A Rebuts James Answers

A Rebuts James Answers

(1) James said, 'As for the impossible co-existence of evolution and the Christian god, of course I concede that anything is possible. Now my opponent in his characteristically obtuse way has picked on this as a flaw in my argument. Well good spotting, however anything is only possible (including the existence of the Christian God) if our cognitive faculties are incorrect, when I hope we have resolved that cannot be for the sake of this argument. My opponent has used this distraction to bypass the rest of the argument.'

To say that "anything is only possible...if our cognitive faculties are incorrect," does not make any sense. Possibility and necessity does not depend on the "correctness" of our cognitive faculties. For example, it is possible that James Brown be a drummer with John Lennon even though his cognitive faculties are "incorrect."

But to put that aside, what I wanted to get at is James' proof that evolution negates God's existence. This suggests that:

If evolution is true, then God does not exist.

The statement above has its antecedent entailing the consequent. This means that there is no possible world where evolution is true and God exists. Yet, we have not heard any argument for this.

(2) With regards to the historicity of the resurrection, he gives eight naturalistic (I put "human explanation along with naturalism because it does not explain it through supernaturalistic means) explanations. Given his explanations, it seems to me that my opponent is simply ignorant of the historical context by which the authors were living. Take, for example, his explanation of subjectivity. The question is, why would Jewish people in the first century, in a second-temple Judaic context, make up the resurrection just because they want to "get back" at the Sadducees and Pharisees? To get back at the Sadducees and Pharisees is not enough for a concept of a dying and rising messiah since such a concept is not known at that time. We know that there were many messianic movements at that time and for a man to claim to be a messiah and die, especially in the hands of the pagans, would mean that the man is not the messiah. Messianic movements died because their so-called "messiahs" died. The most that could have happened is to make Jesus a prophet, a martyr who should be honored. But to say that he has risen from the dead was unknown. There is simply no good reason why they would make this up.

This leads me to his answer of "perspectivism." Again, just because they had "hoped" that Jesus would overturn the Roman empire which the Jews were under, it would not mean that they would make up the story that Jesus would rise from the dead. The movement would have probably stopped or they could have made another man, say, Peter, their new messiah. But a concept of a rising messiah still would not have come up. This would also solve the manipulation objection.

Now to misunderstanding. I'll just let Bart Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who is known not to be a "conservative Christian" respond:

'The earliest Christians put a good deal of effort into convincing non-Christian Jews that the messiah had to suffer and die, that Jesus' crucifixion was according to divine plan. It was difficult for them to persuade others in part because, prior to the Christian proclamation of Jesus, there were no Jews, so far as we know, who believed that the messiah was going to be crucified; on the contrary, the messiah was to be great and powerful leader who delivered Israel from its oppressive overlords. Christians who wanted to proclaim Jesus as messiah would not have invented the notion that he was crucified because his crucifixion created such a scandal. Indeed, the apostle Paul calls it the chief 'stumbling block' for Jews (1 Cor 1:23). Where then did the tradition come from? It must have actually happened.' (The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writers 3rd Ed., Oxford University Press 2004, pages 221-222)

Now to inaccuracy. He does not mention specific "inaccuracies," but we do know that the Gospels all speak of an empty tomb and appearances of Jesus (Dale Allison has in fact a new book where he says that he is persuaded that there is an empty tomb). Through the criterion of dissimilarity, a tool used by the historical-critical scholars, the resurrection probably happened. This is sufficient to refute his other objections. I also suggest N.T. Wright's The Resurrection of the Son of God which refutes in detail his types of objections.

(3) With regards to the reliability of his cognitive faculties, it is true that "To say 'I cannot completely trust my cognitive faculties' does not mean that I believe my cognitive faculties are incorrect." But this just shows that weakness of atheism. We have not heard any naturalistic explanation of how we can have true beliefs, of how our cognitive faculties function in such a way that can produce truth. For Christians, we can have a reason for trusting our cognitive faculties and that is because God designed our cognitive faculties in such a way that they can lead to truth. Taking this lack of explanation along with my arguments, I believe that we are warranted in rejecting atheism.

(4) My opponent says, "In order to have an argument both parties must be open to weigh the evidence of each other's argument. Christianity's morality is unchangeable and therefore ignorant of moral argument."

Just because Christian morality is unchangeable, it does not mean that people cannot have arguments. It simply means that when one disagrees with the moral doctrine, the person is wrong in doing so. It does not mean that the person cannot disagree or argue. It just simply means he is wrong. Therefore the proposition:

If morality is purely objective, then moral argument cannot exist.

is false. Suppose a possible world which morality is objective, that there are really evil things such as rape. Rape is absolutely evil. But Johnny does not care about absolutes but his own self-satisfaction. He believes that rape is ok. Sally, on the other hand, believes otherwise. Here we see a possibility which morality is objective and Johnny and Sally can disagree and argue. The proposition above is false.

Also, my opponent has not shown that the proposition above is necessarily true.

(5) Here, my opponent simply does not understand what specified complexity means. I have given sources and explained what it means. I have given reasons to doubt his explanation of specified complexity and he has not provided a criteria for design. For example, when we see a book, we know it is designed. By how? What is my opponent's criteria? What makes something that looks like a design really a design? We have no answer. All we have is "chance of the gaps" or "atheism of the gaps."


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