Answering Smug Atheist Mocking Points

By Tom Gilson Published on July 24, 2018

The movement called New Atheism may be dying, as I wrote a few months ago, but smug atheism still survives. This smug atheism thinks it knows Christianity better than Christians do. It thinks it can deliver a knockout blow in just a couple of words.

You find this happening mostly online. Your kids find it there, too, as well as in the classrooms and on the playing fields. But here’s the strange thing: These supposed death-blows to Christianity are really obscure. Like the command in Leviticus not to wear clothes of mixed fabrics. What atheist runs across that in his own reading of Leviticus?

So here’s what I think. You’ve heard of “talking point” lists? Somewhere, somehow, there must be a “mocking point” list, all set up and ready for atheists to turn to when they feel a need to fling scorn at Christianity.

If the list were more honest and less smug, it would include the answers Christians have repeatedly given. Of course it doesn’t. But these points all do have good answers. Let me give you two examples from early in the Bible.

Example 1: “Would you sacrifice your son if you thought God told you to?”

I’ve run into this question often. The idea is that Abraham was crazy in Genesis 22 when he obeyed God’s instruction to take Isaac up the mountain for a sacrifice.

And why not? People today think they hear God telling them to do things — crazy things, harmful things — and they’re obviously not right in the head. Atheists want to know what kind of religion would glorify insanity. And there’s another side to the challenge, too: How do we know God wouldn’t do that today? How do we know God wouldn’t tell us to do some horrific evil? After all, look at what he told Abraham!

It’s easy to laugh at a religion like that, isn’t it?

Context Makes the Difference

But look at the context. Abraham had actually heard enough from God to be confident he knew God’s “voice.” His confidence had been validated by miracle after miracle. One of those miracles was the fulfillment of God’s promise to give Abraham and Sarah a son in their extreme old age.

God had promised that uncountable descendants would come to Abraham through this son. So when God told him to sacrifice Isaac, of course it was a test of his faith; but Abraham actually had reasons to believe God would take care of Isaac somehow no matter what. He’d come to know by experience that God keeps His promises. He wasn’t about to doubt God’s faithfulness now.

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Meanwhile Abraham got an object lesson. You see, it’s not all that clear that Abraham would have known that child sacrifice was morally wrong. The surrounding peoples actually did practice it, after all, and as far as we know God hadn’t yet spoken against it. But here God demonstrated that He had something far better for his people than that. Centuries later that “something better” was completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ’s ultimate, voluntary sacrifice on the Cross.

Meanwhile, would I sacrifice my own son if I thought God was telling me to do that? My answer: Of course not! I’m not Abraham! My son wasn’t born out of the same kind of miracle, with the same kind of promises attached to him. And Jesus has already fulfilled all the sacrifice that could ever be necessary. 

Example 2: “How could anyone think it’s wrong to wear mixed fabrics?”

Also on the mocking point list: “It says in Leviticus 19:19 that we’re not supposed to wear clothes of mixed types of fabric. What an outlandish command! That’s just ridiculous! What reason could God possibly have for putting that in His Bible?”

Not so fast. How do we know it’s ridiculous? Because atheists can’t think of a good reason for it? What should we conclude from that?

What they’re laughing at could very well be their own ignorance.

Author David T. Lamb posed the following scenario. Imagine you’re an archaeologist working in the year 5018. You come across a fragment of a Christian book from the early 2000s, and this tiny fragment reads, “Stay clear from Sports Illustrated in March.” What would you think? “How ridiculous! What a petty, irrational thing to say!” But then, you’d have no way of knowing that March was SI’s swimsuit edition.

So I say to these mockers, laugh at Leviticus if you want. Just realize you don’t know what you’re laughing it. And what can we conclude from that? Just this: What you’re laughing at could very well be your own ignorance.

Mocking Points Have Answers

These are just two quick examples of atheist mocking points. The entire list runs into the dozens. All of them are easy to answer with just a little knowledge, or even some common sense. The mixed-fabrics mockery is easy to answer just by asking how the atheist knows enough about Ancient Near East civilization to be sure that rule wasn’t reasonable in its day.

Now, we must be clear: Not all atheist questions are mocking points. Some of them are worthy of serious reflection, for example the question of slavery in the Bible. I’d call that one a talking point, not a mocking point.

But here’s a general principle you can rely on: The more the atheist smirks, sneers or giggles while flinging the charge at you, the more likely the charge is a mocking point, and the more likely it has a quick easy answer. If you can’t come up with that answer on the spot, I’d suggest you do a search at Stand To Reason or Questions.org. (Those are good sources for the more thoughtful talking point questions, too.)

Don’t Join In On the Mocking Game

Meanwhile, let’s watch ourselves. When someone poses a question off the mocking point list — one that claims to be highly intelligent, but actually exposes their ignorance — it’s easy to mock back at them.

Don’t go there. Speak the truth in love. You might not get anywhere with the atheist mocker, but you need not let them drag you down where you don’t want to be.

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  • Patmos

    For the mixture of fabrics, I heard from a good source that it was discovered that the two types of material mentioned cause some sort of magnetic field that drains energy from the body when mixed together.

    I’ve heard other explanations too, for some of those things Moses decreed. The only thing you really need to know about mockers is that, notice how they never really disprove anything? And only just admit to not understanding why it’s there?

    Yeah, I mean, enough said right there.

    • I doubt the magnetic field answer is true, I’m afraid. Otherwise I’m with you. Thanks.

      • Patmos

        Lol, meant to say static, not magnetic. It came from a trusted source, someone who delves deep into this stuff. Other explanations I’ve heard are along similar lines: That a lot of what Moses delivered were small things, which science has since confirmed.

        • Boris

          Science has confirmed that Moses never existed.

