The Simple Reason Christian Apologetic Arguments Fail

apologistsBehind almost every single argument in every single Christian apologetics book is a simple lapse of logic that renders the whole thing worthless. We often get caught up in arguments about the details of Christianity, but what use is arguing the details when the foundation of those details is constructed of circular arguments, false premises, and unsupported leaps of logic?

I’m reminded of the two hunters who came across tracks in the woods, disagreed about what sort of animal made them, and as they stood there arguing they got hit by the train. Often the arguments we have about details start out on the wrong sort of track entirely.

I’m talking about the total lack of evidence for the specific claims made by Christianity. Outside of the bible, the absolute best you can do is establish that there probably was an actual Jesus on whom the religion is based. The bible itself is not evidence; it’s the claim being evaluated. A claim cannot be evidence of its own truthfulness, and that is the lapse of logic made by every apologist I’ve ever heard.

After deconverting and getting a more objective view of Christianity, it’s incredible to me how flimsy its foundation really is. Instead of arguing details with apologists, perhaps I should simply ask for evidence and watch them fail to provide any. When an apologist says something stupid like “the resurrection of Jesus is the best established fact of history”, all you have to do is ask what the evidence is. The only things they can cite are the bible and other writings of Christians who all lived decades or centuries after Jesus. They can’t give a precise date, or even a precise year. There isn’t even a record of where he was buried. We have better evidence for the murder of Julius Caesar on March 15 of 44 BC than we have for the mere existence of Jesus, let alone his supposed resurrection or any details about his life.

So why should I believe insane claims made by any ancient religious book? Why should I believe the bible and not the koran, or the sutras of Buddhism, or some other religious book? Apologists have several arguments for why the bible is a reliable source of truth and history, yet most of them are based, once again, on the bible itself, and such arguments can be made just as logically about almost every other religious book that exists. The handful of arguments that are not based on the assumption that the bible is true fall into a few categories:

  1. Arguments that can only show what early Christians believed, not that what they believed was true.
  2. Arguments that appeal to incredulity or ignorance.
  3. False dilemmas and a smorgasbord of other fallacies.
  4. Arguments that are just plain wrong, like the quoted claim above about the resurrection.
  5. Assertions backed up by absolutely nothing.

If you’re a Christian and you think you have a good argument for why I should believe the claims made in the New Testament, feel free to comment and we’ll see if it’s one I’ve heard already. To be fair, I should let you know that I’ve almost certainly heard it and possibly even used it myself when I was a Christian. But I would love to hear something new, so give it a shot.

If you’re interested in a well-reasoned atheist view of apologetics, I can recommend this video series on YouTube (linked to the eighth video because it’s relevant to this article), and all of his other reviews of Christian books. His review of Answering Islam is particularly interesting since the authors of that book use the same arguments and reasoning in support of Christianity that they reject for Islam, which shows just how worthless those arguments are for establishing any religion as the correct one.

Advertisements

13 responses to “The Simple Reason Christian Apologetic Arguments Fail

  1. ” We often get caught up in arguments about the details of Christianity, but what use is arguing the details when the foundation of those details is constructed of circular arguments, false premises, and unsupported leaps of logic?”

    I found myself arguing the details with some family members, discussing what the Bible has to say about marriage. I realized that whatever I had to say, someone could refute using another verse in the Bible, and that really what I think is that the Bible is a horrible place to get moral guidance. Consent-based ethics about marriage, in my opinion, is a much better foundation than ideas that come from the Bible. My point is that I agree – arguing the details of Christianity is pointless and circular, especially since a better argument is whether or not there is evidence for Christian claims outside of the Bible.

    Like

    • And for all their arguments about why the bible is true, the exact same argument can be made, with just as much support and just as logically, about almost every other religion on earth.

      I’m considering picking another holy book and when someone makes arguments in favor of the bible, I’ll just repeat their arguments back to them with my chosen scripture in place of the bible and watch them try to refute the argument without refuting themselves in the process. That could be amusing, as in the case of the authors who wrote Answering Islam.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First – we need to define evidence:

    Definition of evidence: “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.”.

    You say: “The bible itself is not evidence; it’s the claim being evaluated.”

    False. The bible is evidence of events; but you want evidence of the evidence (Bible) to verify its truth.

    What I assume you are seeking to verify, are the claims made in the Bible. Like any other historical document which is given as a recount of events – the text itself is the data upon which one infers a conclusion, or learns about the events and forms a judgement. You have to work with the data you have got and make an inference to the best explanation.

    You say: “A claim cannot be evidence of its own truthfulness, and that is the lapse of logic made by every apologist I’ve ever heard”.

    You have made your first error here; a straw-man. No one (or not everyone) is saying a claim can be evidence of its own truthfulness. The event occurred – and then was written into what would then become one of many writings of the bible. Just like any historical text; the event occurs, and is subsequently written. That is what history is based upon.

    You are clearly not versed in the theories of truth. Coherence, correspondence etc. You reach a conclusion regarding the truth of a claim in virtue of its coherence or correspondence. You have committed the genetic fallacy when you said “The only things they can cite are the bible and other writings of Christians who all lived decades or centuries after Jesus”.

    You say the bible cannot be used as evidence for its claims. When you speak of evidence, it is important to understand the definition (as given above).

    But what are the available body of facts / information (evidence) for the occurrences & events of Jesus? That is what the Bible is. You are committing the fallacy of special pleading, essentially asserting “Okay, the bible is a historical text regarding said events; but let’s not use it as evidence of the events”.

