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Debating Australian Christian Pastor and Apologist David Robertson

Image result for image of pastor david robertson, australian apologist
Rev. David Robertson

Gary:  David, the fact that you moderate comments and refuse to publish comments that point out the massive holes your supernatural belief system is proof that your belief system is not based on evidence but upon your intense emotions involving this belief. Marty Sampson’s [a recent Christian leader who has deconverted] emotions dried up and he then saw that there was nothing left validating this ancient tall tale.

There is no good evidence for your beliefs, David. Alleged eyewitness testimony may be sufficient for auto accidents and murder trials, but not for alleged alien abductions or first century dead corpse reanimations. If 500 Hari Krishna’s claim that they all saw a herd of cattle be beamed up into a space ship, would you believe their eyewitness testimony? Of course you wouldn’t. You would think they were nuts. So why do you believe a two thousand year old claim that 500 people saw a walking, talking, resurrected dead corpse? It makes no sense, David. The only possible explanation is that you so desperately want YOUR fantastical claim to be true.

Your belief rests on very shaky ground, David. Your emotions, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences are not good evidence for any thinking, educated modern person to believe that a dead first century peasant is the Creator and Lord of the universe.

Superstitions are not real, my friend.

 

David Robertson, conservative Christian pastor and apologist, author of the “Wee Flea blog“:  Love the smug superior tone that so many fundamentalist atheists adopt – of which your post is a classic. You cannot allow for the possibility that anyone may be wrong and you don’t have capacity or the knowledge to engage with the arguments so you just mock, proclaim your own superiority and self declare that only you are or can be, right. The only reason I moderate comments is not to stop those who disagree but to ensure that my blog is not taken over by those who have nothing better to do in their lives then self-confirm their own eccentricities – whether religious or not.

I must admit there is a temptation to allow more posts like yours – because in a way its very reassuring to see how empty and vacuous the oppositions arguments are! However I try to resist that temptation – because I know that there are intelligent atheists out there who do actually have some good arguments and know how to post them. In this case the only reason I am posting yours is to explain why I moderate comments – not because your comments are brilliant, but precisely the opposite. Its not fair to intelligent atheists to let the fundamentalist emotive ones rant on….

 

Gary: I bet that I have read just as many or more books by Christian apologists than you, David. I am very informed. Here is my reading list:  here

So I challenge you: Please provide good, quality evidence that the first century peasant, Jesus of Nazareth, is the creator and ruler of the universe. Don’t give me evidence for a generic creator god. I am more than happy to concede the existence of a Creator God for our discussion. I want evidence that YOUR god is the creator of our complex universe. I am certain that I can demonstrate that the evidence for your belief is only “strong” in the minds of conservative Christians. I can prove that most experts, including most Christian experts, question the accuracy of many of the evidence claims used by conservative Christians like yourself.

Most educated adults would agree: If everyone but you thinks that your evidence is weak, your evidence is probably weak.

(If Rev. Robertson responds, I will post it in the next post.)

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Why Do So Many Christian Apologists Moderate Blog Comments?

Image result for image of a herd of cows

If you are like me and enjoy visiting Christian websites to challenge Christian beliefs (and evangelize for Reason and science), you probably have noticed how often Christian bloggers restrict comments on their blogs.  They do this either through moderation or quickly banning skeptics who say too much.   Why do Christians do this?  If their beliefs have sufficient evidence to back them up, why worry about the comments of a few skeptics?  Most skeptics do not moderate or censure their blogs.  So why do Christians??  I would bet that it is for two reasons:  One, the apologist is afraid that a Christian who is “weaker in the faith” will be “lead astray” by the skeptic’s comments.  And two, the evidence for this ancient tale is pretty skimpy.  When someone’s reasons for believing something are hard to justify, that person usually doesn’t want to entertain criticism.  I have noticed that the more conservative the Christian blogger is, the more likely it is that he or she moderates/restricts comments.  And if you check out the blogs of fundamentalists, most of them do not allow any comments!

