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Dusting Off Old Arguments as New

A common theme that I run into when discussing religion with Christians (particularly fundamentalist Christians), is that they will often bring up old arguments which have long since been refuted as if they are some new revelation. These Christians often boast about how knowledgeable and thoughtful they are and yet they don’t seem to realize that they are using an argument that is hundreds of years old and in some cases even thousands of years old and has been long refuted.

For example, a Christian told me the other day that I should believe in God because if I a wrong, I will be tortured for all eternity in Hell, but if he is wrong nothing will happen. Perhaps this Christian didn’t realize that Pascal made the same observation and a quick Google search or a little critical thinking skill would show just how retarded an argument that was.

Other examples include the First Cause Argument, The Argument by Design, and others. What is wrong with these Christians that they think they have this new insight that no one has ever thought of before. Maybe they do have some new insight, but these old arguments aren’t that insight. Before one can think of new arguments, it helps to know the old arguments.

Then there are the Christians who do know the old arguments and try to dress them up as something new. “Maybe if we throw in some scientific terms we can slip the old First Cause argument through.” This is a popular strategy for some of the more academic minded Christians. Throwing in terms like “quantum physics” doesn’t magically make the First Cause argument valid again and asking about who designed the laws of physics doesn’t reinvent the Argument by Design.

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  • Revyloution

    I don’t know if it’s ‘dusting off’ or just reshuffling.

    Martin Luther said that reason is the enemy of faith, and I think many Christians believe that. When I encounter a proselytizer, I notice that they always hit the old refuted arguments. They don’t want to debate the arguments merits, they are just looking for a ‘light bulb moment’ where the love of Jesus rushes into my circulatory pump. As soon as they see that I have a valid argument against Pascal, they jump to First Cause. As we run down all the old arguments, they never stop to try to defend them, they just jump from one to the other. It’s like they are probing for a weakness to exploit, preying upon an ignorance. It typically ends with the Personal Experience, and an earnest mention of how they will pray for me.

    Reason really is the enemy of faith. I think that deep down, they know it.