    So you then ask for evidence of the evidence (Bible). Well; one can search for it; but to reject the claims of the bible because there is little evidence outside the bible; that is simply an unfounded epistemological position regarding evidence, and making an inference to an explanation. You do know the bible is a compilation of evidence, right? Had something not been included in the bible – it would have been evidence outside of the bible – but much was included to be part of the bible. You commit the genetic fallacy again.

    By your logic, you require an external source to the primary source of an occurrence, as the basis of accepting the primary source. But then it is inexplicable why not then also seek another external source of the second external source of the bible, etc.

    You are essentially looking at the data and asking for something other than it, in order to verify the first set of data regarding an event. Just like the historical documents for Aristotle; we don’t say the original texts regarding Aristotle are not evidence of Aristotle, and therefore request other evidence. We take what we have got and make inferences.

    You say “So why should I believe insane claims made by any ancient religious book? ”

    The use of such rhetoric here seems to be a tool used by yourself to try make your case more appealing. What you have really committed is the argument from incredulity – labeling it as insane. And it tells me that your lack of any real foundationally strong argument leads you to the use of such irrelevant language to compensate for your lack of a valid argument.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Replace every instance of “bible” in your comment with “koran” (and “Jesus” with “Muhammad”) and it makes just as much sense. And I’m sorry, apologists are the ones who use the genetic fallacy in support of the New Testament, as most of their arguments are about how well-preserved it has been since first being written decades after Jesus died. I don’t care how many people believed it back then or how well it was preserved, those facts have no bearing on whether or not it is true. To claim that they do is, in fact, a genetic fallacy.

      I meant “insane” in the sense of “extremely foolish; irrational or illogical”. When you claim things happened that have never, ever been shown to be possible, and when you make claims that are directly contradicted by all other available evidence, and then expect me to take it as truth simply because it was written down in a book, is that not foolish?

      The bible itself is as much evidence that the Christian god is real as the Odyssey is evidence that Zeus is real.

      Like

      • You have committed a false equivalence comparing the Bible to the Koran. Your charge of apologists committing the genetic fallacy is false; for they do not say it is true due to its preservation; they are merely stating its preservation – as with how many people believed. These things are noted not to say it is therefore true – but to make a cumulative case and gain insight.

        “Not shown to be possible” – again, you have committed the argument from ignorance. The problem of induction (hume) is what you fall victim of here. Your argument is essentially “Miracles cannot happen, therefore they did not happen”…But that is what miracles are; things which are out of the ordinary, and having not witnessed such does not imply their nonexistence.

        Your last comment shows you’re either disingenuous or ignorant regarding the differences between the bible and the odyssey. Again, a false equivalence.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You obviously have nothing of value to contribute, only spurious charges of logical mistakes that are only logical mistakes if you start from the assumption that the bible is true. Which is itself a logical mistake that renders everything else you’ve said worthless. That’s too bad. I had hoped to get comments from an intellectually honest Christian, but perhaps that is too much to ask.

        Like

      • Ah – of course you have resorted to an ad-hominem attack as opposed to a logically coherent counter argument. And then you seek to avoid that you are committing countless fallacies. Of course, it is clear you absolutely do not like the idea of god; your argument is emotional rather than rational. And much like you would accuse a theist of being attached to their position – you certainly are as such.

        I, had hoped to get a response by an intellectually honest atheist; but perhaps that is to much to ask when atheists such as yourself, who resorts to caricature and ad-hoc, unfounded false analogies and false equivalences rather than actual counter arguments.

        Like

      • I’m not really an atheist. You are making a lot of assumptions and arguing about things I wasn’t even talking about. I cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who won’t listen to me. It’s not an ad-hominem attack if you really are a pretentious buffoon who thinks it’s a good method of argument to march up to someone, completely ignore their real concerns, and start twisting all of their words into logical fallacies.

        Go troll someone else.

        Like

    • Also, I do not reject the bible “because there is little evidence outside of it”…I have a lot of reasons for rejecting the bible, and that one is pretty low on the list. However, in this article I’m specifically addressing the claim of apologists that the bible is true. I reject their arguments because they are backed up by little evidence other than the bible itself…which is why I said the claim cannot be evidence of its own truthfulness. You cannot support the claim that the bible is true with the bible itself. Christian apologists are no more convincing than the apologists of any other religion because they all use the same arguments, just different books.

      Basically, you took an article that is specifically about why Christian apologetics are unsuccessful at convincing me the bible is true, and proved you are no different…you offered no evidence, just assertions that the bible is a reliable source of history. You did the very thing my article objects to. In all your nitpicking over semantics, you missed the point entirely.

      Like

      • One can only hope you are not a historian. If you read into epistemic positions in which historians adhere to; and understand that with the data itself, along with truth theories etc; one needs to make an inference to an explanation. Evidence is data; the data is all you have to work with. Of course the common atheist ploy is to repeatedly ask for “evidence”. Of course, it is evidence which is based upon a category error; and no clearly proposed definition of evidence. The text in this case is the bible, with writings on events; now just like any other historical texts; you must read the texts and work with that.

        You say i offered no evidence. Have you any clue what evidence is? The evidence of the events – is the bible; and the truth of the bible is determined in via analysis techniques employed by historians – not mindless unfounded repeatedly requests for category error based evidence. If you wish to seek whether the bible is true – that is what you must do. The bible is the historical evidence, which must be analysed.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s not as complicated as your misleading rhetoric makes it out to be. Show me evidence that it is possible for things to happen that break the laws of physics. Show me evidence that supernatural beings are real. That there is any precedent in the REAL WORLD for believing stories about such things. You can’t, because all you have are the stories.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s