Arguments people should stop making

I never said God couldn’t create ex nihilo. The problem is the creation has to include the appearance of age. It is the false appearance of age that is the problem.

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I think I follow, but I still don’t see that being a particularly difficult philosophical issue. If God had, for instance, desired to create Adam immediately out of the dust of the ground, he could simply have communicated that fact to anyone interested, so no one would ever feel they were being deceived.

Perhaps he could have ensured there was a record of this occurrence, stating something to the effect that the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature?

Arguments people should stop making:

-those that relentlessly refer to “Darwinism” and “random mutation” when Darwin never wrote either of those words. He was simply seeing existing variation.
-those that pretend that evolution is not working until a new mutation happens.
-those that implicitly deny that variants can exist in populations for thousands of generations before becoming subject to selection.
-those that ignore neutral evolution, which is NON-Darwinian.
-those that pretend that mutations must occur at certain times and in a certain sequence to be subject to selection
-those that are not informed by an understanding of population genetics
-those that portray evolution as happening to individuals, when in reality it only happens to populations

Then there’s the all-time doozy:

“No-one has ever seen a cat turning into a dog.”

That’s the only one of those listed above that @Daniel_Fisher hasn’t used in the other thread!

Just a reminder for Mr. Clark - and also for everybody else in this thread too; let’s try to keep our dialogue and comments closer to the gracious side than the mockery side. I’m guilty of edgy comments too at times, but don’t mind being called on it in my own turn. It’s a good opportunity to practice charitable representation of views you disagree with. Or of practicing restraint if you feel the temptation toward score-keeping or rubbing somebody’s nose in something. This entire thread seems to be more than unusually tempting in that direction.

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I just recently finished “The Fool and the Heretic” by Falk and Wood on Audible. It was challenging, but very refreshing about disagreeing with each other and keeping a spirit of Godly acceptance and humility. The thread is closed on that subject, but maybe someone else has had a chance to review that, or supply other thoughts in the same vein. If so, maybe we can start a new thread. Thanks.

That thread can easily be re-opened. Let us know if that is your wish. Or if you want the subject to have a fresh start or perhaps go in slightly different directions, a new thread may not be a bad way to go either. Either way, we can accommodate.

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Just don’t call people buffoons! :wink:


This is a really good topic. I am grateful to have stumbled across it.

Anyhow, in my opinion, creationists of nearly every stripe need to stop making the following types of argument:

  • If you can’t account for it scientifically then God did it.

  • If you can account for it scientifically then God didn’t do it.

Yes, creationists really do make these types of argument, and they really do need to stop. An example of the former would be Mike Riddle and Jason Lisle who argued that if evolutionists are unable to provide a scientific account for this or that phenomenon (e.g., the origin of life) then people should be open to considering that it was something God did, [1] as if only the inexplicable is the handiwork of God. But that is an opinion shared by other creationists, such as Jay Seegert who said, “God created the universe, including the stars and galaxies. We don’t expect that natural processes can generate these objects.” [2] His statement here could fall under either one of the two types of argument, it’s a bit ambiguous. But there are still others who make the latter argument in very clear terms, such as Michael Behe: “If a biological structure can be explained in terms of those natural laws,” which he had identified earlier as reproduction, mutation, and natural selection, “then we cannot conclude that it was designed.” [3]

With these sort of arguments creationists are basically surrendering hard-fought ground to atheists (i.e., evolutionary naturalists) who have been making similar arguments since the Enlightenment. For example, Edward O. Wilson said that if our species evolved “by Darwinian natural selection, [then] genetic chance and environmental necessity, not God, made the species. Deity can still be sought in the origin of the ultimate units of matter, in quarks and electron shells (…) but not in the origin of species.” [4] Creationists need to stop agreeing with those atheists who believe that if we can account for it scientifically then God didn’t do it.

Here is an alternative idea that is worthy of our thoughtful consideration: God created the universe, from stars and galaxies to primordial life and human beings, and, assuming that it was through natural processes, we can explore scientifically what those processes were. As Aubrey Moore put it, [5]

Once more: “For the Christian theologian the facts of nature are the acts of God.”

* * *

I love Douglas Adams, too, but that analogy of his really doesn’t work. [6] As I understand the fine-tuning argument, if you changed certain physical constants or parameters by just a tiny little bit, then the universe would no longer be conducive to life (or matter in some cases, or elemental diversity in others, etc.), according to Wikipedia’s explanation (s.v. “Fine-tuned Universe”). However, you may alter the shape of the puddle as little or as much as you like and it will still be a puddle. So it’s amusing but ultimately irrelevant because it’s inapplicable.