          • Bryan

            Probably because I’m jaded, I’ll bite: what evidence do you have of your claim that “Science has confirmed that Moses never existed.”

          • True Faith

            Boris never answers questions because he’s a troll who bounces in and out in order to divert the original conversation. Best to ignore him.

          • Bryan

            Yes Boris is a troll. He avoids questions, etc. But I find him fun as well.
            In my earlier comment, “jaded” probably wasn’t the right term. Bored or not wanting to start the project I’m working on would have been a better reason.

          • Kelly B

            He’s probably 12 years old – either physically or mentally – and does this because he doesn’t want to do his homework or is trying to impress a girl or something equally ridiculous…

          • swordfish

            Said by someone whose sole response to me on two occasions so far has been:

            “Riiiiighht!!”

            Doh.

          • Kelly B

            Because your posts are so ridiculous that it’s not worth my time to respond in any real manner.

          • swordfish

            Riiiiighht!!

          • Boris

            That’s a hoot. Produce a question that I have not answered. Cut and paste it like you do articles on creationist websites to make your arguments for you. Step up to the plate. Creationists constantly ignore my questions and objections and repeat their claims over and over and over and over as if no objections were ever raised. Every infidel experiences this and knows what I am talking about.

          • Boris

            There were no Jews during the time Moses supposedly existed. The Passover event is a ridiculous fiction. The name Israel existed about that time but it only means “Fighters for El” which was the name of the most popular deity in that area at the time. I’m Jewish. My ancestors were sun worshipers and Moses and Joshua are solar deities, not real people.

          • Bryan

            Boris, you just made five more unsubstantiated claims about history and the only justification is your claim to be Jewish. That hardly qualifies as “Science has confirmed that Moses never existed.”
            Also, if you’re Jewish, why did you go to a small private college affiliate with the Lutheran church?
            Is there anything else?

          • Boris

            What is the evidence that Moses actually existed? Or Joshua or Jesus?

          • Bryan

            Sorry, you claimed “Science has confirmed that Moses never existed.” That’s the claim that we’re discussing that needs evidence. I haven’t made any claims as to whether Moses existed or not. I’ve simply asked you to produce your evidence for your claim. If there’s no evidence, that’s fine. You can believe it as you wish. But if you base your beliefs on science, as you claim here and elsewhere, and your science in this case has no basis in fact or evidence, then am I not free to ask why you have faith in something you can’t prove?

          • Boris

            Archaeology is science. It has confirmed that Hebrews were never in Egypt. It has confirmed there was no wandering in the desert. DNA testing has shown that the Hebrews are Arabs. If there was no Passover and there wasn’t, there was no Moses. POOF

          • Bryan

            You are continuing to make claims without support. Archeology is a science so I’ll grant you that one. Show me the evidence from archeology that supports the Hebrews were never in Egypt.
            Forgive my ignorance, but what does Hebrews being Arabs have to do with the historicity of Moses?
            And how do you jump from no Passover to no Moses? It would seem to be easier to deny the miracle than the person but to use the lack of miracle to deny the person seems to be missing a few steps.
            In three exchanges since you first posited your claim, you haven’t provided anything that could be called evidence to support your claim. I’m beginning to suspect you don’t actually have any.

          • Boris

            Now you’re just getting desperate and demanding I prove a negative. I said the Passover event is a fiction. The Egyptians know nothing of a night when every firstborn child and animal all died on one night. You could not just sweep that under a rug, it would have left a mountain of evidence and the Egyptians would be aware of it. Now the burden of proof is on you to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this mythical event actually took place. Because if it did not, the story is not true and there was no Moses. There’s not a shred of evidence that any of the major characters in the Bible from Adam to Jesus ever existed. But Moses must have? Sure.

          • Bryan

            All I’m asking for is a text or journal article or something to back up your claim. Again, I didn’t say whether I believed they were historical or not so I don’t have anything to prove. Also you were the one to claim a negative. If you can’t prove a negative, that’s fine. But you haven’t provided anything to support your claim.
            You could admit to the possibility of a historical Moses without allowing for the miraculous claims surrounding him. You don’t even have to believe that there was such a person. Just admit the possibility rather than reject it because you don’t like it.

          • Boris

            No it doesn’t work like that Dude. You can’t just wave you magic wand and say I haven’t provided anything to support my claim. You’d have to prove the Passover event and the desert wandering actually took place before you can just wave your Christian magic wand at it and make it all go away. That only works in your fantasy land, where you live. These events would have left a mark had they occurred. Archaeological data confirm they did not. Archaeologists can tell us about hunter-gatherers who occupied the area of the desert described in the Bible about 30,000 years ago. (I realize this is about 5 times longer than you think the earth has existed) But these archaeologists can’t tell us anything about the Israelites being there 3000 years ago. How do you explain that? That the earth isn’t old enough for that?
            If you actually wanted to look into this you can just use Google. Several scholars have written on the subject. I haven’t read much of them but I would bet they’re very informative. All anyone has to know is that the Exodus is a fiction. How can they know that? Read it.

          • Bryan

            Actually in an honest examination of facts it does, dude. I’m not waving a wand to explain things away. That’s actually a more apt description of what you’re doing. You claim archeologist haven’t found any evidence of Israelites in Egypt when the exodus would have happened. All I’m asking for is a paper, journal, or something that can substantiate that claim. I have been careful not to make any claims regarding the Israelites, Egypt, Passover or anything else. From this thread you actually don’t know anything about what I believe regarding those peoples, places, or events. You know less than that about what I believe concerning the age of the earth. Throwing that into the mix seems pretty desperate to me.
            As for looking into it myself, sure I can do that. But that will be on my own time and for my own reasons, not because you are too lazy or busy to do it yourself. Again you made the claim that you said would make you prove a negative.
            Next time just leave ridiculous one liners like “Science has confirmed that Moses never existed” to yourself. Then you don’t have to try to prove a negative, I don’t have to point out that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and we both can pursue more meaningful pursuits so as raising a family or studying history. By the way, what part of history did you study when you were getting your degree?

