Theists feel compelled for some reason to have an answer for everything. when their description of god falls short, the atheist pounce claiming this as proof that god doesn't exist.
I suppose this probably happens from time to time, but I have yet to encounter it here. At least, if you're arguing against atheists who claim that if Deity Concept #5891 (some particular theist's description of their deity/deities) fails in some way, therefore all deity concepts are false. Sure, that would be fallacious reasoning. However, while I haven't encountered it from an atheist, I've seen it here in the reversed (theist) version all. the. time. "Can you explain and rigorously prove every conceivable thing about [the Big Bang/Evolution/Abiogenesis/Etc.]? No? Therefore, Jesus! Checkmate, atheists!" Several of the classical arguments for Yahweh (e.g. First Cause, Argument from Design, Argument from Morality) rest entirely on this strategy.
one of Man's greatest attempts to describe God is in the Bible. a completely fallible book. even the God described in that book changed over time although he's not supposed to. if the Bible isn't perfect, atheists claim, god can't exist.
Well, an imperfect Bible wouldn't be evidence against Ma'at or Thor or Sita or Zeus or [Etc.] existing. Why, exactly, should we just automatically default to the assumption of Abrahamic monotheism? Is there any reason to think the Bible is any more accurate in terms of information about "the reality of divinity" (whatever that might be) than the Pyramid Texts or the Vedas?
That said, imperfections in the Bible do refute a goodly swath of the Christian probability-space, like so:
1) If Yahweh is an omnimax
2) Yahweh desires to communicate a message to humanity (for purposes of leading us to salvation, rebuking "sin" or whatever), and...
3) Yahweh's chosen method of communication is to "inspire" the creation of the Bible...
4) ...then Yahweh by definition (#1) cannot fail
In other words, Yahweh as defined in Premise #1 cannot
suck at communication or be incapable of preserving and transmitting the fidelity of his message. Therefore, if there are imperfections, human-authored corruptions, etc. in the Bible (not to mention the possibility of "divinely inspired" texts and/or passages being omitted from the final product), and Yahweh is asserted to be an infallible and perfectly honest source (i.e., he can't lie, troll, or otherwise deliberately insert or allow misinformation to creep into "his message"), then that concept of Yahweh
cannot exist. Other concepts (Yahweh is malevolent, Yahweh is a Trickster, Yahweh is incompetent, Yahweh is too remote or otherwise incapable of managing the fidelity of his alleged communications, etc.) are not necessarily ruled out. However, we would still need good evidence in favor
of the existence of some other concept of Yahweh that's compatible with a fallible Bible before giving the claim any credence.
progressive Christian seminaries, however, are totally comfortable acknowledging the Bible was written by men and therefore is not perfect. so it proves nothing.
I would love to have more of these "progressive" "sophisticated" Christian theologian types around here. We've got one (Old Church Guy, whom I haven't seen a post from in awhile) who is a local favorite. The main problem I have with the approach these people take (at least, the ones I'm familiar with, such as James McGrath and Bishop Shelby Spong) is that ultimately, there's no there
there. Just getting any of them to actually specify what they're claiming to be true WRT Christianity
is like trying to nail fog to a wall. I have yet to see any of them offer a good reason why their theology should be Christian
, rather than Hindu or Native American or Greek or Egyptian, etc..
There are only five possible avenues to get to Christianity that I know of:
A) Church Tradition--the claim by churches who can directly trace their origins and doctrines to Roman times, i.e. the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Nestorian, etc. Churches--to have received the true message of Christianity from Jesus and his disciples and handed it down without (significant?) distortion to the present day.
B ) The Bible (may fall under #1 for the Roman era churches; it's only the "sole" source code for Protestants).
C) Direct experience of Yahweh, Jesus, angels, etc..
D) Compelling historical and/or scientific evidence for the existence of Yahweh and his attachment to some particular set of Christian doctrines.
E) Some combination of the above.
Good luck getting the "progressive sophisticated Christian theologian" to explain which of these (or any other proposed avenues) they get their versions of Christianity from. Also, which of the numbered premises above do they reject? Again, an omnimax, infallible Yahweh cannot fail
to get his message across accurately, if that's what he's trying to do. If he's not
trying to get a message across accurately, or can't
get a message across accurately
, on what basis can a Christian claim to know that the bits of Christianity they like are true?
Then there's the history of Christianity to consider. I challenge anyone to go through the Bible, or the writings of the Church Fathers, or pretty much anything in Christianity before these modern progressive theologians came along, and find support for this "comfort with uncertainty" of theirs. The Bible drips with plainly-stated declarations that you'd better believe the right things and/or have the right practices
or you are emphatically Not In The Club--dire consequences forthcoming. Christian history, from Paul's epistles through the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, all the way down to the "Statement of Faith" for every church that has one, is one long sectarian struggle over what constitutes "the One True Faith." And if anyone is "uncertain" or has some other set of beliefs ("infidel" if not Christian, "heretic" if Christian), then "let him be accursed!" On what basis can these modern Christians come along, shake the theological Etch-A-Sketch, and pretend that none of that ever happened? Christianity wasn't invented in 1960. It really wasn't!
the core problem is no one is comfortable with uncertainty. No one can say "i don't know", ever. it somehow conveys a weakness. everyone must have a firm opinion on everything at all times.
Bollocks. There's all kinds of shit I don't know. What is "Dark Matter?" What is "Dark Energy?" What happened before the Big Bang? Does "before" even apply in that context? How did insect metamorphosis evolve (caterpillar wraps a chrysalis around itself, then emerges later as a Monarch butterfly, a whole different creature that can fucking fly
, WTF?!)? I could go on, and on, and on. The thing is, the limits of my knowledge as such do not provide any evidence that Yahweh exists. Or Ahura-Mazda, or Quetzalcoatl, or Freya, or Quan Yin, or....etc..
the Theist will say "I know there's a god, and here's what he's like" and then proceed to bumble and stumble. the atheist will laugh and and say "see, no god". neither has an ounce of humility or doubt. both are fools in my book.
I don't know everything about Elvis and John Lennon. I don't know much about them at all, really. However, my level of ignorance about them gives me no reason to offer any credence to the claim that they were visiting space aliens, or "doubt" that they weren't. If someone wants me to "doubt" the non-existence of some deity or other, it's up to them to provide legitimate evidence for
the existence of their proposed deity or deities. Otherwise, the Null Hypothesis wins by default. The burden of proof lies with the person who wants to add
something (such as a deity, or the existence of flying saucers, fairies, djinn, Higgs Bosons, etc.) to our inventory of the known or the possible.