Apologetics Class 1/21/2018

In the Apologetics Class this week, we watched a short video containing snippets of the “Best Atheist Arguments”:

Then, after watching this, I played the video and stopped after each speaker’s snippet was complete and I asked the students to take 5 minutes on their own and fill out the form:

Best Atheist Arguments – Let’s Practice Our Responses!

  1. George Carlin Comedian
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Christopher Hitchens writer/critic:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. Sam Harris Philosopher, neuroscientist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. Rickard Dawkins Evolutionary Biologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. Ricky Gervais actor/writer:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. Neil D Tyson Astrophysicist, cosmologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  7. Peter Atkins Chemist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  8. Steven Weinberg Theoretical Physicist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  9. Laurence Krauss Theoretical Physicist, cosmologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  10. Sean Carrol cosmologist, Physics professor:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  11. Matt Dillahunty Public speaker:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  12. Michael Shermer Science writer, historian of science:
    1. Boil down the objections: ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. How would you answer? ___________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

It was a good and interactive class.  I prefaced this class in my introductory remarks by saying that I normally deliver content that builds up your faith and increases your confidence that Christianity is true.  This class was to be different in that you’ll need to put the skills and knowledge we’ve been learning all year into practice.  If we have the truth, we should be afraid to consider the “best arguments” from the other side.

Prior to the class, I wrote out my responses, some which involved showing videos:

Best Atheist Arguments – Let’s Practice Our Responses!

  • George Carlin Comedian
    1. Boil down the objections: thinks it’s not reasonable to believe in an invisible man in the sky. Religious people believe based on blind faith. Contradiction, God loves you and God sends you to hell for breaking his list.
    2. How would you answer? First off, God Is Not an Invisible Man in the Sky. He is not a man, nor is he in the sky. The Bible describes three levels of Heaven, the Earth’s atmosphere is the first level, the universe where the stars are is the second level, and Heaven itself is the third level. God resides in heaven, although he is omnipresent. Since he is spirit, he is not physically located anywhere in space, which means he is not in the sky. Religion has not convinced us that God exists. We are convinced by several lines of evidence:
  • The argument from the beginning of the universe
  • The argument from design
  • The argument from morality
  • The resurrection of Jesus

…to name a few. The Bible says that we are to believe that there’s a Creator based on the creation, see Romans 1:20.

Regarding the Ten Commandments, God has established these laws for our good. If we choose to sin, we choose to suffer. He created us, and knows what is best for us and how we ought to live.

It is true that God is watching us, he is omniscient, and that the wages of sin is death (eternally in hell), Romans 6:23, but God offers us a free pardon, the free gift of eternal life through faith in his son. God does not send you to Hell, in a sense you send yourself there, by refusing to receive the forgiveness that he freely offers us in His Son. CS Lewis famously said, there are only two kinds of people in the end, those who say to God, thy will be done, and those to whom God says, in the end, thy will be done. All that are in Hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. Hell is so horrific because God’s goodness is not present there, only his wrath. Most people do not understand that all good comes from God (James 1:17).

I then showed the following 2 videos to help respond to objections against hell:

 

