CADRE Comments

A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth

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 In part 1, I dealt with problems and concerned raised by the study itself and the data it used. In this section I will present ideas that counter the overall conclusions atheist draw from the study, namely that atheism must be true because it's believed by more intelligent people. The first argument that I present is about the lack of longitudinal data.

The researchers of IQ are measuring either per-college or college students. Not too many of these studies measure IQ's of middle aged adults. They are getting them at a time in their lives when they are either beginning to want to leave home or when they have left home for the first time. Francis says the shock of the "atheist professor" is not as great as it used to be:

The long discussed shock of freshmen encountering Atheistic professors at college and the transition problems from childhood beliefs to intellectually defensible beliefs have been reduced in recent years. Today the shock comes earlier and with less force than in decades past.".[1]
Nevertheless, they are still free from the parents for the first time. They are striking out in independence for the first time. Now its time to rebel and experiment and throw off the chains of parental oppression. Few if any of these studies follow them through life to determine if they became believers latter in life. This is a real possibility that they will. Studies show that people become more religious as they age. McCullough et al found that "results were consistent with the rational choice theory of religious involvement."[2] The Zuckerman study found that the negative correlation was stronger in collage age than before college.[3] So this is a good indication that perhaps its the college years when people experiment and the more intelligent are more likely to reject for a time what their parents taught them then they will come back to it latter in life when they are  more mature. The Atheist IQ studies, which are not so much done by atheists per se as used by them, are not good predictors of what intelligent people really think. They really only predict the extremes that intelligent people go to during extreme parts of their lives.

There is dissatisfaction with the conventional IQ test as a measure of intelligence.For example "Richard Nisbest psychologist from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, difference in IQ scores largely disappear when researchers control for social and economic factors."[4] David Shenk argues that the standard Stanford-Binet test only measures a variety of skills and thus is an indicator of academic progress. They are designed statistically to keep in same place in the pack but they are not indicators of intelligence.

But did this stability prove that the tests revealed innate intelligence?
Far from it. The reality is that students performing at the top of the class in 4th grade tend to be the same students performing at the top of the class in 12th grade, due to many factors that tend to remain stable in students' lives: family, lifestyle, resources, etc. 
Being branded with a low IQ at a young age, in other words, is like being born poor. Due to family circumstances and the mechanisms of society, most people born poor will remain poor throughout their lives. But that doesn't mean anyone is *innately* poor or destined to be poor; there is always potential for any poor person to become rich. 
The happy reality is that IQ scores:
A) measure developed skills, not native intelligence.
B) can change dramatically.
C) don't say anything about a person's intellectual limits. [5]
A big myth about IQ is that the scores can't change over time. IQ scores do change over time. IQ scores "can change quite dramatically as a result of changes in family environment (Clarke, 1976; Svendsen, 1982), work environment (Kohn and Schooler, 1978), historical environment (Flynn, 1987), styles of parenting (Baumrind, 1967; Dornbusch, 1987), and, most especially, shifts in level of schooling," according to Cornell University's Stephen Ceci. [6] IQ scores do not imply a fixed or inate intelligence, Shenk quotes Ceci, "There is plenty of evidence, for example, that schooling raises overall academic intelligence." [7] Shenk goes on to ask:

Don't genes limit our intelligence? Isn't intelligence "heritable?" his answer is:

No, and no. Very sloppy science and journalism has led us to believe that what scientists call "heritability" (derived from twin studies) is the same thing as what we  ordinary folk call "heredity." In fact, they are not even remotely the same thing. Genes certainly do have an impact on intelligence, and everyone has their own theoretical limits, but every indication is that most of us don't come close to our true intellectual potential.[8]
He links to another article, by himself, "The Genius in All of us."

Nesbsit sums up his study of the latest findings:

We review new findings and new theoretical developments
in the field of intelligence. New findings include the follow-
ing: (a) Heritability of IQ varies significantly by social
class. (b) Almost no genetic polymorphisms have been
discovered that are consistently associated with variation
in IQ in the normal range. (c) Much has been learned
about the biological underpinnings of intelligence. (d)
“Crystallized” and “fluid” IQ are quite different aspects of
intelligence at both the behavioral and biological levels.
(e) The importance of the environment for IQ is established
by the 12-point to 18-point increase in IQ when children
are adopted from working-class to middle-class homes. (f)
Even when improvements in IQ produced by the most
effective early childhood interventions fail to persist, there
can be very marked effects on academic achievement and
life outcomes. (g) In most developed countries studied,
gains on IQ tests have continued, and they are beginning in
the developing world. (h) Sex differences in aspects of
intelligence are due partly to identifiable biological factors
and partly to socialization factors. (i) The IQ gap between
Blacks and Whites has been reduced by 0.33 SD in recent
years. We report theorizing concerning (a) the relationship
between working memory and intelligence, (b) the appar-
ent contradiction between strong heritability effects on IQ
and strong secular effects on IQ, (c) whether a general
intelligence factor could arise from initially largely inde-
pendent cognitive skills, (d) the relation between self-reg-
ulation and cognitive skills, and (e) the effects of stress on
intelligence [9]

One of the major disproofs of the validity of IQ tests is a phenomenon known as the "Flynn effect." This is a disproof becuase it indicates that IQ not fixed, it rises with time and that what is being measured is actually not intelligence but cultural literacy.

Multiple studies have documented significant IQ gains over time, a phenomenon labeled the Flynn effect. Data from 20 industrialized nations show massive IQ gains over time, most notably in culturally reduced tests like the Raven's Progressive Matrices. To our knowledge, however, this is the first study to document the Flynn effect in a rural area of a developing country. Data for this project were collected during two large studies in Embu, Kenya, in 1984 and 1998. Results strongly support a Flynn effect over this 14-year period, with the most significant gains found in Raven's matrices. Previously hypothesized explanations (e.g., improved nutrition; increased environmental complexity; and family, parental, school, and methodological factors) for the Flynn effect are evaluated for their relevance in this community, and other potential factors are reviewed. The hypotheses that resonate best with our findings are those related to parents' literacy, family structure, and children's nutrition and health.[10]
Flynn argues that our ancestors were not dumber. He rules out better nutrition or knowing the tests better. The bias of the test is such that a kind of technological imperialism is imposed upon the masses.

Flynn cites a hypothetical, but typical, test question: “How are rabbits and dogs alike?” Answers such as “both destroy gardens,” “both are dinner in some countries and pets in others,” or “you can use dogs to hunt rabbits” are true, but the response the IQ testers want is “both are mammals.” The question tests not knowledge of the world or of functional relationships but mastery of particular abstract concepts, which the test makers have themselves internalized as trained scientific professionals and literate intellectuals.[11]

The tests reward problem solving that reflects a bias toward the technological sort of thinking.
IQ tests also reward certain problem- solving abilities—what Flynn calls “problems not solvable by mechanical application of a learned method.” He cites tests of similarities and analogies, and pattern-completion tests, such as Raven’s Progressive Matrices. In the latter, each question is a series of line drawings followed by a collection of drawings from which the test taker must pick the one that completes the sequence. When J. C. Raven developed the test in 1936, he claimed it measured the ability to discover patterns, which was for him the essence of intelligence. Raven’s test is often said (without good evidence) to suffer little or no cultural bias. Yet it is on tests of this type that the Flynn effect is strongest; gains in IQ scores of at least 5 points per decade have been seen. In the Netherlands, for decades all 18-year-old males drafted into the military were given the test, and those who took it in 1982 scored 20 points higher than those who had taken it in 1952.[12]
Some have asked "if IQ tests are not predicting intelligence, or at least not fixed, unalterably, heritable standard of intelligence, what do they predict?" The Flynn effect give us one answer, cultural literacy. Another answer is academic motivation. That is not necessarily a marker for intelligence, since a bright student can be turned off from the process of learning or trying. Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and her team, conducted two studies; they did a meta analysis of 46 previous studies, the effect of monetary incentive's on IQ scores."...the effect of financial rewards on IQ scores increased dramatically the higher the reward: Thus rewards higher than $10 produced g values of more than 1.6 (roughly equivalent to more than 20 IQ points), whereas rewards of less than $1 were only one-tenth as effective."[13]

Duckworth's second study involved data from an earlier study, following 500 boys age 12, tested in the late 80s, they were video tapes and signs of boredom and lack of motivation were observed. The study was longitudinal, following the boys into early adulthood. There were no difference in IQ or other factors bewteen the boys.

Duckworth's team analyzed the results of these earlier studies to see what they said about the relationship between motivation, IQ scores, and life success. By constructing a series of computer models of the data, the team found that higher motivation accounted for a significant amount of the differences in IQ scores and also in how well IQ predicted later success in life. For example, differences in motivation levels accounted for up to 84% of the differences between the boys in how many years of school they had completed or whether they had been able to find a job. On the other hand, motivation differences accounted for about only 25% of the differences in how well they had done in school as teenagers. According to the researchers, that suggests that native intelligence does still play an important role in both IQ scores and academic achievement.
Nevertheless, the Duckworth team concludes that IQ tests are measuring much more than just raw intelligence--they also measure how badly subjects want to succeed both on the test and later in life. Yet Duckworth and her colleagues caution that motivation isn't everything: The lower role for motivation in academic achievement, they write, suggests that "earning a high IQ score requires high intelligence in addition to high motivation."[14]

This finding of course raises the question does this mean that those with high intelligence will score low on the test if they are not motivated? That test scores fluctuate at different times in your life would seem to be proof that IQ doesn't measure a fixed unalterable course. Take a book reviewed by NYT book review in 1998, published by Brookings Institue, the work shows that test scores between black and white narrow only a bit since 1970 but "the typical American black still scores below 75 percent of American whites on most standardized tests. On some tests the typical American black scores below more than 85 percent of whites?" Yet no genetic aspect has ever been discovered that would indicate that blacks are any less intelligent than whites. As a matter of fact when black children are raised in white homes their per-adolescent test scores rise dramatically (that also goes for mixed race children). Black adoptee test scores fall in adolescents. [15] I would actually predict that, since at that time the difference in racial make up of the family becomes more acute (I base that upon the experience of relatives). That could be a motivational issue. Moreover, the findings reported above by Nisbet shows the IQ gap bewteen blacks and whites has narrowed a lot more since 98. 

 --Even nonverbal IQ scores are sensitive to environmental change. Scores on nonverbal IQ tests have risen dramatically throughout the world since the 1930s. The average white scored higher on the Stanford-Binet in 1978 than 82 percent of whites who took the test in 1932. Such findings reinforce the implications of adoption studies: large environmental changes can have a large impact on test performance.
    --Black-white differences in academic achievement have also narrowed throughout the twentieth century. The best trend data come from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has been testing seventeen-year-olds since 1971 and has repeated many of the same items year after year. Figure 1-2 shows that the black-white reading gap narrowed from 1.25 standard deviations in 1971 to 0.69 standard deviations in 1996. The math gap fell from 1.33 to 0.89 standard deviations. When Min-Hsiung Huang and Robert Hauser analyzed vocabulary scores for adults born between 1909 and 1969, the black-white gap also narrowed by half.[16]

Some scientists attribute the difference in IQ between men and women to motivation. Males surpass females by average of 3.6 IQ pionts, but more males decide to go to college than females. William and Mary psychologist Bruce Bracken thinks this is a good argument for linking motivation to the test score. [17]

The question is if IQ is really measuring motivation, what are atheists motivated toward? Why would those who don't believe in God have a greater motivation than those who do? Let's not forget the idea that  IQ tests are also measuring sort of "cultural literacy,"  or we might call it "indoctrination." People who score higher on IQ tests are those who have more successfully indoctrinated into the ideology of scientism, since that seems to be the dominate force in the culture. That tallies with findings I've discussed on AW  [18]about atheists low self esteem. Leslie Francis produced the correlation between rejection religion in youth and low self esteem. There is a voluminous data consisting of many studies already on the issue of negative God image and the relation it bears to self esteem. It seems that negative self esteem is connected to negative God image.[19]

Persons with high levels of self esteem may find it difficult to share the same religious belief. A theology predicated upon a loving accepting God is cognitively compatible with high self esteem, but it could be a source of discomfort for a believer low in self esteem. It does not make good cognitive sense to be loved when one is unlovable. Consequently the latter person can march to a different theology, one that is more consistent with his self image. (Benson and Spilka 209-210).[20]

If we put together the two explainations, cultural indoctrination into an ideology of technique (scientism), with the idea that IQ represents motivation, what are the atheist's motivated to do but to excel at the culturally prescribed ideology as a means of bolstering self esteem? Since they reject God based upon self esteem, they connected the bolster (scoring well on tests as a mark mastery over the culturally prescribed ideology) as an alternative to belief. Thus they are initially spurred by aversion to belief based upon low self esteem (if you don't like yourself why would you like the one who created you to be the way you are?) the means of bolstering self esteem is to replace the creator with a process of accident then mastering the understanding of that process to show one's worth. If religious are more inclined to accept personal experience of life as a clue to ultimate reality and the meaning of their lives then they are not as motivated to excel in mastery of an ideology, or at least not that ideology, but to seek more truth on a personal level that can't be subjected to such tests.


[1] Francis, L. J. . "The relationship between intelligence and religiosity among 15-16 year olds."
 Mental Health, Religion and Culture (1998) 1,185-196. doi:10.1080/13674679808406508, 188,

[2] Michel E. Mcullough, Craig K. Enders, Sharon Brion, Andrea R. Jain, "the varieties of religious development in adult hood: A longitudinal investigation of religion and rational choice."
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  the American Psychological Association
(2005, Vol. 89, No. 1, ) 78–8, 78.

[3] Zuckerman, et al, Op. Cit. (see part 1) from the study Abstract, 1.

[4] Michael Balter, "What Does IQ Really Measure?" Science Now, (4/25/11)
accessed 8/16/13

[5] David Shenk, "the truth about IQ," The Atlantic, (July 28, 2009),
accessed 8/16/09
David Shenk is the author of six books, including Data Smog ("indispensable"—The New York Times), The Immortal Game ("superb"—The Wall Street Journal), and the bestselling The Forgetting ("a remarkable addition to the literature of the science of the mind."—The Los Angeles Times ). He has contributed to National Geographic, Slate, The New York Times, Gourmet, Harper's, The New Yorker, The American Scholar, and National Public Radio. Shenk's work inspired the Emmy-award winning PBS documentary The Forgetting and was featured in the Oscar-nominated feature Away From Her. His latest book, The Genius In All Of Us, was published in March 2010. Shenk has advised the President's Council on Bioethics

[6]  Steven Ceci,S. J., On Intelligence: A bio-ecological treatise on intellectual development. 2nd ed., Harvard University Press. 1996. quoted in Shenk, Op. Cit.

[7] Ibid.


[9] Richard E. Nisbett,Joshua Aronson and Clancy Blair, et al  "Intelligence, New Findings and Theoretical Developments." American Psychologist, The American Psychological Association, vol. 66, no. 2 (February March 2012), 130-159, 130.
accessed 8/16/13. Nisbet is University of Michigan, Aronson and Blair are New York Univ.
other authors include, William Dickens ofNortheastern University, James Flynn University of Otago, Diane F. HalpernClaremont McKenna College,Eric Turkheimer
University of Virginia

[10] Tamra C. Daley,et al "IQ on the Rise, the Flynn effect Rural Kenyon Children." Psychological Science: A Journal of the Association for Psychological Science. vol. 14, no. 3, (May, 2003) 215-219.on line version accessed 8/16/13

co authors include: Shannon E. Whaley2,Marian D. Sigman1,2,Michael P. Espinosa2 andCharlotte Neumann3

[11] Cosma Shalizi, "The Domestication of the Savage Mind," Book Rview of What is Intelligence, Beyond the Flynn Effect, by James Flynn,  in American Scientist, Vol. 97, no. 3 (May-June, 2009) 244.
on line version:
 accessed 8/16/13.
Cosma Shalizi is an assistant professor in the statistics department at Carnegie Mellon University and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is writing a book on the statistical analysis of complex systems models. His blog, Three-Toed Sloth, can be found at

[12] Ibid.

[13] Angela Duckwork in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, quoted by Balter op.cit.

[14] Ibid.

[15] New York Times book review, The Black and White Test score Gap, edited by Christopher Jenks and Meredith Philips. Washington DC: Bookings Institution Press. 1998. New York Times online
accessed 8/17/13.
[16] Ibid.

[17] Jeanna Bryner,"Men Smarter than Women Scientists Claim," Live Science, sept 8, 2006. On line resource or blog:
accessed 8/17/13

 [18] Metacrock, "Rejection of Christainty and Self Esteem," Review of a Study by Leslie J. Francis, et al." Atheist Watch, blog Oct, 25, 2010. accessed 8/15/13.

 [19] Leslie J. Francis, in  Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV, Ralph L. Piedmont, ed.,Volume 16, 2005, 2006, 108.

 [20] Benson, P., & Spilka, B. (1973).  quoted by Leslie J. Francis, in   Ralph L. Piedmont, op.cit.
Francis attributes the quote to pages 209-210. Benson and Spilka study original source is:
God image as a function of self-esteem and locus of control.,Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the great "I Have A Dream" Speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a great moment -- one that rightly ought to be honored. 

However, we must remember that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr's, thoughts were not borne in the atheistic or secular vacuum that today's media would lead you to believe. Rather, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian. He was a Reverend; a preacher of God's holy Word. And his beliefs grew out of that great Biblical foundation of thought that has its base in the Bible. 

Of course, with today's rise of the gay rights movement, some think that gay marriage is an extension of the things taught by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. The think that King's ideas about "justice" require that marriage rights be extended to gays and lesbians (and bisexual, and transgender, etc., etc.) And, since King advocated so passionately for equality, one might initially be inclined to think that King would agree with the gay rights movement. In fact, I heard someone speaking in my town of Albuquerque about how fitting it was that gay marriage was becoming legal in some counties of New Mexico on the anniversary of his great address thus suggesting that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. would favor such a thing. I'm not so sure he would. 

You see, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of rights often. And more importantly he spoke of the basis for those rights. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he said something that placed his thought squarely within the historic framework of traditional Christianity when it came to the matter of Justice. King said,

"How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law."  

As a Christian pastor -- a pastor who's world view was shaped in the Baptist Church -- such a quote makes it difficult to believe that he would look favorably on the extension of his vision for equality between black and white to extend to those who seek equal rights for homosexuals to marry. Such an equality would not be seen as just in the conservative Baptist idea since it is not rooted in God's eternal, moral law. 

Now, it is possible that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have supported gay rights, but one should not assume that from his general stance for equality. The root of his fight for equality was in the law of God, and unless you can demonstrate that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. specifically wanted it extended to gay rights, I think that it is not likely that he would have extended it that far. 

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A new major study on IQ and religious belief has been released that has already caught the buzz in atheist circles. It's got a sophisticated and scientific approach to statistical methods, although that doesn't mean it is free of biases. The study, done by Miron Zuckerman and Jordon Silberman of the University of Rochester NY and Judith A. Hall, Northeaster University, Boston, is major since it combined a statistical meta-analysis of a larger number of studies ever done before. It's findings are overwhelmingly in favor of atheism. They used 63 studies showing a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity."[1] (the study has been removed from the scribd source linked to)
The study for all its statistical sophistication, is beset by some basic flaws that are more or less part of the package of buying into the atheist dogma about intelligence.

Before really getting into I want to point out what atheists will do with this on the popular level. We already see it on U.S. Message board  where they are saying the study finds "Religious people are less intelligent than atheists." The study never says that. It says there's a stronger correlation between higher IQ and unbelief than between higher IQ and belief. It doesn't say why, correlation is not cause. Let's let assert that this "says" what they  want it  to say.

The 63 studies used range from 1928 to 2012. "The authors look at each study’s sample size, quality of data collection, and analysis methods and then account for biases that may have inadvertently crept into the work. This data is next refracted through the prism of statistical theory to draw an overarching conclusion of what scholars in this field find." [2] The major findings are summarized by Rathi, "Out of 63 studies, 53 showed a negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity, while 10 showed a positive one. Significant negative correlations were seen in 35 studies, whereas only two studies showed significant positive correlations." As the abstract of the study puts it,  "The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior."[4] "Stronger for beliefs than behavior," In other words the relationship between being smart and being unbelieving holds more in terms of the beliefs themselves than for just going to church. I would also make that assumption. People might feel expected to go to church without believing the ideas.

