Sunday, 13 January 2013
Twenty good arguments for Christianity
Are there any good arguments against Christianity? Of course! That’s why so many intelligent thinking people are not Christians.
Recently I posted a list of twelve of the best arguments atheists bring against Christianity.
In listing them, I was not saying that I find any of them particularly convincing (I don’t and none of them have led me personally to doubt any of the teachings of Jesus Christ).
But I do concede that some intelligent people do find them convincing and cite them as reasons why they either lost the Christian faith of their childhood or chose not to believe. This is why I call them ‘good arguments’ – they are good enough to persuade some people.
I have lost count of the number of times atheists have told me that the reason they are not Christians is because there is no evidence that it is true. I get rather tired of hearing this as in my experience those who most vociferously assert it are those who are least interested in examining any evidence that Christians produce.
Over 20 years of working with CMF have taught me that in fact the vast majority of atheists are neither aware of the evidence for Christianity or, if they are, have invested little or no time in evaluating it.
Personally I do not know any Christians who have not made their decision to follow Christ on the basis of some evidence or another. Anyone in this category is welcome to confess it below but I am not holding my breath.
In this post I list some of the main arguments that have convinced Christians to embrace Christianity and give their lives to the service of Jesus Christ. In the interests of (relative) brevity I have stopped at 20 but I could have gone on and on….
I have tried to explain each argument as briefly as possible but many books could, and indeed have, been written on each one.
If you are a Christian then let us know which ones have been most important in convincing you to follow Christ.
If you are an atheist please let us know which, if any, have made you consider the possibility that Christianity might be true, or which you have found least convincing.
Also, are there any important ones that you think I have left out? Anonymous posts are welcome.
1.The uniqueness of Jesus Christ
The life, teaching, extraordinary claims and miracles of Jesus Christ as recorded by eyewitnesses are best explained by him being God incarnate: the creator and sustainer of the universe who took on human flesh.
2.Jesus death and resurrection
All historical records are agreed on the facts that Jesus was killed, that his dead body disappeared, that the disciples claimed to have seen him alive and that the church grew rapidly in the belief that he had been resurrected. His actual bodily resurrection in space-time history remains the best explanation for these observations.
3.The manuscript evidence for the New Testament
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are by far the best attested events in all antiquity in terms of the number of manuscripts recording them and the closeness in time of those hand-written records to the events they describe.
4.The uniqueness of the Bible
The uniqueness of the Bible in its continuity, circulation, translation, survival, teachings and influence along with its internal consistency despite consisting of 66 books written by over 40 authors on three continents over 1,500 years defies simple explanation and is fully consistent with its claim to be divine revelation.
5.Old Testament prophecy fulfilled in Christ
The 39 books that make up the Old Testament contain several hundred references to the coming Messiah concerning his life, death and resurrection which were written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth but were fulfilled during his life and confirm his credentials as the promised Messiah.
6.Biblical prophecy fulfilled in history
The hundreds of predictive prophecies in the Old Testament and New Testaments about the fate of nations, empires and cities are consistent with supernatural revelation from a God outside the space-time continuum (Tyre, Sidon, Samaria, Gaza, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Israel).
7.The uniqueness of the Christian experience
The shared testimony of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by millions of people from diverse cultures, nations, personalities, professions and time periods is unparalleled by any other ideology and consistent with the existence of a God with a universal attraction to all kinds of human beings. Each testifies to finding peace, forgiveness, the power to change and new meaning, hope and purpose through Christ's death and resurrection.
8.The origin of the universe
Everything that began to exist has a cause and it is now virtually undisputed that the universe had a beginning. Any cause would have to be outside the material universe so would be timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal and all powerful – characteristics shared by the God of the Bible.
9.The fine tuning of the universe
In order for the universe to come into being and allow intelligent life to exist, it required an astonishing series of ‘coincidences’ to have occurred. The probability that the six dimensionless constants (N, Epsilon, Omega, Lambda, Q & D) would be tuned in such a way as to allow this is infinitesimally small and the phenomenon is best explained by intelligent design.
