Thoughts on the “Atheist Experience Show” along with Arguments and a Testimonial in Support of Jesus

By: S.J. Thomason

My brother believes in God, yet he keeps his beliefs private. He is not unlike many theists who choose to keep their relationship with God to themselves. He is amused by my Twitter account, since I’ve taken the opposite approach, choosing to let my “light so shine.” One day, after perusing my timeline, my brother tweeted, “I don’t believe in miracles, but if you change even one atheist’s mind, or vice versa, I will believe in one.” The tweet made me laugh, so I retweeted it. Who doesn’t appreciate my brother’s good sense of humor?

I am under no sort of assumption that my words will influence the conversions of atheists to theists, as only God can influence such a conversion. My intentions instead are to provide Christians with some tools that they can use to refute atheists’ arguments against God.

One atheist with many arguments against God is Matt Dillahunty. Dillahunty is the host of the “Atheist Experience,” which is a ninety minute show that airs every Sunday. The show features Dillahunty and other atheists who discuss atheism prior to taking calls and questions from theists and atheists. A handful of atheists on Twitter have suggested I call in to the show, so one day I watched it to get an idea of what a call would entail. In that particular show, I watched Matt Dillahunty dominate the conversations he was having with several Christians, which concerned me. I wondered why anyone would call in if not fully equipped for battle.

Accordingly, the intention of this blog is to offer Christians several rebuttals to some of Matt Dillahunty’s and other atheists’ popular arguments against God. Dillahunty has a Wiki site that documents his views, so I accessed his arguments from the site: http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Main_Page. Yet note that in a conversation and tweets I’ve had with Dillahunty, he notes that many others have authored opinions on the site, so some of the opinions that I’m rebutting here may not be Matt’s.

Some of the topics I am refuting I have refuted in prior blogs. These include my arguments concerning the uncaused cause (the Cosmological Argument), intelligent design (the Teleological Argument), the absolute moral code (the Natural Law Argument), and the Problem of Pain (as examples), so please excuse redundancies if you have read those before. Additionally, I include my own personal testimony of several of the spiritual experiences I have had.

It is time to drown the iron chariots and watch them rust.

Dillahunty’s website opens with the following line: “Iron Chariots is intended to provide information on apologetics and counter-apologetics. We’ll be collecting common arguments and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade as evidence for religious claims.”

Broken Compass Argument

According to Dillahunty, the Broken Compass Argument “is a specific type of fallacious claim or assertion that starts with one premise and leads equally to many disparate (often mutually incompatible) conclusions. Since the many conclusions imply a contradiction or are absurd, the argument is either unsound or an incorrect premise has been used…If a person were to argue that the Christian God exists because when they pray they feel better, they have made a broken compass argument because any other praying member of any other faith could make the same claim for their deity’s existence following the same argument.”

Several points need to be made to address this:

  1. As Dillahunty noted, prayer makes people feel better. Five scientifically supported arguments in favor of prayer are: (1) prayer improves self-control; (2) prayer makes people nicer; (3) prayer makes people more forgiving; (4) prayer increases trust; and (5) prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress (Routledge, 2014). A 2013 Pew Research Poll indicated that 75% of Americans believe that prayer is an important part of their lives. Other polls indicate that people who are unaffiliated with a religion and atheists sometimes pray (Routledge, 2014). So, yes, people do feel better when they pray. We’re hard-wired to feel good when we connect with the spirit within us.
  2. Christians don’t argue that the Christian God exists because when we pray, we feel better. Christians instead argue that the Christian God exists and when we pray, we connect with His spirit, which makes us feel better. If we don’t include the connection to God by modifying the original statement, one could erroneously make the assumption that without prayer, God would not exist. The argument suggests a response (prayer) impacts the existence of the cause (God) instead of the cause impacting the response. A similar argument would be “the sun exists because when I go outside, its light makes me feel better.” If I go outside and see no light and don’t feel better, the sun does not exist.”
  3. It would be ethnocentric of Christians to assume that they are the only ones for whom God answers prayers. When good people of any faith pray sincerely to the God of their beliefs, God hears them and answers their prayers. This assertion doesn’t discount the fact that all paths lead to Jesus; it merely states that God is along the pathways of everyone who so desires. Everyone who desires the truth will eventually find the truth, which is Jesus. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the WORLD, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 highlights God’s focus on the entire world, not just on a particular population within the world.

Taken together, these arguments demonstrate the value of prayer in improving people’s health since prayer is humanity’s universal and natural response to God.

Circular Reasoning and the Presuppositional Apologist Argument

Dillahunty states “presuppositional apologists (primarily from the reformed school of theology) argue that circular reasoning is acceptable and necessary within a world-view and that circular reasoning is only unacceptable when it presents self-contradiction.” He presents this example of circular reasoning:

  1. We know God exists because the Bible says so.
  2. We know the Bible is correct because it is the inspired word of God.

I agree with Dillahunty that the two statements exemplify circular reasoning and that circular reasoning is faulty reasoning. In other words, each of the two statements should not be considered as proof for the other.

When the statements are considered independently, they are stronger, yet they are imperfect. The first statement is true in that God exists, yet if we merely rely on the words of the first statement, we must be open to an application to the holy books of other faiths, which point to the divinity of a different god or gods. The Bible is correct because it is the inspired word of God, as noted in the second statement, yet similar to the first statement, the words alone necessitate an openness to the application to the holy books of other faiths.

Therefore, we need to strengthen both statements. To do so, we should consider the overall purpose of the Bible in the context of our existence. All passages, verses, songs, and words within the Bible were written with the overall purpose of bringing us closer to our triune Lord. To bring us closer, The Bible teaches us a variety of lessons through examples, proverbs, psalms, and parables. The Bible gives us a glimpse of the way people lived thousands of years ago within sometimes disturbing cultural contexts. Biblical individuals and groups faced battles and had to overcome evil, temptation, suffering, lust, betrayal, and pride by drawing upon and elevating their love, fortitude, perseverance, purity, forgiveness, and humility. Such lessons explain our purpose on this earth, which is to overcome adversity to become stronger and more like Christ.

As C.S. Lewis said: “And what did God do? First of all He left us conscience, the sense of right and wrong: and all through history there have been people trying (some of them very hard) to obey it. None of them ever quite succeeded. Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men. Thirdly, He selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was – that there was only one of Him and that He cared about the right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.”

The Old Testament demonstrated humanity’s failures under the Old Covenant, which is why God established a New Covenant, knowing that almost all of humanity would live under the New Covenant. (The Population Reference Bureau estimates that 98% of humanity – so far – has lived Anno Domini, AD). With the New Testament came New Covenant and the example of the way in which we should aspire to live: Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is God’s promise to humanity that He will forgive us of our sins and He will restore fellowship with those who desire His presence. Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant and His atonement through His death on the cross form the basis of God’s promise. The New Covenant was predicted by prophets such as Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel while mankind lived under the Old Covenant (Enns, 2014).

At this point, one might comment that other religions endorse the same values as Christianity of love, humility, forgiveness and the like. Indeed, the world’s major religions all endorse such values, which further underscores the fact that God so loves the WORLD and wants all within the world to be with and remain with Him. Regardless of the vehicles employed, the outcome for believers is the same, which is the fullness of a spirit united with the triune Lord. All paths lead to Jesus.

What sets Christianity apart? Unlike pantheism, in which divinity is expressed as a passive form of nature, the Christian God is an active part of our lives. Unlike Islam, in which divinity is expressed as an active, yet aloof god, the Christian God is highly personal. In summary, the Christian God is the only choice when one desires a walk with a personal, active Lord. More on these points to come.

