Dissecting 12 Arguments Against Christianity

atheists-y-u-noI keep running into atheist arguments, many of which are arguments I’ve made in the past, that somehow no longer seem to shake my belief that there is a higher power in the universe and my recent conversion to the idea that that power is inherently good. I found this blog post (by a Christian apologist) on twelve good arguments atheists advance against Christianity, and thought I’d see if any of them gave me cause to waiver in my belief.

1. There’s so much suffering in the world
If God is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly benevolent then he would eradicate evil and suffering but the world is full of it. Therefore he is either not all powerful, not all knowing, not benevolent or (most likely) does not actually exist.

See my detailed post on The Problem of Evil. My answer in short is that evil can’t be eradicated without removing our free will.
2. Jesus can’t be the only way to God
There are many different religions in the world, all followed by many intelligent educated people. Isn’t it simply arrogant and narrow-minded to suggest that all of them apart from Christianity are wrong?
This is an easy one. I don’t believe other religions are all wrong any more than I believe any current form of Christianity is exactly right. If it were, we would see the kingdom of heaven on earth begin to emerge. It is possible to be a theist and not disagree with this argument, therefore, it is not an argument against theism, but rather against one or more specific forms of Christianity.
3. Christian faith is just psychological
Christians believe in Christ largely for psychological reasons: because it comforts them, because they were brought up that way or because they are afraid not to believe in case they go to Hell.
I wasn’t brought up Christian and I don’t fear Hell. Do I believe in a higher power because it comforts me? In a sense, I suppose. In my bleaker moments, I question whether there is a higher power that is inherently good. When my belief is strongest, I feel most sure that all will work out in the end. On the other hand, naturalism, the idea that everything came about by pure chance, naturally leads to the idea that nothing matters (nihilism). If you want me to believe that, I’m putting the onus on you to prove it.
4. Miracles can’t happen
The world operates according to observable laws of nature meaning that miracles simply cannot occur. Regardless there is no evidence to suggest either that they do or that they ever did.
The first sentence is a statement of faith (or belief if you prefer). There is evidence for subjective phenomena (in the realm of thought) that cannot be explained (yet). Specific examples are near death experiences and mass hallucinations. While I am skeptical of claims of divine interventions that suspend the laws of nature, these are not the only kinds of miracles.
5. A good God wouldn’t send people to Hell
An allegedly omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God has seemingly freely chosen to sentence most human beings to hell. Why? Should such a God (if he exists) be trusted?
I agree. Any hell that exists is of our own making, and exists only as a result of moving in the wrong evolutionary direction, referring to the evolution of the spirit (or psyche if you prefer), rather than the biological organism. Again, this is not an argument against theism (or even all forms of Christianity), merely one against a specific set of beliefs.
6. The problem of those who have never heard
There are many people who have died without hearing the Christian gospel and many today have not heard and will never hear it. If Christianity is true God and people are damned without believing it God would surely have found a way for them to have heard.
Again, this is only an argument against a specific doctrine (in this case, the doctrine of Sola fide, or “by faith alone”, which is far from a required belief for Christians), rather than theism or Christianity in general.
7. The Bible is full of errors
Many events in the Bible, such as the creation narrative, the flood, much Old Testament history and the Gospel accounts are not backed up by science or archaeology and much of the history is not even internally consistent. They were also written long after the events they claim to describe are are in the main just ‘stories’.
The Old Testament is something that very few Christians take literally. Not an argument against Christianity, but merely against fundamentalism.
8. Christianity may be true for you but it isn’t true for me
I can see that believing in Christianity ‘helps’ you, that it is ‘true for you’. But it is not ‘true for me’. Everybody should be free to choose his or her own belief.
Ah, relativism. Sorry: truth is truth. It is immoral to murder. Saying that that isn’t true for you doesn’t make it right for you to commit murder. Next?
9. The God of the Bible is a moral monster and restricts human freedom
God, particularly as depicted in the Old Testament, is a vengeful, genocidal, pestilential megalomaniac who does not act morally. Furthermore his restrictions on such things as sexual behaviour, abortion and euthanasia are undermining of human autonomy.
See argument 7. This is only an argument against Christian fundamentalism.
10. It is no longer necessary to invoke God as an explanation for anything
Now that we have the theories of evolution and big bang/multiverse theory there is no need for a designer to explain the origin and complexity of living things or the physical universe.
This is not an argument against deism unless you invoke Occam’s razor. If you do, I’d ask you to explain why humans have morals, an appreciation of beauty, and love that transcends mere biological attraction and evolved behavior (like pair bonding) with beneficial survival outcomes. A true scientist never stops looking for deeper understanding. Why are you?
11. The church is full of hypocrites
Christianity has been responsible for a huge amount of killing and wars throughout history and the newspapers are full of supposed Christians who are paedophiles, liars, adulterers, murderers and abusers. If Christianity were true it would make people better.
Worst argument yet. People did these things. People have free will, and this means they can do evil. Next?
12. Christians cherry-pick what they want out of the Bible
Christians do not consistently apply the Bible’s commands but pick and choose what they want. For example they forbid sex outside marriage but are happy to eat shellfish and wear polyester although these are forbidden in exactly the same books of the Bible. Furthermore Christians disagree profoundly amongst themselves about what is right and wrong.
Yes. Again, not an argument against theism, only against the fallibility of people.
Summary: None of these arguments comes close to “disproving” Christianity, though I agree some are strong arguments against fundamentalism, and argument 6 is a powerful argument against the doctrine of Sola fide (by faith alone), which I personally don’t hold to be true. I’d love to see some comments from atheists giving better arguments than this weak bunch.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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11 Responses to Dissecting 12 Arguments Against Christianity