Whilst it is widely recognised that random gene mutation, genetic drift and natural selection can account for a degree of biological descent with modification (evolution) the mechanisms by which proteins, DNA, unicellular organisms and new body plans could have arisen remain unexplained. Blind chance and necessity alone are unable to account for the biological complexity that we observe on planet earth and these phenomena point to intelligent design.
11.The rationality of the universe
The universe operates according to physical laws which are not merely regularities in nature but also mathematically precise, universal, ‘tied together’ and rationally intelligible. These phenomena point to the existence of what Einstein called ‘superior mind’, illimitable superior spirit’, ‘superior reasoning force’ and ‘mysterious force that moves the constellations’ and are fully consistent with the teachings of Christian theism.
12.The human mind
Human experience of free will, consciousness, self-awareness, conscience and a sense of meaning, purpose and destiny are all very difficult to explain within a purely materialist world view (ie. the belief that nothing exists apart from matter, chance and time). These phenomena point to, and are consistent with, a reality existing beyond the material world and are consistent with the biblical teaching that human beings are made in the image of God.
13.The explanatory power of the Christian world view
The Christian theistic world view described by the parameters of creation, fall, redemption and consummation has considerable explanatory power in accounting for the existence of human complexity, creativity, love, suffering, disease, evil and hope.
14.The universality of spiritual belief and experience
The universal belief in, and experience of, a spiritual reality beyond the material world and in the existence of other intelligent beings in addition to human beings (gods, spirits, angels, demons, ghosts etc), along with the proliferation of different religions, is consistent with the Christian world view including the existence of a Devil whose intention is to deceive people into believing anything but the truth.
15.The moral law
The universality of moral beliefs and conscience, and the similarities of moral codes across times, continents and cultures, point to the existence of moral laws and a supernatural law giver. The moral laws outline in the Decalogue (ten commandments) encapasulate these principles of respect for life, marriage, property and truth and their observance leads to more stable and enduring societies. These observations are consistent with the existence of a moral God who has designed human society to operate according to moral norms and who reveals moral principles.
16.Lives changed by Christian faith
The power of Christian faith and prayer to change behaviour and improve human functioning in restoring the lives of those suffering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography and other enslaving activities or in reforming antisocial and criminal behaviour and strengthening marriages, families and societies is unparalleled.
17.Christian reformation of society
The reformation of British society in the 19th century (and many similar phenomena elsewhere in the world throughout history) through such moves as the abolition of slavery, child labour, child prostitution, prison reform and the establishment of schools and hospitals through the work of Wilberforce, Booth, Fry, the Clapham Sect and others was largely the result of the evangelical revival of the 18th century and lends strong support to the existence of a redemptive supernatural God who changes and shapes human lives and societies.
18.The work of Christian missions
The development of education, healthcare and societal reform in the developing world owes a great deal to the work of Christian missionaries motivate by the love of Christ who underwent great hardship and made great sacrifices to assist and empower those marginalised through ignorance, superstition or poverty. If Christianity were true we would expect it also to result in demonstrable good across nations and cultures.
19.The plausibility of Christian eschatology
The emergence of a one-world government under the leadership of an antichrist, antagonistic to God, based on the worship and pursuit of material things, strongly opposing Christian faith, dominating through economic control and resulting in massive environmental destruction seems increasingly plausible given recent historical experience and the current trajectory of world history.
20.The phenomenon of Israel
The history, laws, influence and endurance of the nation of Israel through over 4,000 years of world history whilst world empires have come and gone, the maintenance of its national identity and central place in world affairs through war, persecution and holocaust, its recent restoration to Palestine and the educational and cultural achievements of its people are unparalleled but fully consistent with its special status as described in the biblical record and teaching of Jesus Christ.