Intelligent Design, the Teleological Argument and the Dysteleological Argument

Matt Dillahunty quotes a ruling from Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District to refute intelligent design. The quote is as follows: “We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980s, and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community.”

“The Dysteleological argument, or argument from poor design, is an argument against the existence of God – specifically a competent creator God.”Had God designed the world, it would not be a world so frail and faulty as we see.” – Lucretius (94–49 BC)

“Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. And just between you and me, in any decently-run universe, this guy would’ve been out on his all-powerful ass a long time ago.” – George Carlin

Dembski (1998) offers an interesting perspective on intelligent design, which is the concept in which we were created by an intelligent Creator, God. “But design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term ‘junk DNA.’ Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as “junk” merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how ‘non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.’ Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it. Or consider vestigial organs that later are found to have a function after all. Evolutionary biology texts often cite the human coccyx as a ‘vestigial structure’ that hearkens back to vertebrate ancestors with tails. Yet if one looks at a recent edition of Gray’s Anatomy, one finds that the coccyx is a crucial point of contact with muscles that attach to the pelvic floor. The phrase ‘vestigial structure’ often merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. The human appendix, formerly thought to be vestigial, is now known to be a functioning component of the immune system.”

“Admitting design into science can only enrich the scientific enterprise. All the tried and true tools of science will remain intact. But design adds a new tool to the scientist’s explanatory tool chest. Moreover, design raises a whole new set of research questions. Once we know that something is designed, we will want to know how it was produced, to what extent the design is optimal, and what is its purpose. Note that we can detect design without knowing what something was designed for. There is a room at the Smithsonian filled with objects that are obviously designed but whose specific purpose anthropologists do not understand.”

Atheists discount intelligent design and often call on natural selection, chance, and the long history of the earth to explain the evolution of humans. Natural selection doesn’t explain the origins of life, however. It merely explains the evolution of existing life forms. According to Trevors and Abel (2004) “The constraints of historical science are such that the origin of life may never be understood. Selection pressure cannot select nucleotides at the digital programming level where primary structures form. Genomes predetermine the phenotypes which natural selection only secondarily favors. Contentions that offer nothing more than long periods of time offer no mechanism of explanation for the derivation of genetic programming. No new information is provided by such tautologies. The argument simply says it happened.”

According to Hugh Ross (2016), “Many suggest that earth’s life-sustaining features are just ‘amazing coincidences’ that somehow fell into place in a way that suits human needs and, at the same time, determines what life-forms exist…Ongoing research tells us that earth has been shaped not only by an intricately orchestrated interplay of physical forces and conditions, but also by its vast abundance and diversity of life-forms. By means that no depth and breadth of scientific research can explain, life arose early in earth’s history under anything but the benign conditions it would seem to require and somehow persisted through multiple mass extinction events, always appearing and reappearing at just-right times and in just-right forms to meet the needs and demands of the revised environment.”

“The more thoroughly researchers investigate the history of our planet, the more astonishing the story of our existence becomes. The number and complexity of the astronomical, geological, chemical, and biological features recognized as essential to human existence have expanded explosively within the last decade…Are we simply the result of a colossal matrix of innumerable, narrow coincidences, against all odds, or is there a more reasonable explanation?” (p. 14).

“Even if evolutionary processes are responsible for new life-forms, there must be an external intellect sustaining the material world to make life and evolution possible,” according to Frank Turek (2015 p. 82-83). “In other words, evolutionary processes themselves rely on the goal-directedness of the material world. Evolution could not work without a mind actively directing the repetitive and precise natural forces that keep life together and make mutation and natural selection possible! …Mutations may be random in the sense that they do not have any goal in mind, but the natural forces that produce the mutations are not random. Living and nonliving things continue to exist because the foundation of the entire material world is goal-directed, not random.”

In summary, the purposes and complexities of life forms on the earth, coupled with goal-directed non-random evolutionary processes, suggest the presence of an intelligent designer, an originator. Using the imperfections and failures of humans (e.g., Ku Klux Klan) to discount the possibility of an intelligent designer equates to pointing to cracks in a home’s foundation to claim the home had no builder. Such assertions obscure the purposeful intentions of the Creator who designed the universe and the free will He granted.

The Uncaused Cause, the Cosmological Argument

Scientists today support the Big Bang theory. The mathematical underpinnings of this theory include Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, along with theories of fundamental particles. According to this theory, the universe (space, time, matter) started approximately 13.8 billion years ago with a small singularity, ever inflating to the state which we know today (NASA, 2016). Events before the Big Bang are not defined and what powered the Big Bang, setting it into rapid inflationary expansion is not known.

Dillahunty states, “It is not necessarily impossible for there to be an infinite chain of causes and effects. Among scientists, it is widely agreed that our universe began with the Big Bang. But we don’t know what occurred in the first split second after the Big Bang, nor can we comment on anything that came before it, as no experiments have yet been devised that could test any hypotheses about these early moments.”

Some atheists are satisfied with “not knowing” what powered the Big Bang, which is the same answer they apply to questions of consciousness (non-physical), dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter and dark energy are prevalent within the universe, as scientists have discovered, yet no one knows anything about their properties. Despite a lack of knowledge about physical properties, atheists don’t doubt the presence of dark matter and dark energy.

As for the mighty force that powered the Big Bang, believers offer the explanation of a supernatural being. This supernatural being would need to be spaceless, timeless (unbounded by linear time)(c.f., Hawking, 2017), and metaphysical to have been present prior to the Big Bang. This being would further need to be intentional and active or the Big Bang wouldn’t have been possible. In other words, this presence could not be a passive form.

Instead of accepting the possibility of a supernatural force, many atheists speculate that the multiverse is a possibility, which suggests that another universe was present before our universe, or that there are other universes aside from ours. Given the fact we have no (zero, zilch, zip) evidence of a multiverse, this argument seems silly since atheists demand evidence!

Given the answer to the question of what powered the universe appears painfully obvious (God). Excluding the possibility of choosing God as the answer by framing the choice as a God of the gaps fallacy equates to telling the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial of his former wife and friend that they will not be allowed to fill the gaps of their knowledge of whether he committed the crime with the glove, the weapon, and any blood evidence. We would never require that jury make a decision when not provided with all of the evidence, so why should we attempt to do the same in the present context?

Thomas Aquinas’ First Mover Theory helps to evaluate whether an uncaused cause is intuitive. This theory is below and was recently supported in Applied Cognitive Psychology, 2009, 23: 901-917.

  1. Our senses tell us that there is some motion in the world.
  2. All things moving must be moved by something else.
  3. Motion is the change from potentiality to actuality.
  4. It is not possible to be potential and actual in the same respect.
  5. Therefore, the mover cannot also be the moved.
  6. There cannot be an infinite regression of movers.
  7. Therefore, there must be a first, unmoved mover.

In summary, God is the only logical answer.

The Problem of Pain and Evil

Matt Dillahunty states, “As Epicurus pointed out: ‘Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?'”

“There are many counter arguments to the problem of evil. Arguments that justify the existence of evil are known as theodicies, a term coined by Gottfried Leibniz. A theodicy can generally be divided into four categories, each typically rejecting one of the four premises used to make the argument. The argument is, after all, not an argument for the non-existence of God but an argument for the non-existence of God with all three of the characteristics of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence in the presence of evil.”

“Many counter arguments rely on wild and unsubstantiated speculation: ‘So how do theists respond to arguments like this? [The Argument from Evil] They say there is a reason for evil, but it is a mystery. Well, let me tell you this: I’m actually one hundred feet tall even though I only appear to be six feet tall. You ask me for proof of this. I have a simple answer: it’s a mystery. Just accept my word for it on faith. And that’s just the logic theists use in their discussions of evil.’ (Smith, 1996)”

Some atheists apply an absolute moral standard to God when they point to the evils in this world to suggest that He is the cause of such evils and He should be held accountable. They use the characteristics of God, which include His omniscience and omnipotence, to make the assertion that He had knowledge of everything that would happen in the world when He created the world. And if this is the case, He was well aware that some humans would be in His Lamb’s Book of Life and would be welcomed to heaven, while others would not be on the list, ending up in hell.

