Saturday, July 7, 2012

"They Don't Believe Because Your God Isn't Desirable"

Jeff Cook:
They Don’t Believe Because Your God Isn’t Desirable

I watched the recent debate between William Lane Craig, a Christian, and Sam Harris an Atheist. The debate (seen Here) was over the foundations of morality. The Christian addressed the philosophical question at hand with skill and insight. By the midway point the atheist struck me as seriously outmatched and overpowered.

Yet then things changed. Sam Harris began putting forth a set of arguments that had nothing to do with the topic at hand: the problem of religious diversity, the problem of pain, reflections on the character of God in the Bible. By the end I thought the Atheist won—not because he actually addressed the question at hand—on that front I thought he failed. But because I don’t recall anything the Christian said that made me want to believe in his God, yet I had a worthy list of things the Atheist said that made me think the Christian God distasteful.
Is the debate about what is rational or about desire? What do you think of Jeff Cook’s notion that desire needs to be addressed more in apologetics?
Such experiences are not uncommon. Despite solid, rational rebuttals from philosophers across the board, despite the fact that the “new atheist” clan seems hopelessly na├»ve about ethics and epistemology—their arguments continue to gain ground because they know something Christian apologist apparently don’t.

The debate about God in our culture is not about what’s rational.
 I think Jeff has written a challenging post. My thanks to Scot for posting it. I do remember watching the debate between Craig and Harris, and though I did think Craig technically won the debate, I was left with an odd taste in my mouth.

What Harris said didn't strike me as true, nor did it strike me as a proper debate tactic. But it worked in making this very difficult to brush off.

For the rest of the post, click HERE.



  1. hey nick, i'm going to make a statement that won't neccessarily be very theological or expository about the bible - i'll leave that to others more knowledgeable than I...

    ... nevertheless, after reading this post, i couldn't help but wonder why on earth, in light of the persecutions and sufferings that Jesus and all the first century apostles had to suffer, why god should be made more palatable to the non-believer? must we now cherry pick the portions of scripture we are to preach ( [2 Tim 4:3] For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions...)

    isn't it to be expected that fallen man (who according to romans 1 are haters of god and suppress the plain truth in favor of their own desires), left to his own devices, would reject god's righteoussness and holiness?

    imagine your father disciplining you as a child. was it nice? should your father somehow make discipline more palateable to you? i didn't come to like the truth and righteousness because it appealed to me since childhood... i came to obey rules through discipline, only later to find that the discipline was nevertheless executed in love - a love that my mind wouldn't understand during the ages of 2-10 (possibly even into my teenage years). but since growing into adulthood, i can look back knowing that it was all for good.

    although we as christians know that god is good and great beyond all measure, we didn't know it before realizing we are in sin and need of a savior. we didn't know it before coming to the cross and repenting.

    i think it is somewhat ludicrous to expect apologists to make the gospel more palatable. we are to preach the truth of the gospel of christ faithfully. god will do the rest and save those who have ears to hear.

  2. Hi Nick (Susan from the EU forum here) - good post! I've just finished reading So You Don't Want To Go To Church Any More and some of what it says matches some of Jeff Cook's post. Very thought-provoking.
    And in response to Marius, I'd say if you didn't know your father loved you first, if he was a total stranger to you who only ever showed up in the context of a spanking, how would you feel about his discipline? Many people don't know God loves them. Saying "He loves you and therefore follow these half-million rules, including don't touch, don't wear, don't eat", doesn't actually go any distance towards showing them that he really does. Any discipline or rules are only valuable in the context of a relationship, of knowing Him and His amazing love - without that, it's just people controlling other people to do what they say (with backing from scripture).
    The gospel doesn't need to be more palatable. But it does need to be good news. "Here are some more rules" is significantly worse news than "Hey, the dad you thought you didn't have? He's here, and he loves you no matter what you do."

  3. i sure never said he only showed up when a spanking was in order, but nevertheless, as a child i can remember quite distinctly believing that my parents hated me whenever i got a spanking. interesting... every other moment was fine, until the spanking...

    i also remember during primary school friends expressing the same feeling whenever they got a spanking. in hindsight, none of us believe that they did it out of hate, but certainly in love. and it was nevertheless within the context of a loving relationship with our parents.

    fallen and depraved man hates discipline, period. even as a mature christian i know (and i know you do too according to Romans 1:18-19) when you are corrected on something, tend to take a while to swallow the bitter pill. sometimes we even go back trying to justify what we did before being admonished.

    if this is true of christians, then what on earth do you expect from an unbeliever? they won't like god or christianity until the holy spirit convicts them and softens their hearts to the truth. only then can you start to love god.

    i'm afraid nothing you said really refutes what i've said, that jesus, paul, and all the other first century apostles were persecuted for preaching the truth (persecuting people for good news, seriously??? YOU BET! that is exactly the history that the bible teaches us)

    neither have you dealt with my reference to romans 1.

    lastly, i believe the gospel is good news, but only to those who have come to a realization of the truth. those whom god as worked a miracle in their hearts.

    people by nature suppress the truth (Rom 1:18-19) so truth and good news is only good sofar as it fits a person's worldview.

    loving god because of his goodness is wonderful, but should be secondary. loving god simply because he is god, and there is none other, should be primary. if the former becomes the primary, we as humans then put a condition on our love and reverence for god which to my knowledge is not found in scripture, and any expression of love and reverence toward god in the bible is certainly not in the context of sharing the gospel to an unrepentant sinner.