I am happy to post links to responses to these twenty arguments on this blog on request:
1. Dan Abrahmsen - Arguments 1-10
2. Dan Abrahmsen - Arguments 11-20
3. 'Cephus' - Arguments 1-20
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"The plausibility of Christian eschatology" - that's an interesting argument; I can't recall seeing it used before (well, maybe in dispensational wall charts, but theyReplyDelete
become obsolete within months of publication!)
I think this would be worth developing...is it your own original contribution, Peter, or are you drawing on other writers?
It's one that we need to be careful with in view of God's delay of 'that Day' through grace but I think we see a series of repeating patterns leading up to this. I'll develop it at some stage. 1 John talks of a series of anti-christs who will precede the final one and I think we see those in many of the world empires that have come and gone not least in the last century.Delete
Mike Bickle of IHOP has taught on the end of days which we refer to as the "End Times" which is not a biblical term. He outlines and explains Revelations in detail and also the OT prophets. He has numerous teachings plus a PDF or Word document with the teachings. The URL is http://mikebickle.org/resources/category/biblical-studies/revelation/ It is important to state that the bible is very clear about the sign of the times that lead up to Jesus second coming and that He will not be coming in peace but as a King of War with a sword in His hand. The current events taking place in the world all point to the tribulation and Jesus return occurring either in our generation or the next. Many Christians around the world witness this in their hearts and are preparing for the end of days. The End of Days is not the end of the earth. Just the end of the current era in its current form. Nations and leaders will fall and mankind will be judged by God.Delete
"The phenomenon of Israel"ReplyDelete
This could be reinforced by the argument of John Oswalt's "The Bible Among the Myths".
Essentially, Oswalt argues that Israel's worldview was so different from the surrounding cultures that it demands some explanation.
As part of cumulative case, the history of Israel supports the truth of Christianity.
Yes it is a significant part of the cumulative case - although one in which some of the details will divide Christians. But the reformers did not foresee the events of the 20th century and the current political situation in the middle east nor the ongoing hugely disproportionate influence of the Jewish people in spite of their tiny numbers. Have you seen the Nobel prize list for example?Delete
7 and 16 are the most compelling reasons I, an atheist devil's advocate became a born-again Christian whack job.ReplyDelete
Let's not forget the unfathomable reach and strength of God's unending love which we don't deserve.
Your comment really made me smile! Welcome, Brother!Delete
O Sister...I don't really know why I assumed!Delete
Peter, some of your arguments are absolute rubbish. I say this as a christian (although, of course, according to your own exalted self, I don't really qualify for that accolade).
The Nobel prize list is made up mostly of Europeans and people of European descent. That many (? most) of them adhere to the jewish faith is a real statistical possibility, and neither here nor there - in any case, it is highly unlikely that most would have more than a few strands (IF any) of middle-eastern/"genuinely Hebrew" DNA. As you should know, there are more European jews by conversion than by descent. To this day, conversions to judaism occur almost daily, following marriage - jewishness goes with the mother, and many jews are loth for their children to be born non-jewish.
For all you know, you yourself may have jewish ancestry. It hasn't stopped you talking nonsense though, has it? :)
Nobel Prizes have been awarded to over 800 individuals, of whom at least 20% were Jews, although Jews comprise less than 0.2% of the world's population.Delete
By anyone's reckoning that is quite remarkable.
One has to ask oneself why one people is so disproportionately represented. You will find the answer in Deuteronomy 4 & 7 and God has not finished with them yet.
