Monday, September 16, 2013

Christianity And Its Evidence Keep Growing

Alex Tsakiris recently interviewed John Loftus on his Skeptiko podcast. Tsakiris makes some good points, and his comments at the end of the podcast (recounting an email exchange he had with Loftus) are especially worth listening to. Don't just read the transcript. There are significant parts of the program that the transcript doesn't include.

Tsakiris made some of his usual anti-Christian comments. At times, he'll dismiss "Christianity" without qualification. At other points, he refers to something like "fundamentalist Christians". He mentioned inerrancy. Judging by this podcast and his previous comments, I suspect that he's referring to conservative professing Christians in general. It's misleading to refer to conservative Christianity as a whole as "fundamentalism", but I suspect that's what he's doing. He wants to move beyond the disputes between atheism and the type of Christianity he's criticizing. He thinks people are "stuck on stupid" by focusing too much on atheism and traditional Christianity. He thinks work like what Loftus has done has effectively debunked conservative Christianity. He's weary of "silly, empty tomb Christianity kinds of debates". He wants to move on.

But much of what he wants to move on to, such as near-death experiences and "whether or not consciousness is an illusion", has been discussed by conservative Christians for a long time. He's interviewed some of them on his program (e.g., Gary Habermas, J. Steve Miller). I'd agree with Tsakiris that Christians should be discussing such issues more often and in more depth, but the issues are already on the table to some extent. And he's given us no reason to dismiss the other disputes atheists and Christians are involved in. If he doesn't think we should be discussing something like the empty tomb or inerrancy, he should explain why. Furthermore, the traditional arguments for Christianity, which are highly significant and need to be addressed, are being supplemented by a large amount of modern evidence. We're living at a time when Christianity has become the largest religion in the history of the world (in fulfillment of prophecies that were very unlikely from a naturalistic perspective), Israel has reemerged as a nation, Jerusalem is central in human affairs, and the growth of the church in China and other parts of the world is accompanied by widespread miraculous activity, to cite a few examples. Tsakiris' dismissal of Christianity, or even just conservative Christianity if he meant to limit his comments in that way, is far from the truth.

By the way, the material by Victor Stenger that Loftus cites during the interview has been reviewed by Steve Hays and me in chapter 13 and appendix 11 of The End Of Infidelity. We, along with others on the Triablogue staff, have written extensive reviews of a few of Loftus' books. See the "eBooks" section of our sidebar.


  1. We're living at a time when Christianity has become the largest religion in the history of the world (in fulfillment of prophecies that were very unlikely from a naturalistic perspective)

    Isn't that amazing? That's why I'm hopeful that Postmillennialism is true. Though, I don't take a dogmatic stand on the millennium.

    ...and the growth of the church in China and other parts of the world...

    William Lane Craig said HERE (already cued up)

    "He [atheist philosopher Theodore Drange] says, 'Well, why is it that the Asians are left out and Christians are all in the West?' Again, that shows his ignorance of contemporary demographics. In 1989 the number of Christians in Asian surpassed the number of Christians in North America. And in 1991 the number of Christians in Asia surpassed the number of Christians in the entire Western World. Christianity is not a 'White Man's religion'. If anything, it's an Asian religion today."

    is accompanied by widespread miraculous activity

    I'm intrigued by the fact that there this growing worldwide phenomenon of Muslims converting to Christianity due to visions and dreams of Jesus and/or angelic visitations. I've accumulated some articles HERE. I suspect that this has been going on for centuries, but it's only now that it's happening in such numbers. I have to wonder why now? Could the return of Christ be soon? I don't know. Personally suspect it's long after our lifetimes, but it's interesting that all these types of things are converging at the same time that apologetics has been exploding both in wideness and depth as Gary Habermas humorously points out HERE.

    As, as a charismatic, I have to say that among charismatics there's a widespread belief (rightly or wrongly) that the occurance of miracles, healings and other supernatural occurrences has been like a rising tide in the past decade and half. It's as if since the beginning of the 20th century there have been waves that ebb and flow and we're in a season of flowing. Unlike the types of Pentecostal and Charismatic revivals in early 1920s and 1960s, charismatics are abandoning the paradigm of the "one man [or woman]" anointed healer view which fostered pride and charlatans. A growing teaching among charismatics is that every believer can and should minister healing to non-Christians as signs and wonders for use in evangelism.

    It's also interesting that our generation is the one privileged to have more scientific evidence for a creation/designer of the universe, solar system, earth and life on earth than any other previous generation. For example, the ID movement, the virtually confirmed beginning of the universe and/or multiverse, and fine-tuning of the universe.

    1. BTW, here's a LINK to an interesting statement made by Hugh Ross. It's already cued up.

      Hugh Ross said that his Church is in between CalTech and JPL and so there are a lot of scientific and engineer minded people who attend his church. In his church they practice praying for the sick by the elders. As they did, they approached it scientifically. They noticed that when they were in the habit of announcing healings from the pulpit (presumably on Sundays) there were significantly fewer healings then when they kept it completely secret when people were healed. Ross connected that with the multiple times Jesus would sometimes tell the people He healed not to tell anyone about it.

      Roger Sapp, whom I suspect genuinely operates in the supernatural by the Holy Spirit claims that there was a time that lasted for a year when people who said that they wanted to be healed "for the glory of God" or in order to have a great testimony to share with non-Christians, that he had difficulty getting them healed. Then he noticed the same passages that Ross alludes too. So, it was only after he was able to get the sick people to believe that God wanted to heal them for their own sakes that he was able to get them well (rather than for another "nobler" purpose). That is, merely because God was compassionate and wanted them well.

  2. I just listened to that interview and it is pretty clear to be that Tsakaris hasn't researched Christianity that deeply. He also interviewed Chris White of the Ancient Aliens Debunked podcasts, and I thought Chris held his own against Alex very well. Alex's objections to Christianity appear to be superficial and much of his skepticism toward the text of the bible are based on Bart Ehrman's exaggerated claims. Just my two cents.

  3. If there's one nice thing about Tsakiris, it's that he's an oddball who can surprise his guests. Loftus whining about how he was blindsided is also rich. The man gets blindsided a lot - it's called 'coming across arguments or observations he has no real answer to.'