Atheist Memes: Be Wise — Don’t Take The Bait!

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Someone asked on Facebook for advice on responding to the meme you see above and below. (It didn’t have my “Wrong” commentary on it.) Answers varied. Most of them had something to do with clarifying the nature of prayer. They were good answers, but not for a meme like this.

They were good answers, that is, for someone who’s genuinely puzzling about the nature of prayer. Prayer raises genuine issues, and they’re fair questions when asked fairly. Even C. S. Lewis wrote an essay about petitionary prayer, and how hard it is to understand what God is really doing there. (It’s in Christian Reflections.) But Lewis prayed anyway, even as he struggled through that question.

If there were one thing I could wish for atheist/Christian dialogues on the web, it’s this: That believers would refuse to let atheists bait them.

Not an image of Jesus. Just a meme that looks like a popular image of him. Jesus himself wouldn’t say that.

The creator of this meme was doing nothing of the sort. It’s mockery. No, actually it’s baiting. This meme is a worm dangled in front of the Christian, saying, “Here. Take it! You’ll like it!” But there’s a hook it’s attached to, and that’s where the mockery really resides. Take the bait, and the next thing you’ll hear is “Gotcha!”

Refuse the Bait!

If there were one thing I could wish for atheist/Christian dialogues on the web, it’s this: That believers would refuse to let atheists bait them. Or if I may switch metaphors, that we’d refuse to play by atheists’ rules.

Jesus set the example here. Study him in the Gospels, and you’ll find he almost never let his adversaries set the rules for engagement. He consistently kept conversations pointing back toward truth, but seldom if ever by cooperating with traps people laid for him. I wrote a full study on this in my short book How Would Jesus Blog? Answering Online Adversaries Jesus’ WayI’m not trying to sell a book, I’m trying to help Christians interact more productively. If you want to understand better, though, I really do recommend the book.

I’m not trying to sell anything, and I’m also not recommending weasel tactics. We don’t need to evade memes, and we certainly shouldn’t squirm out of them through any sort of illegitimate comeback. Instead we need to recognize what’s going on beneath the surface and address that instead.

Ask Questions to Get Beneath the Surface

In this meme, for instance, what’s likely going on is that the person:

  • Has no clue to the character of Jesus.
  • Thinks Jesus is worthy of scorn or mockery.
  • Has no idea understanding of the true doctrine of Christian prayer.
  • Nevertheless thinks he understands the doctrine of prayer.
  • Has no idea what really goes on when Christians pray.
  • Doesn’t care that he doesn’t know, or that he gets these things wrong.
  • Is quite sure this is a fatal “gotcha” for Christianity.

It’s possible not all of those are true, but some of them surely are. So why would we answer a person with that kind of attitude?

Use More Questions to Open Up Understanding

For starters, we might actually try to help them understand; but not (at first, anyway) to understand the answer to their question, but rather to help them see that their question is built on faulty premises. So we answer with questions:

  • Tell me, please, what you think prayer is.
  • I wonder where you got that information from?
  • Do you think that’s all there is to prayer?
  • Has it occurred to you there might be more to it?
  • Tell me what you understand of the character of Jesus, that would lead you to think he might be pulling a trick on us like the meme suggests?
  • Where did you get that information from?
  • Why do you think Christians pray? Is it because the issue you’ve raised here has never occurred to us?
  • Do you actually think Christians have never worked through a question like that? (You can find some good thinking on it by searching for “Lewis essay petitionary prayer.”)
  • (If the previous answer is “yes,” I think this is a question you’ve never worked through.) Your view of Christians here seems to be that we’re mindless and stupid. Am I right to read you that way, or did I get that wrong?
  • Would you be interested in hearing a thoughtful answer to your question?

That last question comes at any point in the question/answer where you think you might get a positive response. But I wouldn’t offer a thoughtful answer unless I had some reason to hope they’d be interested in hearing it.

If They’re Really Adversarial: Mocking/Scorning/Ridiculing

Sometimes — too often, sadly — in a question/answer dialogue you discover they don’t care to listen at all; they only want to mock. Then it’s fair to ask questions like:

  • You seem to think it’s okay to mock without listening. Am I reading that right?
  • Would you agree it’s a mark of good character to listen before you treat other ideas with such scorn?
  • I see you stereotyping Christians here. Do you believe in stereotyping?