As an atheist, I find the fine tuning argument the most convincing and the moral law argument the least convincing and somewhat insulting.ReplyDelete
To me, a huge part of it, beyond those listed above, is the beauty, majesty, variety & wonder of Creation. Admittedly, I live in a particular stunning part of the world, but I can't open my curtains in the morning without being struck by the glory of of Creation. When I travel, I'm blown away by the varied beauty of the world... when I eat wonderful food, I marvel at the complexity of flavour & texture... when I observe the creativity of humanity, in music, culture & the arts, I see things that defy a materialistic explanation... and when I witness the miracle of new life, my tiny mind is blown apart...ReplyDelete
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Yes I agree. I guess 9, 10 and 12 touch on this but not expressed as eloquently as you have.Delete
Thank you :DDelete
I'm a christian, but in terms of "arguments for christianity", this is completely insulting. Maybe 5 in total are actualy arguments, and not essentially a christian drive at self-worth. The philosophical arguments here, moreover, are also not complete. This may seem a childish way of explaining, but here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz_iGGGMddw It'll give you a couple better ones. Honestly. Because something is "unique" does not make it a compelling argument. 2,5,8,9,10(ish), and 12 are the only ones that ACTUALLY use logic, and are thus the only 'good arguments' that are more than mere speculation.ReplyDelete
I think 'completely insulting' is a bit of an overreaction. These are brief summaries of outline arguments and evidences and obviously each one could be considerably unpacked.Delete
You would have to be punishingly stupid to be convinced by your list. Have you even read the bible? Clearly not with a critical eye as it contains direct contractions and errors which I suspect you know but are happy to lie to further your agenda.ReplyDelete
abolition of slavery dont make me laugh
"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them"
1 Peter 2:18
"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh."
phenomenon of Israel I guess the 60's were 4000 years ago
Lives changed by Christian faith - Yup, the dark ages, the spanish inquisition, child abuse, spread of AIDs
Biological complexity - Your point here is just lies, but again I think you know that
Slavery has had many meanings. The Bible is very commonly viewed from today's perspective, yet it was written thousands of years ago. Titus 2:9 is directed towards the slaves that willingly went into slavery or had to for other reasons, but weren't forced to. Reasons to be a slave: Being in debt to someone, being protected, and for whatever else it may be. Those are two main ones. This verse that is picked out (Titus 2:9) is assumed that the masters are the "bad guys." Masters also must treat their slaves well. Slaves were even rewarded if they were genuine and loyal to their master. Titus 2:9 is in the middle of the section. Read the whole chapter of Titus 2, because there is more meaning to the verse if you read the whole chapter, rather than just picking out one verse that is misinterpreted. It's like watching "The Empire Strikes Back" without watching "A New Hope" or "Return of the Jedi." You have no idea what happened to the Death Star and won't know what happens to the rebels and empire and everyone after that episode. What I'm getting at is you can't just read in the middle and assume that's the way it is without reading from the beginning to the end of the chapter. Titus 2 is talking about doing good. The same goes for 1 Peter, there is more to verse that you stated.Delete
The history of Israel is amazing! The Jews were absolutely HATED by the Islamic countries around. Isn't it significant that the Jews are vastly outnumbered, but yet, they still remain in Israel as of this day? The prophecies in the Bible are astonishing. Just think of the significance of how Israel is still standing.
Lives are being changed by Christian faith. I have a friend who had some dark times in his life. Everybody does. What is significant is that he has done heroine and meth. Dangerous and addictive drugs, as you know, it is impossible to recover completely from them after even doing them once. His life was a mess. He wasn't for Christianity either, at first. He had nowhere to turn to but this "God" who has quite the reputation. He had a relationship with God and faith in him and doesn't have the drug addictions. That is impossible through anything else. Rehab doesn't even do that completely, if even at all or just temporarily. But by the grace of God, he got off of them. There's no other solution. As you read through the Bible, you will learn what Christianity truly means as well as hanging around Christian people who are truly devoted. Just because there are negative events in life doesn't mean that God doesn't exist. If everything was perfect, then why would we even need him? We are all going to die at some point anyway in life, so why would these bad events even matter?
If we evolved over generations and "survival to the fittest" was true, then why do I care if someone dies? We're going to die anyway, so why bother being sad about it? Our body is designed so complex. It couldn't of just happened. But it did. Was it all of these coincidences? There is a master design.
