Hard Questions or Bad Arguments?

 

I have often accused atheists of not thinking, but such an accusation is not that they don’t think, but that they are muddled, confused, or just plain ignorant. This especially seems prevalent in nonbelievers who were raised in some kind of fundamentalist background, where they were not taught about the Bible and were never taken through the text itself. They were loaded up with terms like “inspired” and “inerrant” and were never given any meaningful explanation of what those terms mean. So I fault the pastors, teachers, and parents who did not do their job. But sometimes, just sometimes atheists can actually pose good questions that need to be answered. So, over the next several posts I’m going to work through a post at the Humanist Plus blog titled, “Little Things Can Make an Atheist,” written by J.H. McKenna, that has about 20 questions and try to answer them.

Maybe you’re an atheist and are wondering about some of these same things. Maybe you’ve been asking questions and have met with the ole, “you just gotta believe,” or some similar lines and that makes you think either that there aren’t answers or that the answers that you’re getting simply are ridiculous. So let’s get started.

McKenna begins by saying,

As I read deeper in a trove of literature on unbelief and freethought from the past several centuries, it is interesting to see little things given as reasons for rejecting Christianity and God.

Okay. He then proceeds to presents summaries of these questions, the first of which,

If God ‘reveals’ vital information to only a few people and keeps that information concealed from the wide world, this shows an unjust partiality in God. If God had a saving message for humanity, why didn’t God make the message accessible to all at the same moment?

First, upon what basis can he call God’s decision to do things the way he wants to do them “unjust”? It seems to just completely ignore the fact that, according to Scripture, man is in rebellion, along with some of the heavenly host. Now, any military leader will be apt to tell you that you don’t give your enemies your battle plans. God, of necessity, plays things very close to the vest and he reveals what he wants to whom he wants when he wants because he is God, and we are not. This argument is simply an assault on God’s sovereignty and that he is somehow obligated to us, rather than it being the other way around.

And just what do the Scriptures say about this? I’m so glad you asked,

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3, ESV)

and

For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps. (Psalm 135:5-6, ESV)

also, there’s this confession from the lips of the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar,

[The] Most High (aka, Yahweh), and praised and honored him who lives forever,for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34b-35, ESV, emphasis added)

The second,

No information can be called ‘revealed’ that was not formerly ‘concealed.’ But purportedly revealed information was already extant in the world for hundreds or thousands of years and found all over the globe. Moses’ moral commands were in no way a ‘revelation’ inasmuch as every tribe on the planet had arrived at the same moral rules millennia earlier.

This one simply misses what is being revealed or, more precisely, who. The argument of Scripture, when it come to basic morals, not the laws that spring from them, is that humans have similar moral understandings because they all are image bearers of God. What Scripture dictates is how God, Yahweh, will be worshipped by those to whom he has made himself known and how they are to live before him. Now, this argument glosses over key differences between the Mosaic law code and other law codes that this article demonstrates several key differences, such as

a. There is no control of lust.

b. There is no limitation on selfishness.

c. There is nowhere to be found the postulate of charity.

d. There is nowhere to be found the religious motif which recognizes sin as the destruction of the people because it is in opposition to the fear of God. In the Hammurappi Code every trace of religious thought is absent; behind the Iraelite law stands everywhere the ruling will of God; the Mosaic legislation bears a religious character.

In fact, this last point differentiates everything in the OT from the rest of ANE literature and society: the monotheism and the stress on love for God and love for neighbors. This is absolutely unique in world history. (There is nothing outside the Bible like Deuteronomy 6:4-9, for instance). (emphasis added)

It even gives an example of the laws,

21 If a man made a breach in a house, they shall put him to death in front of that breach and wall him in.

25 If afire (sic) broke out in a man’s house and a man, who went to extinguish it, cast his eye on the goods of the owner of the house and has appropriated the goods of the owner of the house, that man shall be thrown into the fire.

110 If a hierodule, a “lady of a god”, who is not living in a temple, has opened the door of a wineshop or has entered a wineshop for a drink, they shall burn that woman.

127 If a man pointed the finger at a “lady of a god” or the wife of another man, but has proved nothing, they shall drag that man into the presence of the judges and also cut off half his hair.

129 If the wife of a man has been caught while lying with another man, they hsall bind them and throw them into the water. If the husband of the woman wishes to spare his wife, then the kig in turn may spare his subject. (Sic)

Such arguments as these try to gloss over the differences rather than meaningfully demonstrate the similarities.

For this post, I believe that’s enough. So, until next time.

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