          • Boris

            Yes archaeologists haven’t found any evidence of Israelites in Egypt. A couple of them wrote an entire book about it. “The Bible Unearthed by Israeli archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman” Or there’s “Mythic Past, Biblical Archaeology and the Myth of Israel” by Thomas Thompson. I read both of those almost twenty years ago. They report on what’s been found and what hasn’t. There are a couple more recent ones. I haven’t read them.
            I got it over four decades ago but I’ve never used my degree. Middle Eastern History. I’ve kept up with it though and have since we studied the Greek and Roman cultures and the Ancient Near Eastern story world of the gods in elementary school. So I know as much as anybody else does about this. I would know it if there was some archaeological evidence that Moses actually existed.

          • Bryan

            Finally a name of a book. Two books actually. I’ll check these out. Thanks!

          • Chip Crawford

            Anyone ignorant enough not to believe God, even his very existence, is subject to believing all kinds of trash and to stumble over glaring truth that could transform them. They don’t even know what’s important or going on. This person reminds me of adolescent youth striving for identity, joining gangs just to belong to something, with his ignorant buddies who also have nothing going on, all puffing out their chests over what they don’t believe. Wow. Nothing times nothing is more nothing. Wow The devil has done him so proud.

          • Chip Crawford

            He’s removed his last bragadoccio. Good idea. Now, I’ll brag on God and something current of record. Try to be brief. Tulsa, OK was headquarters for some strong believers for decades. As two of its foremost leaders moved away and died, it has waned in their good record. Crime increased considerably. A group of believers began to stir up the believers there to get back on their authority – gasp, what!? what? – didn’t you know Moses doesn’t exist; that’s the big news … No, the murder rate has dropped appreciably for the year and get this: defying the natural track for their region, they have had no, count ’em – NO tornadoes for April and May, when there are usually many, many. They have come up with something to try to explain, but it is because the believers there obeyed the admonition the Lord left with them that in his name … More of this as the day approaches.

          • Chip Crawford

            There are archeology sites, saw one for Jericho. Wish I’d gotten a site from a teacher talking about a DNA test on the bones from the Jericho dig. They said that venereal disease was found in almost all the adult bones, children and even the animals. That of course was the first city captured by the Israelites after crossing Jordan, where they were told to slaughter every person and animal that the land be not defiled. It certainly would be defiled with interaction with others, even by the animals from that wretched place. People have discussed finding the thick walls described in the Bible. I grew up in the Word hearing of digs and finds of Bible people and events. I don’t know where to find honest ones. Google is suspect on discrimination in these types of searches. I know the stuff’s there, has been found for years. I also know God and witness his spirit on these matters, as do you. That’s where these hang up the most, their blunt carnal minds. Can you imagine demanding proof from the Most High? Only those who live with the cognizance of the dog life do that, dumb animals bereft of any spiritual quotient.

          • Kelly B

            I have to wonder what is it in you that compels you to spend so much time and effort attempting to fight against Christians. The internet is dominated by leftists / atheists, so why not spend time there, with folks with whom you agree? I suspect you are a kid, posting things that amuse your buddies. Please grow up and go outside and get some fresh air.

          • Boris

            I get you fundamentalists to defend your beliefs and when less brainwashed Christians see your absurd arguments they realize they do not want to be associated with people like you and they stop going to church, stop feeding the monster. The monster has been dying for over a century and it’s almost dead now. It must be working.

    • Jim Walker

      The mixed fabrics are used by Gentiles. Jews are told to be sanctified and not mix themselves with the Gentiles because each time they do, they end up worshipping Baal.

  • pgtipsster

    I think it is right for us to be shocked at the attempted sacrifice of Isaac. What loving father would sacrifice his treasured son, the son he had waited decades for? Is an atoning sacrifice so important?

    And yet as you have said, all this points to God’s plan in Jesus. Millenia later, another Son would walk up a hill, on his way to a painful death, full of faith, to do his Father’s will to be the atoning sacrifice for rebellious people. If as human fathers we recoil at the thought of sacrificing our own sons (and rightly so!), what volumes it must speak of the incomprehensible love the Father has for us if he sent the Son to die for us!

    • Kathy

      Very well said…what a thoughtful expression of the truth.

    • Boris

      Except it wasn’t his son. It was himself sacrificing himself to himself so that he could then do something else by himself: forgive sin. And they wonder why we mock this ridiculous superstition.

      • ABoris, the biggest problem with your whole approach here is that you act as if you’re dropping’s bombs on Christianity that Christians have never thought of in all history. That’s actually not the case. There are answers to the questions you’re implying in 5ese supposed bombs. They’re nowhere near the deadly ordnance you take them to be.

        So let me ask you this. Can you consider the possibility that we might have good, thoughtful, rational answers to these things? I’m not saying you have to agree in advance that we do have such answers. But can you agree that it’s at least not conceptually impossible?

        If so, would you consider it intellectually responsible to say, “Christians, I see this problem with your beliefs. Do you have any thoughtful answer? If so, what is it?”

        If so — or any reasonable variant on that —I’ll gladly converse with you. If not, you’re revealing yourself as a closed-minded person and completely shut off from a very large portion of the world!s intellectual history; and also as a person who won’t listen, which a
        Is a kind of person I don’t try to talk with.

        • Jim Walker

          They aren’t looking for answers. They like to throw ridicules and bait us and when someone did get angry or respond impolitely, or are sarcastic, they’ll say “Gotcha !”.

