As I read this section I found myself repeatedly face-palming. It is embarrassing to see the arguments so many atheists use. Will uses everything from an insistence on YEC and Inerrancy, to a lack of understanding of biblical texts (Judges 21 has God commanding rape? Please find the command from God in there! It’s in fact showing what it was like when Israel was NOT following God.), to a Boghossian understanding of what faith is, and then going so far as to be a Christ-myther. (It should sadly be for the atheist community that they would want to get the Christ-mythers to be quiet. Instead, they champion them. Reality is there are more Ph.D. scientists who hold to a young-earth than there are Ph.D.’s in ancient and NT history that hold to the Christ myth theory. I also for clarification am not a YEC.)

Hunter answer very well, but the fact that Will is a preacher’s kid shows how bad a job is being done in educating the youth of our church. That anyone would think that these are serious arguments being put forward is a travesty. Now of course there are serious arguments atheism can put forward, but many used today are ones that should not be given the time of day. (And of course sadly, the same applies to many Christian arguments.)

In conclusion, while I don’t agree with everything Hunter says, naturally, I could recommend his book as a good resource to a starting apologetics class at a local church. It will become one that can easily be taught and easily discussed and the debate at the end should show how well the Core Facts can stand up to scrutiny. It is a work I could use myself. Braxton Hunter’s “Core Facts” has my endorsement.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

%d bloggers like this: