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A Second Look at Unveiling Christianity March 11, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion, Textual Criticism, Uncategorized.
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In this second preliminary article, we will be examining the methodology that Unveiling Christianity uses when writing and posting their historical critiques. To anyone familiar to the field of  history or logical argumentation, whether through academic studies or a passing glance of works in historical methodology, it becomes all too apparent that there is a mishandling of sources.

In the articles posted on Unveiling Christianity’s website, one will notice a pattern of sources that Ibn Anwar uses; those who support his position. Obviously an author is supposed to use scholars that support their position in writing persuasive styles of writing, so with that there is nothing wrong. However, the strength of an argument is seen in one’s ability to formulate good reasons for a position, as well as the ability to tear down an opposing view, all while strengthening one’s own position; and not just by quoting scholars who support one’s position. We’ve noticed roughly three things in Mr. Anwar’s work, that lead to certain fallacies: (i) ignoring a huge group of scholars who disagree with the scholars he has chosen to quote, (ii) the philosophical presumptions and dispositions of the scholars he has chosen, and (iii) formulations of good reasons to take the position he has chosen.

(i) One who is trying to establish historical certainties cannot ignore a huge portion of top academics who do not share his position. Ignoring them does no justice to the beauty of historical narratives, nor does it breed honest academic work. Anyone can write like that and anyone can beef up their own positions on quite possibly any position no matter how absurd the opinion is. (ii) The philosophical positions of those quoted need to be taken into account Mr. Anwar. The majority of scholars we have seen you use do not believe the supernatural can be taken into account historically, and thus they rule out miraculous events found in the Bible, which allow you to take the positions you do.  The opinions you are taken in, are completely naturalistic positions, and unless you apply the same naturalistic standards to the Qur’an, you are committing academic hypocrisy. (iii) Formulating a good position paper requires more than just a list of scholars who somewhat support a position you’re taking. Good reasons are needed, as even the best and brightest scholars may have lack good reasons for taking a particular claim. If one just quote’s scholars, the fallacy of appealing to authority births, along with it, a fallacy of cherry picking one’s sources, and accordingly, the formation of a bad position paper peaks its ugly head, as well as a illusion of a poor grasp of the subject.  So we urge Unveiling Christianity to use a well balanced list of sources, examine the philosophies of the scholar’s quoted, and offer up good reasons, rather than the mere conclusions of academics who may or may not have good reasons for their position.

More to follow up in critiquing Unveiling Christianity.

In Christ,

The Confessors

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? March 4, 2010

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Bible, Biblical Studies, Christianity, God, Islam, Muhammad, Religion.
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(1) Jesus claimed to be divine; at least indirectly.

(2) Jesus’ claim is either true or false.

(3) If it is false, then Jesus either knew it was false or he did not know.

(4) If Jesus knew his claim to divinity was false, then he was a liar

(5) If Jesus did not know, then he was a lunatic.

(6) Jesus was neither a liar nor a lunatic.

(7) Therefore Jesus must have been telling the truth.

(8) Therefore Jesus was Lord and thus divine.

This argument in various forms has appeared in apologetic writings for quite some time. As far as we know, it was first made famous by C.S. Lewis. It is a good, solid, logical argument, and is cannot be so easily dismissed. Enjoy!

A Critique of Bryan Steeksma’s Ontological Argument Against the Existence of God December 15, 2009

Posted by theconfessors in Apologetics, Atheism, Christianity, Religion.
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Bryan Steeksma, in his YouTube video, informs us that there is no conclusive argument for the non-existence of God. We completely agree. He then claims that the burden is on the theist to show that God exists. If there is no argument for the existence of God, then, we think he’s right. The problem is, there are several arguments for the existence of God. He just doesn’t think they work. He gives the common atheist analogy to unicorns: “We don’t walk around trying to disprove the existence of unicorns, we just accept that they don’t exist.” We don’t believe unicorns exist either. Why? Because we’ve heard no valid/sound arguments for the existence of unicorns. This is why Bryan thinks he has an analogous scenario. He thinks there are no valid/sound arguments for the existence of God. So, in this video, he tries to show us how the ontological argument (Alvin Plantinga’s in particular) is fallacious and then tries to use what he believes to be the “fallacious bit,” if allowed, to prove God doesn’t exist. On the other hand, we hope to show why Alvin Plantinga’s argument isn’t fallacious in the way Bryan argues it is and follow that up by examining Bryan’s argument on its own. We’ll show you how his argument actually is fallacious for other reasons.

Please take the time to watch Bryan’s video first:

First, let’s start with Alvin Plantinga’s argument. This is how it is presented in Bryan’s video and we have not verified it with outside sources. So, if this is an unfair representation, we apologize. We are just working with Bryan’s video.