  • Christopher Hitchens writer/critic:
    1. Boil down the objections: Miracles are not possible. If you think you’ve witnessed a miracle or if someone else has reported a miracle to you (2nd hand report), you or the other person, are most likely mistaken.
    2. How would you answer? What do you mean by “a miracle”?  Why do you think that miracles are not possible?  Have you investigated evidence for reports of miracles?  What about the resurrection of Jesus?
  • Sam Harris Philosopher, neuroscientist:
    1. Boil down the objections: God has much more to tend to (the entire universe) than one species of primate and what we do when they’re naked.
    2. How would you answer? What do you mean by God?  Have you studied the Christian view of God?
  • Rickard Dawkins Evolutionary Biologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: Faith means, belief in something without evidence, but that justifies anything.
    2. How would you answer? On what basis have you concluded that biblical faith is identified as belief without evidence?  If that were true, wouldn’t Jesus’ disciple’s faith been destroyed, since Jesus “showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive” (Acts 1:3)?  They didn’t have belief without evidence, and neither do we.  We have belief with the evidence of eyewitness testimony.  The biblical meaning of faith is not belief without evidence, but trust in Christ, based on what you know about Him.
  • Ricky Gervais actor/writer:
    1. Boil down the objections: The reason I don’t believe in God is the same reason you don’t believe in all the other gods.  It is child abuse to tell child, if they grow up gay, they’ll burn in hell.
    2. How would you answer? Have you investigated the evidence for all the other gods compared to the Christian God?  Could you name the best arguments for belief in the Christian God?  Is it your belief that most Christians tell their 5 yr old children that if they grow up gay, they’ll burn in hell?  I think that is a straw man argument.  However, why would it be “child abuse” to warn a child about hell?  If Christians believe in Jesus, when teaching children about what Jesus taught, why would we avoid His teaching on hell?  You say you have no problem with a person believing in God, if it makes them a better person or if they do good things because of it.  What about believing it because we have good evidence for the Christian God?
  • Neil DeGrasse Tyson Astrophysicist, cosmologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: The Bible’s description of the universe does not match with what we know from science (6 day creation, stars are points of light, stars can fall out of the sky, etc.)
    2. How would you answer? The Bible describes planets, stars, the sun, moon, a spherical earth that hangs on nothing in space.  It describes that the “life is in the blood”.  It describes the hydrological cycle.  The Bible gives a lot of accurate descriptions about our physical universe.  But that being said, the Bible is not a science text book.  When it speaks on matters related to science it is accurate, but we cannot expect to find exhaustive scientific information in it.Another point is that you need to understand the original language, since the Greek word for star would include anything that is a bright, luminous object in the night sky.  It would include planets, conjunction of planets, comets, supernovas or even a small moon.  So, especially with a comet, it would be reasonable to believe it could “fall from the sky”.  Also, this could represent things like nuclear bombs falling.  This is phenomenological language and language of symbolism particularly in Revelation.
  • Peter Atkins Chemist:
    1. Boil down the objections: Religions harms societies, by disfavoring evidence in favor of faith.  Religion is superstition and causes mass hysteria.
    2. How would you answer? Since I am a Christian, my answer will not address all religions, but only Christianity.  I reject your assertion that Christians disfavor evidence in favor of faith in all circumstances.  Even Jesus said to the Jews, “If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me. But if I am doing them, even though you do not believe Me, believe the works themselves, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38) What do you mean by harm?  In what specific ways is religion harming society?  (show video “What Good is Christianity?”)
  • Steven Weinberg Theoretical Physicist:
    1. Boil down the objections: People do awful things based on religious belief, therefore religion is a bad thing.  An early example, God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
    2. How would you answer? Many people do bad things based on atheistic belief as well.  By your standard, atheism is bad too.  “It is estimated that in the past 100 years, governments under the banner of atheistic communism have caused the death of somewhere between 40,472,000 and 259,432,000 human lives.” In the case of Abraham, did he actually do anything bad in the end?  Actually, you could make a case that, based on his faith in God, he knew he wasn’t going to actually kill Isaac.  The account tells us that when Isaac asked his father where the lamb was for the sacrifice, Abraham responded that God would provide it Himself.  He also told the men that both he and Isaac would return, showing great faith. Abraham knew that God had promised that the world would be blessed through Isaac.  Hebrews tells us that Abraham figured that God could raise Abraham from the dead.  We can therefore make 3 points about this incident:
  1. First, Isaac was never actually sacrificed.
  2. Second, God’s purpose in this event was to test Abraham’s faith (Genesis 22:1)
  3. Last, Abraham passed the test with flying colors

 

  • Laurence Krauss Theoretical Physicist, cosmologist:
    1. Boil down the objections: Christians are atheists regarding all those other gods (Thor, Zeus, etc.), we atheists just believe in one less god than you.
    2. How would you answer? Show response from Andy Bannister – What’s the problem with the ‘One God Less’ argument? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rryz-eQB0tE )
  • Sean Carrol cosmologist, Physics professor:
    1. Boil down the objections: Religion thinks science has gotten everything wrong.  There is no spirit world (materialism).  People who experience miracles are mistaken.
    2. How would you answer?
  • Matt Dillahunty Public speaker:
    1. Boil down the objections: Science can provide all the answers.  Religious people don’t have real knowledge, rather they pretend to know.
    2. How would you answer?
  • Michael Shermer Science writer, historian of science:
    1. Boil down the objections: Christians are atheists regarding all those other gods (Thor, Zeus, etc.), we atheists just believe in one less god than you.
    2. How would you answer? Show response from Andy Bannister – What’s the problem with the ‘One God Less’ argument? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rryz-eQB0tE )

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