The person who is only there to heap scorn on Christianity doesn’t need an answer, other than the one Jesus gave. In one way or another, and seldom in the same way twice, he called on people to look to their own character. We shouldn’t do it condemningly, and we should keep it in a question-asking mode, such as, “Am I reading that right?” — except if it’s obvious, we can call it what it is. Mockery is mockery, and you can say so; it only goes wrong when you make unwarranted pronouncements on the persons’ motives.

One final note. In case it seems wrong to plaster Jesus’ face with the word “Wrong” as it appears to be in the image above, I don’t see it that way at all. That isn’t Jesus; not if he’s speaking those words. It’s someone who vaguely resembles popular images of Jesus, but that’s not really him there. He wouldn’t say that.

41 Responses

  1. Jenna Black says:

    There is a question for atheists that I would add to the list, or actually two related questions: What do you think it means for a prayer to be answered? What do you think it means to a Christian who prays for his/her prayers to be answered?

    The atheists answer to these questions, if it is honest and sincere, tells us a great deal about what the atheists believes about God (the God they believe does not exist) and what stereotypes they have about Christians and Christianity.

  2. Jim Jones says:

    If a member of a religion other than Christianity prays and their prayer is granted, who granted their prayer? Why?

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    What do you think? Why?

  4. Tom Gilson says:

    Good questions, Jenna. Thanks.

  5. DavidJ says:

    “What do you think it means for a prayer to be answered?” For a prayer to be answered, I think it means what was requested (for example, a material acquisition, some improvement in a situation (such as someone being healed of something), some guidance or strength in handling a situation, etc.) came to be.

    “What do you think it means to a Christian who prays for his/her prayers to be answered?” I think when a Christian’s prayers are answered it means (to the Christian) that the request was fulfilled due to action or a decision not to act by the entity the prayer was directed toward.

    I am interested in hearing how Christians answer the second question.

  6. BillT says:

    If a member of a religion other than Christianity prays and their prayer is granted, who granted their prayer? Why?

    We believe in common grace and that means that God’s grace extends to all.

  7. BillT says:

    “What do you think it means to a Christian who prays for his/her prayers to be answered?”….
    I am interested in hearing how Christians answer the second question.

    In my understanding and from a Christian perspective God “answering prayer’ means that God has allowed us the enter into his plan. For some perspective we understand that God’s omniscience makes him immutable. Therefor, he doesn’t change nor do his plans or actions change. He, through prayer, allows us to participate in his plan. He does this to draw us to him and help us understand him and his character. Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us.

  8. Chris Hogue says:

    When god answers your prayers, record it. You’ll be the first one to do so. Imagine all the riches you’d gain by simply being capable of not only having the proof that a god exists, but that yours is the true god and the other thousands religions currently practiced are wrong.

  9. Tom Gilson says:

    I keep an occasional prayer journal in which I’ve recorded 324 answered prayers to date. It’s but a fraction of the prayers I’ve prayed and that have been answered.

    There are plenty of reasons to be convinced Jesus Christ was and is the true God. Prayer answers are on the list, although not really that close to the top.

    But do please look in the sidebar for the link to this blog’s discussion policy. Once is okay, but otherwise I do enforce it.

  10. It always amazes me how bothered atheists are by a God that they don’t believe in? It hurts our Heavenly Father and it hurts me.

  11. Len says:

    Hi Tom, been a while – hope you’ve been keeping well.

    I see in this post that you happily side-step the obvious question in the meme (ie, if Jesus/God already knows all things, then why pray?) I think it’s still a question that should be answered.

    BillT has a go at an answer (“… God has allowed us the enter into his plan.”) but while that might seem appealing, it’s not supported by any scripture. Jesus said that God would answer your prayers, not that you first had to be in line with God’s plan.

    Any (real) ideas?

  12. Tom Gilson says:

    Hi, Len, and thanks. I wrote this for a different purpose than to answer that question, as you know. Here’s a short answer to it, though, that I wrote some time ago.

