Christians apologists have a list of very common, centuries-old Bible-free arguments. Bible arguments (by bibliolatrists) try and show that the Bible itself is always right and therefore so are its conclusion that the Christian god (Yahweh-Jesus) exists. On the other hand, “Bible-free arguments” try to argue generally for God without reference to the Bible. Bible-free apologetics is a sort of “pre-evangelism”: prepping the hearer to be more open to hearing “the Word of God” (the Bible). Some of the most common “Bible-Free” apologetic arguments are:
- The Cosmological Argument (Kalam’s)
- The Ontological Argument
- The Teleological Argument
- Argument from Morality
- The Design Argument
- The Argument from Miracles
- The Argument from Personal Experience
Of these, the new favorite is the Argument from Morality (AfM) — Evangelical’s favorite apologist William Craig uses it in almost each of his debates. The argument goes back to Kant and Aquinas (not usual Christian intellectual diet — nor mine). Christians study up on these Bible-free popular apologetics and try their best to replicate their heroes’ arguments again and again on blog threads. The many variants of the argument and the hidden presuppositions which are characteristically not laid out clearly can lead both the atheists and the theists to jump around forever talking past each other on blogs. I find reading such things tedious thought many people enjoy them.
To that end, I am using this post to index links to others who discuss the AfM with a bit more organization than occurs on blog threads. Interestingly, the AfM is in a class of apologetic arguments the rely on intuitions: consciousness, aesthetics, evil, rationality, desire, religious experience and morality. Intuitions arguments say, “look, since we have these things, there must be a god”. To me these are all incredible failures, but I won’t discuss them here.
Knowledge progresses by sharing advances and failures in tested theories. But recognizing failures of an argument is important. And to recognize failures, you must have know of those who went before you. And you must organize carefully and exhaustively the various detours of arguments to help extinguish confusion. As I said, it is a tedious task and one reason I never finished my Ph.D. in philosophy.
To best understand arguments, you need to read both sides and the best of both sides. Unfortunately most theists have not read the other side, but only their own in-house material. And worse, not only is their argument “Bible-free” but also “Science-free” — they come in with very little background in mathematics and biology which are pre-requisites for understand god-free arguments. This is not true for all theists, however.
I find the AfM argument (like the other Bible-free apologetics) to be completely lacking, but I have no ambition to try to replicate the long, almost-always unproductive arguments on my threads though I invite others to knock themselves out. I may, in future posts, try to visually illustrate some of the common options to aid discussion. But for now, here I begin a list of others who have spent pages delineating the issue (please suggest more):
- Luke Muehlhauser: now archived, Common Sense Atheism, this link is to a critique of: Mark Linville’s Paper “The Moral Poverty of Evolutionary Naturalism”. Linville has a PhD in Philosophy (Madison, Wisc), BA in Biblical Studies (Florida Christian College).
- Luke Muehlhauser: On “Desirism” and Theist Morality by Sean McDowell (son of Josh McDowell-my go-to apologist when I was a Christian)
- The Secular Web: with link to other posts
- Debunking Christianity: site of former minister, apologist. (info)
- NonStampCollector : (video) Objective Morality vs. Christianity [William Lane Craig]. Takes tack of granting objective reality, argues that it can’t be Yahweh that determines it.
- Iron Chariots : anti-apologetics site
- Reasonable Faith: William Lane Craig’s site.
- J.P. Moreland video
- Ten Minas Ministries : an outline
- Norman Geisler
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: the last line being: “For if there is no God, morality is a more perilous enterprise than if there is.” Which is indeed an intuition for many — though not I. I’m not sure of the position of the author (whose name is not given).