Is Atheism the Reason Millennials are Leaving the Church?

Part 2: A Response to the Friendly Atheist

By Robin Schumacher

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Read Part 1 here.

This post continues a response to the July 30 CNN opinion piece article by Hemant Mehta, "The Friendly Atheist", entitled "Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism". In Part 1, we looked at a number of arguments Mehta makes that I believe are either flawed or weak. Let's now examine a few more.

"There's no Proof"

Mr. Mehta says, "The myth surrounding Jesus is part of the problem with Christianity. . . .To believe in Jesus means believing that he was born of a virgin, rose from the dead and performed a number of miracles. There's no proof of any of that ever happened".

Says who?

My question to Mehta is the same one I always ask atheists when this argument comes up: what type of proof are you looking for? What kind of evidence, using the legal/historical method that's routinely employed to validate history from antiquity, will suffice?[1]

As far as Jesus' resurrection is concerned, there is plenty of good historical and philosophical evidence that has been presented numerous times by many Christian apologists.[2] To hear the top atheists who debate Christians on the resurrection and who consistently use the hallucination hypothesis[3] as their strongest argument against Jesus rising from the dead is to realize how bad their situation really is.[4]

Of course, all they have to do is produce the body of the Nazarene Carpenter and Christianity will be destroyed once and for all. But so far, no success on that front.[5]

As for Jesus' miracles, again the question is: what proof are you seeking? The fact is, both the New Testament and external Christian sources hostile to Christianity agree that Jesus performed acts that could not be naturally explained.[6] Such acknowledgments led Professor James Dunn to comment: "What is interesting in this testimony [extra-biblical writings], hardly partisan of behalf of Christian claims, is that the accounts of Jesus' healing and exorcistic success are nowhere disputed, only the reasons for that success."[7]

The truth is, Mr. Mehta and other atheists like him reject the evidence for Christ's resurrection and miracles because of their presuppositional commitment to naturalism. The historicity of such events is ruled out in a priori style.

As to open marketplace exchange of ideas, Mehta first says: "Christians can no longer hide in a bubble, sheltered from opposing perspectives, and church leaders can't protect young people from finding information that contradicts traditional beliefs."

The fitting word for this comment is 'preposterous'. Christianity has never hidden in a bubble; unlike other faiths, it has opened itself up to scrutiny and been forever out in front engaging other worldviews (including atheism) in dialog since the beginning.[8]

Admittedly, we do try and educate people from flawed atheistic arguments such as those presented in the Zeitgeist internet movie, which is so factually defective it stretches credulity, or Lawrence Krauss' widely panned recent book where he attempts to redefine the term 'nothing' in hopes of avoiding the conclusion of a cosmic Beginner.[9]

As to Christian apologists and their arguments, Mehta states: "Moreover, blogs and websites espousing non-religious viewpoints and criticizing Christianity draw tons of Internet traffic these days. For every Christian apologist's argument, it seems, there's an equal and opposite rebuttal to be found online. I call that 'Hitchens' Third Law.'"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Mehta, but this is nothing new. Is Mehta not familiar with Paul duking it out with the Epicureans on Mars Hill or Origen's writings against his skeptical opponent Celsus? Christianity has always been opposed and will continue to be. What is new is that believers and unbelievers now have a worldwide computer network at their disposal to carry out their discourse, which is great as thousands can now watch live as apologists like William Lane Craig soundly defeat atheist thinkers such as Alex Rosenberg in various debates.[10]

Continue to Page Two: Closer to the Truth

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Published 8-20-13