A recent discussion on Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable show promised more than it delivered.
The topic – or, at least, the starting-point for debate – was the often-heard retort of atheists to Christians, “I just believe in one god less than you.” The argument, such as it is, is that once we have moved from polytheism to monotheism it is but a short further step to deny the existence of that one remaining god. The argument is fatuous, of course. It’s like saying that once a man has moved from polygamy to monogamy it is but a short further step to have no wife at all.
But what I really wanted to comment on was an extraordinary throwaway statement by Ralph Jones. Jones was trying to show that it is an enormous jump to go from deism (a belief that some agency brought the cosmos into being) to theism (a belief in a personal God who reveals himself to, and ‘intervenes’ in, the cosmos, and with whom we might be able to sustain some kind of meaningful relationship).
It is a huge leap, Jones insisted, to go from belief in some creative agency to belief in the Christian God, who ‘was revealed to us through contradictory texts, through bizarre miracles and through obviously man-made myths.’
That’s a very revealing way of putting it. It reveals that the speaker is assuming within his premise the conclusions of his own argument. Moreover, it suggests that if we Christians could plausibly demonstrate that the biblical texts are not ‘contradictory’, that the biblical miracles are not ‘bizarre’, and that the biblical narratives are not ‘man-made myths’, then any reasonable person would become a follower of Jesus. Well, we can. So, all you reasonable people: please form an orderly queue and let’s get your names down for the next baptism service.