Berean cogitations

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Boy, I'm getting some hostility on YouTube!

Man, I'm getting a lot of hostile responses to the videos that I posted on -- the ones where I tackle various arguments regarding theism and the validity of Christianity.

Of course, I expected some hostility; however, I'm disappointed that most of these remarks fall far afield of the actual topics that I addressed. For example, in one video, I tried to argue that we shouldn't dismiss the gospels simply because they are biased; after all, if Christ's claims are true -- and if he truly rose from the dead -- then it would be impossible for any reasonable person to report these things in an unbiased manner! Moreover, as a history professor pointed out to me, most historical accounts will tend to contain bias, as this is pretty much unavoidable.
In response, one fella responded, "That's a lousy reason to believe the Bible!" I was disappointed in that response. Why? Because I wasn't offering an argument for the Bible's validity! Rather, in that particular video, I was merely addressing the notion that we should dismiss the gospels on account of their being biased.

In another video, I talked about how the physical constants of the universe -- the strength of gravity, the decay rate of protons, and so forth -- are so improbably and precisely tuned as to allow life to exist. To cut a long story short, if these constants were just a hair different, then oxygen would not form, hydrogen would not form, water could not exist, and so forth and so on. Life simply count not exist.

To my disappointment, one fella piped up by saying, "Why should we think this is an argument for God's existence? We have a much simpler explanation -- EVOLUTION!" I shook my head in dismay. How does evolution explain why the masses of neutrons and protons are so precisely tuned as to allow the formation of atoms? Or that the rate of radioactive decay is just right for allowing elements such as oxygen and nitrogen to exist? Evolution can't explain these things; quite the contrary! These constants must first be finely tuned before life can even exist.
It seems to me that people are often eager to take any potshot that they can against theism and Christianity. The validity of their arguments are less important than the opportunity to sling some mud our way.

To be fair, I level the same criticism against Christians who use poorly considered arguments in defense of the faith. Whenever Christians say "Ya just gotta believe", I cringe; after all, did Paul not exhort us to always be ready with a defense for our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15)? And when Christians respond to critics by saying, "That's not what the Bible says," I cringe as well; after all, people who disbelieve the Bible will tend to automatically dismiss such arguments.
(Mind you, I think there are times when it's helpful to quote the Bible and let its words sink into someone's heart. In most cases though, this doesn't make for a convincing argument--especially when we're dealing with true skeptics.)

This is one reason why I think it's important for us to develop our skills at presenting logical, carefully reasoned, carefully presented arguments in favor of the faith. There is a lot of careless, emotional thinking when it comes to matters of religion. Instead of fighting at a purely emotional level, we need to make sure that our arguments are also rooted in careful reasoning and solid facts. We also need to demonstrate what the facts actually say, while doing so in a winsome, loving and compassionate manner. Jesus would expect no less.