          • Hmmm…

            When someone states their purpose here and in general is to get people to stop going to church and “feeding the monster,” uh, after many attempts to discuss with or reach them, doesn’t it become a matter of diminishing returns? Maybe this has become an abuse of access.

        • Boris

          I don’t see any good, thoughtful, rational answers from Bible believers. What atheists get for answers can be predicted with almost 100 percent accuracy because they are cut and pasted or otherwise taken right off Christian apologetic websites, websites most atheists who debate the religious have been to and studied themselves. Sometimes they don’t bother to copy, they’ll just send links to sites that again, atheists are already familiar with. Or they’ll say, “If you’ll just read what this guy wrote or watch this UTube that this other guy made. I don’t play that game. I know what’s on those apologetic sites too but more importantly what’s not on them. My discussions with Christians usually end pretty quickly once the believer realizes their go to websites are not going to have the answers to the questions I am asking and problems that I point out. Once you put these people out on an island by themselves everyone can see they do not have any good, thoughtful, rational answers of their own or even from anybody else. I know I’m not likely to change the minds of fundamentalists who have been frightened completely out of their minds by other people. But other Christians see how irrational their religion really is when they see people trying to defend it. They stop going to church, stop feeding the monster. That’s all we want.

        • Chip Crawford

          Boris pastes canned stuff himself that he says he’s had stored for ages. He crudely claims he knows more than anyone else and anything offered to him is scorned. He is exactly closed minded and a person “shut off from a very large portion of the world’s intellectual history.” Even the mention of Biblical archeology evokes scornful rants of denial as science and angry blasts heaped on the responder. Apparently he gets with his fellow atheists, gins up on “facts” and hatred for believers and comes where they are to throw it up on them. He tells you what you think and believe and your condition and his supremacy. Testimonies to God’s working in your life are returned to sender with shame because there exist intense need somewhere in the world. It soon becomes a classic case of throwing pearls before swine. He rares up and rends you. All of this shows on recent pages. He’d have a lot of work to delete it all and leave a lot of holes, should he attempt that. His spirit is revealed below. You can find many having similar experiences to what I describe. Not impossible to God, but for me, left with Him at this point.

    • Good point. The test that God gave Abraham was a morality test, and the correct answer was, “No!”

      Crazy cults and gangs demand that you kill someone as a loyalty test. That’s not what a benevolent creator would demand.

      • Ken Abbott

        “That’s not what a benevolent creator would demand.”

        Says the man who thinks he knows the mind of a God he doesn’t believe in.

        • It’s just my interpretation.

          You got a better one? Don’t be shy. Be sure to emphasize why your view is more reasonable to hold than mine.

          • Ken Abbott

            Pointing out the absurdity of your previous comment suffices.

          • Chip Crawford

            No kidding.

          • You’ll have to share the absurdity. Belief isn’t the issue. I can analyze the Bible or interpret Christian dogma whether I believe or not, thanks.

          • Chip Crawford

            Oh, so you’ve received the Lord? You have the Holy Spirit? It doesn’t sound like it, but there’s a chance. That’s what it takes to “interpret” the Bible. The Bible isn’t an ordinary book. It’s inspired, and thus must be those who rely on it for its import. Without the Holy Spirit, it is a dead letter. We really don’t care about a recital of someone’s dead letter take on it. Not at all. You say saved and not = same view, analyzing “dogma,” whatever that is. Oh and belief is deemed irrelevant as well. Not so. But you are entitled to your own opinion, however worthless.

          • No, I haven’t “received the Lord.” I guess you get magic when you do. Sounds cool.

            Are there any reasons why I should share your beliefs? Or is this a “the Holy Spirit decides and evidence doesn’t matter” kind of thing?

          • Chip Crawford

            God is a God of hearts. People get preoccupied with sin issues, but if a heart turns toward him, He’ll take it from there. Since he’s good, it is quite moving. His spirit comes in. You relate to God from your heart. He sets that term. But the Holy Spirit is called the Helper, one of his aspects. He’ll lead you along each step of the way. With your own spirit alive to God, now you can communicate by knowing. The word begins to be revealed to you. You see into things. You are willing to set some things aside while you get established in the basics. Since it is about your whole life, and it becomes new, proving stuff is just not the issue. But that is enhanced as you go. Being open is huge in this.

          • OK, thanks for sharing your worldview. That’s not mine, and this gives me no reasons to adopt yours.

          • Ken Abbott

            You have the absolute freedom to spout nonsense and irrationality wherever you like, so long as the host puts up with it.

          • I’m so offensive that I’m about to get banned?

  • Trilemma

    I’ve actually heard a Christian say he would kill his son if he truly believed God had told him to.

    I believe the story of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son is a legend that was made up to illustrate Abraham’s faith. It’s like the legend about George Washington confessing to killing one of his father’s cherry trees as an illustration of Washington’s honesty.

    • Look, if I truly believed God told me to do it I would. He is the King, the Ruler, the Sovereign. It’s my job to obey.

      It’s just that I have sufficient reason to know that God wouldn’t do that. Look at the numbers, by the way: how many cases do we know of where God gave that instruction: just one, and it was a very special circumstance with an extraordinarily special father and son. Hebrews 11 says Abraham trusted God could raise Isaac from the dead if He had to, in order to fulfill the promise involving Isaac.

      I

      • Ken Abbott

        Further to the point, the text itself gives us no warrant to consider the episode a legend or fable. It is presented as straightforward historical narrative, just like the accounts immediately before and after Genesis 22.

        I concur with your final sentence, Tom, 1000 percent.

