Tag Archives: Claim

How can you prefer a moral standard from one religion vs another?

Here’s a reply to my extremely mean recent post about atheism’s difficulties making moral behavior rational.

Llama wrote:

Why is Christian morality correct? Why not Islamic morality?

And I replied like this:

Great question. You can’t settle it by comparing moral specifics. You have to appeal to some sort of testable claim.

For example, you mentioned Islam. Islam thinks that Jesus never actually died on a cross (Surah 4:157). Are the Muslims correct in saying this? It’s a historical claim, so to history we must go.

There is no credentialed historian of any stripe (atheist, agnostic, Jewish, etc.) who doubts the crucifixion. In fact, prominent atheist scholar E. P. Sanders of Duke University puts it on his list of almost indisputable facts about the historical Jesus.

E. P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985). Sanders lists eight “almost indisputable facts” which he takes as his starting point (p. 11):

1. Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

2. Jesus was a Galilean who preached and healed.

3. Jesus called disciples and spoke of there being twelve.

4. Jesus confined his activity to Israel.

5. Jesus engaged in a controversy about the temple.

6. Jesus was crucified outside of Jerusalem by the Roman authorities.

7. After his death Jesus’ followers continued as an identifiable movement.

8. At least some Jews persecuted at least parts of the new movement . . . .

See now also E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Penguin, 1993).

And prominent Jewish Professor of Religion Paula Fredriksen of Boston University says in this paper that “The single most solid fact we have about Jesus’ life is his death. Jesus was crucified. Thus Paul, the gospels, Josephus, Tacitus: the evidence does not get any better than this.”

Sanders and Fredriksen are probably two of the best scholars on the historical Jesus in the world, and they are NOT Christians – they have no axe to grind. So Islam is false as false can be. The Koran cannot contain any errors – Muslims claim it is inerrant and its moral authority is lost if any error is found. But we’ve found a BIG ONE.

Regarding Christianity, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christian morality should not be taken seriously either. Even Paul says that if the resurrection did not happen then Christianity, and Christian morality, is WORTHLESS. See 1 Corinthians 15:17-19. 1 Corinthians is one of the most early and reliable books in the New Testament. It is authored by Paul in 55 AD – and no scholars denies that. It’s genuine Paul. The creed in 1 Cor 15:3-7 is dated within 1 to 5 years of the Cross. By ATHEIST scholars like James Crossley.

My advice is to watch some DEBATES between Christian and non-Christian scholars on the topic of the resurrection. You’ll find some linked in this post.

Or just look here:

Debates are a fun way to learn

Three debates where you can see this play out:

Or you can listen to my favorite debate on the resurrection.

Not that I don’t think you have to be an inerrantist in order to be a Christian, so long as your claims of error are on solid historical ground. (I am an inerrantist – you don’t have to be to be a Christian – you just have to accept the classical creeds of Christendom)

Hope this helps. Come on – I typed all this in. At least listen to the William Lane Craig versus James Crossley debate. Please?

Every religion makes truth claims about the word, and you can choose a religion by testing those claims. Wouldn’t it be neat if Christians learned to argue for their worldview using facts supplied by non-Christian experts? That’s how I try to argue.

Can anyone prove God’s existence? Is there any evidence?

The Pugnacious Irishman considers the general objection:

No one can prove God’s existence (or Jesus’ existence, or that the Bible is God’s word, etc, etc…just toss in any number of Christian staples).  There is no evidence whatsoever.  It’s all belief and faith.

This is called hard agnosticism. Atheism is the claim “There is no God”. Soft agnosticism is the claim “I don’t know if there is a God”. Hard agnosticism is the claim “No one can know whether there is a God or not”.

Now take a moment and think about how you would respond in a general way, without plunging into the arguments and counter-arguments.

Rich begins by teaching us about the notion of burden of proof:

It is important that when someone says that to you, that you never let them off the hook.  It is just too easy to throw it out there without backing it up.  It is a particularly convenient one liner for those who aren’t really interested in God and for those who have not thought deeply about God.  That’s not to say that everyone who says that hasn’t thought deeply about God, it’s just that it’s easy for folks like that to resort to it.  Rather than launching into disproving the “no proof” belief, force your conversation partner to shoulder his responsibility: he made a claim, now he must back it up.  No reason for you to launch into Kalam mode.

This actually happened to me when I was working for a software company in Chicago. We were waiting for a meeting room to empty. I was browsing a William Lane Craig debate transcript on one of the lab machines, when one of the engineers said, “Why do you read that stuff? No one can know whether God exists or not!” So I said, “Why do you think that?” And he said, “Because God is non-physical and that means that we can never have evidence of a non-physical entity”. And we went from there, straight to the Kalam argument.

Rich documents FIVE responses here, and breaks them down. My favorites are the last two, but they are all useful, depending on the person who is asking.

By the way, here is the evidence for Christian theism and responses to objections, if evidence is really required. But the point of this post is that if anyone makes a claim to know that there is no proof that God exists, the first questions you need to ask before you go to the data is: what do you mean by “God”? what would count as proof for you? who have you read? what is wrong with the arguments that you’ve read? Etc.