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Miron Zuckerman

Before analyzing the findings there are problems with the assumptions that must be understood. The study defines intelligence as "ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly,comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience”[5] There are other forms of intelligence but we can bracket that for the moment. No real problem there. There is a problem with the way they use religiosity:

Religiosity can be defined as the degree of involvement in some or all facets of religion. According to Atran and Norenzayan (2004), such facets include beliefs in supernatural agents, costly commitment to these agents (e.g., offering of property), using beliefs in those agents to lower existential anxieties such as anxiety over death, and communal rituals that validate and affirm religious beliefs. Of course, some individuals may express commitment or participate in communal rituals for reasons other than religious beliefs. This issue was put into sharp relief by Allport and Ross (1967),who drew a distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientations. Intrinsic orientation is the practice of religion for its own sake; extrinsic religion is the use of religion as a means to secular ends. This distinction will be referred to in later section.[6]
We start to see some problems of bias here. The concept of "belief in supernatural agent." This would no doubt be the hi-jack version of supernatural, not mystical experience, which is the original meaning of the term.[7] Not only would they ignore the mystic but also, depending upon how closely they define "using beliefs in those agents to lower existential anxieties such as anxiety over death, and communal rituals that validate and affirm religious beliefs," they might be defining religion too conservatively.That becomes important because it might lead to leaving out liberal theological types form the mix of "religious." If liberal theology tends to draw more intelligent people then one would be leaving the more intelligent religious people out of the count. In other words they are biasing their take on religiosity to include only the more conservative and fundamentalist types. Supposedly the findings determined that differences in education didn't matter for the correlation,[8] but that would be distorted by the leaving out of the liberals, who might tend to have a better theological education. It might also be that literalism implies less intelligence so by letting out liberals they might be letting out the more intelligent religious thinkers.

Another indication of the way biases might play a role is found in the opening paragraphs of the study itself in recounting the history of the study of the topic. In their brief history they show that findings seem to be correlated with the times. From the Early period in the 1920's to the 1960s the findings tended to be pro-correlation, intelligent people tend not to be religious. That coincides with a lot of things in that era, including the rise of reductionism, positivism, the secularization. In the 60s-90s the finding went the other way and tended to draw more intelligent people to knowledge of and belief in  religious ideas. [9] Findings show mystical experience increased a great deal in the 60s and due to both growing interest in eastern religion and mediation and "Jesus movement," religious interest increased.[10] During the remainder of the century the tendency seemed to be toward findings that affirmed there is no valid correlation between intelligence and religious belief or lack there of. [11] Since the advents of this century the major studies have been pro-correlation again, correlating lack of religious belief with higher intelligence. That move is associated with the rise in popularity of atheism the decline in popularity of organized religion and the rise in scientism and reductionism. This history really tells the whole story, it illustrates not only the basis as they show up in the masses, urged on by trends in society, but also the biases of the researchers.

The studies done since Francis (late 90s) are not only badly done but they are also biased toward atheism. Some of these fact in no one of them biasing the Zuckerman study in a major way. Yet there are some red flags. To understand this we have to look one of the major researchers of this century: Nyborg, Hamalton, Lynn, and Kanazawa. These have attracted attention for their biases. [12] We will focus on Kanazawa because he's going to have a special relationship to the Zuckerman study. Kanazawa assumes the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis which basically implies that atheism is an evolutionary advance. That assumes there's a gene for atheism and and it's a beneficial mutation. That is not only an extreme idea but one we would hard pressed to find much support for in the ranks of modern science (ironic that the head of the genome project was a Christian). [13] Kanazawa has been roundly attacked for making  racist assumptions, for example by PDF by Belayneh Abate who changes biased data collection.

Data Collection Problem: Kanazawa admits borrowing secondary data from different places. He borrowed the IQ data from Lynn (Northern Ireland) and Vanhanen (Finland) Table-1. According to him, IQ was directly measured only
in eleven Sub-Saharan African Countries and the rest was predicted using prediction methods Kawakawa tried to show that the IQ measurement was valid by analyzing the directly and indirectly measured data separately. It is true that no method of measurement is perfectly accurate or precise. However, one has to ask how the samples were drawn, and how the results of the sample IQ’s were translated in to national average. Whether IQ measures general intelligence or not is another story. For the moment, let’s assume it does. Most IQ tests include both verbal and written tests. How valid will be the IQ test in Sub-Saharan countries where almost all sense organs of the people are turned dysfunctional by dictator rulers who are supported by major powers of the world? In addition to that, IQ measurement is not entirely objective. Our daily life proves how people are prejudiced towards one another irrespective of educational status. Therefore, to what extent should we believe the validity of the IQ measurements of Lynn and Vanhanen? What about the possibility of differential misclassification errors in the IQ measurement?[14]
Kanazawa was fired from Psychology Today for these views (and racist implications that brought charges of racism). He was also disciplined by London School of Economics for these implications.  In the oct 22, 2012 post of this blog I wrote:
Kanazawa is a reader in management at the London School of Economics, he has set him about the task of doing battle with what he calls "political correctness." He bases his theoretical orientation in evolutionary psychology. Meaning, behind his assumptions lurk the dragon of socio biology, so we should suspect a link to the "Bell Curve" sort of thinking. LSE has forbade him to publish in non peer reviewed sources for a year as a result of the controversy surrounding his work.(BBC News London, He was fired from Psychology Today for the Blog (which I criticized on Atheistwatch) "psychology today," it was Savanna principle primarily that got him the sack (, changing the color of Democracy June 1, 211).

Unfortunately Kanazawa plays are more important role than just having his data included as one of 63 studies. He actually performed from some of the statistical analysis that went into the study. A note under "acknowledgements" states:


We thank the investigators who provided additional information about their studies at our request. We are particularly grateful to... Satoshi Kanazawafor performing a number of statistical analyses on his data, and invariably sending us the results on the same day he received our query.

1. Kanazawa conducted these analyses in response to our request(S. Kanazawa, personal communication, April 2012).2. The formula for correcting for range restriction is (Sackett &Yang, 2000):-4 scale); standard deviation

I have not reproduced the data in the example as it doesn't copy accurately. But it is listed no page 23 of the study and one can read the formula. This is one example of what they call "a number of statistical analyses." Not only does this raise a red flag in terms of their findings, but raises questions of bias and the author's own identification with the ideological commitments of Kanazawa. While we must be careful to avoid guilt by association, one can't help but wonder why they would allow him to be the one to contribute that analysis? While that is not proof off any kind of wrong doing, it must raise a caution.

Over all the argument is that the data from before the "humanistic era" of counter culture (60s-70s) and after that era are both suspect. Of course that's  a two edged sword. They might argue that the data from the 60s is biased the other way. It would seem the study methodology is better in that era since Kanazawa didn't get his data originally but used that provided by Nyborg et al. Nyborg's data is suspect (see FN 12 below). Nyborg's data is also criticized most seriously by William T. Dickens and James R. Flynn (Brookings institution). [15] Nyborg quotes Lynn and Lynn uses Hamilton and both use Knazawa and he uses them. It's a citation circle and it's all based upon genetic superiority (echoed in the Psychology today blog with Barber and Kanazawa) and it links genetic superiority to atheism. It's clearly the outlines of a massive ideology based upon some unsavory ideas that represents the basis of IQ/Religion research in the first decade of the century and the Zuckerman study is plugged right into it. It may not mean that Zuckerman is based and I'm certainly not trying to tar him with the same brush in racist terms, but it has to effect his data not only he uses the studies but the guy who did one  of them contributed to his statical analysis.There we have to ask do they have a way to really fail safe themselves against the possibility of dogmatic bias? They think they do becuase they say the have statistical means of overcoming bias. But can they really do that when the is at such a fundamental level their very definition of religion? Many of the studies going into their analysis are seen as bad. Can they make up for that?
The most recent period of studies (this century) appear to have their biases. Above I alluded to the possibility of bias in the early period (1920's-60s). Now it's time to find examples that might indicate the probability of this bias. Zuckerman and his colleagues quote the first Argyle study (1958), For example,  the first Argyle study found that "intelligent students are much less likely to accept Orthodox beliefs and rather less likely to have pro-religious attitudes."[16] That could just as easily mean that "Orthodox includes conservative religious ideas but not theologically liberal ones." Does "rather less likely to have pre religious attitudes" equal being atheists? One could self identify as a remember of a religious tradition and have some attitudes that are classified as "not pro religious." I have atheists habitually asserting that liberal theological views are not pro religious. One site on the net where an atheist has argued the IQ issue for a long time, and he makes that assumption. The Inconclusive nature of Argyles findings is born bout by the fact that his second study (with Beit-Hallahmi--1997) draws no conclusion in the matter of the corrolation between intelligence and religous belief, saying "there is no great difference in intelligence between religious and non religious." [17]

How do Zucekrman et al classify that? Do they count the first study as "pro-negative" (correlation between intelligence and religion) and the second as no correlation? What of the implications of the first study in relation to a more liberal understanding of religion? Moreover the Thomas Simington Study (1935) finds that: "There is a constant positive relation in all the groups between liberal religious thinking and mental ability There is also a constant positive relation between liberal scores and intelligence." Thus establishing the link that liberal theological types are high IQ scorers. Oddly enough Zuckeman leaves out this study. Not listed on his bibliography.[18] Thus there is good reason to suspect that they are only using studies that measure the conservative end of belief thus are leaving out the IQ ranges of the more liberal theology inclined. They might also be leaving out the more deeply spiritual as their definition of belief seems to revolve around a more literalistic supernatural "agent" rather than mystical experience. I can't help but remember a statement from one of the studies on mystical experience:

 Overall then we have reason to believe that the studies finding negative correlations has anti-religious biases of the times. They didn't accept liberal theology as religious and sought to compare secular thinking to conservative forms of religion, or they supported the savannah theory genetics and thus see atheism as an advance in human revolution (among other biases). While the 60's studies that tend to find a positive correlation (religion and intelligence) might also have the bias of its own day we would have to examine the specific data to determine its significance.

There is also a point to be made about the numbers of studies and what's being left. Rathi claims that Zuckerman found 53 out of 63 studies with negative correlation. That's overwhelming unless the 63 studies are bad and the other 10 are good. While that's probably not likely we can raise more questions about the quality of the studies used. Another striking feature is the conspicuous absence of studies known to have findings of a positive correlation. Several studies that I know are positive in correlation are not found in the Zuckerman study:no Simington, no pratt, no Rummell, no Corey. All of these are found in the list by Steve Kangus (the atheist list) (see Note 17). Using his list (some of this were put in the wrong category) I have 6 negative (that high IQ not religious) vs. 17 either positive (High IQ are religious) or no correlation. Yet Rathi counts only 10 that dont' support Zuckerman's correlation. That means somewhere seven studies at least are being overlooked. Fancis says in his first study that the  greater number was with the negative. That doesn't mean the quality studies were negative. So even though it may be that the majority of studies find negative correlation, that doesn't prove that this is the answer. The studies left out (I know there are more than 10 that are not in line with the negative) are conspicuous by their absence.

