Christianity Doesn't Make Sense? (Part III - Looking at Counter-Arguments)

As I stated in part I, I cannot possibly respond to every possible objection that Christianity doesn’t make sense in a single post. However, I can take the number one post on Google and respond to the points cited therein which the author uses to support the claim that Christianity doesn’t make sense. The article that I reference is, appropriately enough, entitled  Ten Reasons Why Christianity Makes No Sense. I believe each of the reasons cited not only fail to show that Christianity makes no sense, but rather that several of the objections themselves make no sense. I also will note that I will not respond to all ten points for reasons that I will state below. Please note that I will use the author’s own sub-headings for my headings when examining each of the claims that the argument “doesn’t make sense.”

In looking at these reasons arguing against the good sense of Christianity, I want to reiterate how the question of whether Christianity makes sense needs to be approached. To argue that something makes no sense, i.e., is irrational, the evaluator must accept the facts as posited by the person making the claim as true, and then determine whether they are internally consistent. 

Jesus Didn’t Die. 

The author argues that Jesus didn’t die. Rather, Jesus’ death was similar to being in a “deep coma.” The author adds, 
If you go dig up a 3-day old grave, regardless of what you think may have happened to that person’s immortal soul, there’s still going to be a body in it. Jesus’ tomb, on the other hand, was empty, meaning that following his resurrection he was either a zombie or he was fully alive, neither of which is dead.” Finally, the author makes what he believes to be the more compelling point: “Even more relevant is that when he was hanging there on the cross, Jesus knew that he was going to come back. He didn’t have to endure the fear of death that any other human being would have had to face or the uncertainty that presumably afflicts all but the most devout at the moment of death about whether there really was going to be an afterlife, or if this was lights out for good. Yes, he probably suffered physically, but he knew that death would be no more than a long nap and then he’d be up and at ‘em again. In short, he didn’t die.
These are, to put it mildly, a series of ridiculous objections and do not go to the heart of the question of whether Christianity “makes sense.” 

The first objection, i.e., that Jesus was only in a “deep coma”, does not really question the internal consistency of the Christian argument. Rather, the author is arguing against the facts which serve as the basis for the Christian position. It may be that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, but that argument is not about whether Christianity is internally consistent. Do determine that, you have to ask whether God raising a man from the dead is inconsistent with the Christian worldview. Clearly it is not. So, this first point is irrelevant to the argument. 

The second objection, that Jesus was either a zombie or he was fully alive again questions the facts and not the internal consistency of the Christian position. But what is interesting is that his wording (even if his intention was to the contrary) agrees with the Christian position. Forgoing for the moment the idea that Jesus was a zombie (I know few people who would adopt a worldview that accepts zombies as an explanation or the resurrection accounts), the whole point of the resurrection account is that Jesus was, in fact, “fully alive” following the resurrection, so the his alleged dig actually supports the internal consistency of the Christian position (i.e., Jesus rose from the dead – meaning, he became a living being who had conquered death). 

His third point under this argument is that Jesus didn’t die because he knew he’d be resurrected. This point is silly. Whether Jesus feared death and knew when he came back may have an impact on how much Jesus suffered while dying (and even the author acknowledges that he probably suffered physically), but to conclude that because Jesus “didn’t die” because he knew there was an afterlife is quite possibly the most ridiculous point I have ever read. 

In sum, these three points arguing that Christianity is senseless don’t really challenge the internal consistency of the Christian position. While one could make an argument that Jesus went into a coma or that Jesus was a zombie or that Jesus’ knowledge that there was an afterlife means he didn’t die (the latter two arguments I believe to be laughable), those are questions of fact rather than questions about the internal consistency of Christianity. They don’t come close to showing that Christianity doesn’t “make sense.” 

Jesus didn’t have faith. 

The second argument comes closer to questioning the internal consistency of Christianity. The author contends that it is hypocritical for Jesus to demand that his disciples have faith when he didn’t have faith. After all, if Jesus had knowledge of heaven and the afterlife, he didn’t have to have faith in them. The author argues, “How fair is it to command the rest of the world to believe something on faith alone, threatening eternal punishment to any who don’t believe it, when you yourself have no faith and all the evidence?” Interesting, but the author is merely playing word games and is not really threatening the internal consistency of the Christian story. 

First, the author is playing games with the word “faith.” It appears that the author believes that faith is “belief without evidence.” But Biblical faith can actually be pretty accurately described as “trust in God.” He’s right that Jesus didn’t have faith if it means “belief without evidence.” Jesus had the evidence and therefore didn’t have to have faith in that sense. But Jesus did have “trust in God,” and therefore Jesus did have faith in the second sense. 

Secondly, the author is confused. The Christian teaching is not that faith saves you. The teaching is that trust in God saves you, a sinner, through the death and resurrection of Jesus who died to pay the price of sin. Jesus hadn’t sinned, and therefore he didn’t need to be saved. Therefore proving that Jesus had faith (meaning, belief without evidence) in God is not required to make the Christian story internally consistent. 