        • Trilemma

          The biography of George Washington written by Parson Weems includes the story of George Washington killing one of his father’s cherry trees. The text of the biography gives us no warrant to consider the episode a legend or fable. It is presented as straightforward historical narrative, just like the accounts immediately before and after it.

          • Ken Abbott

            Congratulations, T! You’ve taken your first step into the wide and helpful word of hermeneutics!

            Now, what’s the next step in interpreting the text?

      • john appleseed

        Motivated by feelings indeed.
        Aldous Huxley and Thomas Nagel both admitted that their sexual desires motivated them to want atheism to be true (see John 3:19-21).
        Other atheists were driven to that belief out of feelings that life is unfair.
        And Jesus said in John 5:44 that some atheists are too proud to examine the evidence for God in an unbiased fashion.

        • Kelly B

          I’d love to know what percentage of supposed atheists are so because of sexual desire. It’s one of the many things I can’t wait to find out when I get Home (though I suppose I won’t much care about stuff like that when I’m in the presence of my Savior!) 🙂

          • swordfish

            I would suggest the answer is almost none. Atheists have either never believed in God, or have rejected belief in God because of the total lack of evidence that he exists.

          • Kelly B

            Riiiiighht!!

      • swordfish

        “It’s prophetic of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That speaks strongly for its veracity.”

        But Jesus’s supposed fulfillment of OT prophecies is claimed as evidence for his reality! You can’t use the two stories to prop each other up. Really, there isn’t any evidence that Abraham existed and much evidence that the events of his life as described in the OT couldn’t have happened.

        • Bryan

          You realize that you’re assuming the Bible can’t be historical because it’s religious, right? Couldn’t it be both? And if so, then couldn’t it be used to provide information on a man that existed during the Pre-Israel Middle East?

          • swordfish

            I’m simply pointing out that the majority of biblical scholars agree that neither Abraham nor Moses existed as historical figures.

          • Bryan

            Really? Which ones?

          • swordfish

            I should have said ‘historians’ rather than ‘biblical scholars’ as historians would be the people to ask in this case. The main obvious problem with the historicity of Abraham (and Moses) is that there isn’t any evidence from any historical sources to back up the OT accounts. For instance, quoting from Answers dot com:

            “If the Patriarchs lived, then the Israelites should have sojourned in Egypt, but there is no evidence of this in the Egyptian records. If Moses did not live then it is unlikely that Abraham lived. For Moses to have lived, there would have to have been an Exodus from slavery in Egypt and a military conquest of the land of the Canaanites. Not only do almost all scholars say there was no biblical Exodus from Egypt and that there was no unified conquest of the Canaanites, they say that the Hebrew people were really Canaanites who left the region of the rich coastal cities to settle in the hitherto sparsely populated hinterland. There was no biblical Moses and there was no Hebrew Patriarch called Abraham.”

          • Bryan

            It’s interesting that answers dot com doesn’t list any source information on who provides their answers or how they are verified in their website, at least nothing I have found so far. They do provide an email address and I’ve requested that information.
            That being said, that’s the best you have? Seriously? You make a claim about the historicity of the foundation of three major world religions, and your best support is a website that doesn’t provide any overt sources itself? You certainly seem to be living out your statement in another comment from this page that you don’t have a rational reason to reject faith. You can believe or not, that’s on you. But it seems to me that it would take more blind faith to follow in your footsteps than to believe the truth claims of scripture and the Christian faith.

          • Ken Abbott

            Yes, it seems swordfish isn’t skeptical enough (hat tip to Mitch Stokes).

          • swordfish

            “You make a claim about the historicity of the foundation of three major world religions, and your best support is a website that doesn’t provide any overt sources itself?”

            Has it not occurred to you that the historicity of Abraham, Moses and all the other OT characters has not a single atom of evidence to support it? Abraham is supposed to have lived to 175 years – that alone should be enough to raise doubts in any rational person’s mind. Instead of questioning my source, why not try and find some evidence that Abraham (or anyone else in the Bible) existed? Good luck with that.

            “You certainly seem to be living out your statement in another comment from this page that you don’t have a rational reason to reject faith.”

            I never said any such thing. I said that it isn’t necessary to have a rational reason, not that I don’t have one. My reason for rejecting Christianity is that there isn’t any evidence for God (nor for most of the stories and characters in the Bible, for that matter).

          • Bryan

            “Instead of questioning my source, why not try and find some evidence that Abraham (or anyone else in the Bible) existed?” Because I’m not the one that made the claim that the majority of historians (formerly biblical scholars) agree that Abraham and Moses never existed. You made that claim and you used answers dot com as your proof. Yet they don’t even provide sources from the section you copied and pasted from their site. It seems the only reason you believe your claim is because you want to and because others who believe it say the same thing. If that’s not the definition of a religion….
            As for having a rational reason to reject Christianity, I apologize for claiming you said you don’t have a rational reason. You didn’t say that. But you have demonstrated you don’t have a rational reason nonetheless. Whenever you have been presented with reason, evidence, or facts that counter your belief in your own logic, you have made additional claims (without support generally, i.e. our conversation), you’ve ignored the evidence of others, or attacked the person who provided the information. All of this is irrational behavior.
            If you don’t want to believe in God or the existence of a historical Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Paul, etc., that’s fine. Again that’s on you.

          • Chip Crawford

            Quite so. Same could be said about and to Boris. Must use the same handbook.

          • swordfish

            “Whenever you have been presented with reason, evidence, or facts that counter your belief in your own logic, you have made additional claims.”

            What a ridiculous and dishonest statement. Please quote any “reason, evidence or facts”.

            “you’ve ignored the evidence of others.”

            Such as?

            “or attacked the person who provided the information”

            Where?

            “All of this is irrational behavior.”