Zuckerman et al says the reason for leaving studies out is:
Studies were included in the meta-analysis if they examined the relation between intelligence and religiosity at the individual level, and if the effect size (Pearson r) of that relation was provided directly or could be computed from other statistics. For several studies, intelligence and religiosity were measured, but the authors did not report the relation between these two variables. Authors of such studies were contacted to obtain the relevant information. If authors did not respond to our first request, two more reminders were sent. When necessary, second and/or third coauthors were also contacted. Studies that examined the relation between intelligence and religiosity indirectly (e.g., comparisons at group levels, comparisons between scientists and the general population) were excluded
Simington seems to report it. We can't really know more without actually getting hold of the studies but I think this is enough to raise concerns.

Summary: four arguments have been made to the effect that the Zuckerman study may have some problems that bear scrutiny.

I. Studies reflect bias of their times.
II. Direct influence from biased sources.
III. View of religion used is too conservative
IV. Study doesn't include several known studies with counter findings.

First, that in examining the history of the topic study findings seem to move with the biases of the times. Secondly, for the latter period the studies may be tainted by the biases of a extremist view of life and even perhaps racism. Thirdly, too conservative view of religion and leaving out of liberal religious views biases the findings. Fourthly, that too many positive correlated studies are left out and this raises questions about bias. The authors claim to have used statistical methods to control for bias that can only work to the extent that one includes all the relevant studies. If the biases of the studies use for too fundamental to the assumptions and if the person doing analysis shares the bias then it's not going to help.

There are even more devastating arguments in part 2. In that section I move form study inducement to counter arguments, that arguments that seek to disprove the relationship between intelligence and atheism or seek to disprove the conclusions atheists might draw from Zuckerman.


[1] Miron Zuckerman, Jordon Silberman, and Judith Hall, "The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity: A Meta Analysis and Some Proposed Explanations." Personality and Social Psychology Review. Sage Publications (August 6, 2013 online first version of record). URL:

accessed 8/13/13.

totally unfair the Zuckerman study has been removed. Accessed to it can be purchased here.

[2] Ashat Rathi, "New Meta Analysis Checks the Correlation Between Intelligence and Faith," ars technia: Scientific Method,Science/Exploration (April 11, 2013) on line  accessed 8/13/13.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Zuckerman, et al, op. cit.

[5] Ibid, abstract. 1.

[6] Ibid. 1.

[7] Empirical Supernatural article

[8] Rathi, op. cit.

[9] Zuckerman, et al, op cit, 2.

[10] find

[11] Zuckerman, op cit, 2.

[12] "Atheist IQ Scam, Bad Science and Atheist Assumptions: Kanazawa, Nyborg, Lynn, and Hamilton.
Atheist Watch, (Jan 22, 2012) blog,
 accessed 8/12/13.

[13] Atheist Watch, "Atheism's Psychology Today Scam," (Oct 3, 2010) accessed 8/12/13

[14] Belayneh Abate "Poisoned with defective theories, Kanazawa Insults Others “Mentally Retarded”pdf (10/10/2006) accessed 8/12/13

[15] Willam T. Dickens and James R. Flynn, "common Ground and Differences," pdf  accessed 8/12/13.

see also Denyse O'Leary, "Does Religion Rot Teenager's Brains?" MercatorNet, (July, 25, 2011)
Monday, 25 July 2011
Monday, 25 July 2011 accessed 8/12/13

 Ron Unz, "Unz on Race/IQ--Response to Lynn and Nyborg." The American Conservative
(August 4, 2012)
accessed 8/12/13
I also quote Brown in the American Guardian, just in case people want to make something out of quoting form the American Conservative.

Lynn's data was criticized: "The positive correlation between intelligence and atheism was a strong one, but the study came under criticism from Gordon Lynch of Birkbeck College, because it did not account for complex social, economical, and historical factors." See Rathi above. Lynn is important and could be considered one of the top researchers but he's also known for supporting the idea that IQ is racial.

[16] Zuckerman, Op. Cit., 2 (from first Argyle study, 96).

[17] Steve Kangus, editor, Liberalism Resurgent,  (accessed 8/12/13) this is a page combatting the myth that religious people are more intelligent. The site apparently sees religious belief and scinece as oppossies and as opponents, mutually exclusive.

The IQ argument is found here: (accessed 8/12/13) my rebuttal is here: In "who is smarter" on Doxa: Christian Thought in the 21st century.  I feel I rather put the matter to rest.

[18] The Simington study was originally listed on the original website I was rebutting (see previous note). that was years ago and the site has changed its list over time. He now includes studies that show no correlation as though that proves his point. It is actually a disproof as he is trying to that atheists are smarter. No correlation means there's no link bewteen intelligence and beilef. The list still includes Simington.

 photo TheologyLiberation_zps7e7e7172.jpg

Dave's Challenge is a multi-part long-ruining theme on my blog:
 Remember Dave wanted me to describe Chrsitain message without using any conventional language because he consider all the Christian terminology to be worn out, to have become so often used we don't think about it anymore. I thought I did pretty well but Dave didn't think so. I'm working on the premise that granting the problem Dave finds, worn out language, the other approach we can do, besides Dave's approach (which is chucking traditional terms and re-describing) is to re-define the old terms.

I said: "I've already demonstrated how one might expand upon God talk without referring to God per se."

Dave answers:
You've touched on the edges of how one might do so, but still firmly rooted in a heavily theological framework and philosophical perspective. There's still the issue of Christianity.
 No offense to my friend Dave, who is a professional academic and very intelligent but he's not a theologian, it's only because you know the theology  that you think so. Ok obviously it's rooteded in a theological framework, got that right, that doesn't mean it's worn out and imprinted as wrote and imprinted so we don't think about it becuase it's not even known the public. The vast majority of Christians dont' even know what process theology or liberal theology says. The wouldn't know Paul Tillich form a hole in the ground.

In terms of christian specifics I think I've been discussing two issues that seek to redefine the meanings of classical Christian terms. I've been discussing these terms for years it's making less than a surface scratch. There's one of me. If I had a whole army of evangelists doing the same thing we might get somewhere. Ministers come out of seminary eager to talk about what they spent four years learning, then get it taken out of them in the next four years by having to fit their learning around the community and focus upon things like organizing chairs and cleaning toilets. Yes, more than one old friends from theology schools tells me when no one cleans the toilet at a small chruch its' the Pastor's job. Enough chair arranging and toilet cleaning will knock the ground of being right out of you. The two issues I have in mind are my view of the atonement, and the meaning of the supernatural. I have blog pieces and pages on my websites on both issues. Atonement is here. My take on the supernatural is here.

The first issue, Atonement, we can start with the issue of the term itself. We think we know what it means, it means Jesus died on the cross for our sins. This phrase sill illicit thoughts of compassion and empathy for Jesus' pain from believers, it's a symbol of ridicule form atheists who say things like "but he was son of God it wasn't really a sacrifice." The whole concept has become a mark of derision. Also they question "how could it do any good to die for someone else s sins?" Not that these are cogent criticisms by any means, not that we should change the terms at the first sign of ridicule, but the point is well taken that the concepts have become such cliches they have lost their cultural capital. Or maybe not since the 80% still find it meaningful, but for that reaming 20% perhaps they have.

My point is just choosing an new term wont help, because we would still define it in the same way. We could say "Jesus exhibited a client-centered approach death-wise." what does that mean? Means he died for your sins. Back to the standard usage. How do we reflect that in a new way without changing the meaning? I don't propose this just for the sake of the 3% of atheists, in fact atheists are totally un-taken with my approach. My approach is to look more deeply at what God was doing in setting up the atonement. Why did he use it? I use Jurgen Moltmann's term "solidarity" to describe the atonement.[1] That is not a standard description. That same concept is also expressed in Matthew Lamb's book Solidarity with Victims. [2] Jesus death on the cross is God's statement of solidarity to humanity.  It's not a magic incantation of sympathetic magic, it's a logical statement of God's attitude toward us. By becoming human and dying as one of the lowest in society God says "I am willing to identify with you to the point of sharing your fate. I care about you, I'm one of you, mean so much to me I'm willing to be you." When we place ourselves into Christ's death by giving our lives to Christ and reckon ourselves dead to the world but alive to Christ, we accept solidarity with God. The Cross is God's statement of solidarity with us, and our stepping into that death is our statement of solidarity with God. The grounds upon which sin is forgiven is created by that solidarity. Solidarity is just another way of expressing the concept of covenant.

..all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were Baptized into his death.? We were therefore buried with him in baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the death through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him in his death we will certainly be united with him in his resurrection.For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.--because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.Now if we have died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him, for we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him; the death he died to sin he died once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.(Romans 6:1-5) [NIV]

I have never heard anyone in any chruch express it this way. It was expressed this way a lot at Perkins School of Theology (SMU).

As to the second issue, the supernatural, that requires a complex history lesson and a complete exposure of the hijacked meaning which was coopeted and ruined by the enlightenment. The term "supernatural" is certainly over used, chicle, worn out, because its' not even used correctly anymore. In modern times, based upon the enlightenment high jack it came to mean something like a realm of magic, the place where all the wired stuff is kept. Atheists have come to use it to mean "all that pertains to the things we hate and disbelieve." They use "natural" to mean "without God" and supernatural means "with God." They also throw in psychic power, ghosts, magic, Bigfoot and whatever else they can't explain or don't believe in. This is not the historical meaning of term. I urge the reader to read my article linked above (here) because it's a complex topic that requires a lot of understanding.

The term supernature was invented by Pseudo-Dionysius the Arieopagite (around 500AD). The term referred to the power of God to raise humanity to the higher level of understanding and spiritual reality. It referred specifically to that form of experience known as "mystical experience." This is all it refereed to. It was not about miracles or magic and it was not removed form the realm of nature. It happened in the realm of nature. This is a recovery of the original concept that I'm advocating not inventing a new description. Yet it's not worn out of cliched rather the "new" version is the worn out version and the original is fresh.

