Why is it that the "other side" seems so legitimate in it's arguments against the faith?

Ever since I began dealing with doubts about my faith, I told myself I wouldn’t listen to the other side of the argument (atheists, etc.) because I felt that my doubts were sufficient to act as that side while I researched apologetic material. As I have been on RZIM, I’ve enjoyed the arguments given for God’s existence, etc. and have found some the answers to my questions satisfactory. But yesterday, for the first time I allowed myself to listen to a debate between an atheist (John Loftus) and Abdu Murray. I enjoyed the debate, but it left me confused and kind of afraid. Hearing John speak was like hearing my doubts spoken out loud and it left me asking these questions:

  1. Why is it that the “other side” is so unrelenting in arguments against the faith that sound legit?
  2. Is apologetics just a means we use as Christians to make our faith sound intelligent?
  3. One of the objections that John Loftus brought up is that Christians come up with different lines of logic/reasoning to prove our faith than the ones readily available. Abdu didn’t respond to those claims, so my question is: what is John talking about? Is there any proof for that objection?
  4. How does one continue in their Christian walk when the objections to the faith line up with the doubts they are experiencing, and the answers to those doubts seem unsatisfactory?
2 Likes

@Abi.re Thank you for sharing your questions sister :slight_smile: I’ve included some material on how we navigate doubt below that I hope you will find helpful. Regarding Loftus, I have watched a number of his arguments and in my opinion he relies heavily on a reductionistic epistemology. As William Lane Craig and C. S. Lewis point out in the below videos, science is not the only way that we can know things. Loftus’ arguments rely on a naturalistic framework in which the only way that we can know anything is via empirical study.

Not only does this idea not stand up philosophically, it also goes against the lived experience of the Christian and Biblical teaching. God is spirit and we know Him in spirit and truth. The knowledge of Christ is spiritually discerned; not learned by examination under a microscope. There are more ways of knowing than the scientific method.

Christ grant you peace friend :slight_smile:

Doubts

It is perfectly normal to have doubts - they are just part of the journey. Check out Greg Boyd’s video linked below - I think he makes a great distinction between faith and psychological certainty. Faith is not the absence of doubt, but the choice to seek God in the midst of uncertainty. Tim Mackie also has a good video on praying through doubt that is based on the Psalms. A few thoughts:

  • faith in the Bible is not about the absence of doubt, but about persistently seeking God in spite of our doubts / struggles
  • faith is a journey and doubts are part of that journey
  • rather than trying harder to believe, perhaps try just trusting God with your doubts and continuing to walk with Him / honor Him on the journey
  • sometimes even when we know the answers we may still experience psychological doubt - our emotions are prone to many influences - hunger, illness, weariness - and our emotions impact our mental state. So faith is not about always feeling we have faith or psychological assent - but about trusting God in the midst of our weakness.
  • like Biblical characters (David, Habakkuk, Job) we take our doubts to God - we pray through our doubts - not seeking psychological certainty, but leaning into God as our rock in the midst of doubt

Greg Boyd - Faith is Not About Certainty But About Covenant

faith is not intellectual assent (a psychological concept); it is not psychological certainty

people tend to think your faith is as strong as your mind is certain, in which case doubt is the antithesis of faith, but this view is incorrect

Biblical faith isn’t about trying to attain certainty; it’s about committing to a course of action in the face of uncertainty

For many, faith is about attaining as much certainty as possible in order to be a true follower of Christ. But the Bible tells us faith is about committing to a course of action in the face of uncertainty. God is not seeking all the right answers from his people in order to let them into heaven; no, he is our loving Bridegroom who seeks to be in a covenantal relationship with us in the midst of our uncertainties.

Praying Through Doubt - The Psalms

Tim Mackie, one of the creators of ‘The Bible Project’, preaches about how in the Psalms we see that the authors of the Psalms often wrestled with doubt by praying through it and remembering God’s promises.

5 Likes

@Abi.re. I was thinking this morning how we (humans) live in a state of extremity. It seems the simplest way to explain our disagreements. What serves to propel our reasoning and living into a state of ‘ism’ is derived from incompleteness. It is why we need GOD.

Because every thought every deed we perform has elements of truth; we believe that our thinking indeed is the reasoning of gods. When we conclude this, we begin to assume others are wrong, while we must be right. But the greatest peril to being creatures without balance is the constant threat of extremities. It was how we were created. We were created to need GOD. But we were endowed with the right to chose who our god would be.

It is why we have wars. It is why we treat each other so poorly. It is why we can love each other and in the next instant heap hurt upon one another. So persistent is this imbalance that we conclude that anyone who stays with us through such contradictory behavior is someone who truly loves us. It is why our exploration seeks to disprove a Creator well beyond our ability to define. We are unable to stand with balance.

That should be expected and perhaps acknowledged. We are explorers who are confined to exploration of what we already know. Real learning, real growth comes via the authority that exists outside the influence of our universes. That is only GOD.

What Apologetics is for any one person can’t be summed up through a singular use ideology. Apologetics is concurrent with individual use, needs, or desires. Apologetics is what the John Loftus’, of this world, utilize as well.

His complaint that Christians keep using different logic and reasoning is in some manner a childish way of saying; you are false, you are wrong because you won’t stand still and afford me the ability to hit you when I strike at you. His complaint to me is also a testament to the effervescent nature of GOD. So well beyond our ability to know. If GOD would just stand in one place or the other. If He would only be one thing or the other. Be still GOD while we dissect you. We need to accept that GOD will never say; “mother may I!” GOD is not human. GOD is not definable by our thinking.

Our faith is not an act of different reasoning, faith is the constant. Faith is the connection to our balance. Seeming too slippery for debate, argument or our judgment. But simply one of the best demonstrations of human limitation. GOD does not need us. We need GOD.

We thought knowing good and evil would make us as GOD. It was the lie we brought in the Garden of Eden. It is the lie that continues to stymie. So, we waffle between one idea or the other. We can’t help ourselves.

I think doubt occurs for us all. As we live and love GOD we learn of His steadfastness. We know of His faithfulness. But being human means that even knowing is often challenged. We feel our humanness so acutely. It is why we watch and pray. It is why we seek daily to let the mind of CHRIST dwell in us.

GOD fleshes me out. GOD keeps me balanced. Ecclesiastical doctrine alone will not do. That doctrine must lead me to GOD if I will ever be my best. The day that atheism leads me to GOD than I will be happy to follow.

2 Likes

Thank you! I guess a huge struggle is measuring my emotions to my doubts to my beliefs, so I really appreciate you taking the time to put some resources regarding that here!

Also, quick side note, I’m a sister :laughing:

3 Likes

@Abi.re Definitely - hope they are helpful sister :slight_smile: I think we all have to learn how to differentiate our feelings of faith from the act of living out our faith. May Christ bless you as you continue to grow in this area.

2 Likes

Thank you! That makes allot of sense!

This thought might help you. I would love to engage further on this topic.

1 Like