Some say that if God knew our every choice before we were born, knowing that we’d be going to heaven or hell, then we have no choices to make in our lives. We have no free will. Some question the character of God, wondering why a loving Father would be willing to allow some of His children not to choose Him. They state that God’s children shouldn’t be forced to choose God; they should be given free will not to choose Him. The bottom line with these issues is that some people feel that we don’t have free will if God truly has omniscience because God already knows our fates so we can do nothing to change fate.

To answer these issues, we have to discuss God’s unbounded time. God hasn’t already decided on our fate; He knows our fate but He is also with us as we make our choices, determining our own fate. He is concurrently in the past, present, and future. He’s watching His children make decisions, yet He’s already seen the decisions made. He knew from the beginning the choices made because He was just as present then as He is now. His presence is, was, and always will be – in the present. Accordingly, we are with Him when we make our choices, so we can always change our minds, and He already knows the outcomes of our “changed minds.”

To wrap our minds around this concept, try to unbound Him by time and remove any words or phrases that freeze Him in time. Eliminate words such as then, now, soon, before, after, and in the past or future. God simply is. So, instead of saying, “God knew back then what my choices would be today,” consider saying “God knew my choices and is with me as I make them.” Hopefully this helps to understand that we still have free will. We’re not locked into a life we didn’t intentionally choose.

Even so, some may wonder of the fates of those who do not choose to align with God. Given the fates proposed in the Bible, some wonder why God would permit them to even exist? Why would a loving God condemn anyone to hell?

Recall that our fate is our choice. No one goes to heaven or hell without choosing heaven or hell. But what is hell like, should that be the choice? Will it be all fire, as suggested in the Book of Revelation, or will it be more of a shadowy Sheol? The Bible says that it is a place of torment, which is attributable to the lack of God within those who have chosen that particular fate. Though God is present everywhere, including in hell, people in hell are not with God. God is no longer within those who have chosen that fate.

Some atheists state that the world is unjust. They question why some are blessed with much while others suffer so. To understand this issue, we need to examine purpose of good and evil. The world isn’t a perfect place because if it were, we could never grow the sorts of characteristics needed to be more consistent with the example of Jesus Christ. We’re here to grow and learn from our mistakes, because learning from our mistakes is what helps us to grow. We’re here to persevere through pain, to show empathy around those in need, to demonstrate faith when tested. In other words, we’re tested in all sorts of ways to grow characteristics like determination, faith, perseverance, empathy, and love. How could we ever truly understand love if we hadn’t experienced its counterpart? How could we ever develop hope if we never had anything for which to hope? How could we ever develop humility if we had never been humbled? So, the fact that the Lord has put us into a world with all of these yin and yang sorts of good and evil characteristics is to improve us and make us more like Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

This world is but a stepping stone to the next one, equivalent in time to a speck of sand on the beaches of heaven, so we must invest our time wisely. We’re put here to advance our souls by capitalizing on the spiritual gifts with which we’ve been bestowed. Similar to the Parable of the Talents, we are instructed to invest well in our talents. To those to whom much has been given, much is expected. God holds us accountable, so ignoring one’s spiritual talents will not be viewed favorably. Yet God doesn’t leave us behind either. He wants all of His children to succeed and prosper. Indeed, they are given free will not to choose Him and many make that choice. The Parable of the Lost Sheep states that God goes to great lengths to keep His children from making that choice, yet some resist His calls.

Argument from Personal Coincidences and the Argument from the Efficacy of Prayer

“[After feeling threatened] I decided to ask Archangel Michael to send us protection to get the girls safely home. Within seconds I looked up in disbelief as a police officer walked through the door! I quickly go the girls out of the store. I knew that we have just been saved by God and Archangel Michael, the patron saint of that police officer and others everywhere. Heaven worked to protect us, and I’m grateful.”

After reflecting on the quotation above, Dillahunty asks “How does the apologist know that God is arranging these occurrences, rather than aliens, the illuminati or the abominable snowman? Because other causes, including unknown factors, have not been ruled out, this is an argument from ignorance…. It is also an example of god of the gaps.”

Let’s unpack this assertion. When we develop and test theories in my academic field (business management) and others similar to mine that employ primary data (such as marketing, behavioral economics, and psychology), we aim to explain relationships between independent variables (such as personality factors or religious beliefs) and dependent variables (such as church attendance, volunteering activities or subjective well-being).

We develop theories based on the extant literature, which help us to identify the variables others have found to be relevant to our particular line of inquiry. We integrate findings from previous studies to form hypotheses, which we test using a variety of methods, such as structural equations modeling or hierarchical multiple regression.

Next, we gather data (which includes relevant demographic variables as controls) and enter it into a statistical package, such as SPSS. Then we run our analyses. Support of our hypotheses is provided when the results of our analyses are statistically significant. Statistical significance is obtained when the variance explained by the regression equation that we developed to explain the relationships between the independent variables and dependent variable is significant. Note that the variance explained is never 100%. We can never fully account for all factors that determine an outcome in the social sciences. In other words, results always include “gaps” or “unknown factors.” Despite same, we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and toss our findings into the trash, as Dillahunty would suggest we should do. Instead, we publish the knowledge we have, which we hope others will build upon to more fully explain variation.

To speak to Dillahunty’s assessment that people’s spiritual beliefs are merely arguments from ignorance, I suggest he question the prevalence of these so-called arguments from ignorance. Is it merely a coincidence that millions of people claim to have had spiritual experiences? We could test these empirically by collecting the testimonies of a few hundred people and applying a content analysis to identify recurring themes. We could also simply listen to their stories and make our own assessments of honesty.

My Testimonial

Until this point, I have resisted sharing my spiritual experiences in my blogs, due to the personal nature of the experiences and the chance of ridicule. It struck me while writing this piece that if I’m hit by a bus tomorrow, my testimonial will die with me and no one will be able to compare their own experiences with mine. For this reason, I’m going to offer readers a few of my spiritual experiences.

I was raised in a Catholic family with my sister and two brothers. We went to a Catholic grade school and frequently attended church. Church was a solemn experience, with formal dress, hymns, liturgy, and rituals, so I found myself frequently checking my watch and growing bored.

One night, while struggling to get to sleep in college, a woman wearing a blue gown appeared to me on my bed. Mother Mary. She touched my shoulder and comforted me, telling me that everything was going to be okay. I have always struggled with skin issues, and on that particular night I had reached a particularly high level of anxiety. When I awoke the next morning, I felt cleaner and more refreshed than I had ever felt. The colors of the flowers and the lawns of Florida State University seemed particularly bright and it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from me. Within a few weeks, a book arrived in the mail (sent by someone anonymously), which offered tips for people with my particular skin condition. I changed my diet and my condition improved greatly.

Years passed and the memories of that episode slipped into the back of my mind. By my late twenties, all but my sister had left the Catholic Church for various reasons. Friends of mine were exploring eastern faiths, particularly Buddhism, so I started gravitating towards such faiths. I read books by James Redfield, Deepak Chopra, and the Dalai Lama and found their ideas to be fascinating. I wondered whether we were souls within a great soul, which whistled into the cosmos. What I learned at that point was that the faith I was exploring considered God to be a passive part of nature.

