This weekend I was at an holiday craft show with my art. Despite rather awful weather, standing in a puddle the first day and being wind-whipped the second, I did fairly well. It’s always a nice thing when people actually buy something you’ve made or even just compliment it. I hate to admit I do like the external validation 😊
One of the things I was selling were these little resin casts of cat faces. The mold comes in a set with a good kitty, having a gem in its forehead and a bad kitty with little horns. Now, if you have cats, you know they can be bad kitties often, mine currently having been chewing on my yule tree. I sold quite a few of these little guys.
I had wondered if, since this was a Christian sponsored event, anyone would comment. And sure enough someone did.
A nice millennial-type gal came up and bought a magnet and a holiday painting of a couple of candles with a Christmas tree in the background. She then came back and asked me if I was into “witchcraft” and picked up one of the kitty heads, a back one with gold horns. I said, “Nope, they are just kitty heads, if you are into witchcraft or whatever doesn’t mean much to me if you see them that way. I’m an atheist.” I may as well have grown a third eye, but she hid her surprise well. “Oh well, I was wondering since this is a church event. Okay, thank you.”
And then she came back again with her boyfriend. “I mean, I just have to ask, were you a Christian before or how did you…..” she trailed off. I grinned and said “Yep, I was raised a Presbyterian and was one until probably my early twenties. Then I read the bible and realized that there was no evidence for anything in it.”
“Oh. Well, did you read “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel.”
“Yep, it’s a very bad set of claims that have no evidence for them.”
“Oh it’s such a powerful book.”
“Sorry, I didn’t see it that way and I can answer all of his points. I’ve also read Craig, Lewis, and they are trying to convince Christians, not convert anyone.” They were at a loss so I gave them my business card and invited them to email me if they wanted to talk further. They wished me Merry Christmas and left.
I was half-expecting to be asked to leave if they ran to the organizers but nothing happened. But this is the mission that has to ask the entire community for donations when there are hundreds of churches around, so I think they are happy to have anyone support them. Incidentally, if you are looking for a review and rebuttal of Strobel’s books, there are a couple here: https://infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel.html and https://infidels.org/library/modern/paul_doland/strobel.html They are all a rehash of the same poor arguments.
Now, I’ve been finding various Christians insisting that they have such great ways to answer skeptics, like these two Christians could have used. Haden Clark, over at “Help me believe” does this.
In this blog entry, we have Haden claiming he has 5 tips for talking with skeptics. Let’s look at how well these will work.
As someone who claims that they know “a bit” about Christian apologetics, Haden thinks these ideas will help someone. When the someone finds they don’t, well, it doesn’t look good for an apologist. When promises don’t come true, belief in them fails as religion is finding out as more and more people leave it. What Haden gives are excuses.
1) You are not Superman
This is where Haden says that the apologist doesn’t need the answer to every objection. Aka how dare someone expect a Christian to know what they are talking about. So, Haden advises, if you don’t know the answer, it’s okay and Christianity has lasted 2000+ years so it doesn’t need you. The problem with this is that Christianity has changed vastly in those 2000+ years because Christians don’t know much about their own religion.
2) Ask the First Question
Here, the first question is “If Christianity were true and you could know it with 100% certainty, would you become a Christian?” The problem here is which Christianity? Christians don’t agree on the most basic things, so the apologist has a problem.
Haden, like most Christians, assumes that he and only he has the “truth”. And that any “level-minded” person would agree with him. With the lack of evidence for any truth, Haden has a problem with his question. If Christianity is what some Christians claim, I’d not have much problem with following it. If it is like other Christians claim, I might believe in this god but would never become a Christian. Since I read the bible, I certainly would never become a follower of this god if the bible’s stories were true, even if I might believe in it.
Haden also makes claims about people he has supposedly interacted with but it’s hard to know if these interactions ever occurred. Haden claims that if someone won’t agree with him that they would become a Christian if he could show Christianity true, then he can’t discuss things with them because he needs the excuse that they will “never” accept what he says, a common Christian excuse. As opposed to what Haden claims, yes, as skeptics, they are indeed rejecting Christianity because they find it hard to believe. If this god was shown to be the violent primitive one in the bible, there is good reason not to accept it, even if one does believe it exists. Haden recommends prayer to his god to get people to agree with the apologist, which never works out and offers another problem: why does this god not answer his believers? Well, as most of my readers know, this is when this god becomes “mysterious”.
It’s easy for Haden to recommend low-hanging fruit and avoid someone who might offer some resistance.
3) Ask More Questions
A rather curious bit of advice considering the advice given above. Haden is quite sure that most people haven’t thought about why they believe or why they don’t. So he advises asking questions of the target of his conversion: “What do you mean by that? And “How do you know that?”
Those two questions get Christians in a lot of sticky situations for them. That second one is the common one where some creationist tries such nonsense when asking “how do you know that evolution happened?” And then when asked “how do they know the events in the bible happened?” they find they can’t come up with a valid answer that won’t show their question to be asked in hypocrisy.
The first question is when the Christian ends up trying to redefine words so their claims work. In Haden’s example, he says that he defines a “fetus” as a human child and non-christians claim it is “clump” of cells”. Well, we don’t since most of us know that a fetus is beyond the clump of cells stage. We also know that a human child is what a fetus becomes.
He also tries to shift the burden of proof from himself and onto the person he is asking questions of. He offers a strawman atheist claim “In this scientific age, we know miracles don’t happen” and then proceeds to attack it. What would have been said is that “In this scientific age, we have no evidence that miracles happen.” If Haden wants to claim that they do, then it is his burden to show that miracles happen now and have happened. His attempt to shift the burden is easily recognized and laughed at. He also wants to try to redefine miracle to gain an advantage. Since in his Christian context, a miracle is a action by his god that is not explainable by natural laws, then we know what he is claiming happens. That we have no evidence of this is his problem.
Just asking questions doesn’t take the “stress” off the apologist at all. It just shows that they can’t answer what is asked and need a trick to avoid doing so.
4) Don’t Get Sidetracked
So, here, when the Christian apologist is asked questions, Haden advises to avoid answering. How not surprising. And I really don’t remember asking “What about dinosaurs?” to a Christian.
He tries to avoid the problem by simply asking “who cares?” aka “I haven’t a good answer so I’m going to falsely pretend these things don’t matter.” These “silly questions” are posed since the Christian and their religion make claims that aren’t supported by evidence. They make claims that aren’t supported by even their own bible. These things have plenty to do with the Christian and their religion, despite Haden’s false claim that they don’t.
Haden claims that the only things that matte are his god’s existence and the resurrection. Okay, then we can ask questions about those too, which makes Haden’s protests look very funny. There is no evidence for those claims either.
Haden believes in the innerancy of the bible, but claims that even if it were true that the bible contained contradictions, it wouldn’t mean that his god doesn’t exist or that Jesus didn’t rise from the grave. Unfortunately for Haden, that is exactly what it means since there is no reason to believe the claims about this god’s existence nor the resurrection. The bible is his only source of claims for both.
5) Be humble.
The world “humble” is a problem for Christians because they really really want to be called humble, but they also want to claim that only they know the “TRUTH”. They want to win arguments no matter what, despite Haden’s false claim that they don’t.
When they find that their claims aren’t being accepted without thought, that’s often when the “I’ll pray for you” comes out and the discussion ends.
I’ve let Haden know that I’ve done a post on his, but he seems loathe to let me comment. That seems to speak volumes about his confidence in his claims.