Atheists Don't See the Greatest Difficulties

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Puritan Sailor, Feb 12, 2019.

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  1. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    Thomas Halyburton wrote this interesting insight in his Memoirs. He recorded how the Lord helped him work through the attacks of Atheism and Deism in his day. One of the insights that helped him reject atheism was the fact that their attacks were largely superficial and never dealt with the truly serious difficulties that more studious Christians are aware of. Note the quote below:

    "I must observe, also, the wise providence of God, that the greatest difficulties that lie against religion are hid from atheists. All the objections I met with in their writings were not nearly so subtle as those which were often suggested to me. The reason of it, from the nature of the thing, is obvious- such persons do not take a close-up view of religion; and while persons stand at a distance, neither are the difficulties that attend it nor the advantages of it discerned. Again, Satan finding all things quiet with them, keeps all so; and finding that they are easily ensnared, he does not use force (Luke 11:21). It is where he is in danger of losing a person that he uses his utmost efforts, when Christ is ready to cast him out, then he rages and tears poor souls (Mark 9:20). Besides, the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, permits not all these hellish subtleties to be published, in tenderness to the faith of the weak." (Memoirs, pg. 82)

    This is an interesting insight, and one I have certainly found true at least in conversations with average unbelievers who are skeptical. They usually don't offer a serious critique because they don't know the important nuances which answer their criticisms.

    But would Halyburton's analysis still be true today? Are there more sophisticated and informed attacks on Christianity now, or do they all still remain fairly superficial? He doesn't list what "greatest difficulties" he had in mind, but what do you think they might be?
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Most likely the greatest difficulties were the same that Bunyan spoke about: the being of God and the truth of the Gospel.

    “Whole floods of blasphemies both against God, Christ, and the Scriptures were poured upon my spirit, to my great confusion and astonishment. Against the very being of God and of His only beloved Son; or, whether there were, in truth, a God and a Christ, or no. Of all the temptations that ever I met with in my life, to question the being of God and the truth of the Gospel is the worst, and the worst to be borne. When this temptation comes it takes away my girdle from me, and removeth the foundation from under me.”​

    Not a few non-believers have jumped on the band wagon attempting to dismantle metaphysical issues previously overlooked or waved off.

    "...according to the classical metaphysical traditions of both the East and West, God is the unconditioned cause of reality — of absolutely everything that is — from the beginning to the end of time. Understood in this way, one can’t even say that God "exists" in the sense that my car or Mount Everest or electrons exist. God is what grounds the existence of every contingent thing, making it possible, sustaining it through time, unifying it, giving it actuality. God is the condition of the possibility of anything existing at all." Src

    You will find evidence of this in the emerging street epistemology tactics of this new class of professional non-believers:
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Seems like someone decided to put some work into actually crafting a religion for atheists. Figured out you can't actually fight something with "nothing," you need something to replace it. And that something has to supply some sort of metaphysical alternatives to the supports typically (if variously) formed or found by many stripes of religious thinkers. [Atheists have tended to pose themselves as the real "thinkers" of the world, in contrast to the "unthinking" religious rubes.]

    To me, the giveaway that the website/position represents a self-conscious, robustly religious (let them call it philosophical if they like) stance is their commitment to "evangelism."
  4. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I think there's a lot to what Halyburton says. Certainly, in the realm of "Bible difficulties" it seems unbelievers often cite texts where a fairly clear explanation is readily available.
  5. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    Should we call their approach postsuppositionalism? Much of it reads like Christian apologetics training. Where did they get this from?

    SE finishes eerily with a bit of 'pastoral' advice in one of the final sections:

    "If Street Epistemology remains a hobby that takes a back-seat to family, work, and leisure time, you will find it more fulfilling, and reduce the likelihood of burnout. Some signs of burnout include loss of empathy for your interlocutor, increased frustration in the face of doxastic closure, and loss of humility during your talks. Here are some suggestions on how to take care of yourself."
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