More years passed and I waffled about wandering into churches every so often, yet finding none that suited my particular needs. I got married and had two kids, completed a terminal degree, and moved to a different city with my family. As my kids grew, they noticed that the neighbors were attending church on Sunday, so my sons asked me why we weren’t attending church, which made me feel very guilty.

One night in the month of March four years ago, I sat in my bed struggling to get to sleep. Instead of being met by the warm embrace of a loving woman in a blue gown, I was met by a dark spirit, which attempted to strangle and suffocate me. I have never felt such pure, cold evil in my life and I was scared beyond words and completely frozen. In desperation, I did all I knew to do: I said the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, over and over and over. With each repetition I felt the spirit being lifted, until it was finally pulled from me. God became of a priority at this point. I realized that He is not a passive part of nature, but an active, personal God. The only God with such characteristics is the triune Lord.

My family decided to check out a quaint Baptist church, which was popular with my neighbors. When I walked through its doors, something moved me emotionally and ignited a passion within. We spent the first half hour of the service singing praise through upbeat, contemporary Christian music. I recall Matt Redman’s “Bless the Lord, O my soul” and Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God” and felt tears as they streamed down my cheeks. The pastor spent the next forty minutes explaining certain verses in the Bible in such a way that my interest in learning more was greatly stimulated. My family decided to join the church and we began regularly attending services. I was baptized for a second time a few months later by full immersion in a tank of water.

I was on a path, yet I still had some unresolved questions. One big question related to the way God ordained men to lead the churches. I’m an advocate for female empowerment and leadership, so the second class treatment of women bothered me. A second question related to the way billions on the planet don’t worship Jesus. What sort of fate do they face? Will they be denied entrance into heaven?

The answer to my first question came at church when the pastor shared that Mary Magdalene and other women were the first to discover the empty tomb. Jesus gave the privilege of discovering the empty tomb, which is arguably the most important discovery in the Bible, to women, who were treated like dogs in those days! Jesus loves women. By reading the Bible, I discovered many other examples of strong women. Three standouts are Ruth, who exemplified tremendous loyalty, Esther who demonstrated courage, and Mother Mary, who showed great faith.

The answer to my second question on the fate of people of other faiths came in an unexpected way. I was standing in an airport when I noticed a tall, slender man standing in the queue next to an attractive woman. Something about the man caught my eye as he seemed to be radiating light. When I took my assigned seat, I was delighted when the man sat down next to me and his wife next to him. He struck up a conversation and I soon discovered he was a pastor in a church about an hour from my house. I told him that I wanted to write a children’s book similar to the books by C.S. Lewis. He instructed me to read C.S. Lewis’ adult books, like Mere Christianity and the Great Divorce.

The books by C.S. Lewis made all of the difference, as they inspired me to learn more and to become an apologetic. They also taught me that no matter the religion into which we’re born or the vehicle we choose to enhance our knowledge of the world around us and God, all paths eventually lead to Jesus.

Since reading many of Lewis’ books, I’ve developed a passion for more knowledge. Lately, I have read books by Turek, MacDowell, Strobel, Platinga, Ross, Tozer, Guinness, Bannister, Lanza, and Warren. I’ve studied many articles by William Lane Craig on his website as well.

Over the past few months, I’ve grown closer to God than ever. When I pray, I often feel complete joy. When I listen, I’ve heard His words. For these reasons and more, I’ve given my life over to Jesus Christ and nothing will prevent me from sharing His message of light and love with others.

I have had more spiritual experiences than the ones I have identified here, which I will share when I feel comfortable sharing. It isn’t easy to open up, particularly when accusations of “ignorance” or “hallucinations” are likely to come.

“People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the best you have anyway.

You see, In the final analysis it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.”  – Saint Teresa

Thank you for your time.

References

Dembski, W. A. Science and design. First things: A monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, 86: 21-34.

Enns, P. (2014). The Moody Handbook of Theology. Moody Publishers.

Hawking, S. (2017). The Beginning of Time. Accessed 1-20-2017 at: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

NASA (2016). Accessed at https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-powered-the-big-bang http://www.space.com/25126-big-bang-theory.html

Ross, H. (2016). Improbable Planet: How earth became humanity’s home. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Routledge, C. (2014). 5 scientifically supported benefits of prayer: What science can tell us about the personal and social value of prayer. Psychology Today. June 23.

Smith, Q. (1996). Two Ways to Defend Atheism.

Trevors, J.T. & Abel, D.L. (2004). Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life. Cell Biology International, 28: 729-739.

Turek, F. (2015). Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. USA: NavPress.

 

 

 

 

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Author: Christian Apologist

Please visit my new blog at ChristianApologistweb.Wordpress.com. The author lives with her two sons, chief security officer/pooch, and husband who would rather be living in a houseboat near his identical twin brother. She works as a college professor, which helps to pay the mortgage. Over the past few decades, she has attempted to reconcile the logic and rationality of nature with the unexplained force of love within. World religions address the latter, yet none so perfectly and comprehensively as Christianity. By diving into the academic, literary, and church communities, she's found many answers to the complicated questions of life. Life's short, sometimes ugly, and there are no guarantees. If she were to be hit by a bus tomorrow (which might very well happen), she'll rest in peace knowing that a permanent record of her discoveries of the way, the truth, and the life exists for her family, friends, and anyone else interested. Follow on Twitter @lead1225

82 thoughts on “Thoughts on the “Atheist Experience Show” along with Arguments and a Testimonial in Support of Jesus”

  1. Hello, thank you and bless you for your testimony. We have been following each other on twitter for the past week or so, and I am very impressed with your insights. Keep it up, your words are inspiring and uplifting. Blessings

    Sy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is mind-blowing how many straw man arguments and logical fallacies are presented here.

    You believe what you do because it makes you feel good and your confirmation bias allows crappy apologetics to pass as validation for your irrational belief system.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Write a rebuttal to something unfalsifiable? Hahaha. You are too deep in this feel-good, magical fantasy world.

        Take a look at this quote for example:

        “The books by C.S. Lewis made all of the difference, as they inspired me to learn more and to become an apologetic. They also taught me that no matter the religion into which we’re born or the vehicle we choose to enhance our knowledge of the world around us and God, all paths eventually lead to Jesus.”

        This is either pure supreme dishonesty or pure supreme ignorance as to the diversity of cultures in the world around you. I bet the average Muslim apologist could run circles around you with the Quran explaining atomic theory and cosmology and a variety of other scientific theories. Saying ‘all paths eventually lead to Jesus’ means you are one of three things:

        1) INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST
        2) STUPID
        3) BOTH OF THE ABOVE.

        You are a product of your environment. I encourage you to continue listening to the Atheist Experience and educate yourself on epistemology and the logical fallacies that religions depend on to stay alive. Life is so much more precious when it isn’t a warm-up act for the magical fairy-tale that you’ve been sold. Embrace mortality.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I guess “riding on the coattails of Mr. Dillahunty” has worked on me. I came across the following quote on your Twitter through the click-through on Matt’s page.

    “When you walk into a church and your emotions overwhelm you, God is expressing Himself to you. Embrace Him. Love Him. That’s our Lord.”

    That sounds like it could be the epigraph for a short essay on the mechanisms which religions employ to blur the lines between emotion and reason. There is literally nothing on this page or anything I have read on your Twitter that makes you and your belief system unique. All the flavors of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, some Buddhist sects, Celtic and Norse traditions, (the list literally goes on for pages) are extraordinarily similar in the emotional reactions they give their believers and the ways they tell their members to rationalize their beliefs in the supernatural. Please don’t think anything about your particular religion is unique. It is not. The apologetics expressed on this page are very ordinary in the scope of world religions, and you are using the exact same arguments that others have used for centuries. Since your religion conflicts with the others, these arguments are, without doubt, unreliable.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your brother, and Dillahunty, are probably confused on the subject of miracles. Most sane Christians and other religious believe miracles are almost never commanded except by the most extraordinary and rare people, and even then they are rare to such people.