This is quite a bit. I do understand where you are coming from. Just find out for yourself before it's too late. Best wishes my friend.
as an atheist I find many things wrong with this post, but for now I will just pick on one of your 20 arguments:ReplyDelete
15. the moral law - this is an argument against Christianity, if anything, since "the similarities of moral codes across times, continents and cultures" means that you consider moral codes are similar whichever religion you choose. What makes Christianity correct as opposed to the thousands of other religions you've included there "across time, continents and cultures"? For example, if you think the moral code of a 16th century Spanish Catholic is similar to that of a Mayan or Incan at the time, then the Spanish certainly did not agree, and enforced that disagreement through mass murder; hence, Latin America is Christian.
Meanwhile, if you think the Ten Commandments "encapasulate these principles of respect for life, marriage, property and truth", then I don't think you've actually read them. Certainly they encapsulate principles of slavery: of wives and slaves being the property of men. But that's not a principle that has any "universality", certainly not through the ages.
In all other religions, you have to work your way to god. Christianity is the only faith in where God comes to you. It shouldn't be about finding proof in how he doesn't exist. It should be about finding proof that he is here. As a personal example, my life is changing as I am becoming more devoted to God. I see how he is working in my life and Christians will understand. Not attacking atheists or other groups, but from only seeing from your perspective and not mine and not acknowledging that God exists, I don't understand why there are people who claim to be atheists.Delete
Important question: What will happen to you when you die and why?
A common response is "you will only know when you die." There is no scientific proof and never will be. It is terrifying to think what it will be like after death. If God doesn't exist then why are we here? My suggestion is take out the time and read through the Bible and find out for yourself personally. You matter and you have your own story. Ask this "God" character to change your life, even if you don't believe in him.
whenever we debate the right or wrong of anything we are assuming the existance of a universal law. otherwise there would be nothing to to talk or debate about.ReplyDelete
To the annonymous post before Ally; read the papal encyclical rerum novorum on authentic christian teachings about the relationship between employer and employee. 'slave' in the passages you have quoted translates better as 'employee'. Christianity believes in the dignity of every human person because thay have been created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore slavery is wrong. Atheism believes I am pure matter. Atheism believes that people's desires and hopes must necessarily be ultimately frustrated. How nasty.
I've never heard of an employee that couldn't cease employment at any time and could be inherited by his employer's children. I've also never seen a contract that specifies that the employee is the employer's property and the employer is allowed to beat the employee as long as he doesn't die within three days. Sure does sound like the employer owns the employee to me, a defining aspect of slavery.Delete
I know a church that does not claim religious exemption. They believe if you are willing to submit as a church to the state in order to obtain exemption then you have placed the state before God.ReplyDelete
did bickle say these things as a twenty something? was he ever jailed? was he ever accused of being a scam artist? just things i have heard from people he went to school with and lee's summit police officers. can anyone shed light on these allegations?ReplyDelete
All these reasons are subjective. When you remove your personal basis from the argument; the arguments stop making cohesive sense or rely on faith-based (or un-scientific data).ReplyDelete
I came here seeking a convincing argument for the existence of a deity or some description.
Honestly one of the worst arguments I've heard- I have seen middle schoolers with better reasoning than yours.ReplyDelete
'Uniqueness' does not imply legitimacy of any given argument. It immediately rules out pretty much half your arguments- then there is your argument on morality which is ridiculous- countless studies indicate God is not needed for moral behavior and if punishment is the only thing keeping you from raping and murdering innocents, I challenge you to develop a better sense of morality.
Biological complexity can be explainef through evolution and natural selection, and anyone who believes in the origin of universe argument must be brain dead if they do not realize the circular argument.Delete
The fine tuning argument is the only half decent argument but is no reason to believe in a God as no matter how small a chance, it is a chance nonethless. Even this is also somewhat controversial as the string theory somewhat explains the coincidence.
Just a quick note here:ReplyDelete
The athiests that have commented on this list seem to be uniquely more aggravated and frustrated in there diction and explanations. This might be explained by physiological doubts within them that make them become defensive at the possibility of being left out of eternal paradise and love, and instead receiving the opposite.