At this point we have what I call "the Tillich twist." This is a twist on the concept of supernatural that invovles Tillich's understanding. This is controversial, of course the atheist told me I'm totally nuts to think of this, I can't think of a better endorsement. Tillich said his mission to was shut down belief in the supernatural. He hated the supernatural.

And I even speak of "breaking in," which has a supernatural sound but is not supernaturalism. You approach something here that is fundamental to all my thinking — the antisupernaturalistic attitude. If you would like to prepare yourself, I recommend the one section about reason and revelation in the first volume of my Systematic Theology, where I deal extensively with miracle, inspiration, ecstasy, and all these concepts, and try to interpret them in a nonsupernaturalistic — and that would mean also a nonsuperstitious — way.

Student: Well, in catechism in Sunday school, we learned that miracles imply a "suspension of the laws of nature." I suppose that is as good a definition as any.

Now if you define a miracle like this, then I would simply say that this is a demonic distortion of the meaning of miracle in the New Testament. And it is distorted because it means that God has to destroy his creation in order to produce his salvation. And I call this demonic, because God is then split in himself and is unable to express himself through his creative power. In truth, of course, there are many things that are miraculous, literally "things to be astonished about," from mirari in Latin, to be astonished. And if you refrain from defining miracles in this distorted, actually demonic, way, we can begin to talk intelligently about them.
Dr. Tillich: Where did you learn this? It is very interesting. Because this is precisely the idea which I fiercely combat in all my work, whenever I speak of these things. Was that really taught in your catechism, or by the Sunday-school teacher, who could not do better because she had learned it from another Sunday-school teacher who also could not do better?...
Now if you define a miracle like this, then I would simply say that this is a demonic distortion of the meaning of miracle in the New Testament. And it is distorted because it means that God has to destroy his creation in order to produce his salvation. And I call this demonic, because God is then split in himself and is unable to express himself through his creative power. In truth, of course, there are many things that are miraculous, literally "things to be astonished about," from mirari in Latin, to be astonished. And if you refrain from defining miracles in this distorted, actually demonic, way, we can begin to talk intelligently about them.[3]

I contend he was talking about the phony version. He may not have understood that it was phony, so in rejecting it he's also moving back to to the original even he may not know that's what was happening. He did endorse and wrote sympathetically of mysticism and mystics. The concept of supernatural (ala original version) is not "breaking in" to nature but a harmonious two-sided relationship. This concept expressed by Fairweather [4] might be seen to relate to what Tillich is saying.

Now the next point I want to make is that actual miracle stories are always in danger of being brought down to a kind of rationalistic supranaturalism. By this I mean that they are thought of as supranatural in the sense of the breaking in of a causal power from another realm. But miracles operate in terms of ordinary causality. To think of them as involving an objective breaking of the structure of reality, or suspending the laws of nature, is superstition.[5]

The traditional language is important because it points to continuity. Theology is about tradition, but the theology of the last hundred years has been about new perspectives and enfranchisement of those with no voice. In turning back to older perspectives and applying them to modern context we are reinvigorating the language and finding new nuances.


[1] Jurgen Moltman, The Crucified God:The Cross of Christ as The Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. Minneapolis, Minnesota :Fortress Press, 1993.
on Amazon
[2] Matthew Lamb, Solidarity With Victims: Toward a Theology of Social Transformation. New York:Crossroads publication company, 1982.
[3] Donald Mackenzie Brown, Ultiamte Cocnern: Tillich In Dialaogue. New York: Harper & Row,1965  This book was prepared for Religion Online by Harry W. and Grace C. Adams.
 accessed 8/6/13.
Donald Mackenzie Brown is Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
[4] Eugene R. Fairweather, “Christianity and the Supernatural,” in New Theology no.1.  New York: Macmillian, Martin E. Marty and Dean G. Peerman ed. 1964. 235-256.

[5] Tillich, ibid.

Introduction *

“Although Deists accept the existence of God,” writes William Lane Craig, including “his conservation of the world in being, and his general revelation in nature, they strenuously denied that he had revealed himself in any special way in the world.”[1] The philosophical worldview known as deism is at first blush an innocuous philosophy. It has often been said that looks can be deceiving. In the case of deism, mere appearance was but a façade for indifference, at least as it was directed towards revealed religion. This paper will examine the philosophical worldview known as deism by first summarizing deism, tracing its historical development, and then identifying the major flaws inherent in deistic philosophy. A critique of said philosophical worldview will also be presented. Included is a discussion of the apologetic response to deism. Indeed, this seems appropriate because said response offers a blueprint that the modern apologist can draw from when engaging deists. Because much of the western world is enthralled with this most pernicious of philosophies, it’s imperative that Christians know how to present the gospel to deists, and also how to engage this philosophical worldview.

Summary of Deism

A radical departure from religion in general and Christianity in particular was the rave during the 18th and 19th centuries. Mankind’s special place at the center of the universe was suddenly cast into doubt. History has labeled this movement, the Enlightenment. Broadly defined, the Enlightenment “dawned in Europe during the seventeenth century. Thereafter, miracles simply became unbelievable for most of the intelligentsia. The attack upon miracles was led by the Deists.”[2] It is from deism, a kind of middle ground between atheism and revealed religion, which has been the outpost for launching its critique of revealed religion. And let me no surprise that the deists targeted the religion of Christianity in particular.
            As a philosophical worldview, deism has paved the way for skepticism, and equally so, has been paved by skepticism. The philosophy of deism itself is thus an amalgamation of all things incredulous and the antithesis to the superstitious. Deism thus has a conspicuous appeal among the intellectual and enlightened individual, an open mind that has thrown off the shackles of religion.
This anti-super-naturalistic view is still held today among the intelligentsia of the world. It has crept into historical studies and flourishes in academia. Deism has had a devastating and lasting impact on Christianity. This deistic worldview spread fast, even the birthplace of New Testament scholarship, Germany, felt its wrath. In short, the philosophy of deism excluded God’s miraculous intervention in the created order. It was inevitable that subsequent “German Rationalists of the late seventeenth/early eighteenth centuries were willing, indeed, sometimes eager, to grant the historicity of the event itself.”[3] But supernatural causation, or the historicity of miracles, simply could not be tolerated. A miracle, properly defined as God’s interference in the natural order and the violation of established natural laws, was viewed as untenable to the modern man. Miracles simply couldn’t be believed. Moreover, from the time of Gotthold Lessing and Immanuel Kant, the historical process had been thought of as an insufficient means to justify the claims of religion. By excluding the miraculous from historical investigation, the Christian was left with mere faith, a term understood by the detractors of Christianity to be wishful thinking.
Because of the deistic rejection of the miraculous, New Testament critics throughout the nineteenth century found themselves trying to explain (away) Jesus’ resurrection in purely naturalistic terms. This gave way to many far-reaching and fantastic theories concerning the resurrection of Jesus. As Craig states, “Since for post-Enlightenment thinkers, miracles had ceased to be believable, a natural explanation would always be preferred.”[4] The Newtonian World Machine simply made the miraculous intolerable.[5] It was commonly thought that because of the mechanical universe, with its precise laws of nature, that miracles were impossible, the speculation of a more primitive time. Alas, God’s perfect creation of the universe dispelled their need.
Since the Enlightenment, belief in miracles has no longer been considered as having significant evidentiary value. It simply wasn’t possible, or at least historically credible, that God could perform a miracle in our scientifically accurate and mathematically precise, Newtonian universe.  It is thus important to remember that the deistic argument wasn’t over God’s existence per se, for this was challenged rarely. Rather, miraculous intervention was rejected on their perceived incredibility, something which the Newtonian universe argued against.[6] Since the beginning of this mindset during the 17th and 18th centuries, some of the more important thinkers who have advanced arguments against miracles have included Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), David Hume (1711-1776), Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), and Immanuel Kant[7] (1724-1804). Specifically, the critique of miracles from Benedict de Spinoza and David Hume has been long lasting.  Let us now consider the arguments in more detail.
            A retrospective glance at the assumptions of the Enlightenment, which was the engine of deism, becomes readily apparent. Miracles were simply dismissed out of hand and viewed as uncritical superstition. For the most part, Christian apologists did not engage the overt skepticism that the Enlightenment had brought forth, although some notable exceptions will be considered. The wave of skepticism that enthralled the 17th and 18th centuries can be traced primarily to the Enlightenment and to the increased rejection of papal authority during priori centuries. The above historical development of deism reveals that the Enlightenment’s emphasis on Newtonian physics was the prime reason for the deistic rejection of miracles. Miracles were simply not credible. Deism in general, and the critique of miracles specifically, thus deserved a response, and indeed, Christian apologist gave a plethora of responses. The specific problems with deism need first be addressed. To this we now turn.

Flaws of Deism

            As stated earlier, the philosophical worldview of deism affirms the existence of God, though rejecting that God interferes in the created order.  The Newtonian World Machine was the imperative for the deistic rejection of miracles. But still others rejected miracles because of the very concept of God. David Hume represented the former, Benedict Spinoza the later. Accordingly, miracles were unbelievable.
            But what good reasons are there for the rejection of miracles? The Enlightenment adherence to Newtonian physics doesn’t exclude the possibility of the miraculous. Rather, Newton’s laws merely showed that the universe normally operates in accordance with natural laws. It’s possible that a miracle could have occurred in history. Indeed, the very nature of a miracle is a non-ordinary event that God causes from a specific reason. Notwithstanding metaphysical naturalism, the view that excluded the possibility of miracles, a view of which deism generally rejected, methodological naturalism says that miracles aren’t believable. Consequently, Biblical miracles were thought to be unfounded, or at least, historically unverifiable. 
The critique of miracles offered by Hume is representative of much of the overriding historical situation. For Hume,
the evidence for the regular and repeatable is always greater than that for the irregular and singular. Science is based on uniform experience, not anomalies. Regularity is the basis of a scientific understanding. Therefore, science as such can never accept the miraculous. Thus, the principle of regularity seems to be the common thread of the anti- supernatural arguments. [8]
             Hume’s argument thus concerns the initial probability of naturalistic explanations, of which tips the scale in favor for a natural occurrence, against any miraculous event. It would seem that this may be true at face value. David Hume pushes the case against miracles further in his, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,[9] giving four arguments against the credibility of miracles. They include 1), miracles aren’t sufficiently witnesses by educated people; 2), wishful thinking is the modus operandi for miracles; 3), miracles occur in unsophisticated context; and 4), miracles occur in other religions and thus cancel out the Biblical miracles. Thus, Hume concedes the possibility of miracles, nonetheless giving them a low probability in the face of natural occurrences, while at the same time offering a natural explanation of all miracles. Hume’s argument can best be understood as an even if, but in fact type of argument. For Hume, the evidence for the natural will always be more than that for the supernatural and disallow the identification of the miraculous, but even a full-proof case for the miraculous could be presented, an equal full-proof case against their credibility could be given.
            As for Spinoza, miracles not only violated the unchangeable order of nature, they were also insufficient to prove God’s existence. This later point undercut the evidentiary value of miracles. Because God was conceived of as being all powerful, the question that inevitably arose in the minds of many was how God could have possibly created a world that required miraculous intervention.  After all, an all-powerful God could have created such a world from the beginning. Any so-called miracle simply proved God’s creation as incomplete, and thus a limitation inherent in the very nature of God. Moreover, all the
evidence that pointed to a cosmic intelligence also served to promote belief in a Deity who master-minded the great creation but who took no personal interest in the petty affairs of men. It simply seemed incredible to think that God would intervene on this tiny planet on behalf of some people living in Judea. [10]

