Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Billy Graham attempts apologetics

Billy Graham, although he is a preaching heavyweight, has always come across to me as an apologetics lightweight. When it comes to what seems to be sound Christian doctrine, I'd be inclined to listen to what he has to say (granted I were an evangelical Christian). When it comes to arguing against atheists, however, Billy Graham might want to do a little research first (he's beginning to sound like Ray Comfort).

When confronted by an atheist about why he should believe in God, Mr. Graham replies with this-
Has it ever occurred to you that as an atheist you also believe in something you can't prove?

You see, an atheist says there is no God—in other words, that God doesn't exist. But can you prove it? No, you can't, any more than someone a thousand years ago—before the invention of the telescope—could have proved that other galaxies didn't exist. All you can say is that you don't believe there is any evidence for God's existence. But what if there is evidence that you haven't yet examined? In other words, you have faith that God doesn't exist—but you can't actually prove it.
Graham has committed the all to familiar fallacy of claiming atheism is the stance that a god does not exist- or, their is no god. Atheism (I know this is becoming a tired slogan, but keep with me) is the lack of belief in any gods. This is not a positive statement. I am not claiming that no gods exist, but that I have rejected the god claims that I have been given based on evidentiary grounds. In other words, I've dismissed them because of their own lack of substantiated claims and evidence. It is not my job to disprove these god claims if the people making them have not demonstrated that they are true.
I would be inclined to say that I may be wrong- just like the person who denied the existence of other galaxies was wrong. I will not fault the person for not having any evidence (or enough evidence) that other galaxies existed, if the evidence had not yet been discovered.
But could you be looking in the wrong place? Or looking with the wrong attitude? You see, as a Christian I believe in God for one reason: He has revealed Himself to us. How has He done this? He has done it first of all through the majesty of His creation.

But, most of all, He has revealed Himself in a way that staggers our imagination: He became a man. That man was Jesus, in whom (the Bible says) "all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form" (Colossians 2:9). No, I know you don't believe that right now—but I challenge you to look at Jesus with an open heart and mind as He is revealed in the pages of the New Testament. Don't let pride or anything else keep you from discovering Him.
Graham assumes that the bible is true without demonstrating that it is. Billy Graham should read material other than that which is sold in Christian Bookstores to be well rounded in his education. I don't understand what looking for Jesus with an open mind and heart mean; surely if I'm looking for Jesus, I've already got the open mind and heart. I've dismissed Christianity after analyzing it. Why does Graham assume I may be an atheist because of my pride? I honestly don't care much for pride.
Before you sell a "solution", you must create the problem.


  1. Why does Graham assume I may be an atheist because of my pride?

    Because straw men are easier to attack than actual people.

  2. This is all just one big logical fallacy. Looks like false premise to me. His premise is that atheists have faith there is no god. Nothing new there, and easily refuted by nicely pointing out to the apologist that if they are the ones claiming something exists, and they wish us to become convinced as well, then it needs to be positively justified.

    I, personally, am comfortable with saying that I am as sure as I can be that there are no gods. But, this is only because every case I've heard for it has failed miserably and I highly doubt anyone is going to make a case to me that will work anytime soon, so I'm fine with making up my mind for now and saying "There are no gods."

    The rest of this nonsense is just typical apologist straw-manning. It almost always involves suggesting things like atheists don't believe because they got mad at god, or that they're atheists because they're hedonists, etc etc.

    This is exactly what we should continue to expect from apologists, even great orators like Graham here, because they're really trying to reach their followers more than anyone else.

    I went to see a guy named Frank Turek speak nearby, just out of curiosity. I was blown away by the way he spoke and carried himself...truly a formidable public speaker. Of course, the speech was just a 2-hour long session of hand-waving, quote-mining, straw-manning and scientific misrepresentation designed to do nothing more than give the already gullible audience the sense that their views are validated.

  3. All these apologists are starting to sound the same.

  4. @Debunkey Money:

    By the very nature of what they're trying to do they have a very limited repertoire. Basically, they're trying to look like they are making an argument in favor of the existence of something which intentionally chose to create a universe which, the more you examine it, doesn't look like it was created, who then hid itself away intentionally so that you'd have to have faith to know it exists.

    It's basically impossible, so instead it is just faith strengthening for the flock.

  5. I feel your pain at driving the same point home over and over again: atheism is not a belief. It is the lack thereof. Theists will always be quick to try and make you force your hand (or so they think), when in reality, we have no hand to force. They are making the claims. They have the burden of proof. They need to present the evidence.

    It almost makes me sick when people like Graham say "But could you be looking in the wrong place? Or looking with the wrong attitude?". When the thought has never even crossed his mind that maybe HE'S looking in the wrong place, with the wrong attitude. When atheists want answers, they look for science, evidence, reason. When theists want answers, they look wherever they can get the answers that they want (most often the Bible, also known as the Big Book of Multiple Choice). The atheist attitude is one of reasoned skepticism. We will not accept any old claim just because we like it. The theistic attitude is one of "I know God exists already, so I'm done looking for truth".

    This culture of "I've already found absolute truth" is not only damaging to the individual, but to the society as well. When two "absolute truths" conflict, rarely does any good come out of it.

  6. @Thinker:

    >It almost makes me sick when people like Graham say "But could you be looking in the wrong place? Or looking with the wrong attitude?".

    This frustrates me to no end. Whenever people take this tack with me I always feel like they're basically just saying "Oh come ON! Stop being such a wet blanket, just DO IT!"

    I always just feel stuck at an impasse with this type of stuff comes up. I don't see how they can suspend their critical thinking in order to believe something just because they like it, and they don't understand that the very REASON I lack the belief in the first place is because I CAN'T suspend it. I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I forced myself through the long painful process of duping myself into believing something.