Monday, November 04, 2019

Required reading for atheists

This is a complement to an earlier post:

The two posts overlap. The earlier post is more technical and detailed. This post is deliberately simplified. But it adds some new arguments and some new titles. 

Many atheists think Christians are supposed to start from scratch every time they meet a new atheist. As if every time we meet an atheist, we're expected to repeat all the arguments and evidence. It's like requiring every teacher to instruct each student individually rather than classroom instruction. 

The typecast atheist who has a checklist of argumentative questions, who acts like these questions have never been answered before, and is too lazy to study the preexisting answers. Too lazy to ask where to find good answers to his questions. Instead, he's like a college student who tells the professor, "I don't read textbooks, and I won't sit in class with other students. No, you must individually tutor me". 

If an atheist is not prepared to read up on answers to the stock questions/objections, then he's not intellectually serious or curious. Due to the brevity of the human lifespan, we have to make choices about where to put our time. We can spend more time on fewer people or less time on more people. We can be more intensive at the expense of being less extensive or more extensive at the expense of being less intensive. Those are necessary tradeoffs. Wise Christians strike a balance. We sink extra time into a smaller circle, while we also try to do things for a larger group. 

My recommendation is to give the atheist a reading list of arguments for Christianity. To acquaint him with the range of evidence for Christianity. If he's unwilling to read the material, then he's not a sincere truth-seeker, he's not asking questions or raising objections to find out what the answers are, so invest your time in someone else. 

The case for Christianity takes the form of a cumulative case argument. There's no one piece of evidence. 

An atheist might complain that my list is one-sided. In fact, I'm deeply read in the atheist literature. I've gone out of my way to read high-level atheists. So I know both sides of the argument. Indeed, I daresay that I'm better versed in atheism than most atheists.

However, all you need to know about atheism is whether naturalism commits the consistent adherent to moral and/or existential nihilism. If that's the case, then you can scratch it off the list. 

The list below is just a sample. But it will be a real eyeopener for the sincere truth-seeker who has no inkling with regard to multiple lines of evidence for Christianity. 

Philosophical arguments

W. L. Craig, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (2012)

Edward Feser, Five Proofs of the Existence of God (2017)

Joshua Rasmussen, The Bridge of Reason: Ten Steps to See God (2018)

Joshua Rasmussen, How Reason Can Lead to God (2019)

Colin Ruloff (ed.), Contemporary Arguments in Natural Theology (Bloomsbury Press, forthcoming)

Jerry Walls, ed. Two Dozen (or so) Arguments for God (2018)

Scientific arguments

Douglas Axe, Robin Collins, William Dembski, Jonathan McLatchie, Stephen Meyer. 

Argument from miracles

Craig Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, 2 vols. (2011)

Robert Larmer, The Legitimacy of Miracle (2012), appendix. 

_____, Dialogues on Miracle (2015), appendix. 

Argument from prophecy

Michael Rydelnik, ed. The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy (2019).

Argument from archeology

Peter Williams, Can We Trust the Gospels? (2018)

Argument from undesigned coincidences

Lydia McGrew, Hidden in Plain View (2017) 

Argument from unnecessary details

Lydia McGrew, The Mirror or the Mask (2019)

_____, The Eye of the Beholder (forthcoming)

Argument from nihilism

Some Christian apologists argue that naturalism commits the consistent naturalist to moral and/or existential nihilism. However, it isn't necessary to read Christian apologists argue for that position. It's not just a Christian interpretation of naturalism. You can read many candid atheists who admit that:

Argument from demonology

M. Scott Peck, Glimpses of the Devil: A Psychiatrist's Personal Accounts of Possession (2009)

Argument from angelic apparitions

Emma Heathcote-James, Seeing Angels: True Contemporary Accounts of Hundreds of Angelic Experiences (2001)

Argument from postmortem apparitions

Transcendental theism

James Anderson, Why Should I Believe Christianity? (2016)


Pascal's Wager

It's not a direct argument for Christianity, but a catalyst to shake the indifferent out of their complacency. It needs to be supplemented

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely right about atheists. Every time I have engaged them they refuse to bear any burden of proof for their atheism. Even after I have pointed out that their subjective state of mind (unbelief in the existence of God) is not an argument against the existence of God.
    BTW- thanks for the resources. I'll be checking them out.