Sunday, January 12, 2014

How NOT to persuade an atheist to become a Christian

Saw this video on social media. It is clear that the "Christian" in it thinks he has "won" the "debate." However, I would call this a text book example of how to affirm to an atheist the non-existence of God. As the video points out, the atheist "left swearing." God bless him, I would too. Feel free to skip through the video if you want - you won't miss much.

The premise is that rather than proving God exists through evidence (or even reason), the poster "proves" that God exists by showing that people already know God exists. He does this by quoting one phrase from Scripture "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."

Therefore, claims the poster, unless you appeal to God you can't make any truth claim. He then says to the atheist that unless he can make a truth claim without God he must submit to the premise that God exists.

It's hard to know where to begin with this. Let's look at some of the fallacies involved:
  • Burden of proof fallacy - If you want to make a claim (such as "God exists" or "God does not exist") it is upon you to substantiate your claim. It is not incumbent on the other person to do so.
  • Irrelevant Conclusion - Even if it is true that the atheist cannot make a truth claim without appealing to God, that doesn't mean God exists.
  • Double standard - The Christian makes a truth claim which he is does not feel obliged to defend, but the atheist's truth claim is attacked.
  • Argument from ignorance - He assumes his claim is true unless it can be proven false. A claim is proven true only if it is proven true.
  • Begging the question - The conclusion of the argument (that God is necessary for knowledge) is the premise.
  • Equivocation - The terms "truth" and "knowledge" are treated as if they are the same thing. One can certainly have knowledge of something that is not true.
  • Appeal to authority - The poster uses the Bible as his authority, but is should be obvious that the atheist is not going to accept the Bible as an absolute authority.
  • Single authority - The poster uses the Bible alone as his authority. There is no attempt to show a body of evidence that would support the conclusion, let alone any argument from other premises.
  • Mind projection fallacy - The poster makes the claim that there must be an absolute frame of reference for every statement.
  • Ad hominem - The poster I'm sure thinks he is being charitable, but constantly interrupting the atheist he is mocking and being dismissive of him.
  • Argument from repetition - No further data or reasoning are given - the claim is just restated until the atheist walks away.
And there are more fallacies I'm sure - I got tired of writing them down. If you want to have an argument for the sake of argument, this is the way to do it. If you want to win and argument, this is not the way to do it. If you want to enlighten another person, this is not the way to do it. If you want to be a Christian, this is not the way to do it. I applaud the atheist in this  video for not blackening the eye of the poster.


Post a Comment