  13. Len says:

    Quick note to Jim Albright who wrote “It always amazes me how bothered atheists are by a God that they don’t believe in?”

    The reason most atheists are bothered is not because of your god but because of what believers (try to) do in His name. Specifically in the US, where the Constitution guarantees religious impartiality of government (ie, separation of church & state) we see believers trying to impose their religious beliefs in the form of laws onto the whole country. For the most part, atheists would happily let all believers do whatever they want, provided it doesn’t harm anyone else. But as soon as someone tries to make legislation based solely on their own religious beliefs, then there’s a problem.
    To put it another way:
    * If you say you can’t do something because of your religious beliefs, then I’ll support you.
    * If you say I can’t do something because of your religious beliefs, then I’ll oppose you.

  14. Len says:

    Hi Tom,
    Interesting post at the link you gave. I notice that the first reference there doesn’t mention anything about asking for something in line with God’s will – just ask and you’ll get it. The wiggly get-out (in line with God’s will) only appears in the verse at the second link. And of course, if you’re asking out of greed (third link) it should be expected not to work. Except the ratio of answered to unanswered prayer is exactly the same as if God didn’t actually exist, even for greed-driven requests.

    On the subject of non-answered prayers, why doesn’t the Christian God actually say “no”? Instead there’s just a deafening silence. Again, as if God doesn’t actually exist.

  15. Tom Gilson says:

    There’s no “wiggly get-out” if you understand the principle Christians use, that we interpret Scripture in context of the whole. No one expects the entire teaching on anything to be systematically presented, in its entirety, all in one location. We gather information from across the Scriptures to form our conclusions.

    As to the ratio of answered prayers, since I just published another article on the principle of checking premises before answering certain questions, please allow me a quick question to check where you’re coming from with yours:

    1. Where is your control universe, whereby you have the information needed to determine the ratio of answered prayers is the same with or without a God?
    2. How do you even know the ratio of answered to unanswered prayers in this universe?

    And I have a counter-question for you. Suppose it were possible to examine a series of claimed prayer answers and assign them all probabilities for having occurred by natural means alone. Suppose in that process you encountered either one prayer answer that absolutely had to be from God, or a set of answers whose cumulative natural probability was essentially zero, so that this group of answers had to be from God. Now also suppose there were no other prayer answers in all the world that unequivocally came from God. Given those hypotheticals, is there a God?

  16. Len says:

    Tom,
    Just because we don’t necessarily see a natural explanation for something doesn’t mean that goddidit is a valid conclusion. To prove the existence of God (any god, Christian or otherwise) requires real evidence, not just anecdotal accumulation.

    As for my comment about answered versus unanswered prayers being in the same ratio as if no god existed (ie, pure chance) that info is available on the Internet. But the Christian God (just like any others) still never actually says “no” – just silence from which disappointed believers derive meaning (ie, a rejection of their request). A real loving parent would provide at least a real answer.

  17. Len says:

    … Suppose in that process you encountered either one prayer answer that absolutely had to be from God, … so that this group of answers had to be from God. Now also suppose there were no other prayer answers in all the world that unequivocally came from God.

    Tom, you’re pre-supposing the answer in your premise, then using that to “prove” there’s a god. Circular logic goes round and round 😉

  18. Tom Gilson says:

    Sorry, Len, but hypothetical questions can’t be circular arguments. Not possible. Here’s more specifically why, in this case: I’m not trying to prove there’s a God with this question. I’m trying to establish what your opinion would be in case that would ever (hypothetically) happen.

    I agree: goddidit is never a valid conclusion. That’s because it’s not a word, it’s a pejorative intended to raise ire. If that’s your purpose here, please continue in a different vein instead. We don’t support ire-raising as an argumentative technique on this blog.

  19. Tom Gilson says:

    As for my comment about answered versus unanswered prayers being in the same ratio as if no god existed (ie, pure chance) that info is available on the Internet.

    Source, please? If it’s so-called “prayer research,” bear in mind that such research doesn’t actually have control situations where there is/isn’t any God, so it can’t judge whether prayers are answered in the same ratio as if there were or weren’t a God.