I should note that the author makes the following statement: “There are many verses to be found in the New Testament in which Jesus says some variation of, ‘Don’t trust your senses, don’t look for evidence, just accept it because I said so.’” I would really have liked the author to have given me his footnotes for this particular point because I don’t believe Jesus ever said any such thing (or any variation thereof). 

Jesus didn’t take away my sins. Or did he? 
The author then continues: “I am no logician, but if Jesus died to take away the sins of humanity, then doesn’t that mean that once he was crucified there was no longer any such thing as sin? If his ‘death’ was the absolution of the human race, which we are told it was, why do I still have to do what the bible says, or go to church, or even believe?” 

I find it doubtful that the author really believes this one. Yes, Jesus died to take away the sins of the world, but the Bible does not say that the “taking away” of the sins would be immediate. Perhaps the people at the time thought that sins would be taken away by Jesus during his lifetime, or shortly after his resurrection, but the promise that Jesus would come later to judge the living and the dead is implicit in Jesus teachings. Taking the Bible as a whole, it is apparent even within the Bible that Jesus’ death and resurrection did not take away the sins of the world. Obviously, there was still killing, cheating and lying that are recounted in the Book of Acts.

Moreover, while this is an important point, it does not disrupt the internal consistency of the gospel accounts. 

Jesus wasn’t a very nice guy. 
This is an odd argument to make about whether the Christian accounts would make sense. Jesus, after all, wasn’t the “nice guy” sent by God. He was the Son of God – the perfect image of the heavenly father. The heavenly father is set to judge the world, and many in this world will be cast outside of His holy presence which is what we call hell. If God were nothing more than a nice guy, this would be very detrimental to his image. But God, and hence Jesus, is not the one-dimensional figure that atheists would like to paint him to be. To use the overused quote of C.S. Lewis, “Aslan is not a tame lion.” 

The author, however, feels that Jesus was opposed to family values. He writes: 
Jesus demanded that his disciples abandon their families and save all of their devotion for him and him alone – a rather narcissistic and not particularly family-centric expectation. Aside from seeming to be in direct contradiction to the commandment about honoring thy mother and father, abandoning spouses and children, while not against any commandments, still seems like a douchey thing to do, even 2,000 years ago. 
A lot can be and has been written about the calls of Jesus towards those claiming to be his disciples, but the simple answer is that Jesus makes these demands in relation to present expectations. He is basically saying, “If you do not choose me over your loved ones, your possessions and even your own life, you are not ready to follow me.” God is not demanding that everyone give up their spouses, their possessions and their lives. Rather, he is merely saying that you are to surrender their place of importance in your life to God. If you are not willing to give up these things in favor of following God, you are not really recognizing God’s rightful place in your life. 

Once again, this is not something relating to the question of whether the Christian story makes sense except in the eyes of some atheists who aren’t really interested in trying to understand what the Bible actually teaches. 

But at this point, I want the reader to notice what is happening to the author’s presentation of his arguments. They are beginning to devolve (as atheistic attacks on the Bible and Christianity usually do) into smears and negative characterizations. I will be speaking more about this in the next part. 

Jesus’ dad was really not a nice guy. 

This is the same argument as immediately above, except now he is trying to argue that God needs to be a nice guy. As I said above, God is not a one-dimensional figure, and since the atheist continual haranguing about the “atrocities” of the Old Testament have been addressed ad nauseum I won’t revisit them here except to reiterate that in the Old Testament God demonstrates on earth through His people, Israel, what will one day take place in heaven – those who are evil will be judged. 

Prayer is contradictory. 
We are told that god has a plan for everything, but then we are told to pray – for our loved ones to get better when they fall ill, for safety in the storm, for the home team to win the big game. Does that mean god will change his plan if you pray hard enough, or the right way, or get enough other people to pray for the same thing? At the very least this seems to suggest he doesn’t really have much of a plan if he’s willing to modify it based on popular opinion or for those who ingratiate themselves to him, not to mention that it’s a rather arbitrary, if not capricious, approach to human suffering.
The author then rambles on about his views on the psychology of prayer, which is not important or even all that interesting. What amazes me is how Internet atheists have a way of almost making a point, then destroying the impact of their point by devolving into the “God is a monster” language. I will respond to the idea that God responds to those who “ingratiate themselves to him” or that God is somehow indifferent to suffering in the next part. But what about this idea that prayer is contradictory? I mean, isn’t it true that God adjusts his plan to prayer which further suggests that God didn’t have a good idea in the first place if he is willing to modify it? What does that do to the concepts of omniscience and pre-destination? 

Well, fortunately there is a pretty easy response to this one that requires only that the person have more of an open-mind then can be expected from the lock-step approach of Internet atheists. Here’s the easy answer: God, being omniscient, already knows who is going to pray and what they are going to pray for when He made His plans. In fact, He knew at the time that He created the universe exactly who was going to pray and what they were going to pray for. Thus, God knew from the beginning of time which prayers He would answer and made his plans accordingly. Thus, there is no contradiction at all for God to answer prayers – it was in the plan from the beginning. 

From this point forward, the author’s main objections are verbal attacks on Christianity. I will respond generally to them in the next part.


excellent post as us9ual BK. Great to see you blog again. the objections one encounters on the net mostly turn on literalism and technicality. thanks for your post.

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