– John Bauer


[1] Mike Riddle and Jason Lisle, “What Are Some Good Questions to Ask an Evolutionist?” in New Answers Book 3, ed. Ken Ham (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2010), 299–307.

[2] Jay Seegert, Creation and Evolution: Compatible or in Conflict? (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2014), 24.

[3] Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: Free Press, 2006), 203.

[4] Edward Wilson, On Human Nature (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978), 1.

[5] Aubrey L. Moore, Science and Faith: Essays on Apologetic Subjects, 6th ed. (1889; London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1905), 225–226.

[6] Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking the Galaxy One Last Time (New York: Harmony Books, 2002), 131.


Fair enough. Puddles don’t cease to be puddles on account of a shape change. Any random indention in the ground will collect ground water.

But if the cosmos exhibits parameters which make it hospitable to life (at least in rare ‘Goldilocks’ zones) does it follow that some intentionality must have been at work to establish those settings? I’m no scientist but I can’t imagine why the characteristics of the various stuffs of which the cosmos is composed and the way it attracts or repels other stuff shouldn’t be sufficient to explain its distribution. How wonderful for us that that should include the inclusion of the occasional zone inhabitable to life. I’m not making any argument that no divine intention is possible. I’m simply doubtful that it is necessary.

But I agree with you when you say:

And I am happy to stipulate that no finding of science (or lack thereof) makes a case against God’s existence.

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I’ll type in below an extended quote from “The Lady’s Confession” (the 2nd book of the trilogy of MacDonald’s novels that begins with “The Curate’s Awakening.”) I realize the length of this quote may give rise to copyright concerns, but will attempt to justify it by putting it here as a teaser. The entire set of three books can be had for $0.99 to be read on any Kindle or similar device.

From Chapter 17 (which contains narrator commentary on the unbelieving, and kindly Dr. Faber - one of the protagonists of the story as I’ve read it so far…)

Faber had never made any effort to believe in a divine order of things–indeed he had never made strenuous effort to believe in any thing. It had never at all occurred to him that it might be a duty to believe. He was a kindly and not a repellent man, but when he doubted another, he doubted him; it never occurred to him that perhaps he ought to believe in that man. There must be a lack of something, where a man’s sense of duty urges him mainly to denial. His existence is a positive thing–his main utterance ought to be positive. I would not forget that the nature of a denial may be such as to involve a strong positive.

To Faber it seemed the true and therefore right thing, to deny the existence of any such being as men call God. I heartily admit that such denial may argue a nobler condition than that of the man who will reason for the existence of what he calls a Deity, but omits to order his way after what he professes to believe His will. At the same time, his conclusion that he was not bound to believe in any God, seemed to lift a certain weight off the heart of the doctor–the weight, namely, that gathers partly from the knowledge of having done wrong things, partly from the consciousness of not being altogether right. It would be very unfair, however, to leave the impression that this was the origin of all the relief the doctor derived from the conclusion. For thereby he got rid, in a great measure at least, of the notion–horrible in proportion to the degree in which it is actually present to the mind, although, I suspect, it is not, in a true sense, credible to any mind–of a cruel, careless, unjust Being at the head of affairs. That such a notion should exist at all, is mainly the fault of the mass of so-called religious people, for they seem to believe in, and certainly proclaim such a God. In their excuse it may be urged they tell the tale as it was told to them; but the fault lies in this, that with the gospel in their hands, they have yet lived in such disregard of its precepts, that they have never discovered their representation of the God of Truth to be such, that the more honest a man is, the less he can accept it.

There are some again, to whom the idea of a God perfect as they could imagine Him in love and devotion and truth, seems, they say, too good to be true: such have not yet perceived that no God any thing less than absolutely glorious in loveliness would be worth believing in, or such as the human soul could believe in.


Thanks for this. I had forgotten that Macdonald can sound positively Paulinian in his wanderings! He’s brilliant, but I have trouble digesting him sometimes.
To boil it down, in my understanding (catch me where I am wrong).

  1. Belief in God focuses on the ultimate good. Sometimes, those who don’t believe in the ultimate Good miss out in achieving the best in their life.
  2. Those who believe God nevertheless frequently don’t seem to care to follow Him in goodness. They sometimes do it out of fear. The God they model is a tyrant of power, rather than one who would model good. They act as a deterrent to those would otherwise believe in Him/It. Better to be an atheist than worship and emulate such a Devil.
  3. Finally, others don’t believe in God because the idea is too good to be true (Epicurus; if God were all powerful and all good, things would not be the way they are, etc).

My only confusion with Macdonald here is that he slipped in the idea that perhaps Faber didn’t believe in God because he didn’t want to worry about measuring up in goodness. My impression of Faber in his book was more that he was harder on himself (and others) in terms of living up to an ideal than the Christians/religious were. That one portion seems far out of Macdonald’s usually empathetic tone. However, he reiterates at the end that it’s better to believe in nothing than in a devil.

