Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

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Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#1

Post by derrick09 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:38 pm

Hello everyone, I was wanting to ask you guys about this story I found while searching Christian apologetics

http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.c ... story.html


It's a account of a former Christian apologist now turned atheist. I was wanting to ask you all from reading his account do you think his deconversion was justified? I mean, I thought it would be almost impossible to deconvert to atheism after seeing the best evidence that Christian theism and Christian apologetics have to offer especially after reading people like Plantinga and Craig. In the account he mentions the Jesus Seminar and since he gives credibility to a group like that, to me, it shows right there that his deconversion lacks credibility in that aspect, but do any of you guys see it lacking credibility all together? I was also curious if any of you all know of any professional Christian apologists that have lost their faith? Because from what I've seen in my five or so years of studying apologetics this is either very rare or almost unheard of. But anyway, thanks and God bless. :wave:
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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#2

Post by narnia4 » Fri Jul 23, 2010 1:55 pm

I don't have time to look at your link right now, but as far as professionals in apologetics who turn to atheism, I've never heard of any high profile ones doing so (if they had, I would think that there would be a big deal made about it (like when Anthony Flew became a deist). Of course, there's quite a number of atheists who were (or claimed to be) Christians before they became famous, and just as many vice versa (Francis Collins, C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, those are just a few off the top of my head).

Since I didn't look at your link I can't say about this guy in particular, but it's not impossible for those who understand all the arguments to turn away from God even if they're convincing. When someone is in academics, people have a tendency to overlook that some of this is done for emotional reasons. I'm not sure how someone could go from reading the works of guys like Craig and Platinga to the Jesus Seminar... I'd agree that would be a red flag.
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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#3

Post by truthman » Fri Jul 23, 2010 4:38 pm

I converted to Christianity in my late teens, but evangelism led to questions, questions led to doubts and wanting answers, and these in turn led to apologetics. The apologetics thing lasted longer than expected -- 15 years (i.e., the whole span of my Christian life) and grad school pursuing a Ph.D. in Philosophy. I felt that my calling was to “be a witness” in academia by becoming a philosophy professor at a local university.
What I see from his own words is that he never had true faith. He had questions and doubts and tried to satisfy them with intellectualism rather than faith. True faith is a complete belief and trust that what God said is true. (If you would like we could start a topic on the legitimacy of faith.) He studied apologetics (he never became an apologist) to try and satisfy a void within himself, but was never completely convinced, and when he studied the Questers he was persuaded by their arguments.
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. " 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#4

Post by Gman » Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:23 pm

He calls himself a nerd? Yeah right... Then writes off his is Christian background with a few paragraphs. People like this are atheists, but when you ask them why they don't even know.. It's fashion.
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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#5

Post by TallMan » Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:55 am

Apologetics and research is good but when people rely on explanations instead of God's promises we have...

The intellectualisation of Christianity

God is replaced by our intelect.

Abraham went forward " not knowing whither he went."
The early church didn't go to Theology college, they just knew the basics of salvation and running a church.

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#6

Post by jlay » Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:30 am

whoa, TM makes a point I can agree with.

We live by faith not by sight. If you want to experience a relationship with God, and see His hand at work, you have to step out in faith. If you want to see territory won for the church, and stolen from the enemy, you will have to walk in faith.

The power of God is seen in the operation of faith, not in the battle of intellect. And not throwing out the baby with bathwater here. That is not an attack on the intellectual aspects, but a rebuke for the lack of faith walking we see today.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#7

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:53 pm

jlay wrote:whoa, TM makes a point I can agree with.

We live by faith not by sight.
And it is by seeing that a biblical faith desired by God happens. Just ask Thomas.

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#8

Post by cslewislover » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:05 pm

There are people who come to call themselves Christians, but they don't seem to have a real inner foundation in their faith. I have read of some people like this, that have an experience with God (an inner spiritual awakening, if you will), and realize that their earlier "faith" wasn't much of anything. This person may have been like that, only having gone the opposite direction. I looked a bit, quickly, at what he wrote, and it seems like what I've described. There are plenty of people who go with what sounds best to them at the time, but one has to have faith, not just a degree of intellectual agreement. Everything he says is so far removed from Jesus and how He approached us and how He wanted us to view Himself and God.
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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#9

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 30, 2010 4:43 am

And it is by seeing that a biblical faith desired by God happens. Just ask Thomas
Not sure what you are driving at here.