Christian Apologists Strike Back

The responses from Christian apologists during the Age of Reason and post-Enlightenment periods were mixed. Had the Newtonian view of reality replaced Christianity? What about the interlocutors of Christianity that rejected the miraculous? Christian apologists gave robust defenses of miracles in general, and the resurrection of Jesus in particular. Their apologetic works were not only directed at deism in general, but also to the general philosophical objections of Spinoza and Hume in particular.
To the general philosophical worldview of deism, numerous apologetic responses could be mentioned. One of the most significant apologetics for Christianity was Bishop Joseph Butler’s (1692-1752), The Analogy of Religion in 1736. [11] William Law (1686-1761) also gave an apologetic against deism in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life in 1728 and his, Case of Reason in 1732. Butler’s apologetic was aimed at Toland, while Law’s apologetic was directed at Tindal.
Three other apologists that specifically defended the resurrection of Jesus, included Charles Pettit McIlvaine’s, The Evidences of Christianity in their External Division (1833; 1861), Brooke Foss Westcott’s, The Gospel of the Resurrection: Thoughts on its Relation to Reason and History (1866; 1891), and Alexander Balmain Bruce’s, The Miraculous Element in the Gospels (1886; 1899).[12] As others before him, Bruce addressed many of the interlocutors of the Christian faith during the 19th century, namely Strauss, Renan, Schleiermacher, and Lessing.
Still other notable apologists included Charles Leslie, author of the provocative, Short and Easy Method With the Deists (1697;1815).[13] There were also a myriad of other general apologetic, including, An Apology for Christianity (1776) and An Apology for the Bible (1796), both by Richard Watson.[14] The former a response to Edward Gibbon’s, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776); the second is a response to Thomas Paine’s coarse but popular attack on Christianity in The Age of Reason (1794-95). Thomas Cooper, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time (1871) was another apologetic work that was based on his lecture defenses of the Christian faith, often asking, ‘where did Christian come from,’ and thus explaining historical events that are inextricable without Christianity.[15] In his small book, The Four Gospels from a Lawyer’s Standpoint (1893), Edmund Bennett, an eminent New York judge for over two decades and Dean of the School of Law at Boston University for 23 years, writes a significant legal defense of Christianity.[16]
John Locke also answered the Enlightenment thinkers in his, Reasonableness of Christianity (1695)[17]. Offering a more pietistic Christianity was Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), author of Pensées.[18] He believed that reason could never replace faith. However, there were other responses from Christians. 
Large historical compilations were also offered, including John Leland, A View of the Principal Deistical Writers (1754-55), a two volume tome.[19] Other mammoth Christian apologetic defenses during this time included Nathaniel Lardner’s multi-volume, Credibility of the Gospel History (1727-1755), Thomas Hartwell Horne’s, An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (1818), and Adam Storey Farrar, A Critical History of Free Thought (1862). [20] All three of their works were influential. The last of which is exceptionally detailed, tracing the history of religious skepticism from Lucian, Celsus and Porphyry in the third century through Strauss, among others.

Against Spinoza

In 1685 “Jean Le Clerc attempted to present an apologetic for Christianity that would be invulnerable to Spinoza's criticisms. He not only tried to answer Spinoza's biblical criticism but also his philosophical objections.” [21] In 1705 Samuel Clarke gave a defense of miracles in his A Discourse concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth Christian Revelation (1705)[22].  Clarke argued that “the so-called natural forces of matter, like gravitation, are properly speaking the effect of God’s acting on matter at every moment.”[23]According to Clarke, the course of nature is a fiction. Moreover, demonic and divine miracles can be can be distinguished by their doctrinal context.[24] Jacob Vernet also argued for the possibility of miracles, even in light of the Newtonian World Machine. Moreover, “given the existence of God, it is at once evident that he can perform miracles, since he not only created the world but preserves it in being and directs all the laws of its operations by his sovereign hand.” [25]Claude François Houtteville defended the resurrection of Jesus in reply to Spinoza. For Houtteville, the very existence of God indicated that the possibility of miracles. Moreover, he “responds that natural law is not necessary, but that God is free to establish whatever laws he wills. Moreover, God can change his decrees whenever he wishes. And even if he could not, miracles could be part of God’s eternal decree for creation just as much as the natural laws, so that they represent no change in God.”[26] For Houtteville, miracles may simply be what we know of nature, not contrary to it. [27]
In response to Spinoza, Craig notes that it could be all too easy to dismiss his argument as pantheistic. [28] Spinoza’s objections can be summed up: “The question Spinoza raises is, in effect, how can God’s knowledge be necessary and his will be contingent, if these are identical?”[29]Vernet responded that “God could have willed to create a universe operating according to a different set of laws by creating things having different nature from the things he created.”[30] Less and Houtteville pointed out that God could have willed both miracles and the laws of nature from eternity, thus (Houtteville) representing no change in God’s nature. Concerning Spinoza’s objection that insufficiently of proving the existence of God by miracles, apologists replied in kind. The Christian apologists “. . . used miracles not as a proof for the existence of God, but as a proof for his action in the world.”[31] Thus, even though miracles weren’t proof of the existence of God, they were proof of the Christian God. Craig continues, “Contemporary philosophers agree that if we were justified in accepting only those conclusions proven with demonstrative certainty, then we should know very, very little indeed.”[32] As such, Clark and Paley argued that a miracle needn’t overthrow nature’s general regularity; at most it shows God’s intervention. To the point that a miracle was not the cause of a demon, Clarke and Less focused their answer to the theological context of said miracle. Thus, the “religio-historical context in which the miracle occurred”[33] is the key to its interpretation. But could a miracle really be the effect of an unknown law of nature? Sherlock and Houtteville, Le Clerc, and Vernet responded to this objection. Le Clerc and Vernet persuasively argued that when said miracle occurs at a given point in time, with its religious and historical context, and doesn’t regularly occur, and when the miracle in question occurs multiple times and especially at the direction as a willful act, it is unlikely the result of natural causes. Moreover, said event occurred at Jesus’ commands. Sherlock and Houtteville argued that unknown laws could be God revealing himself in history. It would thus seem that Spinoza’s skepticism is unjustified, especially the resurrection of Jesus.

