The Bible Makes a Poor Premise

Adam Smith has a fascinating post, in which he tries his very best to prove atheism does not exist. Poor chap doesn’t quite make it:

Notice how I titled this thing “Why Atheism Does Not Exist,” and not “Why I Believe Atheism Does Not Exist.” I did this because it is not only what I believe, it is also because it is a fact.

The Bible does not acknowledge atheism in any form. The Bible says that all men know that there is a God. Where does it say this you ask? Well, I am glad you asked.

Only we didn’t. Right off the bat Adam is going for a circular argument. For example. The following quote is from a book I just made up. The book of portents and squirrels:

Lord Fluff spake unto the people, and said “heed ye my fluffly book, for it is my word. Amen”. And all the unbelievers who questioned the book, which thou dear reader arst reading, is the fluffy word of the squirrel king lord God, are wrong. “Because I said so”, added Lord Fluff, before scampering after a holy acorn.

Ladies and Gentlemen need I remind you of lord fluff?

My book of fluff proclaims it is the word of fluff. So does that make it true? In the same vein Mike argues himself dizzy in the comments section (edited the html replacing a ol with an ul so it didn’t have nonsensical numbering):

  • Dan (Fitness) said, on January 4th, 2008 at 1:35 am

    Mike,

    And there we differ. I don’t believe it is God commanding us through the Bible. Just people, and I see no reason to listen to people who want to drive the wedge of fear between me and God.

    But it comes to an interesting question. If it came down to direct experience vs the Bible, which would you believe? How about reason vs scripture?

    Dan

  • Mike Ratliff said, on January 4th, 2008 at 7:34 am

    Dan,

    What you or I or anyone else believes or doesn’t believe has no bearing whatsoever on the truth. John 1 says that the Word is God. We know God through His Word not experience. We experience things in light of His Word. Human reason is fallible. God’s Word is not.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  • Dan (Fitness) said, on January 4th, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Mike,

    Ah, so the Bible says the Bible is the word of God. That’s not circular at all.

    If the Bible is God’s word, and God’s word is infallible, then is every directive in the Bible one we must follow?

  • Mike Ratliff said, on January 4th, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Dan,

    The Bible also says that it is impossible to please God without Faith. You have none, at least none of that kind. Your faith is only in what you can see or feel, etc. That is humanism and rebellion against God. Genuine faith is a gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8-9-10)

    The answer to your last question is yes, but not as far as keeping parts of the Old Covenant that were fulfilled and done away with in Christ.

    Also, what you are doing with your argument is contending with God. His Word also says that to do that is an offense and will be cursed. That includes sarcasm when referring to Him and His Word.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  • Dan (Fitness) said, on January 7th, 2008 at 12:20 am

    Mike,

    How sad that for every argument for the Bible you must either ask us to abandon reason or to trust the Bible that the Bible is true. Anything you cite from the Bible only creates another circular argument.

    Why would a good person who loves God and acts with love towards fellow beings have anything to fear? The answer is there is no fear for a man or woman who loves God and knows the divine. You don’t need a book for that (even if the book insists you really do).

  • Mike Ratliff said, on January 7th, 2008 at 7:37 am

    Dan,

    No, my arguments are not circular at all. You are the one who is insisting on a basis for truth that has no foundation. The Bible, God’s Word is that foundation. Also, the god you love is one of your own imagination, not THE GOD. Lastly, we cannot say that such and such is so because I said so, but God can and does. He is perfectly Righteous and Holy. That is why we reverently fear Him. Christ makes it possible for believers to know God. It is through our relationship with Him that we can pray and serve God.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

I responded to the problems with fearing God rather than loving God here.  But the real gem is that Mike keeps hobbling back to the Bible to prove that the Bible is true.  Its right here:

John 1 says that the Word is God. We know God through His Word not experience. We experience things in light of His Word. Human reason is fallible. God’s Word is not.

See, because part of the Bible says the Bible is true, it must all be true!  Genius!

Which brings us back to Adam’s attempt to attack atheism.  Like Mike, he is making severe use of circular reasoning, and also trying to get into the head of his opponents.  He’s suggesting atheists aren’t really atheist.  Mike suggests those praying to God without using his Bible for guidance are not actually reaching God.  And of course both base these claims on, what else, their Bible.

Offensiveness aside, its just a poor way to make an argument.  Your premise can’t require the validity and soundness of the entire argument to be true without utterly destroying that very validity and soundness.  A circular argument is not even valid.  Here’s a quick philosophy primer on arguments.  An argument is valid if each premise is logically connected in a way that ensures if every premise is correct, the conclusion must be true.  An argument is sound if it is valid, and all of the premises turn out to be true.  A circular argument isn’t even logic, even if it looks like it on the surface.

Politically and socially, it presents another problem.  Those who rely on circular logic are ill suited to argue about beliefs with those of us who employ reason when making arguments.  It makes productive communication nearly impossible.  Instead you find humor and logic struggling to break through an unyielding wall of “Because the Bible says so”.

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4 Responses

  1. Dan, do yourself a favor and stop wasting your time with Mike Ratliff. He continually makes it clear that, like many of his ilk, his only rebuttal for the MANY arguments the open minded, rational thinkers have about Christianity and the bible is “…because the bible tells me so.” This will never change.

    Anyway, I love your post. Please let me know if Lord Fluff ever finds the holy acorn. I hope you’ll check out my site http://doubtingthomas426.wordpress.com/ as I think you’ll find it right up your alley. Please recommend it to any others you think would enjoy it. I need more intelligent people commenting on my posts. I’ve categorized all my posts on the left. Take a few minutes to read through a few. Leave a comment if you like. Take Care.

  2. “The Good Book says….”

    I heard that phrase one to many times. I am not interested in what the “Good Book” says, I have a few copies at home and read them all, interesting stuff but I am asking you what do you think, not what you believe a book says, especially when I am arguing the validity of said book. As circular as a dull power saw blade and twice as useless.

  3. “See, because part of the Bible says the Bible is true, it must all be true! Genius!”

    If someone made that argument then it indeed is poor reasoning. Yes, the Bible claims to speak for God ~3,000 times. That isn’t what makes it true, of course, but it seems to me that somewhere in the book it would make that claim (otherwise skeptics would say it can’t be God’s word because it doesn’t claim to be).

    We can trust that it is the word of God through various means – fulfilled prophecies, archeology, well preserved and trustworthy eyewitness accounts, etc.

  4. doubtingthomas426,
    Mike Ratliff makes an excellent example of what is wrong with the way some people approach their religion, and I wanted to explore a little.

    Thanks, and I’ll definitely check out your site.

    ralfast,
    Oh its fine to cite passages of text to make points, but it really only works when it is a general seed of wisdom rather than an authoritative dictate.
    Its the circular thing that isn’t productive.

    Neil,
    I wouldn’t think the Bible not stating it is the word of God would have any impact on its veracity. Maybe God is humble? Or perhaps such a holy book would simply be self evident, in that its advice speaks for itself as to the likely source.

    We obviously differ based on the veracity and trustworthiness of outside sources, but you arguments are decidedly not circular.

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