It is probably no great revelation to anyone who thinks that everyone has some assumptions. When you are in a debate, you look for those assumptions and mostly you do this to point out how wrong, illogical or to debate their merits and weaknesses. The debate about God has assumptions on both sides but I want to deal with an issue that has been bothering me about atheist and their theological assumptions about what Christians believe. The fact is atheists do assume that ALL Christians believe certain theology and so they take issue with that theology and it becomes the basis for their rejection of all faith.
For instance. I would see this from Bart Ehrman every time I read him. He would assume the Calvinist/Reformed view of God was the only one that could be correct and that the only view of inspiration that was right was Verbal Plenary. It was on this basis that he dismissed his faith and became a hopeful agnostic. (Atheist really as he has no active belief in God – I am with Penn Jillette on that) I don’t know if he realized that there were more ways to view God or the Bible or he just dismissed them as irrelevant. My point, just because you show for instance that Verbal Plenary Theory of Biblical Inspiration is not reasonable ( I have done it myself) does not mean you have dismissed that the Bible is inspired, you have only shown that one view of how it is inspired is bogus. You still have to deal with all the rest of them to truly dismiss the idea of inspiration of Scripture.
I see this with the “OMNIs” a lot too. You know the concepts of Omnipotence, Omnipresence and Omniscience. That is God being All Powerful, Everywhere Present and Knows Everything. I see this a lot when critics assume a definition of God being All powerful that only a portion of Christianity supports. The fact is how much power is all-powerful is a debatable point even in theology and among theists. Some people believe God uses his power all the time for every nit picky detail and some believe like I do that God is loath to use his power coercively and prefers to use persuasion with human beings and law and order with the universe. These are to very different ideas about the omnipotence of God and in order to truly dismiss the idea of an all-powerful god you would have to have an argument that deals with all of them not just one of them. You would have to have a far broader argument than some I have seen.
There are two fallacies I see on both sides of the God debate which are quite common. People argue form a particular form of belief or non belief and then try to use it to lasso the rest of them with it (moving from particular to generalization) or straw man (creating something that your opposition really does not believe and cutting it apart) I have been accused of this (I would admit sometimes rightly) but I also see it in the critics do the same when they say ‘Christianity believes this”. Yeah maybe some do but not all of us is my usual response to this.
In order for this section of what I do each week to avoid this from my side as a theist, I have decided to engage an atheist straight from their mouth. The only way I can do this consistently is to find a noted atheist and buy one of his books and engage it. That way I will quoting that atheist instead of assuming what atheists think and reason. I will let that atheist tell me instead. I have heard a lot about Christopher Hitchens so I have ordered a book of his: God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. I hope to engage this book piece by piece. I was hoping to start today but I ordered it some weeks ago but it is on back order. Hopefully it will arrive before next week. On tap after that are Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins as well once I am done so I will have plenty of material for a while. Hopefully this will lead to some more genuine dialogue from my side at least. Should be fun regardless.