    Besides that, so-called “prayer research” is methodologically uncontrolled in a host of other ways. There’s no control over who doesn’t pray, for example. In one major study, the pray-ers weren’t believing Christians. And if you want a true double-blind study in which all interested participants are shielded from knowing treatment conditions from placebo conditions, you can only suppose you’re accomplishing that if you assume there is no God involved. Now, that’s circular.

    There hasn’t been a valid statistical prayer research study conducted to date. There never can be; not without the invalidating assumption, “God isn’t involved.”

  20. Len says:

    Tom, please forgive my use of Goddidit. It was meant humourously, not as a pejorative. But the point still stands.

    As for saying that a hypothetical question cannot be used in circular logic: yes it can if the answer to that question / the conclusion drawn is one of the initial premises proposed to formulate that hypothetical question (please see the quotes I included in my comment).

  21. Tom Gilson says:

    Oops. You’re right about the circular logic. My apologies; I was careless. Let me re-word it this way.

    Suppose it were possible to examine a series of claimed prayer answers and assign them all probabilities for having occurred by natural means alone. Suppose in that process you encountered either one prayer answer that was clearly impossible under known (or even conceivable) natural means, or a set of answers whose cumulative natural-means probability was essentially zero, so. Now also suppose there were no other prayer answers in all the world that unequivocally came from a non-natural source; just the one, or else the one cumulative-probability set.

    Given those hypotheticals, would you count that as evidence for reality that extends beyond the merely natural? If so, how strongly would you count it as evidence?

  22. Tom Gilson says:

    Why can’t it ever be a valid conclusion that God has done something?

    Suppose everything affirmed as true in the Bible actually was true. Would that not lead to a valid conclusion that God had done something?

  23. Len says:

    Tom,
    Any analysis of whether prayer works must assume that the being to whom a participant is praying (ie, in your case, the Christian God) actually exists. Otherwise what’s happening is not a prayer. It might be meditation or thinking positive thoughts towards the universe but a prayer needs a deity to receive it. So the whole idea of measuring efficacy is pretty daft really. Wikipedia has some interesting articles on this if you’re interested.

    However, while the studies that have tried to measure such efficacy have shown no positive** correlation between, for example, being prayed for and recovering from an operation more quickly or completely, one thing that can be said is that prayer can have a positive effect on the person praying. That is, not on who they’re praying for but on the pray-er themselves. This can be similar to the effect of meditation. In this sense, prayer can work, just not as you’re hoping it would.

    ** Some results of prayer analysis show that the person prayed for fared slightly worse than would normally be expected. This was mainly attributed to expectationary pressure due to the prayee knowing they were being prayed for and getting stressed by it.

  24. Tom Gilson says:

    If your point is that there are no valid prayer studies, that’s what I was saying, too. If your point is that we can conclude anything from correlations or the lack thereof, then you need to re-read what I wrote about these studies’ inherent methodological flaws.

  25. Len says:

    Given those hypotheticals, would you count that as evidence for reality that extends beyond the merely natural? If so, how strongly would you count it as evidence?

    I can’t say that I would. There is so much we don’t know about the universe that a prayer seemingly answered by God is virtually certain to have a natural explanation that we know nothing about – as yet. For example, how would people 2000 years ago have reacted to a light turning on when you click the switch by the door? Or when you use an app(!) on your cell phone(!) to control the lights or the central heating or the radio in your house? Magic? Answered prayer?

    Re your comment on prayer studies: I agree, it’s not possible to have a real study as one side or the other (God exists or doesn’t) must be one of the initial premises. Good point.

  26. Len says:

    Carrying on…
    Re your comment on prayer studies: I agree, it’s not possible to have a real study as one side or the other (God exists or doesn’t) must be one of the initial premises. Good point.

    The first step is therefore for believers to provide actual, irrefutable proof that God exists. And that it’s the Christian God. Good luck with that 😉

  27. Tom Gilson says:

    So the first step required of us is to complete the final step? No cumulative case allowed? No aggregation of evidence? The case cannot proceed unless it’s proved before it begins?

    You’ve got to be kidding.