Which is why they're agnostics rather than atheists!Delete
No. In fact the athiests and agnostics are the calm collected ones. You must read these all and not cherry pick the ones that suit your needs. Athiests and agnostics state well thought-out responses and rebuttals. The problem is that the christians are unable to process thought in the same way as athiests and agnostics; you christians CANNOT even begin to entertain our arguments because each one is based on so much truth that it would shake your faith to the core. Ultimately, the reason I am an athiest is because of that. EVERY...no that is not a generalization, i literally mean every...christian i know or have ever known commits that sin that the bible speaks so much against: PRIDE. You stand behind your belief and you refuse to even attempt to see what non-delusional people see so clearly. You defend your belief with statements such as "it's a mystery" or "god's ways so much higher than ours so how COULD we know the answers?" The reality is that you have invested so much time and effort, money, energy, and self into your belief system that to change would be to admit you were wrong. You are just to to PRIDEFUL to be able to admit that to yourself and everyone else so you go on believing and fabricating this remarkable explanation system so that you never have to examine or answer the questions we all know you want answers to. The atiests and agnostics are not angry that you believe...we are really more sad for you(it is rather pitiful). We are tired of your archaic, delusional, immoral, ignorant worldview and we are tired of the way in which you defend it. You truly show your ignorance. You truly show your delusion. You truly show your PRIDE when you defend the undefendable. When you die, you rot or otherwise become part of the earth again. It's just that simple.Delete
In an effort to help you understand yourself, I will tell you from where your belief and faith originate. Faith is a natural and essential human trait. More specifically, it is natural and necessary as children. If you were skeptical of your parents and their teachings you may not have survived to adulthood. This trait was selected because it led to individuals who could reproduce the trait...non-faith in the parentals was extinguished because those children died. Over millenia, this trait has become part of the human experience and genome. So as humans we are encoded with the ability to take what parentals say as truth without evidence: faith. Now enter god. Your belief system initiates you as a youth. it engrains this idea of a "heavenly father" at a time when your faith is still in your parents. It then proceeds to build a belief structure whereby you are unable to reject it for fear of punishment. As a result, your "belief without evidence" gene is never turned off, or rather, you never grow out of your childish habits. I contend that this is actually terrible for humanity. Over many more millenia, we will have a species of irrational adults. We may lose our ability to be fully rational as adults much as christians have lost the ability to be fully rational. This, of course, will probably spell doom for the human species. Another alternative is that those of us who are rational will continue to evolve and will become a new species all together. In such a case, whatever we become will likely look upon humans the way humans look upon chimpanzees.
So, to you believers, if athiests seem annoyed or irritated...we may well be. But it is not from any lack of morality or uncertainty in our position. It stems from the HARM you do to our entire species because of your ignorant, PRIDEFUL beliefs. Simply put...GROW UP!
It's kind of amusing how you reason and tried to brand and explained the reasons of our belief or tendencies using just a paragraph, your 2nd to the last paragraph. If the things you've concluded from your pondering and the analysis from what you have observe are all TRUE, then you are the greatest enlightened one to have ever walked on this earth. And I should have been at awed at the strength of those arguments. Pride is not the apt description in what I believe in, but it is plain wisdom. Wisdom in that what I believe is true. I trust the efforts and works of countless highly intelligent people who have devoted their lives studying "world views" to come up with their published propositions about Christ. What else do we have without the Truth of a living God? Where else do we go to? I'm not claiming to be intelligent enough to have a unified, relevant and coherent philosophy for all of life's questions, on my own. I can only trust in the collective effort from generations of people or humanity itself. And at present, humanity has presented a set of options, but I have my own judgement and I believe I have chosen the best one. Study real discourses and valuable books from renowned authors about philosophies and world views.
Good stuff in this article. Some angry anons in the comments tho.ReplyDelete
I am utterly astonished that these were the good reasons given for belief in Christianity. As a Christian I used nearly all these arguments to defend Christianity but ended up rejecting them. Most of them are bald assertions, non sequiturs, and/or nonspecific to Christianity. It would be too exhausting to go through each one and I don't plan to follow any comments, but anyone interested could probably find responses to them (not necessarily good ones however).ReplyDelete