    Miracles are defined as events that violate all known probability and medical science. Since miracles cannot be commanded and cannot be predicted, we can only document them–and document them people do, by the millions.

    So-called “skeptics” will lie and claim there’s “no good evidence” for these but that is a mighty burden of proof they’ve just strapped to their back. Because it’s possible some miracles are scams or delusions, they all are? Even all the medically verified ones, with medical evidence?

    Yeah, stop trusting the skeptics. We have countless verified reports of miracles from credible authorities. If they say otherwise they’re lying again, and what they mean is, “Our OPINION is that we think all these can PROBABLYI be explained away, and thus we ASSUME they can all be explained away.”

    Stop letting “skeptics” pretend to be the arbiters of what is or is not evidence, what is or is not truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Max. Could you post some of the medical evidence for the medically verified miracles you’ve been discussing? I would certainly be interested to see what kinds of things you’re talking about?

      Thanks for your time.

      Like

  5. Hi, I heard your call to the AE show. At one point you said “Fallacy, fallacy – the only fallacy you should care about is ” and the final half was garbled because Matt talked over you. What was the full sentence and what did you mean?

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    1. Hi Fred – What I said (which Matt tried to cover up) was that the only fallacy atheists should concern themselves with is the atheism fallacy. God is very real. I know Him and we can all know Him by simply opening our hearts to Him.

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      1. Hi Ms. Thomason. I heard your call on AE, and I have read your response to Fred above where you said ” I know Him and we can all know Him by simply opening our hearts to Him.” When I was a believer, I tried on multiple occasions to open my heart, to ask Jesus for help, I was on my knees begging for answers, and I got no reply. What do you say to people like myself who actively tried very hard to understand what God wanted, but had no reply? Especially when I think we can both think of someone we know in church who claims to have a very deep relationship with god, and yet seems as though it took virtually no effort whatsoever? And let me say as kindly as I can: if your answer is one of these or a form of them:
        “You didn’t try hard enough!”
        “You weren’t sincere!”
        “God works in mysterious ways”
        or “You had sin in your heart”,
        Please don’t respond to my question. I’ve heard them all before, and they’re not a good reason why an omnibenevolent deity (who apparently wants a relationship with ALL his children) would choose to remain hidden after being asked FOR said relationship.
        Thanks

        Like

      2. Hi Sam – Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I really appreciate it. I would never answer your questions with the responses you’ve been given because they incorrectly assume a deficiency in your heart or you. That’s not what it is at all. To tell you more about my experience, I’ll share that I was actively searching God for many years – at least twenty five years – before I truly found Him. I’d almost forgotten the encounter I had in college, which is why I’m writing blogs and books now. I don’t want to forget anything that’s happened to me as I get older. What I can say is that the one time I heard God’s voice was a few months ago. I was thinking of heading down a certain pathway and God quite clearly indicated His alternative plans for me. He reminded me of things very important in my life and changed my life for the better. So, what I’m here to say to you is please don’t give up on Him. The game changer for me was a book by C.S. Lewis: Mere Christianity. That book convinced me to read more books by C.S. Lewis and tons of other apologists, like Lee Strobel, Alvin Platinga, George MacDonald, Frank Turek, William Lane Craig, and J. Warner Wallace. My recommendation is to read a few books by authors such as these. They opened my eyes immensely. Again, take care. Stephanie

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      3. Okay, that clears up a lot. You’re completely unfamiliar with the concept of fallacy, which is why you’re using it to mean “something false” and why you scoffed at Matt’s objection to the argument from ignorance.

        The concept is actually quite dense and I definitely can’t cover it all here. Short version is that a fallacy is an argument that may look good at first glance but actually doesn’t work deductively for whatever reason. For example, the “argument from ignorance” looks like this:
        1. X hasn’t been proven false.
        2. Therefore X is true.
        Seems good, right? However, X could be false here, or unknown, or unknowable. The argument doesn’t even cover those possibilities, it assumes “anything not proven false = true” and that’s why it’s an error.

        The words you said on the show were “What else could it be?” which is yet another error. It shows that you’re fixated, not even thinking about alternatives.

        Truth be told, Matt really needs to stop arrogantly assuming that people know their stuff. Meanwhile, you need to develop actual thinking and argumentation skills because saying things like:
        “God is very real. I know Him and we can all know Him by simply opening our hearts to Him.”
        is just as empty and uninformative as
        “God is very fake. I know it’s fake and we can all know it’s fake by simply opening our hearts to the truth.”

        Good luck.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Stephanie. I appreciate you taking the time to respond, and also deeply appreciate you not taking the line SO many atheists have heard (like the ones listed).
    I, like you, am a good many years past my college days. 😄 I have read the Bible several times, and during what eventually turned out to be my deconversion, I read books from all the authors you stated, except for Plantinga (though I’m familiar with the argument he’s known for). My question is this, and please don’t think I’m being dismissive of your beliefs: at what point, after asking for a relationship with a deity, is it time to start asking hard questions about said deity’s existence? From your blog and response, it seems that you yourself, during your search, were operating on the assumption there was something to be searching FOR, would that be accurate? I feel like it becomes a situation where I eventually realized that the claims for any gods simply did not reach the burden of proof. Further, it seems that a lot of apologists don’t usually actually believe in God BECAUSE of their particular apologetic, but rather that is their reason for continued justification (I.e. WLC, he presents the Kalam most often, but admits he believes on the internal witness of the Holy Spirit).

    So all that being said, and my having found the arguments from Lewis, Strobel, et al to be unconvincing, where (in your estimation) should I go from here? Where COULD I go from here? I have heard Dillahunty ask this in debates, but I think it does bear repeating: If a Damascus road experience is good enough for Saul, why is it not good enough for me? I have been told many times that god wants a relationship with me. I asked god for a relationship, and god did not enter into one. This is what has led to me settings my faith down, and convinced me that either no god exists, or that He does not want a relationship with me, which seems to fly in the face of a deity desirous of knowing all his children.

    Thanks again for the kind discussion.

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    1. Hi Samuel – I’m certain He wants a relationship with you as it states same in many places in the Bible. I’m not sure why you find those books unconvincing. Have you visited William Lane Craig’s website at reasonablefaith.org? I think he may be the top living apologist right now. As I mentioned before, I’ve had a multitude of spiritual experiences, so denying God at this point for me would be idiotic.

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  7. Fred – A fallacy is defined as “a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument” in Oxford Dictionaries. Dictionary.com defines a fallacy as “a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc. The freedictionary.com defines fallacy as “a false notion; a statement or an argument based on a false or invalid inference; incorrectness of reasoning or belief; erroneousness; and the quality of being deceptive.” Atheism is a mistaken belief. It’s a fallacy. Please identify your source and definition of what you seem to consider a complex term.

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    1. Here you go. Just a few resources, there’s more out there.
      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/fallacies/
      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/
      https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

      By the way, simply stating “Atheism is a mistaken belief” over and over again does nothing to show that it is so. You’re not really offering any thought or reason, just empty, vapid statements. Perhaps you should start by first learning how to construct an argument. This fallacy stuff is really secondary and less important – it’s just a way of identifying common pitfalls after you have some kind of argument.