  28. Len says:

    The only thing that’s needed is to show irrefutably that your god exists. That’s the start and end of it. If He is as powerful and loving as you say, then finding such a deity should be easy unless He wants to stay hidden. But that rather goes against the idea that He wants a personal relationship with us.

    So, Tom: does God – specifically, your God – exist? And if he does exist, then does he want us to know him? And can you prove that?

  29. Tom Gilson says:

    Tell, me, Len, what is it that made me responsible for that in your life? Do you want to know him, if he is real?

    Proof is impossible in anything but logic and mathematics, but a strong, positive case is not hard to develop. It comes in multiple steps, based in a long list of evidences, with answers to a long list of objections. Would you walk with me through the process of showing all this to you?

  30. Len says:

    Tom,
    Ah yes, another attempt at a side-step. Easier than actually providing irrefutable evidence.

    As I mentioned before, anecdotal accumulation does not equal such irrefutable evidence.

    You can’t prove God by installments. Demons** used to be responsible for illness & disease (now we know it’s bacteria, germs, viruses, etc); God used to be responsible for healing (now we know it’s medicines, cleanliness, doctors, medical science, etc), and for thunder & lightning (now we know it’s static electricity generated by friction in clouds, etc), and for earthquakes (now: tectonic plate movement, etc). The list goes on.

    We’re continually finding logical / natural explanations for many things that were earlier attributed to God (or to a god). God is disappearing into the gaps that haven’t yet been filled by science and logic. The god of the gaps is a diminishing deity.

    **in the bible story, Jesus cast out the legion of demons who were making a man ill, and cast them into a herd of pigs, who then ran off a cliff and died. What happened to the demons? Did the swineherd / owner receive any compensation for the pigs? Why did it take a full herd of pigs to host the demons and not just one pig? And if you say it’s because a man is worth more than a pig, then you’re really far into making-it-up-as-I-go-land.

  31. Tom Gilson says:

    I don’t claim the ability to provide irrefutable evidence. I said that last time. I wasn’t talking about “installments.” I was talking about a cumulative case. I don’t see any sign that you’re interested in hearing that. I have no problem with the thought of sidestepping a long process you are not interested in.

    The car I would make isn’t God of the gaps, but I’m not going to get sucked further into that debate. Not unless you show some legitimate interest in listening. I’m not interested in forcing your interest in what I might have to say, or forcing you to stay involved in answers I might offer without jumping around to your own random topics as you’ve done here. You’re not interested in listening that way, so let’s not pretend you are.

  32. Len says:

    Tom,
    I’d be very interested if you had any real evidence. I’m pretty sure that you’d actually be the first person to provide any. To anyone. But if you’re not interested in that, then we’re at an impasse.

    You think that a cumulative case for God is different to God by installments. I disagree; I realise that what used to be seen as evidence for God is no longer seen as such (eg, thunder & lightning, as mentioned), so the cumulative nature of your evidence is likely to be demolished while you’re not even half-way there. The only real option is to provide once-and-for-all, real, irrefutable evidence of God’s existance. Your specific God, that is – not any of the thousands of other gods that people have invented and worshipped over the millenia.

    Anyway, have a great 2020 – I should have wished that at the start 🙂

  33. Tom Gilson says:

    Thanks.

    Thunder and lightning used to be “evidence for God”? Hah! You know less about this than you think. And you know less of cumulative case-making than you think as well.

    If you want to know my evidence for God, some of it is here, some of it is in a manuscript I just sent to the editor yesterday for publication this summer. Read around at the link if you like. It isn’t terribly systematic, I fear.

    But know this: You can find ways to explain away any evidence for God you want to explain away. Do that repeatedly, though, and you’re missing the point. A cumulative case is one that strengthens with each additional piece, as long as those pieces provide plausible reason to believe. It’s not necessary that any of them be once-for-all, irrefutable evidence.

    Know this as well: no one has one-for-all, irrefutable evidence for any fact of ultimate reality. That demand is one you could never meet yourself. What one must do is to study and learn and make one’s decision. There are facts that count to a degree against the existence of God, just as there are facts that count against naturalism/atheism. One must make one’s decision, not on irrefutable proof, but on the best conclusion one can draw.