I seem to a recall a few little words by the master in this encounter with Thomas. Blessed are who?
If people want to see God, the Bible tells them where He is working. (Hint: In the areas of faith)
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#10

Post by smiley » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:16 am

Yes, I feel it is perfectly justified. I've felt doing the same many times for similar reasons.
cslewislover wrote: There are people who come to call themselves Christians, but they don't seem to have a real inner foundation in their faith. I have read of some people like this, that have an experience with God (an inner spiritual awakening, if you will), and realize that their earlier "faith" wasn't much of anything. This person may have been like that, only having gone the opposite direction. I looked a bit, quickly, at what he wrote, and it seems like what I've described. There are plenty of people who go with what sounds best to them at the time, but one has to have faith, not just a degree of intellectual agreement. Everything he says is so far removed from Jesus and how He approached us and how He wanted us to view Himself and God.
And can't this same reasoning be applied to any other religion? When arguments fail, we should rely on our "inner feeling" that our God is real. No, that's an extremely dangerous path. It gives Mormons, Jews, Muslims and so on all a justification to keep their faith no different than it does to Christians. Arguments and objective evidence should always take priority over fallible personal experiences.

And I see truthman is still rattling off his No True Scotsman nonsense. Faith is a convinction. To say that faith is "false" is to say that he was never convinced that Christianity is true, which is absurd.
"Imagine if we picked the wrong god. Every time we go to church, we're just make him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#11

Post by cubeus19 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:16 am

Interesting point smiley, what do you think of the atheist in the article? Do you think he's justified in his atheism? Is there a way you can refute his arguments for his atheism?

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#12

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:11 am

I read the article. He spends most of it trying to convince his audience that he really was a believer. And I can certainly understand this. No problem. However, his whole case seemed to boil down to one or two issues, that quite frankly didn't cut it for me. That someone who was supposedly so versed in apologetics would fall for such things seems suspect.
1. First, I realized that all of the deductive arguments from natural theology that I had accepted at one time or another had significant shortcomings.

I didn't see anything in the article that addresses the arguments he was hanging his faith on, much less the shortcomings.

I am with Smiley, although I wouldn't completely dismiss the individual encounter. Experiences should harmonize with the evidence. Not all experiences are credible, anymore than all evidence is credible.

I failed to find anything that really answered the reason as to why. Of course, they are 'his' reasons, and he doesn't have to justify himself to me.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#13

Post by Kurieuo » Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:07 am

jlay wrote:
And it is by seeing that a biblical faith desired by God happens. Just ask Thomas
Not sure what you are driving at here.
Merely that a biblical faith is not a blind faith.

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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#14

Post by cslewislover » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:20 pm

smiley wrote:Yes, I feel it is perfectly justified. I've felt doing the same many times for similar reasons.
cslewislover wrote: There are people who come to call themselves Christians, but they don't seem to have a real inner foundation in their faith. I have read of some people like this, that have an experience with God (an inner spiritual awakening, if you will), and realize that their earlier "faith" wasn't much of anything. This person may have been like that, only having gone the opposite direction. I looked a bit, quickly, at what he wrote, and it seems like what I've described. There are plenty of people who go with what sounds best to them at the time, but one has to have faith, not just a degree of intellectual agreement. Everything he says is so far removed from Jesus and how He approached us and how He wanted us to view Himself and God.
And can't this same reasoning be applied to any other religion? When arguments fail, we should rely on our "inner feeling" that our God is real. No, that's an extremely dangerous path. It gives Mormons, Jews, Muslims and so on all a justification to keep their faith no different than it does to Christians. Arguments and objective evidence should always take priority over fallible personal experiences.

And I see truthman is still rattling off his No True Scotsman nonsense. Faith is a convinction. To say that faith is "false" is to say that he was never convinced that Christianity is true, which is absurd.
Smiley, sure, everyone can have feelings about their faith. But you are dismissing the work of the Holy Spirit. I'm not saying that He is a feeling that can be explained, because I don't see how it could be done. Yet, it could very easily get to the point where a person, in order to feel that they are of the true religion, would need to exhibit something to show it - like speaking in tongues! No, you don't have to exhibit something for other men to see, but I do think a person can have (and should have) some sort of encounter with God to let them know they are His child. I very much believe this, and that this is biblical, otherwise it could very well seem that is simply our decision (it is our decision, but God calls us with His spirit - He is involved). As for feelings like that, supposedly, within other religions, who is to say that they aren't God? I'm not saying that all religions are true, either, but all humans have the capacity to turn to the true God. If someone does that within the context of another religion - because that is all they know - then that person can be saved. A lot of Muslims and Mormons don't even know what their religion is about. Jesus himself said that a person has to be born again and spoke of the Spirit in this context. A believer indeed will be born again in the spirit, and if they can know it, then that helps them stay in their faith. None of this takes away the need to know things rationally and logically - that's why this board exists - but in the end, that is not how we come to God. God made Himself knowable, but He did not make Himself knowable in measurable ways or ways that the "wise" would find definitive.
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Re: Questions about a former apologist turned atheist...

#15

Post by jlay » Fri Jul 30, 2010 3:13 pm

Merely that a biblical faith is not a blind faith.
I think you missed my point, as I still don't understand yours relative to what I posted.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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