            Okay, it’s irrational to point out that no Egyptian sources confirm the OT, something which you could check yourself in minutes, but it’s rational to believe in the existence of a person who lived to be 175?

          • Bryan

            Swordfish, at some point perhaps I’ll compile a list but that’s going to be a long list and I have some other, more important thing said to do today. Suffice it for now to say that anytime someone has suggested that you read some book on a specific subject and you counter with something along the lines of “Christians always say read this book and everything will be clear which is a weak way of saying they don’t have an actual brain that can formulate their own ideas and rely on disproven garbage to feed their own dillusion” is a pretty common theme from you and others in the comment section of the Stream.
            It is not irrational to point out that no Egyptian sources confirm the OT. That’s a fine point to make. Just name an Egyptian source or other source that says that.
            I could check it out in my own but I wasn’t the one who claimed the majority of historians agree that Abraham and Moses never existed. To make that claim you must have a reason that’s backed up by some source but you have yet to provide that source. Unless it’s the answers dot com. In my last comment, I simply pointed out how flimsy that is as a source and that it doesn’t provide any actual references either. In fact it is no different than what you are doing here at the Stream. If you want to believe that Abraham and Moses never existed, that’s fine. Before I close my mind to the possibility that they did exist, I’d want better reasoning than what answers dot com provided.

          • swordfish

            “Suffice it for now to say that anytime someone has suggested that you read some book on a specific subject and you counter with something along the lines of “Christians always say read this book and everything will be clear which is a weak way of saying they don’t have an actual brain that can formulate their own ideas and rely on disproven garbage to feed their own dillusion” is a pretty common theme from you and others in the comment section of the Stream.”

            You don’t have time to find a quote, but you do have time to make up a load of stuff. Not cool.

            Some sources:

            “The Abraham story cannot be definitively related to any specific time, and it is widely agreed that the patriarchal age, along with the exodus and the period of the judges, is a late literary construct that does not relate to any period in actual history.” [McNutt, Paula M. (1999). Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel]

            “At some stage the oral traditions became part of the written tradition of the Pentateuch; a majority of scholars believe this stage belongs to the Persian period, roughly 520–320 BCE” [Ska, Jean Louis (2009). The Exegesis of the Pentateuch: Exegetical Studies and Basic Questions.]

            “By the beginning of the 21st century, archaeologists had given up hope of recovering any context that would make Abraham, Isaac or Jacob credible historical figures.” [Dever, William G. (2002). What Did the Biblical Writers Know, and when Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel]

          • Bryan

            Thank you for providing references and quotes. I’ll look into these.
            And yes today I’m celebrating my daughters birthday. I’m a bit busy. I’ll look for examples another time.

          • Bryan

            By the way Boris made your job a little easier. Elsewhere in this comment section, he’s listed two books which you could use as sources. He made a similar claim about Moses as well.

          • Kelly B

            Quotes please?

          • Ken Abbott

            Did you know that about 150 years ago the great majority of scholars insisted that there never were any Hittites?

        • I don’t use the prophecies as an apologetic myself, thanks. I’m not guilty of the circularity you accuse me of.

      • Trilemma

        Your answer to the question, “Would you sacrifice your son if you thought God told you to?” would probably horrify some atheists. The question itself is faulty in that it assumes God would ask someone to do something immoral. I don’t believe God would ask someone like Abraham to murder his child. I don’t believe God would have someone like Jesus murdered to appease his wrath. I believe Jesus was crucified because he enraged the religious leaders.

        • Bryan

          Who granted the religious rulers the authority to rule? Who granted any human leader the authority to rule?

          • Trilemma

            Their religion gave them authority to rule. Other rulers are granted authority to rule by the ruled or they seize the authority.

          • Bryan

            Not according to Jesus in John 19 and Paul in Romans 13. Authority is granted by God. That means, as it relates to your earlier comment, God was in control when Jesus was crucified. If God is holy, perfect, and just, and we are unholy, imperfect, and unjust, and God wants a relationship with us, either God has to become unholy like us which would make him not God, or we have to become holy. The law shows us how far from holy we are. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount expounds on that to include our heart condition. Therefore we are unable to be holy enough or perfect enough to to be with God on our own merit. (This is where those chasm illustrations seem to work.)
            God decided that if a person could live a sinless life, that person would be able to offer his life as the ultimate atoning sacrifice for all sin. And then by being raised from the dead, could conquer even death and allow man to become justified before God. God’s justice has to be fulfilled and that means someone has to die. But God chose to allow his Son to be the sacrifice to pay the price of sin.
            So yes, God sent his Son to earth to live the life we cannot live, to die in our place to satisfy His justice, and to rise to life again so that we can have a relationship with Him.

        • This is the problem with your jeffersonian take on Chrisianity, it is completely devoid of any substance or understanding.

          The Cross paid the price of Adam’s sin. That is the price you deserved to pay for your original sin, not including the sin you accrue in your life to that point.

          When asked why the Crucifixion was so violent and absolutely necessary, the Church Fathers would reply “because you do not understand just how bad sin is.”

          As for Abraham, God needed to know that Abraham was capable of trusting God completely. Abraham proved that by being willing to kill Isaac. The angel stopped Abraham, as he passed the test.

          • Chip Crawford

            Yes, God operates by covenants with man, and require a partner inclined to keep covenant with him. Thankfully, Abraham passed. It was not a gratuitous act on God’s part. Eastern minds, the people of the Bible, more fully understand covenant. He did not repeat the specific request.

    • It was not made up, it was exactly the test God gave Abraham to test his faith. Had Abraham failed, then God would have picked a different prophet.

      • Trilemma

        Why would God ask someone to do something so morally wrong?

        • What foundation do you have for authority outside of God?