Against Hume

A number of scholars sought to argue against the prevailing skepticism of David Hume. William Adams was one such Christian apologist. His An Essay on Mr. Hume’s Essay on Miracles (1752) was a direct refutation of Hume.[34] Another direct refutation of Hume came from one of his own countrymen. Like Hume, George Campbell was from Scotland. His A Dissertation on Miracles (1762) is unique in that he corresponded with Hume about the manuscript.[35] Although not specifically debunking Hume, Thomas Sherlock’s Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (1729) is most applicable, a book that concerns the evidence of miracles and prophecy.[36] Satirically, Sherlock presents a mock trial that accuses the apostles of hoaxing the resurrection because it purportedly violates the course of nature, something which even eyewitness testimony could not overturn. Sherlock goes on to relate that a man living in a hot climate could, using Hume’s methodology, never accept the testimony of someone saying it snowed. Further, Sherlock notes that if we only admitted “testimony when it accords with our prior conceptions,”[37] then no new knowledge would be possible. Thus was the same for Sherlock and Less who argued that Hume’s methodology would eliminate many natural events as well as miracles. The famous defender of the teleological argument for the existence of God, William Paley, also wrote A View of the Evidences of Christianity (1794), defending Christianity’s historical core against the skepticism of Hume and other deists, just as Thomas Chalmers’, The Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation (1814), and Simon Greenleaf’s, Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists (1846), had done in subsequent decades.[38]  Paley’s two-volumes on Christianity “is undoubtedly the finest apologetic work of that era in English, and it exercised such considerable influence that it remained compulsory reading for any applicant to Cambridge University right up until the twentieth century.”[39] His work included a massive critique of Hume’s arguments. As others did, Paley emphasizes that Jesus’ miracles should be understood in their historical and theological context. Paley and Less also understood that given the existence of God, miracles are not incredible. Indeed, “the probability that God would reveal himself nullifies any inherent improbability in miracles.”[40]Both also viewed miracles as not contrary to experience and thus human testimony can’t be nullified by philosophical presuppositions. For Paley, Hume’s argument against miracle lead to a skepticism regarding reliably established events that many people take for granted. The Anglican Archbishop of Dublin, Richard Whately, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte (1819; 1874), his work “published while Napoleon was still alive, Whately turns Hume’s skeptical doubts regarding miracles against reports of the career of Napoleon—with devastating results . . . [the point] is that Hume’s extreme skepticism, consistently applied, leads to absurd results”[41]For Sherlock and others, historical investigation can establish the miraculous. Like Greenleaf, Hugo Grotius, both lawyer, defended the resurrection of Jesus in his book, The Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books, (1829).[42]
In response to Hume, it needs to be noted that contemporary philosophy views his probabilistic argument against the miraculous as a failure. Hume basic philosophical argument thus excludes the possibility of miracles, at least their historical credibility, by weighing all the evidence against it (natural causes), versus all the evidence for it (supernatural cause). In other words, Hume weighs the evidence for the regular against the evidence for the irregular. This is faulty logic for a number of reasons. By Hume’s methodology, no new knowledge would be possible. For example, no new scientific discoveries would be possible because all prior knowledge would count against it. In his attack on miracles, Hume merely weighs all the natural occurrences against said miracle claims, while never considering the specific evidence for the miraculous. Many natural causes might also be excluded from the pool of explanations of particular phenomena.
Bayes’ Theorem reveals the problem in Hume’s logic. Hume views the resurrection of Jesus as having a low priori probability. Accordingly, [Pr (R/B)] in which the resurrection “R” is thought to have a low probability given our background knowledge, or “B.” But Hume is mistaken here because he is only considering the initial probability and not other factors, such as the specific evidence for Jesus’ resurrection.[43] The specific evidence for Jesus’ resurrection would increase its probability. For example, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, the origin of the Christian faith, and Jesus own claims to divinity, would make the resurrection for more probable: [Pr (R/B & E)]. [44] Thus, even though [Pr (R/B)] may be low, the specific evidence of “E” might well overwhelm Hume’s philosophical argument against the initial probability of the resurrection. In essence, Hume is asking us which view is more probable on our background knowledge alone: the intrinsic probability of the resurrection: [Pr (R/B)]; or the probability of the resurrection not occurring on our background knowledge: [Pr (not-R/B)]. But probability theory was unknown in his time and Hume didn’t know how to measure the probability of historical occurrences. Instead of merely weighing the evidence for the resurrection against our background knowledge alone, we should rather consider the probability that the specific evidence would be as it is given the event of the resurrection versus the specific evidence given that the event of the resurrection did not occur. Hume’s case for the resurrection as not being probable, given our background knowledge alone, is thus incomplete. Consider the specific evidence for the resurrection listed above, namely the empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, the origin of the Christian faith, and Jesus’ divine claims: [Pr (E/R & B)]; and the explanatory power of the resurrection not occurring: [Pr (E/not-R & B)]. In other words, Hume’s argument against the miraculous [Pr (R/B)], could be offset by the specific evidence for the resurrection: Pr (R/B & E)]. Thus, even though Jesus’ resurrection might be improbable in relation to the abundance of people that don’t rise from the dead, the specific evidence for the resurrection might tip the scales. Hume never considers this, but we will. We are left with [Pr (R/B) x Pr (E/B & R) / [Pr (R/B) x Pr (E/B & R)] + [Pr (not-R/B) x Pr (E/B & not-R)].Thus, if [Pr (R/ B &E) / Pr (not R/B & E)] = >.5 then the resurrection of Jesus would be probable.[45] Since the deists already believed in God we can re-state the calculus: [Pr (R/G & B)] in which “G” refers to God. But now, the specific evidence for the resurrection will be added to our background knowledge “B.” Thus, given our background knowledge, which would now include the specific evidence for the resurrection, and given God’s existence, the resurrection best explains the specific evidence. In response to Hume, given all the evidence, it is thus probable that God raised Jesus from the dead. Of course we don’t know the probability that God would want to raise Jesus from the dead so the effectiveness of Baye’s theorem is inadequate. However, an evaluation of Jesus’ divine claims, his moral life, in conjunction with all the evidence might well make this likely, or at least more likely than not.
But some deists might claim that extraordinary events require extraordinary evidence. But this isn’t necessarily true. “What is crucial is that the evidence be far more probable given that the event did occur than given that it did not.”[46] That is, what is the probability that the specific evidence for an event would be such a way versus the probability of such evidence given that the event did not occur? In other words, we need to ascertain if the event in question is more likely than not considering its relation to the totality of the specific evidence. Thus, the deist is simply wrong for demanding extraordinary evidence.  Lastly, what about Hume’s generalities about the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection? Regarding Hume’s four points, his first three points attack the witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection as being uneducated. This wasn’t so with 1st century Judaism. A cursory look at the New Testament reveals their high education relative to other people groups, focus on memorization and attention to detail, the moral character of the writers, and historical context and events they report speak in favor of authenticity. Moreover, there were an abundance of witnesses to the resurrection. Jesus’ miracles thus didn’t occur amongst a barbaric society. The inspiration of the Bible, its consistent message, and the manuscript evidence might also be pushed here. Hume’s last point merely tries to evade an historical investigation. By its very nature, Christianity stands apart from other religions in that it can in principle be falsified. Against Hume, Paley and others argued vigorously for the credibility of miracles, specifically, the resurrection of Jesus.
Though the above marked the apologetic response to deism in general and the Newtonian World Machine in particular, not to mention the exploits of David Hume and Benedict Spinoza, to name but two prominent deists, the Christian apologists of old have also passed down a significant template in the form of an instructional manual. This template concerns sharing the gospel with the deist; a person who already accepts the existence of God. This last point lends itself to a presentation of the famous teleological argument for the existence of God. But instead of presenting it as a proof for the existence of God, since everyone already acknowledged this later point, the design of said argument might be used to show that God cares about His creation. This moral argument for the existence of God, an argument that presents God as the basis for morality, might also be employed in the same fashion. Thus, the modern Christian apologist can readily spot numerous flaws in the deistic worldview. But how should the Christian share the gospel with the deist. To this we now turn.

Presenting Christ to the Deist

How might the modern apologist share the gospel with a deist? It can’t be stressed enough how important preparation is. Just as sharing the gospel with a Mormon or Jehovah Witness might require more emphasis on Christian theology and exegesis of particular Biblical passages, the modern apologist needs more than a cursory understanding of logic and philosophy. There is no easy way around diligent study, contemplation, and prayer. As Colossians 2:8 exhorts: “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.” The Christian apologist has at his disposal a rich history to glean from. The apologists of old met the deistic challenge of their day with distinction and wisdom. The strident skepticism of Hume, or to be precise, his methodological naturalism, was met with brilliant sophistication in his own day. This was the case with Spinoza as well. Apologists such as Paley and Butler met deism on their own ground: the mind set to ink and parchment. Unfortunately, much of their insightful apologetics fell on deaf ears due to the rampant religious skepticism that was sweeping Europe at that time. However, their model and legacy persists. We would do well to glean from them. The success of their apologetic is seen in the failure of the 19th century, naturalistic explanations of Jesus’ resurrection and the resurgence of sound, Biblical scholarship in our own day. The Christian that seeks a model for how to do apologetics need only to look to the past. Hence, my advice to sharing the gospel with anti-theists in general and deists in particular is to prepare, study, and let the Holy Spirit lead. As Luke 12: 11-12 says “. . . do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Too often we Christians are silent, perhaps intimidated by the cultural relativism of society. Confidence comes with preparation and focus and the studied Christian need not fear the oft intolerant, religious pluralism of culture.
Sadly, the defense of Christianity against the skepticism and deism of the Enlightenment was largely ignored. For the most part, the church abandoned reason for pietism, perhaps as a reaction to the perceived triumph of Enlightenment deism. But this triumph is greatly exaggerated and passé. As was seen, there was a significant Christian response to deism. But if truth is perception, as has often been said, the Christian response simply couldn’t be heard in the chatter of the pervasive skepticism of the period. But Christianity didn’t lose the battle of ideals during this period. However, such misguided thinking seemed to encapsulate the thinking of many during this period, and indeed, a mindset still present today.  Simply because a person, or a fashionable movement, the Enlightenment for example, rejects Christianity, this is no way speaks to its validity. Unless we as Christians collectively and individually decide to build a context in which the gospel is more readily accepted, then anti-theistic philosophies, such as deism, will continue to thrive. Indeed, this is the case in much of Europe today, a land that used to be predominately Christians but is only nominally so now. Notwithstanding the many exceptions listed above, if we Christians escape from culture and refuse to confront culture with an articulate defense of the gospel, the message of Christianity may once again fall on deaf ears, possibly for good this time.  Thankfully, we are seeing a resurgence of Christian apologetics.
In reaction to Enlightenment thinking, things dramatically began to change in the middle of the twentieth century. Current New Testament scholarship and Christian philosophy has seen a renaissance of able defenders of the traditional apologetic. As for contemporary research investigating the historical Jesus, by far,
…the majority of New Testament scholars today—not conservative, not fundamentalists—concur with the facts of Jesus’ honorable burial, his empty tomb, his postmortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection. . . . [I]t is a surprising truth, not widely appreciated by non-specialists.[47]

Similarly, the historical credibility of the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate miracle, has grown far more optimistic than once was the case. One prominent philosopher of religion has noted:
What is particularly interesting about the references theologians make to Kant or Hume is that most often we find the philosopher merely mentioned, but we rarely, if ever, see an account of precisely which arguments of his are supposed to have accomplished the alleged demolitions. . . . In fact, I must confess to never having seen in the writings of any contemporary theologian the exposition of a single argument from either Hume or Kant, or any other historical figure for that matter, which comes anywhere near to demolishing…historical Christian doctrine, or…theological realism.[48]
            Thus, when sharing the gospel with a deist, we simply need to be courageous. Unlike the atheist or agnostic, the deist is already committed to belief in God. There was no reason to try to prove God’s existence since everyone already grants this proposition. Instead, as the apologists of past did, we should focus on the specific resurrection of Jesus when sharing the gospel with deists. A prophetic apologetic might also be used in conjunction with an historical apologetic. Be prepared to use philosophical argumentation as well. Simply begin by presenting the gospel, possibly including the four laws of salvation, and let the context of the situation determine the sophistication on one’s apologetic. Again, there is no substitute or quick fix for here. We must commit ourselves to the study of God’s Word, philosophy, and to the study of the works of apologists before us. It is here that we’ll discover a tried and true template for sharing the gospel with the deist.


            The philosophical worldview of deism is alive and well. It emerged during the Enlightenment and persists today in indifference, anti-religious bigotry, and blissful ignorance. The perniciousness of said worldview has been long lasting. We see it in academia, culture, and it has even crept into the church. This paper has argued for a better way; a life examined and not merely lived. An historical overview of the Christian apologetic response to deism not only gives modern apologists a template to draw from, it also illustrates the need for Christians to confront this philosophy anew. When confronting deism, the modern apologist can thus glean from their insights and fashion a more contemporary apologetic for deism. The Christian that hopes to share the gospel with a deist would do best to consider the historical development of its philosophical development, especially its arbitrary skepticism towards revealed religion. The ultimate flaw of deism is that it’s simply unlivable. Nobody lives according to such hyper skepticism. With the growing secularization and religious skepticism in the world, it’s more likely than ever that Christians will need to confront an overt deistic skepticism. It’s thus always better to be prepared. As gentle guides, we Christians can present the gospel afresh to the deist. They might just find what they’ve been looking for, a God who is not silent.


