A friend asked me a question on Facebook about moral relativism. He said he was debating a Christian and he told the Christian that morality is relative. He messaged me and asked if that position was good. I told him I did not think so and for this post I’ll paste in the answer I wrote to him in the Facebook private message.
By way of brief explanation, someone might appeal to moral relativism either as a direct defeater for Christianity or as a defeater-defeater. The latter might go like this: A believer says morality is objective, so Christianity is true. The non-Christian might respond by saying that morality is not objective, it’s relative, and so that reason for belief in Christianity has been defeated. The direct argument might go like this: (1) If God existed, morality would not be relative. (2) Morality is relative. (3) Therefore, God does not exist.
I realize the issue of moral relativism is very complicated and there’s a lot of literature on the matter. There are some very sophisticated relativisms out there, but to address them would require to much set up. What I’m going to paste in is fine as far as it goes, and I believe it covers a lot of ethical ground in a short space. While the below is not the final word, it’s at least good for the main intended audience of this blog (see “Read this first” up top) as an introduction to some ethical terms and concepts, and as a conversation starter. Below is pretty informal, but as I said, it was a Facebook message to a friend that I wrote fairly quickly: Continue reading
This post deals with a specific objection to Christianity rather than a general objection. An example of the latter would be something like, “The Bible contains contradictions in it.” In this case, since this can’t be shown a priori, the proper response is: “Do you have an example?” The only way this objection has force is by giving an example. Sometimes, general objections will not suffer otiosity like in the above case. The logical problem of evil is one such example. The problem of evil can be raised both a priorly and a posteriorly—and sometimes forceful versions make use of both forms. In this post I’ll address one specific example non-Christians have brought forward to show that the Bible contains errors. Our series responding to 100 objections will include a few responses to particular inaccuracies (factual and logical errors will be included under this heading) in the Bible. A subset of “Biblical inaccuracies” will be “Gospel inaccuracies.” Continue reading
In today’s climate if you call someone’s beliefs or behavior ‘unscientific,’ you usually do so with an air of superiority, looking down your nose at the poor benighted fool. Science has achieved an epistemic (i.e., relating to the standards, structure, and limits of ‘knowledge’) cachet few, if any, other areas of inquiry have. And is this not deserved? After all, look at what science has given us: men on the moon, TVs and microwavable TV dinners, computers, medical breakthroughs and, who could forget, the light bulb. The above type of achievements inspired Rudolph Bultmann to write,”It is impossible to use electric light and the wireless and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time to believe in the New Testament world of spirits and miracles” (“New Testament and Mythology,” in Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, ed. H. W. Bartsch, trans. R. H. Fuller (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), 5.). Thus, when someone mentions they believe in the resurrection of Jesus a reply in the above vein might be to scoff, “How unscientific of you; where have you been, don’t you realize such a belief is impossible given Energy Star™ lightbulbs?” ‘Unscientific’ here is used as a pejorative. Continue reading
I don’t mean to give offense to those who employ the claim found in the title when I say that I’m starting off with this one because it is light way to start things off. I do realize that for some people the hypocrisy (whether real or imagined) of some, if not all Christians, functions as a powerful reason for them against the truth of Christianity. Nevertheless, I do regard this objection, such as it is, not to tell against the reasonableness or truth of Christianity, whatever else it tells against. Moreover, this objection does not feature in sophisticated criticisms of Christianity in the published literature. But, it does have some staying power, and it clearly resonates with “the masses.” Even as respected a religious figure as the Dali Lama surely had this objection in mind when he quipped, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians.” While something deeper than hypocrisy could be meant by this, surely hypocrisy was included. Not as subtle, the American shock-anchor, personality Bill Maher, waxed comedic and indignant about Christian hypocrisy on his HBO show: Continue reading