      Like

    2. now that you know the definition of a fallacy is do you also understand that saying that the ONLY reason A happened in because b happened. is a fallacy

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  8. Hi Stephanie. Yes, I’ve read the website. And I agree, WLC is certainly the most famous apologetic speaker today, but I don’t find his points to be convincing. As I said before, HE doesn’t even believe from the points he makes, and the reason he does believe, cannot be proven. This is similar to what you’ve said, that you’ve had experiences that have convinced you, which I totally understand. However, I’m sure you can also understand that I have no way to verify your experiences, since they happened to you, and you alone.
    You’ve mentioned that god wants a relationship with me, but so far, it seems the only one not willing to be a part of it is Him. You’ve said it isn’t something I did, and He still wants it, but I can’t think of any reason He wouldn’t (other than the reasons I mentioned in my first comment). Saul got an appearance of Jesus on the Damascus road. You mentioned you saw a bodily appearance of Mary. Why wouldn’t I warrant an appearance like that? Why wouldn’t we all? After all, an appearance like that would leave no doubt of god’s existence (but much like the story of Satan, it would not guarantee obedience or worship, since the devil KNOWS god exists, and rebelled anyway).

    And so, it would seem we are at an impasse. I have read the same things you have, and heard the same arguments, but I remain unconvinced. If god exists, and he truly wants a relationship with me, I cannot think of any reason why I shouldn’t have had it when I asked.
    I want you to know I appreciate you didn’t say it was my fault, as most atheists have heard the reasons I listed above almost every time we ask these questions. But, since you cannot demonstrate your experiences, and I’ve investigated the items you listed, I am, and shall remain at the present, unconvinced.
    I appreciate your time!

    Like

    1. Growing up in an atheist household, it took me a very long time to accept the existence of God, and the power of Christ. The journey started by questioning many of the atheist assumptions that I had taken as hard facts. I wont go into detail here, but the idea that the universe is rational, the concept of strict determinism, and many similar ideas were overturned by my study and practice of real science (which btw owes very little to formal logic, outside of certain mathematical applications). But all of that simply allowed me to be more open to God’s call, and not to reject it out of hand. This did not make me a theist, but allowed me to be open to the idea of theism. And then nothing happened. I thought about religion, I read a bunch of stuff, all very nice, but still, nothing happened. I didnt obsess about it. I wasnt really sure that any of it was real, I had only come to the conclusion that it might be. It was at least a decade before anything happened.
      And then, a lot happened. I had two dreams, I had several spiritual experiences, and finally I realized I was a believer, and when I admitted that, everything changes, and God’s voice is clear to me.

      Samuel, as Stephanie said, if you are not hearing anything from God, it is not because He is rejecting you. It may simply be that you are trying too hard. One of the dreams I had was about letting go. Do not be anxious about encountering God, dont worry about it. It doesnt matter if you keep getting no answer. Some day you will. When you least expect it. But the trick is to be able to hear it, and for that you need to relax, be open, and live and love your life. When He does call you, it may be in ways you would never expect, and I believe it will be something beautiful.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I apologize because I’m sure you’re a nice person bookofworks, but what you wrote completely contradicts what Stephanie wrote a few comments up. Her advice was to keep trying, don’t give up and she offered the names of a half dozen apologists to read and study. To go to WLC’s site and study his arguments. You just wrote that Samuel is possibly trying too hard and needs to take a step back. Don’t get discouraged because it’ll happen one day. So which is it, study the works of apologists or let go?

        Like

  9. Dear Stephanie,
    thank you for your blogpost and your courage to call the atheist experience show!
    Your story reminds me of mine. I also had experiences which convinced me that God existed. I also loved C. S. Lewis and his books. I also didn’t know much about rational reasoning, despite my academic bacground, which is quite sad.
    The biggest asset my “faith” gave me was the ability to feel great joy and the ability to deeply connect with others. I still have them, but now I know better how these things work.
    I was so wrong!
    Of course I don’t believe that God exists anymore.

    If you want to talk about these issues, either here or via email, I will be more than happy to do so.

    Like

  10. Hi TheBookOfWorks (or TBOW!).

    I appreciate your note. I grew up and was raised in a loving Christian home, and I didn’t put down my faith as any response to a bad thing that happened, I simply realized I didn’t believe any longer, for the reasons I listed above. Far from dismissing the idea out of hand, I studied, I read books by apologists of several denominations AND faiths, and read books about skepticism and atheism over the course of years. I arrived at the conclusion that I was wrong.
    Much in the same way as with Stephanie, I think we are at an impasse as well. You have had these experiences which I cannot share, because they are yours. If a deity wants a relationship, there should not be any reason he wouldn’t have one with one of his creations, and there definitely isn’t anything I could do to stop him (let me also say thanks for not bringing up any of my list items from my first comment) 🙂

    Please don’t take this wrong, I want to be as kind as possible: you mentioned I may be trying too hard, but the fact is, I’m not trying at ALL, because I don’t happen to believe there is anything or anyone actually there to try and have a relationship WITH. I am relaxed, open, and I live my life, and since I put down my faith, I love my life even more. I understand that this is the only life I’m SURE I will have, so I try and treat people with respect, and I love my family and make sure they know it.

    Finally, and again, please don’t think I’m being rude, I know text can not express tone, but I’m saying this because I genuinely want to know: You mentioned you god wants to call me, and when he does, it will be beautiful. My question is, how do you know that he will? I know you seem to have a strong belief that this is so, but is faith or strong belief the same as knowledge? I ask this because I (and I’m sure many atheists before) have heard something similar, that god will contact me SOMEDAY, although it hasn’t happened yet. I suppose I’m not sure what it would take to convince me, but god should know, and he’s not done it yet. Until then, no still remain unconvinced.
    Thanks for the kind words!

    Like

  11. Stephanie,
    Although there are may reasons your post fails to rebut the popular atheistic arguments, looking at just two paragraphs of your rebuttal to the circular reasoning issue most clearly shows what your main problem is.

    1. We know God exists because the Bible says so.
    2. We know the Bible is correct because it is the inspired word of God.

    You begin by explaining why these two statements exemplify circular reasoning, and then explain that the statements need to be strengthened, since even taken separately, they could apply to any religion.

    You then provide an entire paragraph of points to strengthen the two statements:
    – we should consider the overall purpose of the Bible in the context of our existence
    – the Bible was written with the overall purpose of bringing us closer to our triune Lord
    – to bring us closer, the Bible teaches us a variety of lessons
    – the Bible gives us a glimpse of the way people lived thousands of years ago
    – biblical people had to overcome evil by drawing upon and elevating their love, fortitude, perseverance, purity, forgiveness, and humility
    – such lessons explain our purpose on this earth, which is to overcome adversity to become stronger and more like Christ

    First of all, none of those points necessarily strengthens either of the two statements.

    But most blatant is how your points above, which were intended to strengthen and resolve the imperfection of the statements, are guilty of that very same imperfection you mentioned – namely that they could apply to any religion!

    So instead of resolving the circular reasoning issue, you just added more loops to your circle.

    This is what your main problem is – you try to rationally address an issue, but end up simply adding more nonsense on top, screwing yourself into deeper and deeper irrational positions.

    That you failed to review just two paragraphs in your post to make sure you were actually making a coherent argument shows how easy it is for you to get carried away with your deepities to such an extent that you don’t even know what you’re writing or why.

    Like

  12. There is no good evidence that the disciples died for their beliefs. Most of those stories come from second century legend and we have contradictory reports of what actually happened to them. Paul and Peter most likely died under the persecution of Nero, however they didn’t die as martyrs. Nero just used Christians as an easy scapegoat to blame the fire of Rome on. James was stoned but the accounts don’t say “why” or if he was even given the chance to recant. So you can’t claim any of those people were martyred. Sorry

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  13. James. Through a simple application of common sense we know the early Christians truly believed in their cause. They either saw Jesus rise or they had friends or others who saw Him rise. Why else would they brave gory deaths? Unlike early Muslim warriors no power or land was in store for them. I encourage you to read Cold Case Christianity by Jim Warner Wallace. He offers tons of extra Bible evidence from those who were students of followers and those who opposed Jesus.

