Several weeks ago, I watched a YouTube video of an Evangelical apologist dismissing arguments atheists make against Christianity. He said Christians shouldn’t bother answering atheist objections. Why? “I read the last chapter of the Bible, and we [Christians] win!”
First, this apologist provided no evidence for why we should believe anything the Bible says. He claims the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God, but what evidence does he offer up for his claims? None. He’s a presuppostionalist, so he thinks he has no obligation to defend his claims. In his mind, the Bible says it is God’s Word — end of discussion. Atheists KNOW this to be true. They just suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Or so apologists say, anyway.
Second, the book of Revelation — the last book of the Bible — is a widely disputed book among Christians. Church fathers debated whether it should even be part of the canon of Scripture. Many Christians believe that Revelation is allegorical history, fulfilled centuries ago. Evangelicals tend to read Revelation literally. Thus they see the book as a chronology of human history, much of which has not yet been fulfilled. Evangelicals really do believe that the events recorded in Revelation will literally come to pass, and soon (even though their lived lives suggest otherwise).
Third, when this apologist says “we win” what does he mean? He means that God has slaughtered everyone on the face of the earth. He means that ninety percent or more of the humans who have ever lived on the face of the earth will be suffering endless torture in the Lake of Fire. Saying “we win” is his way of laughing in the faces of all those who challenged his Fundamentalist beliefs. “Ha! Ha! Ha! motherfuckers, I was right. Bring me a stick and some marshmallows.”
If this apologist really believed what Revelation says about the future of his unsaved family, neighbors, and friends, along with billions of non-Christians, he would spend every waking hour pleading with sinners to get saved. Instead, he spends his time making YouTube videos and arguing with atheists.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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I’d be more likely to listen to someone like this, if he actually showed love and empathy. Wouldn’t change my mind, but I wouldn’t think so ill of him.
Frequent reader, first time post. I recall having my first doubts about christianity at age 5 or 6. I can still remember exactly which Sunday school classroom it was and the teacher. She was discussing the prophets of part one of the bible and I raised my hand to ask why god used prophets to speak for him sometimes and at other times he did so himself. She replied that it was just because – like that answer will ever satisfy a child’s curiosity. I then asked why we don’t believe the people who claim to be prophets today – because they aren’t! Before she finally sent me over to the “big church” to my mother for misbehaving I asked why god doesn’t just speak to us all directly at the same time – answer: because he sent Jesus to speak for him. Needless to say I was given a good talking to and a smack on the tuchus – spare the rod and all that good old time fire and brimstone baptist religion, ya know.
I hear ya. Same same but different, as a kid trapped in an ACE ‘school’, I always felt totally put out that people in the Bible got to talk to Jesus/God directly, but I was supposed to just be happy with hearsay. It felt completely unfair that I must simply believe without proof whereas those other folks had actually interacted with the real thing.
Which I suppose leads me to the million-dollar (and with the recent breakthroughs in neuroscience, somewhat rhetorical perhaps) question: Why do some kids raised in Christian environments question from the get-go, whereas others just believe and never leave?
Aram–Here’s a related question: Why do some people raised in such environments cling to their beliefs for as long as they can, even after presented with irrefutable evidence that contradicts those beliefs?
I was one such person, and I had my reasons. But I eventually left Christianity, and belief in deity altogether. Today I am an atheist. But some people reject their faith outright. as soon as they are presented with evidence or questions enter their minds. It would be interesting to know why.
It seems likely that it’s a matter of how deep the person’s emotional commitment to the belief system is, and/or how much of his or her social life is based on membership in the religious group. If a belief is psychologically important, or if abandoning it would mean social isolation, the person is likely to be far less open-minded toward logical arguments which debunk it.
Maybe it’s because I never made a big public event out of becoming saved. As but for the time my mother had me repeating the Lord’s prayer aka saying the magic words, at bedtime, back when I was 4 or 5 years old (an event she still holds onto as being my ticket to heaven) I never really expressed any great love of Jesus. Nor did I ever bother to get baptised, which is of course always a huge public moment in the church. Meaning, maybe, that it was easier to just let it slide away as no one was really expecting me to stay.
On that note, I’m incredibly happy to have grown up and come of age in a time before the internet made every gaffe remembered forever. How much harder to change your opinion when you’re plastered all over online saying the opposite, for example. I do feel for kids today as grow older, as the ‘sins’ of their past are going to haunt them as long as the web exists.
Having said all that, despite never feeling the alleged love of Christianity, I most certainly did internalize all the guilt and self-loathing the religion teaches. The indoctrination was strong, even without actually ever feeling like a Christian. Strange that. The fear of Hell took ages to get over, well into my 30s. I do think spending so many years on the road travelling and living in loads of different cultures and countries helped break me free. But it still took a lot of time just to get back to zero. That’s what really irks me over my indoctrination, is just how much time was wasted not just during my childhood in the cult but also all the time since then working through the emotional and mental trauma of that experience.