  34. Len says:

    Tom,
    Multiple cumulative steps do not equal evidence, just like multiple anecdotes don’t equal evidence. I’m guessing you’d be the first to say that if it was multiple stories about disproving your god.

    You say I can find ways to explain away your evidence for God. I’d say that it was pretty flimsy evidence. Your plausible reason to believe is either good or not good. If there’s a natural explanation for something, then “God exists and did this thing” is not a plausible reason.

    … There are facts that count to a degree against the existence of God, just as there are facts that count against naturalism/atheism.

    Why can’t you show facts that count towards the existence of your specific Christian God?

    Why are apologists continually apologising for not being able to deliver the goods – real evidence for their god?

  35. Tom Gilson says:

    Multiple cumulative points of evidence equal evidence. Or have you never watched a detective show on TV? (Yes, it really is that simple.)

    Apologists aren’t doing what you say. I’ve got a book in at the editor. I could point you to dozens of others. You’re making evidence-free assertions when you say apologists never deliver evidence.

    If there’s a natural explanation for something, then “God exists and did this thing” is not a plausible reason.

    So you’d only accept evidence for God if there was a gap nature couldn’t fill? You think the only valid line of reasoning is God of the gaps? Really? Then you’re saying the only line of evidence we can use is the one we can’t use. You haven’t shown there’s no evidence, you’ve defined it out of existence!

  36. Len says:

    Multiple cumulative points of evidence equal evidence. Or have you never watched a detective show on TV? (Yes, it really is that simple.)

    Tom, they’re TV shows. The crimes have to be solved in an hour (minus commercial breaks). The real world doesn’t work that way. Ten anecdotes (or items of hearsay, or irrational beliefs, or supernatural explanations when natural explanations actually work) don’t equal a fact, nor do they equal actual evidence. Nor do twenty. Nor a hundred. Nor a thousand. If you have a piece of real evidence for God (eg, something He did that cannot be explained in a natural way), then please present it. If it can be explained in a natural way, then saying that your god did it is not the most reasonable explanation. And you certainly wouldn’t accept it if the claim was made by any other religion, as evidence for their god.

    Perhaps you should submit your (or your religion’s) claims to the same level of critical analysis that you’d use on the claims of any other religion.

    Of course, I could just say that you believe things too easily… 😉

    So you’d only accept evidence for God if there was a gap nature couldn’t fill? You think the only valid line of reasoning is God of the gaps? Really? Then you’re saying the only line of evidence we can use is the one we can’t use. You haven’t shown there’s no evidence, you’ve defined it out of existence!

    If there’s a natural explanation for something (ie, an explanation which doesn’t conclude that God did it), then it’s much more reasonable to take that explanation than one wherein an unproven deity is involved. And anyway, which god? If you’re going to say it’s the Christian God, then that’s nothing but begging the question and circular reasoning. But again, not evidence.

  37. Tom Gilson says:

    I knew you were going to do the “they’re TV shows” answer. But what I was trying to do there was to help you realize that you know what evidence is, even though you’re acting here as if you didn’t. Cases are solved on a cumulative basis, both on TV and in real life. If they weren’t, then why bring two witnesses? Wouldn’t just one be enough? But that’s ridiculous; which is a fair assessment of your advance dismissal of any cumulative-evidence case for Christianity

    You want real evidence for God? I’m not convinced. You’re too convinced in advance that there isn’t any; and in that case, I’m more interested in showing you your bias than I am in showing you any evidence for the faith. You don’t need evidence nearly as much as you need to open your eyes to be ready to see it if it appeared before them.

    Want to prove me wrong? Read a book. Try J. Warner Wallace’s Cold-Case Christianity. Greg Koukl’s The Story of Reality. The McDowells’ New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Try explaining the real actuality of <a href=”https://www.thinkingchristian.net/posts/2016/11/what-take-give-up-belief-jesus-christ/>all this on naturalistic terms, without explaining most of it away.

    And please, stop this embarrassing thing you do of jumping to conclusions about logical fallacies you do not understand. There’s nothing circular in my argument here for Jesus Christ, because at this point in the discussion, I haven’t made any argument for him! How can an argument be circular before it’s even been made? I assure you, by the way, that the case I’ve made in my forthcoming Too Good to Be False is not circular. Here’s a preview of a small part of it. There’s much, much more.