          I also answered your loaded question in the post you are replying to.

          • Trilemma

            Do you believe human sacrifice is morally right? If God wanted to test Abraham, why didn’t God ask Abraham to something that wasn’t morally wrong.

          • To test his Faith.

          • Trilemma

            Why did God need to test Abraham’s faith? Apparently God is not omniscient. Why didn’t God ask Abraham to do something that wasn’t morally wrong to test him?

          • This is strange as your original post here has the right idea that Abraham was being tested. Clearly you are either a paid troll or your demon is trying to overplay his hand.

          • Chip Crawford

            sound discernment

  • swordfish

    Example 1: Abraham commanded to kill his son.

    How exactly did God command Abraham to kill his son? If it was in the form of a voice in his head, then Abraham would now be seen as a schizophrenic and given treatment. What was the point of this cruel and bizarre episode anyway? God knows everything so should have known how Abraham would react without having to actually carry it out anyway.

    Example 2: Mixed fabrics.

    “The mixed-fabrics mockery is easy to answer just by asking how the atheist knows enough about Ancient Near East civilization to be sure that rule wasn’t reasonable in its day.”

    This isn’t much of an answer and just raises more questions: Why is the eternal, perfect word of God stuck in a particular time and place? If you think this passage is probably valid, why do you ignore this commandment? How many other commandments don’t apply now?

    • 1. How we would view Abraham today is no limiting factor on how God could communicate with him. God’s communication abilities are not constrained by the DSM5.

      2. It wasn’t intended as any more of answer than it was.

      Why do you think my answer implies God is stuck in time and place? I’d say it implies the opposite.

      There are three basic principles that determine which OT commands still apply today. I’ll spell them out if you want me to, or perhaps you’d be content to be assured that you aren’t the first person to ha e thought about this question, and that Christians have been engaging with it for a very long time. For there is something about your question that almost carries the tone of, “Hah! Gotcha! You’ve never thought about this before, have you?” And maybe all you need is to know that we have. For centuries.

      • Allow me to rephrase that last point. Do you really want a list of commandments we still hold valid, and a list of those that we do not? (I doubt it.) What is it you really want to know? Whether we’ve thought about these things, perhaps? Whether we have principles guiding our decisions on them? Whether the principles make sense?

        It may be too late, for I have probably already committed this error, but I think I should find out what your real question is before trying to answer it.

        • swordfish

          I admire your honesty here. As you suggest, I’m not asking questions to get answers, but to hopefully encourage some scepticism. You say “we” have thought about these things, but I never did when I was a Christian.

          • So much the worse for you.

          • swordfish

            Correct. I wasn’t aware of either of these two stories. If I’d have known these things earlier, I would have probably been able to reject Christianity earlier.

          • Ken Abbott

            You weren’t aware of the account of the testing of Abraham?

          • Good question, Ken. If he sis t know this as a Christian, he didn’t know enough to reject Christianity knowledgeably. He did it in ignorance. And now he says if he’d known it earlier he’d have rejected the faith earlier, yet for what rational reason?

          • Ken Abbott

            I’m awaiting clarification–this flabbergasts me if it holds up. Perhaps it’s just more testimony to the rampant biblical illiteracy in the West right now, but the story of Abraham and Isaac (or Ishmael, if you take the Muslim view of the matter) is at the heart of the three great monotheistic religions and a cultural touchstone of Western civilization for at least 2000 years.

          • Indeed. Flabbergasting.

          • swordfish

            It isn’t necessary to have a rational reason to reject faith, as faith by definition isn’t based on rational reasons. My reason for rejecting Christianity was more of a gradual realisation over many years that it is nonsensical.

            I have a clear memory of being told the story of Noah’s Ark at maybe 7 years old, and thinking that it sounded somewhat implausible. That was what started me off.

          • Ken Abbott

            Your definition of faith is sorely lacking, swordfish. Perhaps it is what the dictionary (erroneously) calls faith, but it is not the biblical concept.

          • swordfish

            Faith: “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof.”

          • Ken Abbott

            Source, swordfish? I already told you the dictionary definition is insufficient, because the people who write the dictionary definitions are clueless on this point.

          • Faith is not defined as based on rational reasons. That’s an atheist trope that has nothing to do with actual believers’ faith. Faith, for believers, is an attitude of trust taken toward that which we consider to be true. How do we come to consider it true? In my case, it was by the evidence, and it still is.

            You think you’re rejecting Christian faith. You aren’t. You’re rejecting some atheist/distorted version of “faith.” Of course, yes, that means you’re rejecting Christian faith, too, but it’s based on your low assessment of something else, something that isn’t Christian faith.

          • The implausibility of the Noah story must be weighed against all the evidence. I doubt you’ve done that, since your whole conception of Christian faith is distorted.

          • swordfish

            “The implausibility of the Noah story must be weighed against all the evidence.”

            What evidence? The OT isn’t evidence because it’s also the thing which is making the claim that these events happened.

          • swordfish

            No. I was brought up in the Church of England. Its teachings put most emphasis on the NT and the figure of Jesus.

          • Kelly B

            I will add you to my list of non-believers for whom to pray…

          • swordfish

            Thank you, but prayer doesn’t work.

          • Kelly B

            Riiiiighht!

      • Boris

        “There are three basic principles that determine which OT commands still apply today.”
        Great instructions on how Christians should cherry pick the Bible. Don’t follow commands you don’t want to, don’t follow commands that make you look dumber than you already are and insist everybody else must follow all of the commands. That’s how it’s always been done.

