Why is it sometimes best to just not bother? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Before leaping into the meat of this post, let’s make a few clarifications.
No. Not every atheist is an internet atheist. I refer to a general type of person by this. If you are on the internet and an atheist and are highly informed and can show it and have done your homework on what you and I both believe, then I do not consider you an internet atheist.
Yes. I realize too many Christians are just as ignorant. If you think I’ve been silent on this matter, then you haven’t been reading my blog at all. I have often castigated the church for not doing the proper job of educating the laity on what they believe and why.
Having said that, let’s go into what it is I’m writing about.
I thought about this yesterday after listening to J. Warner Wallace do a podcast on Christ mythers. These are the atheists that go around saying Jesus never even existed and that he’s a copycat of Mithras, Horus, Osiris, Dionysus, etc.
The sad part is that they think they know what they’re talking about. They don’t. They have not read any scholarship on the issue. Instead, they’re getting their information from internet sites or perhaps even worse, a site like Wikipedia. (Never ever in a debate do I look at a Wikipedia link. If you think the information there is true, you can find it elsewhere.)
Modern NT scholarship does not even consider this possibility. This includes liberal and conservative, Christian and atheist. A way to get a great laugh is to go to a group like the Society of Biblical Literature and announce that you are a Christ-myther. Yet despite this, the virus of the Christ-myth still spreads.
As an example, around Easter, I commented on an article Gary Habermas had in a national newspaper on the resurrection. Internet atheists came out in droves. One of them posted this little gem:
“It’s obviously nonsense. It’s not even a given that Jesus existed. There are books which say he didn’t exist. Albert Schweitzer wrote a book called “The Quest For The Historical Jesus” and said; ‘There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus.The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never existed.”
Albert Schweitzer from “The Quest For The Historical Jesus’ ”
I can assure you something about this internet atheist beyond the fact he’s uneducated on this. He has never once read Schweitzer. Schweitzer held that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet. Strange that he would hold such a position about someone who never even existed.
So what is the quote saying? It’s saying that the Jesus that has been traditionally believed in by orthodox Christianity never existed. Our view of Jesus was entirely wrong. It is not at all saying that there never was a historical Jesus.
To be sure, I think Schweitzer’s position is wrong, but it’s not as wrong as the other. As Stuart on the Big Bang Theory said “It’s a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable. It’s very wrong to say it’s a suspension bridge.” It’s a little wrong to say Jesus never did miracles, preached and founded the Kingdom on Earth, etc. It’s very wrong to say he never existed.
These same types keep repeating this mantra that they get from the new atheists about “No evidence! No evidence!” (Most anyone who treats the new atheists as making serious arguments is an internet atheist) Now you could say that there is insufficient evidence. You could say I believe based on wrong evidence or a wrong interpretation of the evidence. Yet why insist that if I believe something it is because there is no evidence? (Unfortunately, the main reason I can think of is that too many Christians do just that.)
It also includes a definition of faith that means belief without evidence. I would just once like to see the new atheists present evidence for this belief. Is this what the Bible means by faith? Can they produce a Greek or NT Lexicon that has that definition for pistis, the Greek word for faith?
Those who take this position are invincible in their ignorance unfortunately. It is as if they have this allergy that if there is some shred of evidence for anything Christian, then there is a huge crisis. I, as a Christian, would have no problem accepting the existence of Muhammad or Buddha. I just think the belief systems they espouse are wrong.
So after awhile, I have come to the conclusion that such opponents are not worth dialoguing with. There are plenty of people online who have the time to deal with such. I no longer do. When it comes down to the choice of reading that book more to understand the scholarship behind an issue or responding to someone who shows no sign of listening to reason and will take a good portion of my time, which do I choose? I have my own family to spend with and study to do and responding to internet atheists is not a wise investment of my time.
If you are an atheist reading this, then I suggest you avoid being one of these people. Take the time to read someone who disagrees. Many atheists look at the YEC community and say “Look! They don’t pay attention to the majority of scientists and astronomers on the age of the Earth and have bad science and think that only their position is correct despite the rest of the world speaking with one voice on this.”
Okay. Let’s suppose that’s true. That’s the exact same thing internet atheists do when they embrace the Christ myth. They don’t pay attention to the overwhelming majority of scholars on the issue and have bad scholarship and think their position is the only correct one despite the rest of the world speaking with one voice on this.
If you are someone who comes up seriously arguing for ideas I know are blatantly false and yet refuse to listen to reason or evidence on the position because you’ve already convinced yourself there can be none, why should I waste my time? I would rather dialogue with someone who I think will listen and not only that, will give me a challenging dialogue.
In conclusion, what’s needed on both sides is people becoming more familiar with what they believe and what their opponents believe. My time is limited. I have no desire to waste it on fruitless endeavors when others can argue there instead.