Arguments people should stop making

What arguments related to science/evolution/theology/philosophy do you think people should stop making?

I’ll start:

I find that apologists really, really need to stop explaining away slavery in the Hebrew Bible as ‘indentured servitude’, which was neither permanent, nor degraded humans to property. Read Leviticus 25 closely:

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

The word ‘for life’ (olam), literally means ‘forever’, as in Genesis 6:3.


Fine-tuning. It´s interesting, it has interesting implications, but there are some premises which need to be established, before it makes a good argument.


This is a a beautiful statement to me. What has convinced you of it’s accuracy/led to write such a conclusion about the fine-tuning argument?

1 Like

Thanks @Reggie_O_Donoghue. What do you think is a better way to approach the OT slavery passages?

1 Like

@heddle made it clear time and time again that the laws primarily allow for the existence of heavy elements or rocks. What seems to be the case is that every physicist regardless of the background agrees that these laws require an explanation. So when I would make an argument from fine-tuning the only thing I really do is stating the same thing, namely that this requires an explanation, but with different intentions in mind. Wohoo! Let´s shake hands and applaud our brilliance.
In order to be a powerful argument we would have to establish first that hypothetical other universes wouldn´t have laws of physics in them which prevent life to arise. Until then I don´t throw the argument in the bin, but I put it in the “maybe”-folder.

Another argument you can make: The vast majority of philosophers specializing in the philosophy of religion are theists and I have NEVER seen a seriously construed argument on the basis of fine-tuning. Be it Plantinga, Craig, Feser, Davies, Lewis, Oderberg, Geach, Anscombe, Kreeft, Hart or whoever. At most you get a short mention of it when anyone (here probably only Craig and Plantinga) is talking to the popular audience. But NOONE makes a philosophical argument on its basis. It seems to me that fine-tuning is limited to the middle-class apologetic.


I give three options:

  1. Biting the bullet (though such is understandably difficult).
  2. Viewing the Golden Rule of Hillel/Jesus as something which takes precedence.
  3. Finding an allegorical meaning of the text.

I’d give another option. I would argue that the Bible demonstrates a general progression in attitude away from slavery. Compare Leviticus 25:44-46 with Paul’s exhortations to Philemon, for example. Other verses to note include 1 Timothy 1:10 including slave traders in the list of the “ungodly and sinful” and Revelation 18:13 citing the slave trade as epitomising Mystery Babylon The Great. I’d also say that as far as I can tell, the attitudes shown in the Bible towards such things as slavery were ahead of their time. Sure, maybe it wasn’t describing modern attitudes, but it was certainly taking the lead in heading towards where we’re at today.


The thing about fine tuning is that it isn’t just Christian apologists who talk about it. It does seem to get quite a bit of discussion among secular scientists as well. The only difference is that they try to come up with different models to explain it, such as the multiverse, eternal inflation, and so on.

Incidentally, one thing I would say to apologists about fine tuning is, if you are going to use this argument, please give specific examples, quote exact figures, and cite your sources.

1 Like

Sure, I mentioned that above in my answer to Matthew. There is a phenomena universally recognized as something that needs an explanation. Mostly however the arguments being made by apologists aren´t too good. If there is anything to the multiverse hypothesis remains to be seen, but generally the argument is probabilistic, and I´m not a big fan of that.
This should not mean that I´m in any way hostile to it. I personally am very interested in the work of Luke Barnes, because it is very much related to the argument, so I always have this link at hand.


Does this imply admitting that, since so much of what makes us human is culturally transmitted, our cultural tolerance of slavery has simply evolved since the times of bible’s authors?

1 Like

A list of them? I would throw the entirety of YEC apologetics into that category. Rather than specific arguments, how about a list of the type of arguments that I wish people would stop making?

  1. Presuppositional apologetics
  2. “Worldview” apologetics
  3. “Us-vs.-Them” arguments (If your opponent says red, you must say blue.)
  4. “Blame the media”
  5. Ad hoc auxiliary hypotheses and special pleadings to rescue literal interpretations from science.

That’s a start.


I agree with this. I think the default option should be “I don’t know”, and not “therefore, God”.


I believe, but many other atheists do not, that the widespread and ancient phenomenon of God belief does deserve an explanation. So there isn’t universal agreement on that one. But regarding fine tuning, I’m not sure that requires an explanation. If the cosmos was a puddle, fine tuning would argue that its contours must have been fitted just so to accommodate it. Having opened our eyes as sentient, living organisms it must be that the cosmos accommodates us. To think it was all for the sake of allowing one species to evolve our form of consciousness seems like another vestige of our tendency to put ourselves in the center of creation.

1 Like

Not ourselves. Just ME.

1 Like

Related to the third option you gave is what Enns suggests. He maintains that that Bible teaches wisdom, which can then be applied to modern culture in relevant ways. The latest podcast with him touches on that.


I was referring to accepting what the Bible says and applying it in real life, as horrifying as it sounds.

I do find that the Abrahamic religious values tend to result in a more flourish society, with less tolerance for crime, sexual promiscuity, drug use, etc. So I think Presupposing the truth of Judaism, Christianity or Islam, or defending it as a worldview can remain. (unless you meant something different)

Not sure what you’re getting at Reggie, surely don’t think we should be hitting our slaves hard enough to kill them straightaway, do you? :wink:

1 Like

Of course not, hence I do not take that position.

1 Like

Here is a really tiresome argument…

If you don’t agree with what they claim then it is because you are close minded, have your mind made up, and will not read anything new. It is an appalling presumption that learning is a linear path that goes in only one direction to the culmination of what they understand. I have little doubt that many of our differences in opinion can be traced to differences in what we have read… but that is a greatly branching tree and not a linear path… and to be sure, sometimes it is because you only read the things that already agree with your opinion (not that this is always a bad thing in the case of science).