  1. God exists in understanding but not reality.
  2. Existence in reality is greater than existence in understanding alone.
  3. A being having all the properties of God plus existence in reality can be conceived.
  4. A being having all of God’s properties plus existence in reality is greater than God.
  5. A being greater than God can be conceived.
  6. Hence, it is false that God exists in understanding but not reality.
  7. God exists in understanding, therefore, God exists also in reality.

Bryan informs us that he has Kantian influences and it is definitely palpable in his critique. He is essentially trying to argue that existence cannot be a property. That is, Plantinga’s “fallacious bit” (as I referred to it earlier) is where he’s trying to use existence as a property. Why is this fallacious? It has been argued that “existence” cannot be a property because it is itself a prerequisite for further properties; that is, in order for God to be all-powerful, He must first exist. So, existence cannot itself be a property.

But, we ask, why should something’s being a prerequisite for further properties be any reason to believe it cannot be a property? For example, consider the properties “taking up space” and “being red.” Certainly, we must agree that in order for something to be red it must take up space. So, if we allow Bryan’s interpretation, taking up space can no longer be a property ascribed to objects. For this reason, we completely disagree. We, on the other hand, would allow for any kind of property so long as no paradox follows.

Now that we know what the “fallacious bit” is suppose to be we’ll see that Bryan tries to use this in his own argument to show that God cannot exist. Since we have shown how this is not actually fallacious, we will ignore it in Bryan’s argument and show why his argument fails on completely different logical grounds. His argument is as follows:

  1. God is the greatest of all possible beings.
  2. The absolute greatest of all imaginable achievements are accrdited to the greatest imaginable being necessarily. (Because no one else could have done it.)
  3. The creation of everything is the greatest imaginable achievement. (Said achievement is qualified by a) its intrinsic quality and b) the ability of its achiever.)
  4. The greater the disability of the achiever, the greater the achievement.
  5. The greatest and most formidable disability for an achiever is non-existence.
  6. Therefore, if we posit that everything is a part of an existent being we can then conceive of a necessarily greater being (i.e. one that created everything while not existing).
  7. Therefore, God does not exist.

He defines “absolute greatest of all imaginable achievements” as “the creation of everything.” So, where we found the former, in premise (3), we replaced it with the latter. “God” is defined as “the greatest of all possible beings,” so, we replaced “the greatest imaginable being” with “God,” in premise (2). We also added, in parenthesis, what we take “everything” to mean, in terms of the context of the argument. We get the following:

2. The creation of everything (everything that exists) is accredited to God.
3. The creation of everything (everything that could exist) is the greatest imaginable achievement. (The creation of everything is qualified by a) it’s intrinsic quality and b) the ability of its achiever.)

As you can see, the argument falls victim to the fallacy of equivocation. If he means “everything” in (2) in the same way that he uses it in (3), to avoid the fallacy, we don’t think that anyone would agree that premise (2) is true. It would then look like this:

2. The creation of everything (everything that could exist) is accredited to God.

There is simply no reason to believe that God has created everything that could exist. If you use “everything” in (3), in the same way you use it in (2), then we don’t think anyone would agree that premise (3) is true. It would look like this:

3. The creation of everything (everything that exists) is the greatest imaginable achievement…

Surely, we can all imagine an achievement far greater than the creation of what already exists. So, it seems premise (3) would be false, on this account.

We forwarded these concerns to Bryan on YouTube and he sent us the following revised argument:

  1. God is the greatest of all possible beings.
  2. The absolute greatest of all imaginable achievements are accredited to the greatest imaginable being necessarily. (Because no one else could have done it.)
  3. The greater the disability of the achiever, the greater the achievement.
  4. The greatest and most formidable disability for an achiever is non-existence.
  5. Therefore, if we posit that everything is a part of an existent being we can then conceive of a necessarily greater being (i.e. one that created everything while not existing).
  6. Therefore, God does not exist.

We have issues with premise (2) and (4). First, regarding premise (2), why would we accredit an achievement to a being that has not yet achieved the achievement? For example, the absolute greatest of all imaginable achievements is, to our understanding, the creation of all things possible. To our knowledge, it is not believed that God has created everything possible. It’s possible that He could, but, given what we know, it’s not probable that He has. So, we couldn’t accept premise (2).

As for premise (4), we can’t conceive of a non-existent being achieving anything; that is, we can’t conceive of nothing achieving something. We accept that properties can be ascribed to things as long as they do not create paradoxes, as previously stated. But, if “nothing does something” is true, then it’s false because, in order for a being to do something, it must be something.