Below is a comment I left for Christian apologist David Robertson, author of “The Wee Flea” blog:

David,

The fact that you moderate comments and refuse to publish comments that point out the massive holes your supernatural belief system is proof that your belief system is not based on evidence but upon your intense emotions involving this belief. Marty Sampson’s [a recent deconvertee from Christianity] emotions dried up and he then saw that there was nothing left validating this ancient tall tale.

There is no good evidence for your beliefs, David. Alleged eyewitness testimony may be sufficient for auto accidents and murder trials, but not for alleged alien abductions or first century dead corpse reanimations. If 500 Hari Krishna’s were to claim that they all had seen a herd of cattle be beamed up into a space ship, would you believe their eyewitness testimony? Of course you wouldn’t. You would think they were all nuts. So why do you believe a two thousand year old claim that 500 Jewish zealots saw a walking, talking, resurrected dead corpse? It makes no sense, David. The only possible explanation is that you so desperately want YOUR fantastical claim to be true.

Your belief rests on very shaky ground, David. Your emotions, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences are not good evidence for any thinking, educated, modern person to believe that a dead first century peasant is the Creator, King of the universe.

Superstitions are not real, my friend.

 

 

 

End of post.

Proof Positive that Conservative Christianity is a Cult

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Conservative Christian:  May God soften, and unblock, your hard and blocked heart, Gary.  But be of good cheer, you will be in the ice white heat of death, before then.

Gary:  Nice.

This is the language of a cult, dear Readers.  Thoughts and beliefs are not crimes.  Anyone who uses this kind of threatening language to censure your thoughts is a cultist.  He or she should be exposed, shamed, and condemned.

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Most Christians Don’t Believe in Jesus due to Evidence, But Due to their Emotions

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I believe that in the case of the overwhelming majority of Christians, their belief that a first century peasant is the creator, ruler of the universe, is based primarily on their warm, fuzzy, comforting feelings about this belief, intuition, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences. In reality, historical evidence plays a very small role in their belief. Appeals to weak historical claims are used as a front by apologists to provide respectability for this ancient superstition to the secular world. Most educated Christians don’t want to admit that their supernatural belief is primarily based on their emotions, yet the truth is—it is!

Christian apologist William Lane Craig once said, “The simplest of Christians (someone with no education whatsoever) can know that Jesus rose from the dead (and is therefore the Creator and Lord of the universe) simply by the testimony of the Holy Spirit in his heart.”

Christian apologetics is a ruse. The real issue is this: Are intense feelings, intuitions, perceptions, and subjective personal experiences reliable, sufficient evidence for universal truth claims? The answer to any unbiased person is: No.

A “cumulative case” for Christ? Yea, cumulative in this sense:

Emotions, intuitions, perceptions, subjective personal experiences: 90%
Empirical and/or historical evidence: 10%

That kind of “cumulative” belief regarding a universal truth claim, such as who or what is the creator of the universe, is silly and irrational. If a member of any other religion on the planet used this “cumulative case” for his god or gods, Christians would hand-wave away his or her argument without giving it any thought. Yet, Christians expect skeptics to engage in mind-numbing philosophical mind games in their desperate attempts to make a silly and irrational “cumulative case” for a two thousand year old superstition appear reasonable and rational.

Wake up Christians! This is cult thinking!  You are in a cult.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

End of post.

Worship Leader of Large Christian Church Announces his Deconversion

hillsongchurch.wordpress.com

I knew it would eventually happen.  I knew that one day there would be a wave of deconversions among prominent Christian pastors and other leaders in the Church due to the massive quantity of evidence found on the Internet—evidence which casts considerable doubt on the central historical claims of Christianity—evidence available to anyone with a computer.  Has the “wave” begun?  Check out this recent significant deconversion.

Below is a Christian pastor’s response to this man’s deconversion:

Dear Marty,

I am so sorry to read your Instagram post about how you are ‘losing your faith’.  I suspect you know this already but be prepared for the reaction. There will be those who laud your “courage and openness” and others who lament your “backsliding and apostasy”.

Forgive me for writing this but your post sparked so many emotions and questions…

Firstly there is a deep sorrow that someone who once sang “for endless days we will sing your praise” has now decided to walk away from Jesus. You no longer see “his wounds, his hands, his feet, my Saviour on that cursed tree”. (‘O Praise the Name’). As someone who loves and follows Jesus and knows what life without him is like, I cannot help but feel a deep sorrow for you, and also for those whom you have served with.

