::EDIT:: I switched hosting servers a few nights ago, and I thought I made it through to the other side unscathed, but I got notified that this entry had disappeared. I've replaced it, and I'm in the process of finding and repopulating it with the old comments. Special thanks to I Am over at twitter for pointing this out. ::EDIT::
To Billy: if you are going to play the fool verse in an article, be sure that your article is passably cogent.
Billy Graham wrote an article in response to a question about atheists. His article:
I have developed a useful habit where I track the conclusions and the corresponding evidences that people use as they craft an argument. Try it yourself with the closing paragraph:
Don’t be misled by those who claim God doesn’t exist, because he does. And the ultimate reason we know it is because he came down from heaven and walked on this earth in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ was God in human flesh, and he proved it by rising from the dead.
Let’s follow the two arguments and attempt to order them so that they flow from evidence to conclusion.
Billy’s Argument 1:
Evidence: God came down from heaven and walked on the earth in the person Jesus Christ.
Therefore, (conclusion) God exists.
Billy’s Argument 2:
Evidence: Jesus rose from the dead.
Therefore, (conclusion) Jesus was God in human flesh.
The first argument is the most ridiculously circular argument that I have encountered in print.
The second argument is invalid and false — and I don’t think that even Billy believes what he wrote. If he honestly thinks that the statement “Jesus is God in human flesh” is a proven statement, there is no room for faith that “Jesus is God.” There are critical problems with his argument even granting the evidence to be true.
Consider the fact that we do not have direct evidence of Jesus rising from the dead. The absolute best evidence that could even be hoped to be marshaled is: written accounts of his death and resurrection by eyewitnesses who swore under penalty of death that their account was true. (Which, by the way, we don’t have — and if you want to get technical, there is far greater evidence that could exist). But, for fun, let’s grant the absolute best case evidence — the testimony and willingness to die for the testimony is so overwhelming that it convinces anyone and everyone that this evidence CANNOT be explained except by a supernatural intervention.
How many possible supernatural explanations are available to explain something so precise and amazing as written accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection by eyewitnesses who swear under the penalty of death that what they wrote was true?
An infinite number of supernatural explanations. There are an infinite number of ways that such amazing evidence could be attained through supernatural means BESIDES the one conclusion that Billy thinks is inevitable: that Jesus is God in human flesh.
Just to get the list started:
1. spirits possessed all alleged eyewitnesses and wrote the accounts and allowed the host body to die for these accounts.
2. Two gods got together and created the universe and the world 50 years ago — and made it look like everything has been around for a long time planting evidence of a continuous (false) history; even gave people older than 50 years false memories of the past.
For all of my criticism, Billy’s article is not a complete waste: I have a new example for when I teach circular reasoning.