Summary: So today I'd like to build a case. Let's see how we can approach the truth claims of Christianity from an interdisciplinary approach.
So today I'd like to build a case. Let's see how we can approach the truth claims of Christianity from an interdisciplinary approach.
I like to look at Christianity from several different angles. Those angles are logic (specifically logical fallacies), history (tests for historicity), mathematics (statistical probability), and science (astronomy, fine-tuning).
Those are the primary approaches I like to make to the claims of the Christian faith. Secondary approaches that I also like to make are in the areas of empirical verification (adherence to reality), textual criticism (biblical document credibility), archaeology (discoveries verifying recorded history),philosophy (the teachings of Jesus Christ in practice), and personal experience (how I've witnessed transformation in my life).
I'm not going to dive too far into any one area of verification today, but at least browse through some of the major areas of inquiry.
First up, logic. Many have claims that challenge the validity of Christianity. Let's look at four major objections and see if they are logically coherent. There are certainly others, but these are some I've dealt with:
1. "I don't believe in God, and I don't believe in unicorns or leprechauns either!"
2. "Yeah Christians are so great, but their priests are pedophiles. Bunch of nasty pedophiles."
3. "Your view on homosexuality says it all. Christians are bigots."
4. "Christianity has caused so much destruction in the past, like the crusades and the inquisition."
1. The first objection is a sort of combination of two fallacies. The first is a logical fallacy called "ad hominem." What it means is the person challenging the claim is throwing out insults instead of answering the argument. In addition I would say that the objector is committing a logical fallacy we might call "appealing to absurdity." This is a false appeal where the person appeals to the "absurd notion of a czar of the heavens" instead of making a logical argument. Claiming something is absurd is not an argument, it's a variation on "ad hominem."
Billions of people across history have believed and followed a being they considered to be "God." Many of those people are Nobel prize winners (Martin Luther King Jr, Albert Einstein), American presidents (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Jefferson, etc), great scientists (Galileo, Newton, Francis Bacon, Francis Collins, etc), philosophers (Blaise Pascal, Edmund Burke, Soren Kierkegaard, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Paul Copan) and billions of everyday people. Are they all ignorant rubes? Are they all stupid? Could so many geniuses be wrong? I'm not appealing to authority alone here, let me just add that fact, I'm building a case that references authority figures. Additionally, let me present a basic argument for the existence of God. 1. The universe began to exist. 2. Everything that begins to exist has a cause. 3. Therefore the universe has a cause. This cause must be timeless, spaceless, all powerful, therefore the most reasonable cause for the universe is an intelligent designer similar to God. So expert testimony shows us we can't just toss out the idea of a God, just because our first reaction is to think it is preposterous.
2. Objection two is what you call a "Hasty generalization fallacy." It is reasoned that when one or a few people do something bad, then all people in that group are bad. If one atheist commits a crime, are all atheists criminals? Of course not. If one priest claiming to be a Christian molests a child, are all Christians child molesters? Of course not. One must never judge a worldview by how it is abused. Every person has free will. Anyone can claim to follow a teaching, but their actions tell us who they are. Don't look to a person, look to Jesus himself, examine His life and test Christianity in that way. There will always be some people, hopefully very few who take a faith or practice and twist it for their own ends. There are many good charities, but there are some who misuse people's money. There are many great churches out there, but there are some who are just trying to get people to toss out their money. There are many businesses with good ethical practices, but some are bad apples. It's just the nature of the world we live. Don't judge a worldview by how it's abused, instead look to Christ himself.
3.Embedded in this objection are multiple fallacies. First we have "the bandwagon fallacy" and then an "appeal to popularity." The latest trend in the past 10-20 years is that homosexuality is good, therefore since Christians believe in traditional marriage they must be evil. The objection ends with an "ad hominem" by calling the person a "bigot." A fourth issue is that the question is "loaded." A "loaded question fallacy" is a question that is impossible to answer because the person answering appears guilty before even answering the question.