Hillsong are not every Christian’s cup of tea and I’m afraid that your public renunciation of your faith will do harm to them, and to the wider body of Christ. I can already feel the schadenfreude of those who dislike Hillsong – “see we told you that they were shallow and not ‘real’ Christians”. They conveniently forget that Christians from every tribe have fallen and left the faith. The joy of atheists who hate the God they don’t believe will also fill the web.

But I’m also somewhat disturbed and perplexed at what kind of faith you actually had. Your post said that “no one” talks about how many preachers fall, how many miracles happen, why the Bible is full of contradictions, how can a God of love send people to hell. You seem to have been living in some kind of sheltered cocoon. In the Christian world I inhabit people never stop talking about these things! Was your faith or your church background really so superficial and shallow that these questions were never discussed? Little wonder that your faith collapsed like a house of sand, if it was built on such flimsy foundations and was never tested!

I wrestle with these questions every day – and most Christians I know do as well. Let’s take your claim that the Bible is “full of contradictions”. That’s the kind of statement I often hear from those who have never read the Bible, but as a Christian songwriter that cannot be your situation. When did you become aware of these apparent contradictions? I have been reading and studying the Bible for the past 40 years and I have yet to come across any substantive or real contradiction. It would be helpful if you could share some of these contradictions that you claim the Bible is full of.

Some of your other statements are stunning.

You are “so happy now, so at peace with the world”. You have, like John Lennon, imagined that there is no heaven and suddenly you are transported into secular paradise. This kind of peace is not new. Jeremiah spoke of it “peace, peace – when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14)

You say you want genuine truth. Again I think of Lennon. “I’m sick and tired of reading things by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians, all I want is the truth, please gimme some truth” (‘Gimme Some Truth’). And I also think of a politician who asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:37) – not knowing that the answer to his question was standing in front of him. “I am the truth” (John 14:6). Ironically having stated that you only want truth, you have turned your back on it and walked into darkness and falsehood.

You say you don’t believe. Again that is so like Lennon who in his song ‘God’ listed the things he did not believe in – and ended up saying “I believe in me”.  I love U2’s reply – “Don’t Believe the Devil, Don’t believe his book, but the truth is not the same without the lies he made up” (‘God – Part Two’).

You say, “Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion”. I’m not sure where you picked up that old modernist myth but it is one that has been thoroughly debunked in the 21st Century. I suggest you read John Lennox’s God’s Undertaker that is helpfully subtitled ‘Has Science buried God?’

You say, “Christianity just seems to me like another religion at this point”. As someone who seeks after absolute truth I’m sure you won’t want to judge that truth by what it ‘seems’ to you, or where you ‘are’ at, at any particular point. Study the different religions and you will see a phenomenal difference between idolatry and real faith. I remember one Chinese atheist turning to me in tears and explaining that she was crying because “Jesus is just so beautiful, so beautiful”. Remember how you used to write and sing about your gaze being “transfixed” on his face?  What caused you to turn away so much that you have ended up believing the lie that Jesus is just another religion?

You complain about the attitude of some Christians. Many of us can understand that disillusionment. But we still follow Christ. I am reminded of Bonheoffer’s statement: “Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great sense of disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and, if we are fortunate, with ourselves”.  (Cited by Rebecca McLaughlin in Confronting Christianity). It appears from your post that you have not been ‘fortunate’ in the way Bonheoffer describes. Incidentally if you are truly interested in truth I would highly recommend McLaughlin’s book – which deals with precisely the issues you raise. You would be better to confront real Christianity, rather than walk away from the caricature you describe.

Your Instagram post was a picture of Samson bringing down the temple. It’s an apt metaphor, not because this particular Sampson is going to bring down the temple, but because it reminds us how Samson went blind when he turned away from God, and how God used him when he was restored!

Your post reminded me of yet another Lennon song – “You can go to church and sing a hymn….you can live a lie until you die, but one thing you can’t hide is when you’re crippled inside” (‘Crippled Inside’)

You are a songwriter. I have cited to you another songwriter who flirted with Christianity but is best known for a song that rejects it. It may help you to read the songs that Jesus sang. The Psalmist knew what it was to doubt and question – but he also knew where the ultimate truth lies. Try Psalm 73, Psalm 22 and don’t forget Psalm 14!

