Hi, everyone.

My goal here is not to argue that Christianity is true, but that I'm reasonable to be a Christian. I don't care if you agree with me about Christianity, but I do want to persuade you that I'm not stupid, crazy, insane, or in any other epistemically lamentable state, for being a Christian. What follows is a sketch that I can expand as people ask reasonable questions.

Keeping this as short as reasonably possible, I'm a Christian because I think that God exists and that God resurrected Jesus. As Pascal suggested, if I think both of these claims are probably true, then it makes sense for me to foster a belief in the Christian religion by going to church, praying, and so on. Christianity will be the "best bet" in that event, such that it will make more sense for me to foster a belief in Christianity than to foster a belief in another religion or foster no belief in any religion. So, the question is whether or not I can justify my belief that both of these claims are probably true.

My justification for my belief that God exists is an inductive argument for the existence of God which it isn't easy to express briefly, so I won't try. However, I will say that it pulls on the following versions of the following arguments.

(1) A cosmological argument from the existence of a complex physical universe
(2) A teleological argument from temporal regularity
(3) A teleological argument from spatial regularity, or "fine tuning"
(4) An argument from beauty
(5) An argument from moral awareness
(6) An argument from consciousness
(7) An argument from our ability to make significant decisions, or "providence"
(8) An argument from miracles
(9) An argument from history

The above arguments come together to form a cumulative case which I think is sufficient to justify the following.

(10) Therefore, it is at least as likely as not that God exists.

I then introduce the following propositions.

(11) If X is as likely as not to exist based on the other evidence, and if additionally I have an experience that seems to be of X, then X probably exists.
(12) I have had experiences that seemed to be of God.

So, from (1)-(9) I inductively infer (10), and from (10), (11) and (12) I deductively infer that God probably exists.

I have my belief that God exists based on the above arguments, but I have my belief in the Resurrection partly in the basic way. The idea of a properly basic belief takes off from the observation that we all have to begin building our structure of knowledge from certain plausible assumptions, and to me, one of these assumptions is that the Resurrection occurred. This, in combination with my belief that God would have reason to resurrect Christ if he had the moral character displayed in the Gospels, seems to me to warrant a belief that God probably resurrected Jesus.

So, given that I think God probably exists and that God probably resurrected Jesus, it's reasonable for me to cultivate a belief in the Christian religion by the methods suggested by Pascal.

Views: 881

Comment by CJoe on May 30, 2012 at 2:33pm

Ha... well, it doesn't help your case to say Strobel was a terrible apologist if those are the premises you want to use. He used all of them in his book.

I provided you a link that talks about "fine tuning". It is actually not simpler to assign one designer than to believe there are multiple universes. There are lots of reasons to believe there could be multiverses, while there's no reason (beyond human anthropomorphizing the cosmos) to believe there's one designer. In fact, I'd say it's more plausible there would be more than one god. If there can be one, there can be many. You've got a long way to go to prove monotheism is more plausible than polytheism.

As far as fine-tuning goes, I think it makes more sense to accept that life arose because the right conditions for it happened to exist. It's like finding a rock in the woods that happens to perfectly fit your bum, and believing it was made specifically for you and your bum. Nevermind the thousands of other rocks that don't fit your bum. But it's actually more likely a coincidence there was a rock that fit your bum. So here is a rock that fits you, so you sit in it. You didn't sit on the pebble, because you couldn't, and you didn't sit on the jaggedy one, because you couldn't (or not for long), and you didn't sit on the huge boulder because you couldn't... you sat on the only one you could sit on. Life developed in the only universe (and solar system) it could develop in. The universe, or multiverses, do(es) not exist so that we can exist. They merely do, and we fit in nicely in some spots.

I do think it is unreasonable to believe beauty is even remotely objective.

The claim about morality stems from the idea that we possess morality because it was given to us by a higher power, not a process of evolution. We have morality because it makes sense, and it simply proves nothing about whether there is a god... because we could have morality with or without his/her existence. And if we could have it with or without a god, it doesn't support your conclusion and should be left out.

No, we have no evidence of miracles, only personal accounts that cannot be verified. It is not a circular argument. It is merely: miracles are probably not real because we don't have evidence for them. Period. It's not miracles are not real because miracles are not real. Fairies are not real because we have no evidence for them beyond folklore, which no one actually takes as proof. We know fairies are figments of the colorful human imagination, just like miracles. Until there is undeniable proof of miracles, miracles cannot support your conclusion either.

What do you mean "It seems slightly more likely that there would be great leaders on theism than on atheism."? I don't understand this at all.

Here is a HUGE resource of books on the existence of god(s), the origin of life, evolution, cosmology, etc, brought to you by Think Atheist. But A Universe From Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss, may be a good start.

Comment by Logicallunatic on May 30, 2012 at 2:50pm

I see a lot of debunked arguments but no evidence. It's business as per usual! Back to square one and round and round we go like a merry go round. But hey, it's still a fun ride. 

Comment by kris feenstra on May 30, 2012 at 3:12pm

"It's like finding a rock in the woods that happens to perfectly fit your bum, and believing it was made specifically for you and your bum."