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    1. Again, you make arguments which could apply to any religion: We know Buddhists truly believe in their cause to be able to burn themselves alive. Why else would they brave gory deaths? How can you not take the time to think about the potential issues with literally every single argument you are making? I understand that in your theistic circles, most people don’t have the intellectual honesty to question the arguments you’re making, and instead base their acceptance of them on your apparent eloquence and fluidity of speech. But really, how is it possible that you don’t see the issue here?

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      1. Consider the experiences of the early Christians, many of whom were eyewitnesses to the risen Christ or they were related to people who knew people who had witnessed the risen Christ. They worshipped illegally until 312AD, braving gory deaths. No other religions make the claim that believers have seen their God. I personally have seen and heard Jesus. He’s here. And because of that I’ll shout the truth until the day I die.

        Like

      2. @MightyManGMan “Jurors, or, judges believe someone committed a crime, w/o see’n them do commit it.”
        Yeah, but they are also provided with other evidence as well.

        “You believe I am a human, w/o see’n me”
        Other animals haven’t been known to type on computers.

        “You may believe the world is round, w/o sail’n rounda globe”
        I can prove it’s round in other ways, including the use of satellites.

        “You believe you havva brain; yet you never actually saw/touched it”
        Ever hear of an MRI?

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    2. Just because they believed it doesn’t make it true. The BELIEVED they saw Jesus rise. Friends claiming it is hearsay. Believing something means you are convinced of it, not that it is real.

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      1. Jurors, or, judges believe someone committed a crime, w/o see’n them do commit it. They find the defendant guilty…You believe I am a human, w/o see’n me…You may believe the world is round, w/o sail’n rounda globe…You believe you havva brain; yet you never actually saw/touched it – it is assumed & you were tot so, so, you thot so.

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    3. “I personally have seen and heard Jesus.”
      Symptoms of schizophrenia…there is medication for that.

      “Why else would they brave gory deaths? ”
      The same reason the 9/11 highjackers did.

      “He offers tons of extra Bible evidence ”
      First, you have to prove that the Bible is credible for anything before you can try to use at as evidence for a god.
      A book that started by word of mouth, translated, re-written, and edited over and over isn’t a book to use as evidence for anything.

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  14. Again, literally everything you provide as a reason to believe could be said of other religions. Your main argument here is that Christianity is the only religion which claims that believers died for their beliefs or claim to have seen their god. Tell me, is this how you were led to your belief? Of course not. So how can you expect anyone else to accept such arguments? As Samuel stated, it remains unconvincing. The main reason you believe seems to be your personal experience. However, your own testimony is just that, testimony. We have countless testimonies of other gods and other religions. Should we also accept those? Further, how do you know that what you experienced wasn’t hallucination? What do you say of the mother who murdered her children because she had a divine experience in which god told her to do so? As will all apologists, you are only apologetic in name, and even the most superficial analysis of your arguments easily reveals how flawed they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. “It is time to drown the iron chariots and watch them rust.”
    you do understand why the site is called iron chariots, Judges 1:19 -And the LORD was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

    your god cant defeat iron chariots what makes you think you can.

    Like

    1. Hi Stephanie
      Your call on the atheist experience peeked my interest, so I looked you up. From reading your responses, I realized that that you are not familiar with logical fallacies and syllogistic argument, which is what Matt was trying to explain. He was not saying that what you were saying was a fallacy, but how you were presenting the argument was. Below are some excerpts from wikipedia that you my find useful. I’m sure that if you call back to the show, Matt will talk to you and I personally look forward to a continuation of the discussion.

      A fallacy is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning, or “wrong moves”[1] in the construction of an argument.[2][3] A fallacious argument may be deceptive by appearing to be better than it really is. Some fallacies are committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, while others are committed unintentionally due to carelessness or ignorance. Lawyers acknowledge that the extent to which an argument is sound or unsound depends on the context in which the argument is made.[4]
      Fallacies are commonly divided into “formal” and “informal”. A formal fallacy can be expressed neatly in a standard system of logic, such as propositional logic,[2] while an informal fallacy originates in an error in reasoning other than an improper logical form.[5]Arguments containing informal fallacies may be formally valid, but still fallacious.[6]

      Logical fallacies[edit]
      Fallacies are defects that weaken arguments; Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that invalidate the argument. McMullin (2000), a clinical psychologist, explains that: “Logical fallacies are unsubstantiated assertions that are often delivered with a conviction that makes them sound as though they are proven facts”.[31] It is important to understand what fallacies are so that you can recognize them in either your own or others’ writing. Avoiding fallacies will strengthen your ability to produce strong arguments. It is important to note that;
      Fallacious arguments are very, very common and can be quite persuasive, at least to the casual reader or listener. You can find dozens of examples of fallacious reasoning in newspapers, advertisements, and other sources. It is sometimes hard to evaluate whether an argument is fallacious. An argument might be very weak, somewhat weak, somewhat strong, or very strong. An argument that has several stages or parts might have some strong sections and some weak ones.

      Argument from ignorance

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      Argument from ignorance (from Latin: argumentum ad ignorantiam), also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance represents “a lack of contrary evidence”), is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proved false (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that: there may have been an insufficient investigation, and therefore there is insufficient information to prove the proposition be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four,
      1. true
      2. false
      3. unknown between true or false
      4. being unknowable (among the first three).[1]
      In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used in an attempt to shift the burden of proof.

      Overview[edit]
      Basic argument[edit]
      As described in Schreuder’s Vision and Visual Perception:[2]
      Arguments that appeal to ignorance rely merely on the fact that the veracity of the proposition is not disproved to arrive at a definite conclusion. These arguments fail to appreciate that the limits of one’s understanding or certainty do not change what is true. They do not inform upon reality. That is, whatever the reality is, it does not “wait” upon human logic or analysis to be formulated. Reality exists at all times, and it exists independently of what is in the mind of anyone. And the true thrust of science and rational analysis is to separate preconceived notion(s) of what reality is, and to be open at all times to the observation of nature as it behaves, so as truly to discover reality. This fallacy can be very convincing and is considered by some to be a special case of a false dilemma or false dichotomy in that they both fail to consider alternatives. A false dilemma may take the form:
      If a proposition has not been disproved, then it cannot be considered false and must therefore be considered true.
      If a proposition has not been proved, then it cannot be considered true and must therefore be considered false.
      Such arguments attempt to exploit the facts that (a) true things can never be disproved and (b) false things can never be proved. In other words, appeals to ignorance claim that the converse of these facts are also true. Therein lies the fallacy.
      — Duco A. Schreuder, Vision and Visual Perception
      To reiterate, these arguments ignore the fact, and difficulty, that some true things may never be proved, and some false things may never be disproved with absolute certainty. The phrase “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence” can be used as a shorthand rebuttal to the second form of the ignorance fallacy (i.e. P has never been absolutely proved and is therefore certainly false). Most often it is directed at any conclusion derived from null results in an experiment or from the non-detection of something. In other words, where one researcher may say their experiment suggests evidence of absence, another researcher might argue that the experiment failed to detect a phenomenon for other reasons.
      Matters of confusion[edit]
      See also: Evidence of absence
      Much confusion about arguments from ignorance can be caused when one side of a debate forgets that we often possess evidence of absence in practice.
      The ignorance fallacy is sometimes confused (or combined) with logically valid contrapositive arguments. Contrapositive arguments rightly utilize the transposition rule of inference in classical logic to conclude something like: To the extent that C implies E then Not-E must also imply Not-C. In other words, if a cause always leads to an effect, then absence of the expected effect is evidence of absence of the cause. For example, if the causal proposition that If it’s raining outside then the streets will be wet is assumed, then it can be assumed that if the streets are not wet then it is not raining outside. The inference that it cannot be raining outside because the streets are not getting wet is exactly as true, or perhaps exactly as untrue, as the original proposition. The statements are logically equivalent.
      Carl Sagan explains in his book The Demon-Haunted World:
      Appeal to ignorance: the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa. (e.g., There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore, UFOs exist, and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: There may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we’re still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.[3]
      For instance, absence of evidence that it rained (i.e. water is the evidence) may be considered positive evidence that it did not rain. Again, in science, such inferences are always made to some limited (sometimes extremely high) degree of probability and in this case absence of evidence is evidence of absence when the positive evidence should have been there but is not.
      Arguments from ignorance can easily find their way into debates over the existence of God. It is a fallacy to draw conclusions based precisely on ignorance, since this does not satisfactorily address issues of philosophic burden of proof.