Like many other followers of Jesus, I pray for you. But if you want more than that and your questions are for real, then, if you still live in Sydney, why not give me a shout and we can chat….?

Yours,

David

 

 

 

End of post.

Dear Christians: Is the Evidence for Your Beliefs Weak, Strong, or Very Strong?

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Gary:  Is the empirical and/or historical evidence for the universal truth claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator, Lord of the universe, weak, strong, or very strong?

Christian:   It’s not the case that the evidence is weak, strong or very strong.  Rather, like a number of Christians, I subscribe to a cumulative conjunctive case for Christian theism.

Gary:  Good grief.  Your obfuscation answers my question!

 

 

 

End of post.

Getting a Straight Answer from Christian Apologists Can Be Like Pulling Teeth

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Christian:  My Christian belief is based on faith, experience and reason.

Gary:  So what strength of empirical evidence would you require to believe a very unusual claim? Let’s use a 0-10 scale. Could we agree that for most unusual claims, you, I and most other educated people would require the strength of the evidence to be “very good”, so at least an 8 or 9 on our scale?

Christian:  No I disagree that one scales evidence say out of 10 in order to arrive at a belief.  There is a lot more going on than that.  For example, what is the claim, who makes the claim, background experience etc.  So for example, a fantastic claim, such as you have won the lottery, made by the right person is plausible right? Yet an equally fantastic claim, such as AMH arose by chance, is not plausible, to at least 40% of Americans.  Belief I feel is a gut feeling. For example, how often do you apportion scales i.e 1 out of 10 to what you believe. Most of the stuff you believe, you just do!  No only that, if evidence changed you would still find it difficult to change your belief.   Imagine, a copy of the Jerusalem Times, from the first century saying Jesus was resurrected, how would you explain that away? Which is to say belief is a complex beast.

Gary: Yes, people believe things for all kinds of odd reasons. Many of us do have “gut feelings” about certain things. But I am talking about universal truth claims, not gut feelings. Gut feelings are subjective. Universal truths are objective. Universal truths are true for everyone, everywhere, at all times. If your friend claims that he saw a Martian spaceship abduct a herd of cows yesterday, that is a universal truth claim. If your friend tells you he has a gut feeling that Martians exist, that is not a universal truth claim, that is a gut feeling.  Do you believe the claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the ruler and savior of the universe based on your subjective (gut) feelings and perceptions or as a universal truth claim? In the industrialized western world, universal truth claims require empirical and/or historical evidence if you expect anyone else to believe your claim is true. Do you have such evidence for your claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the ruler and savior of the universe? If you do, how strong is it, 0-10?

Christian:  Gut feelings are only wrong when they are wrong, otherwise they are correct.  It is not the case that gut feelings are subjective and that empirical truth claims objective. If I told you that having weighed up the evidence my friend has a gut feeling that atheism is plausible would you say he is wrong? Further, universal truth claims can be arrived at by an accumulation of truth claims, and they may be gut feelings.  Take for example the evolution of AMH?  Universal truth claims do not require empirical evidence, so that is incorrect. Universal truth claims can be gut feeling or more properly intuitions. As for the probabilistic calculus it’s not how I arrive at belief. All one needs is to hold are views that are more plausible than contraries or negations, and in the case of Christianity and say atheism, that is clearly the case.

Update 8-7-19:

Gary:  When you answer my question, which only requires a one word answer, then I will be happy to answer any question of your choosing:  Is the data (empirical evidence and/or historical evidence) for the universal truth claim that Jesus of Nazareth is the Creator, Lord of the universe, weak, strong, or very strong?

Christian:  I’ll play your game then, on the understanding that you will begin answering my questions as dialogue requires.  It’s not the case that the evidence is weak, strong or very strong.  Rather like a number of Christians I subscribe to a cumulative conjunctive case for Christian theism.

Gary:  (Oh brother!)

 

Image result for image just say no to superstition

 

 

End of post.