  • john appleseed

    “Don’t go there. Speak the truth in love.”
    But mocking can be done while motivated by love.
    Elijah did it in 1 Kings 18:27.
    See Isaiah’s ridicule of idol-makers in Isaiah 40:19-20.
    Paul used mocking satire in 1 Corinthians 4:8-13.
    Referring to God, Proverbs says “He mocks those who mock, but gives grace to the humble.” (Proverbs 3:34)
    Jesus used hyperbolic satire in Matthew 7:5.
    Sometimes people need to be shocked into reality.

  • Keith

    I would be curious to know if the author had a comeback to the second example beyond his response basically saying “you don’t know it is wrong.” I don’t think it is ridiculous to to question something when you can’t make any sense out of it. I understand the people who bring this up have no interest in actually learning anything and just want their gotcha moment, but I don’t think it is the same as the first example where even a cursory reading of the Bible would provide you with the understanding needed. I’ll check out the websites the author provided to see what they say about it.

    • I can’t give an answer that I know for sure is the right one. I suspect it’s either an object lesson on the need to live a pure, unadulterated life, or its part of that portion of the code whose purpose is primarily to distinguish Israel from neighboring nations.

      This is one for which “I don’t know” is perfectly appropriate, whereas the smug atheists’ “gotcha” doesn’t fit at all.

    • DrummerBoy745

      Can’t recall if I read this somewhere, or where I got the view… but the general idea of the overall section is that God is bringing his people into the promised land, and he’s laying down rules to follow for various purposes. There was an importance of His people being holy and separated from the ways of the other civilizations they would be surrounded by and potentially influenced by. Lev 19:19 includes 3 examples of keeping separation.

      So the Israelites are wandering around, essentially nomadic for a period of time. They would have wool available to them from their sheep, but not linen. Linen would be available (to begin with at least) from their upcoming neighbors who were agrarian and had been growing crops. So Lev 19:19 could be 3 rapid examples of keeping separation between Israel and their neighbors.

  • Hmmm…

    The devil is using these several atheists and detractors to focus on his ideas, planting tares, draining off life force, setting the tone and controlling the subject under discussion. We should always be wise and not ignorant or careless of the devil’s devices. They would accuse that we can’t hold up our end, can’t take disagreement and other accusations, but that is not what is happening here. Many other Word based sites do not allow ongoing defilement, but just cut off an unbeliever’s income once they become a detractor. They guard their field and encourage and water the good seed. We can be sincerely wrong in allowing the devil to use deceived people to sow death among us and condition minds to his perspective. I think James Robison is aware of this spiritual principle, the wisdom involved.

    • DoorknobHead

      THE SECULAR PROTECT *ALL* THE SECTARIANS FROM SECTARIANS — MYSTERIOUS WAYS

      What if all the other innumerable religions in the world believe you are infected by “the devil” and that you were not careful enough to avoid the devil’s devices? What if all the other religions believe you should be cut off and not be given access in a free marketplace of ideas. What if all the other religions believe your religion, after study, is counterfeit, and mere propaganda of the devil? What if these other wrong religions seek to obtain totalitarian power through government, and through government seek to permanently “cut off the head” of those with different beliefs than their own? (including those which are actually right)

      Luckily some forms of government enshrine separation of government and religion into their governmental charters so that none of those other wrong religions (since your religion is obviously right — because you have been taught it is right — never mind that all the other religions have also been taught their religion is the only one that is right). Luckily god apparently created non-believers to create secular governments [secular governments denote attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis, such as governments without religious laws that can discriminate against whatever religion is right]. That way, all those other wrong religions can not take power and destroy the only right religion. Through providence god apparently creates people with different beliefs that allow others to be wrong but not gain all the power to destroy those that are right — and all this through secular government and mysterious ways. That is why the religious should promote secular government. I am a messenger.

      • Chip Crawford

        What if you put a sock in it until your ignorance toward God and his word are at least alleviated, if not cured.

  • DoorknobHead

    MOCKING LISTS OR COMMON BEST HITS?

    Author wrote: “So here’s what I think. You’ve heard of “talking point” lists? Somewhere, somehow, there must be a “mocking point” list…” so, that sounds a bit like a start to a conspiracy theory. I suppose it might be wishful thinking, to imagine that the “forces of evil” are arrayed against the religious Alamo clan or the religious 300-Spartans-of-King-Leonidas clan (1). It seems more likely to me that atheists, instead of having a “mocking list” have access to many of the same authors, arguments and pointers to religious logical fallacies and falsities, especially in the age of the internet and YouTube, and some of these points expressed in a free marketplace of ideas on the internet stand out to these atheists, maybe due to how they were presented as compelling. The points considered the most profound and striking are then remembered and used by atheists.

    SMUGNESS DUE TO GAINING ACHIEVEMENTS THROUGH LEARNING, UNDERSTANDING AND DEVELOPMENT

    One definition of smug is “having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one’s achievements”, something the religious can do because they are human. Since atheists are also humans, it surely follows that they can be smug as well. One definition of pride is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own
    achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”. So, atheists consider they have made achievements, presumably in knowledge and learning, whether valid or not, and might exude this pride while communicating with others. Either that, or the religious know from personal experience what if feels like to be smug, and are projecting smugness unfairly upon atheists sometimes. Either way, atheists may have made great achievements through studying that has completely changed their old worldviews or more finely tuned arguments and positions they already held.

    (1) Social animals survive in cohesive groups. This thinking of being assaulted by an outsider clan possibly engages, somewhere, somehow a naturally evolved heuristic, through natural selection, of being a contributing member of a tribe and therefore being something greater than oneself with the instinct to defend that tribe and thus ensure survival of DNA — possibly an emergent heuristic good for survival in the wild (survival versus nature, which includes other human tribes) that can be combined with over-active-agency detection and the teleological mental functions to imagine having knowledge of a personal relationship with a fictional entity in a world created imagined purpose for the self and the tribe.

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