I toyed with the idea of not responding to Chris‘ video Atheism – Ingersoll and Mack (HERE). There really isn’t a whole lot one could respond to, except to say: “I disagree with that point of view,” and in doing so, I would say about as much as Chris presented Robert Ingersoll or Butron Mack saying.
Rather than a Biblical critic, Robert Ingersoll is presented more like a modern stand-up comedian. He doesn’t really challenge my faith. Chris says of him: “Ingersoll was the first atheist I personally had encountered that employed reductio ad absurdum correctly,” to which I have to respond with, “No, Chris, he does not.” Rather, the best Ingersoll does, at least in this video, is to offer us a straw man, which he successfully destroys, and why not, since he created him, and it has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity.
In the video we find Ingersoll ridiculing the Genesis account of creation. Christian hypocrisy is claimed, because Christians consider it absurd that atheists believe that something comes from nothing, yet God created all there is from nothing. We can immediately see two things noteworthy in this statement. First, if God really created all there is from nothing, the Christian proposal differs from the atheistic one, in that the Christian proposal shows a cause for all that exists. Atheism violates the law of physics by believing in an uncaused action, namely that nothing produced the ‘bang’ that caused everything that exists. Therefore, if God (however he was able to do it) produced all we are able to see from nothing, the Christian worldview stands in agreement with science—i.e. all things physical (including the postulated Big Bang) have a cause.
Secondly, and this is the straw man I see, Ingersoll’s nothing is not found in the Bible. One can look from cover to cover and nowhere would he read that God created the world from nothing. This is but Ingersoll’s imaginative argument, inspired by ignorant Christians perhaps, but a straw man, nonetheless. If one looks at the account in the Bible, the closest one would come to finding God created something from nothing would be seen in Hebrews 11:3, where we are told that the things we see were not made out of things that are visible. That’s it! We may laugh at the things Ingersoll says, like we might laugh at any stand-up comedian today, who draws our attention to an absurd picture of reality. But, that is all it is, a little fun at the expense of an absurd thought. It certainly is not supported in the Bible.
Next, Ingersoll points out that when God “ran out of nothing” he used one of Adam’s ribs to make Eve, because Adam was quite particular in what kind of mate he wanted. The animal kingdom didn’t make the grade. So, almost as an afterthought, God was forced to use one of Adam’s ribs to make the woman. Ingersoll uses this story as his ‘go-to’ argument for showing the absurdity of the Christian doctrine: “Salvation by belief alone,” which turns out to be yet another straw man. While it may be good for comedy—to keep everyone laughing, it is a poor representation of what Christians believe. The doctrine that Ingersoll seems to have in mind is Salvation by faith alone. Faith is something different from belief. Many Christian denominations, for example, believe something different about God or about what he told us, but all Christians trust God. Trust is faith. We trust God is good and will keep his promises. I trust God created all there is, including Eve, but how do we work out the rib story? The literal rib is obvious, but the same word is used for a chamber in the Temple at Jerusalem in 1Kings 6:5, so what did God take from Adam to make Eve? What would a chamber in Adam look like? Does it have something to do with what is masculine and what is feminine? I don’t know, and we are not told the specifics, but I do believe God did a good job.
Speaking of Ingersoll’s remarks Chris said, “This was the most compelling criticism of salvation by belief that I had ever encountered.” Well, personally, I think his performance was about average for a stand-up comedian, but that’s about it.
Chris didn’t offer much about Butron Mack’s book, “Who Wrote the New Testament,” except to say he concludes that Orthodox Christianity was only one of the many Jesus movements of early Christianity. He claimed the only reason Christians believe what they do today was because the other Jesus movements had been suppressed by the Orthodox Christians as heretics. How this was done by a largely persecuted and outlawed Church, Chris doesn’t say, nor does he show how Mack proves his case. So, I am left with no alternative but to say: “I disagree with this point of view.” That is all I need to say, because nothing other than someone’s subjective opinion was offered to challenge my faith.