It's by the Mohonk Preserve on the Shawangunk Ridge, close to the campground at the end of the old carriage road, up on the cliffside looking over New Paltz, New York State... therefore God. 

Comment by archaeopteryx on May 30, 2012 at 3:31pm

@Cara Colleen - RE: "the two main characters that cannot be accounted for are Jesus and Yahweh."

Actually, the Hebrews changed gods in the middle of the stream. The god of Abraham was, "El Shaddai," which was another name for Amurru, the god of the Amorites, aka, the Ammurites, who assumed control of Mesopotamia (where the fictional character of "Abraham" originated) from the Akkadians, whose sun had set. Moses, if he ever existed, was alleged to have spent time with the Midianites, one of whose daughter he married. The Midianites worshiped a desert god they called, YHWH. Suddenly, in the early part of Exodus, the writer of that book has "god" explaining to Moses that his name was Yahweh, but that he had been known to Abe, Ike and Jake as, "El Shaddai" - one slick transition, I must say.

Reminds me of soap operas, where an actor leaves the show, but they want to continue with the character, so suddenly there's an "accident" requiring the character to have plastic surgery, and the new actor steps into the role of the "recovered" character.

Comment by CJoe on May 30, 2012 at 3:36pm

HA! And all of my Christian life I believed God just had, like, 15 or more names. I've heard "El Shaddai" before, but didn't realize it had roots in another religion. That doesn't surprise me considering most of Jesus' story is rooted in Greek mythology.

Comment by archaeopteryx on May 30, 2012 at 3:47pm

RE: "most of Jesus' story is rooted in Greek mythology."

As well as that of Mithra.

Comment by archaeopteryx on May 30, 2012 at 4:00pm

At one point in time, the Sumerians had the only significant civilization in Mesopotamia, which lasted for 4,000 years. Then a Semitic group, the Akkadians, gradually filtered into the valley, settled, and over time, became sufficiently powerful that they conquered the Sumerians, leaving the Sumerians to wonder just who had thought up their immigration policy.

After nearly 600 years of Akkadian rule, the Amurrites pulled the same ploy, defeated the Akkadians, and ruled for 500 years. It was during Amurrite rule that Abraham got the sudden calling to leave the area, after a fire that Abe caused, burned his brother, Haran, to death (which accounts for why Abe was so insistent that Issac NEVER go to the city of Haran in Northern Mesopotamia).


Comment by Seymour Eliot on May 30, 2012 at 4:19pm

Do you think it's reasonable to worship violent mentalities because believing in the christian god gives you advantages (according to yourself)?


My point is that even if any of the gods humans invented- were real, it still wouldn't be morally acceptable to support them. The christian god is homophobic, misogynistic and otherwise violent. If you're going to place a bet on a religion, at least make it one that doesn't condone atrocities.

Here is ZJ's video on Pascal's Wager: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNcWdV0LYG4&feature=plcp

Comment by Sagacious Hawk on May 30, 2012 at 4:43pm


"That doesn't surprise me considering most of Jesus' story is rooted in Greek mythology."

You totally validated my own opinion there. I've thought this for awhile, and considering the Hellenistic influence of the region that Christianity grew in, it only made sense to me that there would be concepts analogous to Greek mythology, but I've never heard anyone mention it before. 

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on May 30, 2012 at 4:50pm

Hi William – I and most Atheists I know don’t consider most reasonable Christians to be stupid or insane. However I would consider the fundamentalists of all beliefs hold an unreasonable faith.

I am glad you used the word “Argument” rather than the word “Evidence” to list your points. It is a distinction that needs clarification from the start.

I will just address a few points here.

Point 8on Miracles: When reports of something that is not immediately explicable happen is it more likely that the laws of nature or the laws of physics have been temporarily suspended or that the reports are erroneous or false. I would apply the razor of your namesake here.

Point 4 on Beauty: Do you mean “order” here. It is just a subjective view. By saying that nature is “beautiful” does not imply it is designed. If we can explain the workings of Nature it is irrelevant if we evaluate it as beautiful. Nature if not interested in beauty. It is fine that beauty inspires our imagination but it is unreasonable to claim it is from a god when there are explanations that expand our understanding. Why say a rose is from god because we say it is beautiful but not the worm that eats away at children’s eyes in some parts of the world?

Pascal’s Wager: Would it not be better to adopt all the gods if you want to narrow the odds. It has been debunked too often on this site so I will just say it is not a very mature argument.

You claim you had experiences that seemed to be of god. That is completely subjective. It means nothing to anyone else except to. Offer some evidence as mentioned by others above. Of course you have none. After all of your inferences and deductions you at least say “that you think that god probably exists”. That may sound reasonable to you but to then contend that this god is a particular god rather than just a Deity is not reasonable. It is an assumption not based on any of the arguments or the inferences drawn from them. If you seriously consider Pascal’s wager enough to base your life’s outlook on I cannot take you seriously. It is such a childish argument. You do yourself an injustice by not challenging it further. Plantinga who contends that belief in god is rational must at least allow for any god to be the one to belief in.


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