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*I’m indebted to a number of sources from which my research drew heavily. These include: Dulles, Avery Cardinal. A History of Apologetics. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2005); Historical Apologetics: 1697-1893: An Introductory Bibliography, (accessed: March); William Lane Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (accessed March); William Lane Craig, “The Problem of Miracles: A Historical and Philosophical Perspective,” Gospel Perspectives VI, pp. 9-40. Edited by David Wenham and Craig Blomberg. Sheffield, England: JSOT Press, (1986) (accessed March 6, 2013); William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).
[1] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 248.
[2] Ibid., 248.
[3] Craig, “Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus” (accessed: March 7, 2013).
[4] Ibid. 
[5] Isaac Newton (1643-1727) laws of physics, conically known as the Newtonian World-Machine, proved that the universe worked according to three laws. Such laws, in the eyes of the deistic philosophy that arose out of this backdrop, were all encompassing and thus immutable. By definition, miracles were impossible.
[6] I am acutely aware of philosophers such as Benedict de Spinoza, a skeptic who believed the occurrence of miracles contradicted the very nature of God. He wrongly assumed that the laws of nature were eternal and necessary.  In other words, a miracle would contradict the very nature of God and would undoubtedly lead to atheism.  Spinoza thus denied miracles on a priori grounds, wholly apart from the evidence. For more information, see Craig’s, Reasonable Faith, in which Craig gives a more detailed discussion and response. Whereas Spinoza attacked the possibility of miracles, Hume attacked the improbability of miracles,
[7] Kant sought a middle ground between reason and faith. However, Kant’s bifurcation between reason and faith had the ultimate effect of pushing rational belief in Christianity, to the side so that mere reason could grapple with reality. In other words, Kant offered Christianity a proverbial seat at the back of the bus so that nothing would bother it. Kant’s middle ground had the effect of, instead of protecting Christianity from unjustified skepticism, pushing the miraculous nature of Christianity and its serious academic consideration, into smaller and smaller confines of knowledge. Kant tried to synthesize rationalism (reason) and empiricism (faith). The phenomena, or world of ideas, and the noumena, world of sense perception, became forever separated. In essence, this had the effect of making theological knowledge outside the grasp of investigation (apologetics) and therefore had to be presumed to exist, if believed in at all. The salvation of theology came at the price of becoming a slave to rationality and truth. Instead of protecting the truth claims of Christ and theology, Kant relegated it to wishful thinking in the minds of many. No longer could Christianity be known true in itself, it could only be presumed true indirectly. As was stated before, the replies of apologists fell on deaf ears because Kantian thinking because the norm.
[8] Craig, “The Problem of Miracles,” (accessed March 2, 2013).
[9] David Hume, Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, 3rd ed. Edited by P.H. Nidditch. (Oford: Clarendon, 1975. Chapter 10).
[10] Craig, “The Problem of Miracles,” (accessed March 2, 2013).
[11] Butler “did not try to prove the existence of God.  Deists never denied this premise.  Nor did he reject reason; he accepted it as man’s natural light.  But he did challenge reason’s sovereignty.  ‘Reason’, said Butler, ‘provides no complete system of knowledge and in ordinary life it can offer us only probabilities.’” Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 2nd Edition (Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville. 1995),  318.
[12] Charles Pettit McIlvaine, The Evidences of Christianity, In Their External, Or Historical Division: Exhibited In a Course of Lectures. (Philadelphia: Smith & English, 1859-1832).;seq=11;view=1up (accessed: March 2: 2013); Brooke Foss Westcott, The Gospel of the Resurrection: Thoughts On Its Relation to Reason And History, 4th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1879).;seq=7;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 2, 2013); Alexander Balmain Bruce, The Miraculous Element In the Gospels (New York: A. C. Armstrong & son, 1886).;seq=13;view=1up;num=7 (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[13] Charles Leslie, A Short And Easy Method With the Deists, Where In the Certainty of the Christian Religion Is Demonstrated by Infallible Proof, [from Four Rules Which Are Incompatible With Any Imposture That Ever Yet Has Been, Or Can Possibly Be] In a Letter to a Friend, (New-York: New-York Protestant Episcopal Tract Society, 1830);seq=1;view=1up (accessed: March 4, 2013); Charles Leslie, Deism Refuted, Or, The Truth of Christianity Demonstrated: by Infallible Proof From Four Rules Which Are Incompatible to Any Imposture That Can Possibly Be ...., (London: [s.n.], 1755).;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[14] Richard Watson, An Apology for Christianity: In a Series of Letters, Addressed to Edward Gibbon, Esq., Author of the History of the Decline And Fall of the Roman Empire (Cambridge: Printed by Archdeacon, for T. & J. Merrill [etc.], 1776);seq=28;view=1up;num=20  (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[15] My research couldn’t locate his, The Bridge of History over the Gulf of Time, and I’m hoping, regrettably so, his autobiography suffices. Thomas  Cooper,. The Life of Thomas Cooper. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1879.$b675808;seq=9;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 4, 2013).
[16] Edmund Hatch Bennett, The Four Gospels From a Lawyer's Standpoint. (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1899).;seq=7;view=1up (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[17] John Locke and John C. Higgins-Biddle. Reasonableness of Christianity : As Delivered in the Scriptures. n.p.: Clarendon Press, 1999. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[18] Blaise Pascal, Pensées, Translated by W.F. Trotter (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.d.) (accessed: March 5, 2013).
[19] Leland, John, A View of the Principal Deistical Writers That Have Appeared In England In the Last And Present Century: With Observations Upon Them, (London: B. Dod, 1754).;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: April 26: 2013).
[20] Nathaniel Lardner Home, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner: Containing Credibility of the Gospel History, Jewish And Heathen Testimonies, History of Heretics, And His Sermons And Tracts : With General Chronological Tables, And Copious Indexes. (London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1788).;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March 5, 2013);, Thomas Hartwell Horne, An Introduction to the Critical Study And Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures. New edi. from the 7th London ed. corr. and enl. Philadelphia: Desilver, Thomas, 1835.;seq=11;view=1up;num=ii (accessed: March 5, 2013); Adam Storey Farrar, A Critical History of Free Thought In Reference to the Christian Religion.(London: J. Murray, 1862).;seq=9;view=1up (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[21] Craig, “The Problem Of Miracles” (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[22] Samuel Clarke, A Discourse concerning the Unchangeable Obligations of Natural Religion and the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Revelation (London: W. Botham, 1706) (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[23] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 252.
[24] Ibid., 252.
[25] Ibid., 254.
[26] Ibid., 254.
[27] Ibid., 254.
[28] Ibid., 264.
[29] Ibid., 264.
[30] Ibid., 264.
[31] Ibid., 265.
[32] Ibid., 265.
[33] Ibid., 266.
[34] William Adams, An Essay In Answer to Mr. Hume's Essay On Miracles. 3d ed. (London: White, 1767);seq=7;view=1up (accessed: March 6, 2013); “God has neither in natural nor in revealed religion left himself without witness; but has in both given moral and external evidence, sufficient to convince the impartial, to silence the gainsayer, and to render inexcusable the atheist and the unbeliever. This evidence it is our duty to attend to, and candidly to examine. We must prove all things, as we are expressly enjoined in holy writ, if we would ever hope to hold fast that which is good.” (emphasis mine)
Ibid. 12.
[35] George Campbell, A Dissertation On Miracles: Containing an Examination of the Principles Advanced by David Hume In An Essay On Miracles, The 4th ed. (Edinburgh: Mundell, Doig, & Stevenson, 1807);seq=11;view=1up;num=iii (accessed: March 6, 2013).
[36] Thomas Sherlock, The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus (Teddington: Echo Library J. Roberts, 2006). (accessed: March 6, 2013). Sherlock also wrote, Sequel to the Trial of the Witnesses, of which is a rare book that couldn’t be located.
[37] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 254.
[38] William Paley gave one of the most sophisticated Christian apologies during the 18th century. See William Paley, 5th ed. A View of the Evidences of Christianity, 2 Vols., Ed.: Westmead, England: Gregg, 1970) (London: R. Faulder, 1796);seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: March 7, 2013); William Paley, Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, 2 Vols., 12th ed. (London: J. Faulder, 1809).;seq=7;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March 7, 2013); Thomas Chalmers, The Evidence And Authority of the Christian Revelation. Finley's edition. (Philadelphia: Published by Anthony Finley, 1817).;seq=19;view=1up;num=ix (accessed: March 7, 2013); Simon Greenleaf, An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered In Courts of Justice: With an Account of the Trial of Jesus. 2nd ed.  (London: A. Maxwell, 1847).;seq=9;view=1up;num=i (accessed: March 7, 2013).
[39] Craig, Reasonable Faith, 257.
[40] Ibid., 258.
[41] Historical Apologetics: 1697-1893: An Introductory Bibliography, Anonymous, (accessed: March 7, 2013); Richard Whately, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte. 2nd American, from the 4th London Ed. Boston: J. Munroe and Company, 1843.;seq=5;view=1up (accessed: March 8, 2013); Richard Whately, Introductory Lessons On Christian Evidences. (Philadelphia: H. Hooker, 1856).;seq=7;view=1up;num=1 (accessed: April 26, 2013).
[42] Hugo Grotius, The Truth of the Christian Religion in Six Books. Translated by John Clark, D.D. (London: William Baynes, 1829). (accessed: March 8, 2013).
[43] Some Christian apologists believe that the  resurrection of Jesus does not have a low initial probability. Richard Swinburn, of who Craig mentions, is one such philosopher. Thus, even with the initial probability of our background knowledge, the resurrection is >.5
[44] Let r stand for the miraculous event; E stand for the specific evidence of said event; and B stand for our background knowledge of ‘M.’
[45] See Craig, Reasonable Faith, 271. for which I am heavily indebted. It seems to me that this probability calculus could function against any particular naturalistic explanation for the resurrection, or by grouping them all together. Either way, the resurrection would be at least more plausible than its rival theories.
[46] Ibid., 273.
[47] Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, eds., Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann,  (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 163; For a defense of the resurrection, also see: N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003); William Lane Craig, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1989); Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland, eds., Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995); Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010).
[48] Thomas V. Morris, “Philosophy and the Christian Faith,” University of Notre Dame Studies in the Philosophy of Religion 5 (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 3-4, as cited in William Lane Craig, Jesus’ Resurrection: Fact or Figment? Eds. Paul Copan and Ronald K. Tacelli, (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 163; Craig, “The Problem of Miracles” (accessed March 2, 2013).

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