      AE WATCHER

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      1. Thanks Dominik-

        Yes, I’m well aware of the fallacies you and Matt cited. However, they didn’t apply to my assertions on the show nor do they apply to my blogs. Please see my most recent blog to Kaimatai for a further discussion.

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  16. Hi Stephanie, I’m not sure why you chose to block me on twitter, but I was sincere when I said that I’m disappointed that we didn’t have had a more productive dialogue to lead to more understanding of each other’s positions. We always say that we want to know what you believe and why you believe it. I got a lot of insight about that question from reading your testimonial. I’m not really sure why you approached your exchanges with Matt, and your call on our show with such a combative and defensive stance right off the bat. Perhaps it’s because of the way you were treated by some of the people who convinced you to call the show? In any case, I think you have some misconceptions about atheists (for example, atheism is not a belief), and I’m sure I have some misconceptions about you, which is why I would prefer a positive and respectful dialogue rather than trading barbs and digging in. Your reasons for believing may not ever be convincing to us and our reasons for not believing may not ever be convincing to you, but we can certainly have a positive conversation about it and give each other things to think about.

    John Iacoletti
    P.S. Sorry our call screener mangled the spelling of your name. Because I have an unusual name, I’m hypersensitive about spelling other people’s names correctly.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Well, Qur’an says they neither killed Jesus not crucified him, but , in fact, it was made to appear so to them. Read Qur’an surah (chapter) 4:157-158. So, you should be worshipping Allah, instead of Yahweh. Allah is the best deciever Qur’an 3:54, 8:30. Islam is the only true religion. Muhammed and his shahabah (companions) were willing to die in a hostile environment in Mecca for many years among the polytheists.

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      1. I don’t think that question can be answered definitively but more importantly it’s not even relevant. Qur’an does not mention how Allah achieved His objective. He could have cause a mass hallucination watching the crucifixion, it could have been somebody else (less likely) or He could have made it appear to others that physical body of Jesus in fact died on the cross, but Jesus, in reality known only to Allah, did not die. Point is not about how Allah carried out his plan against Pontius Pilate’s plan of killing Jesus, just that Allah’s plan superseded (and always does) Jewish leader’s plans.

        Qur’an is the word of one and the only creator – Almighty Allah. You have to take what is written in there on it’s face value. Qur’an is mubīn (as clear as it can be), inerrant and literal word of Allah, unlike Bible which claims to be the word of God but somehow got corrupted.

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  18. I appreciate your dedication to Allah and I hope you’ll in turn appreciate my dedication to Jesus. We are free to make our own choices about whom we worship. That’s critical.

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    1. I do appreciate your dedication, but I don’t think my appreciation matters for much. What matters is truth, and the discomforting truth is that those who do shirk (Arabic for worshipping anything besides Allah) are doomed to eternal torment. Free will applies to our actions and not to whom we choose to worship. At the gates of Jahannam (hell) on judgement day, you wouldn’t have a second chance.

      Well, all I can say is go ahead and read the Qur’an and then may be you will have some clarity, you will have good reasons to believe one over the other.

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      1. God is love, as spoken in 1 John 8 and 1 John 4:16. Jesus also served as our example of love, humility and restraint. He said those who live by the sword die by the sword and He had no wives.

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      2. God is love. Everything He does is for our benefit and our spiritual advancement. Resisting Him requires so much more work than just sitting back and letting God work through you. Resisting Him equates to fighting an ocean rip current within you. You’ll never win if you swim against the rip current. Going with love’s flow is easier. Yet once He is within, the surprise comes when we find ourselves transformed. Only a few years ago I made fun of church goers, which I’m embarrassed to say. He’s enlightened me and I’ll do everything it takes to get God’s message out.

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  19. Hi Stephanie. I had asked what you are a professor of and where. Did a quick search and now know the where. Seema that your background is HR and management, would that be accurate?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. And thanks for the follow. I am following you now as well. Perhaps we can dialogue. I’m interested more in bite sized conversations though, not wide ranging and long comment exchanges. These can be a bit counter productive to open and respectful listening and consideration of the other’s positions. “Seek first to understand then to be understood”.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “I watched Matt Dillahunty dominate the conversations he was having with several Christians, which concerned me. I wondered why anyone would call in if not fully equipped for battle.”
    Then you called in and Matt proceeded to dominate the conversation.

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      1. Have you learned from the mistakes that led to Matt hanging up on and blocking you? You aren’t going to achieve your goal “to provide Christians with some tools that they can use to refute atheists’ arguments against God” if you use tactics and arguments that atheists can demolish and reinforce negative Christian stereotypes.

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  22. Indeed. I too am an atheist and came here to see what you might say. After reading everything you’ve written, I still find very little in your arguments compelling or reasonable.

    In the comments above, you cite the common usage of fallacy, but ignore the mathematical or logical meaning. It is pretty easy to create a fallicious argument that that 64/16 = 4/1 — just cancel the 6’s and you see what is left is 4/1. This fallicious argument, happens to have a conclusion that is true; 64/16 in fact IS 4/1, it happens that ONLY the argument is the fallacy here, not the conclusion. “31/23 = 1/2”, by the same argument (cancel the 3’s) demonstrates the argument is not a reliable means to finding the truth.

    In the same manner, nothing can be determined about the truth of your conclusions because your arguments are structured on fallicious reasoning, I.E, the rhetorical “why else would they have done that” (fallacy from ignorance – you can not see any other reason, therefore your claim must be true.) Your same arguments and reasoning can be applied to many claims that contradict your own claims, with equal justification and weight as your own.. Your arguments truly seem based on emotional appeal, rather than sound reasoning.

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  23. One thing is blatantly evident here that she is riding high on a horse of fantastical intellectualism. On a second thought, isn’t that what horses were created for??

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    1. Please note that any mentions of my school will not be included as comments on this post. My opinions are my own, not those of my school. I don’t express opinions on religion in my secular university other than my opinion that we should be freely be allowed to practice any religion we believe in and that I’m a Christian.

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      1. Embarrassed much? I never said that those were your schools’ opinions; heck, I even clarified that in the very last sentence of my non-approved comment as well!

        In any case I hope you keep thinking rationally about the point I made in that comment; that, indeed, is more important than publishing it.

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  24. After reading the comments I find it odd that someone can claim to be aware of logical fallacies and then consistently use them. If Stephanie does call the atheist experience again I hope she studies up on those fallacies or it will just be a repeat of the last time.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Watched when you called in. You failed hard for not answering the questions and trying to rant and talk over Matt instead of having an actual discussion. That and your denial of your clear argument from ignorance fallacy. You should learn to take responsibility for your mistakes, not deny them like a petulant child.

    Liked by 1 person

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