Doubtless we all at some time would rather not focus on a God who keeps us straight–but that’s not all the time, and didn’t seem quite consistent with what I recall of Faber; nor of those who doubt (as Macdonald said, “You doubt because you love truth.”). However, we all do eventually come to points, as Macdonald remarked in the Baron’s Apprentice, where we realized that we have a lot of growing to do–and hadn’t done anything particularly worse than we had a year ago, when we hadn’t realized it.


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And in writing style too. Those “innocent”-looking ellipses inconspicuously stuck in the middle of my extended quote above represent the mother of all run-on sentences [a substantial and convoluted paragraph actually, complete with tangents and rabbit trails - but not a period to be found] such as would have made the old Apostle blush with envy.

Yes - MacDonald definitely seems to be doing right by Faber, and the perhaps candid and minor concession to self-reflective honesty on Faber’s part here does need to be seen in a wider context of the story which (as you recall) does have Faber come off looking really good (but still realistically human). I should probably temper my answer here with the caution that I only just now had reached this portion of the book, and so have no idea where MacDonald will go with it all yet. But it would be very uncharacteristic of MacDonald to not honor those skeptical inclinations (represented by his character, Faber) by showing them in the best lights.

Your point #1 seems straightforward enough, though the Faber character is always there as a reminder that God’s good work is not always (or even distressingly seldom?) done by the religious, but may proceed by the hands and hearts of those ostensible ‘enemies’ of organized religion.

Your point #2: Seems to me like you nail MacDonald there.

Your point #3: can be taken as an observation, I guess. MacDonald doesn’t seem to accept this as an excuse to give up the search, however. And furthermore asserts that such a God would be the only God worth searching for.

The reason I saw all these thoughts as pertinent to this thread is that Faber is a quintessential man of science who also embodies what might be called “the good atheist” life such as is heard of from Hume or others recently even here. Macdonald does a good job of bringing deficient religious arguments out into the light for critical examination under the sharp sights of Faber.

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It doesn’t necessarily follow, no. But then, for me, God is never a conclusion to be reached through careful argumentation, as if we are autonomous agents. Rather, he is always the ultimately first premise, that is, the necessary precondition of all intelligibility. We have to start with God, otherwise most of our conclusions require an endless invoking of just-so magic. The fine-tuned universe is only one example of this. The physical constants and parameters that make advanced intelligent life in the universe possible could be the work of God, yes, or it could be just a nearly impossible stroke of luck, the first of countless other items chalked up to just-so magic. Atheists are free to invoke a chance stroke of luck the countless times that they will have to, and Christians are at liberty to invoke God once.

Well, we’re not talking about various material stuffs here but universal constants and other relevant parameters that make advanced intelligent life possible. For example, explaining the nature of atoms or describing a theory of planet formation is not a sufficient account for how the Earth happens to be ideally situated in this solar system’s habitable zone, or how our galaxy is such that there are habitable zones at all. A chance stroke of luck? How many of those will have to be invoked?

And I am happy to stipulate that none makes a case for God’s existence.

Exactly. Yes, that is his point…so I would scratch #1 above as irrelevant to his drift. Thanks. I do think Macdonald was ahead of his (and likely our) time in recognizing and affirming justice Christlikeness.

Yes, thanks for bearing with me…that is what I meant by seeming Paulinian…he wanders and seems to discover new territory in run ons! I appreciate Michael Phillips’ editing.

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Arguments Christians should stop using

• It takes more faith to believe x than to be a Christian
• Atheism is just a religion
• But it’s just a theory

Arguments Atheists should stop using

• We are all atheists about most gods, I just go one God further.
• You wouldn’t be a Christian if you were born in India, Iran, etc.
• Jesus never existed.


We should probably also remain aware that there is a difference between an argument being …
1: Defeated, or 2. Answered, or 3. Cliche and tiresome. And while there will often be substantial overlap between those categories, one does not always imply another.

Just because something grows cliche traveling around the blogosphere doesn’t mean (necessarily) that it has been successfully defeated (though wide exposure increases the liklihood that its weaknesses - if any - have probably been exposed and discussed). And that is something to keep in mind for arguments from both sides.

[I’m not making commentary on which, if any, on your list, Thanos would fit into which categories, as this is just a general reply to the thread at large, as much as to you.]

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The Omnipotence paradox and ‘the cosmological argument commits the special pleading fallacy’ as well.


A very common question is why should we read or even a book that “supports slavery”.

Here is a quote I am pretty sure came from the Biologos website that sums this up “the Bible was not written to us but for us”. Why does this matter? People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was based more on economics; it was a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1).

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