Miller Jones has continued his series on fallacious arguments used by atheists and fundamentalists. I've already linked to part one
, so here are part 2
and part 3
My reaction to part one provoked some robust discussion here in the comments section, but while not wanting the flow to stop, I wonder if some considered response from Otagosh readers might not be welcome too over on the GCBC blog. I also want to thank Miller (I'm not sure that's a real name or pseudonym, not that it matters) for raising the subject, and responding quite graciously to my initial comments. This is definitely a discussion worth having.
In the second of his postings Miller provides a number of excellent examples where atheist writers do indeed "bag the Bible." He goes on to list a number of citations from the Good Book, used as evidence by Atheists, where Yahweh is portrayed as a moral monster. Miller then seeks to redress the balance by identifying another set of scriptures in which this same God is portrayed in positive, moral and thoroughly ethical ways. He concludes:
Thus, if we accept all [of the] scriptural examples of God's murderous and cold-blooded nature, we must also acknowledge the over 200 references that I have cited describing a God of mercy, compassion, patience, kindness, forgiveness and unfailing love. Yes, this represents one of those glaring contradictions that atheists are fond of pointing out relative to Scripture; but it also demonstrates that there is an alternate view of God presented in the pages of the Bible...
Well, as they say, yes... but
you'd have to make that same concession regarding the Quran, for example. That's fine by me, but I doubt many conservative Christians will be shouting out loud hosannas and amens at that suggestion.
I guess my question to Miller is this: what is the alternative to cherry-picking the texts we like?
I suspect he has a good answer, but I'm not sure he has yet articulated it clearly.
We all approach the Bible with a world of assumptions and, sadly, (despite loud assurances to the contrary in certain quarters) the Bible does not "interpret itself". Two contradictory sets of texts do not cancel each other out; they just create a mess - and a breeding ground for half-baked apologetics. Come back Marcion, all is forgiven!
Part 3 is a nicely worded slap-down to the frequent practice of "appealing to authority" to back up opinions. According to Miller, both fundamentalists and atheists do this, but he concedes that fundamentalists do this more directly (and he won't get any grief from me on that).
But will the "argument from authority" critique wash when it comes to atheism.
... the greater irony vis-à-vis the Atheist position is that they turn around and use the source/authority that they have just discredited to discredit the Judeo-Christian conception of God! They are quick to appeal to those same Scriptures to demonstrate that the God of the Bible is a homophobic, homicidal, immoral, tyrannical, vindictive and slavery affirming monster.
|Bart Ehrman - atheist and biblical scholar|
Again, yes - but
. Only insofar as atheists aim their guns at the Bible. Okay, there are some who obsess about the Bible. Ex-members of high- demand biblicist sects (hmm, maybe we could even think of an example) might be particularly prone to this - and that would be both appropriate for them in their circumstances
and understandable. But consider two prominent atheists who engage the field of biblical studies professionally, Bart Ehrman and Bob Price. Neither man fits the pattern.
Second point: obviously any good atheist doesn't believe in the existence of "the God of the Bible" any more than Jupiter Olympus. The point being made is about the portrayal
of "the God of the Bible" in
the Bible, and that seems to be something evidential, and not an appeal to authority.
Miller finishes by writing:
Neither side seems to be able to recognize their use of fallacious reasoning. They see it in each other, but not in themselves.
Yes, Fundamentalists and Atheists are very different from each other - it is legitimate to characterize them as being polar opposites philosophically. However, it is very clear to this blogger that both sides employ fallacious arguments to advance their viewpoints/agendas. What do you think?
I'm interested in your perspective too. But if you've got a few minutes to spare, why not click across to GCBC and read the three posts in full, and drop a comment on Miller's blog as well.