  1. essiep says:

    Yes there are some weak arguments there. The naturalism one is interesting. It appears distinctly different to evolution theories. Evolution does not suggest that life came about in a random way as suggested by some writers.

    • jimbelton says:

      I’m happy to agree that there is no good evidence of the supernatural in the objective material realm. Lack of evidence doesn’t deny the existence of the supernatural, but it certainly weakens the case for the existence of material supernatural forces or entities being commonplace. On the other hand, it has little to say about the subjective world of the mind.
      It may be that we will one day bring science to bear on the mind, and find that it is, as many claim, a mere biproduct (though an admittedly amazing one) of the brain. Consciousness is the last frontier, the unexplored country. I love it when new discoveries about it are made, but I also find the fact that it remains mysterious to science (despite the naturalists claims) a good thing.
      How many times have we thought we had it all figured out? Newton was wrong about physics. Bohr was wrong about the atom. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics. It all goes back to Ecclesiastes, whose author, more than two thousand years ago, said “everything under the sun has already been done”. Can’t get much more wrong. I would love it if science proves that there is more to the mind that the brain, but even if it doesn’t, and our consciousness is simply a property that emerges spontaneously from the most complex fleshy organ to ever evolve, it is still amazing.

      • essiep says:

        How did Newton get physics wrong?

      • jimbelton says:

        How did Newton get physics wrong? According to Newton, v = v0 + at, but this formula breaks down as one approaches light speed, as the relativistic component that Newton didn’t know about becomes the dominant factor.

  2. Brian Pansky says:

    The “free will” excuse doesn’t work. Protecting people from harm does not interfere with anyone’s free will. If a body guard jumps in front of a bullet to save someone, the free will of the shooter is not violated. Learn to think.

    • jimbelton says:

      The thing is, one can’t know one’s actions are helping without prescience. In other words, killing Attila the Hun when he was a boy might have prevented a whole lot of evil (i.e. the dark ages), and maybe the world would be a better place. But maybe not. And maybe, assuming there is a deity that is good and could intervene, it is wise enough to know that interfering can actually cause more harm than good. Suppose the body guard is guarding Hitler. They probably believe they are doing good by saving him, but the result is the holocaust.

      • Brian Pansky says:

        Your comment is not a reply to anything I said. I didn’t say the actions were helping. I said they didn’t violate the free will of the shooter. So the Free Will argument is debunked. It’s no longer an excuse you can use to defend either god or the belief in god.

      • jimbelton says:

        Part of free will is being responsible for the outcomes of your choices. Removing the outcome is violating the freewill of the shooter. In other words, if I know that nothing I do matters because my father will fix it, I am dependent on him. If he wants me to become independent, he will stop cleaning up my messes.

      • Brian Pansky says:

        Your first sentence does not logically entail your second one.

  3. Brian Pansky says:

    But, then again, I guess your “atheist argument”, which you seemingly wrote yourself, isn’t as sophisticated as mine. So who knows, maybe you successfully defended against your own “atheist argument”?

    • jimbelton says:

      All my arguments are my own, but the original statement of the problem of evil I worked off in my post is from a crappy Christian apologetics site. If you think you have a good argument for atheism, post a link to it, and I’ll have a look. Stephen Fry has probably the best statement of the problem of evil I’ve ever seen, even better than Hitch’s.

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