While browsing the r/atheist 1.2 million “godless redditor” community’s FAQ page, I clicked on a link to another group, Iron Chariots, that collects arguments about the existence of God and the truth of Christianity, and provides counter-apologetics for atheists to use in forming their refutations.
They purport to be “collecting common arguments [though they misrepresent them] and providing responses, information and resources to help counter the glut of misinformation and poor arguments which masquerade [sic] as evidence for religious claims.” The section titled “Would someone die for what they knew was a lie?” caught my attention.
An often used modern argument for the truth of the resurrection of Jesus is that of martyrdom. The claim is that all of the apostles would have had first-hand knowledge as to whether or not Jesus actually returned from the dead and confirmed that he was the Son of God. As they died rather than admit the account was false, this suggests that rather than just believe that it was true like other martyrs in other faiths, they knew it was true for a fact.
Atheists make a distinction between “belief” and “knowledge.” For instance on the r/atheist FAQ page the author explains that “while it is impossible to ‘know’ for certain whether gods exist or not, that does not mean that one is prevented from evaluating the probability of a god’s existence and making a conclusion.”
In other words, they assert that people believe things even if they don’t know them to be true. They assert that people can even be fooled by their senses and their ability to reason. They even go so far as to say that people will believe something they know is false.
For instance, the counter-apologetic for the reality of Christ and the apostles’ account of his life, death, and resurrection is based on this idea of intentional falsity. They seem to admit that it is reasonable that the apostles and martyrs would die for their faith if it was based on the truth of these miracles, but Iron Chariots discredits the truth of the Gospels based on the possibility — the mere possibility — that the apostles were either mistaken, hallucinating, fooled by trickery, or lying.
- The apostles strongly believed the stories to be true, but were mistaken:
- The ones who were killed never actually witnessed the events take place themselves, but were told by other apostles, whom they trusted.
- They convinced themselves the stories were true, to the point of actually believing they were, even though what they witnessed directly contradicted them.
- They remembered the details of the events differently than they witnessed, because the false details were constantly reinforced by everyone they kept company with.
- They were fooled. They really did see the events, but what they saw was a trick.
- The apostles did not believe all of the stories, but died for another reason:
- They believed the literal truth of John 3:16, and thought they would not die.
- They considered the cause to be just, even though they knew some of the stories were embellished or exaggerated.
- They were protecting the lives of other people.
- They would have chosen death rather than be exposed as shameless liars.
- They were killed because they were public figureheads for the cause, not due to the specific stories they maintained or denied.
- They were killed without being given opportunity to retract their stories.
- They stuck to their story to maintain some dignity in their death, as they were going to be killed either way.
- They intended to become martyrs.
- The apostles admitted the stories were not true, but the admission was never made public.
- They did die protecting the truth, but the stories of those events were later embellished. The “miracles” we now read about are not what they actually saw and died for.
- The stories of the apostles’ deaths were themselves later embellished to present them as martyrs.
- The apostles as well as Jesus died for something else, perhaps they hoped they would help free Israel from the Romans.
- The apostles were never killed.
- The existence of the apostles was also an invention.
Atheists claim to be united by the sole principle that they all “lack a belief in a god.” So let’s say, for the sake of demonstration, that a person claims to be an “a-evolution-ist,” consistent with atheist line of reasoning to mean to “lack a belief in evolution.” Couldn’t such a person also question evolution based on the possibilities introduced above? If all the people who ever believed that Christ was real, including those who were killed because of it, were merely mistaken, hallucinating, fooled, or lying — if that many people in the history of mankind cannot trust their senses and their ability to reason — then on what basis should any of us accept that any evolutionary scientist is telling a factually true account of history either?
After all, no one was there to watch every single life form that ever existed evolve, no one witnessed those events first hand. What we know of evolutionary science is told to us by other people — the evolutionary apostles, so to speak — who claim they have dug up all the bones and studied all the strata, and have put this impeccable and coherent story together that they so firmly believe is true. And they hang their careers on it. Have all these scientists merely convinced themselves that the stories are true, to the point of actually believing them, even though they never saw it happen?
Are the evolutionists just mistaken or fooled into believing evolution? After all, it’s a possibility for any human to be mistaken or fooled, right? The discoveries from scientists could have been embellished, they could be protecting their own careers. Why — they even could have all agreed to publish lies! Moreover, they could have just been wrong about what they really saw in all their data. It could all just be made up. Heck, Darwin may not have even lived.
So, atheists, by your own reasoning, they could be hallucinating; they could be fooled; they could be lying. You may believe in evolution, but you can’t know whether it is true or not, right?
If you are consistent, your a-the-ism would also demand a-evolution-ism, but that’s probably asking too much. Let me see if I have this straight:
You question the integrity and sanity of everyone for all human history who ever sought after and believed in God even though every culture has been shaped by this search, and the integrity and sanity of every Christian for the last 2,000 years who believed that Christ actually performed miracles, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven based on the personal testimony of those who witnessed it, wrote about it, accepted it, lived it, passed it on, and even were killed rather than deny it was true; yet, you do not question the truth of the claims about this magnificent metaphysical story-line synthesized in the mind’s eye and witnessed by no one, that each and every living thing evolved in molecular steps directed by mutation and environmental forces alone over billions of years exactly the way the evolutionary scientists have been suggesting since, oh, 1859.
Tell me, in the alleged words of Sir Isaac Newton, by what sort of reasoning do you reach such an incongruous conclusion?
If you believe in evolution, why don’t you believe in Christ?
Careful, I’m going to hold you to consistency in defining your terms of proof.