    Len, here’s your problem: You’re filled with prejudice. You won’t listen. My evidence for that is clear: You prejudged my case for Christ; that’s the very essence of bias and prejudice.

  38. Len says:

    I’m more interested in showing you your bias than I am in showing you any evidence for the faith.

    Why is it that when I ask for evidence (as I keep doing) and even explain why it must be compelling (eg, not explainable by any natural means), you’d rather do anything except provide that evidence?

    I looked at the article at the link you provided. One item that stood out was “The prevalence of credible, testable reports of miracles around the world”. This could be a real piece of evidence for God. But then why is no-one outside of the Christian bubble aware of any (any) credible, testable miracles (not the reports but the miracles themselves)? For example, if you’re referring to a medical miracle, then where are the before and after medical reports? And why hasn’t the miracle been reported in the regular news?

    You mention that there’s nothing circular about your argument for Jesus Christ because you haven’t made any such argument. That’s true, you still haven’t made an argument or provided any evidence for him. And I didn’t say you had. I said it would be begging the question and a circular argument if you assumed that any god you could actually provide evidence for (in the unlikely event of you providing irrefutable evidence for a miracle) was the Christian God.

    You also link to your article “Too Good to be False”. Well Tom, as I commented in February 2018 Your whole argument hinges on the Jesus character being written too good to have been made up. Sorry Tom, that’s just daft.
    A story teller only has to imagine a character who is perfectly good; the story teller doesn’t have to be perfectly good themselves. They are compiling a story with a central character who is good. He can be contrasted in the story to other characters who are evil, nasty, hateful, average, kinda sorta good-ish, and close but no cigar. And such characters all appear in one or more of the stories about Jesus (we can probably all put names to most of them). But they’re all just characters in a story.

    You start by assuming that Jesus was real and was the Son of God. Then you make a pitch about him being perfect, etc, etc. But your initial assumption is of his godliness. Add in some fan-fiction and you got the new testament pretty well covered. And yes, I have read the bible. I used to preach from it when I was a believer. That’s how I know what is (and isn’t) in it.

    Once again, we’re left with no evidence of the Christian (or any other) God. Tom, why is it so hard? You say I’m biased and prejudiced and won’t accept any evidence and that’s your reason for not providing it. Sorry Tom – evidence might make me change my mind, as long as it’s compelling. Refusal to provide any evidence is showing how weak your hand really is.

  39. Tom Gilson says:

    Why is it that when I ask for evidence (as I keep doing) and even explain why it must be compelling (eg, not explainable by any natural means), you’d rather do anything except provide that evidence?

    I’ve given you reading to do. Otherwise, I’m more interested in showing you your bias than I am in showing you any evidence for the faith. And you’ve got the story-teller answer all wrong. Completely misunderstood it. I don’t think you want to understand it. I don’t think you want evidence, or you’d do the other reading I suggested.

    I haven’t refused to provide evidence; I’ve only refused to dance to your requirement that I type it in on this thread. Why should I take the time? You won’t read it for what I say anyway.

    Go read a book, then come back. Until then, stop this nonsense about me not providing any evidence.

    And also until then, goodbye.

  40. Len says:

    You say I have the story teller answer all wrong but we see many better stories than are in the Bible from writers who really knew (or know) how to spin a tale. Add a little fan-fiction to some of the original ideas and you can easily get what we have as the Bible today. But I don’t expect you to be able to accept that. If you weren’t so heavily invested in believing the bible you might be able to see it 😉

    Anyway, I guess we’ll just have to give it up. For different reasons as we see it.

    Good luck with your new book. (I hope it has more power than the article!). Maybe I’ll even buy it when it comes out 🙂

    I might even read the other books you mentioned. Although the books I’ve read up to now have shown nothing that doesn’t fall under logical fallacies, sophistry, playing with semantics, or guesswork. But maybe there’s a miracle somewhere

  41. Len says:

    Hi Tom. Rereading my comments I realise that I came across as a bit aggressive. My apologies. I didn’t mean you had to provide evidence in this blog.

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