Alphajet, I used to ask similar questions as a kid. I remember being told that God sent prophets and did miracles back in OT times because that’s what people needed, and we don’t need that anymore because of Jesus. Didn’t make sense to me either…..I had lots of questions my mom tried to answer as I was not allowed to ask these questions in Sunday school.
Like Aram, I am also curious why some of us seemed to be skeptics from birth…..I guess it’s just how our brains are?
It sure seems to me that we may be “wired” differently. My sister is still heavily involved in the church we grew up in but I ditched as fast as I could – I remember filling out job applications in my juniour year of high school and emphatically stating working Saturday and Sunday was no issue. I still had feelings of guilt about lying to my parents about working on Sundays but hey, I was scheduled. It might also be a case of I was the only male in my age group at the church, the other males were either three or more years older or four or more years younger – and having friends who were not in the cult…errr…church was an egregious sin!
“If this apologist really believed what Revelation says about the future of his unsaved family, neighbors, and friends, along with billions of non-Christians, he would spend every waking hour pleading with sinners to get saved.”
That is the point that had me hooked. I believed that I had been given a free pass, a time-share deal in an eternal paradise, and all that was required was one prayer. Oh, but there was a little fine print that they didn’t tell me: Once you signed the dotted line, then they forever made you feel guilty about all those who were not saved that you had not warned.
I could not understand how people thought millions were going to hell, shrug it off, and watch a ball game. That thought of the eternal destiny of others consumed me when I was in the IFB.
I cannot understand how a good person could enjoy heaven knowing that others were suffering forever with no second chance.
If a person could not bear to hold a dog’s paw on a hot frying pan for a minute, how could he be happy knowing people are retained in hell without chance of parole for having wrong beliefs?
The Book of Revelation is a work of fiction, but Fundamentalists believe it is part of the inerrant Word Of God. So this Fundamentalist thinks that Fundamentalists win in the end as ch. 22 claims.
But this book revives the bloodthirsty, violent warrior god of the brutal books of the O.T (Josua to 2 Kings). Revelation has rivers of blood flowing 8 feet high and other poor victims of this violent god during an imaginary “great tribuation”.
Why should we believe in such a barbaric book?
the bible is a set of ignorant barbaric books.
It’s interesting how some Christians embrace a loving, caring deity that offers salvation, peace and comfort for all; and other Christians seem to delight in a vindictive, judgmental, warring deity and take pleasure in the idea of this deity brutally punishing dissidents. It says a lot about the character of these people.
poor dear christians, their sadistic lil’ fantasies will never come true.
I tend to just live with the impression that the Apocalypse of John (aka the Biblical Apocalypse) was the 1st Century (Apocalyptic) Jew’s equivalent of the modern “fix fic”. I mean think about it. Around the time it was composed, Jews had just launched the Zealot uprising and were getting killed left and right by the general Vespasian who would go on to become Roman Imperator. I think it’s understandable that Apo of John isn’t the peace and love and bear it out of the other NT books.
OTOH, modern Evangelicals in the US of A clearly are not getting that treatment, so why on earth would they cling to the Apo? How is the Apo of John more authoritative for them than the other Apocalypses such as the Apocalypse of Paul or the Book of Daniel, since they aren’t getting killed for their beliefs, unlike 1st Century Jews?
Sorry for derailing the comments section Bruce, but I was wondering whether you would make a post on the subject of “natural evil”? I find the concept rather interesting.
Here is some of my prior reading on the subject:
I had to infer what “natural evil” even is from the links you posted, and at first glance I think the concept is nonsense. As far as I’m concerned, evil is a descriptor of things that humans do. (Can other animals do evil? I don’t think we understand how their minds work well enough to tell. I don’t consider eating a member of another species evil.)
We live on an amazing planet that can only support the evolution of life here because of the natural processes, which have themselves changed over the planet’s history. The evolution of life on this planet is tightly coupled with the evolution of the planet itself, and that could only happen because it is an active planet. Active natural processes produce disasters. At times those disasters were of such great proportions that they caused great extinctions, and changed the planet enough to essentially redirect the evolution of life in various ways. Without every one of those great disasters, without the active evolution of the planet, the chances of our species happening is nil.
The loss of life and property due to a terrible natural disaster is something to be grieved, and the effects of those mighty planetary processes should be mitigated when we can do that. But you can’t have organic life at all without an active planet. We are not separate from our home, and stuff happens. It seems quite arrogant to me, to declare that there is such a thing as natural evil. It unduly elevates humanity.
Interesting take on the subject, thank you.
My views of human beings are similar to Karen the Rockwispher. I have told people we live in a physical universe whether we like it or not. No one’s beliefs change the physical universe. I have been told I have such views because I studied physics undergraduate before switching to Information Systems for my BA because it was so much easier to get a job with Information Systems. Some hinted that I had taken too many science classes and “believed” what I was learning.
Neil de Grasse Tyson has said that one of the things he loves about science is that it’s true, whether or not people believe it.