A few days ago John Loftus came out with a new argument against Christianity. According to this argument, if Christians stopped evangelizing then Christianity would die out. But if Christianity were true God wouldn’t let it die out. Therefore Christianity is false.
I offered an initial rebuttal here. The gist of my argument was that even granting John’s claim that the Christian church would die out under these circumstances, it wouldn’t follow that Christianity is false. To see why, consider this simple illustration.
Fred claims to have use of a beautiful cabin on the lake. Al retorts that if Fred were to trash the cabin then local law enforcement would remove him from it. “Therefore,” Al concludes, “you don’t have use of it now.”
Needless to say, this argument would not be establishing what Al was claiming. Fred’s eviction by local law enforcement would underdetermine whether he had ever had legal rights to the cabin because that eviction is consistent with both (a) Fred’s having been a squatter in the cabin and (b) Fred’s having been granted the right to use the cabin, a right which was then revoked because of his abuse of the cabin.
John’s argument has the same problem. Even if the Christian church died out following this mass refusal to fulfill the Great Commission (i.e. trashing the cabin) it wouldn’t follow that Christianity was false, since this outcome would be consistent with God taking punitive measures by allowing the church to disappear (i.e. retracting the right to use the cabin).
If John’s argument was a coho salmon, it would now be a fillet cleaned on the beach and ready to be roasted over the fire. But he’s still pretending it is swimming in the lake. How does he do this? By pointing to another salmon spashing in the water and claiming that that is his salmon.
Yes folks, in his most recent post on the topic he simply drops his old, now defunct argument and presents a new one here. He states this new argument like this:
“In order to suppose that his faith would not die out he needs to provide some objective evidence that his God is doing something now that would help convert people if Christians stopped sharing the gospel.”
Since John is loathe to present his arguments in clearly stated and logically connected propositions (much like the Hunchback is loathe to emerge from the shadows of Notre Dame), I’ll again fulfill this task.
(1) For a Christian to believe rationally that the Christian faith is true, the Christian must be able to present evidence that could persuade a non-Christian that God is working in history to propagate the Christian faith.
You can guess the rest: Christians cannot present this evidence and therefore, Christians cannot rationally believe that Christianity is true.
However, for all intents and purposes (1) basically collapses into:
(1′) For a Christian to believe rationally that the Christian faith is true, the Christian must be able to present evidence that could persuade a non-Christian that Christianity is true.
But why would John think this? And why would he think anybody else should?
I am going to assume with charity that John is being consistent in his argument in which case (1′) depends on a general principle like this:
In order to believe rationally that p you must be able to persuade a skeptic of p that p is true.
Needless to say, very few people believe such a thing and so if John believes it he ought not believe it which blows up his whole tortured argument.
Now let’s wait to see whether John comes up with an even worse argument on the third go around.